Alaska cruises seem to come in 2 varieties-one way between Vancouver and Seward, or round trip from Seattle or Vancouver. The round trips don't go as far north as the one way trips. If anyone will share which is the better trip and why, my husband and I will appreciate it.
Also, if you take the one way trip, is there opportunity for the flightseeing excursions from Seward to Denali before you disembark at the north end?
The balcony cabins are located on several decks. Is there a preferable deck?
Millenium does the one way trips. Infinity does the round trips. Any thoughts there?
I am also a rookie when it comes to Alaska (we will be visiting next year for the first time), although as a past Celebrity cruiser, I can answer some of your questions.
Celebrity offers several cruise tours that include Denali that you can tack on at the end of your cruise (if going northbound) or prior to your cruise (if going southbound). Several of the tours I saw offered free time in Denali, where you can take a flightseeing tour. Transportation from Seward to Denali is by bus or train. You can do a search on Celebrity's Web site to find out which tours are available for your sailing. Just be sure to select the option to include cruise tours when performing the search.
Millennium and Infinity are sister ships, so have the same layout. Both have a Thalassotherapy pool--a huge, adults-only, heated pool in the spa area that is free to all pax. It is a heavenly place, and a wonderful area to wind down after a day of touring.
There are so many balcony cabin configurations from which to choose, ranging from the standard balcony cabin to concierge class to suites. For the standard balcony cabins, I'd suggest Deck 7, as it's usually preferable to have other decks of cabins above and below you, rather than a show lounge. The concierge class cabins on Deck 8 are nice, too, but it's up to you to determine if it's worth the extra $. If you have concerns about motion, opt for a cabin that's located in the middle of the deck. That said, I'd read somewhere that some of the balconies forward on Decks 6 or 7 were slightly larger than others--I'll look into that, or perhaps one of our more seasoned Celebrity cruisers can confirm.
The one way sailings were created for a cruise tour option, a week long sailing combined with a land package. They offer these but you can also opt for just the one way cruise without their packages. One way sailings are generally lower cost for a one week cruise vs. a round trip just for the sailing. Once you add an open jaw flight (into one airport and return from another gateway) the overall cost is usually higher for the one way with air. You're right about getting deeper into Alaska on a one way sailing. Many people do these and make up their own land package, they spend a few days outside of a package and rent a car, book a hotel and explore on their own. This saves a little money over the cruise tour option. If you want to avoid the open jaw flight, many book a north bound sailing spend some time and book another southbound sailing on a different ship for the return a few days later. That way you can take advantage of the lower cost round trip air and get 14 days of sailing and some Alaska time.
There are flight seeing tours available but I've never heard of one that takes you as far as Denali. Most are one day glacier excursions and some have a dog-sled trip included after the flight. If you're going to want Denali included look at cruise-tour packages instead of just cruises. Your package will include a glass domed rail car ride (on most), some include a stern-wheeler boat experience and other great adventures. All will have a land trip, most to Denali. And they include accommodations. With HAL and Princess they own their own wilderness lodges where you'll stay. With RCI, Celebrity and others you stay at a 4 or 5 star hotel in or near Anchorage and take either a train or motorcoach to Denali for a day or two.
Lots of Alaska options, you really need to find a T/A who specializes in the Cruise part of the travel industry to be more specific and find they right ship, package, budget, etc. for your needs.
Thanks LisaP and TrvlPro for answering. I appreciate it and also have been reading thru more of the posts and they are helpful.
TrvlPro-if we are not interested in the land tour, would we miss anything, cruise related, by taking the round trip vs the one way trip? Or would we gain by taking the round trip?
While we would love the land tour, we don't want to try to do too much at once, so we are just looking for the best 7 day Alaska cruise. Also we are interested primarily in wildlife and landscape, not shopping or partying.
It was helpful of you to point out the reason for the one way trips. Thank you.
The round trips are on Infinity. Have you been there?
Great questions and I'll try to answer them but there are a lot of factors in whether or not you'd be missing something you'd really enjoy.
If the cruise is your primary focus a round trip is a great affordable option for Alaska. If you live in the US look for R/T sailings from Seattle for best values. You avoid international flight rates that way. If you live in Canada, look for R/T sailings from Vancouver. I believe you'd love a round trip sailing and avoid some of the coordination and cost drawbacks of the other options. It's easy and affordable, two things I like a lot in a vacation.
You can do and see a lot of Alaska on a simple 7 day cruise. There will be a multitude of excursion options at each port. Also, in between ports the breathtaking scenery is what an Alaska cruise is all about. Add in great food and service and you've got a great vacation! Let us know what you decide and about your trip when you return.
Oops, I missed your question on the ship. I have not personally sailed Infinity before but from passenger reviews I get on her including from my parents you picked a winner. Great ship, great food and service, all on an under 2000 pax ship that can get you into areas some of the larger ships could not. Celebrity is considered a premium line among mainstream cruiselines so you've chosen well. Also a very good itinerary, the Hubbard Glacier cruising day will probably be the highlight of your cruise.
Hubbard Glacier is the one glacier in the world that does not move at a glacial pace. Quite the opposite. In fact, in 1986, Hubbard Glacier--the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent--moved an average of just under 5.5 feet per hour. Keep a watchful eye as you sail through the Yakutat Bay; you may be a witness to geological history.
I have to disagree here on a couple facts about the Infinity. It carries more than 2000 passengers at double occupancy and it actually is one of the larger ships at 91,000 ton sailing Alaska. All the HAL ships are smaller, The RCI ships are smaller, Princess has some smaller and some bigger, as does NCL.
I do totally agree though that Celebrity provides a great ship, food, and service. I was on the sister ship Summit in August. Celebrity is one of my favorite cruise lines.
Hubbard Glacier is indeed beautiful. I sat on my balcony drinking hot chocolate and was mesmerized with the beauty. We watched sea otters playing in the water. The glacier roared like thunder and we saw a lot of calving.
We did the one way cruise and I personally think the northern portion was the best part of the trip, gorgeous scenery. But airfare costs more when it isn't a round trip. But I see Princess cruises are offering a 14 day round trip cruise next year that goes all the way up and back.