First Cruise

Jan 5th, 2014, 06:46 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 222
First Cruise

Need some advice on what cruise line people like and why? We are taking our first cruise ever to Alaska in August. Maybe some info. about us will help with the advice: We are early 50's, don't want to feel like we have to dress up for dinner every night, maybe one or two nights, we want things to do for fun on the ship but not just for young twenty-somethings. Really we are just starting from scratch, we know nothing about cruises, so any help would be great, thanks!
palmtree2384 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 05:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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You never have to dress up for dinner on any cruise ship if you are willing to eat at the buffet, which never has a dress code.

But it sounds to me as if you want a big ship that has a lot of activities on board. While I like Holland America for Alaska, most of the major cruise lines go there. Of these, Norwegian is the least dressy (you never have to dress up if you don't want to), followed by Carnival, and then Royal Caribbean. Celebrity and Holland America are the dressiest ships, but even they will only have a formal night a couple of times.

What you first need to do is to figure out what kind of cruise you can afford and do a bit of research to find out where you want to go in Alaska. Not all itineraries or ports are created equal. Once you do that, things will probably fall into place more readily.

Read our cruise line and ship reviews to get a basic overview, and you can also do more research on Cruise Critic to get more reader reviews. But there's no substitute for homework, especially if you don't know anything about cruising. That's crucial. Don't simply rely on what people tell you in forums.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 08:23 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 90
Yes, Doug's correct - you never have to dress up for dinner with the buffet or room service. Alaska is a casual, outdoorsy destination and standard clothing is jeans, fleece, sweaters, rain jackets, good walking/hiking shoes and for dinner, a open collar shirt and jacket with casual slacks and a nice blouse with skirt or dress slacks are acceptable for dinners. There will be people who break out the tux and evening gown, but you don't have to join them.

Holland America and Princess have been doing Alaska cruises for 60+ years and have the most experience and access to ports, shore excursions, services. Holland America is a smaller, sophisticated, traditional feel and tends towards an older, quieter crowd in Alaska. Princess has both small ships (around 2000 passengers) and big ships (3000+ passengers) with more modern, clean, open ships and they will have more families, young professionals on the ship, but will skew to a more retirement age crowd. Most meals, most non-alcoholic beverages, most daily activities and entertainment, shipboard accommodations, port taxes and fees are included in the basic cruise price. You can choose an inside stateroom )no windows), oceanview stateroom (large picture window) or balcony stateroom with sliding door and small balcony on these lines. I recommend balcony staterooms for Alaska. Shore excursions, specialty restaurants, beer, wine, cocktails, spa services are additional costs.

If you would like a smaller, all-suite, all-inclusive ship, I suggest Regent Seven Seas. There are no small staterooms, all have a balcony and sitting area with the bed and bathroom. All of the meals, special restaurants, alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages and several shore excursions are included in the cost of your cruise. The price may initially seem high when compared to Princess or Holland America, but when you add up the costs on included items, Regent actually prices out as comparable to these other cruise lines.

Have a great day!
juliae_mei is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 12:43 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,085
Just to be clear, while Regent offers pretty good value for a luxury line (since it really is all-inclusive), you'll pay about 2 or 3 times the cost of a mainstream cruise, so unless you can afford to pay $5K to $6K per person, Regent is going to be out of range for you. But perhaps more relevant to you, Regent doesn't cruise in Alaska in August 2014.

I disagree that "most non-alcoholic beverages" are included in mainstream cruise fares. They are not. You'll pay for everything except tap water, coffee (not espresso or cappuccino), iced tea, perhaps some lemonade or fruit punch (depending on the line), and juice with breakfast. Soft drinks are almost always charged extra and aren't cheap, though most lines offer soda plans if you are big soda drinkers.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Princess will have an even smaller ship for 2014, the 680 passengers only Pacific Princess will be in Alaska this summer.

Dressing up is not an issue for almost all cruise lines for all destinations. Most cruises will have only 1 or 2 formal nights on a 1 week cruise, and the rest of the time is quite casual; golf shirt, slacks, even good pair of jeans will work. We have never been turned away or receive poor service because of the dress code. We even like to go to the main dining room for breakfast rather than the buffet and we typically showed up in shorts and sometimes sandals. The staff are great about it, the fellow passengers, on the other hand could be a different story ... and since the likelihood of us running into them ever again is slim, we really don't care what those busy bodies think! As you can tell, we are non-conformist.

You may want to start reading some cruise trip reports posted here on Alaska cruises so you can get a feel of what the shore excursions are like, the cost, the ships, the destinations etc.

Here are a few links here that you may find helpful regarding Alaskan cruises.

Good luck and welcome to the cruise community!
Eschew is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 159
It sounds as if you have already booked a cruise. If not, my favorite lines are Holland America and Celebrity. Both are a little quieter without being too demanding dress wise. I really think that in a day that sees people at the Saturday night performances of opera and the symphony dressed in sweat shirts, truly formal clothes is pretty silly. Of course men in reddish black 60 year old tuxes are really silly. If you want to go between a blazer is good.
What is important is having a balcony and trying to get value for your expenditures. Watch shore excursions as they tend to be expensive while providing lots of "shopping opportunities". Some work on the internet may find provide some private tours provide better value. We took the land tour - Anchorage to Fairbanks and it was great. There are others also. But it was worthwhile. Over all Alaska is great. Don't worry about the details. Just watch your dollars - don't drink too much and you will have fun and enjoy yourselves.
Reme is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 07:31 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 222
Well, we did take the plunge and booked a cruise through Princess. We did get a balcony room. We are doing the five day land tour first and then get on the cruise in Anchorage. If anyone has any ideas on the best excursions, that would be greatly appreciated as there are hundreds to choose from! Thanks for any other info.
palmtree2384 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 01:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 2
What is the best time of year (if there is such a thing) to take an Alaskan cruise?
mayan12 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 04:32 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,428
Excursions are the best part of Alaskan cruises so try looking at what is offered and then pick what appeals to you the most. What I prefer may not be what you would like.

We went in August but if we were to go again I would go in June for the midnight sun.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 89
palmtree2384, if the money is not an issue, book Princess or Celebrity. But my top choice (if the destination is operated by them) is Carnival - FOREVER!
Carnival is a truly special line - with all their mishaps and all, but their ships are the cheapest ever, the staff is also fun, great food, not so big ships to get lost on board
Lionara is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 03:07 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Since you booked the southbound for Princess, you have already covered the most important part of the passage: Glacier Bay.

Your stops are probably Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. It all depends on your interest. What do you like?

Misty Fjord, Mendenhall Glacier and Yukon Whitepass would be my 3 recommendations. You can probably squeeze in whale watching in Juneau, Creek Street in Ketchikan, and Jewell Garden in Skagway.

Best souvenir stop would be Ketchikan in my experience.

Kathy is a naturist who travels on board cruise ships. Last time I saw here was on the Golden Princess in 2013. Here is her web link. You may come across her on your travel, and you may find her information helpful.
Eschew is offline  
Jan 9th, 2014, 05:29 AM
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 9

I always check out the entertainment on ships before picking one because that's really important to me. I have been on ships with mediocre entertainment and since I don't want to spend my evening in the bars all night, it can be super disappointing. I found this blog helpful because it lists some of my favorite ships for awesome entertainment:

I love the Oasis and the Allure. they both have Broadway musicals and AWESOME comedy clubs!
elizabethgbecker is offline  
Jan 10th, 2014, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,723
I doubt it very much that either Oasis or the Allure will be cruising Alaska any time soon. There is so much to do and see on an Alaskan cruise that entertainment on board is low on my priority list.

Always pick destination (itinerary) first, cruising style / ship preference next; unless the ship is the destination, which is the case for both Oasis and Allure.
Eschew is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 04:55 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 43
I did an Alaskan Cruise with Princess (Sapphire Princess ship) and it was magnificent. The service and food in the restaurants and cafe was very nice. Princess was well organised, the ship was beautiful and the scenery spectacular.

We didn't take any formal clothes, and there were two formal nights on this 7 night cruise from Vancouver to Whittier. So those two nights we had to eat at the buffet instead of the restaurants - note the food in the restaurants is much better than the buffet by a long shot. The international cafe has some yummy food and hot/cold drinks, so utilise that.

There were quite a few activities (the photography course/activity was always booked out and none of us could ever get in that one - so book early for popular activities).

The entertainment was a bit of fun and we enjoyed it. Most of the crowd on this cruise were over 50 and the activities were geared for that group. We got to sit with new people at most meals and this made for lively conversation. Hearing about everyone's travel experiences was very interesting indeed - loved it.

The reason we only took jeans and hiking shoes and wore those every night is because we didn't have anymore room in our suitcases for formal stuff and dainty shoes. It was more important to bring clothes to have some adventurous day trips in and just be relaxed.

I would definitely travel with Princess again for Alaska. The mature crowd (and hardly any kids/teens) made it a very peaceful enjoyable trip.

If you wish, you can check out my pictures and articles about the Alaskan cruise I went on, which included glacier bay:
Cheshirecatt is offline  

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