Need help with Alaska cruise

Old Feb 8th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Need help with Alaska cruise

My parents have asked me to book an Alaskan cruise for them in late June or July. I have never been to Alaska or on a cruise, so I am at a loss. Monetarily,we want the best value for the money..maybe not 1st class, but certainly not cheapest either. We would like the cruise to be 10 - 12 days in length and might possibly like the land/cruise tours that are on some of the web-sites, with the steamboat and train rides. Any advice to the best cruise line for the money and also where to go and what is "must see" on the cruise? Thanks!!
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Old Feb 8th, 2004, 01:56 PM
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I am a travel agent and cruise specialist and I highly recommend Princess Cruises or Holland America. They have been doing Alaska cruises and cruisetours for more than 50 years and have an excellent infrastructure in Alaska. They really know what they're doing! In addition, they have some of the best prices to combine with the best experience. Definitely look at the 7 day cruise with the 3 day tour to include time in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley viewing - those are the absolute must-sees in my opinion and my experience.

July is peak season for Alaska cruisetours, so the prices are the most expensive for those dates. I highly recommend doing an oceanview stateroom at least - they can sip their morning coffee and look out at the scenery before they start their day. You might also look at a guarantee rate - generally the lowest prices and these guests often get a really nice upgrade, but don't get to pick their stateroom or location.

Please let me know if I can offer any assistance - I am very happy to help!
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Old Feb 9th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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I am well traveled in Alaska and you CAN NOT do a 3 day land tour including Fairbanks, Denali Park and Anchorage, (and Mt. McKinley viewing ??) Are you referring to flights?? I recommend 7 day one way cruise- with an edge toward HAL for the Seward port rather than Whittier- BUT only if they consider the rail between the 2. Otherwise it doesn't matter. I also recommend a 7 day land add on. Any less has too much time in transit and no time at the destination. You need at least a FULL day at Denali Park with the Tundra Wildlife tour included (8) hours IF you want to see any wildlife- good binoculars are necessary. It is 6++ hours via bus Anchorage- Denali Park, 8 hours via rail- then add an hour and half Whittier- Anchorage. To continue on to Fairbanks- add 2 hours via bus 4 rail. But Fairbanks is so much more than the boatride and gold dredge- but the tours don't include it same with Anchorage- so much to do in each city that is worthwhile. For further clairfication- Mc Kinley is seldom visable expecially full views. So I'm not sure what the above reference was?? But it may be flights which are excellent and supurb operators out of Talkeetna. Be aware with Princess - McKinley lodge is out in the middle of nowhere- and 100 miles from the Denali Park entrance- there is no way to get there (some cruisetours have 2 days here and people don't realize there is no opportunity to spend another day at the National Park). You are 40 miles from the closest town- Talkeetna- the lodge runs shuttles and as mentioned flights are just excellent. I am no fan of the land tours- they are point to point missing all the great stuff in between- there is also nothing like being able to pull off somewhere of interest and worse being on a fixed schedule. No meals are included unless specifically mentioned. Budget about 50% more than at home to give a cushion.
Lastly - head to your library and take out Alaska travel books - especially Fodors and Frommer's Alaska- good concise guide books. Request each city's visitor guide.
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Old Feb 11th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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Alaska is an awesome cruise! I think the best ship sailing in Alaska is the Mariner. They're currently having a promotion with free air or $600 off the cruise fare. I'm booked on the June 9th cruise from Vancouver to Seward with the free air. I have done this itinerary before and I highly recommend it. They'll be serving the best fresh fish each night and Alaskan King Crab to die for.

I'm not sure how much importantce you're putting on accommodations and food but one of the best things about Mariner (and all the R.S.S.C. ships for that matter) is that you will be delighted with the lowest category cabin. No need to upgrade to larger cabins/suites as on other ships. The dress is casual (no formal night) and the seating is open.

I think you'll find that this is a great value for the money! Maybe your parents can join us! Since this is only a 7 night cruise, perhaps they'll want to do a pre or post cruise stay.
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Old Feb 11th, 2004, 08:25 PM
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We went on the Princess - the best yet. We went at the end of August and found gifts shops that had 75 percent off on everything, because it was the end of the season. Your parents might like Holland America since that has a reputation of somewhat older clientel.
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