My husband and myself are planning on taking my parents on a cruise to Alaska next year for their 30th anniversary. I've read hundreds of posts on this site and it seems that people here are very friendly and helpful, so I was hoping you could answer a few questions for me as well.. thanks in advance for any help!
1) We were thinking about going in late May, but I've read some weather-related posts that made me think that maybe August is better, especially since my mom is fairly cold weather-aversed. Is either month "better"? are the prices the same?
2) What's the practical difference between an inner passage cruise and a "voyage of the glaciers" cruise in terms of wildlife viewing, excursions etc.?
3) I've read a lot about oceanview rooms having obstructed view; how can I avoid this? Do I have to call in order to book something not obstructed, or can that be done online? also, is there a difference between the sides of the ship, as far as the view goes?
4) Finally, we've taken a carribean cruise and had a great time, is there any major difference between the cruises (other than the cold weather and the no-beach part, of course) that I should know about and prepare for?
What a wonderful anniversary present for your parents, and congratulations to them on their 30 years--that's terrific. You ask some good questions, and I'll keep my answers short, as I'm sure others will have lots to add.
l. You can have "good" weather and "bad" weather at any time during the Alaska season, which is roughly from early May to late September. But your best odds of "good" weather are from late June to early August. And as you might expect, the fares reflect that probability of good weather(and other factors also); a catagory EE oceanview on Golden Princess for a 7 day Inside Passage ranges from $1274 in early May and late September to $1699 from late June to early August. The range is similar for Voyage of the Glaciers sailings.
2. The biggest reason for the Voyage of the Glaciers cruise is to get you to or from a land excursion to the interior, which of course is a wonderful trip. But if you are thinking of a cruise-only, the Inside Passage will provide you with more shore excursions and opportunities for viewing wildlife than cruising across the Gulf of Alaska.
3. The Princess brochures are very specific about which oceanview cabins are obstructed or partially obstructed. On all the larger ships catagory EE up will be unobstructed. If you don't have any brochures, all this information is available at princess.com
There is much discussion here about which side of the ship is best for viewing, but I assure you, based on many years experience, that there is NO advantage to one side over another.
4. I think you pretty much have the right idea of what is different from a Caribbean cruise. You'll need some warm clothing and waterproof outer garments. But be prepared to layer--it can also be very pleasant, like mid-70's and sunny. There will be a noticeable lack of activity around the pools, although the hot tubs will be at a premium. Viewing Glacier Bay from a hot tub is quite an experience.
I hope this gives you some ideas. I'd love to help with any other questions, as I am sure would many others here at cruise-chat.
Enjoy planing your cruise--it's half the fun. And keep in touch; let us know which itinerary and ship you decide on.
You will love Alaska no matter which week you go...We've been there early May and there was snow, and we've been there in early June and wore shorts on the days it wasn't raining:-).
To me Alaska is almost a religious experience...
This cruise was by far our favorite!! We went in late May and it was cold cold cold (from Florida, so....you get the idea ) BUT...the chilly weather set the ambience for us: Alaska=cold (in our minds anyways) and we wouldn't have had it any other way. It was so cold and rainy/snowy/windy one day, my wife and I were running around on deck while at sea and we had quite an audience watching us act like idiots. At one point I thought we were going to be blown overboard!!
My opinion on cabin selection is a balcony. I wouldn't do an Alaskan cruise any other way. Sitting on your balcony in privacy while sipping coffee and hot chocolate rather than with the crowds on deck was wonderful.
I really couldn't tell an advantage from either side of the ship. The ship is rotated in a circle when you're viewing a glacier, so no real advantage from one side to the other.
Hopefully you will be able to take a couple of the great excursions that are offered also!
So basically I've just echoed what f-mattox has said. You'll have a great time on this cruise no matter what/when you decide to do/go. (Just typing this reply makes me want to go again!!)
Thank you so much f-mattox, Berick1234 and kkonty!! I booked the cruise according to your recommendations (f-mattox, your detailed answer was incredibly helpful) and now all I have to do is wait for May. Is it May yet? :-)
I believe Golden Princess and Sun Princess are both doing the Inside Passage cruises out of Seattle; which one are you on?
My wife was just on Golden Princess in October and had a balcony cabin on Baja deck, and though not as big as some of the other balconies, she said it was quite comfortable. On Sun Princess the balconies are larger but recessed so you are covered but your field of view is smaller. The Baja deck cabins on Golden Princess are covered by the Aloha deck balconies.