Alaska Cruises Please Help

Mar 26th, 2008, 07:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Alaska Cruises Please Help

My husband and i would like to go to Alaska next summer 2009. We cant decide whether it is best to do the cruise only option and organise our land based tours pre/after the cruise ourselves or to book a full land/cruise package deal. - If doing the latter we had thought of Princess Cruises. According to website people are suggesting the package deal is best. What do you think? Has anyone used Princess cruises to do an alaska cruise? Any comments would be greatly appreciated!!
Cruisaholic is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 09:12 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
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I would definitely recommend the land/cruise package so that you can experience Alaska on both sea and land. The cruise packages are well designed. However, I would recommend Holland-America over Princess for several reasons. Some of their ships are smaller, allowing them to get closer to the glaciers. They have more ships going to Glacier Bay. They use Seward as their northern port rather than Whittier. Their hotel in Denali is much closer to the action. Perhaps most important, their excursion in Denali goes much deeper into the park, allowing better viewing of the animals. I'm sure you would enjoy Princess as well, but, in my opinion, you get more for your money with Holland-America.
Enjoy your trip!
therenaissanceman is offline  
Mar 26th, 2008, 06:30 PM
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I agree on doing land tour but you are the only one that can decide if it's worth the extra costs to do it through Princess - you can do it cheaper on you rown and do things at your pace. If you rent a car early (year in advance) you can get good rates - same goes for hotels. If you are military (active or retired) you can find some great hotels that offer military discounts.

We did 4 days pre-cruise before our Carnival cruise from Whittier last summer.
seauonboard is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 05:53 AM
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In my opinion, I have not much good to say about cruisetours. They are the most costly and do and see the least. It is always superior for freedom and scheduling to go on your own. VERY simple to arrange. I disagree with several of the above comments and to me, they also are not really all that familiar with Alaska travel options. Group point to point touring has shortcomings, no way around it.

If this is the way you wish to go, be CERTAIN to do your homework and KNOW everything about what you are purchasing, most people do NOT.

Denali Park is a highlight of most cruisetours. The above reference "much deeper" into the Park is not true. The longest tour only goes 53 out of the 90 miles. And never my recommendation. My min. distance in is only Fish Creek/Eielson SHUTTLE bus to mile 63/66. It's significant bear habitat that the tour buses miss. The tour buses run 3 times the price of the shuttle buses, for less distance.

Very very few cruisetours allow enough time at two top wildlife areas, Denali Park and Kenai Fjords. Another significant reason to consider independent. Seward is worth at least an overnight, plenty of fantastic activies to consider.

A big problem with Princess, is their inclusion of the Natural History tour, or Denali experience in many of their cruisetours. A complete waste of time and missing out completely on what could be available to you. Getting only 16 miles via the public road in.

HAL usually does include the Tundra Wilderness tour.

As for the hotels, for some they may not be the reason you are going to Alaska, there are some very nice quaint B&B's to experience, rather than the big hotels that are always busy and always having bus after bus loading/unloading out front, and too much time spent waiting around.

So factor in all transit times- is significant in Alaska, go for as long as you can afford, budget 50% more than you would at home for meals, they aren't included on the land portion. Add tips and optional touring.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 07:20 PM
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I have the highest regard for Budget Queen's Alaska posts, but I do want to clarify two things she comments on in regard to my post. My comment about going "deeper into the park" at Denali was in comparing what HAL does in relation to Princess. If she reads my comment carefully, she will notice I make no mention of the shuttle bus option.
Also, while it may be easy for her to plan an independent trip, I am not sure that is true for a person living far away and who has never been to Alaska. At times during the summer, for example, it is not easy to find desirable lodgings at Denali. And some people prefer to have things laid out for them.
I certainly enjoyed my HAL cruisetour and the main points I was making is that if you choose this option, HAL is a better bet than Princess and that a person should see both the land and sea Alaska attractions.
therenaissanceman is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 03:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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sailed with Princess to Alaska and really enjoyed it -all the excursions -helicopter to glacier,pontoon planes etc were fantastic-did not do land pre or post cruise and people we met on board who did this with the Princess package pre thought it pretty much a rip off-accomodations pretty rough for the money and they spoke of long rides on uncomfortable buses.
jaxman is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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We sailed to Alaska on Royal Caribbean and had a great, great time. We did not take a land cruise, but a number of excursions including he helicopter to the glacier and the whale watching tour. Whatever you decide with your land tour, you will be amazed at how beautiful Alaska is. Have a great trip!
lbom is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 03:16 PM
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Although Budgetqueen and I don't see eye to eye on everything and have our fair share of disagreements, I do respect and value her comments.

Yes, she is 125% right that the landtour is way over priced. The same goes for all shore excursions.
(The 25% is the minimum mark up over what you can usually get when you do it on your own)

You can save a lot of money by organizing shore excursions and pre-cruise, after-cruise on your own.

However, if you have never been there, pay the money the first time, experiment and then book your own on the second trip. There are so much to see that you will want to be back every year.

Better yet, go buy a Fodor book on Alaska or the Alaskan Cruise. I received a book as a gift from my travel agent on my first Alaskan passage. I have been travelling with it since. You can buy the book with the map for about $25.
Eschew is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 05:36 AM
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One thing to worry about if you are of that mind-set (as I am) is if you book land excursions independently, if something goes wrong and you are delayed getting back to ship, you are on your own. While we are comfortable booking things like snorkeling in the Caribbean or a city tour with independent operators, anything involving a tiny plane or helicopter makes me a little nervous - if the thing breaks down or bad weather occurs and there is a delay, I picture myself renting a kayak to chase the ship so I can get back on.

We are doing Princess one-way cruise this June Whittier-Vancouver and spending a week prior to cruise on our own in Alaska - primarily Denali and Kenai Peninsula. I will post trip report when we return and that may give you some current opinion and info.
gail is online now  
Apr 8th, 2008, 02:46 PM
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I am not an advocate of "test trips". only my opinion. It is simple to go anywhere on your own in Alaska. Few roads, no way to get lost. Plenty of excellent activities and lodgings.

I also find that IF you are on this board, you already are WILLING to do some work and trip planning. I think cruisetours are probably best for those who don't want any effort- although I strongly think that the research is just as important no matter how you go.

Sorry, but I totally disagree with the above about indpendent tours in Alaska. In many years I have NEVER been aware of any independent vendor who caused someone to miss their ship. If you do, it's YOUR fault. Always go with the vendor's recommendation for scheduling.

It's not a perfect world, so you are never going to get 100%, but you certainly get darn close.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 04:01 PM
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You have to book what you are comfortable doing. Not everyone, in fact probably very few are so well versed about Alaska as BQ and independent tours simply aren't for everyone no matter what their merits. Some folks just feel more secure doing the ships tours and end up having a great time anyway. Just go, do what you feel best about and I am sure you will be pleased. If you become a freq. Alaska visitor most probably time and experience will mold how you do things in the future. JM2C. Cheers, Larry.
jacketwatch is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 11:38 PM
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We have never been to Alaska, as I stated. Tell the 10 people who chartered a fishing boat (with operator) independently for trip from Bahamas on a cruise we were on a few years ago - their boat developed engine problems and they missed the departure from port.
gail is online now  
Apr 13th, 2008, 10:26 PM
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Well everyone, I am taking a leap of faith here and take a wild guess. The name cruiseaholic suggested that they could be seasoned cruisers, probably from England (

I guess by posting the messgae here, it is the start of their research.

My suggestion: start frm the south and go on a Northbound voyage. Spend a few days in Seattle or Vancouver depending the port of departure, relax and take it slow.

Take the shore excursions and go whale and eagle watching, do the helitour, glacier, and the usual things. Get ashore in Alaska and do an independent land tour.

You don't have to worry about missing the boat now as you are doing the tour after the cruise. I can't imagine a kayak catching a cruise ship but I do have a picture of a rowboat trying to catch a cruise ship ...

If it is your first time to an Alaskan cruise, I definietly recommend Northbound. You get a taste of it before you hit Alaska on land. The view along the entire voyage is spectacular. Nothing you experience will comes close.

Once you are there, take your time, spend a week or two on land, get back to Anchorgae, stay over night, fly home and call it a day. By the way, food is expensive there, even your very basic staples. Prepare to pay double what you normally pay.

Good luck and have fun!
Eschew is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 11:06 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Very interesting. I decided to take a peek at the site and guess what I found?

An Alaska Destination Guide posted by, guess who? The Cruisaholic.

Below is the link to cruiseaholic's
Alaska Destination Guide, posted on March 26, 2:29 pm. same day as the post here.
Eschew is offline  
Apr 14th, 2008, 04:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
So true. Its also her 1st post here. Of course this violates Fodors policy inre to advertising.
jacketwatch is offline  

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