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  #1  
Old July 9th, 2013, 10:50 PM
Sanjuro Sanjuro is offline
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Default Just returned from an amazing Alaska cruise! Pics and video.

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

Last edited by Sanjuro; July 9th, 2013 at 10:54 PM.
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  #2  
Old July 10th, 2013, 04:07 AM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is online now
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Thank you for taking the time to write this and to share it with us including photos and video and glad you enjoyed the cruise.

Keith
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  #3  
Old July 10th, 2013, 04:44 AM
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sue402001 sue402001 is offline
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Thanks for sharing your pictures & your review Sanjuro!
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Old July 10th, 2013, 05:30 AM
PetNanny PetNanny is offline
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Thanks for your review and the photos. Glad you had a great cruise.
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Old July 10th, 2013, 06:41 AM
BrusselsGirl07 BrusselsGirl07 is offline
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Looks like you had a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing!
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Old July 10th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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brunolvr brunolvr is offline
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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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NCL Pearl to Alaska 9/15/2013 (S4 14006)
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NCL Pearl to Alaska 5/30/2010 (A3 14006)
NCL Star to Alaska 5/30/2009 (AB 11030)
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NCL Star to Alaska 5/28/2006 (AE 8170)
NCL Star to Alaska 6/05/2005 (AF 11556)
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NCL Sky to Alaska 9/13/2003 (BD 9215)

Last edited by brunolvr; July 10th, 2013 at 10:31 AM.
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  #7  
Old July 11th, 2013, 09:56 AM
Sanjuro Sanjuro is offline
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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?
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Old July 11th, 2013, 11:35 AM
cabbie98 cabbie98 is offline
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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  
Old July 11th, 2013, 12:12 PM
sazzifrazz sazzifrazz is offline
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Great pictures. Now you have me wanting to see both tracy arm and glacier bay!
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Old July 11th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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brunolvr brunolvr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanjuro View Post
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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NCL Pearl to Alaska 9/15/2013 (S4 14006)
Pride of America, Hawaii 9/10/2011 (SB 12502)
NCL Pearl to Alaska 5/30/2010 (A3 14006)
NCL Star to Alaska 5/30/2009 (AB 11030)
NCL Pearl to Alaska 5/25/2008 (AA 9004)
NCL Pearl to Alaska 6/17/2007 (A2 15500)
NCL Star to Alaska 5/28/2006 (AE 8170)
NCL Star to Alaska 6/05/2005 (AF 11556)
NCL Spirit to Alaska 7/03/2004 (BD 9032)
NCL Sky to Alaska 9/13/2003 (BD 9215)
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Old July 12th, 2013, 09:47 AM
aussiecruzer aussiecruzer is offline
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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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Old July 12th, 2013, 10:59 AM
lor74 lor74 is offline
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Great pics, thanks for sharing!
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  #13  
Old July 14th, 2013, 03:00 PM
Sanjuro Sanjuro is offline
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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.
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Old July 14th, 2013, 09:02 PM
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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
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Old July 15th, 2013, 01:11 AM
jigger jigger is offline
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Great pic's !!
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  #16  
Old July 18th, 2013, 01:28 AM
EliseinAustin EliseinAustin is offline
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Thumbs up Thx for sharing pics of Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, etc.

I went on this same cruise 1 wk later... Your pics are phenomenal!!!
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Old July 18th, 2013, 06:04 AM
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Thank you for taking the time to write your review.

Your pictures are wonderful.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 07:17 AM
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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!
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Old July 21st, 2013, 04:33 PM
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Sherrica Sherrica is offline
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Thanks for your review and wonderful photos! We'll be on the Pearl in 7 weeks! I can't wait!
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Old July 27th, 2013, 07:22 PM
thecruisers723 thecruisers723 is offline
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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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