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About Hoopster95

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    Maple Ridge, BC
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  1. Best ship hands down by a mile, even without the kids, is Ovation. Those cruisers who have never been on a Quantum Class ship will only talk about Radiance not knowing what Ovation gives you in comparison. Ovation has more outward views from more public spaces than Radiance. Now add the modern decor and cabins, updated shows, amenities, Two70, the incredible Solarium, multiple pools, better dining venues, and especially SeaPlex for the kids... 100% no brainer. If you take the kids, easier flying to Seattle round trip. Choose Ovation for the ship, however ........ if you actually wish to see more Alaskan ports that Ovation does not visit (Ketchikan, Icy Strait, etc) so that you can have more of an Alaskan experience vs. a RCL ship experience, you'll have to choose Radiance or Serenade. You mentioned you wished to stick with Royal, however NCL Bliss has the best itineraries for the large/shiny/new mega ships which include both Glacier Bay + Ketchikan out of Seattle round trip.
  2. Kayak to the Mendenhall Glacier https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2661933-ovation-may-13-24-live-in-alaska-wlots-of-photos/page/31/?tab=comments#comment-57570276 Helicopter up to the ice fields and go mush a dog sled team as well as a short walk on the ice itself https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2661933-ovation-may-13-24-live-in-alaska-wlots-of-photos/page/31/?tab=comments#comment-57570390 In Skagway I finally did the White Pass train, and it's a must-do. One option I was considering that I did not do (wish I did) was take the train up, and then you get to mountain bike portion of the pass down with photo ops. One of my favorite excursion days ever was in Ketchikan on the Aleutian Ballad https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g31030-d1007488-r307671164-Bering_Sea_Crab_Fishermen_s_Tour-Ketchikan_Alaska.html http://alaskacrabtour.com/ Have fun planning 😊
  3. Hands down, in my humble opinion, is Ovation #1 ship . However, also one of the worst itineraries of all the cruise lines if you are looking to experience as much of Alaska as possible. So that's the question... What's the goal? Do you want to see Alaska, or mostly enjoy the ship? The 170,000 ton NCL Bliss, NCL Joy and Ovation are mega ships and all visit/have visited Glacier bay and/or Hubbard. Here's Ovation at Hubbard Glacier this past May https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2661933-ovation-may-13-24-live-in-alaska-wlots-of-photos/page/14/?tab=comments#comment-57500442 This above is the very best post in this thread for those who truly wish to see/do more vs. the ship experience. Sailed Ovation this past May to Icy Strait, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard and Tracy Arm, so this sentence is not true. If RCL wanted to book more ports, they definitely could. RCL just doesn't want to for whatever reasons. In my humble opinion, and not mentioned yet, the very best "big" ship combined with the best itinerary is NCL Bliss round-trip 7 nights out of Seattle (so easy flights for the OP's family with 2 small children whom they're travelling with)... much much easier travel planning (shorter domestic flights) flying from Texas to Seattle return vs. to YVR or Anchorage on a one way southbound/northbound. Bliss offers the best "big ship" itinerary of them all and includes in 7 days: Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, short stop in Victoria before getting back to Seattle. with the children, Ovation is next best but you see less of Alaska compared to Bliss. Have fun planning 😊
  4. For anyone to see you from the spa above, they would have to be a spa customer for one, they'd have to get into that exact room above the balcony (on Vision it was a massage room), then physically stand with their face at the glass to look down and see 2 feet of your balcony... and then stand there for hours to wait for you to go to the railing. I would guess at least 75% of the balcony is out of site from above. See the balcony below deck 7? That is when you are standing at and leaning over your deck 8 balcony railing. I am guessing that's the kind-of same angle/amount of view as from above. perhaps you'll get lucky and someone would have a picture... doubt it, never seen a photo from anyone inside the spa looking out of a window
  5. Vision 8588 ... LOVED this balcony... totally awesome! The cabin itself nothing to write home about... It's the same size as normal balcony cabins on Oasis/Freedom Classes. Because no azipods, the aft really shakes & rumbles when maneuvering in ports, didn't bother me at all Perfect location about 10 cabins away from the "secret staircase" up to the Solarium and excellent one-of-a-kind Park Cafe (Park Cafe I'm speaking of is Vision only IIRC) First photo is rare for anyone who wants to sleuth... What port and what ship is that in that top photo?
  6. Yes. I just kayaked (permit required... close to the glacier, private tour not through RCL) to Mendenhall. No problem with sneakers. I was with a family with kids and they were all with sneakers. The kayak company I was with gives you boots to wear overtop... maybe yours will be the same?
  7. Glad you're getting a lot of good info here in this thread.... So I'm now with everything you've said I'm on the Freedom to Barbados/St Lucia/St Kitts itinerary bandwagon for you 😀
  8. Ah ok... I don't think you'll need water proof or expensive boots/shoes. Ovation is totally awesome! You're going to have a great time.😊
  9. Beautifully said LMaxwell. 100% agree. Been friends with a few staff over the years during a cruise when things were "more lax" than they are today, and this sentiment is totally true. Disagree here. So ships/some itineraries yes, some no in my humble opinion. Also, a few people have noted that the larger ships it's tougher for the CD to be in enough public places for everyone to see and talk to. See how some fellow CC'ers speak of Graham Seymour for example. Anyone sailing on Symphony this fall, you are in for a great surprise as far as what a great CD is when you witness Mike Szwajkowski... this guy I still remember to this day years later. The only CD ever to get a standing ovation in the theatre at the finale video before the farwell show started when his picture (not in person) appeared on the screen. The very best CD ever in my opinion. Hope he's as great now as he was 5-6 years ago.
  10. What excursions are you booking? What ship you on? What itinerary are you doing? How old are your kids (family of 4)? Can you handle them if it's a torrential downpour and you're in the middle of nowhere on an excursion?
  11. Yep Tapi , without being verbose in my reply, your detailed explanation is perfect. This itinerary for kids much better than ABCs and gives OP the new ports they really desire to experience at the same time. Pitons/St Lucia is a long day, and can be expensive for 4, but would be the #1 day they would have on that cruise by far. The Boat yard in Barbados with turtle snorkeling also a life long memory for the kids. DIY beach day in St. Kitts also very easy (or combo excursion half culture/half beach day) with the super popular and highly recommended Thenford Grey Tours. This would be totally awesome for kids (includes tour on Brimstone Hill Fort). Just some examples
  12. How about Vision Nov 13, 10 day - best Caribbean itinerary in the entire RCI fleet in Nov 2020, FLL departure (no flights), great beaches and includes the elusive stop in Dominica.Look at the price!! Also Rhapsody 7-day Nov 21 and 28 - again easy to get to great beaches, Tampa departure?
  13. Based on your answers, you won't be "seeing" much of the new islands. Some of the beaching on those islands are not close and not as easy to get to from port. Freedom ABC's ... I don't recommend because of your answers, your needs/criteria, distance to beaches, etc Freedom other itinerary ... Lots of ports. Barbados awesome and easy to get to for kids! St Lucia not easy and expensive to get to beaches. Flights to SJU with 5 and 7 yr old, transfers to hotel, morning taxi to port. 5 ports - 1 sea day... so lots of movement and planning and greater daily cost I assume. Oasis ... easy. You're close, it's inexpensive. Easy ports to get to beaches DIY. Just plain easier which may make for a much much more enjoyable and relaxing vacation. So if you are ok with some daily effort and spend more money (flights, daily taxi's, etc to beaches), do Freedom Barbados/St Lucia/St Kitts itinerary. Personally, this would be better if your kids were teenagers. Full disclosure. I don't have kids so I may be waaaaaaaay off base. If it was just you two adults on your own without kids, I would be 1000% all over the ABC itinerary for example. In my very humble opinion, ABC's are perfect for longer days of discovery away from the port area, not sitting around at a beach with kids. Have a great time planning 😊
  14. Most important piece of your questioning in my humble opinion is high lighted above, so I have a few questions for you: What are you planning to do/see at each port with your small children? What are yours, and especially your children's, main interests? Are your children great swimmers (and perhaps great snorkellers)? Or do they they struggle in the water? What's your budget (for excursions) for the 4 of you? Do you want to "Do it Yourself" at each port or take tours? How far from beaches do you want to be from the port? How easy do you want the transportation to be at each location? Do you want to hang out on the ship for the most part or actually get out there to see the new islands you're visiting each day that you are at port?
  15. Another option ... Luggage storage at the airport
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