Inside or Balcony to Alaska

Apr 23rd, 2019, 06:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Inside or Balcony to Alaska

I'm just starting to think about cruises (never been before) to Alaska next year (2020). In reading, I see some people get the inside and some get balconies. As some of the itineraries I look at are cruising at night when I'll be sleeping, is there any advantage to getting a balcony room?

I know the insides fill up fastest -- is that just because of the price or are there other reasons people want to be there?

If I want to keep the budget to about $6,000 total for two people, is it reasonable that I could get a balcony?
smilligan is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 08:23 PM
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The vast majority of people would not choose inside cabins if they could afford something better (though a few do prefer them). Their big draw is the bargain price. Also - Not all sailing is at night . . . Alaska is so far north that in mid summer along the Inside Passage, sunset is around midnight.
janisj is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 09:17 PM
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Sailing to Alaska is one cruise that I think is worth the extra for a balcony. I sailed north from Vancouver, and chose a balcony cabin on the starboard side. I like being on the "land side" of any direction I sail in as there is more to see, although you will have things on both side through the Inside Passage. I also prefer to sail "one way", rather than "round trip"..
burta is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 10:27 PM
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>>Sailing to Alaska is one cruise that I think is worth the extra for a balcony. <<


>>I like being on the "land side" of any direction I sail in as there is more to see . . . <<

janisj is online now  
Apr 24th, 2019, 08:04 AM
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There is more to see depends on where you cruise. The inside passage is one thing; being far enough from land so that you can operate your casino is something entirely different.

Traditionally, the most expensive and the least expensive cabins usually sell out first. That hasn't changed for decades.

The one place I would want a balcony besides Alaska is through the Panama Canal. Believe me, when you have fought all of those people on the out side decks for viewing space through the locks you'll understand.
Dukey1 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2019, 08:58 AM
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Most of the cruises to Alaska call at one or more glacier areas, typically either Glacier Bay or Hubbard Glacier. The balcony lets you have the view from your room instead of joining the crowds on the public deck rails, and as stated daylight hours are very long in the Alaska summer. To me it's well worth the extra cost.

In planning it's important to note that there are two kinds of cruises, round trips from either Seattle or Vancouver, or one way itineraries between Vancouver and either Seward or Whittier, AK or the reverse. (There are no one-way cruises from Seattle due to US maritime law.) The round trip sailings out of Seattle travel to the west of Vancouver Island on open ocean, so a chance of rougher waters and no views, whereas those from Vancouver (both round trip and one-way) travel to the east of Vancouver Island on sheltered "Inside Passage" waters with calmer seas and better views.
Gardyloo is online now  
Apr 24th, 2019, 09:39 AM
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>>The inside passage is one thing; being far enough from land so that you can operate your casino is something entirely different.<<

Not sure what that is about . . . The only Alaska cruises I've been on were Inside Passage, and the casino was open every evening.
janisj is online now  
Apr 25th, 2019, 06:28 AM
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Honestly, it depends on whether you are the type who can sit and sit and sit...I can't. Since I get antsy, I prefer the inside cabins and spend time on the walking deck, in the library and if the weather is bad, in one of the public viewing areas. IMO the Holland America ships have great setups for that.. For Glacier Bay, the best views on the HAL ships are from the bow. Even if you are able to afford a balcony, I'd encourage you to get outside while in GB (assuming it's good weather). I've gone early and late, never mid-season, and had spectacular weather both times. A friend and I did a balcony on a repo cruise to Vancouver and I couldn't stand it for more than half an hour (while having coffee).

After subtracting out your airfare, taxes and mandatory tips, transfers to cruise port, and any excursions, you'll have your 'advertised" cabin fare budget (per person). Taxes I'd estimate at $400 to $500 for both of you, tips vary by cabin and cruise line, estimate $300 for both of you, could be less or sometimes you will find deals where they pick them up for you. By the time you add in transfers you're at $1000. I think a budget of $6000 for two would be possible, but barely, especially if you book this far in advance. Maybe you have miles you can use for at least part of the airfare?

I would rather have an inside cabin on a nice smaller or midsize ship that visits Glacier Bay and has long port days, vs a balcony on a mega ship with a bad itinerary.

Or wait to book last minute discounts, for example on Vacations to Go. Especially for a June trip, you should find discounts of half off a month ahead. My itinerary from last year (Noordam south bound from Anchorage) isn't sold out in any class yet. For both of you, that would be a base cabin rate of about $2000 , plus the $1000, leaving you with lots left over for airfare, excursions and a hotel in Anchorage and/or Seward. Often you can find similar prices with the cruise line, if you call them and ask if they will match the discount fare.

Last edited by mlgb; Apr 25th, 2019 at 06:58 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 25th, 2019, 08:45 AM
Original Poster
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Thank you all! Great information from everyone!
smilligan is offline  
Apr 28th, 2019, 05:52 PM
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My last cruise involved a huge amount of time as sea so we opted for inside with no regrets. But for Alaska I would splurge and get the balcony, especially if you can get it on the land side. Have a great trip.
P_M is offline  
Apr 28th, 2019, 06:31 PM
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>>especially if you can get it on the land side. Have a great trip<<

On an Inside Passage cruise -- both sides are 'land side' . . .
janisj is online now  
Apr 28th, 2019, 07:42 PM
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I have done two to Alaska and had a balcony on both . My favourite part both times was sitting on the balcony and watching the whales, kayakers and small boats on our last day past Vancouver island, it was so magical that everyone else was on their balconies all whispering so as not to upset the moment so to speak. And seeing the glaciers from your own balcony is magical as well. I would not do the cruise without a balcony, but if the only way to afford it is with the inside cabins you can always go up to the decks and see the same view.
live42day is offline  
Apr 29th, 2019, 09:36 AM
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I'd say better to go with some other category if that's the only way you can go. If you get unlucky and have fogged in weather on the Inside Passage leg to Vancouver, you won't see much anyways. Unless you are disabled or supremely lazy, there are plenty of spots to see the scenery elsewhere on the ship, including but not limited to "up on the decks". Again, I recommend the HAL ships for not being too huge with many lovely spots to sit inside if the weather is not amenable to outside seating, such as the library, the top deck lounge, the gym, the cafeteria, near the coffe bar, and love their covered walking decks.

I prefer the ships which are Panamax sized and go up to Alaska after that season is over. Some of the megaships exceed 4000 passengers. Also, not all lines have access to Glacier Bay, which is actually my favorite day of the trip (lucky to have beautiful sunny weather both times). Remember, there are also at least 3 port days on most cruises (Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway area (I like Haines instead). Most ships can't stop in Haines (only 1 per day) but some of the ships that stop in Skagway have excursions there.

To help the people who are unable to wake up without sunlight, these are kind of neat. They're on sale because a lot of people need them in winter to help with getting up in the dark.

Last edited by mlgb; Apr 29th, 2019 at 09:44 AM.
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