Just returned from an amazing Alaska cruise! Pics and video.

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#1
Frisco, TX
78 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
We were on the Norwegian Pearl from June 30-July 7, and it was just terrific. I traveled with a decent size group: myself, my girlfriend, my mother, my brother, my grandmother, my uncle, his son, and his son's friend! Such a rainy part of the world WITH rain in the forecast, but...it never rained where we were. In the Juneau area we got a few drops, but not even a true shower. We were lucky all the way.

On the 4th of July we didn't get fireworks, but we got something better. The Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay CALVING ICE like it was going out of style! Here's a video I did of it, and I didn't even start shooting video until it had already calved three times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7OaRzo3lHU

Speaking of Glacier Bay, I'm not sure how the other cruise lines work, but I know that with NCL they do two basic itineraries for roundtrips out of Seattle. I think they all hit Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. Where they differ is on their Day at Sea "excursion" where the actual cruise ship sails into either Glacier Bay OR Tracy Arm (Sawyer Glacier). These are two MAJOR highlights in the area, so each itinerary gets a different one.

I was having none of that, so I ended up seeing BOTH on a single cruise! The trick is to go on the Pearl because when it is stopped in Juneau, the cruise offers an excursion through Allen Marine that takes you to Tracy Arm and back in 6 1/2 hours (time in port 2 PM to 10 PM). As I was planning all this, I was worried there wouldn't be enough time. I thought the excursion would be rushed since Tracy Arm is some distance away from Juneau. But no one in our party felt it was rushed.

We stopped a LONG TIME at a major waterfall, and both the North and South Sawyer glaciers. We even ran into the Norwegian Jewel in Tracy Arm, and being such a big ship, she couldn't go as far in as we did. I had heard that before... All the people that prefer Tracy Arm to Glacier Bay did Tracy Arm in a smaller boat (people who have done both in a large boat seem to uniformly prefer Glacier Bay).

Tracy Arm is narrow where Glacier Bay is wide open. Tracy Arm is more dramatic in a sense, filled with waterfalls and huge chunks of bright blue ice. I can see how it wouldn't be as impressive from a big cruise ship. I feel like we got the best of both worlds doing it this way (Glacier Bay on the cruise ship, Tracy Arm on a smaller boat). As for which I like better...I almost can't choose. It's a tough, tough call. Both are great in their own way, they are both very different and both worth doing.

Moving on, we also did the "Bennett Scenic Journey" excursion through Chilkoot Charters. It combines a train ride, bus ride, some nice stops for photos, and a surprisingly satisfying lunch. 8 hours is a long excursion, I must admit. Still, I loved getting all the way into the Yukon, and quite frankly I thought the best scenery of the day was in Canada, not Alaska. People who only do the White Pass Summit thing and then head back, well...I dunno. It's shorter and less taxing, but also less rewarding. Four people in our party did the short version and seemed happy with it. I loved the longer trip (which still left us four hours in Skagway!), but I won't deny it was a full and tiring day.

Lastly, we did the Misty Fjord seaplane excursion out of Ketchikan with the best there is (from what I've read and what I experienced on the day). Island Wings, and their pilot, Michelle. My girlfriend was nervous about going up in a seaplane, but Michelle has over 22,000 hours flying the De Havilland Beaver. IT SHOWS! You don't even feel the take offs and landings. The whole thing was terrific, and she lands out in the middle of nothing but nature, where you get to walk around for about twenty minutes on land. From what I understand, the other excursions only let you stand out on the floats.

Anyway, loved the whole trip. No issues. It was a real joy from start to finish, aboard the boat as well (doesn't hurt that I won some money at Blackjack in the casino). If any of you are interested, here is my photo album of the trip with scenes from every excursion and Seattle pre-cruise.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1&l=9b3e46bed1
#5
Canberra, Australia
2,326 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Looks like you had a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing!
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Bill and Yvette, Australia - 198 nights at sea - 83 RCI (7 cruises) & 115 X (11 cruises)
Cruises to come!
21 Dec 2017 - X Solstice New Zealand Christmas and NYE #6302 (balcony)
Past Cruises:

12 July 2017 - RCI Brilliance of the Seas 12 night Mediterranean and Venice cruise #9003
22 Dec 2016 - RCI Explorer of the Seas 12 night South Pacific and Fiji Christmas and NYE #9692
28 Dec 2015 - X Solstice 8 Night South Pacific New Year's Eve #1610 (Aqua balcony)
22 Aug 2015 - RCI Serenade of the Seas 8 night Norwegian Fjords #9240
30 August 2015 - RCI Serenade of the Seas 16 night Scandinavia & Iceland Transatlantic #9240
21 Dec 2014 - X Solstice 14 night Christmas & NYE New Zealand Cruise #6303 (balcony)
1 Aug 2014 - X Millennium 7 night Alaska Northern Glaciers #1129 (inside)
25 July 2014 - X Millennium 7 night Alaska Southern Glaciers #1129 (inside)
20 Dec 2013 - RCI Radiance of the Seas 9 night South Pacific Christmas Cruise #1104
17 Nov 2012 - X Summit 7 night Southern Caribbean - itinerary A #9038 (Aqua balcony)
10 Nov 2012 - X Summit 7 night Southern Caribbean - itinerary B #9038 (Aqua balcony)
17 Feb 2012 - X Century 18 Night Top of Australia Circumnavigation #1098 (Concierge balcony)
24 De 2011 - X Century 13 night Sydney to Auckland Christmas & NYE #8083 (inside)
4 Feb 2011 - X Xpedition 7 night Galapagos (10 night package) #306 (window)
18 December 2010 - RCI Rhapsody of the Seas 9 Night South Pacific Christmas #8063
21 Dec 2009 - RCI Rhapsody of the Seas 17 Night Australia & New Zealand Christmas and NYE #3587
3 Oct 2008 - X Infinity 16 Night Eastbound Panama Canal #8003 (window)
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30 Oct 2006 - X Galaxy 11 night Eastern Mediterranean #5029 (inside)
#6
Lakewood, Washington
6,413 Posts
Joined May 2004
Thanks for taking the time for your review and posting your pictures! We can't wait for our 9th cruise to Alaska in September! Yes, Alaska is habit-forming for us -- just can't get enough of it!

Glad to hear you lucked out on the weather and that you had a great performance at Margerie Glacier! Your video is great! Thanks for sharing!
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~Sandy~


"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain."




Jewel to Alaska 5/07/2015 (H4 14512)
Jewel to Alaska 5/31/2014 (H4 14512)
Pearl to Alaska 9/15/2013 (S4 14006)
Pride of America, Hawaii 9/10/2011 (SB 12502)
Pearl to Alaska 5/30/2010 (A3 14006)
Star to Alaska 5/30/2009 (AB 11030)
Pearl to Alaska 5/25/2008 (AA 9004)
Pearl to Alaska 6/17/2007 (A2 15500)
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#7
Frisco, TX
78 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Thanks everyone!

Oh, and brunolvr, I notice you have cruised on the Pride of America. Not exactly on subject in the "Alaska" port of call section, but I'm just curious about your thoughts on it? I've been to Hawaii, but not recently, and my girlfriend has never been. For our next cruise, we're leaning toward the Pride of America because it looks like the single best way to see a lot of Hawaii in a relatively short time. Love the overnights in Maui and Kauai. Anyway, does it live up to the hype?
#8
Reading, PA
17 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and those absolutely beautiful pictures and video. My husband and I are planning on going on a cruise to Alaska in the very near future and I will be sharing your information with him so that we get the most out of our trip. I am very excited about traveling there.


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#9
167 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Great pictures. Now you have me wanting to see both tracy arm and glacier bay!
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#10
Lakewood, Washington
6,413 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by Sanjuro
Thanks everyone!

Oh, and brunolvr, I notice you have cruised on the Pride of America. Not exactly on subject in the "Alaska" port of call section, but I'm just curious about your thoughts on it? I've been to Hawaii, but not recently, and my girlfriend has never been. For our next cruise, we're leaning toward the Pride of America because it looks like the single best way to see a lot of Hawaii in a relatively short time. Love the overnights in Maui and Kauai. Anyway, does it live up to the hype?
Yes, we felt the POA lived up to hype! We loved the Pride of America! From the Captain down to the Room Steward, we were very impressed with the care, concern and service we received. It was a great cruise and a great way to see the different Islands.

Here's the review I did after our return:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1486615
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~Sandy~


"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain."




Jewel to Alaska 5/07/2015 (H4 14512)
Jewel to Alaska 5/31/2014 (H4 14512)
Pearl to Alaska 9/15/2013 (S4 14006)
Pride of America, Hawaii 9/10/2011 (SB 12502)
Pearl to Alaska 5/30/2010 (A3 14006)
Star to Alaska 5/30/2009 (AB 11030)
Pearl to Alaska 5/25/2008 (AA 9004)
Pearl to Alaska 6/17/2007 (A2 15500)
Star to Alaska 5/28/2006 (AE 8170)
Star to Alaska 6/05/2005 (AF 11556)
Spirit to Alaska 7/03/2004 (BD 9032)
Sky to Alaska 9/13/2003 (BD 9215)
#11
Gosford, NSW, Australia
976 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Thanks Sanjuro, great review and video and photos! I note you are wearing a short sleeved T shirt in Glacier Bay photos! Was it not cold? We are planning an Alaskan cruise in 2014, and Norwegian Pearl is a definite possibility, so good to hear your experiences. Thanks again.
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#12
956 Posts
Joined May 2006
Great pics, thanks for sharing!
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#13
Frisco, TX
78 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Thanks for the PoA review Sandy!

And aussiecruzer, that day in Glacier Bay (which was 4th of July) was NOT cold. At all. In fact, when the sun was on my mother's balcony it was downright WARM and I could have gotten a sunburn. No joke.

Having said that, Tracy Arm was VERY cold throughout, and especially near the glaciers. The rest of the trip was quite pleasant. Not warm or cold. Just right I'd say.
#14
Carolina Puerto Rico
673 Posts
Joined May 2003
Hi: I will be taking the Alaska cruise next July 2014 but on the Norwegian Jewel. Did you stayed days in Seattle before the cruise and how many days. We are planning to stay 2 days before the cruise to see the City of Seattle.

Thank you for your help.

Lillian
Puerto Rico
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Lillian - Puerto Rico

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#16
Austin, Texas
61 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
I went on this same cruise 1 wk later... Your pics are phenomenal!!!
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#17
107,227 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Thank you for taking the time to write your review.

Your pictures are wonderful.
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Cruising is a wonderful way to enjoy retirement!
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#18
Australia
42 Posts
Joined Apr 2013
Thanks heaps for sharing. We are going on the Norwegian Pearl last trip end of September. We are coming a long way for that once in a lifetime experience and when i look at your photos i can't believe thats what i am going to see in 60 odd days!
#19
Vancouver, USA
167 Posts
Joined May 2011
Thanks for your review and wonderful photos! We'll be on the Pearl in 7 weeks! I can't wait!
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"Somewhere down this travelled road, we start out young and then we grow old... We don't care, you and I, we'll cruise together." Dan Reed Network
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NCL Jewel Alaska 5-27-17 ~ NCL Dawn Western Caribbean 2-19-17 ~ NCL Epic Western Mediterranean 6-19-16 ~ Crown Princess Mexican Riviera 2-13-16 ~ NCL Star Baltic Capitals 8-1-15 ~ NCL Epic Western Caribbean 2-16-14 ~ NCL Pearl to Alaska 9-15-2013 ~ NCL Pride of America (Hawaii) 12-10-2011
#20
missouri
949 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Thanks so much for the review. Loved your pictures & video! Our Island Wings tour got cancelled back in 2004. We're going back in 6 weeks and the couple we're travelling with won't fly in the float plane, so we planned a fishing tour for Ketchikan. But it's only 4 hours starting at 11:00 AM and we're in Ketchikan until 8:00 PM. So I'm thinking if we wanted to do this after fishing without them, it just might be an option. And after seeing your pics, I'm going to check into it.

On another note, we did the Hawaiian cruise on what was then the Pride of Hawaii back in 2006 and it was honestly one of our best vacations ever. I would highly recommend it. The only thing I would do different if we do it again is to go during whale season so we can see some whales along with all of the other amazing things that there are to see on this cruise.
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