Family Cruise to Alaska without Mickey

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#1
232 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
My little sister (11 yrs old) my parents (mid/late 40s) and I (22) did our first cruise together last year on the Disney Wonder to the Bahamas , my parents loved everything , the food, the atmosphere , the room, the venues , everything ! Now we are planning a second cruise , this time to Alaska . We would do Disney to Alaska but they leave out of Vancouver and my parents really want to spend a few days in Seattle before the cruise .

My first choice was NCL since I cruised Alaska on the Jewel in June last year and I loved it but I fear that the freestyle dinning might not be something my parents like.

Can anyone suggest a cruise line that can bring the wow factor that Disney did ?
#3
Fredericksburg, va. USA
82,055 Posts
Joined May 2001
NO one can entertain like Disney.....while RCI will be super nice, none of the other lines will have the same "feel"...

However, an Alaskan cruise is so different from a Caribbean cruise...it's all about the scenary and ports on an Alaskan cruise, whereas in the Caribbean, it's more laid-back and the ship becomes a very important part of the cruise. In Alaska, the ship is merely transportation!
#5
BC, Canada
745 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by cruiserninja1
We are leaning towards a Haven suite on NCL because it's about the same price of a balcony on a Disney Alaskan cruise lol
If I could afford the Haven suite, that will be my #1 choice. The NCL jewel has the Nickelodeon feature, and your parents may like the Freestyle dining and the extra eating venues. We are booked on the August 23rd sailing.

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#6
856 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
I would take a look at Celebrity Solstice out of Seattle. MY DH, DS - now 20 and I all prefer Celebrity for food, entertainment, etc. but, there is transportation from Seattle to the Vancouver cruise terminal if you really want Disney.
#7
232 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
Originally posted by onthelake
I would take a look at Celebrity Solstice out of Seattle. MY DH, DS - now 20 and I all prefer Celebrity for food, entertainment, etc. but, there is transportation from Seattle to the Vancouver cruise terminal if you really want Disney.

Can you give me any highlights of your Celebrity experience?
I briefly thought about crossing to Vancouver but I would love to have some extra time in Seattle instead of worrying about catching another method of transportation.
#8
232 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
Originally posted by goldie888
If I could afford the Haven suite, that will be my #1 choice. The NCL jewel has the Nickelodeon feature, and your parents may like the Freestyle dining and the extra eating venues. We are booked on the August 23rd sailing.

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I was on the Jewel in June and loved it! However , I was with my boyfriend so it was a different experience
#9
4,251 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
One thing to keep in mind, its the Wonder that sails Alaska. Since you were already on the ship, you know exactly what to expect. The shows will be the same, the food will be the same, the entertainment the same, etc.
#10
856 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
[quote=cruiserninja1;42247964]Can you give me any highlights of your Celebrity experience?
I briefly thought about crossing to Vancouver but I would love to have some extra time in Seattle instead of worrying about catching another method of transportation.[/

The way I would generalize is, to us, NCL, RCL and Carnival are like going to your local pizza place - fun, colorful and active - more of a party. Celebrity is more like the restaurant you would choose for an anniversary - ambiance, comfort, not quite elegant but more sophisticated than RCL, NCL or Carnival.

I don't know the schedule for travel between Seattle and Vancouver but there was both a bus and a train option and they were aimed at cruise travelers.
#12
Boston MA
1,518 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
I don't understand why you wouldn't consider spending the few days in Seattle and then taking the Amtrak train to Vancouver in order to do the Disney cruise if that is what will work for your family?

We sailed a Southbound Princess cruise in 2012 from Anchorage (whittier, really) to Vancouver, and then took the Amtrak train over to Seattle so that we could spend the extra day sightseeing in Seattle before flying home the next day.

It was one of the best parts of our trip- very relaxing, beautiful scenery with the sunset over the water, and logistically, very easy to take a cab from Canada place where the cruise ships are to the train station in Vancouver. The train ride itself was about 4 hours, and we did buy the business class seats for a little bit more room, but they did have AAA discounts you could use as well as senior discounts, too.

Just checking the Amtrak website now, it looks like they have 2 daily train routes from Seattle to Vancouver- one that runs 7:40am arriving in Vancouver at 11:40 am, and a late evening departure at 6:50pm which arrives at 10:50pm which you would take if you transferred the night before your cruise.

Good luck with your decision,
#13
Seattle, WA, USA
1,873 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
You aren't going to find any ship sailing out of Seattle that has the same kind of wow factor and magic as Disney. Plenty of good options out of Seattle, but nothing that will feel similar to Disney (good or bad).

I assume you are talking about 2014 and not 2015??

Celebrity Solstice is the newest and largest ship sailing out of Seattle and will have the most "wow factor", especially for adults. It doesn't go to Glacier Bay though which is a big downside IMHO.

Normally I would say Royal Caribbean might be a good choice, but they don't use one of their better ships out of Seattle. Plus the Rhapsody does probably the least interesting of all the Alaska itineraries out there (unless you really want a full day in Victoria).

Since you liked NCL that would probably be a good choice, although I would recommend the Perl over the Jewel because of Glacier Bay. I don't believe the Perl has the Nickelodeon characters though like the Jewel has.

Princess is another good option. Both the Grand and the Golden are big ships with plenty of wow factor (and covered pools which is nice for Alaska). Golden does Glacier Bay I believe.

Carnival might work for you. The Miracle is a "smaller" ship, very similar in size to the Disney wonder. They have great entertainment and kids programs.

We really like HAL, but not going to have the wow factor you are looking for. Westerdam would be a better choice than Amsterdam. Westerdam does a nice itinerary going to Glacier Bay and Sitka.

Another thing to keep in mind is that any of these choices will probably be half the price of doing Disney. Money you could use towards excursions in Alaska which are not cheap. As somebody else mentioned Alaska is way more about the itinerary than the ship or even cruise line.
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#14
Toronto
3,516 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
In 2015, RCI will be replacing Rhapsody with Jewel of the Seas which is the same class as Radiance which sails out of Vancouver. We sailed on Radiance to Alaska a number of years ago. The ship had a different vibe than RCI ships in the Caribbean. The demographics were more international and older. It was a more sedate cruise - similar to the HAL and Princess cruises we've taken.
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49 nights with RCCL, 7 nights with Carnival, 11 nights with Disney, 14 nights with Princess, 45 nights with HAL
#15
232 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
I have a friend that always cruises Carnival but Carnival only does Tuesday to Tuesday 7 day sailings , Disney does Monday to Monday so far I've only found that NCL and Princess do a Saturday to Saturday sailing . With 3 working adults going on this trip, it is difficult to do sailings leaving or coming back on a weekday . My dad will probably want to rest a day at home before going back to work .

I apologize if I sound picky but I really want to accommodate everyone in our party to the best of my ability since I am the one planning the vacation . I appreciate everyone's input , keep the advice coming!
#16
3,722 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
I'd select by the itinerary that most interests your family because AK is definately more about the ports and scenary than it is about the on-board experience.

Personally, we prefer a north-bound one way (flying back), but if you find a round-trip that you like it is also a wonderful choice. RCI Radiance-class ship is pretty much made for an AK itinerary. We've been on several Radiance cruises out of Seattle and did not notice any fewer kids on board (cruising during the tradition school summer break your LS should have plenty of kids her age on board). Celebrity Solstice would be another great choice (Fire & Ice - the Hot Glass show in conjuction with views of the glaciers ). We've also done a Princess to AK - also very nice.

Many people get into the Glacier Bay vs Hubbard Glacier controversy. I think they are both wonderful (awe inspiring) and so I don't get hung up on that. Out of Seattle either a Vancouver or Victory or both are going to be offered -- check out the sites in each city and see what interests you. Ketikan is nice, Skagway has a wonderful national park service place, I really like Juneau. Sitka is my favorite - National Park, Russian catherdal, raptors . . . but few itineraries include it.
#17
Seattle, WA, USA
1,873 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
For a weekend departure from Seattle your options are Holland America, Princess, and NCL. If you want Saturday from Seattle that narrows your choices down to the Golden Princess, Westerdam or NCL Jewel.

I've been on the Westerdam and Golden Princess and the Golden is definitely a more visually impressive ship. Both have a covered pool area (if swimming is important to you) and both go to Glacier Bay. Westerdam goes to Sikta instead of Skagway so you might want to check those ports out as part of your decision.

To me the main reasons to do the NCL Jewel over either of these other options is if you want the Nickolodeon character experience and kids club stuff or want the freestyle dining experience. Both Princess and HAL offer a anytime dining option as well. Albeit with far fewer dining venues. No Glacier Bay on the Jewel.

All these ships are roughly the same age (early/mid 2000's). Golden is quite a bit larger than the Westerdam and NCL Jewel. Jewel and Westerdam are roughly the same size, but the Jewel holds about 500 more passengers (double occupancy).
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#18
Seattle, WA, USA
1,873 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Originally posted by Onessa
I'd select by the itinerary that most interests your family because AK is definately more about the ports and scenary than it is about the on-board experience.

Personally, we prefer a north-bound one way (flying back), but if you find a round-trip that you like it is also a wonderful choice. RCI Radiance-class ship is pretty much made for an AK itinerary. We've been on several Radiance cruises out of Seattle and did not notice any fewer kids on board (cruising during the tradition school summer break your LS should have plenty of kids her age on board). Celebrity Solstice would be another great choice (Fire & Ice - the Hot Glass show in conjuction with views of the glaciers ). We've also done a Princess to AK - also very nice.

Many people get into the Glacier Bay vs Hubbard Glacier controversy. I think they are both wonderful (awe inspiring) and so I don't get hung up on that. Out of Seattle either a Vancouver or Victory or both are going to be offered -- check out the sites in each city and see what interests you. Ketikan is nice, Skagway has a wonderful national park service place, I really like Juneau. Sitka is my favorite - National Park, Russian catherdal, raptors . . . but few itineraries include it.
I don't believe any of the typical 7 day Seattle itineraries offer Hubbard Glacier (which is spectacular). For Seattle itineraries the comparison is Glacier Bay vs. Tracy Arm.
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#20
USA
8,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Alaska is all about the scenic cruising, IMHO as nice as Disney is the premium and the fact they dont' sail the best scenic cruising makes me question the priorities here.

I'd say find a line that does Glacier bay versus being fixated on Disney
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