Yesterday I mentioned that there were a few things my husband and I would have done differently about our Alaskan cruise that we think would have resulted in a better over-all experience.
1. I should have acted as my own travel agent or gone directly through Carnival when making reservations. It’s not hard to reserve your own cruise, you can do so in minutes at Carnival’s very user friendly website and if you get hung up you can always call and speak to a representative.
2. While our agent insisted that my family would be much happier with the late dining because there would be so much to do on the ship, she failed to mention a dining option that would have been a better fit for my family, “anytime dining.” We switched to this option midway into our 2nd cruise and loved it, it allowed our family to eat anytime after the dining room opened in the evening, until it closed.
We also thought the anytime dining was less formal, more relaxed and though the service was not as personalized as it had been in the traditional, formal dining room, the service was still wonderful.
3. We loved our first cruise because of the excursions. By the time our Alaska cruise rolled around, we decided to skip the excursions in lieu of free outings and hikes, after all, Alaska is so beautiful we really couldn’t go wrong.
Looking back, we should have dug into our pockets and forked over some money to see even more of Alaska– if not through the ships suggested excursions, then by arranging our own sightseeing outings with tour guides. You can often book the same excursion that the ship offers for much less by arranging it on your own. You’ll find tour guides waiting to accommodate you in every port- just step off the boat and you’ll know what I mean- or you can make arrangements before leaving home.
4. I really wish that I’d considered what time of year is ideal for each of the cruises that we choose to take. Late August is not ideal for a Caribbean cruise if you want to avoid rocky waters. The wait staff suggested a late spring voyage. It may not have been as deeply discounted but may have been more enjoyable.
5. We’d have packed light blankets, extra batteries and a pair of binoculars. It was cold on the deck- even when it wasn’t raining so a light blanket would have really come in handy. One can never have to many batteries for the camera and binoculars would be indispensible for a trip to Alaska.
6. We’d also have taken a cab directly from the boat to the airport and headed home. Instead, I’d booked an extra day in Seattle which was miserable because we were all ready to be home. We even stopped by the airport and asked if we could change flights. Pretty ironic that in our haste to get home, we’d end up missing our flight the next morning.
7. If we ever go back to Alaska, we’ll skip the ship, fly into Anchorage, rent an RV and explore at our leisure. We all agreed that Skagway was beautiful, we’d loved to have stayed there longer, hiking and exploring the area. We could have even hopped on a ferry to take us to another port. Juneau was rainy and didn’t have as much that appealed to us, but we would have liked to have spent some time hiking in the rainforest at Ketchikan.
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