Alaska cruise/sightseeing

Jul 31st, 2006, 03:38 PM
  #1  
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Alaska cruise/sightseeing

We are planning a trip to alaska. My wife would like to cruise, but I am more interested in sightseeing and tours. I believe we can do both. Any recommendations, suggestions or experiences would be appreciated.
kenc is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 04:13 PM
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I am certain Princess has land/sea packages and would think other cruise lines do as well. I suggest going to their web sites or calling them for specifics.
jacketwatch is online now  
Jul 31st, 2006, 04:51 PM
  #3  
 
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Kenc:
Holland Anerica does a fantastic job. Both Princess and HAL have been in Alaska for many years. They seem to have their act together.

Pick up some brochures at your local TA, and enjoy your planning!!
Cruiser is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 10:35 PM
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We went to Alaska on the Sapphire Princess last summer. My first suggestion would be to choose a boat that actually goes through Glacier Bay - ours did not and I felt let-down.

That being said, the shore excursions we paid for (and paid dearly for, I should say) more than made up for that. I would recommend the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari out of Skagway expecially. And my 18 yr old son did the helicopter ride over the glaciers to ride dog sleds on top of the glacier, also in Skagway. He isn't much to go on and on about things, but he couldn't stop talking about how it felt to be almost alone up there in the beauty and quiet (only broken by the sounds of the dogs!) I also went on a photo safari out of Juneau and loved that. We went to the glacier and then on a bus through forest to a boat where we did whale watching.

I also did horseback riding in Skagway in the afternoon and we all did a city tour in Ketchikan. It was nice and gave a good overview of the town.

So if you cruise, you may want to splurge on the excursions. I'm glad we did because those trips were really, really good.

Even if you don't go with Princess (who, by the way, does have ships going through Glacier Bay), at least check out their website to see what kind of shore excursions are available at each port.

I understand that excursions can be booked more inexpensively through private tour operators, but we were too unsure of ourselves to do that and paid full price from Princess.
dbaker is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:40 AM
  #5  
 
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Drop me a line and I will be happy to send you the itinerary we did using Regent's Mariner. It's too lengthy to post here. I arranged the pre-cruise (in Denali and Talkeetna) and post-cruise portions (in Vancouver/Victoria) independently. [email protected]
Dreps is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:25 AM
  #6  
 
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We have never had complaints about Holland America's land trips. I think you can check them out online. We were there about 3 years ago and loved every minute of the trip. Have fun.
imokurokruok2 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 11:17 AM
  #7  
 
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We went with HAL (Holland America) to Alaska early summer, and it was a good trip. We did a one way trip from Vancouver to Seward, and had plenty of time in ports to do shore excursions on our own. At the end of the cruise we stayed for another 4 days to check out Seward, Anchorage and Denali--all on our own too.

See more details about what we did in each port in my trip report. Some photos too:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...me=JC98&fid=31
JC98 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Try this link for my Alaska trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...1&tid=34819012
JC98 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2006, 06:06 AM
  #9  
 
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A one way cruise and another week for interior Alaska touring is ideal. But, I would never consider the cruisetours, very costly for what little you get and group point to point touring in Alaska is lacking compared to going independent. Bottom line, do your homework and fully understand touring areas and options, then your choices will be the best for you.

For the cruise, I think HAL wins hands down for their College Fjords and Glacier Bay itineraries and the excellent port of Seward. You can get to Seward to/from Whittier. Just make the right transfer choice.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Aug 4th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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BudgetQueen helped a lot with my Alaska trip planning. Thanks to her, we went with HAL on a one-way cruise from Vancouver to Seward with sailing in Glacier Bay NP and Colllege Fjord. It worked out really well for us. Thanks, BQ!
JC98 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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Thank you for the kind words. Glad you had a great trip.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 10:15 AM
  #12  
 
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Also used BQ's advice about Glacier Bay and College Fjords which were highlights of our July HAL cruise. Also found that National Park Service has free walking tours in most port cities plus a wealth of information without the crowds. The Skagway Park Service walking tour was excellent. We found all the information booths near port docks to be very helpful and used local transportation to several "tour" sights with great savings. Be sure to watch your time when on your own sightseeing, but we felt we enjoyed the ports more on our own than being herded off on a tour. Using our library, I did a lot of research on port cities before we left, and enjoyed several of the Fodor suggested walking tours. There are many styles of travel and a cruise doesn't restrict you to excursions only. Just decide on what you want to do, and then check into the many options. The planning is worth a lot of savings as well as enjoyment on tour!
CollegeMom is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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At the suggestion of a friend, for our first trip to Alaska,we flew into Anchorage and rented a car. It was an easy drive to Denali National Park area, where we stayed a couple nights at the Princess-run hotel. We were able to drive into the park for 14 miles, book the bus trip to mile 59, and to Jeff King's Huskey Homestead through the hotel. Did some hiking in the park and visted the welcome center and huskey kennels there (not to be missed!)

We then drove south to Talkeetna, where we stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, a beautiful, beautiful full service hotel. Took a flightseeing and glacier landing tour to Mt. McKinley base camp--not to be missed either!

Enjoyed Talkeetna, the road trip back to Anchorage and a drive down the Kenai peninsula for another few days. Stayed in Seward, took a day cruise on the Gulf of Alaska, saw the Sea Life center, Exit Glacier, and so much more. Stopped at a log cabin style restaurant for fresh strawberry pie, had a picnic near another glacier visitor center, tried to get on the auto train to Prince William Sound on a lark, but the tunnel was closed due to a shipment of some sort.

In a week's time, we saw and did so much that we could never have done on a cruise/tour, that I mentally thank that friend for the great advice any time I think of Alaska.

We are heading back there for an inside passage cruise on Holland in September, which is an easy way to see the inside passage. But you can easily explore a lot of the Alaska on your own, at your own pace.

shorebrau is offline  
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