First cruise to Alaska

Feb 2nd, 2007, 06:20 PM
  #1  
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First cruise to Alaska

Am starting to plan our first cruise to Alaska and am at step 1--considering Princess in late July/Early August with airfare to Vancouver, Northbound cruise and then a southbound train ride back to Vancouver---is it better to go through Princess, a travel agent or piece it together myself to get a good deal on this trip?? Any suggestions to get me started in this process...
bornintheusa is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 08:31 PM
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Call me a control freak but I usually peice together the best deals I can find then challenge the travel agents to make it better. Usually one of them does and I go with them. This way I KNOW I've done my best. Oftentimes the ta's can get upgrades I don't know about, oftentimes it's easier to have all the arrangements coming from one central place like a TA.
Have a wonderful time on your cruise. It was my family's favorite ever vacation!!! - Eileen
eileyann is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 04:40 AM
  #3  
katybird
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What train? I am not aware of a train that will take you back to Vancouver from Alaska.
 
Feb 3rd, 2007, 06:28 AM
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I like Eileen's way.
You can check with my agent Alex at [email protected]. Usually he's got the best price and always a great service.
spurs is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 10:24 AM
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For clairfication- there is NO train back to Vancouver. There is Amtrak between Seattle and Vancouver which can offer cheaper flight options of Seattle.

My opinion only, I never recommend a one way cruise unless you are going to add time in interior Alaska for touring, take advantage of being there. Simple to go on your own, allow at least 5 days so to include Kenai Fjord and Denali Park. Top attractions.

Myself, I book ONLY based on price, so it pays to shop around. Consider www.cruisecompete.com for ball park figures perhaps.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 02:33 PM
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We have traveled on several cruises. i have usually found booking with the cruise line vs. travel agent tho be the cheapest route. We went on our first alaska cruise last may. It was great and we can't wait to go back.
zoellner4 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 05:26 PM
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Thanks everyone for all your great ideas--as you can see I have not a clue and am going on hearsay== someone had told me they took a train after the cruise--they went on Princess cruise and then went on a train that had train cars for each of the cruise lines...so Princess people went on the Princess cars, Royal went on the Royal cars, etc....where do these trains go then?? Are they going into the interior???
bornintheusa is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 04:47 AM
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Yes these trains are touring interior Alaska and run between Anchorage/Fairbanks, Seward/Anchorage. Princess also contracts a Whittier/Denali Park train.

I have nothing good to say about cruisetours, they are the most expensive and see the least of Alaska. Group point to point travel misses all the great stuff in between. Most descriptions are vague and people don't fully realize what they are purchasing.

Be Certain to understand fully and do your homework.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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Budgetqueen-- if I don't do a cruise/land tour what would you recommend since I want to see the most, spend the least and will probably only go there once!! Please advise as I am not a seasoned traveler Thanks
bornintheusa is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 03:45 PM
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bornintheusa,
The trains might have been the transfer to Anchorage from Whittier. You have a choice of transfering on a bus (NO) or the train - a resounding YES. It is a beautiful trip, you have to transfer anyway to go to Anchorage and catch the plane or to go to Anchorage to rent a car etc for further exploring so... you might as well enjoy the beauty of the train and the gentle rocking and the tour guide telling you things. We just loved that segment of our trip. Budgetqueen is right - the cruisetours are a waste of money. If there are just two of you, I suggest taking the train( not the tour - just the train )to Denali and spending a few days - then go on to Fairbanks - I can dig out the name of a great, reasonable [email protected] in Fairbanks (and the place we stayed in in Denali)then take the train back to Anchorage and maybe explore Turnagain Arm before heading home. I have heard - and I have no doubt - that the train trip to Denali from Anchorage is the most beautiful train trip in the world. If you are 3 or more people, its more cost-effective to rent a car in Anchorage and do the same trip. Buying Frommers guide to Alaska was the best $ I spent on this trip - it really tells you everything - great budgeting tips as well. One final thing; Alaska has a "Savers" coupon book - Frommers will tell you about it. Oftentimes you can buy one used on talk sites. Most deals are 2 for 1 coupons. If you like excursions you can save big especially if you buy it used. -Eileen
eileyann is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 03:57 PM
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If you are not doing a land tour, take a Seattle to Seattle cruise. It stops in 3 ports in Alaska for roughly 8 hour visits and cruises by one of several glaciers, depending on the ship. That way, the airline tickets will be cheaper, and no bus or train rides needed. (You'll need a cab from the airport, and a night in a Seattle hotel is advised to make sure an airline delay won't make you miss the ship). Several cruise lines do it, including Celebrity.
PaulH is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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I'm sure Paul is usually right but when we flew into Seattle and flew out of Anchorage the price was equal. We went on Sun Country but it was also true of Northwest. We could have flown out of Fairbanks for the same price also. I can't remember but it was some sort of "Y" connection and if the last leg was no longer than the first leg they would do it for the same price. This was 1 1/2 years ago so I might be wrong. -Eileen
eileyann is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 04:47 PM
  #13  
katybird
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The time factor is a killer for me coming from the East coast. The flights back from Alaska are soooooooo long!
Bornintheusa, if you go to www.cruisecritic.com to check out the Alaska board you will find many answers. We planned our trip using many experienced cruisers advice..hotels, tours, what ship, etc . I always recommend cruisecritic..my fav cruise board! AND Budgetqueen is the best!
 
Feb 4th, 2007, 07:13 PM
  #14  
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OK-- now I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on how to start planning this trip-- Eileyann, I would love the name of a Denali and a Fairbanks place to stay-- if I rent a car and do the drive thing from Anchorage to Fairbanks are the roads good ones and ample gas supplies??? Would you say with the 2 of us driving or train is the best??? I am going onto Cruisecritic for more good info--thanks and keep the advice coming.
bornintheusa is offline  
Feb 5th, 2007, 04:37 AM
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Alaska has excellent well maintained roads and NO WAY to get lost. I suggest a rental car for the most freedom and larger lodging and meal selections.
A great deal depends on the type of lodging you are looking for???

Denali park Hotel is a good value, Touch Of Wilderness B&B is my top choice.

check listings http://www.denalichamber.com/directo...ons/index.html
www.explorefairbanks.com
BudgetQueen is offline  
Feb 5th, 2007, 06:11 AM
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Budgetqueen, What do you think about traveling by train or car to Denali? The car is cheeper but I really loved the train better. You are pretty knowledgable - what do you think? As far as places to stay, I've loaned my notes to a friend who is also planning an Alaska trip, so it will take me a day or two to get the name of the cheap but cute little hotel/cabins we stayed in in Denali. In Fairbanks, All Seasons [email protected] gets my vote and I just can't say enough good about it. We had free internet access and the best breakfast. The home is exceedingly clean and fresh. After a few rigerous days in Denali we just totally relaxed at the All Seasons. We actually tried to change our plans and stay an extra day but she was booked. I've told my friends I would go to Fairbanks just to stay in that [email protected] I'll get back to you, Born, about the Denali cabins. -Eileen
eileyann is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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By far the most scenic portion of the Alaska RR is Anchorage/Seward. The Anchorage/Fairbanks portion just about totally parallels the Parks Highway, so I see no scenic advantage of taking it. I also strongly suggest that anyone who does, add more time at Denali Park- 3 nights. With the train, you also are quite limited with lodging and meal options as well as times of Park shuttle buses into Denali Park. It is unlikely you will be able to arrange transportation in time to make the first or last shuttles.

There is Denali car rental to consider

Denali Car Rental owned by third generation Alaskan family. Will pick-up at depot, drops in Anchorage and Fairbanks by arrangment. Contact us at www.alaskanchateau.com, call 907-683-1377, fax 907-683-1380..
Owner: Teresa Chepoda-Usibelli
P.O. Box 187
Healy, AK 99743
Phone: 1-907-683-1377
Fax: 1-907-683-1380
Email: [email protected]
Http:http://www.alaskanChateau.com
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