Alaska: Royal Caribbean vs. Princess vs. Norwegian

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#1
6 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
This is my first post.

I'm planning a family cruise (5 cabins) to Alaska (7-day cruise) and have gotten multiple quotes from our agent for Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Norwegian. However, I need some help in figuring out what's best for our family.

Half of us will be in our 20s-30s and the other half in the 50s. We're active, enjoy good food and entertainment. We've been on Royal Caribbean ships before down to the Caribbean and had a blast.

I have had some family members that went on Princess and had a good time (but they are all older). I've heard that Royal Caribbean has more activities, and that Norwegian has less?

Can anybody that's been on any of these please shed some light? It would be much appreciated. We plan to do a roundtrip cruise (cruise only) starting in Seattle and ending in Seattle.

Thanks in advance.
#2
Syracuse, New York
50,230 Posts
Joined May 2000
It depends, you sound like the ship is the priority??? For many, it's Alaska. Overall, there is no similarity to Caribbean sailings. Nightlife is weak on all lines, food similar, all have "cut back". Your "activity" comment, will again, be similar on any cruiseline.

IF you indeed, don't have a priority for "Alaska", RCI may be a good choice since your group has liked the line in the past. HOWEVER, if you are looking at the Rhapsody, it is a poor choice based on itinerary for Alaska. So is Princess. By far, HAL and NCL have superior round trip Seattle Alaska itineraries.


Determine, why you are going?? What is the group consences?? Then decide. If looking for "Alaska", then do your homework, find out what activities are of interest and route for those. Educate yourself on glacier choices- again if a priority to see them. Head to your library take out Alaska By Cruiseship. Will offer you more detailed information.
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Happy Alaska travels

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#3
6 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thanks so much for the response. You're right, there's kind of a split in the middle. The younger crowd prefers the activities and is focused more on the ship. Whereas the older part of our group (parents) want to go Alaska for more of the locations.

We are deciding between RCI's Rhapsody or NCL's Norwegian Star. Here are the 2 itineraries:

RCI
---------
Seattle
Juneau
Skagway
Tracy Arm Ford
Victoria, BC
Seattle

NCL
---------
Seattle
Ketchikan
Juneau
Skagway
Prince Rupert
Seattle

So you're saying that NCL is going to be the better choice in terms of itinerary? And that the entertainment, activities, food, etc. will be pretty similar on both ships?

Thanks so much,
Tom
#4
Shadow of the Key Bridge, MD
728 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
I looked at the NCL Star when I was considering cruises and found it has really short port times compared to others. If I was to go with NCL r/t from Seattle, I'd go with the Pearl. Of course, we ended up on HAL b/c we are two 30-somethings traveling with four 60-somethings who all LOVE HAL. We were outvoted

If I rememer correctly, the Pearl does Glacier Bay while the Star does Tracey Arm. From everything I've read, Tracey Arm is a crap shoot, and unlikley before mid-July.
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#5
Parker, Co
2,157 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Home work is not just reading CC, but it doesn't seem you have read much on CC yet. Look at the itineraries and how they get there. On the search function look up post on Glacier Bay, Inside Passage, College Forge, Tracy's Arm, etc. Read BQ's post again.

Also IMHO Alaska is the entertainment.

Jack
for
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GERTZ
Princess Elite
#6
Toronto
3,517 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
It seems that the port times on all the Norwegian cruises to Alaska are suboptimal. RCCL's times are much better.
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49 nights with RCCL, 7 nights with Carnival, 11 nights with Disney, 14 nights with Princess, 45 nights with HAL
#7
San Francisco, Ca
1,559 Posts
Joined May 2004
Activities or nightlife? The nightlife of all the ships in Alaska is more like if you were on a Holland American ship in the Carribbean. Even Carnival is not exempted. Don't expect any nightlife on an Alaskan cruise. You should pick your cruiseship strictly by itinerary. I wouldn't recommend visiting Tracy Arm from a cruiseship unless you want to visit a fjord. However, I do recommend visiting Tracy Arm from a day cruise from Juneau and the only ship that will fit that is the Westerdam from Seattle. If you want to see glaciers, I would only recommend ships that are visiting Glacier Bay and possibly Holland America's Amsterdam that will be visiting Hubbard, but only after July 1st as there may be too much ice.

Questions you should answer is when are you going and which Royal Carribean ship were the younger ones on? The Rhapsody of the Seas is not a Voyager or Freedom class ship so activities are going to be not very numerous.
#8
6 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thanks everyone for your feedback.

It seems like that the activities are going to be very limited then on all trips to Alaska (compared to a larger Royal Caribbean ship to the Caribbeans, which is what our younger group is used to). Will they even have evening entertainment on the ships such as singers, dancers, comedians, ice skating, etc.? They had this every night in our cruise to the Caribbeans which was a big highlight.

Thanks again.
#9
14,848 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by shiehshieh
Thanks everyone for your feedback.

It seems like that the activities are going to be very limited then on all trips to Alaska (compared to a larger Royal Caribbean ship to the Caribbeans, which is what our younger group is used to). Will they even have evening entertainment on the ships such as singers, dancers, comedians, ice skating, etc.? They had this every night in our cruise to the Caribbeans which was a big highlight.

Thanks again.
There were nightly shows on both my HAL and Princess cruises to Alaska.

As mentioned, if you are thinking of NCL - the Pearl has the best itinerary out of Seattle.
#10
California
502 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
We chose the Pearl strictly because of the itinerary. We have read good and not so good reviews regarding the freestyle dining. I admit I am a bit nervous about the dining but we chose the itinerary not the ship. Alaska IS the entertainment.
Shankiko
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#11
Pittsburgh, PA
318 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
We did a roundtrip from Vancouver on RCCL a couple years ago. We loved it. They did have shows nightly. But as several have previously stated, the main entertainment will be the natural environment of Alaska.

We have been on RCCL 5 times total now and have had groups ranging from their early thirties to eighties and everyone always had a great time. We are however trying Princess this May on a northbound voyage to Anchorage aboard Sapphire Princess. I hope it is as nice as Royal Caribbean.

Good luck in your decision.
#12
Syracuse, New York
50,230 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by rubytue

If I rememer correctly, the Pearl does Glacier Bay while the Star does Tracey Arm. From everything I've read, Tracey Arm is a crap shoot, and unlikley before mid-July.
A SIGNIFICANT factor with the Star is the availablity and "must do" recommendation, for their add on Tracy Arm jet boat excursion. FAR superior to any other Tracy Arm cruise ship sailing.

I'll take it you have not been there. The ships definately transit Tracy Arm far before mid July, it's the Sawyer Glaciers that are the crap shoot. Which is at the end of the 30 mile dead end fjord.
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Happy Alaska travels

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#13
1 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
We're planning our first Alaska cruise. We know two things: 1. Going on Princess 2. 7 days leaving aug 1 or aug 2.

We can't decide between Seattle round-trip with Tracy ARM or Vancouver to Whittier with Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Seattle round-trip is much cheaper for us airfare-wise, so that's a small consideration.

Can you recommend one over the other? Thanks.
#14
14,848 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by tsgcruise
We're planning our first Alaska cruise. We know two things: 1. Going on Princess 2. 7 days leaving aug 1 or aug 2.

We can't decide between Seattle round-trip with Tracy ARM or Vancouver to Whittier with Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Seattle round-trip is much cheaper for us airfare-wise, so that's a small consideration.

Can you recommend one over the other? Thanks.
We did a one-way northbound cruise on the Coral Princess in 2007 for our first Alaska trip, followed by a 9-day land trip with a rental car. I am going on the 7-day roundtrip from Seattle on the Golden Princess this May due to the price. Princess's one-ways definitely have the better itinerary, and that would be my recommendation for a first-time Alaska visitor - especially if you can add a few days after the cruise to spend in Alaska.
#15
San Francisco, Ca
1,559 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by tsgcruise
We're planning our first Alaska cruise. We know two things: 1. Going on Princess 2. 7 days leaving aug 1 or aug 2.

We can't decide between Seattle round-trip with Tracy ARM or Vancouver to Whittier with Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Seattle round-trip is much cheaper for us airfare-wise, so that's a small consideration.

Can you recommend one over the other? Thanks.
Princess from Seattle leaves something to be desired. If you can afford it, do the one-way from Vancouver to Whittier. Even better, go on the Island Princess that leaves on Aug. 3 instead of the Diamond Princess. If you have interest in Tracy Arm, take the Adventure Bound Day Cruise from Juneau - best way to see Tracy Arm.
#16
Syracuse, New York
50,230 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by tsgcruise
We're planning our first Alaska cruise. We know two things: 1. Going on Princess 2. 7 days leaving aug 1 or aug 2.

We can't decide between Seattle round-trip with Tracy ARM or Vancouver to Whittier with Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Seattle round-trip is much cheaper for us airfare-wise, so that's a small consideration.

Can you recommend one over the other? Thanks.
IF these are both equal choices for you, then definately pick the one way, far superior to the less than ideal round trip Seattle itinerary.
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Happy Alaska travels

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#17
Sugar land, Texas
5 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
I'm going to have to bump this one as I'm in the same boat :P

Yes, it's an old thread, but no need to make a new one since this one already exists.

Has there been much that has changed over the past 2 years?

It will be my first cruise and I am trying to book for family and friends.

I was led to Princess by some and Norwegian by others.
Most of us "kids" are mid 20s and the adults in the 50s...we are going to see alaska but would like there to be fun activities on board as well being our first cruise and all.

Not exactly sure which cruise line to pick as none of us have gone before. Any insight would be great. We are planning on leaving out of Seattle, preferably Aug 13th 2011 - doing the 7 nights.

All comments/criticism welcomed!
#18
Portland, Oregon
1,076 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by darkphantom
I'm going to have to bump this one as I'm in the same boat :P

Yes, it's an old thread, but no need to make a new one since this one already exists.

Has there been much that has changed over the past 2 years?

It will be my first cruise and I am trying to book for family and friends.

I was led to Princess by some and Norwegian by others.
Most of us "kids" are mid 20s and the adults in the 50s...we are going to see alaska but would like there to be fun activities on board as well being our first cruise and all.

Not exactly sure which cruise line to pick as none of us have gone before. Any insight would be great. We are planning on leaving out of Seattle, preferably Aug 13th 2011 - doing the 7 nights.

All comments/criticism welcomed!
We enjoyed the Pearl last year in the Caribbean, and the NCL Sun this year in the Baltic, but, as you can see, we are doing the Diamond Princess one way S/B for Alaska. I would prefer a smaller ship, but this itinerary suited us the most. We want to do land in Alaska beforehand and the R/T do not allow. A Major Plus is that the Princess O/W S/B go to both Hubbard and Clacier Bay NP.

We have liked NCL both times we have sailed with them, but their smoking policies are too lenient for us. So if that is a concern, you should be aware that Princess just banned smoking in staterooms and balconies as of January 2012. That is another big plus for us.
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#19
Thousand Oaks, California
1,575 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
I'm not sure why the original poster of this thread (even tho it is older and having never been to Alaska before ) would pick Tracy Arm over Glacier Bay. One of her mentioned itineraries doesn't even mention visiting a glacier.

You will truly be missing out if you pick an itinerary that does not visit either Glacier Bay or Hubbard Glacier.

The best itineray to pick is a one way trip either northbound (From Vancouver) or southbound from (From Seward or Whittier). The scenery between Anchorage and either Whittier or Seward is very spectacular, so if you can afford the airfare go for the one way.

I would only recommend a round trip Seattle cruise for someone who has been there several times and just wants to cruise in the area period.

Having cruised the Caribbean several times and on big ships (Navigator of the Seas and Allure of the Seas) there isn't any comparison to the big ships that sail the Caribbean and those that sail Alaska. You go to Alaska for the Alaska scenery and wildlife.
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#20
South Florida
4,631 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
I don't like the way RCI only visits 2 cities in Alaska..what is up with that??

I am going with Carnival cause of price, I know what to expect...I also found that the Carnival Spirit has indoor hot tub and has covered pool and hot tubs at NO charge (some of the newest Carnival ships do charge for those areas) I found that many of the other cruise lines only let the "spa pass" or suite clients use the covered pool area. I would check about NCL on that

(yes, I realize you don't mention Carnival and I am not suggesting it, just suggesting that you check if desired amenities are available to you)
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