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  #1  
Old February 28th, 2013, 06:34 PM
1stcruiseinAK 1stcruiseinAK is offline
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Default another newbie seeking cruise line advice

My husband and I are considering an Alaskan cruise this summer in late June or early July, assuming we can afford what we want to do, or next summer. I have been reading through the forum and I know everyone says to choose by itinerary, but I have narrowed it down to several cruises that have similar itineraries northbound out of Vancouver - with the trade-off of Glacier Bay versus a whale watching trip from Icy Strait Point: Princess (with Glacier Bay and College Fjord), Celebrity (with Icy Straits and Hubbard Glacier), NCL (with Hubbard and Glacier Bay), at least at this point RCI is more expensive.

I know some people will say Glacier Bay trumps all else. But this is our first cruise and I am not sure I am much of a cruise person, so I want to make sure that we will be happy with the ship "experience". We are in our early 40s and I assume if the weather is tolerable, we will spend much of our time on our balcony or some other viewing spot with a glass of wine. I have zero interest in shows, magicians, comedians, pool games, or other entertainment. However, we do like a good bar and I would really love a chance to go dancing with a DJ to current music. We are also both night owls, so I would like to be on a ship that has things open late. I would also be interested in naturalist presentations or other things about Alaska, but I wouldn't want to participate in other educational stuff like cooking or language classes. We might utilize a spa treatment or two, but it is not a priority. I am also a vegetarian and a little afraid of buffets in general.

I was leaning toward Celebrity, because the ships and stateroom decor just look nicer than Princess or NCL, it has a lot of bar choices, and there isn't much price difference. But I have noticed a number of people say that their passengers tend to be older on average and one person noted things closing early.

I am sorry for such a long post, but I would be very thankful for any advice from seasoned cruisers! We have young kids (who will be staying with Grandma) and we may not get a chance both in terms of time and finances to do this again for a really long time and I want to get it right.
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  #2  
Old February 28th, 2013, 07:06 PM
Northern Aurora Northern Aurora is offline
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Alaska cruises tend to be port intensive (ie, there are not stretches of 4 or 5 sea days in a row), and so also tend to have a number of people who will be going to bed early to prepare the next day.

Since you mentioned that the ship experience is important to you I just want to point out that Celebrity has a very restrictive smoking policy. We are non-smokers and love their policy, but a passenger who is a smoker will find that there are very few smoking areas on Celebrity, and the ones that exist are outside.
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  #3  
Old February 28th, 2013, 07:55 PM
rayliang rayliang is offline
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hi

Given that you said you might not a cruise person, I would further stress Glacier Bay, given that it is a national park that you can only truly appreciate on a sea vessel. It might be a once in a life time cruise for you to Alaska, then I would way 90% of folks who frequent this board will agree that Glacier Bay can't be missed.
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  #4  
Old February 28th, 2013, 10:13 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stcruiseinAK View Post
My husband and I are considering an Alaskan cruise this summer in late June or early July, assuming we can afford what we want to do, or next summer. I have been reading through the forum and I know everyone says to choose by itinerary, but I have narrowed it down to several cruises that have similar itineraries northbound out of Vancouver - with the trade-off of Glacier Bay versus a whale watching trip from Icy Strait Point: Princess (with Glacier Bay and College Fjord), Celebrity (with Icy Straits and Hubbard Glacier), NCL (with Hubbard and Glacier Bay), at least at this point RCI is more expensive.

I know some people will say Glacier Bay trumps all else. But this is our first cruise and I am not sure I am much of a cruise person, so I want to make sure that we will be happy with the ship "experience". We are in our early 40s and I assume if the weather is tolerable, we will spend much of our time on our balcony or some other viewing spot with a glass of wine. I have zero interest in shows, magicians, comedians, pool games, or other entertainment. However, we do like a good bar and I would really love a chance to go dancing with a DJ to current music. We are also both night owls, so I would like to be on a ship that has things open late. I would also be interested in naturalist presentations or other things about Alaska, but I wouldn't want to participate in other educational stuff like cooking or language classes. We might utilize a spa treatment or two, but it is not a priority. I am also a vegetarian and a little afraid of buffets in general.

I was leaning toward Celebrity, because the ships and stateroom decor just look nicer than Princess or NCL, it has a lot of bar choices, and there isn't much price difference. But I have noticed a number of people say that their passengers tend to be older on average and one person noted things closing early.

I am sorry for such a long post, but I would be very thankful for any advice from seasoned cruisers! We have young kids (who will be staying with Grandma) and we may not get a chance both in terms of time and finances to do this again for a really long time and I want to get it right.
Alaska cruises, have a wide range of ages sailing, but the bulk is more middle aged and above. If you want to take Celebrity- then do so. There aren't any bad cruises. You do know that whale watching is also excellent out of Juneau with 100% sightings of humpbacks.

With your ship priority, and your "reasons" you will have a great trip.
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  #5  
Old March 1st, 2013, 08:56 AM
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tangerinebunny tangerinebunny is offline
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Weather varies, but don't count on sitting outside a lot with drink in hand. Some trips are wet. some are cold and wet. some are just cold. And a few are warm and sunny.
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Old March 1st, 2013, 10:21 AM
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Welcome to Cruise Critic.

Alaska is wonderful -- and it is all about the ports -- the scenery.

We always book verandahs -- that is just us.

But no matter what time of the season you book to do an Alaskan cruise, you may find that you won't be out on your balcony a lot to sit and drink wine and people watch as you would on a Caribbean cruise.

So maybe an Ocean View cabin would be best for you -- it will save you money and you can do more shore in the ports.
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  #7  
Old March 1st, 2013, 11:51 PM
donaldsc donaldsc is offline
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If it your first trip, make sure that it goes to Glacier Bay. I believe that this means that you will be going on HAL or Princess although I am not sure. You can then pick the cruise that does other ports besides Juneau and Ketchikan which all of the ships go to but if it does not go to Glacier Bay, don't take it. Also make note of the port times. A ship that arrives in port at 7:00 and departs at 2:00 will not make it easy for you to see stuff.

DON
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  #8  
Old March 2nd, 2013, 12:33 AM
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bonvoyagie bonvoyagie is offline
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I think that overall the age demographic is slightly older for all AK cruises. As for the ship experience remember you don't have to go to the shows, most ships have several different bars with dancing and more. Port days usually come early so most people do go to bed early so they can be ready for a good day in port.

I like the NCL product - both the Pearl and Sun are great ships and both visit Glacier Bay - yes a must do for your first trip (it took me three times to finally get there - now I am a believer that it is a must see) and right now only NCL, Princess and HAL go there. Since you seem to be looking at a one way cruise - Vancouver to Whittier/Seward AK - I would suggest that you try to squeeze in a few more days for some land touring before heading home.

As for the NCL product - I like it because it is very laid back - and as the name inplies - Freestyle - meaning you can choose from several options for dining - you can also choose what time you want to do things - there are things to do all day and night all over the ship - they publish the Freestyle Daily - your guide to the upcoming days activities - it is delivered to your room during turndown service. I have found the NCL staff to be very friendly and seem to go out of their way to insure that you have a wonderful time. As for poolside activities - it is usually too cold in AK for pools (except the hot tubs ). The Sun is a nice medium sized ship with larger than average staterooms - for NCL anyway. A plus for the NB cruise is that it visits Glacier Bay - an all day visit 7-4 with park rangers onboard as tour guides, and Hubbard Glacier early the next morning.

AK is not a cheap place to visit or cruise - excursions are expensive as are the cruises. You can save money by using independent operators - search this board for more info - you can also look here for more info on what to expect in port http://cruiseportinsider.com/index.html

Here is more info on AK touring http://www.travelalaska.com/

It is not too late for putting something together for this season - however people are already planning for 2014
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  #9  
Old March 2nd, 2013, 12:39 AM
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I am Lulu I am Lulu is offline
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Welcome to CC 1stcruiseinAK!
It's only been a year, this week, since my DH and I went on our first cruise. We didn't know what to expect, especially concerning seasickness, which my husband is prone to on regular boats. We decided to do a Carribean Cruise first just to "get our feet wet" so to speak. We did not get seasick, but I am so glad we did. A Carribean cruise is much cheaper,..... not only the fare, but also the excursions. We are currently booked on an AK Cruise in July. I'm finding that most of the AK excursions are very pricey compared to the Carribbean excursions. As the AK costs mount, I feel like we need to do as many excursions as we can, even though it's so expensive, because I'm not sure that we'll ever be able to afford to do AK again. As mentioned before, AK is all about the excursions. Our Carribean cruise, for us, was all about enjoying the Ship and relaxing when we wanted to. We only went on one ship excursion and in every other port, we enjoyed just walking around the towns. We didn't have to get up early, and rush to make the meeting time for an excursion. We could enjoy the shows, and on HAL, we could stay up for the 11pm Dessert Extravaganza.....And yes, we spent a whole lot of time out on our balcony...it was GREAT! Our second cruise in Sept. was a Canada/New England Cruise. I truly feel like we had more fun on our second cruise, because we knew what to expect.
So, while I can't answer your questions regarding AK, I would like to suggest maybe starting with a less expensive, less busy cruise. I'm sure others may or may not agree, but thought I should at least throw that thought out to you. Whatever you decide, CC is the best place to gather lots of great information from caring people.
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  #10  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 10:37 AM
B Russo B Russo is offline
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Glacier Bay for sure, We like the mid size ships on HAL over the large ships the others have.
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  #11  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 05:05 PM
JBM JBM is offline
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Welcome 1stCruise.... I agree with Lulu's suggestion of a Caribbean cruise.
For fun, late nights and a younger crowd go with Royal Caribbean!
Whatever you decide to do, have fun!
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  #12  
Old March 3rd, 2013, 05:16 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by JBM View Post
Welcome 1stCruise.... I agree with Lulu's suggestion of a Caribbean cruise.
For fun, late nights and a younger crowd go with Royal Caribbean!
Whatever you decide to do, have fun!
Fodor's wrote several years ago, once you take an Alaskan cruise- other locations, after- pale in comparism. Certainly has be very true for me.
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  #13  
Old March 4th, 2013, 07:50 PM
SoloNoMo SoloNoMo is offline
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If you book the HAL cruise out of Vancouver on June 26, you can join us on our verandah for wine! Loooong time friend (we're NOT old!) is treating me to my first cruise this summer -- she's a doll! I spent a summer touring Alaska via backpack many moons ago so I gave her the rundown on the various ports and she chose our itinerary. Turns out we can bring wine on board with us and I've got a number of really good bottles left by ex in the cellar, including a 79 Margeaux! So I'll be packing a few bottles on board, looking to share!
BTW, did a small ship cruise of Glacier Bay back then and it was fantastic! So happy it's on our itinerary this summer!
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  #14  
Old March 4th, 2013, 09:56 PM
donaldsc donaldsc is offline
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Fodor's wrote several years ago, once you take an Alaskan cruise- other locations, after- pale in comparism. Certainly has be very true for me.
AK is really great but I am not sure I would totally agree w Fodor. If you substitute Antarctica or maybe South Georgia Island (South Georgia is still on my bucket list for when I win the lottery) for AK, I might agree. Greenland was also a great place.

Seems like I like cold places. LOL!!

DON
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  #15  
Old March 5th, 2013, 11:22 AM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by donaldsc View Post
AK is really great but I am not sure I would totally agree w Fodor. If you substitute Antarctica or maybe South Georgia Island (South Georgia is still on my bucket list for when I win the lottery) for AK, I might agree. Greenland was also a great place.

Seems like I like cold places. LOL!!

DON
Certainly- but "cruise ships" don't, "significantly" go there. I'm looking at Quark for next January. Have put it off for a few years, but that is the company that seems to stand out for what I am looking for.-

I've done a lot of "scenic" sailing in other areas- New Zealand-2, Norway fjords, Chilean fjords, and Alaska is still the "winner" for me.
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Last edited by Budget Queen; March 5th, 2013 at 11:23 AM.
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