Newbie Advice please - Alaskan Cruise

Dec 21st, 2007, 10:02 AM
  #1  
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Newbie Advice please - Alaskan Cruise

I am looking to take my parents on a cruise in Alaska sometime in Summer 2008. Neither me, my husband, nor my parents have ever been on a cruise before. We are interested in "soft adventure" (hiking and nature photography in particular) but also in the little luxuries (gym, good food, larger and more modern rooms). We would want go for approximately 6-9 days. We are interested in seeing the must-see sites and ports. While money is a consideration, we are not necessarily interested in the budget options. That said, I would appreciate any tips and advice anyone has on:
- recommended cruiselines or ships
- recommended must-see ports and/or routes
- recommended websites or agents for the above.

Also, I know there are good luxury options (Regent, Sevenseas) but if anyone has any feedback as to why you'd get more bang for your buck with less expensive options (e.g., Celebrity, Holland America, etc) I'd be interested in hearing pros and cons on that a well.

Sorry for the really general request; I just need to know where to begin so I can start narrowing the options down!
travelbug1976 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2007, 01:13 AM
  #2  
 
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While I have not taken an Alaskan
cruise yet (I, too am researching)
I am leaning towards HAL (about 7-8
cruises so far on their ships) Or CruiseWest.

HAL has cruise-land tour combos
that might be of interest to you.
However, you would need more days
then you are alloting. Send for their comprehensive brochure to
aid your decision making.
And pls. report back for your fellow travelers. Thanks
Rhea58 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2007, 05:03 AM
  #3  
 
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It is also an option to travel independently interior Alaska which is way superior since group travel is point to point, missing everything in between. Also way too much time tied up waiting and transfers.

Easy to go on your own, if you want to.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2007, 07:17 AM
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We took a 7 day cruise out of Vancouver on Holland America (our preferred line ).Not long nough.

When I do go again (and I will) I would take a 7 day Northbound - get off and tour around for 7 days- take another 7 day back to Vacouver. Then maybe I'll feel like I saw more of AK.

Try and , at least, go for longer than 7 days .
maryann is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2007, 08:18 AM
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Princess and HAL do Alaska very nicely. As for tours it depends on what you like. What is a must do for some isn't that way for others so look into what is offered and see what you would like to do the most. Personally we most enjoyed the helicopter trip to Mendenhall in Juneau, the Whit Pass RR exsursion in Skagway and the whale watch in Victoria. However again look into what seems to be the best choice for you.
Many here have recommended www.cruisecompete.com for pricing reasons. personally I book through Costco and have never found their prices beaten even cruisecompete.
For alot more info try www.cruisecritic.com for tons of port and passenger ship reviews.
I would suggest getting a balcony room too. Why? You can view incredible sights from the comfort of your own room and the sights will be really nice too. I will never forget the cruise thru the Tracy Arm passage from our balcony. It will cost more but I think its well worth it IMHO.
Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2007, 10:49 AM
  #6  
 
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Have spent months researching our June 2008 Alaska cruise and settled on one-way Alaska-Vancouver option on Princess (7 nights).

We plan to rent a car and do about an additional week on our own in interior - that itinerary is not set.

We have been on other cruises and on this one was surprised to see that cruisecompete website offered us real deals (see my post about this experience).
gail is online now  
Dec 23rd, 2007, 01:14 PM
  #7  
 
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Most of the cruise lines will do a nice job but their ports of call and offered land tours may vary. We found it a grand adventure and wished we had more time on the land portion. We really enjoyed the day-long whale watching trips by smaller boats and the bus tour through Denali. While we did see lots of wildlife in Denali, it is a matter of luck of the draw since some of the busses before & after ours did not see as much. Also, while we took our cruise first and flew back, would recommend the cruise be last so you can rest up a bit. Don't miss a chance to go.
LarryT is offline  
Dec 24th, 2007, 09:12 AM
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Travelbug,

On our Alaskan cruise, we found sitting on the balcony, just watching the scenery go by, was among our chief pleasures. We used lots of digital storage and were lubricated by room service coffee and wine, depending on the time of day.

IMHO, if it is best to have a balcony on the landward side of the ship, Starboard if you are going northbound and Port side for the southbound trip.

In your case, with multiple cabins, you might want to have balcony cabins on each side of the ship to take full advantage of the scenery.

Also, Princess has an ex-Renaissance ship on the Alaskan itinerary. Those ships (also Celebrity Azamara) have 4 forward facing cabins, 2 each on decks 6 and 7, in between the "vista suites" on those decks. These have wonderful views, but may be difficult to enjoy because of lack of shelter from the wind.
Jeff801 is offline  
Dec 24th, 2007, 12:30 PM
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Actually we were in one of those former Renaissance ships, the Tahitian Princess and had a forward facing cabin. For us it was a big mistake. You really feel the motion, esp. if the seas get just a little rough. My wife became ill and fortunately we were able to shift to an amiships cabin about 2-3 days into the trip. We would never do that again.
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 25th, 2007, 05:23 AM
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For clairfication- "landside" is NOT for the most part, port-southbound and starboard going north. Ships no longer sail much coastal in these area and the Inside Passage, has scenery on both sides.

More important in my opinion, IF you are cruising Glacier Bay and/or College Fjords, AND you only want viewing out of a balcony cabin, you need a PORT side. Realize that it is superior to be flexable and get out on a front open deck however.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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I have taken several Alaskan cruises and I think you'll be pleased with your destimation choice. The best Alaskan cruise I've had was on Regent Mariner. The 2nd best I had was on HAL, good but not in the same league as Regent was. The worst Alaskan cruise I've ever had (actually the worst cruise anywhere) was on NCL. It was a terrible experience, salvaged only because of the gorgeous scenery.

I would pay more and go on one of the all inclusive luxury lines where there's no nickel and diming and much nicer standard cabins, all with a balcony. The passengers were very friendly, not snooty at all and there were no formal nights so it made it easier for packing.

This will be a memorable experience for you and your parents.
patsy120 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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I have taken several NCL cruises to Alaska, including two different ships this year. I have a totally different perception than the above and greatly enjoyed both trips. Freestyle works out perfectly for Alaska.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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BudgetQueen, I too enjoy freestyle dining. In fact it's tough for me to go on any cruiseline with "Traditional" set dining hours and table mates anymore.

On our Alaska cruise I found the service to be way below par. The crew members seemed to be very overworked & undertrained and few could do their job well. I felt sorry for them and can see why there could be a bigger turnover on NCL. We had problem with our plumbing that didn't get tended to until 22 hours after it was reported. We also found food on a plate and a dirty fork when we checked into our cabin (and we were late getting onboard).

I also found it difficult to be charged for something everytime we turned around and for the staff to be in your face trying to sell overpriced drinks. I guess it is a personal choice but I much prefer a more laid-back atmosphere (without the annoying announcements) with top notch food, larger standard cabins and service even if I pay more for it.
patsy120 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 04:35 PM
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patsy - regarding annoying announcements. Celebrity advertises (confirmed by our Caribbean trip in Feb.) that they do not do announcements except in case of emergency. The peace was wonderful.
gail is online now  
Dec 29th, 2007, 04:07 AM
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HAL is my preference for Alaska. They have a lot of history there, get prime docking locations and I love the smaller, quieter ships.

Now they offer Anytime Dining so that makes them a perfect choice for us.

HAL meets your criteria for a good gym (and also indoor therapy pool), modern and very comfortable rooms and great bedding. Cabins are heads above Celebrity for comfort and NCL does not come close in either rooms, food or service.

JMHO.
kfusto is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 02:01 PM
  #16  
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thanks to all so much for your feedback. i think i am now armed with some basic info to hone down my research. i will let you all know how it goes.
travelbug1976 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 02:50 PM
  #17  
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one more question -- there have been a lot of HAL recommendations; does anyone have any views as to specific ships in alaska (i.e., as to size (smaller being better for us), newness, luxuriousness, routes, etc?
travelbug1976 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2008, 04:30 AM
  #18  
 
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you can find your answers at
cruisecritic.com as prev. posted

Register free and post your queries
there.
Rhea58 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2008, 11:02 AM
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"small and luxurious" would be Regent and they do Alaska. If you can afford it, it would be a fabulous experience.

HAL's newest is the Noordam and the Westerdam was very recently updated. These are both lovely ships but small is relative. Much smaller than the Princess (except Coral), NCL counterparts in the area and less density than Carnival and RCI as well.
kfusto is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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Hi, My husband and I took an Alaskan cruise on the Mercury (Celebrity Lines) for 7 Days June 2002. Weather was incredible. No rain. Then in September 2006 we flew to Anchorage and cruised on the Royal Caribean Splendor of the seas to Vancouver, BC Weather again was wonderful. No comparison between ships. I would take the Mercury anyday. Better food, better service. We are leaving for a 15 day South America cruise on the Infinity (Celebrity Line) on March 15/08
Lynney is offline  

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