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Which Ship for Alaskan Cruise for Nature Lovers?

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Nov 17th, 2006, 10:15 AM
  #1
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Which Ship for Alaskan Cruise for Nature Lovers?

I have gathered a lot of valuable information about how to book a cruise from these boards, but I am needing help in narrowing my selection of ships!

I am looking to book a cruise in June of 07 for my parents, who are in their mid-sixties. This will be their first cruise, and in fact their first vacation in many, many years.

I think that leaving out of Seattle is the most reasonable option for them, so that of course limits the selection.

My dad is an environmentalist scientist, and so I believe the ports to be very important in their overall enjoyment of the trip. He will be very enthused about seeing & learning anything regarding the natural beauty & wildlife of Alaska, the history of the Gold Rush, glacier calving, etc.

Can you guys please help me decide which ship to book for them? I want to give them the best experience possible.

Thank you so much for all your help. Happy travels to you all!
dexters is offline  
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Nov 17th, 2006, 11:31 AM
  #2
 
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Take a look at CruiseWest.com. They are known for their up close and personal approach--small ships, emphasis on nature, wildlife. Lectures and library aboard. Their flagship, Oceanus, is supposed to be quite nice.
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Nov 17th, 2006, 01:39 PM
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We enjoyed our Princess Cruise Tour of Alaska with added side trips that included nature, gold mines etc.
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Nov 17th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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If you love nature, make sure your cruise includes Glacier Bay. Princess and Holland America dominate the market and hold most of the permits. We've done both and loved this cruise
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Nov 19th, 2006, 05:11 AM
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Although I haven't actually sailed with Cruise West, I'd second Holldoll's suggestion that you take a look at this company's cruise offerings. Back in May of ' 03 my husband and I took a small ship Inside Passage cruise on the Yorktown Clipper which was then owned by Intrav, but has since been purchased by Cruise West. This was their 11 day repositioning cruise which takes the ship up to Alaskan waters for the summer and repeats in September on the return trip. From the Cruise West website, I just learned that they offer such a trip and that their small ships disembark from Seattle. http://www.cruisewest.com/destinatio...gold_rush.aspx

When looking for a cruise, I would definately recommend that you go with a small ship experience for your parents if you can afford it. I believe that they will find the small number of passengers (under 150) to their liking. These ships also are able to go closer to shore for wildlife viewing and allow passengers to disembard and return within minutes rather than hours when in port. When we sailed on the Yorktown Clipper, the passenger age range was from fifty to the mid-eighties and the majority of the folks we met were in your parents age bracket.

Although I cannot speak to Cruise West, when we sailed with Intrav we had three resource people onboard that were readily available to us throughout the cruise: a first people's representative, a wildlife expert, and a naturalist. Needless to say, these resource people really made our trip!
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Nov 19th, 2006, 08:14 AM
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I would also look at Lindblad, an excellent line that is pure nature. Be aware that going out of Seattle has the least desirable itineraries. 2 days are essentially open ocean, since they go outside Vancouver Island. Port times may not be the best and none go to Glacier Bay except NCL Pearl0 which I recommend highly. Princess has some of the worse round trip Seattle itineraries.

IF you want one ways, then I give an edge to HAL for Seward.

It is easy to get between Seattle and Vancouver, you do need an extra day, but only 4 hours apart. Amtrak, Quick Shuttle, one way car rentals are available.

If they truely want "natural beauty and wildlife" key areas are Denali Park and Kenai Fjords here is a photo sample- http://community.webshots.com/user/budgetqueen
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Nov 19th, 2006, 04:22 PM
  #7
 
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My wife and I had never been on a cruise till last summer, when we took the Alaska cruise on the Celebrity Mercury. I thought it would be boring - I prefer vacations in European cities - but to my surprise, it was wonderful. We departed and ended the cruise in Seattle. We toured the Pioneer Square area the day before leaving, and the market area the day after returning. Both are wonderful areas to visit. Our ship did not go to Glacier Bay, but instead went to the Hubbard Glacier. We viewed ice sheets breaking off the glacier into the water with a tremendous roar. We had a naturalist (Brent Nixon) narrating on the ships loudspeaker. Even he was impressed! Made for great video. We also took a helicopter ride to (and landed on) a glacier. We also toured the towns, which have preserved some of their historical areas.
I was afraid I would be bored, but I'm ready to go again.
Paul H.
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Nov 19th, 2006, 04:33 PM
  #8
 
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Forgot to mention one thing - if you wish to tour the national parks in Alaska - there are 2 and 4 day bus trips packaged with the cruise lines - you won't be roundtripping out of one city. You'll probably fly to Vancouver, and return from Anchorage, or vice versa. We are older, and not up to 4 day bus trips, so we did the Seattle-Seattle trip.
Paul H
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Nov 19th, 2006, 08:42 PM
  #9
 
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Your parents would love either Cruise West or Linblad. Small ship cruises are more expensive than the typical big ship cruise, but you get a much better look at wildlife on them. There's nothing like seeing whales close up!
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Nov 23rd, 2006, 03:51 PM
  #10
 
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Our only experience was on the Norwegian Sun, and we enjoyed it. The catamaran trip to Seward Glacier was excellent. Having said that, I recommend a smaller ship as others have suggested. The shore excursions on the big ones are one-day affairs intended to give you a glance at nature but get you back in time for the next sailing. Too much lick-and-a-polish for anyone truly interested in getting close to nature.
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Nov 26th, 2006, 02:09 PM
  #11
 
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Your parents will love their Lindblad expedition cruise.You fly to Juneau and out of Sitka , or visa versa, stopping in small villages and isolated bays. We only saw a large cruise ship once, in Glacier Bay. They have four naturalists( experts on marine life, geology, birds, andmammals on board for the 70 or so passengers They lead the daily excursions by zodiacs and the hikes. You are off the ship twice a day if you wish, exploring the seas, following whales, or hiking in the rain forest.
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Nov 26th, 2006, 04:17 PM
  #12
 
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Lindblad, Lindblad, Go Lindlad!!!!
The main trip is the Inside Passage, but they have extentions to Denali.
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Nov 30th, 2006, 12:10 PM
  #13
 
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Lindblad is the best option for nature lovers who will be very near the whales and the birds, and the calving glaciers as well. Your fellow passengers will share this interest and add a lot to the enjoyment of this trip too. We still are in contaact with many friends we made on our various Lindblad trips.
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Dec 1st, 2006, 07:54 AM
  #14
 
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Cruise West is expensive since they are small but if one can afford the fares they are well worth it.
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Dec 1st, 2006, 11:44 AM
  #15
 
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If Cruise West is too expensive, the HAL tour from Vancouver to Seward including Glacier Bay would be my second choice. To us it offered the middle ground in both size for motion issues, price and yet wildlife and natural beauty. HAL had a naturalist (with lectures) on board plus had park staff on board during the Glacier Bay cruising part. The staff and food were fantastic. It will be a great vacation for them!
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