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BayArea Apr 11th, 2006 03:18 PM

Starting research for 1st cruise (alaska)
My parents 50th wedding anniversary is next summer (2007). My sister and I have spoken of doing a family trip together to celebrate them. The current idea is a cruise to Alaska in August. This would be a trip my sister and I would be paying for.

When I think cruise I think Giant Boat! When she thinks cruise, she thinks boat for three or four families plus boat staff. I don't even know where to begin my research.

Here are the parameters:

Sis & I are 30-something SFBay area dwellers.
Trip can only be in August (She will be in her last semester of grad school and I will have just finished school and taken the brutal licensing exam at the end of July.)
Our folks are in their 70's in okay health, but with stroke risks for mom.
Money is an issue for me, but not for sis.

Soo... where do I find out about what my options could be? Anything in particular I need to be on the lookout for?

luv2fly Apr 11th, 2006 03:43 PM

Sounds like you are in need of an Alaskan cruise specialist travel agent. There must be a few of them in the Bay Area.

jomaque Apr 11th, 2006 04:18 PM

As a cruise specialist, I would ask a lot of qualifying questions to determine what cruise would work best for you and your family. Were you thinking of a one way or round trip? Any idea how you're handling your air reservations? Feel free to e-mail me questions (no I won't offer to act as a travel agent on this one-Fodor's is for learning-not making commission). I love to help first time cruisers figure out what works best for them in Alaska as there are SO MANY OPTIONS!

VtMaid Apr 11th, 2006 04:25 PM

I also would urge that you contact a cruise specialist. We took our first cruise thru a cruise specialist and she firmly steered us to an Alaskan cruise - on the "inside strait" on a Celebrity cruise ship. We took our 15 year old son (we were 49 y.o.) We booked a Celebrity Suite. The ship was beautiful, service great, fabulous food, lovely spa. We thoroughly enjoyed the three stops: Ketchikan, Sagway and Juneau. There was very little wave action and movement of the boat because of the strait. Again, because of the strait, there was always something interesting to look at because one is never too far from land. This was a moderate (upper end) cost ship. Absolutely wonderful trip. We enjoyed it so much that we cruised Celebrity a year later in northern Europe. We just returned from a short Western Carribean trip on Royal Carribean. It was a decidedly different experience and while acceptable, we would definitely sail on Celebrity if given the choice!

BudgetQueen Apr 12th, 2006 04:41 AM

I say do your own homework first.

If going on a round trip, strongly consider Vancouver rather than Seattle. Overall Seattle has to poorest routing for Alaska cruises and the least scenic sailing. Round trip Vancouver is just an excellent adventure with plenty filling those 7 days, so don't be urged into a one way if not of interest. The best itinerary in my opinion is HAL with their Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm sailings.

My opinion only, I never do one way cruises without at least another week for interior Alaska touring, take advantage of being there, it is costly in time and money to get all the way to Anchorage and not a frequent trip for most. I again give a big edge to HAL on the one ways as well for the Seward port- but most people just pass through, don't be one of them. :)

So in your selection, I suggest you might want to consider, ports, time in ports, route, glacier, ship naturalist, price. Budget fully for costly excurions, you get only half a trip without them. :)

spur Apr 12th, 2006 08:07 AM

If this your first cruise to Alaska, I'd just go with any itinerary that fits your budget and schedule. But you'll hear a variety of opinions here, some contradicting, so you do need an agent. You can contact my Cruise Value Center agent Alex Shusterman at [email protected], he's very good. Tell him spur sent you.

Curt Apr 12th, 2006 10:43 AM

Depends on what you want to spend. If you want that smaller size boat experience you can not beat Cruise West, but it is much more expensive than the big liners. Holland America is known for Alaska cruising and the ships are a touch smaller than the other lines. We have used Celebrity and they to a top notch job. The next time we will do Cruise West for a more intimate and more close up trip. We have used Cruise West for other cruises and they are excellent.

BayArea Apr 12th, 2006 04:50 PM

Thanks for all the advice. This definitely gives me some things to think about and to talk about with Sis and the 'Rents. Thanks for giving me ideas about where to start!

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