Advice on Alaska Cruise Itinerary

Old Feb 13th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Advice on Alaska Cruise Itinerary

Any advice on these itineraries? DH and I are looking at 7 day May cruises, interested in nature/wildlife/scenery/history.
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Old Feb 13th, 2012, 02:00 PM
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I would probably go with the second one - the one that starts in Vancouver BC. The first itinerary has you stop in Victoria, BC at night which is not all that interesting. Better to go there in the daytime when you can visit Butchart Gardens in the sunlight to see the flowers. We didn't like it at night.

I would go with the one that starts in Vancouver - I think it's better.
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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Essentially, both itinerary are "inside passage", one is round trip Seattle, and the other is round trip Vancouver.

Seattle round trip offers Sitka and Victoria whereas Vancouver round trip offers Glacier Bay & Ketchikan.

Advantage for Seattle round trip:
- cheaper airfare
- Sitka was provincial capital of Alaska (Czarist Russia), with lot of Russian & aboriginal history.
- Victoria is beautiful with an old English feel

Disadvantages for Seattle round trip:
- Sitka is a tender port so if the sea is rough, you may not get ashore.
- Not enough time and wrong time of day to visit Victoria.

Advantage for Vancouver round trip:
- Vancouver is a beautiful city
- Glacier Bay "is" the destination for Alaska cruises, bar none.
- Ketchikan is a small palce, cheapest souvenir, but is also the gateway to see Misty Fjord.

- Vancouver is an expensive city, more so by the cruise port.
- You can only see Misty Fjord via seapalne, a minimum $300 excursion per person.

My personal take:

Glacier Bay, is a must stop for Alaskan Cruise in my mind. It is a National Park and they have quotas for cruise ships to enter into the park. The ship has to meet certain enviroemntal stadards as well as they have to bid on the quota. (That's why ships going to Glacier Bay may charge more)

Sitka is an amazing place filled with hisory & culture, I took a trip just to see Sitka.

It would be a tough choice between the two, too bad you can't do both.

If you prefer majectic Glaciers over history and culture, by all means, take the Glacier Bay. If you like Culture & history over nature, take Sitka.

If this is your first Alaskan Cruise, take the Vancouver round trip, and book a cabin on the port side with a balcony.
You will see the mainland coast (inside passage) during daylight hours on the return leg. Another highlight of an Alaskan cruise.

May is cheap for Alaska but the weather could be very cool. Dress warm!
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 09:46 AM
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I do not want to hijack this thread but when is the warmest time to visit if May is cool? How about August? My husband and I are beginning to think of doing an Alaska cruise as it is the only one we have not done yet. (bucket list) 10 Caribbeans and one Med. We are not cold weather folks but feel we should see Alaska once. Thanks.
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 12:03 PM
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Many thanks, halfapair and Eschew. It's going to be a tough decision: DH will want to see Glacier Bay (I'm a Washington native and lived in the PNW the first 40 years of my life, so I've seen plenty of mountains and glaciers), and I will want to see Sitka. We may end up drawing straws on this one....
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 06:44 AM
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We did the Seattle round trip on Princess this past September. We didn't go to Sitka, but did Victoria, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchican with Glacier Bay. I felt that the train/bus trip in Skayway was one of the highlights of the trip. I had read much about Glacier Bay being "the place", but personally, I wasn't feeling it. Yes, it was very nice, but the with all the hype I guess I was expecting more. I do agree that the port time in Victoria is a sad waste. Just enough time to walk around the harbor and that's about it. It's a beautiful city and I so wanted to see more of it and the gardens.

Getting in and out of Seattle was definatly less expensive as we used Reward tickets for air. We extended are stay in Seattle by 4 days and really enjoyed the city. By brother and his wife went in July and started in Vancouver and ended in Seattle and enjoyed it. I don't think there is any wrong itineray, just what you are willing to travel to and spend.

Our weather in September was fabulous. Sunny and in the 60's for Seattle and most all of the ports. However, I understand typically for September it's cold and rainy so we lucked out big time.
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 02:25 PM
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We did the HAL Seattle round trip a few years ago with those same ports and loved it. Our favorite was probably Sitka. We went at the end of July/beginning of August and the weather was (mostly) perfect.
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 07:19 PM
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Have you looked at HAL's Westerdam itineraries? It does round trips out of Seattle that take in Glacier Bay, Sitka, and Ketchikan (and Juneau and Victoria). Looks like a winner to me.
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Old Feb 17th, 2012, 06:50 AM
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Thanks, someotherguy; I'll take a look!
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Old Feb 19th, 2012, 11:38 AM
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I sailed on Holland America in late August 2009 round trip out of Seattle. Our itinerary included Glacier Bay and Sitka. I would take this cruise again in a heartbeat. Glacier Bay is spectacular and we loved Sitka.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Diann24, I would say from mid-June to mid-August would be "warmer". Weather being weather (unpredictable) so there is no guarantee.

Regardless of when you go, you can expect cloudy days along away almost 2/3 of the time with some sort of rain (or light drizzle) for more than 50% of the time.

Key for Alaska travel is dress in layers. It could bew as warm as 80 or as cool as 60 in June, July and August.

Good news is much longer day ligt hours than what you are accustom to down south and you can enjoy teh beautiful scenery much longer.

321Go, Take both trips and you don't have to draw straws. But, to keep peace, you should go with what your other half wants, or you'll never hear the end of it ..

I would agree Sitka is a great stop, but it is a tendered port and you are not guaranteed to land there and go ashore if the sea is rough.

We were on a cruise 2 years ago through Sitka. We got ashore okay but a later group did not managed to get ashore as the sea was too rough and they suspended tender operations.

It resumed later but it really cut short the time they have on shore. Check your itenary and see how much time you will be in Sitka.

I live on the west coast and see majectic mounatins, the rockies and so on, but the Glacier Bay Glaciers are something else.

Here is a link to some Alaska pictures that I have posted on line.
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