Princess or HAL

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Feb 25th, 2016, 02:42 AM
  #1
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Posts: 223
Princess or HAL

Alaska- help me decide
Posted by: europe2011 on Feb 24, 16 at 4:13pm
Posted in: Cruises
Tagged: Princess
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I will be going on a cruise with my 69 year old Mom in July. We have narrowed it done to 2 choices and want to hear from those of you that have been on an Alaskan cruise what your thoughts are between our final 2 choices. Few questions I have:
Is seeing Glacier Bay a must?
In terms of Sea Sickness, will the larger boat (Ruby) be a more sensible option?
Since I feel that we will see more on the Holland cruise, is their food and service better or the same as Princess?
Thanks!

Option #1: Princess Cruise on the Ruby Princess
1
Seattle, Washington
Sunday, July 3
4:00 PM
2
At Sea
Monday, July 4
3
Ketchikan, Alaska
Tuesday, July 5
6:30 AM 3:00 PM
4
Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska (Scenic Cruising)
Wednesday, July 6
5:00 AM 9:00 AM
4
Juneau, Alaska
Wednesday, July 6
12:30 PM 10:15 PM
5
Skagway, Alaska
Thursday, July 7
6:00 AM 5:00 PM
6
At Sea
Friday, July 8
7
Victoria, British Columbia
Saturday, July 9
7:00 PM 11:59 PM
8
Seattle, Washington
Sunday, July 10
7:00 AM

Option #2: Holland America on the ms Amsterdam
Day Date Port Arrive Depart
0 02 Jul 2016 Vancouver, B.C., CA 05:00 PM
1 03 Jul 2016 Scenic Cruising The Inside Passage CO
2 04 Jul 2016 Tracy Arm Inlet, Alaska, US SX SC 10:00 AM 10:30 AM
2 04 Jul 2016 Juneau, Alaska, US 01:00 PM 10:00 PM
3 05 Jul 2016 Skagway, Alaska, US 07:00 AM 09:00 PM
4 06 Jul 2016 Glacier Bay CO 07:00 AM 04:00 PM
5 07 Jul 2016 Ketchikan, Alaska, US 10:00 AM 06:00 PM
6 08 Jul 2016 Scenic Cruising The Inside Passage CO
7 09 Jul 2016 Vancouver, B.C., CA 07:00 AM
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Feb 25th, 2016, 05:43 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,371
I can't speak to Princess but I think HAL is good for someone older. I thought the dining room food was good, and a special bonus is that room service is free,and it was possible to order room service off the dinner menu for the first hour of service. (Of course double check with them before you book to see if this is still so). If you drink wine, in your own room, there isn't a corkage fee.

The ship I was on, Zandaam, has a huge library with lots of window seating for those cold sea days. There is a little coffee shop there with free snacks all day (even if you don't buy coffee). The walking deck is covered.

I also thought the customer service was good, and the DR waiters professional.

The few things that I think might be negative, is the circulation on the boat (often up/down an extra set of stairs) and I did NOT care for the buffet food. I though the entertainment was weak.

The itinerary I picked because it included Glacier Bay.

PS *I did a one way from Anchorage to Vancouver, not a round trip. We went to Haines instead of Skagway. and no Tracy Arm.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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>>Is seeing Glacier Bay a must?<<

We found Glacier Bay the very best day of the total cruise. The sights are breathtaking and the ship comes so close to the glaciers that you hear them crack. Of course, lots of calving. Also, slow and totally silent sailing through Glacier Bay is an unforgettable experience.

>>In terms of Sea Sickness, will the larger boat (Ruby) be a more sensible option?<<

Most of the cruise goes through the calm waters of the inside passage. The HAL ships have stabilizers and are very stable.

>>Since I feel that we will see more on the Holland cruise<<

If you look into details, you will find that the Princess itinerary has serious limitations. The second best stop (after Glacier Bay) is Skagway. In Skagway, the best thing you can do is renting a car and driving along the Klondike trail to Carcross and Emerald Lake. However, Princess stays only from 6:00 AM 5:00 PM, while HAL from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM which gives you much more precious time. The early arrival of Princess is useless because you get the rental car not before 8:00.

>> is their food and service better or the same as Princess?<<

Can't speak about Princess, but HAL had excellent food and drinks - way better than Celebrity, to take an example. HAL stocks fresh food in Vancouver, so expect excellent seafood on board. Some of the best food, we ever had on a cruise.

Also, excellent cocktails at moderate prices.

You may like to read my trip report (at least the first parts about the cruise):

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-land-tour.cfm

If you like it, post a comment to bring it back to the top.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 03:55 PM
  #4
ira
 
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Hi E,

Yes, Glacier Bay is a must.

We went NB on HAL Oosterdam and SB on Pacific Princess.

Overall we preferred HAL, although the pizza on Princess is much, much better.

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Mar 5th, 2016, 08:14 AM
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Posts: 7,265
HA is our preferred cruise line just for food and service. The HA that we were on last month had excellent pizza by the pool.
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Mar 6th, 2016, 02:48 PM
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ira
 
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Hi fmp,

I'm pleased to hear that the pizza on HAL has improved.

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Mar 6th, 2016, 04:43 PM
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I am only referencing the Niew Amsterdam.
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Mar 18th, 2016, 05:35 PM
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We've only been on HAL and have loved all three cruises so far. My deciding factor on our very first cruise which was a 7 day Alaska cruise was the itinerary. Glacier Bay is well worth it and could possibly be the highlight of your cruise. Tracy Arm could be iffy as far as seeing glaciers up close.

Utahtea
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Mar 18th, 2016, 08:25 PM
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I love Princess, have been on Princess for four cruises, but some ships are nicer than others, and for your trip, I would choose the best itinerary.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 11:52 AM
  #10
 
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Posts: 451
We've taken 6 Princess cruises, and one of them was Alaska's Inside Passage. We were on the Crown, very much like the Ruby. We think Princess is excellent, but have never used HAL. Have heard great things about them from friends. Because any differences between the two lines are probably not big differences, I'd look at itinerary and price. Choose the one that looks best to you, book it, and don't look back. Do you both have passports? You'll need them for Vancouver.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 02:07 PM
  #11
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Posts: 223
Thanks for all of your help. We choose a Princess Cruise. It will be on the Crown Princess. This option looked like the best for us. I really good a better sense that we would enjoy the Princess line better than HAL. I'm sure HAL is greta and all, but from what I've read and heard from a few people I know we choose Princess.
Here are the details:
1
Seattle, Washington
Saturday, July 2
4:00 PM
2
At Sea
Sunday, July 3
3
Juneau, Alaska
Monday, July 4
11:00 AM 10:30 PM
4
Skagway, Alaska
Tuesday, July 5
7:00 AM 8:15 PM
5
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (Scenic Cruising)
Wednesday, July 6
6:00 AM 3:00 PM
6
Ketchikan, Alaska
Thursday, July 7
7:00 AM 1:15 PM
7
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Friday, July 8
7:00 PM 11:59 PM
8
Seattle, Washington
Saturday, July 9
7:00 AM
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Mar 20th, 2016, 05:07 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,292
Since you have chosen, I want to share a bit about Crown Princess.

It has been awhile since it was refurbished, so don't expect it to look brand new. Ships get a lot of wear over time.

That being said, after several cruises, with four different cruise lines, on several ships, some larger with water parks, some smaller and intimate (most recently, the new Princess Regal), the Crown Princess is my all time favorite ship.

It is absolutely beautiful! It is classic and elegant. The artwork is the best IMHO of any ship I have seen, especially the mosaics. The pool area is both the most functional and the most beautiful in design I have seen. The layout of the ship is clear, easy to understand and passenger friendly. The dining rooms are nice and not noisy. The theater is well planned.

While the piazza is larger on some ships, the one on Crown is the most elegant and functional, and not as noisy as the larger ones.

The outdoor spaces are lovely. Great for viewing the sea and landscape and relaxing.

We go in winter to the Caribbean for beach time and warm weather. If Crown cruised in the Caribbean, it would be our first choice of a ship every time. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
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Mar 21st, 2016, 08:53 AM
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Posts: 451
Congratulations on your booking!! I think you'll enjoy your cruise very much. The Crown is beautiful, and the Princess crew and staff are some of the best in the industry, IMHO. She's a large ship, but I found my bearings very early and easily, and I'm directionally challanged. My husband and I are 68 and 71, so around your mom's age. Makes me think your mom will have a wonderful time. Our Princess cruise was our 3rd to Alaska, the first two being with Carnival. We had taken all the optional excursions we wanted, so on the 3rd cruise we walked into each port and just wandered around. We had perfect weather except in Ketchikan, where it rained. And still we enjoyed the walking and wandering. Loved watching glaciers calve in Glacier Bay. Wishing you safe and wonderful travels.
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Mar 26th, 2016, 10:24 PM
  #14
 
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Posts: 275
If you think seasickness is even a possibility, I might recomment SAILOR'S SECRET
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Mar 26th, 2016, 10:28 PM
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Posts: 275
Sorry, I posted before I meant to. The sundry shop on board the Crown Princess may have SAILOR'S SECRET ginger pills -- our Princess ship did. However, to make sure you have a supply before you sail, you may want to order them on-line at www.sailorssecret.com. They will ship free if you buy two boxes or more. My husband is very sensitive to motion, and has used both ginger candy and ginger. He took these particular ginger pills and said they worked almost instantly. Since then, I recommend them to all my friends.
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