Opinions, Answers, Info on Alaskan Cruises

Feb 9th, 2000, 01:18 PM
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Opinions, Answers, Info on Alaskan Cruises

I would like to surprise my mother with an Alaskan cruise, but I have no idea what I need to look for. Anyone with any info would be much appreciated.

Specifically: Which cruise lines would one recommend? I'm in my 30s, more of a spontaneous traveler, and somewhat adventerous. My mother is in her mid-60s, much (MUCH) prefers a structured itinerary, and dislikes "adventure". (Don't ask how we EVER agree to travel ANYWHERE together!) Will a cruise have the structure she desires and the sponteniety that I like? Also, I like to do more things during the day and get to bed fairly early - mom's the same - are there quiet activities to do in the evening? (not much into the nightclub or casino scene) I know people who have "cruised" have said there is "a lot" to do, but they can never give me specifics - can some one here? Also, can one truly go ashore and get the essence of the place they are visiting in just a few short hours? Does the ship provide touring options for offshore activities, or is one more or less on their own? I've also heard that Alaskan cruises attract an older crowd - will I be in with people much older than myself? I would like to go when school is in session - do cruises travel to Alaska as late as Sept.??

I've always been cautious about cruising, because I'm never one to to just "hang out" in a resort - I get "itchy" feet and just HAVE to get out. How will that work on a cruise? Has anyone ever gotten "cabin fever" while cruising?

I would like to give this a try, but I also want it to be an incredible experience.

Sorry for the length! And Thanks!
Feb 9th, 2000, 08:57 PM
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My situation is a little like yours in that my older husband is not the intrepid traveller type and I never had any desire to go on a cruise. We both wanted to see the Panama canal and this was a good compromise. He got his relaxing cruise and dependable food & bed while I got a visit to Guatemala and a hike in Costa Rica. I'm not advocating a trip to the Panama; I just mean to point out that these things can be worked out, as you probably already know from travelling with your mother.

I also am not fond of water or enclosed spaces with crowds so I was anxious about this trip! My worrying was all for nothing though, as I never felt confined, sea sick or bored. Actually I was hoping for some quiet time to sit down and read a book but there seemed to be so much going on either on board or off, that I never had time.

Some of the nightly entertainment was good, some not. There were colourful shows, as well as musicians and comedians. If we didn't care for the show that night we sometimes went to the movie theatre instead. (Free popcorn.)

Most of the people on the ship were older than me but they're just like anybody else - some are great fun, some are cranky.

I don't know about Alaska, but I imagine they have guided tours. Where possible, I'd prefer to go it alone but it really depends on the place and what there is to see. Being herded around on a bus tour can be tiresome in my view but in a few cases may be the best option.

Yes, I think you can get the essence of a place quickly. I'm not one of those who believe you have to spend months in a place to get it know it and see no point in going anywhere for a week or two. I'd rather see a place for a day than not see it at all... and alot can be packed into that day.

Since the highlight of the Alaska cruise is the scenery, I would want an outside cabin.

We went on a Holland America ship, and to my surprise, I would do it again. What I won't do again is have them book my flight.

Feb 10th, 2000, 03:17 AM
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Hi Michele -- absolutely do alaska with mom. It is incredible! I went on Crown Princess a few years ago and would do it again in a heartbeat. You can take a variety of excursions either through the cruiseline or on your own. Many excursions are outdoorsy things (logical given the location), like whitewater rafting, canoeing, hiking, but there are plenty of "cultural" opportunities as well (totem pole carvers, Indian villages, etc.). Not lots of shopping, other than the usual tourist junk, so if that's all mom wants, possible Alaska isn't the best choice. But if you enjoy incredible scenery, wildlife, photography, etc., Alaska will be perfect. The excursions should provide the structure mom likes, but since they're rarely day-long, you can have some spontaneous exploration time for yourself as well. Several people on our trip would take those trips, and also have time for a couple hour day hike on their own, since "nature" is so close to the ports there. My favorite excursion: helicopter ride to glacier (almost every port offers this). The days "at sea" in Alaska are great. You just kick back and watch the scenery go by, or there are always activities on board (movies, bingo, art shows, etc.). I was never bored--and it was especially fun because Alaska is so remarkable, people on the ship were just excited/happy as heck all the time. I also recommend you take the trip south to north (Vancouver to Seward) instead of north to south; best scenery is in north so if you leave from Vancouver, the scenery gets better each day(which is hard to believe--it's gorgeous from the first minute to the last).
I went in early July, which was perfect: cool at night and in shade, but quite warm during the day--it was warm enough to lay out at the pool! Take lots of layers and a daypack whenever you go; you'll likely add & subtract clothing all day long. September will likely be considerably cooler than July... if you prefer Sept so ship isn't overrun with kids, I wouldn't change dates for this trip because of that. Only a few kids on my ship--and not troublesome at all. Few people take little kids on this type of trip. Also, many of the passengers were in their 30's. This is no longer an "old people" cruise, so don't worry about that. I've never gotten cabin fever on a ship. They're not small, for one thing, and there is always something or nothing to do, as you wish. As for nightlife--if you go in summer, remember that the sun never sets completely (not sure how Sept is). It is light at least until 10 p.m., so even if you're not in port, you can do "outdoor" things on the ship until late. Very strange watching the sun go down at midnight... The nice thing about cruises is you can do as little or as much as you want; have as much or as little structure as you want. As long as you & mom basically get along, and can agree that you don't need to be "glued at the hip" the entire trip, go! I can give you more specific port info if you'd like to write to me directly. happy to help.
Feb 10th, 2000, 03:22 AM
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Michele -- thought of something else--you don't mention it, but you can do an add-on to these trips that take you by train from Anchorage to Denali. Highly recommend it, if you take Princess they have a lodge at Denali you can stay in. We only had one night there, and unfortunately had rainy weather, but it is beautiful nonetheless. again, write directly if I can help further.
Feb 10th, 2000, 01:05 PM
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Wow! Thanks for some great info! Maybe this will work out to be a great vacation get-away. Mom is not one for shopping (neither am I, really) except to get her fridge magnet and maybe a sweatshirt. And if there's bingo on board, I may never get her off the ship! And the nature stuff is something that I would love!

Thanks, Peg, for the offer, and I will probably take you up on it soon.

Thanks, again!
Feb 11th, 2000, 05:01 PM
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3 years ago I went on an Alaskan cruise with my parents and my 17 year old (girl) and 15 year old (boy). This was my (and the kids) first cruise. We all loved it. The scenery is fantastic. We had two full days at sea but I never found myself bored even though we were on a small (550 passengers) ship. Although the ship had some activities every day, I felt guilty going to bingo with the incredible scenery outside. The highlight of the kids trip was participating in the audience show night - there were a bunch of different skits with both passengers and the entertain group participating in. Since there were 5 of us it was too expensive to take many of the excursions but we always found things to do at the ports of call like take our own walking tour of Skagway. I'd go back tomorrow!!!
Feb 14th, 2000, 04:55 AM
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Cruise Away Michele and have a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience. My wife and I made our first cruise on Princess to Alaska and had an outstanding time. The food, service, and activities were everything we were promised. At some of our stops we would take the excursions and at others we would be on our own. It was great!!
I was simply amazed by the efficiency of Princess w/ respect to the manner in which they handled the land tour at they end of the cruise. Half of the people taking the land tour were flown to Fairbanks, boarded the train and came south whiile the rest of us went to Anchorage and boarded the train there. We all met up again in Danali. It made for an interesting reunion for we didn't think we'd see some of those folks again.
The tour in Denali was something I'll never forget. I've never seen such scenery. It is not a comfortable ride for you do so on a school bus. Be that as it may, I can assure you you will see such sights.
The only drawback for me was that I felt like I was in a herd of cattle. This feeling was present during embarkation, debarkation, and the land tour. If I were to do it over again I think I'd take the cruise but do the land tour on my own. We like to create our own adventures.
We're planning a cruise in May and will go Princess if we find something we like.

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