Alaska Cruise

Jan 13th, 2015, 07:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 8
Alaska Cruise

Which is a better cruise with Alaska the Northbound or Southbound? I would like to spend a day or two in Anchorage, Denali and maybe Fairbanks. I'm also hoping to see the Northern Lights. Thanks for your reply.
Sundansr11 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 01:09 AM
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There really isn't much difference but my personal preference is Northbound.
Eschew is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 10:02 AM
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Thank you for your reply. Can you tell me why you like Northbound better? Are the shore excursions the same? Can you recommend a hotel in Vancouver?
Sundansr11 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 11:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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when are you going? cruise season generally doesn't intersect with northern lights season. We went in early june, and it never really got dark enough to see the lights even if they were active.

People usually go to someplace like Fairbanks in March if they want to see the lights.

I picked the northbound cruise because the scenery gets more dramatic as you go north. I felt like going south would feel anti-climatic. I mean, they are basically the same cruise so it doesn't really make a difference except for your arrangements around it.

I stayed at the Listel in Vancouver. It was fine.
china_cat is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 01:05 PM
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I'm not sure which month I'm going at this time. I was hoping I'd go after I graduate from College when I have more time. There are so many cruises and cruise tours it's hard to decide which one. I've been told you see more animals Aug - Sept. I might have to pass on the Northern Lights but I really wanted to see them. If you go Northbound do you have to take a ferry to Anchorage? Thanks for the hotel name and info. I appreciate it.
Sundansr11 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 11:38 AM
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most of the Northbound cruises dock in either Seward or Whittier. You can take the train, get a cruise transfer (by bus) or rent a car to get to Anchorage.
china_cat is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 12:15 PM
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I was talking to my Mom about the trip. She would like to go in Sept. I was thinking May. It doesn't really matter to me. How's the weather in Sept? If I rented a car to drive to Denali and Fairbanks the Highways will be safe right? I don't drive in the snow and when I think of Alaska I think snow. That may sound silly for people who live up there. I'm wondering if I should do the tours or if I should rent a car and leisurely travel on my own.
Thanks for the help.
Sundansr11 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 12:56 PM
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It's still cold at the end of July. What makes you think that you will have more time when you finish college?
Reme is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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Good question. I will make the time. I raised four kids on my own Help them through school and their on their own now. This is my time. I'm going to school for me. I've worked hard my whole life. This trip I'm planning for my Mom who wants to go to Alaska. As she puts it, she wants to go back and see Alaska before she dies. She lived there with my Dad while he was in the Army, years ago. I love to travel and up for a great adventure. If I get a job it will be with the understanding that I will be taking this trip. If not, I'll find employment when I get back. Thanks for the weather report. Cold in July, I'll have to dress warm then.
Sundansr11 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 11:14 PM
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My reason for Northbound is same as China_cat, you go from warm to cold , and the sights starts to get more majestic and dramatic and you end the whole thing with a land tour post cruise.

May and September are shoulder season and you will get good deals. Not too late in September though as the season ends second or third week of September. The further north you go, the longer the days. It doesn't get dark until 9 or 10 and get bright around 5.

You visit the same ports for northbound or southbound. Northern light is not something you will see in the summer. Even for winter months, it doesn't happen all the time. November to March is Northern light season and it's COLD and you need to be in the boonies to see it.

I don't think I will say it is cold in July. The temperature is around 60-70F so it's really not all that bad. What makes the difference is the wind chill, especially if you are on the open deck of a moving ship. wind speed plus ship speed can add up real quick.
Dress in layers, and you need a waterproof jacket. I have been through Alaska many times and I have never had 1 full week of 100% clear days. Expect light drizzle, even down pour. I was caught in one and despite rain gear, a perfectly good SLR was damaged due to the rain.

There are quite a few reviews here about Alaska. Do a search on the cruise forum and read up. There were tips on what to bring, what to wear, what to see etc.

As to hotel in Vancouver, it all depends on your budget. The cruise terminal is right at Canada Place and the Pan Pacific Hotel and Fairmont Hotel are right there and they are great hotels but a bit pricy. I personally liked the Delta suite, which is 5 blocks away. The rates are more reasonable. It is walking distance to the terminal if you wish or take a cab for maybe $5 (cab driver won't like you much as the distance is too short). Hotel is centrally located, near public transit, shopping and many restaurants.
Eschew is offline  
Jan 16th, 2015, 03:13 PM
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If you go in September, which we did, make it early as places like Denali have very limited access after mid Sept.
emalloy is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 06:40 AM
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Hi Sun,

Take a look at Holland America and Princess Cruise Lines

They are both licensed to visit Glacier Bay. (Not all lines are)

They both also offer "cruise tours" in which you get to visit their lodges in Alaska as well as a boat ride.

For example, you can fly into Fairbanks, visit Denali Lodge, take the train to Whittier or Seward and motor down to Vancouver.

The stops are not identical for the two lines.

The Northern Lights are not guaranteed on any given day.

>She would like to go in Sept [cold]. I was thinking May [cold].

I would go in Sept if I couldn't afford July or August.

Before booking my upcoming tour to AK I checked the prices of staying at the lodges on my own vs booking through the cruise lines - same price.

If you are going to drive, you want to choose mid-July to mid-August.

Check for historical weather. can help you plan.

Also look at the cost of trains. You get to see the scenery instead of driving through it.

A train might also be cheaper than a car.

I ended up with
Take the Oosterdam from Vancouver to Seward
Overnight Seward - whale watching
Train to Anchorage
Princess Cruise Lines tour to McKinley Lodge, Denali Lodge and Copper River Lodge
Pacific Princess to Vancouver.

NOTE: You want to make reservations a year in advance.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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i think September is better than May if you plan to go to Denali. The road into the park doesn't open all the way until the beginning of June. September should be quite nice.

We did our land tour on the Kenai peninsula, but the driving is easy. You can definitely do it yourself if you care to.

Anchorage is pretty boring, Consider spending time someplace like Seward or Girdwood instead.

To help decide, make a list of the things you wish to see and do...might include things like: see bears, walk on a glacier, take a helicopter ride, see orcas, go gold panning, go dog sledding, kayak, see glaciers calve, see Mt McKinley, go salmon fishing....things like that. THen figure out a couple of the best places to do those things, and you'll find the itinerary takes shape. You don't really need to hit a checklist of places in Alasak. Its ALL beautiful.
china_cat is offline  

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