Hello fellow Cruisers,
Me (33M) and my wife (30F) are planning a last minute cruise to Alaska (first time to Alaska) in August as there are no Canadian stops this year (Yay!! as we do not have a Canadian Visa). This would be our second cruise we have done one previously to Hawaii (Pride of America), so we are familiar with NCL but completely unaware of what to expect or how different the other cruise lines are going to be.
As we are planning last minute we would really appreciate any and all advise from people who have cruised before. We are mainly looking for 1. Glaciers, 2. Wildlife, 3. Sightseeing and the onboard activities do come secondary. So after much deliberation we have narrowed down two itineraries.
1. HAL - Seattle->Stephens Passage->Juneau->Glacier Bay National Park->Icy Strait Point (Hoonah 4 hour stop)->Sitka->Ketchikan->Inside Passage->Seattle
2. Princess - Seattle->Juneau->Skagway->Glacier Bay National Park->Ketchikan->Inside Passage->Seattle
So after scouring for hours on the board I have come to the conclusion that HAL is more suited for seniors and has some formal nights (not for us) and a more uptight feel to the cruise whereas princess would be more in line with NCL and has a lot more activities on board (even though that is our secondary concern). So if the ports were the same the choice would be hands down Princess.
Now I know I am going to ask the age old question of Sitka v/s Skagway but there is a twist. I have read through why one would pick one over the other and we really want to do Skagway as we get to see incredible views from the white pass rail road. We also did not feel that we were interested in the excursions at Sitka except the Sea otter and wild life watching tour. But would it be worth trading Skagway for Stephens Passage + Sitka + Icy Strait Point (only 4 hours) on HAL (which would be our second preferred pick).
My pick for the cruise line is definitely going to be depending on the itinerary and not the amenities on board and I feel that HAL is giving us more ports and more picturesque travel compared to the route from Princess, but what do I know, I could be completely wrong and the path through Stephens passage might be pretty similar to the Glacier Bay National Park, so would love all the insights you guys can provide.
Currently I am tilting towards HAL for Sitka+ Icy Point Strait+ Stephens Passage(just feel its more bang for our buck even though we might miss out on the WhitePass Railroad).
Also if anyone can tell us any other differences between Princess and HAL (any recent travelers).
Thanks in advance!!