Author Topic: Alaska Cruises  (Read 9761 times)

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Mikayla

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2012, 01:42:24 PM »
I can't add much, other than repetitive.  But my dad and stepmom did this several years ago on Norwegian, and they absolutely loved it.  It was surprising with my dad, who thinks cruise = snorkeling and umbrella drinks. 

And as for Norwegian, I've never been to Alaska, but I've cruised with them several times and I absolutely love them. 

Snooks

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2012, 01:57:29 PM »
Thanks again everyone, particularly interesting to hear that Holland America attracts the older audience, that makes sense as the relatives who told me about it would fall into that category.  I think it'll come down to a combination of price and departure/return points.  Interesting to hear that there aren't any cruise lines people have said to avoid, which makes me feel better.  I'm always convinced I've booked with the wrong hotel/airline/anything but it sounds like I can't really go wrong here.

I have now got one other question which I'm sure is a silly one but as a non-fish eater am I going to be stumped for food choices?

Layla Miller

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2012, 02:04:41 PM »
I have now got one other question which I'm sure is a silly one but as a non-fish eater am I going to be stumped for food choices?

I don't care for most fish and DH is allergic, and as I recall we had no problems at all.

Enjoy your trip!
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gramma dishes

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2012, 02:55:37 PM »

I have now got one other question which I'm sure is a silly one but as a non-fish eater am I going to be stumped for food choices?

No, definitely not!  I think all the cruise lines from the smallest to the largest pride themselves on offering a plethora of different choices in foods.  While fish is somewhat a "staple" on Alaskan cruises, you always have other options.  Lots of other options!

buvezdevin

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2012, 03:20:30 PM »
POD to gramma dishes, in our experience and those of other friends and family on other cruise lines, the variety and plenitude of food options was very good.

For experiences you may want to try, several ports offer zip lining.  I have a fear of heights, so DBF was surprised I wanted to do this.  It was sooooo exhilarating and the views wonderful!

While I agree with some PPs who have mentioned that ship offered excursions are pricier than booking independently, two things to weigh when planning your cruise: 

1.  If you go with an excursion booked through the ship, you minimize/avoid the possibility of running late in returning and possibly missing sailing departure from port.  We did see one couple running for and missing their ship's departure, but I have no idea of the circumstances in their case.

2.  On some cruises, for some excursions, it can be best to sign up in advance.  Some will often sell out, and if you book excursions prior to boarding the ship, you avoid what can be a time consuming massive cluster when the ship opens the on ship booking desk.  There were a very few excursions on some prior cruises we have taken which were fully booked before the start date of the cruise.
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Snooks

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2012, 03:47:33 PM »
Oooh zip lining sounds fun, there's an activity in the UK called Go Ape which ends each tree top obstacle course with a zip line and we've been on lots of those so I think that would be something we'd go for.  I'm quite risk averse so I like the idea of sticking with the cruise line excursions and not missing the boat (literally!).  I'm viewing this as being a bit like our honeymoon trip to Disney where there was a lot of work up front to make the holiday more relaxing.

Does anyone have any recommendations for the "best" time to go?  Basically we'd be looking at either early July or mid September (avoiding the August price hike).

Did anyone celebrate anything on board, if so are they particular about the dates i.e. do you have to be travelling on the date of celebration?

buvezdevin

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2012, 05:45:11 PM »
I would strongly suggest July over September, for my personal preferences weather and light-wise, but you may want to check annual temp and daylight norms for those months yourself.  We were there in July, and I loved the long sunlight hours (it did get dark plenty of hours in the evening, but there was a lingering dusk).

DBF celebrated a birthday during the cruise, which we had noted when booking.  The registration forms asked if any event was being celebrated, we noted the date and event, and the ship supplied a bouquet of balloons outside our door that morning, and a birthday cake with candles at dinner.  Particularly as you plan to celebrate your fifth year anniversary, I imagine you can so specify and then provide the date you wish to observe it, even if the actual date is outside your cruise schedule.

And, to correct an earlier entry, our Alaska cruise was on Princess, we were on Royal Caribbean for a different cruise.  I enjoyed both lines, but clearly have a bad memory for the cruise line vs location!  One thing I do remember is that we booked our cruise ourselves, when DBF learned of a sale on Princess bookings in the December before our July cruise.  A couple who we got to know during the cruise had used an agent, and they were in the process of booking a different line (same itinerary) when their agent suggested booking the one we were on during the same sale.  As you are planning well in advance, just thought I would add the suggestion to sign up for emails on discounts available at some times of the year.  The cabins booked after the sale were a good bit more, and we were also able to get a choice of cabin location from a broader array by booking more than half a year ahead.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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Thipu1

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2012, 09:28:06 AM »
You will almost certainly not have any problems with food choices.  Traditional dinner menus on ships always seem to involve the following entrees.

A beef dish
Another meat,
A poultry dish
A fish dish.

Nowadays, there's usually also a vegetarian option and no matter what the evening's menu is, you can always order basics such as a steak, or roast chicken. 

Snooks

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2012, 10:53:41 AM »
Thanks to all the information I managed to gather here I think we've settled on a cruise line and a cruise (assuming they don't switch the itineraries too much).  I think we'll be going for the seven day inside passage round trip from Seattle with Princess.

Thipu1

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2012, 10:57:11 AM »
One more post.

We agree that booking shore excursions through the Cruise line has certain advantages.  If there are delays or other problems, the ship will not leave without you.  Casually picking up a taxi on the pier can be iffy.  We have known passengers who missed the ship by doing so.  There are also stories of passengers who were seriously cheated or extorted by unscrupulous drivers.  however, we have not heard this first-hand from anyone.

The independent tours we arranged with fellow Cruise Critic posters have all been excellent.  The people who volunteer to plan these things have all been professional travel agents or event planners who know the market.  Often, they use the same tour companies that the Cruise lines use. 

Enjoy your vacation!  Come the summer, we'll be looking for your Alaska posts. 

Snooks

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2012, 11:02:34 AM »
Enjoy your vacation!  Come the summer, we'll be looking for your Alaska posts.

Summer 2014.  I'm a true planner, although with this trip it's so that I can budget for it by cutting holidays this year and next year.  Once we've finalised our trip I'll certainly start looking on Cruise Critic to decide on excursions.

kareng57

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2012, 09:34:46 PM »
One more post.

We agree that booking shore excursions through the Cruise line has certain advantages.  If there are delays or other problems, the ship will not leave without you.  Casually picking up a taxi on the pier can be iffy.  We have known passengers who missed the ship by doing so.  There are also stories of passengers who were seriously cheated or extorted by unscrupulous drivers.  however, we have not heard this first-hand from anyone.

The independent tours we arranged with fellow Cruise Critic posters have all been excellent.  The people who volunteer to plan these things have all been professional travel agents or event planners who know the market.  Often, they use the same tour companies that the Cruise lines use. 

Enjoy your vacation!  Come the summer, we'll be looking for your Alaska posts.


Re shore excursions:  for some such as helicopter tours, rafting, etc. then it's certainly advantageous to book through the cruise line.  But for some others there's no real need as long as you keep your eye on your watch.  Some examples:  in Sitka the Raptor Rehabilitation Centre is only about a 20 minute easy walk from the pier.  Juneau has a hop-on/hop-off tourist trolley bus that runs all day, and in Ketchikan the horse-drawn trolley tours run frequently throughout the day.  Paying a premium for the ship-tour just costs a lot more $$$ that doesn't give you anything extra.

Thipu1

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2012, 10:59:13 AM »
Thoroughly agreed, Kareng57.

Tours, especially things like helicopter excursions can be very iffy if not outright dangerous.

On our last trip to Hawaii we did book an independent helicopter trip.  We booked with the same company that the ship used for a flight over the Kiluea volcano and took the same flight. 

Mr. Thipu, however wanted something a little special that the company offered but the ship did not.  We did pay a bit more but we flew in a helicopter with no doors.  It was awesome (and I mean that in the adult way) to really feel the heat and smell the sulphur from the volcano. 

We did the flight in the morning.  The next flight was a group from the ship and we watched as the doors were put back on. 

hyzenthlay

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2012, 06:18:21 PM »
My parents treated us to one many years back, they really like Princess and have cruised with them several times, and that's who we used for the Inside Passage trip.

They booked for the very front of the high season, which means the rates were a little lower, but there was still a chance for poor weather. We got lucky, only one day was the weather an issue at all, and it was the day we were mostly at sea.

My DH and I did a helicopter flight to a glacier and a kayaking day trip and both were a HUGE amount of fun. (The kayaking day trip is a whole nother hilarious story and we got our money back on that one, but it was still a blast to do.)

My parents splurged for a cabin with a balconey, and the one day that was mostly glacier watching we were able to sit on their balconey without the crowds at the rail. So I would think about splurging for that upgrade, but my parents splurging meant the private balconey for 10 of us, if it's worth it for only 2 people is a different story  ;)

 

kareng57

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Re: Alaska Cruises
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2012, 11:42:16 PM »
Well ... now I'm totally embarrassed.   :-[

I actually went on a Google search to try to find the name of the specific ship we traveled on and low and behold!  Apparently Cruise West shut down its operations in 2010 for "restructuring" and is no longer operating under that name.


I think the writing-was-on-the-wall for Cruise West and other low-capacity, low-cost cruise lines.  They just can't be cost effective.  I know, we were at the pier in Portland about three years ago (for an afternoon sightseeing excursion) and I took one of their brochures and was pretty interested.

Even if they're trying to attract passengers who want to eschew the ships that have a capacity the size of a small town - they can't make it pay.  A ship carrying 4000 passengers will always have way lower per-passenger fuel costs than one that carries 400 passengers.  The only way that the smaller ship-line can make it pay would be to have many high-end luxury touches - most of them unaffordable, unfortunately, for Cruise West's dedicated clientele.

For people seeking smaller vessels at an other-than-outrageous cost - Holland America could be a good bet.  Their ships certainly can't be called "small", but (at least for my current knowledge) they tend to have fewer than 2000 passengers.