6-8 of us are going on an Alaskan cruise Aug/Sept 2010. Waiting for vacations to be approved before booking. I would like input on suggestions for the best ship and itinerary. I know we want to sail in and out of Seattle. If not then Vancouver but we would have to arrange transportation to and/or from Seattle as we will fly in and out of Seattle. I have read posts from people who feel the inside passage is a must so that is what I have been looking at. Any thoughts on that?
Any suggestions on the best ship to take for this cruise? We have been on one Holland America cruise which was on the Eurodam. I had likes and dislikes but would sail them one more time. My sister and husband said never again! We are mid 30s to early 60s and do like to have a lot of fun.
Any excursions not to be missed? not interested in breaking the bank on some of these excursions. Also read that you can book many of them at port. We usually book ours all on line. Very rarely through the ship. All about the $$$. Have to save some for the next cruise.
Hello SanDee; my personal opinion is that the Inside Passage is the best choice if you are not going to do a land tour in conjunction with your cruise. The 7 days across the Gulf of Alaska is a nice way to start or end a land tour; but you will actually see more on a round-trip Inside Passage cruise.
I think Princess is the best choice for Alaska and you have your choice of Golden Princess or Star Princess on round-trips from Seattle. The ships are sisters and both have recently been refurbished, so either would be great.
The best ship is going to be the one that meets your needs and expectations. All the cruise lines sailing Alaska can provide a good cruise experience. Some like Princess and HAL have been sailing Alaska the longest. They may be the better choice for some people for specific reasons. Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian may be good choices for your group. All three cruise lines offer ships out of Seattle or the one way cruises North bound/South Bound. You will find even the Seattle cruises can sail the inside passage. They just might not sail as much of the inside passage as the one way cruises. Most all of them stop at the most popular ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. With those three ports you will see a lot of the inside passage. Some will say you have to see Glacier Bay. It is beautiful. I've also seen Hubbard Glacier; and unless you could see them side by side you won't know the difference.
My first time to Alaska I flew into Seattle because it was cheaper and took the "Quick Shuttle" up to Vancouver. I swore, never again. It was anything but quick. The first hour was interesting, and the last three were not.
You can do several excursions on your own. There will be many opportunities right at the pier. The White Pass rail is most popular in Skagway, Whale watching in Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier are big. Ketchikan has the Lumberjack show and the Totem Pole Village which are popular. Other excursions may be of more interest to you depending on your likes/dislikes, such as ziplines, salmon bakes, and kayaking. Whatever you choose is likely to make great memories of your Alaska cruise.
A good cruise oriented travel agent can help you sort out the differences in the cruise lines. They may have some specials on Alaska.
f-mattox thanks for the insight. I have been looking at only cruises that do the inside passage. You live in my childhood area. Grew up in Fountain Valley. Graduated from Orange Coast College.
cruise fanatic is Glacier Bay or Hubbard Bay part of the cruise or are those seen on excursions? We thought of sailing out of Seattle and then ending in Vancouver and spending a day or two in Vancouver. Then taking the bus to SeaTac. Don't like the thought of a 4 hr bus ride.
Our son and his girlfriend will be joining us from London. They are adventurous people who like the outdoors and very much looking forward to seeing Alaska. DS does not like the cruising really but likes the things to do in the ports. Not the type to lay around. Always going. He loves fishing so I know anything to do with that he might like. This will be our first cold weather cruise so it will be different than what we are used to. Love the fun in the sun but we are anxious to see the beauty of Alaska.
We have been on 3 Alaskan cruises. One on Princess from Seattle, and 2 on HAL from Vancouver. All 3 cruises were 7 day round trip. We prefer the Vancouver trips. You get the same major ports. The difference is from Vancouver you get Glacier Bay, from Seattle you do Victoria. The Victoria stop is late maybe 7pm to 11pm. Now Victoria is a very nice port but I would rather spend a day in Glacier Bay than a few hours in Victoria. Leaving from Vancouver gives you some calmer seas around the Vancouver Island area, you sail the east side of the island instead of the west side. No matter which trip you choose you will enjoy it.
Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier are both stops of the cruise. The ship will get as close as it can to the glacier, and then park for about half a day. Most ships have a naturalists that will give talks about the glaciers. It's a quiet, peaceful day of just watching the glacier, listening for the glacier thunder sound, and watching for the calving. Many people will be gathered at the bow of the ship to watch. If you have a balcony it's a nice day to spend on your balcony. I sat on the balcony with a wool blanket, sipping on hot chocolate, and for about an hour watched sea otters play in the water.
Since your son is coming from so far, you might want to consider doing the North Bound or South Bound cruise from Vancouver to Whittier or Seward or Vice Versa; where you could add on some interior land in Denali Park.
Weather in Alaska can surprise you. One year when I went in the middle of August, it was beautiful 70's the whole time and no rain.
My mistake, Princess has changed their itinerary since we have been on her. They do go into Glacier. I do not see them going into Hubbard. The difference would be Tracy's Arm. We enjoyed Tracy's Arm, but Victoria is nice also.
On the Princess Cruise you are in Glacier Bay an hour earlier. Great if you like to take pictures, not if you like to sleep.
You are also into Ketchikan early. I got some great shots of Creek Street when we were there early. the water is smooth as glass early and makes greats photos. Also you will have fewer people in the photos. You still get good shots later just not great.
I also got good sunset pics in Victoria. I think it comes down to more scenic crusing (Tracy's Arm) or more city.
Thanks for all the tips. Keep them coming. Some have posed the question to me about day and night hrs. Always been told that part of the year is is light almost 24 hrs and then other times dark for almost 24 hrs. What is the scoop especially in Aug/Sept. Looking foward to great pictures. What exactly is calving. I know you are not talking about a cow or whale! Must have to do with the glaciers.
The Summer Solstice (June 21st) is the longest day of the year, or the day with the most sunlight. I was in Sitka once on the Solstice; the Sun sank just a little below the horizon, stayed there a while, then came back up. The Winter Solstice(December 21st) is just the opposite: it is dark 24 hours a day. The farther North you are, the more pronounced are these phenomenon. The rest of the year cycles between these two extremes. In August and September you will have daylight up to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. and twilight as late as midnight.
"Calving" is just a large piece of the face of a glacier breaking off and crashing into the bay.