Alaskan Cruise

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Mar 10, 2015
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#1
After looking at photographs of my mother's Alaskan trips some decades ago, I am totally determined to take an Alaskan cruise. I know there are many lines that offer the cruise, I'd love people's opinions on their experiences of which is the best (or worst and to avoid). I am definitely interested in shore excursions, but also ship life/entertainment.

Thank you.
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#2
Cruise critic is probably a better place to ask this question. I would also suggest giving a better idea of what ship life/entertainment means to you - as it varies greatly by person and cruiseline. If you're talking dancing and being lively after 10pm you'll want to look at NCL or Royal. As for excursions - if the cruiseline doesn't have what you want you can go third party (that's what I did for all my Alaska excursions).

There's also a difference between round-trip cruises and one-way. And even within the cruiseline. ie NCL has their newest ship running RT in Alaska that has laser tag and go karts but next summer they'll also add one of their oldest ships that doesn't have any of the "crazy" new stuff and is a much smaller ship (around the sizes HAL & Princess run in Alaska).

FWIW I'm earlier 30s and did a RT on NCL's Bliss out of Seattle this year and loved it. Was in the club every night dancing! About the only negatives I could say is our port times in Ketchikan and Victoria were too short. NCL's newer ships have studios which are great for solo travelers if that's you.
 

Neil Maley

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#3
You should contact a travel agent - they can tell you the pros and cons of various cruise lines and find one that fits your personality. What I like you might not like- it takes a real discussion in your likes and dislikes to find the right one. I prefer Princess for Alaska but it might not fit what you are looking for.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#4
I would also look at doing both the sea and land portion. We enjoyed the land portion more than the sea, but also wouldn't have skipped out on the sea portion. Just the smoke smelling rooms. Maybe Princess has updated the ships/cleaned the rooms better than when we went though!
 
Mar 23, 2015
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#5
We went on the Princess Sapphire, a newer ship and had an AMAZING time. We loved every minute of both the sea portion and our excursions. We are planning another! We did a glacier sea plane, we played with sled dog puppies, we hiked, etc.. I hope you have a WONDERFUL time!! We went in August, and it WAS CHILLY and DRIZZLY though, so be aware that you need to plan for WEATHER!!
 
Mar 10, 2015
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#6
I appreciate the information. I'm not sure what I'd like on many issues, so that's why I'm just asking in general. Getting some initial information helps narrow down the areas I'll want to focus on and have some knowledge to go to a travel agent. In my experience, I need to have at least some information before I go to the travel agent, I've had bad experiences when I didn't (and yes that means the travel agent is bad, as I know now).

For example, I'm not a late night bar/dancing person, but I like going to the shows (comedy, singing/dancing by others). I will probably do it with one or both of my teenage daughters. Probably a RT cruise to start, 7 days.

Thanks again.

I'll check out cruise critic too.
 
Likes: Patina
Jan 6, 2015
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#7
I agree with all that has been said and will add from our cruise experience . . .
  • Getting there: if you leave from either Seattle or Vancouver you will likely spend two days on the inside passage. Not much to do, so entertainment is important. Bring some of your own and learn what's being offered by the various lines.
  • Juneau: two things stood out. Mendenhall Glacier and Mt Roberts tramway. A shuttle to town puts you at a point where you can access both.
  • Skagway: the White Pass and Yukon Railroad was good, but take the first one (of three). Landslides shut down the others. The Skagway Street Car provided a good narrated tour of the town.
  • Glacier Bay: great experience. we saw some calving.
  • Ketchikan: the lumberjack show was hilarious. recommend the Totem Heritage Center.
  • Victoria BC: Butchart Gardens is very beautiful
Weather is unpredictable so come prepared. A good set of binoculars is a must. We went around Memorial Day, which was a good choice. Prices go up during Jun-Aug.
 

Neil Maley

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#9
Doing a north/south itinerary is the one you want if you want to go to Denali to see animals. We did an inside passage and I wasn’t happy with the sightings we saw. I actually flew to Anchorage a few years later and did a land only tour and now recommend to our clients to add a few days on and see Denali.

Otherwise the inside passage is easier for a 7 night cruise and some lines are round trip out of Seattle. Others starts in Seattle and end in Vancouver it vice versa. I recommend a day in Victoria if you do the inside, we liked Victoria very much.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#10
Please consult a travel agent that specializes in Alaska cruises.

A qualified travel agent will review your needs and wants, review the pro/cons of specific brands, ships and itineraries, and help you book the trip that is best for you. There are many factors that need to be considered for a trip, and probably is outside of the scope of this forum.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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#12
A current passport is a must as all cruises to/from Alaska stop at Vancouver and/or Victoria. I'm not aware of any American-flagged ships offering cruises in Alaska. For legal reasons, there may be round-trips out of Seattle, but the one-ways (and perhaps round-trips) operate out of Vancouver.

We did a one-way with a land tour, which I also recommend. A land tour will stop in two or three places in the interior including Denali. Princess and Holland-American have their own hotels. And Fairbanks, at the end, was fun, especially the steamer boat tour which shows you a sea plane landing, a native village, caribou, and sled dogs.
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#15
Round trips out of Seattle are closed-loop cruises and operate on the same laws as closed-loop Caribbean cruises - US citizens can cruise on them without a passport. But like VoR61 said, the closed-loop cruises do offer some excursions that need a passport - most notably in Skagway as it's so close to the border.

One-ways must have a passport as the embarkation or debarkation port is Canadian. As well as round trips out of Vancouver.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jun 24, 2019
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#16
Round trips out of Seattle are closed-loop cruises and operate on the same laws as closed-loop Caribbean cruises - US citizens can cruise on them without a passport. But like VoR61 said, the closed-loop cruises do offer some excursions that need a passport - most notably in Skagway as it's so close to the border.

One-ways must have a passport as the embarkation or debarkation port is Canadian. As well as round trips out of Vancouver.
Closed loop cruises operating out of Seattle or other American ports may not require a passport, but as been covered here and elsewhere, if you miss the boat in Seatle, you cannot fly to Vancouver/Victoria to catch up without a passport. And if you are sick or injured you cannot leave early in Vancouver/Victoria and fly home without a passport.
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#17
Closed loop cruises operating out of Seattle or other American ports may not require a passport, but as been covered here and elsewhere, if you miss the boat in Seatle, you cannot fly to Vancouver/Victoria to catch up without a passport. And if you are sick or injured you cannot leave early in Vancouver/Victoria and fly home without a passport.
Of Course. Though all the RTs I saw when I was researching had Canada as their last port of call, so flying there would have been of little use. For my cruise we were docked in Seattle about 6 hours after leaving our one and only Canadian port.

Alaska cruises are really important to board on embarkation as missing it very likely would create a PVSA violation that will prevent you from catching up. Round trips out of Seattle mean you can't join the cruise at any Alaskan port and Northbound out of Vancouver means the same thing. On Southbound cruises the ship may allow you to board in another Alaskan city, but it will likely be very expensive to get there.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#18
Of Course. Though all the RTs I saw when I was researching had Canada as their last port of call, so flying there would have been of little use. For my cruise we were docked in Seattle about 6 hours after leaving our one and only Canadian port.

Alaska cruises are really important to board on embarkation as missing it very likely would create a PVSA violation that will prevent you from catching up. Round trips out of Seattle mean you can't join the cruise at any Alaskan port and Northbound out of Vancouver means the same thing. On Southbound cruises the ship may allow you to board in another Alaskan city, but it will likely be very expensive to get there.
This is one reason we flew in the night before. Our hotel was around $75 I think, which is a pittance compared to the cruise cost. And now we arrive the day before a cruise starts every time . . .
 
Likes: justlisa

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#19
You should first look at a number of Alaska cruise websites to get an idea of what is available and what the costs might be. Then, before talking to a travel agent, you need to come up with a budget; see what you would LIKE to spend (including airfare and other transportation expenses, as well as excursions from the ship which can add a lot of $$$ to your costs) and what you are willing to spend maximum. You should also think about the size ship you might wish to be on. The ships cruising Alaska range in size from a few 100's to several 1000's passengers. There are pros and cons for the small and large ships.

Once you have looked at these issues it is time to talk to an agent knowledgeable about Alaskan cruises. You may be offered choices outside your price point, and should consider them, but not be hesitant to say they are too expensive. Do not be persuaded that if you spend a few $1000 more you will be happy, and if you do not you will be unhappy. There are cruises to Alaska to meet almost anyone's price point.

Make sure that you plan to arrive in the port of embarkation as early as possible the day BEFORE your cruise (or even a few days earlier if possible). Also, make sure you obtain adequate travel insurance for all of your non-refundable costs such as the cruise and airfares.

Alaskan cruising is seasonal (really only June-August, with some earlier and later dates possible) and there are higher and lower prices depending on when you cruise.

P.S. This post is from Misty Fjords on a small ship (200 pax).
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#20
Nice to have you back, Jevia. Finally booked our first AK cruise 2 years ago; Alaska is indeed a magical place. Lots and lots of good information from my colleagues ... plus the most important advice: a travel agent who is a cruise expert. I spent hours reading CruiseCritic before our Holland America cruise to Alaska, our first time there. In my mind, the first thing you want to do is make a list of any and all factors important to you. Rank them. There is so much information out there that being able to organize it, even in your head, is very helpful. Alaska weather is indeed quickly-changeable ... we had to buy some t-shirts, as it was so hot in June of 2017.
 
Likes: VoR61