Help with Glacier days on Alaskan cruise

Old Feb 25th, 2015, 09:29 AM
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Help with Glacier days on Alaskan cruise

I have finally given in to my husband's wish to do an Alaskan cruise. I know it will beautiful and I will enjoy it (everyone tells me so), it just has never been a dream of mine to see Alaska. We are in our 60's and have done many cruises. We are apparently “atypical” cruisers; we do not particularly enjoy days at sea. We choose cruises that have one (at the most) “sea days”, which of course is one reason I have not chosen an Alaskan cruise. We tend to enjoy exploring different cities and countries more than we do shipboard activities. We are also “atypical” in that we do not care which cruise line or ship we are on (within our budget...which is the Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, RCL, NCL lines). We have been on all of them and have always been more than satisfied. Enough problem is picking an itinerary. I am not concerned about which ports we see...I am sure we will find something of interest at each. My problem is picking the days at sea, or the “Glacier Days”. When I read the cruise lines' descriptions of the different “Glacier Days”, each one seems to be described as a “don't miss.” So, my dilemma is picking an itinerary that will make those days memorable. My research has shown the following choices: Glacier Bay National Park, Hubbard Glacier, Inside Passage, College Fjord. I would just like to hear of your experiences on your Alaskan cruises. I know everyone is different and we all have difference likes and dislikes. I would just like to hear of your thoughts on these areas, to help me determine which cruise to pick. I am also concerned about too many “Glacier Days”. Is this the kind of thing where each of these places is truly different and enjoyable? Or is it just of the same scenery over and over again. Thanks so much for your help.
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Old Feb 25th, 2015, 12:27 PM
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A typical seven day cruise will give you one day cruising the glaciers plus another sea day, that's not too bad. Our last Alaskan cruise (with Princess) went to Glacier Bay and College Sound. A national park ranger was on board and gave a commentary over the ship's television. As it was really cold, we spend some time sitting by the windows in our cabin listening to the commentary, watching the scenery but going onto the balcony with binoculars and camera for a better view. We walked around the ship several times to get 360 degree views but kept retreating to the warmth and comfort of our cabin. The ship did a slow circle around the bay so everyone could get a clear view.
It's a unique part of the world and well worth a visit.
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Old Feb 26th, 2015, 06:41 PM
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All Alaska cruise ships will go through / pass the inside passage.

The only thing I would say is that pick one that goes to the Glacier Bat National Park. They have restriction on cruise ship passage through there and there is a quota system where the cruise lines would bid on it and pay $$$ plus agreeing to strict environmentally friendly measures. So not all ships can go there.

If you get both Glacier Bay and Hubbard/or College Fjord, BONUS!

As to Tracy Arm, you have 33% chance not seeing it if you stay on the big ship and not book a shore excursion that takes you up close.

Icy Strait is for ships that didn't buy any quota to get inside the Glacier Bay National Park. Icy Strait is just at the door step of the Glacier Bay national Park. If you like zip line and other "tourist" attractions like it, then it is the place for you.
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Old Mar 1st, 2015, 10:33 AM
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I'm going to echo the other comments--Glacier Bay is an absolutely amazing place. The blue-ice glacier with its craggly tops, the surrounding waters filled with chunks of ice, the eerie desolateness and silence has to be experienced. We went with Princess, which specializes in Alaska, and highly recommend it. There was a great naturalist on board who gave many different talks, and narrated the trip through Glacier Bay. Another speaker was a former winner of the Iditarod dog-sled race. Princess also had a seafood buffet lunch with salmon every which way.

Another great itinerary feature is Ketchikan, the "salmon capital." With its colorful totem poles everywhere, mountains, sea and great shopping, it's a fabulous stop with a ton to see and do.

I have a few postings on Alaska in my blog, if you're interested. This one has a few photos of Glacier Bay: http://musingaboutcruising.blogspot....laska-101.html.

A second posting covers some of the ports. I've never heard anyone say they didn't enjoy Alaska. It's just so very different and provides a very different perspective on the U.S. -
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Old Mar 1st, 2015, 06:58 PM
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Glacier Bay is breathtaking and it's pretty much all day at different glaciers. Hubbard Glacier you see from a distance and it seems like it takes forever to get there but once you are it's amazing to listen and watch the calving. Hubbard would be a good choice if you want to see the best calving. We did College Fjords as part of a day trip on a small boat and we got very close to 26 different glaciers! I don't know how close a cruise ship could get. If you pick one that only goes to Tracy Arm you might be disappointed because as eschew has mentioned it's not guaranteed you will get to see one of the glaciers. If you do, South Sawyer is beautiful.

Princess and Holland America both specialize in Alaska. We did our two Alaska cruises on Holland America. The first time it was for the price and itinerary. We waited to book one month before sailing and got a great deal on a balcony cabin. The second time was for the itinerary which was a 14 day cruise to different ports and no other cruise line does that.

For me a Glacier day is as exciting as a port day. I'm excited for you!

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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 10:08 AM
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Our cruise did Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Glacier Bay was awesome....we saw so much calving, I was mesmerized. Spent a couple hours at the rails taking photos, and watching the ice shear off and fall into the water. Really amazing. By comparison, College fjord was not so great. It was a very grey day,so part of it was just not as pretty. It was still fairly spectacular, but paled in comparison to Glacier bay.

We went on Princess.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 02:00 AM
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I get what you are saying - while the glaciers are incredible, watching them for 12-20 hours does get old. We cruised on Princess about 5 years ago and they had some sort of professional descriptive narration going on. That was OK for a while, but we more enjoyed having a balcony to just sit and stare in silence.

I am assuming your other cruises have been in warm waters. Ours, too - and just know an Alaska cruise is completely different. Excursions, thru cruise line or otherwise, are what it is all about. And most are expensive, since they involve travel some distance. Except for Juneau, there really is not a lot to see on foot on your own in the tiny port towns.

Also, the on-board experience is far more casual in way of dress and passengers. No one bought pretty new cruise attire - think new fleece and sturdy shoes. Even dressier nights in dining room was not very dressy. And since we were cruising with our son when he turned 21, we wanted to buy him his first legal drink at midnight - most of the on-board bars were already closed.

We had a great time - just some thoughts to keep in mind as you pack and plan.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 06:00 AM
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If its any help, my trip report for Alaska was in blog form, here: You can get a look at my pictures from both glacier bay and college fjord.

This is a favorite from Glacier Bay:
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 08:25 AM
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On a northbound cruise, scenery becomes increasingly dramatic. You will see your first glacier in Juneau (if you take the bus or car to Mendenhall Glacier), and it will be a great enhancement if you sail into Glacier Bay. As said, you will see many different glaciers there and some of them you will approach very closely. You will hear them crack and you will see them calve. It is quite an experience!

If you are interested in another trip report - very detailed - you may read this:
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 12:22 PM
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Hey CC,

>This is a favorite from Glacier Bay:

Great pic.

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Old Mar 31st, 2015, 02:03 PM
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We chose a cruise (Holland) that went to Glacier Bay and were not sorry, up close and personal, and cold They had hot wine set up on the outside decks which was a treat as you could stand by the rail for a bit and sip your hot beverage.
The shore excursions were awesome! Expensive, but awesome! My favorite was a helicopter ride with landing and walking on a glacier. Also we took a sea plane and landed on a glacier lake. The scenery is beautiful and we, like you, do not cruise to stay on the boat but it is a form of transportation to get to places we want to see.
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