Alaska cruise, especially for Paul

Sep 26th, 2002, 10:06 AM
  #1  
Dawn
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Alaska cruise, especially for Paul

I've done the Inside Passage and the Glacier Discovery cruises, and would like to know just why you tell everyone that the northbound or southbound cruise is better. I'll be taking some friends on their first Alaska cruise next summer, and I was leaning towards the Inside Passage as it's my favorite. Why am I wrong? This will be their only cruise to Alaska, and I want it to be the best for them. Thanks.
 
Sep 26th, 2002, 01:50 PM
  #2  
ttt
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I have heard that you should take the north or south bound cruise. Not round trip. You will see more of Alaska if you take those instead of the Inside Passage.
I'm sure someone else will help you out on this one.
TTT
 
Sep 26th, 2002, 10:15 PM
  #3  
Paul Therault
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Hi Dawn,

I am not talking about Glacier Discovery Cruises. They know where to take you to see calving glaciers and wildlife up close. I am talking about regular cruise ships.

The lower part of Alaska does not have the spectacular snow capped mountains and glaciers. Also you are going up and then see the same thing on the way back. Same as going through the Panama Canal. The first three or four locks everyone is on deck, then the remainder, there is no one.

Sure some cruises get to visit Glacier Bay but spending 7-8 hours spinning around gets rather boring.
Plus you are quite far from the calving glaciers. Now that the government is limiting the amount of ships that sail the bay the ships are going to Hubbard Glacier (goody).

Get yourself up to Prince William Sound and College Fjord. Also spend some time in Seward, the real Alaska. You will also run into less rain. Try it.

Paul
 
Sep 29th, 2002, 05:43 PM
  #4  
Dawn
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Should have been more specific re: Glacier Discovery cruise, I guess. That's HAL's description of the one-way cruise. So, I have cruised from Seward and seen Prince William sound and College Fjord. Noticed your reply to another "alaska' question, that you stated one would see X# of glaciers in College Fjord. Couldn't prove that by me, as I saw only 3and was out on deck the whole time we were in the Fjord. Also, your comment about less rain on the one way cruise -- again, couldn't prove it by me. It poured all day in Seward and was rainy and foggy in Prince William Sound. Worst weather I've ever encountered in my 5 Inside Passage cruises. Now, I'm not knocking you, Paul, because I generally agree with you. Just telling you of my one-way adventure this past June. Not sure you have convinced me to take my friends on the one way, though. But I do appreciate your reply and look forward to reading all of your posts.
 
Sep 29th, 2002, 10:46 PM
  #5  
Paul Therault
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Hi Dawn,

You certainly had a string of bad luck cruising in all that rain. That is unusual. Also to cruise up through College Fjord and not see many glaciers. I do not know what happened to your ship. Possibly too much stray ice to cruise up to the end. Maybe the captain did not want to scratch his ship. I presume you did see the mighty Columbia Glacier?

For a change of pace, why not look into Cruise West? I thought their cruises were better than Glacier Discovery.

Paul
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 04:33 PM
  #6  
Dawn
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Paul -

No, the Holland America ship I was on sailed right up to the Harvard Glacier, the farthest one, correct? I thought it would rival the Margarie or Great Pacific glaciers in Glacier Bay, so perhaps that is why I was disappointed. To big an expectation on my part. And I assume the rest of the glaciers in College Fjord were obscured by the fog. Same thing with Columbia Glacier. But I happen to be a die-hard, or perhaps a glutton for punishment, as I'm taking the same cruise, again next June. It was odd, we had sunny days in Fairbanks ( once there is enough for me), Denali National Park and Anchorage, rain from Seward until we hit Sitka and then sunny days all the rest of the way to Vancouver. Hopefully, June 2003 will be better weather-wise. This time I'm taking your advice and staying over in Seward and going on the Kenai cruise. I can't seem to get enough of Alaska, and keep going back year after year. Summer of 2004 I'm taking a granddaughter for her high school graduation present from her parents. I know you travel with your children, so I dare to ask if this granddaughter will enjoy cruising? Thank you, again, for your answers and helpful information.

Dawn
 
Oct 8th, 2002, 12:49 PM
  #7  
shirl
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we are doing the inside Passage from Vancouver to Seward and then land tour for 4 days to Fairbanks, denali, etc., and fly out from Fairbanks, on the HAL, what do you think of this tour? Will be done very early in May, 2003?
 
Oct 8th, 2002, 11:31 PM
  #8  
Paul Therault
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I don't know Shirl. Passengers that take this tour say it is good although very intensive. They have never spent any time in Seward.

I found it very boring. Fairbanks has nothing to write home about.

Unless you really wish to view Mt. McKinley I would say change to a tour that takes in south of Anchorage such as their Seward/Anchorage tour. As a matter of fact you can spend 4 days in Seward and see 20 times more than in Denali/Fairanks. Keep in mind these tours do not include food that is very expensive.

Best to do Seward on your own and you will save money. It is not difficult. See an Alaskan cruise specialist. The cruise ship is secondary and a place to relax after you have seen all the wildlife and calving glaciers in the Seward area. After all, isn't this your main objective? Why spend hours on a train/plane/bus?

Paul
 
Oct 9th, 2002, 09:30 AM
  #9  
Dawn
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Shirl,

I can't comment on what Paul has written you, as I have yet to do the Seward part of Alaska. I did do the route you are asking about the first week of June, except I did it in reverse on a HAL ship. Fairbanks was interesting, my word for it. The excursions that HAL provides are very good, entertaining and enlightening about various aspects of Alaskan cultures. Only stayed in Denali 1 and half days - and I could have spent a week there. Anchorage was a normal big city, but the excursion that I was on to the Alaskan Native Heritage sight was very good. Just wish we'd have more time there. The train ride from Fairbanks to Denali and from Denali to Anchorage ( you'll do the reverse route) wasn't as bad as I had been led to believe. Nor were the food prices as high as I had excepted. I came home with money in my pocket, as I had budgeted higher than it turned out in all repects. The first part of May will get you to Alaska before the mosquito season erupts. We got there just as they were emerging. This is a cruise/tour that I have always wanted to take and I was not disappointed in it at all. Hope this all helps.
 
Oct 9th, 2002, 11:19 PM
  #10  
Paul Therault
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Oh no Dawn, I never said the Fairbanks/Denali trip was not enjoyable. Especially if you are interested in history and culture (apparently you are). You also seem to be interested in museums and history of Alaska which you would get in Anchorage.

Seward is not laid back. It is exciting to say the least. You will see so much wildlife your mind will go blank. You can go to a sled dog camp where you can play with the puppies and ride a sled. You can take a short hike up to and on (if the galcier water is not too deep) the Exit Glacier. The Alaskan Heritage museum is there. The Alaskan Sealife Pavilion that was built with the Valdez money is fantastic. The local restaurants serve authentic Alaskan meals.
If you wish to get right up close to many calving glaciers then the boat trip through the Kenai Fjords is ideal. This is also where you will see all the wildlife. The ice fields and tidewater glaciers are spectacular. This is only part of it.

There is so much to see in Alaska. this is why I have been there so many times.

Paul
 
Oct 11th, 2002, 06:45 PM
  #11  
Dawn
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Paul -

I stand corrected, as I thought you had stated in other replies that you didn't think the Fairbanks/Denali trip was worth it. I'm drooling over the prospect of staying over in Seward and going on the Kenai cruise next June. Yes, I'm interested in all the aspects of Alaska: glaciers, wild life, native culture, scenery, gold rush history,dog sledding and natural history of the whole state. Some day I hope to get up to Prudoe Bay and Nome, too. That's why I keep going back summer after summer. Can't seem to get my fill of that state.
 
Oct 12th, 2002, 01:54 PM
  #12  
shirl
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messaage: Dawn,
Thanks for your info. I had thought about doing my own land tour from Seward, north, but I think it more expensive doing it, than booking thru the HAL, combined with the cruise. Because of the Train Rides, and hotels.I think the bus ride is finally resonable. And then there is the individual air flight one would have to book, as one-way from Fairbanks to Vancouver. Am I right with this, or what? Glad to going that early and miss the mosquitos. Where are the great, inexpensive places to eat along the way to Anchorage, Denali, Fairbanks?
 
Oct 13th, 2002, 12:22 AM
  #13  
Paul Therault
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I certainly would not want to try to do the Fairbanks trip on my own. It is one heck of a drive.

There are two companies that run buses from Seward to Ancorage. They are reasonable and the trip is extremely scenic. But the bus does not stop. It is better to rent a car, albeit expensive, but you can stop and take pictures, visit the Portage Glacier and pet a few glacier worms in the administration building and see some gorgeous bright blue ice chunks up close in the bay. Even stop to pan for gold at an old mine. There are also a few snack-bars along the way.

Paul
 
Oct 16th, 2002, 11:42 AM
  #14  
Dawn
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Shirl-

I went along with HAL's entire tour package when I did that route. Figured it was more bother to try and work out segments of the trip on my own. Just my opinion. The HAL bus I was on from Anchorage to Seward was going to stop at Portage Glacier, but it was too foggy to be able to see much of anything there. So we stopped at an overlook and had gorgeous views of a river valley. Not certain that all of the HAL bus driver's would make the detour to Portage Glacier, though - so don't take this bit of information as gospel truth. Where to eat in Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks? Not certain about Anchorage, as we ate dinner on the train down from Denali and then just ate breakfast in the hotel the next morning before catching the bus down to Seward. You are doing the reverse trip, so I don't know how long you'll be in Anchorage or what meals you will need to eat while there. Denali: you'll be staying at the best location, and I would recommend the dinner theater at the lodge. Great food served family style and a rollicking good show. There are 2 other restuarants right there on the lodge grounds - one serves buffet style and the other a sit down place. In Fairbanks, there are resturants right in the hotel premises. Or you can catch a bus (very convenient) and ride to: Alaska Salmon bake and Palace Theater. I might suggest you catch the bus out to Exeter to see the Photosymphony about the nothern lights. Great show! You can go to the Fairbanks and Anchorage web sites for a list of restuarants,too.
 
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