Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Travel Topics > Cruises
Reload this Page > Our Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on Cruise West
Notices

Our Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on Cruise West

Reply

Aug 6th, 2010, 06:45 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Our Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on Cruise West

This will not be a long, very detailed Trip Report. Figure the pictures (link attached) should tell more of the story. (Put this trip report in the "U.S." forum as well.)

We took a 8-day, 7-night cruise on the Cruise West Expedition. We had won this fabulous trip in an auction, so it was a last minute unexpected, unplanned trip. We had always wanted to take a cruise in Alaska but the mega ships turned us off. There were about 65 people on the Cruise West trip.

The only really tough part of this was the flights from NYC to Juneau. (Cruise was Juneau to Juneau) Took us 17 hours and three planes to get there. Luckily, going home it was only 13 hours (but still 3 planes.)

We got in at 10PM, very tired. Stayed for the first night at the Goldbelt Hotel because Cruise West has a hospitality room there and that's where they pick you for the Cruise. Pretty disappointing hotel. (I've heard all the hotels in Juneau are.) Bathroom floors were linoleum, and when you turned on the fan to disperse the heat, it stank and made a very annoying noise. But, it was only for the first night so it was bearable.

Highlights:
- First morning on the ship - Tracy Arm. Woke up to icebergs outside our window. And Sawyer Glacier. Turquoise all around us. Stupendous.
- Siting of grizzlys on shore
- All the birds, especially the eagles and puffins
- Harbor seals, Stellar sea lions, mountain goats
- All the whales - We even were privy to a pod (about 8 whales in a group).
- Siting of sea otters.
- The small group size.
- The expedition leaders (naturalists) who were with us every day, all the way.
- The exceptional Captain (Dave) who got us into small coves and so close to the shore and waterfalls, that we couldn't believe the boat didn't crash.
The enthusiasm of the group.
- Our luck with the weather. It only rained twice. When we got to Glacier Bay, we even had sun. We could see the top of Fairweather Mountain. We were told that it's hardly ever visible.

Our room was an "AA" - two single beds. Very small. But perfectly fine. Door led to an outside deck. And the beds were very, very comfortable.

Only took one shore excursion - A walk around Wengall. Very good tour leader. People raved about the "Bears of Annan" excursion.

The towns we stopped at were Wrangell, Petersburg and Sitka (and Juneau). None are super special. But I did like Petersburg for its small stores (not owned by the Cruise Lines like they are in Juneau), and walking around the docks. It's the biggest fishing center in Alaska.

But the reason to come is the scenery and wildlife. We took small pontoons out to get even closer to the whales and to stop on an isolated bit of shore.

Food- Very good. Great desserts. The last night we had filet mignon. The dining room manager, Robert, was very funny and a great choice of Cruise West's for that job.

No tipping - it was included in the cruise fee. Nice.

What more can I say?

Our pix: > http://insidepassagealaska.shutterfly.com/
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 6th, 2010, 01:11 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,687
Nice post, and glad you had a good time.
Eschew is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 8th, 2010, 10:57 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Thanks Eschew and thanks for all your help.
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 10th, 2010, 05:42 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 18
Your pictures are fantastic - what kind of camera do you use?
belgazou is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 10th, 2010, 06:39 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Our camera - Panasonic Lumix FZ18 with a 1.5x extended lens.

Thanks for the compliment!
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 10th, 2010, 09:04 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 743
kenav, your photos are terrific. It looks like you had a fabulous cruise.

Sadly, Cruise West has run into financial trouble. We were scheduled to sail on the Spirit of Oceanus later this year on one of the portions of the "Voyage of the Great Explorers" world cruise. Yesterday we were informed that the cruise has been terminated. We are now in the process of trying to get our money refunded. My husband and I are so disappointed, as we had heard wonderful things about Cruise West.
nevermind is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 06:27 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
nevermind - So sorry to hear about this both for you and Cruise West. Their "Voyage of the Great Explorers" seemed very ambitious to me when they were explaining it on our boat (the last night of our cruise).

On our Alaskan cruise the boat (ship?) could hold 100 people, I believe, but there were only about 65. Perhaps because their prices are so much higher than the mega ships' prices, they're having trouble?

What leg of the "Great Explorers" cruise were you to take?

Have you thought about their Alaskan cruise?
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 07:12 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 743
We were taking the Easter Island to Papeete leg. Like your cruise ship, the Spirit of Oceanus is small, too. I think it holds just over 100 passengers. I'm not sure what the future holds for Cruise West.

Alaska may well be in our future. We've heard such wonderful things about it, and your trip looks like so much fun.
nevermind is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 07:45 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 596
Sadly, I just read that a 15 night cruise on the Oceanus has been terminated in Newfoundland after the second night. I really enjoyed a Japan trip on the ship last year and also loved the Alaska cruise on the Yorktown this past July.

Hopefully, the people have paid by credit card. I had a really bad experience with a cruise company last year when my insurance would not cover because the company did not declare bankruptcy. Credit card payment is important for sure.
Louise is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 08:36 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Louise - How could the Oceanus terminate a cruise on the 2nd night?? You'd think they would just cancel the cruise all together.

Perhaps Cruise West expanded too quickly.
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 09:02 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 596
According to USA Today, it was terminated on the 2nd night which means it ended 2 nights after beginning and passengers were left in "limbo". Also, is says Seattle staff have been laid off.
Louise is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 02:39 PM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
But -- how could they just cancel it once it was going? I mean, wouldn't they know something was wrong before it began and just cancel it before the start date?

Does the article say why this happened?
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 04:19 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 596
I am just quoting - maybe you could go to Google and type in "Cruisewest" and you can read several articles. Also, check out the website for Cruisewest.
Louise is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 11th, 2010, 04:46 PM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Saw this:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20...ef_cruise_west
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 12th, 2010, 09:12 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 743
Thankfully we paid with credit card and have already submitted a dispute. I'm hoping to get fully refunded, as it was really an expensive cruise. We will be able to recoup all but $100 on our airline tickets to Easter Island and from Papeete to San Franciso (and I think our travel insurance may reimburse the $100). What is still up in the air for us is whether our reservations at the Explora on Easter Island can be canceled/or what the penalty is.

We are lucky. There are, apparently, quite a few people who paid by check as Cruise West offered a 2% discount for cash/check. I'm not sure what will happen to them.
nevermind is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 12th, 2010, 10:08 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 596
Hopefully, it will all work out for the people who paid with other than a credit card. The cruise line I was booked with was giving two stories - they were being sold or seeking money for restructuring. They accepted AmEx but not Visa when I booked and that is why I paid by check. I filed a claim with the attorney general's office in New York where the cruise line was based. I will never know if that is why I received my money back but it took 6 months to receive the $10,000. The cruise line is no longer in existance.
Louise is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 13th, 2010, 05:38 AM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
nevermind - Wouldn't the travel insurance cover the hotel?

Louise - What cruise line was that?
kenav is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 13th, 2010, 10:37 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 596
It was Elegant Cruises. They had two small ships which did the Mediterranean and they also booked river cruises in Europe.
Louise is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 13th, 2010, 10:49 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 743
I think the hotel will be covered by our insurance. We're still just trying to sort things out. Our experience is a good example of the wisdom of travel insurance!

Several years ago I tore my ACL our our way to Europe to join a river cruise. We didn't have trip insurance and the company wouldn't refund any of our $$ (which was understandable). We decided to go ahead with the trip, rather than loose out completely. Since then, we've always purchased trip insurance. It is expensive, but offers peace-of-mind... and, I'm glad we have it now!! Hopefully our greatest damage will be our disappointment.
nevermind is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 14th, 2010, 12:59 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,687
Crusiewest is in finaical trouble and is "restructing".
Those who pad via credit cards can get their money back though the credit card company. Just tell the credit card company that the service you paid for is no longer available through Cruise West and you will get your moeny back.

If you have travel insurance, it depends of what type of insurance you have.

If you did not pay by credit card, you maybe out of luck.
Eschew is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:35 PM.