Summer is the perfect time to cruise the Inside Passage. Experience the dramatic landscapes of the Last Frontier – snow-capped mountains, majestic glaciers and glistening seas. And photograph the whales, seals, bears, bald eagles and other creatures large and small that make Alaska their home.
Alaska is steeped in history. If the Gold Rush excites you, then southeast Alaska is the place. Sail on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas for a seven-night eight-day cruise with stops in Juneau and Skagway in addition to Victoria, BC and Seattle (where you board and disembark). The ship just emerged from an infusion of $54 million to upgrade the experience.
The ship has about one thousand staterooms – choose from interior or exterior views, smaller inside cabins or spacious suites. Try the outside stateroom with balcony – all the better to whale watch, see the glaciers and gorgeous scenery and be up-close when the ship docks at or departs from port. Spruced up with flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet access (when mountains don’t interfere) and modern furnishings, the cabin is spacious with ample room to store your things. The high tech digital signage throughout the main hallways guarantees you’ll find your way around (as well as restaurant menus and activities).
Onboard shopping is easy, from a “sidewalk sale” poolside or via strolling the shops on Deck Six for clothing, jewelry, art and more. The Alaskan ports of call depend upon much of their income from cruise ship passengers.
It’s true what they say about food – there’s plenty onboard. If you want a large assortment served buffet style, choose the Windjammer Café. Situated at the front of the ship, it is a spacious area to enjoy the scenery. The Park Café, located in the solarium, serves lighter food. Find a selection of fruit, salads and sandwiches – along with the views.
For dinner, the Edelweiss Restaurant (the Main Dining room) serves more traditional fare (with healthy options) or select one of the specialty restaurants for their distinctive cuisine. Giovanni’s Table serves classic Italian family-style. Japanese food, including hot rock cooking, is available at Izumi’s. And for a juicy steak and luscious fish on a cedar plank, try Chop’s Grille. All offer a good selection of international wines.
The favorite spot for a drink before dinner is the R Bar, steps away from the live music in the Centrum. Here savor handcrafted cocktails like the Cucumber Fizz (gin, St.-Germain liqueur, fresh lime juice and cucumber topped with soda). During the day, the Schooner Bar has a good selection and views. The Viking Crown Lounge turns into a club after dinner but also is the best spot at sunset when the ship is just leaving port.
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb