Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: goldilocks on January 15, 2013, 03:56:18 PM

Title: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: goldilocks on January 15, 2013, 03:56:18 PM
My best friend and I are planning a cruise to Alaska with our DH's.  We want to go in May.

any advice?

We are currently debating leaving from either Seattle or Vancouver.   
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Winterlight on January 15, 2013, 04:10:58 PM
Be sure to take the train up to Fairbanks- Denali should not be missed! Check the schedules, though- winter season (mid-September to mid-May) the train only runs to Fairbanks on Saturday.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Thipu1 on January 15, 2013, 05:35:06 PM
We've done two Alaska cruises and enjoyed them thoroughly.w

How long will your cruise be?  What lines are you considering?

Please provide more information. 
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 15, 2013, 07:41:16 PM
May is a good time to go, the prices are cheaper. My personal fave is Celebrity, but I've been on most of the other lines.  Norwegian is a good value for your money.  Holland is nice, but it does cater to an older more traditional crowd.  If you want an all inclusive cruise Crystal is FANTASTIC but expensive.

I like leaving from Vancouver, you get the inside passage that way
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Rohanna on January 15, 2013, 07:54:33 PM
My father in law did an alaskan cruise with RCI- they're doing a lot of ship upgrades recently too. I've cruised with them 4 times and always had great trips- they're particularly good for mixed age group crowds and people that like lots of activities to do.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: lkdrymom on January 15, 2013, 09:12:00 PM
Did one in August 2006. It actually snowed one day. Be prepared, if you are out on deck while the ship is moving it is COLD.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: kareng57 on January 15, 2013, 09:51:10 PM
I too would endorse Vancouver, unless the price-difference is so great that it's impossible to ignore.  Departing from Seattle would mean missing the magnificent Inside Passage.  There's also the possibility of flying into Seattle and taking ground transportation to Vancouver.

I think that Holland America's reputation as being "for older people" is undeserved.  No, you won't find fellow passengers doing beer-can-building contests during the wee hours - but it's also not as though the whole ship shuts down after 9 pm.  We took a cruise 15 years ago on the last season of the old Rotterdam - our sons were 9 and 10 and had a wonderful time.

Do some research before automatically booking ship-excursions for the ports-of-call.  Some, you can easily do on your own at a fraction of the cost.  Some examples:  the Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Sitka - an easy 20 minute walk from the harbor.  Or, the horse-drawn carriage town tour in Ketchikan and the hop-on-hop-off town trolley in Juneau.

May will likely be rather chilly, but it's a good value - and really, no one books Alaska and expects to sit out on the pool deck all day.  However, if you really want inland travel (and I certainly recommend it) you might want to look into a bit further into the season.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Snooks on January 16, 2013, 05:30:11 AM
I'm planning an Alaskan cruise next year (thread here: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=112278.0) and quite a few tour companies do the Inside Passage from Seattle.  We're planning on going with Princess because they were roughly the same price as Norwegian doing the same cruise (including Glacier Bay) but a little internet research told me that Norwegian serve Pepsi and Princess serve Coke so we used that as the decision maker.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Kiara on January 16, 2013, 08:02:10 AM
Because no one's brought it up yet....  ;D  Cruise Critic is a GREAT site with message boards about all the cruise lines, ports of call, tour information, travel info (such as the always important "Never fly in the day of your cruise."). 

We're going to Alaska at some point...my family is getting all the "active" trips out of the way first while my parents are still able to do it.  Then we'll be back to cruising for a while.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: goldilocks on January 16, 2013, 11:47:18 AM
OP here.   We are looking at HOlland America.  We are all in our late 40's, so we are not old!!!! but also don't party all night anymore either!

My biggest concern now is airfare booking.  The cruise line wants $1100 per person, but I believe I can book separately for $500 per person.  HOwever, I'm going to have to fly in the day before because you apparently can't get from Memphis to Vancouver by a reasonable hour.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Shalamar on January 16, 2013, 12:07:28 PM
Quote
If you want an all inclusive cruise Crystal is FANTASTIC but expensive.

I feel like an idiot - I had no idea all-inclusive cruises existed!  Crystal sounds AMAZING - I think my husband and I are going to book one of theirs when we go on another cruise (probably in 5 years for our 25th anniversary).  Thanks, PastryGoddess!
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Kiara on January 16, 2013, 12:29:45 PM
OP, you want to fly in the day before anyway.  I have read too many stories of delayed flights/late planes and people missing the cruise as a result.  Plus, if you're worried about making it, you start the cruise stressed.   :P


Shalamar - Seabourn, Regent and Oceania are also good all-inclusives.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Girlie on January 16, 2013, 12:50:20 PM
OP here.   We are looking at HOlland America.  We are all in our late 40's, so we are not old!!!! but also don't party all night anymore either!

My biggest concern now is airfare booking.  The cruise line wants $1100 per person, but I believe I can book separately for $500 per person.  HOwever, I'm going to have to fly in the day before because you apparently can't get from Memphis to Vancouver by a reasonable hour.

Not trying to sway your vote - you have to do what's best for you. But maybe this will help someone else in the future:
My mom actually works for Princess (which is owned by the same company as Holland America) up in Alaska. She ALWAYS recommends booking everything through the company because, as she says, "They take real good care not to lose you."
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: kareng57 on January 16, 2013, 01:12:49 PM
OP here.   We are looking at HOlland America.  We are all in our late 40's, so we are not old!!!! but also don't party all night anymore either!

My biggest concern now is airfare booking.  The cruise line wants $1100 per person, but I believe I can book separately for $500 per person.  HOwever, I'm going to have to fly in the day before because you apparently can't get from Memphis to Vancouver by a reasonable hour.

Not trying to sway your vote - you have to do what's best for you. But maybe this will help someone else in the future:
My mom actually works for Princess (which is owned by the same company as Holland America) up in Alaska. She ALWAYS recommends booking everything through the company because, as she says, "They take real good care not to lose you."


My son's GF worked for Princess for years during the Alaska season.  My understanding is - if you've booked through the cruise line and they book a flight that lands on the same day as the cruise departure - they will delay the departure if the flight is late.  But if you've booked your own flight, you're on your own if it's late and you miss the ship.  They could try to get you to the next port-of-call but then you could run into all kinds of complications due to the Jones Act....therefore, definitely fly in the day before if you're doing your own booking.

However, the ports-of-call on an Alaskan cruise are very safe, and as long as passengers have a good watch I don't think it's necessarily worth the extra expense of booking shore excursions through the line.  One exception would be adventure-tours such as rafting or helicopter tours - the cruise line will have vetted the tour company for its safety record.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 16, 2013, 02:09:30 PM
Quote
If you want an all inclusive cruise Crystal is FANTASTIC but expensive.

I feel like an idiot - I had no idea all-inclusive cruises existed!  Crystal sounds AMAZING - I think my husband and I are going to book one of theirs when we go on another cruise (probably in 5 years for our 25th anniversary).  Thanks, PastryGoddess!

Crystal and Regent are my favorite.  You'll pay more, but they are soooo worth it
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 16, 2013, 02:14:42 PM
OP here.   We are looking at HOlland America.  We are all in our late 40's, so we are not old!!!! but also don't party all night anymore either!

My biggest concern now is airfare booking.  The cruise line wants $1100 per person, but I believe I can book separately for $500 per person.  HOwever, I'm going to have to fly in the day before because you apparently can't get from Memphis to Vancouver by a reasonable hour.

Not trying to sway your vote - you have to do what's best for you. But maybe this will help someone else in the future:
My mom actually works for Princess (which is owned by the same company as Holland America) up in Alaska. She ALWAYS recommends booking everything through the company because, as she says, "They take real good care not to lose you."


I second..or third this.

Holland America/Princess is really good about offering published air for right around the same price you can find on your own.  You can even have them fly you in early or have you leave later
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Snooks on January 16, 2013, 02:32:04 PM
Quote
If you want an all inclusive cruise Crystal is FANTASTIC but expensive.

I feel like an idiot - I had no idea all-inclusive cruises existed!  Crystal sounds AMAZING - I think my husband and I are going to book one of theirs when we go on another cruise (probably in 5 years for our 25th anniversary).  Thanks, PastryGoddess!

Now I feel like an idiot - I thought cruises were pretty much all inclusive anyway.  I'm guessing alcohol/carbonated beverages aren't normally included but isn't everything else covered?
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Kiara on January 16, 2013, 02:33:50 PM
However, one thing to note.  Cruise air are consolidator tickets.  If you have any kind of irregular operations (weather, mechanical breakdown, etc.) you usually cannot be endorsed to another airline.  You're stuck with the airline you're on, and you're dead last in terms of rebooking help.  (Some airlines you can't even rebook over the phone with consolidator tickets.)

They're also not required to hold the ship for you.  Some will, but not all of them.  Cruise air may be cheaper, but there's a reason.


Snooks - specialty coffee isn't included, and most ships have specialty restaurants that aren't included.  Bingo's extra too.  Aside from that, it's all inclusive, and when we go we've never paid for extras.  We always say the cruise line loses money on us.   ;D
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Shalamar on January 16, 2013, 02:37:13 PM
I'm by no means an expert (I've only been on two cruises), but for the ones I've been on, drinks have not been included - and they are PRICEY on ships (because you're a captive audience, I guess). 
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Girlie on January 16, 2013, 02:50:49 PM
On the cruises I've been on, water, juice, milk, and regular coffee have always been available for no extra charge all day, with carbonated beverages a "free" option at seated mealtimes.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 16, 2013, 07:15:11 PM
Quote
If you want an all inclusive cruise Crystal is FANTASTIC but expensive.

I feel like an idiot - I had no idea all-inclusive cruises existed!  Crystal sounds AMAZING - I think my husband and I are going to book one of theirs when we go on another cruise (probably in 5 years for our 25th anniversary).  Thanks, PastryGoddess!

Now I feel like an idiot - I thought cruises were pretty much all inclusive anyway.  I'm guessing alcohol/carbonated beverages aren't normally included but isn't everything else covered?

Non carbonated beverages like water, iced tea, lemonade are included as is fruit juice in the morning.  Coffee and hot tea are usually available, although if you want a specialty coffee drink, you may have to pay for that.

An all inclusive cruise includes all of those things plus beer and wine at lunch and dinner and Regent stocks your mini bar with your preferred brands. The price also includes your shore excursions and gratuities as well.  The only thing extra you have to pay for are spa and salon services.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: Thipu1 on January 17, 2013, 08:26:54 AM
You have to be a bit careful if you book your flights through the cruise line.  They'll get you there but it may by way of Robin Hood's Barn.  On a recent cruise we met a couple who had to take four flights to get from Texas to Rome. 

We were scheduled to fly to London on the day Sandy hit.  Mr. Thipu made our arrangements and we were able to get out on the Saturday before at no extra cost.  Hey, three extra days in London is never a bad thing.

Also, you absolutely must get the port of embarkation at least a day ahead of time.  This gives any lost bags a chance to catch up with you.  You can enjoy the city and board refreshed.  You can also dress for the weather where you are instead of the weather where you live.  We always do this.
Title: Re: Alaskan Cruise
Post by: ladyknight1 on January 17, 2013, 09:48:56 AM
I agree with all the other posters, however if you are flying from anywhere in the US, I recommend SouthWest airlines flights to Seattle/Tacoma, then taking the train up to Vancouver. It will take some extra time, but the views are worth it!