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1st time Alaskan Cruise/1st Cruise ever

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Jul 23rd, 2013, 01:05 PM
  #1
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1st time Alaskan Cruise/1st Cruise ever

Hi all,I am 74 yr old female widow travelling w/widowed sister little younger. We are 1st time cruisers, 1st time to Alaska. We need help with everything: how to dress for day, for dinner at night on boat?, in town? What shore excursions to do? What the tour operator doesn't tell you? What necessities I need to pack? Please help leaving very soon! Thanks to all
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Jul 23rd, 2013, 04:26 PM
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First of all welcome to Fodors nd congrats on that 1st cruise!!

Day dress is casual. its whatever you want to wear that keeps you comfortable.

Dinner is usually smart casual and there are two formal nights. Long evening gowns are suggested but you don't have to be so fancy if you don't want to be. Nice dresses will be fine.

For in town dress casually. This Alaska hun. People rough it and luv it that way.

Pick a shore excursion that excites you, do be aware that they are costly or can be and do be aware that some are more strenuous than others so be choosy. The lever of effort will be noted.

Dress in layers, have a light water proof outer jacket or coat, bring meds if you have the need in your carry on luggage and a good pair of binoculars would be a good idea.

Do be aware that when you board you will get a seapass card and this carry with you at all times. You will need it to get into your room, on and off the ship and to purchase anything on the ship. Cash is never used on board.

Cheers, Larry
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Jul 23rd, 2013, 06:05 PM
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Larry, you seem to be quite knowledgable of cruising. Can you ttell me what type of footwear will be best. I'm in fairly good shape for my age, although from time to time info suffer with vertigo and will have my meds on hand.. any suggestions on shore excursions': like Mendenhall glacier, etc? Wont the evenings be to cold for elaborate dressing on the ship?
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Jul 23rd, 2013, 07:25 PM
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During the day wear comfortable walking shoes with good support.

Evening wear can be more dressy but do try for comfort.

Shore excursions are the best part of any Alaskan cruise so my advice is to look at what the offerings are in each port. Then decide which one you want to do the most and be sire its not too strenuous for you. A helicopter to Mendendall glacier was our choice in Juneau. In any case I think it's best that you decide what's best for you.

Weather is unpredictable so it's hard to say. Evenings on the ship will be mostly indoors so feeling cold wont be an issue unless it is chilly and you want to walk outside. You should be fine with layers as some days may be cooler than others.

You will love Alaska. Any other questions just ask.

Larry
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Jul 24th, 2013, 03:28 AM
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We have been on several cruises and one Alaska cruise.
1. dress for day: comfort and practical rules here for Alaksa. Layers, comfortable shoes - regardless of what they look like, and bringing a waterproof jacket is essential. For daytime I usually wore long pants, short sleeved shirt, fleece, and waterproof jacket when on open deck.

2. dress for night. Dress at night is not as formal or dressy as warm-water cruises. Ignore the photos in the brochure or on website - they are all of gorgeous people in their 20s and 30s wearing really nice clothes. We found Alaska cruise passengers to be considerably older and not fashion-plates. For dinner business-type dress was the norm. A simple dress, dress pants with nice blouse, jacket, jewelry. Never saw one person with a long gown - although we did on warm-water cruises.

3. What to pack. Although I usually pack quite lightly, I throw that aside for a cruise since after you arrive at the port you never touch your luggage. So beyond your clothing, nothing special. Like a nice hotel, ship has soap, shampoo, lotion in cabins. Plenty of towels. For Alaska some binoculars, a camera. Your cell phone may or may not work and be sure to check on cost to use since sometimes you are in US and sometimes Canadian waters on trip north or south.

4. My favorite cruise tip. After the first night, either in person or with a note, leave a small tip ($5-10) for your cabin steward. This is the time to ask for another pillow, etc or just say thanks - the cabin looks nice. On most cruiselines tips are auto-added to your bill, and by doing this at the beginning of the trip you will get a little extra service from your cabin steward/cleaner.

5. Cruising in general. On check-in you give the cruiseline a credit card number and they give you a combination room key/ship charge card. On Board all meals and ship activities are included in your fare. All beverages beyond coffee/tea with meals are extra - even soda, coffee on deck. Often there is a coffee/tea/lemonade station at the buffet where you can get these things all day for free. Obviously alcohol is extra. Every time you order something like this they add a tip to your check - you give the guy your room card and they charge it to your account. The final night they give you a tab that will be charged to your credit card so you can check it out. Big mistakes are rare. Also included on this will be a mandatory daily gratuity that is split among waitsataff, cabin crew, etc. (In area of about $10/day)

6. Shore excursions. In Alaska there is little you can see or walk to right from port. That is why excursions are so expensive. You can book from independent operator or from the cruise line. It is often a bit cheaper independently, but thru the cruiseline you have the security of knowing that the ship will not leave without you if you are delayed. People rave about the Skagway rail trip (we didn't take it). Also did the Mendenhall glacier landing in a helicopter - expensive but really worth it. The "salmon bakes" at every port are a little hokey, but a pleasant way to see a little of the countryside (they take you in a bus) and chat while eating some decent salmon. My husband and adult kids loved the zipline at one port, but I am guessing that might not be your thing (it was not mine) Don't know if they still offer it but there was a cooking/restaurant tour in Skagway that was excellent.
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Jul 24th, 2013, 08:52 AM
  #6
 
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Are you also doing a land tour in conjunction with your cruise? If so dress is very casual and most if not all tours are included. However, meals are not. The land tours are great.
On the cruise itself, I would not get too dressy. Remember, that although you will have minimal luggage handling, the airlines are punitive about extra bags and weight.
Excursions from the ship are expensive and usually offer the longest "shopping opportunities". And it is possible to do a great deal in some ports on your own. A good guide bopok on Alaska can help a lot.
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Jul 25th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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I see that you tagged "Celebrity" in your OP. I recently returned from an Alaskan cruise on the Solstice.

As has been mentioned, layers is the key. On our trip the weather was beautiful and unexpectedly hot. Not sure if Alaska is still experiencing a heat wave - in all but one port the typical weather was chilly in the morning (50s -60s) and rapidly warming up to the mid to low 80s in the afternoon. This was my second Alaskan cruise and the weather was MUCH warmer on this recent trip.

If your cruise is leaving soon, I would start looking to book the shore excursions that interest you now. Some excursions have space for a limited amount of people and the popular ones may already be sold out.

Just so you're aware when you look at your account billing, unless you specifically decline it, a daily gratuity charge will be added to your account. I always leave it on because it's easier and then supplement w/additional cash tips as needed. You are able to review your account on the tv throughout the cruise, though it may take a day for charges to appear. You will also receive a hard copy of your account billing on the last night of the cruise.

However, I would advise keeping an occasional eye on your account (through the tv) and if any problems appear, take care of it early. The line for guest services on the last night of the cruise and on the morning of debarkation is really long - everyone has their hard copy account billing in hand and are trying to get something fixed.

Your cabin has a mini-fridge that is stocked with things like soda, water, etc. Those items are not free. I always ask the cabin attendant to remove the items (they usually just store the stuff in a box under the bed) so I can use the fridge to store my own bottles of water, etc.
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Jul 26th, 2013, 06:07 AM
  #8
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Thank u all. Great ideas. Keep them coming
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Aug 4th, 2013, 08:51 AM
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ANY more???
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Aug 6th, 2013, 07:35 PM
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Room service! A pot of coffee and some small rolls while dressing starts the day off right for me. The only cost is the tip you give the waiter, and you can still go to the dining room for a full breakfast if you want.
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Aug 7th, 2013, 06:02 AM
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Good idea!

If you are going thru Tracy Arm and if you have a balcony cabin it's nice to have breakfast on the balcony and marvel at the view, assuming that your transit thru it is early like ours was.
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Aug 7th, 2013, 10:13 PM
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When are you leaving? The weather is going to get cooler later into the season. Dress warmer, much warmer and in layers, plus make sure you pack a rain poncho.
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Aug 11th, 2013, 04:28 AM
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Just an FYI to all who replied to me: I opted for a cruise tour with Celebrity Millenium. The first 4 days of our trip was magical. Weather, wildlife, scenery, all beyond words. Upon arriving in Seward to board our southbound cruise to Vancouver, we were told our boat would be 3 hours late into port. Upon arrival, the captain made an announcement stating that the ships turbine propulsion system crashed and needs repair. Imagine my disappointment as this being a bucket list item, and one I saved hard for. Long story short, Celebrity gave us two choices: a) free transportation to anchorage to get a flight home and a refund for the cruise portion of the trip. Or b) stay with the ship and use it as a hotel for the 5 days they are docked doing repairs and everything will be free on board. Once repairs are made, sail with them straight (no stopping, no excursions, NOTHING) on to Vancouver and take your scheduled flight home. Then Get a full refund for your cruise portion and a voucher for another free cruise of equal amount paid. Inspite of my disappointment, can you guess what me and my friends picked? Yes indeed, we are currently citizens of Seward, Alaska thanking God we were not at sea on a broken boat and trying very hard to make e best of a bad situation.
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Aug 11th, 2013, 07:49 AM
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Oh no! I am so sorry to hear this, especially as this was your I first cruise. Terrible. So if I read you correctly you chose option 2 which I would have done time permitting. At least you are not stranded at sea with no power.
Once when flying to Delhi we got diverted to Bombay as Delhi was fogged in. Nine hrs. laters and after multiple lies from the ground staff we took off. It was hell as there were 4 or 5 jumbo diverted to Bombay which made it packed and hot!

Sorry but happy you are trying to make lemonade out of lemons.
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Aug 11th, 2013, 11:23 AM
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I have to say that I found Celebrity one of the best lines to take care of you if there is a problem. We had booked an Alaskan cruise for Sept 14, 2001. After 911 we called to see if the cruise was going ahead as scheduled. Some of the lines cancelled the cruises altogether. No, the cruise wasn't cancelled. However, when we arrived in Vancouver we were told there was going to be a problem due to the fact that they couldn't get flights for the departing passengers. They put us on board in any cabin available - luck would have it we got a suite. We were told we could use the ship as a hotel while in Vancouver (we live in Victoria)until things were sorted out. Bottom line - we stayed on board for four days - had a full refund and to top it off were given a free seven night cruise on any itinerary we chose. Even though HAL is our favourite I certainly recommend Celebrity.
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Aug 12th, 2013, 05:58 AM
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Well if you're in Seward for a few days, at least you can still see & walk on a glacier. They even have Ranger led programs there.
Rent a car or take a taxi.

http://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier.htm
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Aug 12th, 2013, 04:19 PM
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Did they offer Seward excursions?
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Aug 17th, 2013, 09:30 AM
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updates travelbuff?
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Aug 19th, 2013, 06:18 AM
  #19
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Update: returned from cruise...if that's what you want to call it!
Celebrity tried to make the best of a bad situation, and so did we. Nalthough the cruise was uneventful in terms of electronic breakdowns (thank heavens) it was just as uneventful as a fist time tourist/cruiser. There were no stops in port between Seward and Vancouver. Entertainment on ship was pretty mediocre, and the crew did the best they could to keep us entertained. It was a bit disconcerting to be stuck at sea all those days, just looking at water and no land or sea life whatsoever. Weather did not cooperate ever. The only excursion I did from Seard was one I had Pre arranged from the lower 48 prior to my departure. And thank e Lord I did. That was most enjoyable: a private trip to Exit Glacier. I thank the Lord for the landnportionof our tour that was just spectacular and will savor that memory for a lifetime. I also appreciate Celebrity reimbursing us for the cruise portion and crediting us for another free cruise of equal value anywhere in the world. They have my vote for best customer service FOR SURE.
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Aug 19th, 2013, 06:31 PM
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Thanks for the update. Where will your next cruise take you, have you thought about that?
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