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Advice on Alaska Cruise needed!


coachmac9

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I know this an RV site but I'm betting a lot of you folks have experienced an Alaska Cruise or know something about them...I want to surprise my wife for our 36th anniversary. What is the best time to go, best cruise lines to use, some fun inland excursions to take and any other info I need to know about!!! Thanks in advance!!!

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We're not big tour people but we went with our daughter and her husband on Norwegian out of Seattle this summer. We went on a 7-day cruise that included an entire day in which the ship circled in Glacier Bay. Of all the things we did on the cruise that was the single best event IMO. Not all cruises include Glacier Bay because the Park Service controls the number of ships that can go in there. We did an "up and back" roundtrip from Seattle; there are all sorts of variations available.

 

One aspect of cruising that I believe is unique to Norwegian is its "open" dining which means that you are free to eat at any restaurant on the ship at any time you wish. You always eat at small tables for you and your friends (if you wish to include others). There are no assigned tables and no fixed eating times. We are free spirits enough that we would not have done well with a more structured dining style.

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I liked Holland America. I went with a Women of Faith group in Aug and it was good sailing. I did not go on many of the excursions.

X2. We did the cruise up and a full land tour. Once in a lifetime & bucket list item. Holland America won't disappoint, IMHO!

 

rocmoc n AZ/Fld/Baja

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Thanks for the input! Docj, I am with you, I don't do well with structured events or dining.

 

After 5 years of full-timing and setting our own schedules, the one thing we really didn't like about the cruise was the very limited and precisely defined amount of time available for shore excursions. For example, the ship stopped at Victoria BC on a beautiful summer Saturday evening. The city was hopping with music, street arts, etc. We could easily have stayed out until midnight (and would have enjoyed several more days to see the town) but we had to be back on the ship after less than 4 hours because it was time to leave. Similarly, in Skagway we rented a car and drove to Emerald Lake in Yukon but couldn't keep going on to Whitehorse because of the time constraints.

 

Despite as much fun as we did have, going on the cruise further convinced us that we aren't candidates for any kind of organized sightseeing whether it is a cruise ship or a tour bus!

 

Joel

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Consider taking a small ship cruise. That is a ship with 30-100 passengers. You would fly to Juneau, board the ship and cruise the inland passage including Glacier Bay, returning to Juneau in 7-13 days. The cruise takes you up close to glaciers, whales, seals, porpoises, etc. You get to kayak in and around small floating ice burgs, walk or hike on land and have easy access to a naturalist describing what you are seeing. Food is usually excellent and served in an informal setting with views out the windows of the water or shore line.

 

We took this kind of cruise the last week of May in 1999 and really enjoyed it.

 

Doing a search for "Alaska small ship cruise" turned up several websites offing cruises. This one sounded especially interesting: http://www.alaskandreamcruises.com/

 

If you take the very popular cruise ships, the one with 1000 to 3000 passengers you will be going on a party boat. The fun here is not seeing Alaska, and the inland passage but eating, dinning and partying in the ship. Oh, you will see the major towns, you may come within 1/2 to 1 mile of a glacier, and probably see whales, etc from a distance, but really the draw is the onboard entertainment.

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If you take the very popular cruise ships, the one with 1000 to 3000 passengers you will be going on a party boat. The fun here is not seeing Alaska, and the inland passage but eating, dinning and partying in the ship. Oh, you will see the major towns, you may come within 1/2 to 1 mile of a glacier, and probably see whales, etc from a distance, but really the draw is the onboard entertainment.

 

I agree with your conclusions but the cost of a small boat cruise is 2x-3x the cost of a standard "large cruise". Not everyone can or will want to spend that kind of money.

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Another option for your consideration. Take the ferry. The cruise ships go from one jewelry store to the next, traveling at night. You can schedule your ferry travel to move during the day.....you are there for the scenery aren't you ? Stay a day or two at the stops that interest you, and enjoy local attractions on YOUR schedule. Not as glitzy, but depends on you want out of the trip.

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I agree with your conclusions but the cost of a small boat cruise is 2x-3x the cost of a standard "large cruise". Not everyone can or will want to spend that kind of money.

2x-3x the cost of a large ship??? The 8 day small ship cruise in the link I gave above is about $3400/person for a cabin with a picture window and private bath. So on a large ship you can get a room with a picture window (not a port hole window) for about $1100? is that really possible?

 

As far a cost goes, it seems to me instead of going on a large cruise ship where the entertainment is on the ship, why not take the airfare cost and cruise ship cost and go to a 4 star resort for a week.

 

But we all have our likes and dislikes and have to decide how we want to spend our $$$.

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2x-3x the cost of a large ship??? The 8 day small ship cruise in the link I gave above is about $3400/person for a cabin with a picture window and private bath. So on a large ship you can get a room with a picture window (not a port hole window) for about $1100? is that really possible?

 

As far a cost goes, it seems to me instead of going on a large cruise ship where the entertainment is on the ship, why not take the airfare cost and cruise ship cost and go to a 4 star resort for a week.

 

But we all have our likes and dislikes and have to decide how we want to spend our $$$.

 

You act as if I'm justifying or supporting "large boat" cruises; if you are you surely haven't understood my previous posts. I am simply reporting, not advocating. We were given this cruise by our daughter and S-I-L; we would never have bought it on our own and, having been on it, we are unlikely to ever book another one.

 

But as for costs, our balcony room (with bath) cost ~$2k/person on Norwegian for a 7-day cruise and there were plenty of rooms in the ~$1500 class that had decent sized windows. I think the lowest price for windowless inside rooms was in the ~$900 range. So the cost you cite of $3400/person is nearly twice the price of our balcony room so, 2X relative to a room with window is about right.

 

No one is criticizing the benefits of a small boat cruise; all I said is that some people might simply be unable to afford it or might not want to spend that much on one even if they could.

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Singeing, wife and I have been on 5 Alaskan cruises for two weeks each time. We used princess 2 times, Royal Carribean 2 times, and 1 time with Holland America. Over the years l have taken about 20 cruises. There is not much difference between ships. I like Celebrity, first, Holland America, second, and then Princess or Royal Caribbean, then Norweigan.

 

On a cruise in Alaska, going to the glaciers and seeing them calve is one of the highlights of the trip. Do take a trip by helicopter and go dog sledding on the glacier. Another sidetrip was flying from Fairbanks to Coldfoot in the Artic Circle and visiting the colony to town in Coldfoot where abou 75 people live and meet the people and discover how they live, no electric, no plumbing, etc. We usually see whales along side the ships or take a side trip to view them.

In Ketchican, take the train over the Klondike.

 

We took a two week back to back cruise from Vancouver to Seward, and then back to Vancouver. We took two cruises from Vancouver to Whittier and fron Whittier back to Vancouver over a two week cruise both times.

 

The other was a cruise and land tour for 13 days. We had seven days on the ship and 6 days tour on land by way of bus and train. The bus was was a million dollar provost and the train cars were Royal Carribean coaches. We left Vancouver for the cruise up the inside passage to Seward. Rode a nice bus to Anchorage and spent the night and on the 6th day ending in Fairbanks.

 

Seeing Denali National Park and the mountain was an awesome experience. And take a jeep safari.

 

Good luck, and enjoy your trip.

Skt

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You act as if I'm justifying or supporting "large boat" cruises; if you are you surely haven't understood my previous posts. I am simply reporting, not advocating. We were given this cruise by our daughter and S-I-L; we would never have bought it on our own and, having been on it, we are unlikely to ever book another one.

 

But as for costs, our balcony room (with bath) cost ~$2k/person on Norwegian for a 7-day cruise and there were plenty of rooms in the ~$1500 class that had decent sized windows. I think the lowest price for windowless inside rooms was in the ~$900 range. So the cost you cite of $3400/person is nearly twice the price of our balcony room so, 2X relative to a room with window is about right.

 

No one is criticizing the benefits of a small boat cruise; all I said is that some people might simply be unable to afford it or might not want to spend that much on one even if they could.

Thanks for providing the costs for large ship cruises. I was surprised by the 2x-3x number. I didn't mean to suggest you were supporting large ship cruises.

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Well swing, .

 

Consider the Land and sea package and the last cruise of the season, it was 40% cheaper. Holland from Vancouver to Seaward and a class C, Seaward to Seattle.

 

See the other side of Alaska at your own pace, avoid the hassle of lugging luggage around.

 

Ride the park bus to the end of Denali. Ride the employee shuttle in Denali meet some neat people. Moose in front of camper was not too scary.

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rktLKu_dN_Y

 

Stop at Watson Lake.....https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aYCti9bSlTw

 

Liars hot springs.....British Columbia

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z7f5umC5t48

 

If you decide to drive back to the states I highly recommend these two books.

 

The Senator cinched the building the AlCan highway when he said---we either build it to Alaska or Japan will build in down

 

http://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-alaska-highway/8097738/?gclid=CM-ji_rg7coCFYk9gQodKvEIRA#isbn=0968487505&pcrid=70112859672&pkw=&pmt=&plc=

 

Interesting to find that Western Canada was provided modern phone service courtesy of the U.S. ARMY

 

http://www.amazon.ca/Direct-Touch-World-Telecommunications-1865-1992/dp/096961280X

 

It took us almost two weeks to make it back to Seattle. It was awesome trip, just don't drive at night.

 

Trucken.

My only regret was not knowing about Watson Lake, however out of the 80,000 signs found one for our city,

 

.

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Again, thank you guys for the info! Another question...we are wanting to miss a lot of the big peak crowds and the options given were either Middle Sept or May when school is normally in session...any preferences or problems that you guys can see for these general times?? One better than the other??

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Our key planned attraction were float plane flights and both ended up being canceled because of weather. Some of our party took the train at Skagway and we met them at the Canadian border with a rental car. Even though the train was highly rated, we all agreed that the car was more fun because we could do a lot more and go into Yukon to Emerald Lake. There's an Avis rental office in Skagway and, if you make a reservation, the prices aren't all that bad.

 

In Victoria we didn't go to Butchart Gardens because it was so late in the day the gardens wouldn't have looked all that impressive.

 

All in all our experience with excursions was so-so. We had been told that we could do many things better on our own and almost always for less money than the cruise line charged. I think that's probably true.

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Well Swing

 

As I posted before, Consider the Land and Sea package.

 

https://www.bestofalaskatravel.com/alaska_highway_cruises/pages/alaska_highways_adventure.htm

 

Here is what you will miss after cruise.

No bugs, no crowds, little traffic. Mushers at the Iditarod headquarters, Denali bus driver (college student from Colorado) said we were parents, stayed free and bus ride for park comped. Mrs Angel and hubby that cleared 40 acres by hand for their small plane. Road construction worker that gave us blue ice from glacier. Sally, left states at 22, truck gave out at TOK and didn't know where her 3 husbands were, they weren't much anyway. Or Canadian champion chuck wagon racer or their 40 head of horses. People stories made the trip fascinating.

 

You do want to miss. Buffalo, Dall Sheep, Elk, Moose, walking or laying beside the road.

 

See the people side of ALASKA.

Trucken

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We did much as Trucken but with Princess Land and Sea and we went in the end of July, start of August. It was a great trip, service was excellent, our tours were mostly great with only one that was so-so and the services of the cruise people were just amazing. We flew into Fairbanks and were met at the plane by Princess folks and from that point on we never managed a suitcase, went to a desk to check in, nor any of the little time wasting things usually associated with travel. Each morning of a travel day we tagged our suitcases before leaving for breakfast and when we would arrive at our next stop (on the land tour) we were given our room key as we departed the train or bus and our bags were in the room when we walked in. We also took a cabin with a small balcony, which I believe is a must for an Alaskan cruise as much of the tour is seen from your ship.

 

We took an all day trip into Denali NP and ours was nothing short of spectacular. But with any wildlife tour there is always the possibility that the animals will not be cooperative so it is important to keep that in mind. Friends with us took the half day trip and saw very little as most of the larger animals were farther in than the half day trip went.

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