We’ve been very generously invited on a group cruise with extended family. There aren’t a lot of options cruising out of Seattle but it’s so nice to not have to fly to the port, it will be a short ride to the pier. While this will be our third cruise to Alaska, there is a port we haven’t visited before and we will be sailing with a different cruise line than we have been sailing with recently.

We do love to cruise and there are definitely different expectations on different cruise lines, from short party cruises (booze cruises) to cruise lines that offer a very early to rise early to bed environment. We have tried a number of lines: Carnival, Holland America, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Princess. We have done one night cruises from Seattle to Vancouver and vice versa to a 14 day Mediterranean cruise, with the majority being a traditional seven night vacation.

We’ve changed how we cruise over the years. Our first cruise together was in 1998 with our two sons, who were 13 and 9, and my brother-in-law. We cruised on a Carnival ship in one cabin, a queen bed, two upper bunks and a rollaway bed! We would be on the run the entire time, not wanting to miss anything, whether it was onboard activities or in the ports of calls. We would come home needing a vacation from our vacation.

At this point in our lives, we seek out a more relaxed pace. While we do see another European Cruise in our future which will entail organization and a quick pace to explore the destinations, right now we enjoy time onboard in the spa area soaking in a hydrotherapy pool and relaxing on heated stone beds. When we are in port we don’t mind revisiting cities we’ve been to before and leisurely exploring new areas or visiting our favorite spots. For this Alaska cruise we’ve already purchased our spa weekly pass and are looking forward to revisiting Mendenhall Glacier and Juneau while researching what to see and do in Sitka when we visit it for the first time. We will be on a cruise line we haven’t cruised on since 2004 and are looking forward to ‘watching’ people zipline and climb the rock wall. We are excited to check out the virtual balcony in our indoor cabin, a feature we’ve never seen before.

ā€œI learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster that leads to terrible times.ā€ ā€“ Anthony Bourdain

We have a few tried and true ways (cruise hacks) to make the cruise experience easier. First time cruisers are generally more comfortable joining a ship sponsored excursion but you can find great things to do with either a small group or on your own with a bit of research on sites like Cruisecritic or even Pinterest. We have had some wonderful snorkeling and catamaran tours on privately owned charters in the Caribbean that we will never forget. We took four runners out with a small group in Ketchikan and rented a car in Juneau where we visited Mendenhall Glacier and drove to the ‘end of the road’. Signing in to the cruise lines website and signing up early for things like one of the offered drink packages may be discounted if you purchase ahead. This particular cruise had a 20% discount on the drink packages, the wifi package AND the spa package when we looked a few weeks ago. Have you cruised? What were your top two favorite things to do, on board or in port?

#cruiseship #vacation #retirement #cruisecritic #pinterest #RCL #princesscruiseline #hydrotherapy #explore #relax #cruise #juneau #ketchikan #alaska #portsofcall #zipline #rockwall #virtualbalcony #discount #shoparound #research #livefortoday #planfortomorrow

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