small ship cruise with Denali visit

Old Oct 17th, 2004, 05:33 PM
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small ship cruise with Denali visit

I am planning a surprise Alaskan cruise for my sister's 50th birthday. I believe the small ship cruise is what she and her partner would prefer (both are very interested in wildlife,nature and photography) however the price difference between the large ships and small is huge!!! Is it really worth it? Also has anyone done the Denali trip as well and how did you like it? How much time should they allow for the Denali visit. Is 12 days total, for the cruise and Denali sufficient? What is the best month for this trip? Any reccomendations/advice would be g reatly appreciated.
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Old Oct 17th, 2004, 10:05 PM
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We have done small ship cruises, as well as large. There's a lot to like about the smaller experience, but you can have great time on both. My favorite would be small--you get to know other people and probably have better educational interpretation. On the smaller boats, you give up much of the glitz associated with the larger ships--entertainers, production shows, casinos.

We have been to Alaska a couple of times. Once on a Princess cruise/tour, then on our own. Denali, both times! We LOVE it. Now that I've seen it, I can't imagine visiting Alaska without seeing it. I think 12 days is okay for your trip, but if you want to, book more. That said, quality vs quantity may play a role in your choice.

Our first trip also included the Kenai Peninsula. We had a great time there with Princess, then went back on our own.

Think we were there at a great time of year--midsummer. Lots of daylight hours to see all there is to see.
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Old Oct 18th, 2004, 04:50 AM
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Go with what your budget allows, but don't most of the small ships stay on the inside passage?? You need a one way to Anchorage/Whittier/Seward to include Denali Park. The major line cruise ships do a nice job however for the costs. As for Denali Park- you need more than 12 days if you go with a cruise tour- despite what the above poster experienced, under a 7 day add on, you have too much time in transit and you'll get the comments- hectic, always on the go, long hours on buses/trains etc.. 5 is fine for independent touring which is superior to the cruisetours in the ability to go where your interests are and see all the great stuff in between. Easy to see twice as much for half the cost. Alaska is less than ideal with group point to point travel. NONE of the cruise tours get far enough into Denali Park- most arent' even aware of this?? My min. distance in is mile 66 Eielson on the SHUTTLE- 1/3 the cost of the Tundra Wilderness tour to mile 53. I am a many time Alaska visitor. The more you know the better your choices will be for your priorities, head to your library and take out Alaska travel books, Fodor's Alaska, Frommer's Alaska and THE MILEPOST.
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Old Oct 19th, 2004, 07:40 AM
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Please check the post (initiated by me when I returned from a small ship Inside Passage cruise) entitled "Alaska Inside Passage Cruising." I cannot imagine a better way to see Alaska for a person who is interested in wildlife, nature and photography. In fact, I cannot imagine that person enjoying a 'conventional' cruise. And the small ships (some of them) do go to Anchorage which connects with the Denali extension. Other itineraries they offer include plane passage from Juneau or Ketchikan to Anchorage/Fairbanks for such a venture. Having paid the extra money to cruise this way, I can say that if I could not afford this type of vacation, I would forgo a vacation for 5 years to make it possible. I came home with 17 rolls of exposed film which netted me some of the most spectacular pictures I have ever taken, most of them taken from the bow of the ship.

Suggestion: Do the land portion first as it is the most strenious. The cruise will be the 'relaxation' part.
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Old Oct 19th, 2004, 03:29 PM
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Thanks everyone for your advice/information -keep it coming!!! Having never been to Alaska myself, I want to get a good feel for it before planning her trip. Thanks again.
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Old Oct 20th, 2004, 03:47 AM
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As I mention- the land tour IF PLANNED correct can be just as relaxing as the cruise. But I disagree- If I had waited 5 years to take the costly trip- I would have missed out on 10 trips to Alaska. Go with what your budget allows and my opinion is to live for today.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 08:30 AM
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Ok Budget Queen...let me rephrase. Living on the east coast (a day's commute each way)...the only way I would consider seeing Inside Passage on a conventional cruiseliner is if it was free. If I lived closer to the west coast, it would have to be REAL cheap. Knowing what I know about small ship cruising, I don't consider conventional cruising OF THE INSIDE PASSGAGE worth my time if I can FIND A WAY to budget for small ship cruise.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 05:04 PM
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I live outside of Syracuse - so I live
East Coast. For clairfication- the cruise ships do an excellent job and it is indeed a great vacation packing a lot into 7 days at a very reasonable cost.
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