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Old 03-23-2011, 05:15 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Default First Anniversary! First Cruise!
HI Everyone,

We are planning on an Alaskan cruise for our first anniversary. We have never done this before, so its very confusing! Can you please guide us in selecting a good cruise ship?

We are going to take off from Seattle, WA on May 22nd 2011. We found Holland America and Princess Saffire are both taking off on that date. I like PS because their mini suite seems much less exp than HA!

1. Is it worth getting the mini suite in PS?
2. Can I get any deals on the purchase? Should I book from PS website/Call or the Orbits website/call ?
3. HOw much does it cost per day/pp in the cruise ship?
4. Are the prices for food very expensive?
5. Can I take a bottle of my favorite wine to the ship when boarding?

I know this seems like a lot of questions! and I still have more =) Just very ancy because this is our first cruise experience!!! please help =)
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Old 03-23-2011, 06:23 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 5,541
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Welcome to CruiseReviews, and congratulations on your first anniversary!

I'm going to take your questions a bit out of order, as to answer the one I feel is most important first. #2 -- I highly recommend that new cruisers, especially, book through a travel agent who has earned one or more cruise counselor certifications from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The requirements to become CLIA-certified are rigorous, and these travel agents have the knowledge to help you find the ship that's right for you as well as to answer your questions. You can find a CLIA-certified agent here: Welcome | Cruise Lines International Association. Scroll down and look for the Cruise Expert Finder on the lower right. Type in your ZIP code to generate a list of CLIA travel agents in your area.

You can expect to pay separately (that is, outside of the cruise fare) for several items while onboard. First, is tipping. For those in mini-suites, Princess assesses a charge of $11 per passenger per day. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks will also cost. So will dining in specialty restaurants, such as Sabatini's (Italian), Sterling (steakhouse), or the Ultimate Balcony Dinner (full dinner, with waiter service, served on your private balcony). Specialty restaurants aren't required--the ship has several dining rooms in which meals are included in the cost of your fare. You can also expect to spend $ on photos and other souvenirs.

Princess' alcohol policy does permit you to bring a bottle of wine onboard. If you choose to enjoy this in the dining room, a corkage fee of $15 applies.

I hope this helps, as a start. Alaska is a wonderful destination for cruising!
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Happy cruising!
LisaP
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Old 03-23-2011, 06:55 AM
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Location: Alabama
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Hi Shibi, welcome to CruiseReviews! Congratulations!

I second Lisa's advice on finding a good travel agent, CLIA certified. It will not cost a penny more and most of the time they can get better rates. Lisa covered all the extras except the casino, if you choose to participate. Of course, your excursions are extra. You can book those through the ship or privately. However, if you book privately, you must be sure to get back to the ship on time. They will not wait.

A mini-suite is not that much larger than a balcony, but your travel agent can guide you into making the proper choice. They can ask you the questions to determine what would fulfill your desires the best.

I can assure you, either Princess or HAL will not disappoint you. They are both great cruise lines. For me, Princess is my favorite, but that is only my opinion.

Please let us know what you end up booking!
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:45 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 410
Default PCL or HAL
I totally agree with the advice you've been given. I will offer one little additional tip.

Alaskan cruises tend to be more adults anyway as opposed to Bahamas or Caribbean. But be advised Holland American tends to lean a bit older as to the clientele. Princess is for the most part a younger crowd, if that means anything to you.

But I agree they are both great lines and wonderful ships. Have a great time.
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:36 AM
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Thanks for all the info guys,

I have contacted a travel agent and she has offered to send me the details of the cruise.

I'm very excited and confused at the same time =)

Also, are websites like travelocity good in booking the pricess cruise? it seems like they offer better discounts.

Are there preferences on which balcony suites you take? there are many ranging from mid, front and back..l'm thinking front would be better
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:39 PM
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Actually, you want mid-ship if you have the slightest problem with motion. Even if you don't, mid-ship is usually centrally located to where you want to go on board. The rear facing balconies are really neat, but more expensive. Trust me, travelocity is not going to be there to answer your questions, even if they are a few dollars less. A travel agent, that is a good one, will answer your questions, calm your fears, and give you all the perks they can. Normally, they'll send a basket of fruit or a bottle of wine to greet you in your cabin, too. I booked 1 cruise through a website and will never do it again. The "good deal" did not include port taxes and fees, they messed up my deposit so the cruise ended up costing me an extra $60 from their "good deal" price. There was nothing to greet me and no follow up. I had to get all my own documents, which I knew how to do, thankfully. They sent no thank you, and offered no assistance.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:33 AM
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Thanks everyone, I booked my ticket last night!

I live in a small town in the midwest and the only agent who was here gave me a much higher rate than the princess website itself! and did not care to answer any of my questions.

I called up the princess hot line and they were more helpful! I did notice travellocity charging extra fees so I didnt go with them.

My only worry is that I did not see your reply Penny3333 and booked a balcony in the front! I hope I dont get dizzy =)

Anyways, long story shot.. I'm going on a cruise to Alaska!!!!

To make up for the money in the cruise I cheaped up on the tours... I've done some research of the forums to figure out where we can go for excursions ourselves without relying on the cruise excursions.

Here's my complete list. Please let me know if t looks good!


Cruise
Itinerary:
Port Arrival Departure
1 Seattle, Washington 12:00 3:00 Boarding 4:00 PM
2 At Sea
3 Ketchikan, Alaska 6:30 AM 4:00 PM
4 Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska (Scenic Cruising) 6:00 AM 10:00 AM
4 Juneau, Alaska 2:00 PM 10:00 PM
5 Skagway, Alaska 6:00 AM 5:00 PM
6 At Sea
7 Victoria, British Columbia 7:00 PM 11:59 PM
8 Seattle, Washington 7:00 AM


Ketchikan, Alaska
Stop Time Place
1 Totom Heritage center (City of Ketchikan) 5/pp
2. Misty Fjord flying 209/pp for 2 hours Juneau Alaska Whale Watching | Orca Enterprises
Misty Gjords and Glasier 385 /pp Island Wings Air Service - Misty Fjords Flightseeing Tours, Seaplane Service, Ketchikan Alaska
Misty flying 230/pp https://mistyfjordsair.com/
3 Sea Kayaking 68/pp for 2.5 hrs Juneau Alaska Whale Watching | Orca Enterprises 188 733 6722
4 DownTown Ketchikan
Lunch
Alaskan Fish House *** $$
Fish and Chips **** $$
Salmon Landing
Ketchikan, AK 99901


Juneau, Alaska
Stop Time Place
1 Take bus to Mendenhall Glacier 7/pp
Glacier Spur Rd
Juneau, AK 99801
Visitor Center 4/0pp
Tongass Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center
2. Mount Roberts Tramway 27/pp (Optional Only view is good on sunny days)
Aerial Alaska Tram Ride Up Mount Roberts: Mount Roberts Tramway | Goldbelt Tourism – Juneau, Alaska Goldbelt Tours

Skagway, Alaska
Stop Time Place
1 White Pass + Yukon Route Railroad Book from Cruise 119/pp
Lunch? Skagway Brewing CO **** $$ - For Goku =)
7th St and Broadway
Skagway, AK 99840

Victoria, British Columbia
Stop Time Place
1 Take cab to Butchart Gardens
The Butchart Gardens - Home 27/pp
2 Victoria Shuttle of theprincess 7/pp

No Place Cost
Cruise $2795.38
Totom Heritage $10
Misty Fjoyds $420
Sea Kayak $140
Glasier $14
Tram $54
Railroad $240
Butchart Garden $60
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:56 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Alabama
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It looks like you have done your homework. They sound like great tours, especially the train. I seriously doubt you'll have any trouble with the cabin you booked. The ships are so large now, it takes some really rough seas the feel any movement.

I'm sorry to hear the travel agent was not willing to take time with you. But, I am glad to hear Princess was able to answer your questions. I have booked directly through Princess as well and have only once run into someone not willing to help. This was right after they were bought by Carnival PCL, so I'm sure by now they have things straightened out.

I hope you get to see whales I also hope you enjoy Princess as much as we do
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