The Royal Caribbean Gold Standard In Alaska: Radiance
Radiance sails 7-night, one-way cruises between Vancouver and Seward, while Serenade is sailing 7-night, round-trip cruises from Vancouver. The perceived advantage of these ships is that they are smaller, allowing them to go where Royal Caribbean’s bigger ships cannot.
The itineraries of both Radiance-class ships go a bit farther north than the larger ships, allowing both ships time at Hubbard Glacier on at least some of the sailings. On its one-way route, Radiance has two sea days — the least sea days of all the itineraries. Serenade’s route usually has either three or four sea days. The real differences are in what these smaller ships offer — and dont offer — for those who choose to cruise on them. Here are our pros and cons for the Radiance Class ships in Alaska.
Four Royal Caribbean Ships In Alaska This Season
No less than four Royal Caribbean ships will be sailing in Alaska this summer, adding to one of the busiest seasons in recent years in Alaska. Besides Radiance of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, and Serenade of the Seas will be in the area this summer.
Starting May 1, Serenade of the Seas will also be operating from Vancouver, Canada. The 2003-built, 2000-passenger Radiance-class cruise ship will sail to Alaska between May 1 and September 18. The week-long cruises will call to Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Ketchikan, Sitka, and more.
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The Quantum-class cruise ship Ovation of the Seas homeports in Seattle, Washington. Between May 5 and September 16, operating a series of seven-night cruises to ports like Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord, Victoria, British Columbia, Skagway, and others.
Her sister ship, the 4,100-passenger Quantum of the Seas, which is currently making her way across the Pacific, also homeports in Seattle and will operate cruises that range in length between five and seven nights. Quantum of the Seas will sail to Alaska between May 4 and September 19.
Activities On Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruises
Royal Caribbean has taken traditional cruising and brought it to a whole new level, creating floating resorts complete with rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, and multiple pools among Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas. This includes the Solarium, an adults-only retreat. There are also at least three whirlpools per ship, plus the Vitality Spa, which features an extensive list of treatments like massages and acupuncture. Staying active at sea is easy with Royal Caribbean’s state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga and tai chi classes, jogging track, basketball court and mini-golf course.
Duty-free shopping is available onboard at the Royal Shops, with apparel, accessories, beauty product and more to peruse. There are more than a dozen bars, clubs and lounges onboard, from casual pubs to salsa dancing bars. as well as Broadway-style entertainment and ice-skating shows. Massive casinos contain hundreds of slots and more than 10 tables, where you can play roulette, poker, craps, blackjack and more. Other fun nighttime activities include live music, comedy shows, parades, themed parties, and outdoor movie nights.
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Shore Excursions On Royal Caribbean Alaskan Cruises
Shore excursions are the best way to see more of each port without having to worry about logistics, returning to the ship on time, or last-minute cancellations. Royal Caribbean offers dozens of shore excursions on every itinerary, and guarantees prompt return to ships and first-off status in port. For unique getaways, consider a Royal Private Journeys adventure, designed specifically for you by “Destination Insiders,” Royal Caribbean partners who have years of destination expertise ready to be put to good use.
Some of the shore excursions Royal Caribbean offers in Alaska include:
- Ghosts and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour – Skagway, Alaska
- Ancient Oceans and Newborn Forests Walking Tour – Icy Strait Point, Alaska
- Gold Creek Salmon Bake – Juneau, Alaska
- White Pass Summit and Klondike Highway Tour – Skagway, Alaska
- Ketchikan Duck Tour – Ketchikan, Alaska
Royal Caribbean also offers a number of cruisetour options in Alaska, adding three to six nights onto your vacation. These land-and-sea vacations give you more time to explore Alaska while still enjoying the Royal Caribbean experience. You’ll travel in plush, glass-domed train cars or in deluxe motor-coaches, and stay in top-notch lodges and hotels, all with exquisite views of the natural landscape that makes Alaska so special. Many “must do” activities are included on cruisetours, like National Park hikes, panning for gold, and museum visits. There are additional shore excursions available for purchase on cruisetours as well.
Quantum Class: Royal Caribbean Big Ships Seemingly Designed For Alaska
Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas both sail 7-night round-trip cruises from Seattle. Though not Royal Caribbean’s largest class of ships, both carry between 4,100 and 4,900 passengers, depending on how many berths are filled.
Both ships’ itineraries include Skagway, Sitka, Juneau, and the glaciers of the Endicott Arm Fjord. Some of Quantum’s schedules include Icy Strait Point. Both ships aim to get you near the glaciers both ships are technically cruising the Inside Passage, which includes all the port towns and waterways of Southeast Alaska.
Both ships make their required Canadian port of call at Victoria, sometimes mid-day, but often in the evening. Ovation’s itineraries include as many as four sea days when you count the scenic cruising days. Quantum’s schedule typically includes three sea days.
Where the bigger ships shine is in their onboard choices. Whether you are talking about dining, activities, or stateroom categories, the options to choose from can be mind boggling. How do they really stack up against the smaller ship experience in Alaska? Here are our pros and cons:
Pros Of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum
Space. These ships have space. Even when at max capacity, there are plenty of places passengers can spread themselves out, leaving room to roam in between.
There’s an indoor swimming pool open to all ages. That’s in addition to the shallow pools and hot tubs in the adults-only, forward-facing Solarium with its incredible ocean views.
The Seaplex is an incredible innovation for busy families on cruises to Alaska. When the ship is in motion, the kids can be too. The massive indoor space is home to everything from bumper cars to soccer games. Yup, it’s that big.
More dining options. Both Quantum and Ovation have a dozen places to get food — not counting Windjammer Café or the Main Dining rooms. Plus, suite guests have a fabulous thirteenth option: Coastal Kitchen. It’s like a luxurious private dining room.
More entertainment options. Each night passengers can choose between the show in the Royal Theater, the incredible robotic shows in Two70 or a wide range of musical acts in venues like The Music Hall or Schooner Bar.
Forward-facing Spacious Ocean View staterooms. These have big round windows looking out over the bow of the ship and the ocean beyond. Hard to top that in an affordable cabin measuring 214 square feet.
Booking Through An Independent Provider
While there are several pros to booking an Alaska cruise excursion through Royal Caribbean directly, booking through an independent tour operator can provide a wider range of excursion options, lower prices, and smaller groups.
Read more: Top ways to avoid crowds on an Alaska cruise
Simply put, there are many more shore excursions available in Alaska than the limited supply offered by Royal Caribbean. A quick search on Tripadvisor or Viator for Alaska cruise excursions will result in far more choices than what may be offered on your cruise.
Royal Caribbean excursions tend to be priced higher than independent excursions because the cruise line receives a cut of the excursion cost from the tour operator. Booking on your own eliminates the middleman, often leading to more affordable prices.
While the cruise ship will not wait for you if youre running late on an excursion through an independent provider, this is a rare scenario as reputable tour providers have years of experience getting tour groups back to the ship on time. In addition, tour operators may offer similar cancellation policies to Royal Caribbean on the chance your cruise itinerary changes.
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Royal Caribbean Begins Alaska Season From Vancouver With Radiance Of The Seas
Radiance of the Seas becomes the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to begin the 2022 Alaska season, the first of four ships.
The first of four Royal Caribbean ships is departing today on the first Alaska cruise for this summer season. Radiance of the Seas will sail on a 7-night cruise from Vancouver to Alaska, visiting some of the most popular and scenic areas of the Northern state.
Radiance of the Seas is one of the first cruise ships to homeport in Vancouver this year, only a few weeks after Canada opened its borders for cruise ship traffic.
The ships itinerary in Alaska sailing from Vancouver comes weeks after Canada opened its borders again to cruise ship traffic.
Best Time To Cruise To Alaska
The Alaska cruise season generally runs from April to October, and each month offers its own advantages and disadvantages. While there is no best time to cruise to Alaska, knowing what to expect in terms of weather, wildlife, and activities is helpful before booking your cruise or shore excursion.
Read more: How far in advance to book an Alaska cruise
Cruising to Alaska in the early season, April and May, brings lower crowds and prices. Expect to see daily temperatures with highs in the mid 50s and lows around 40 degrees. Less rain is expected during the early season, as April, May, and June are among the driest months of the year in Alaska. . Daylight hours will increase each day leading up to the summer solstice, with daylight hours from 4AM to 10PM in late May.
Alaskas peak cruise season is from mid-June to August, coinciding with the school vacation schedule. During the summer, visitors can expect to see the warmest temperatures and most hours of daylight. More crowds are to be expected during the summer, too, both onboard and in port.
The fall shoulder season in Alaska is during the month of September. As days become shorter and temperatures cool down, cruise crowds and prices tend to be lower. In fact, September is the cheapest month for an Alaska cruise.
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Royal Caribbean Cruises Highlights
- An incredible company that has been in operation since 1969.
- A well-known name in the cruise line industry, with service standards that accompany their length of time in the industry.
- Winner of a plethora of service awards, including “Best Cruise Line in the Caribbean,””Best Cruise Line Overall,” and “Best Cruise Ship Symphony of the Seas.”
- Amazing rooms in various sizes available for all of your accommodation needs and party sizes.
- Breathtaking views, offering you uninterrupted views of the water, the shores, and all of the beautiful sights of each destination.
- Unmatched customer service to make your trip a relaxing and unforgettable experience.
- Knowledgeable tour guides to accompany you to places that you might have never heard of.
- Lots of space to explore and get to know the ship.
Active Shore Excursions In Alaska
A cruise to Alaska is less about lounging on the beach and more about getting active and exploring all that the state has to offer. Alaska is a paradise for those who love the outdoors, and youll find plenty of excursions catered to active travelers.
One of the most popular active activities is a kayak tour along Alaskas scenic fjords, lakes, and glaciers. Kayak tours are offered in most cruise ports, offering passengers the chance to feel connected with nature by the gentle rock of a kayak.
Bicycle excursions are also offered on an Alaska cruise, taking visitors through the states forests and historic towns. If youre feeling really adventurous, consider a 15-mile downhill bike ride following the path of the White Pass & Yukon Railway in Skagway.
Outside of kayaking and biking, visitors to Alaska can enjoy canoeing, hiking, ziplining, and even snorkeling!
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Cost Of An Alaska Cruise
Your budget for an Alaska cruise can affect your ship choice, sailing date, stateroom category, excursion options, and onboard add-ons. Knowing how much Alaska cruises cost in advance is helpful to ensure you can budget and save for such an incredible vacation.
Related: How much does an Alaska cruise cost?
There is no set cost for an Alaska cruise. Cruise fares are dynamic, with prices constantly shifting based on demand. The shoulder seasons of May and September will see the lowest prices whereas June, July, and August see the highest cruise fares.
A 7-night cruise for two adults in an oceanview stateroom on Serenade of the Seas in July may be around $2200 whereas the same cruise in September can be around $1600. Newer ships, such as Ovation of the Seas, will often be priced $300-500 more expensive than smaller ships on a similar itinerary.
Newer cruise ships have more balcony staterooms available, though, so balcony staterooms on ships like Quantum of the Seas are not usually significantly more expensive than interior or oceanview cabins.
As smaller ships like Radiance of the Seas have far fewer balconies available, booking a balcony stateroom on a small ship can be much more expensive than other cabins.
Related: How to cruise to Alaska on a budget
Radiance And Enchantment Of The Seas
Once again, Radiance of the Seas will sail alternating southbound and northbound itineraries that depart from Seward and Vancouver. Travelers will visit Icy Strait Point, Sitka, and Skagway, and sail the Inside Passage and see Hubbard Glacier.
Enchantment of the Seas will make her way to the Pacific coast for her debut Alaska season, sailing roundtrip from Vancouver. Multiple glaciers and fjords will be featured, including Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord. Port calls will include Haines, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Juneau.
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Life Onboard Quantum Of The Seas
Taking her name from the Quantum class of ships, the Quantum of the Seas offers a holiday destination on board and on shore. Read more
Award winning service, first-at-sea innovations and the desire to exceed expectations are features of the Royal experience. Read more
With game changing thrills and on board activities for everyone, you will never be wondering what to do next on board Quantum. Read more
The variety of complimentary and specialty dining options on Quantum of the Seas will take your tastebuds on a global adventure. Read more
Spectacular original stage performances, dancing, themed bars and movies under the stars, Quantum of the Seas has it all. Read more
Luxurious professional treatments in the on board spa and the adults-only solarium are just some of the places to relax and revive. Read more
Alaska Cruise Activities: What To Do In Port
An Alaska shore excursion will allow you to explore what each of the ports have to offer, including taking in the natural beauty of this part of the world.
Alaska cruises tend to favor outdoor activities, whether getting active on a hike or taking a relaxing canoe ride down a river. Exploring the states mountains, glaciers, trails, and lakes is a fantastic way to spend a day in port, although choosing the best tour to book can be a tough decision.
Whale watching tours are one of the most popular shore excursions to book on an Alaskan cruise, as many visitors hope to catch a glimpse of some of the largest mammals on Earth. A variety of whales are able to be spotted on an Alaska cruise, including grey whales, killer whales , and humpback whales.
Certain ports, such as and Icy Strait Point, tend to offer better whale watching opportunities than other Alaska cruise ports. Be sure to read our whale watching guide before booking your whale watching excursion to ensure you book it at the right port and time of year.
Visiting glaciers is another recommended activity on an Alaska cruise. Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau is the most easily accessible glacier for cruise passengers, where visitors can view the glacier from easy walking trails and visit the Nugget Falls waterfall. Most cruise itineraries to Alaska will include a scenic cruising day at a glacier as well, such as Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier or Hubbard Glacier.
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Accessibility On Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruises
As one of the most accessible-friendly cruise lines at sea, Royal Caribbean strives to make all guests feel comfortable and secure during their travels, both on and off the ship. Royal Caribbean ships were designed to be accessible throughout corridors are spacious and accommodate 180-degree turns for wheelchairs, decks are accessible by way of automatic doors, and all public rooms have entrances with a gradual incline. In staterooms, many sleeping areas, bathrooms and sitting areas have a five-foot turning radius. Guests can request a raised toilet seat, shower stool, and/or oxygen supply delivery. For those with visual and/or hearing impairments, Royal Caribbean can provide large print materials, closed caption televisions and sign language interpreting services upon request.
Whatever your needs, Royal Caribbean will do its best to meet them. Just let your Cruise Specialist know at the time of booking, and an agent will work with you to make your cruise as worry-free as possible.