Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alaska Cruise

For almost 2 years, I was planning to take cruise vacation. Star Cruises from Singapore and now Mumbai was always an easy choice. But visiting Penang, Phuket,Goa, Cochin etc was no fun as i had already visited these places and they offered same shore excursions/activities that one can have by visiting Goa. Alaska was ideal choice. It was very different from the all the places i have visited earlier. But Alaska Cruises are costly and one is not sure of weather conditions in Alaska. There may be severe cold or rain and fog that can spoil your trip completely. But big Cruise ship was an added attraction and those on Alaska trip are best of the lot.

For Alaska cruise one has to start preparing from Nov. for next June cruise. Cruise calender is out in November with all the sailing for the next season-Mid May to October. Its a difficult task to choose a cruise that is good but not very costly,and visits places that interest you. Normally cruises start from Seattle(US),Vancouver(Canada) and go north and return or it starts from Seward ,Alaska(US) and travel Southward. Usual port of call are Seward,Janue,Skagway,Kitchikan and Price Rupert among other. I had selected round trip from Seattle with halts at Januea,Skagway and Prince Rupert. One requires Visa for both US and Canada (Single entry).By March one should have Visas ready as its time to make full payment which is non refundable.

My cruise sailing was from Seattle in may end.Cruise Liner was Royal Caribbean. We reached Pier. Our luggage, tagged with special tags with my name and Cabin No. was screened and checked in.Now we had to wait in long que for our check in. As everyone had done e-check in,the process was quick and soon we had our Plastic cards which would work as our Cabin door keys and as Credit card for all the transaction on the cruise. Since our luggage would take some time to arrive, we decided to explore the Ship. Unfortunately Cruises are hyped up vacation. Though the ship was big, facilities were on par with any good resort on land. Rather Five star resort would score highly on every count. Our ship had two main Dining areas.On 9th floor deck was Self serving buffet which had something for everyone. There were Fruits, salads, Veg and Non Veg. main courses, special Dish for the day, soups and Deserts. Sodas and juices were available a plenty.But menu was same everyday,very few changes. Other was Main Dining area, where one can have sit down four course dinner with Salad, side dish, Main dish and desert. The choices were good for Non Vegetarians -especially Sea food lovers as Salmon,Cod,Shrimps were always on the menu,and Lobster and crab alternately- but for vegetarians , it was really tough.They hardly liked anything -except desert. For them Fast Food at Solarium on 9th Floor deck serving Fries,Pizzas,Burgers, Cookies was heaven. They survived on them. Then there is 24 hrs Room service. There were number of well stocked Bars. As one is not allowed to take Alcohol on board , if you want to have drink you have to visit bar.Many bars were located at vantage location and one can really have good time in the bar. There was Disco. after 10 pm. Shows in the afternoon and Evening. Bingo sessions, Magic shows, Culinary ,Yoga, Dancing classes.One can read in Library -though their collection of books was poor.- or play Cards in Card Room. There was well equipped Gym. and Spa. Two heated swimming pools and 6 Jacuzzi or Whirlpools.There was Casino with slot Machines,Poker,Roulette Table. For Children there was special Playing area. On board shopping was Tax free and Duty free-but their inventory was not great. There were speciality restaurants.
But it was confined space. As if one is under house arrest in 5-7* Resort.On the day of cruising there was nothing to do. With sea all around you as far as one can see and waves which makes you sea sick as you walk about unsteadily, after a while it gets boring. To top it, The cabins are really, really small. Though I was prepared for Cabin size after my experience with Nile River Cruise in Egypt- i expected little bigger room in such a big Cruise liner. Room and bathroom were compact and small. It makes one Claustrophobic. So on Cruise ship feeling of Isolation and Claustrophobia is always there. You don't like to go to your 'small' room. On the Decks vast sea all around gives you the same feeling. If you are prone to Sea Sickness then only God can help you. Nausea and Drowsiness makes your life really miserable. You long for Terra Fir ma-Land-under your feet and when Ship docks at port you are impatient to get out of the Ship and on to the land, where you feel at ease. Unfortunately this Cruise vacation comes at pretty high price-never less than $150/per night per person.Cost of Shore Excursions are extra(Say about $500-700 p.p.).
So Is it worth to go on Cruise vacation? Well, I am not sure. One thing I am sure of 'It is not very good Value Vacation for the Money spent.'

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