Regent Seven Seas Alaskan Cruise Vacation

Stan R. September 7, 2010 2 Comments

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Alaska Railroad Train Station

Alaska Railroad train station

Last month I found out through my mother that Joe and Amy (my aunt and uncle), were about to embark on an extravagant 7 day trip to Alaska.  We were on the phone when she mentioned it, and I was absolutely intrigued! A good friend of mine went there on a fishing expedition just over a year ago and I’ve had a longing to visit ever since. He returned a year ago with an icebox full of frozen Halibut, but what really peaked my interest were the stunning scenic coastal photos of this great state!

It was mid August 2010 on the eve of their trip and my mother said she would convince my uncle Joe (her brother) to take time throughout his Alaskan adventure to document their experiences. Thanks to my mother’s powerful gift of persuasion (and some arm twisting), he brought his computer and digital camera  on their journey to “The Last Frontier”, where he promised to log periodic journal entries and take lots of photos.

River View from our Alaska Railroad Trip

Below are six of Joe’s journal entries which he sent us by email along with attached photos.  I also interviewed both Joe and Amy after their trip, so be sure to read my concluding remarks outlining some important tidbits of valuable information about their trip, as well as my thoughts on how well suited the Alaskan cruise would be for children.

Entry 1:

When I travel I want to take time to daydream. I am not your curious tourist, nor do I want to be busy with anything. So writing down my daily journal on this exciting adventure is not my cup of tea. My problem is that my bossy sister ordered me to do it, and because I don’t want to be forever pestered for not doing it, here I am writing during our flight to Anchorage from Los Angeles.

We are almost 4 hours into the Alaska Airlines flight and the scenery out the window is phenomenal. We’ve just past the town of Ketchikan. I can see thousands of Islands and a vast expanse of rugged terrain with sharp top mountainous edges. There’s scattered snow, and we’re in mid August!

This morning I woke up at 4:30 AM. My wife Amy woke up 15 minutes later. We had everything ready to go when Shahid, our loyal town car chauffeur picked us up. He loaded the luggage with care and off to the airport we went. O.K. enough for now, ‘cause I want to daydream a little while looking out my first class window before we land. Toot-lu…

Entry 2:

Mountain Side view from Alaska Railroad trip

Mountain side view from Alaska Railroad trip

This is all from memory, since we were enjoying ourselves too much.  It’s August 18, 2:40am and I woke up to use the bathroom; My mind keeps me from going back to sleep. Finally Amy wakes up at 5:30 and we’re at the Alaska Railroad train station in a jiffy. This coastal classic train departed on time at 6:45AM

Wow! What a ride! 4 hours through the Alaskan wilderness with some amazing glaciers to behold, not to mention the numerous rivers, streams and brooks with some raging white waters! The scenes are continuously unfolding with barely the time to assimilate the aw-inspiring splendors of nature! The photos are better than any narration, so go ahead and soak them in. The second story, first class with glass dome-top car we were in, allowed for maximum visibility. Breakfast was called in around 8:00AM. By then I was starved and could have eaten a horse, but the omelet had to do. I washed it down with an “Alaskan Amber”, one great local brew.

Living Room Suite at Regent Seven Seas Cruise Alaska

The living room in our Regent Seven Seas suite

Once at Seward, our destination, we were told to get onto the yellow school bus. If we only knew in advance that the ship was only a half mile away, and that our luggage was already booked to go all the way into our cruise ship suite, we would have walked. The bus driver? I could write a small book about that weird guy. He was standing by the bus with his long, unwashed hair dangling by his cheeks when we asked if this was the bus headed for the Regent Seven Seas Cruise ship. It was as if he had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. A few words were exchanged and I entered the bus under the impression that we would eventually get there on this crazy bus: maybe 45 minutes or one hour. Turns out the moron bus driver talked the same way to everybody, no matter where their destination was. I’m not sure whether he had the brains of a squirrel, or whether he just hated his job.

We’re at the ship within 20 minutes, we check in and we’re so impressed by the beauty of this ship looking at it from the dock. On the ship, the check-in is very methodical and lengthy. Our suites are going to be available at 2:30PM.

Master Bedroom Suite Regent Seven Seas Cruise

Our master bedroom cruise suite

Our suite is gorgeous with 2 bathrooms, marble top, floors and walls. The large bathroom has a full deep tub plus a shower stall. The bedroom has a giant bed, a walk-in closet with plenty of room for both of us, drawers and all. Very nice comfortable living room, with convertible couch and desk for my laptop. We have our own stewardess and our own butler. Both are extremely courteous. They explain in details their function, which is basically all the things we could ask for. There doesn’t seem to be any limitations! We could order unlimited room service, and because we’re in a grand suite, we could order from the top notch restaurant and have our own private romantic dinner. A bottle of Veuve Cliquot is sweating in its silver ice bucket trying to lure me into popping it….Wrap around balcony is phenomenal! We can see more than 180 degrees!

Joe takes a nap; the rest of the day is just getting acquainted with the ship, eating and soaking in the realities of the most famous cruise anywhere in the world!

Entry 3:

Ocean View from Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ship AlaskaThis morning Jojo wakes up energetic after a solid 9 hours of dodo (sleep)! Amy is feeling lazy, so yours truly goes up to the fitness room, and for the next hour or so, he shows off like Tarzan. Back in the suite, we nibble through the breakfast that John, our butler, served. This was ordered last night by checking certain items on a hanger list. Did you know what a hanger list is? OK it’s a sheet of paper with a design you can “hang” onto your exterior door knob listing your wants and needs; there, now you know.

At 11am Amy goes to a lecture on glaciers and in particular on the Hubbard Glacier, the largest and most awesome glacier in the world. I sit with her for 5 minutes and decide this is a bunch of BS they’re trying to impress us with. What’s a glacier? It is nothing other than a river; it does all that a river does: constant movement in one direction, from land to the sea. It just moves much slower than most rivers, but when it finally pours into the Ocean, it does so with spectacular shows! The giant edge, breaks through one chunk at a time and splashes phenomenally into the Ocean, creating all kinds of chunks of ice, some as large as a small island: thus the “ICEBERG”!

Ocean View from Regent Seven Seas Cruise Alaska

Calm ocean waters from Regent Cruise ship

Ocean View from Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ship

Ocean View from Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ship

Tonight we are invited at the table of the cruise director for dinner, s’il vous plais!!! I am not sure who’s going to be honored more: Mr. director, or Joe and Amy.

As we approach Hubbard glacier, the scenes are extraordinary. All taken from our giant wrap-around balcony, of which there are only 4 on the entire ship. Everybody else has to scurry to the deck and run from one end to the other, just to get a glimpse of what we see on full display from the panoramic view on our balcony suite.

Entry 4:

Hubbard Glacier Alaska

Hubbard Glacier Alaska

It is 10 am and we have just stopped by the Aleutian Islands: about one thousand of them, a lot of them privately owned with amazing fairytale  picturesque houses.  These people must have a drastically different kind of life than ours.  They each have a dock with a boat anchored.  I imaging this must be their vehicle; the highways are the waterways surrounding them and leading to the little town. WHAT A LIFE!

In the meantime, Amy and I are gearing up for our 3-hour excursion in Sitka, where, by the way, the signing of the purchase of Alaska took place!!!  Months ago Amy booked us on this bike ride and walk/hike in one of the rain forests.  We’re feeling great and the service is out of this world.  All of the staff members are super polite and eager to help.

Hubbard Glacier Alaska

Entry 5:

What day is this? I really don’t know. Having a hard time telling where exactly I am. Am I in heaven? Is this the beginning of eternal life? Not sure.

Ocean and Moutain View from Regent Seven Seas Alaska

Look how calm the waters are in the channels!

All I know is that yesterday, when confronted with SITKA I thought I was still in my early thirties. I went chasing after Realtors all over town. “I’m looking for an Island to buy”. “No problem” came the answers in a most simple and spontaneous fashion. “Here is a  list” of the Islands for sale, ranging in price from $150,000 to $2.4 Million. Depending on size, availability of utilities, and whether there is existing structures, i.e. a gorgeous, to-die-for, dream-like, only-in-your-dreams (maybe), Disney-imagination HOUSE.

Iceberg View from Regent Seven Seas Cruise

They say there are a thousand Islands here. If anything, they’ve under estimated or under-counted. Some of the homes we’ve seen on these private Islands, as we were approaching Sitka, left me in a stupor with the bottom half of my jaw dragging on the ground and eyes wide open and bulging. To add on to all of these fairy-tale images, the climate is MILD year-round. Never mind that this is Alaska. Temperatures almost never dip below 30 degrees: Normal “winter” temperatures are 30 to 40 degrees. Summers are in the 60′s and 70′s. There is a lot of drizzle in the warmer temperatures, and there are no bear problems to speak of. Why? Because apparently there is such an abundance of natural foods like salmon by the zillions, and so forth, that they just don’t bother humans.

Aleutian Islands Alaska

View of the Aleutian Islands from our Regent Cruise

Really! To own an Island with a house here is no big deal.  And, most of them have electricity and water, channeled from the city in pipes under the ocean to the Island.  Think of your dream vacation house: Nature like you’ve never dreamed of, fishing like you’ve never imagined. There is no rocking waters for those who get sea sick – the channel and rivers are calm!  You can hunt for moose or elk: Like to eat delicious meat with NO CHOLESTEROL? Lovely little town with a bunch of sweet-as-honey folks, total silence at night, no traffic, no police harassment, total and absolute serenity. Only one problem: can you handle it?

Entry 6:

We are now sailing within one of the channels in the “Inside Passage” toward JUNEAU, the Capital of Alaska. The climate is somehow similar to that of Sitka, but the city is larger. We are beginning to see some houses built right on the shores of the channel. This channel has got to be at least 20 miles across and the waters are as calm as a lake! Amy and I did not schedule ourselves for any excursions on this stop (schedule arrival 1:00 PM; departure 11:00 PM), because I refuse to act like your typical tourist. We’ll get off and just browse around the town; do some spontaneous discoveries, have lunch, fart around, and then get back on board. Then, maybe we’ll fart around a little more.

Aleutian Islands Alaska

Conclusion from Interview with Joe and Amy

It’s been about two weeks since Joe and Amy returned from their Alaskan vacation cruise.  Yesterday (Labor Day) they hosted a family lunch party at their house in Los Angeles for about 20 people where I was fortunate enough to be able to take a few minutes of their time and ask some key follow-up questions about their trip.  The information I gathered should prove valuable to anyone who decides to follow in their footsteps, whether you are travelling as a couple as they were, or on a family excursion as I plan to do when our 11 month old son is a little older.

Alaska Tram RideAAA Travel is the agency they used to book their Cruise.  They booked everything from their Alaska Airlines first class round trip air fare, to their Regent Seven Seas Cruise suite, to the many “excursions” available to them on each of their stops between the Seward shipping dock and Vancouver.  Apparently there are both free and paid excursions, and both need to be reserved far in advance because of high demand.  They did several of these excursions including the rain forest hike/biking in Sitka, and the tram ride up the mountain in Skagway.  One excursion they did not do but discussed for their next visit was the float plane which flies over several islands populated with bears.  It’s supposed to be an amazing view from that height!

The Regent Seven Seas Alaskan Cruise stopped at several ports from Seward to Vancouver, so there were quite a few shore excursions to chose from. For a complete list of available excursions for each port between Seward and Vancouver click on each of the ports below for a list of associated shore excursions.

- Hubbard Glacier
- Sitka
- Juneau
- Skagway
- Ketchikan

If you are travelling with children I recommend reading the details about each excursion to determine if it’s something your kids can handle and enjoy.

Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ship Alaska

Our Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ship

They stayed overnight at a Comfort Inn in Anchorage just minutes away from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.  They described it as having a seedy motel like quality, not a very flattering description! The Captain Cook hotel was their first choice, but it was booked months in advance because of all the cruise ships scheduled to leave the next day.

Sitka Rain Forest Excursion Alaska

Sitka rain forest excursion Alaska

Joe and Amy had a first class upper deck cabin on their Alaska Railroad train ride from Anchorage to Seward where their Regent Seven Seas Cruise liner was waiting.  Shortly after departing the train station they were treated to a wonderful breakfast. Throughout their 4 hour ride the train conductor was like a scenic tour guide focusing their attention on the various points of interest along the way.

They specifically chose to ride the smaller 500 passenger cruise instead of the larger ship (700-800 people capacity) for several reasons.  The smaller ship was more expensive, but the higher price tag provided for a more exclusive experience with a much higher class of service.  Another significant benefit in choosing the smaller ship was that it had much better access to ports in the Inside Passage that the larger ships could not reach because of the narrow channels.

Sitka Rain Forest Excursion AlaskaThe Inside Passage is a highly travelled coastal shipping route through one thousand islands and thousands of coves and bays extending approximately 15,000 miles.  The popularity of these routes are due in large part to the calm seas that result from the natural island formations littering the coast line.  The seas were choppy prior to entering the Inside Passage and Amy was feeling nauseated even after taking the complimentary Meclizine pills provided by the cruise ship.  She returned to normal once they entered the channels, but in hind sight she says she would have brought the “patch”, presumably the Transderm patch that can be placed behind the ear and cure seasickness for 3 days.  She also mentioned that eating extra “carbs” helped her keep the nausea under control.

Their accommodations were fantastic and they were treated like royalty.  They had a very large private wrap around deck with a panoramic view like no other on the ship.  It was very cold outside especially with the wind factor, so in hind sight Amy said that for the same price it would have been better to get the larger suite with a smaller private deck.  This was their first Alaskan cruise, so these are just tips they learned as first timers on what they considered to be an extraordinary adventure.

Alaska Regent Seven Seas Cruise - Iceberg

The Regent Alaskan cruise is not really made for children under 3 years of age from what I have read.   The minimum age requirement to travel on the ship is 12 months old.  Also, there is no official babysitting service on the cruise, but you can hire crew members to assist as a nannies on an individual basis if necessary.    There is a complimentary program for older children called the Club Mariner Youth Program.  The crew’s youth counselors provide all kinds of fun activities targeted for 3 different age groups: ages 5-9, 9-12, and 13-17.  This is a perfect way to entertain and educate the kids while parents can enjoy some alone time.  Activities include games, whale and glacier watching, craft tasks, on board films, and other functions designed specifically for each age group.

View Through Window of Regent Seven Seas Alaskan Cruise

View through window of Regent Seven Seas Alaskan cruise

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avatarAbout the Author:

Stan is the proud father of three young children. He and his wife love to travel frequently to places near and far with their extended family.

Tags: , Reviews, Travel Excursions
2 Comments to “Regent Seven Seas Alaskan Cruise Vacation”
  1. avatar Celebrity Millennium Alaskan Cruise Sailing out of Vancouver says:

    [...] [...]

  2. avatar Celebrity Millennium Alaska Cruise Gold Rush and Glaciers says:

    [...] as the first. While we did not experience the highly personalized service and utter relaxation of a luxury cruise, our ship was packed full of high-energy activities and entertainment. We had to be more proactive [...]