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Alaska from Seattle: Princess? Norwegian? Holland American?

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Jul 2nd, 2015, 09:33 AM
  #1
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Alaska from Seattle: Princess? Norwegian? Holland American?

We have never cruised before, but we live in Seattle and we want to take a cruise to Alaska in August, 2015, departing from and returning to Seattle. These are our priorities:

*Room with balcony.
*Fresh fish and vegetables at lunch and dinner.
*Good entertainment.
*No need to "dress up."

We are not interested in casinos, shops, or spas.

Which cruise line would be our best option: Princess, Norwegian, or Holland American?

HTtY
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Jul 2nd, 2015, 03:12 PM
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Any of those cruise companies would give you the things you want. The one exception to your 'no need to dress up' would be the formal nights and normally on a seven night cruise there two formal nights. On those nights you would have dinner in the buffet restaurant (which is what we do).
We have cruised with all three companies and enjoyed the experiences. We did a seven night Alaska cruise out of Seattle in May on the Crown Princess visiting Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan and Victoria, returning to Seattle and would recommend it.
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Jul 2nd, 2015, 07:11 PM
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Thanks, Marg. That's the kind of info I am looking for.

HTtY
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Jul 3rd, 2015, 02:49 PM
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Princess offers the most choices of dates, and they don't do anything particular spectacular that wows you, but they don't do anything particularly bad either. Best analogy would be a pair of comfortable shoes ... Trust me, it is a good thing.

The HAL passengers are typically more mature and more "dressy". And NCL is on the other hand caters to younger demographics and families. The decor is brighter and less formal.

Don't sweat about the formal nights. Most men just wear a jacket and ladies would be a cocktail dress or even a blouse and dress pants. Formal nights are not like what they used to.

Dining at the buffet is fine but you might miss the special dinner items (like lobster tail, baked Alaska etc) on the formal night.
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Jul 3rd, 2015, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for your suggestions. I found a room with balcony on Princess departing August 16, and they are holding it for me until I can confirm my traveling companion is on board (so to speak).

HTtY
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Jul 5th, 2015, 01:59 PM
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Great to heat that are booked. Happy cruising!
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Aug 30th, 2015, 04:25 PM
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Thanks. The cruise was a good experience. I was particularly impressed with the excellent service and treatment we received from the crew, and it was comforting to sit down at a beautifully set table and to know that the waiter was not going to annoy us with attitude are try to steer us toward an expensive wine and curl his lip when we opted for a more modest bottle.

HTtY
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Sep 3rd, 2015, 03:04 PM
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HTtY, are you going to post a trip report and share your adventure or experience?
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Sep 3rd, 2015, 04:40 PM
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No, I won't write a trip report except to say that we had always wondered what it was like to go on a cruise, and we found out. We are pleased with the experience, but we won't take another cruise any time soon unless it is a big bargain and takes us some place nice and warm in the dead of winter.

One reason we took the cruise is that I can't walk the long distances I used to walk, and I thought a cruise might solve the problem, but it did't. At each port there was a long walk from the ship to ground transportation--longer than the usual walk from a train platform or airplane terminal to a taxi.

In any event, it was fun and I now have a very good understanding of what to expect if we ever go on another cruise.

HTtY
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Sep 4th, 2015, 03:35 PM
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HTtY, That was definitely an interesting take on cruising from someone who cruises for the first time, and especially with the "walking" challenge. And you are correct in saying that the distance is longer from ship/dock to transportation than airport terminal or train terminal.

You may want to consider this: make the ship the destination and just stay on board and not leave the ship. Enjoy the food, the people, and the entertainment on board. Enjoy the scenic view of the ports from your cabin or the open deck. There are plenty of cruises that features scenic cruising as well. Leaving the ship is entirely optional.

If you are looking for a warm place in the dead of winter, Caribbean cruises maybe the ticket. Many Caribbean ports are easily accessible (not that long a walk from ship to town or beach) through short walk (but you will have to do your home work on each port on distance from ship berth to transportation or town).

Don't write off cruising just yet. I knew many people who go on cruises and stay on board the whole time!
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Sep 5th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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Thanks, Eschew, for the encouragement. HTtY
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Sep 8th, 2015, 02:55 AM
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HTtY - you have an idea about some things about a cruise, but Alaska cruises are a different animal than. The walking part is the same - although I have seen golf cart type things taking those with disabilities from ship to end of pier.

We have been on Princess to Alaska and multiple other cruise lines in warm water. The differences are that people dress up a bit more on warm cruises, there are more activities on board, and there were a greater variety of excursions from which one could pick - many with transportation right from the ship rather than walking a distance. However, scenery from ship was much less.
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Sep 8th, 2015, 01:55 PM
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Thanks, gail.

We live in Seattle, and we are considering one of the cruises to the west coast of Mexico sailing out of the LA area.

A Caribbean cruise out of New Orleans appeals to us too.

Have you done either of these?

HTtY
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Sep 9th, 2015, 07:55 AM
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We recently sailed on the Westerdam out of Seattle to Alaska in August of 2015. This trip was a family get together to celebrate my Mom’s 90th birthday. We booked this trip as a group, were assigned a group number, and since this trip was also booked on a prior HAL cruise we were eligible for the Explore 4 promotion. This promotion included a free Pinnacle Grill dinner per person, free beverage service of up to 15 items (alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic) per day, and a 50% booking fee. We had a total of 14 people in 7 cabins. Our problems started shortly after embarkation when we discovered that our daughter and her husband had been removed from our group booking. According to the folks in the front office this happened as a result of her upgrade from a D to a VE cabin. She actually paid additional cash for this upgrade. Surprisingly, my Mom also did this exact same upgrade with no ill effects. I had all the supporting documentation of this error that clearly showed that the error was HAL’s. There was only one individual in the front office that took our side in this fight. She was Ms. Ninka Bakker, but she turned out to have no influence on the main office. She did take photocopies of all my confirmations and sent them to the main office in Seattle. Unfortunately, the other individuals at the front desk were simply rude.

Well, the first night of the cruise was actually my Mom’s birthday and we had the Pinnacle Grill scheduled for that, and it took quite a bit of complaining to get our daughter and son-in-law invited to that dinner as well. I had also ordered a cake for my Mom’s birthday 3 months in advance, and then I was asked to renew this order almost at monthly intervals. Well, when we checked with the restaurant to make sure that they had all the information, they had no clue that they were supposed to have a cake for my Mom. I luckily had all my supporting documents with me including the original cake order and the fax confirmation when I placed this order. They were able to their credit provide a cake at the last minute.

As the oldest daughter, I was responsible for coordinating this group excursion, and had a lot of interaction with the main office in Seattle. You probably wonder why I brought all the documentation with me onboard. It was actually quite a file of papers approximately 2 inches thick of standard computer paper some pages had print on two sides. It was my interactions with the folks at HAL that encouraged me to do this because I could see that there was NO communication between various departments, and the departments also did not know what the policies of the other departments were. In other words, management at HAL stinks. I can also say that my Mom who is a 4 star mariner with HAL was very disappointed and stated that their customer service has deteriorated over the years.

You will probably then ask, how did the rest of the cruise go? It was fair. The food was OK, with lines on the Lido deck, the dining room portions were small, but you could order multiple items if you chose. The ship itself is older, with areas needing extra care, rust was evident. Our bathroom was clean, but showed signs of inexpert caulking. The entertainment was fair, leaving not much to do on sea days, unless you were an aficionado of the casino or bars. There was Wi-Fi, which was dreadfully expensive and VERY slow. The only part of the cruise that was memorable was the shore excursions in Alaska. We had previous experience with an Alaska cruise with Princess, which we will do again.

I also sent complaint letters and emails to HAL in Seattle after the cruise and have NOT received any kind of reply, other than a confirmation that my email did arrive at the HAL main office.
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Sep 14th, 2015, 12:43 PM
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Gail, I thought people "dress down" for Caribbean cruises: as in more shorts and tee shirts and less "formal" everyday as it is hotter.

HTtY, we have cruised the Mexican Riviera from LA. Cabo is a short pier and you see the famous rock formation right from the ship. AS to the other ports, the terminals are "almost" right in town. It could be an easy winter getaway and you might even like the tequila tour!

We have also cruised out of Houston and Galveston recently, and from New Orleans prior to Katrina. The only "caveat" is the cruise lines typically put "older" ships in those markets, meaning "the ship as a destination" may not work as well. Not that there is anything wrong with the ship, it just didn't have the latest innovations or features, and the designs maybe dated.

We also find out that "fog" are more common nowadays in Houston and it created minor challenges that travelers have to prepared for.

My son had to re-book his flight home from Houston as the port authority refused to let the cruise ship approach the port due to heavy fog. The ship docks the same day, but instead of docking at 6 am, it docks in the afternoon. So anyone who has late morning and early afternoon flight had to re-book, which could mean extra $$ or inconvenience. They ended up staying an extra night in Houston and flew out the next day. Something like that was not compensated for by the cruise line but your travel insurance, if you have the right type of travel insurance. We encountered fog as well but it didn't affect our travel plan and the ship did manged to dock at a decent time and they priority disembark certain passengers.

For winter cruises (or non North American cruises), we make sure arrive at port at least one day early, and we seldom leave the same day as the ship dock. Two reasons: security in knowing not missing the ship or flight home, plus extra day to unwind and enjoy the local port.

We are booked on a Hawaiian cruise in a couple of months and it is round trip LA. It would be our "winter get away" for this winter instead of Florida. This is also the first time for us that there are more sea days than port days. We are going to take it easy, relax on board, sleep in, stay out late, and enjoy the ship (and we have been on this particular ship 3 times already) and just go on "easy" excursions while in port.

DW and I are quite active so we are not sure what we are going to do with all this "extra time" we have on board. I guess we will find out awfully quick.
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Sep 14th, 2015, 02:42 PM
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Eschew, thanks for this excellent information. It is helpful in many ways, and it encourages me to take the Mexican cruise next winter.

HTtY
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Jan 28th, 2016, 03:56 PM
  #17
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We took Princess from Seattle to Alaska in August 2015, and we did the Mexican cruise from LA on Carnival in January 2016.

We enjoyed both cruises. Entertainment was better on Princess, but food and service was (to our surprise) better on Carnival.

Now I am looking at a cruise to Alaska from Vancouver on Holland America. They have one that goes through the inside passage both ways and into Tracy Arms Fjord and Glacier Bay. We did TAF (beautiful) on Princess, but not the inside passage or Glacier Bay. We look also look forward to the great experience of sailing into and out of Skagway.

HTtY
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