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Summer 2006 Family Cruise to Alaska - Help Please!

Summer 2006 Family Cruise to Alaska - Help Please!

Old Nov 27th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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Summer 2006 Family Cruise to Alaska - Help Please!

I am the family trip planner and while I have put together about 7 European trips in the past few years I find myself at a loss on how to even begin with this one! We have decided to take a family cruise sightseeing in Alaska this summer. There are 4 of us, me, my husband and our two kids, ages 18 and 15. We have never taken a cruise before and the reason we are looking at one now is that it will afford the best sightseeing. We like to explore and the kids like hiking. So we will want to spend time at ports that will offer lots of possibilities. I have a feeling that a smaller ship might be better for us. When we travel we tend to stay away from large American chain hotels and find interesting smaller places to stay. So while I think a cruise is the best option for us on this trip, I think that a large ship might not be what we are looking for. Any suggestions? We live on the east coast, but can leave from any port. And we are thinking about a one week cruise. I would appreciate any help on this. Thanks, Susan
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 03:47 AM
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Look at Cruise West and Lindblad, be prepared for costs about 4 times the regular cruise lines and very few kids. But certainly perfection in routing and wildlife opportunities.

I do believe however, you have the wrong impression of regular cruise ships. Yes they are big, but also offer plenty of space. The big benefit is it's an excellent mode of travel for the inside passage ports, including all meals, transportation, lodging. Usually 3 ports on most sailings and a great glacier sailing day. Make the most of your time in ports by doing your homework and having all plans and reservations in place before you go. It's simple to book independent with the benefit of more personal tours.

Most important, Alaska isn't a one time trip. If you have 2 weeks go on a one way with the second week independent travel of interior Alaska.
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Old Nov 30th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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Also check out Radisson's cruises on the Mariner in Alaska. With 700 people and all suites, it gives a small-ship feel. It is all country-club casual--no dress up. We did it in August 2004 and loved it. I did most of our excursions independently. We first stayed in near Denali and Talkeetna, and at the end stayed in Vancouver. Charlie Gibson from Good Morning America was on board with his kids and his father. If you'd like more info, e-mail me at [email protected].
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Old Nov 30th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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Personally, I think Radisson would be a bit boring for kids because I found the activities and nightlife very limited, although the ships are top notch.

I have done Alaska 5 times. I suggest a one way routing for maximum viewing opportunities, Seward to Vancouver or Seattle or the opposite.

As for ships, I suggest a Radiance class ship on RCI. Great options for your teens, beautiful ship with tons of glass for viewing, a great captain and plenty to do should you choose.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 03:53 AM
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For clairfication you can not do a one way in/out of Seward on the major lines, must be Vancouver.

And RCI is NOT the most scenic on their one ways, actually the least. They make a stright shot across the gulf, open ocean Hubbard/Seward. The lack of a ship naturalist is also significant for first timers, and lastly - no glacier Bay.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 04:11 AM
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Budget queen, what do you mean? Here is a one way, Holland America, from Vancouver to Seward, or vice versa (and when we went there was an excellent naturalist on board). Alternate cruises include either Hubbard or Glacier Bay:

http://www.hollandamerica.com/dest/i...ode=SEW&dest=A

PS: Susan, I recommend a balcony for mom and dad, and an inside across the hall for the teens. The scenery and the late sunset make the extra expense for a balcony worth every penny IMHO.
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Old Dec 1st, 2005, 04:45 AM
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I have done two one ways on RCI from Seward to Vancouver. HAL also does this route.

I found it preferable to the R/T Seattle and R/T Vancouver sailing.

Our Captain on Vision of the Seas got up close and personal with Hubbard Glacier, absolutely amazing!

I was not wowed by Glacier Bay in 2 visits there.

To each his own, BudgetQueen, but I beg to differ.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2005, 03:06 AM
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We sailed the Radiance to Alaska once and it ranks as one of my least favorite cruises in Alaska. I would not choose this ship again.

With kids, I would probably choose a large cruise ship as opposed to going with the smaller ships - I think the kids would be a little bored on the smaller ships.

I would look at the Coral or Island Princess or Sapphire or Diamond Princess (for one ways). Holland America also has some good ships also. I would look for a ship with 2 glacier days (College Fiord and Glacier Bay or Glacier Bay and another glaicer day). Definitely try to hit Glacier Bay. If out of Vancouver - look at Holland America - great itineraries for RT Vancouver.

I also would look for a line with a naturalist - they are awesome. Even though I have cruised 6x to Alaska, I still depend on the naturalists for information (Royal Caribbean doesn't have one).
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Old Dec 2nd, 2005, 06:22 AM
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I second the Sapphire Princess. Great ship. BYW if you stop in Victoria I recommend the whale watching tour of Victoria harbor offered by Princess. It is conducted by marine biologists who intimately know the various pods and it really adds alot to your experience.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2005, 03:47 AM
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Big mistake on the above post, it is Seattle NOT Seward for the one way cruises. Boy, do have have to proof read better.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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A few years ago, our family of 4 went on an Alaska cruise (Rhapsody-RCCL) one way from Vancouver to Anchorage. In Anchorage we picked up an RV and drove from Anchorage to Fairbanks with stops in between. Lots to see and explore, great sights, Denali, fun activities like gold panning (touristy but fun), no hotels.

A suggestion to consider.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 11:21 PM
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Hi Susan,

My husband and I went to Alaska in June. We went on HAL, do not take that age group on HAL it is boring and we absolutely loved it. (I have a 23 and 20 year old)

I am writing to tell you, that if you do not do the excursions, you are missing alot of Alaska. It is like landing in Long Beach, you get off and it is not "Southern California" it is the pits. Usually, steps from the port in any city is commercial.

Do take the helicopter to the snowdog camp and ride the dog sled. If you can afford it. My husband said it was too expensive and I said, I want it for all my presents for the next year. I always say these things then after he experiences them, it is lifechanging experience and he doesn't hold me to the buy. It was awesome!!!

I am like you, I plan all the family trips around the world, after they experience the ride, they are hooked for life.

If you can bargain for a balcony, it is the best excursion of all, because it is 24/7 and breathtaking. You can sit in bed and watch the whales and dolphins fly, and witness some of the most breathtaking glaciers, without jocking for a sight. Order room service on the balcony, or in bed, it is usually free.

We also took a seaplane into hidden lakes (not accesible by roads, the only access is by seaplane or foot) and would see bears with cubs and get a birds eye view of the interior of the state in a very short time.

One thing I've learned, do not wait in the long lines to board at different ports. Sit in a coffee shop or restaurant that you can see the line and wait till there is nobody or 20 people, then get up and walk on. Enjoy a glass of wine, instead of hearing the kids rag on you about standing in line, you will all be in a better frame of mind.

I did book my excursions before, because once you get on the ship, alot of the good ones are sold out.

I would love to take my son's to Alaska next, so I will be interested in your trip report. I am taking them on New Years to Belize, Grand Cay, etc. we can compare notes.

When you spend that kind of money, you want to make sure it is something they think is fun. They have not been on a cruise since they were 8, so I am a little nervous, will there be alot of old people???

When you pick a port, write me back with your excursion list, if you need some input.

With a larger ship you do have all the pools, gyms, spas, entertainment, etc. My sons eat non stop, so they can food fest 24/7.

Well, I will let you know about the older sons on a ship in a few weeks.
We just booked it today!

Cat

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Old Dec 16th, 2005, 06:38 PM
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Susan66 & catathome
So, you are the family trip planner. Me too. Any advice on a Greece 2007 trip for 3 generations. 60's, 40's & kids will be 12 & 14 (girl & boy). Definitly cruise. small ship. Not sure how we will sort out because the children are not same sex.
Thanks
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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 09:02 PM
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Janeg,
Re: Greece trip

We are leaving in 3 days to Belize, Grand Cayman and Cozumul to dive.

Our next trip is a big family reunion in Ireland, but my sons wanted to go to greece, so if you find out the info before we decide to go, I would love any input.

I'll let you know about the Western Carib. cruise, it might be a fun option if you haven't already done it.
Cat
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Old Feb 9th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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I have enjoyed reading the responses to your question (in particular the shore excursions) because I just booked a cruise for our family of 4 for this summer on the NCL Wind. We chose NCL because of the Freestyle cruising and the more casual atmosphere. We have two teens, 13 and 15, and wanted a ship that would be a good family match. We chose the Wind because a one week cruise was a good length and we wanted to sail from Vancouver R/T.
Which independant shore excursion operators have you had good experiences with? I am interested in the snorkeling in Ketchican, and sled dog trips and my son is determined to do some fishing. While my son and husband fish I will need to find an alternative for my vegetarian daughter. Thanks, Lori
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Old Feb 9th, 2006, 01:24 PM
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My husband's entire family, 8 adults and 8 kids, went on an Alaskan cruise with Princess Cruise Lines a few years ago. We had a blast! The naturalist on our ship was excellent and we went to every talk he gave. Our stops were Juno, Sitka and Skagway. We were supposed to go on a helicopter tour in Juno but it was too fogged in so we did a bus tour to the glacier - disappointing. We should have signed up for kayaking or something like that. Part of our family did that and they saw a lot of wildlife. They enjoyed it. In Sitka we went on a bike and hike through the temperate rainforest which was awesome. We have very knowledgeable guides and they were entertaining as well. We did not have a lot of time to do much of anything else in Sitka however - we whirlwind shopped and got on the last tender back to the ship. In Skagway I highly recommend the railroad tour. It was incredible. We really didn't hear much narrative because we enjoyed standing out on the platforms outside of the railway cars instead of sitting inside. I don't know if the Princess ship was considered small or large by your standards. It seemed to have just the right amount of kids for our kids - because they were around the same age as your kids and they seemed to find other kids and things to do. We maily saw the kids at dinner time. During the days at sea they were off with other kids. They had a good time. I agree with others that wrote and said that you may want to not just cruise but also do a land option maybe. The time in ports is limited and you don't always get to see what you want to see in that short amount of time. We definitely want to go back to Alaska sometime and stay longer. It was incredible scenery! The weather was cool and fairly rainy and foggy for the most part while we were there also but that didn't bother me. We stayed in Vancouver a couple of days before the cruise and a day after the cruise. Vancouver is a huge city with quite a bit to see and do also so I would recommend staying there before or after your cruise if you can. We saw whales from our cruise ship also. We did have inside staterooms because they were less expensive but we were maily on deck anyway because there was always something to see. It was great!
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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I'm so glad I found this board. We (husband, 13-year-old son and I) are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska in June 2007 and I really appreciate the hints and tips you have shared.

We originally had planned to drive from VA but may reconsider and fly (although we don't like to fly)since several on another section of this board think that we really would be "biting off more than we can chew."

We definitely want to cruise up the inside passage and even had considered using the Ferry for this as I had understood that one would not see much from a large cruise ship and the small ones will be too expensive if we do all the other things we want to do.

Has anyone had experience with the Ferry system? We could either take the car on and off and spend a night or two in Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, and Skayway or take a direct boat and just get off for a little while at each stop,if time.

Originally, I was thinking we would drive to Prince Rupert, do the Ferry--stopping at the ports listed above, get off in Skagway, drive to Seward, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, Fairbanks, then head for home through the Canadian Provinces--or the same trip but in reverse.

Now I'm thinking the best thing to do would be to fly to Vancouver,take a one way trip from there to Seward, rent a car, do a tour of the interior on our own and then fly back from Anchorage or Fairbanks. Does this seem like a good idea?

I also would like to take the flightseeing trip to the Arctic Circle and Barrow (if it's part of the same trip).

Want to see the bears, whales, the whole bit. It is safe to say that we will never go back. I have the Fodors guide book and have ordered The Milepost. Also, plan to order Destination Denali and Alaska's Best Places.

If we drive, we can spend 4 - 5 weeks. If we fly, probably 3 weeks but maybe more.

THANKS!!
Lynda
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