Information for 1st Princess cruise to Alaska please??????

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#1
Hollywell
944 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Hi fellow Princess cruisers.
We are contemplating our 1st cruise to Alaska coming from Australia which is on our bucket list and just trying to get this all right as coming a long way. Just a few questions please.
Which Princess ship would you recommend for this cruise?
Which cruise itinerary would you recommend as we see there is a few?
Would the 10 night cruise out of San Francisco be the one you would select as we thought it would be great to stay there pre cruise?
Is August a great time to do this cruise?
Want to do a land content with this trip, would you recommend Denali stay or travelling to see some of the Rocky Mountains.
Sorry for all the questions.
Kind Regards Bob and Christine.
#2
Greenville, SC, USA
52,277 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
I would do the one way between Vancouver and Whittier/Anchorage. I would tie it to a land tour to the interior of Alaska.
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Paul
#3
Chico, California
9,558 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Originally posted by portcbob
Hi fellow Princess cruisers.
We are contemplating our 1st cruise to Alaska coming from Australia which is on our bucket list and just trying to get this all right as coming a long way. Just a few questions please.
Which Princess ship would you recommend for this cruise?
Which cruise itinerary would you recommend as we see there is a few?
Would the 10 night cruise out of San Francisco be the one you would select as we thought it would be great to stay there pre cruise?
Is August a great time to do this cruise?
Want to do a land content with this trip, would you recommend Denali stay or traveling to see some of the Rocky Mountains.
Sorry for all the questions.
Kind Regards Bob and Christine.
The 10 day round trip from SF is a great cruise. However, you stated that you want to do a land tour as well. If you are doing a Lower 48 land tour then I still recommend the 10 day round trip out of SF. Glacier National Park in Montana is a great place to visit as are the redwoods in Northern California.

However, if you want to do your land component in Alaska that won't work for you. In that case I would recommend doing a connoisseur land tour in Alaska. I would recommend (my preference only of course) that you do the land tour first and then the southbound cruise afterward. The cruise portion of the tour is either south to Vancouver, BC or north from Vancouver, BC. You can't cruise out of the US and end up in a port other than the one you left from - at least not a cruise to or from Alaska. I'd do at least a 13 day cruisetour which means 6 days on land combined with the 7 day cruise. A great thread about the connoisseur land tour is located HERE

Others will obviously feel differently than I regarding the land tour and direction of the cruise but this is my opinion.
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Thrak

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#4
Indiana
63 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
As for a specific Alaska cruise, I would pick one going to Glacier Bay over the ones that include Tracy Arm Fjord. Tracy Arm is nice, but the ability to see multiple glaciers during your day cruising in Glacier Bay is just spectacular.
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#5
USA
91 Posts
Joined May 2000
Unfortunately, our schedule only will allow for the Tracy Arm Fjord sailing, so it looks like we’re “stuck” with that rather than Glacier Bay. Out of SF. I hope we won’t regret it. Since we’ll be cruising May 26, 2018 do you think the ice will be melted enough for the Grand to be able to maneuver through the fjord? After reading your post, now I’m wondering if we should even GO on that cruise and wait until 2019 to see Glacier Bay...if our schedule will allow for it.

Originally posted by derdejoh
As for a specific Alaska cruise, I would pick one going to Glacier Bay over the ones that include Tracy Arm Fjord. Tracy Arm is nice, but the ability to see multiple glaciers during your day cruising in Glacier Bay is just spectacular.
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#6
Cotati, California
140 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by Linsifer
Unfortunately, our schedule only will allow for the Tracy Arm Fjord sailing, so it looks like we’re “stuck” with that rather than Glacier Bay. Out of SF. I hope we won’t regret it. Since we’ll be cruising May 26, 2018 do you think the ice will be melted enough for the Grand to be able to maneuver through the fjord? After reading your post, now I’m wondering if we should even GO on that cruise and wait until 2019 to see Glacier Bay...if our schedule will allow for it.
We just did our 6th cruise to Alaska leaving late May 2017. It was a Tracy Arm sailing. While the scenery was beautiful, we did not get up Tracy Arm at all. It was choked with ice (I think into early July this year). We went up Endicott Arm instead. It is beautiful and we saw Dawes Glacier instead of Sawyer Glacier.
It differs year to year but I doubt you will be able to go up Tracy Arm on that cruise.
There is nothing to regret - Alaska is beautiful!
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Past Cruises:
*Princess Cruisetour -Fairbanks to Vancouver - Diamond Princess 7/2008
*Holland America -Seattle Roundtrip - Amsterdam - Alaska 6/2009
*Princess - San Francisco Roundtrip - Sea Princess-Alaska 5/2011
*Princess - Long Beach to Florida - Coral Princess - Panama Canal 3/2012
*Princess - San Francisco Roundtrip - Star Princess - Alaska 8/2014
*Princess Cruisetour - Fairbanks to Vancouver - Coral Princess 6/2016
*Princess - San Francisco Roundtrip - Grand Princess - Alaska 5/2017

#7
Cotati, California
140 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by portcbob
Hi fellow Princess cruisers.
We are contemplating our 1st cruise to Alaska coming from Australia which is on our bucket list and just trying to get this all right as coming a long way. Just a few questions please.
Which Princess ship would you recommend for this cruise?
Which cruise itinerary would you recommend as we see there is a few?
Would the 10 night cruise out of San Francisco be the one you would select as we thought it would be great to stay there pre cruise?
Is August a great time to do this cruise?
Want to do a land content with this trip, would you recommend Denali stay or travelling to see some of the Rocky Mountains.
Sorry for all the questions.
Kind Regards Bob and Christine.
If this is your first and possibly only trip to Alaska, I would definitely recommend looking at the cruise/tour combinations that are available from Princess.
That being said, the 10 day out of San Francisco is absolutely amazing too. You just don't see as much of Alaska as you would on a cruise/tour
Our first trip to Alaska was a 13 day cruise/tour. We flew into Fairbanks - stayed 2 nights and went on 2 tours, took the bus to Denali - stayed 2 nights and went on an 8 hour Tundra Wilderness Tour, took the train to Talkeetna - stayed 1 night at the McKinley Princess Lodge, took the bus to Anchorage (with a stop at a museum on the way) - stayed 1 night, took the train to the ship and did 7 nights southbound to Vancouver. Because it was our first, it is remembered as the best.
Take a look at all the cruise/tours offered. Definitely look for one that has 2 nights in Denali so you can do the Tundra Wilderness Tour.
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Past Cruises:
*Princess Cruisetour -Fairbanks to Vancouver - Diamond Princess 7/2008
*Holland America -Seattle Roundtrip - Amsterdam - Alaska 6/2009
*Princess - San Francisco Roundtrip - Sea Princess-Alaska 5/2011
*Princess - Long Beach to Florida - Coral Princess - Panama Canal 3/2012
*Princess - San Francisco Roundtrip - Star Princess - Alaska 8/2014
*Princess Cruisetour - Fairbanks to Vancouver - Coral Princess 6/2016
*Princess - San Francisco Roundtrip - Grand Princess - Alaska 5/2017

#8
Cleveland, OH
328 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
The Princess cruisetours are excellent. A few years back we did a conissour level tour (look here or on Alaska boards) that included stays in Fairbanks, Denali, Mt McKinley and Kenai lodges followed by a cruise from Whittier to Vancouver. We actually met some nice folks from Australia on the land portion and spent time with them on the cruise. The land part really gave us a good sense of Alaska. I think if you only do a cruise you miss a lot. But everyone has their own views.


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#9
1,349 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
I would choose a sailing based on seeing Alaska, not focusing on SF.
That can easily be seen before, or on your way back from, your cruise.

I always recommend a Northbound or Southbound !

Glacier Bay is Amazing!

I am not sure, but some Northbound sailings might have the opportunity to take the boat tour of Tracy Arm, before docking at Juneau. So, check those itineraries for that. We enjoyed a pre-cruise tour of Prince Willam Sound and College Fjord before our Southbound Alaska cruise.
#10
Washington
6,062 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by Linsifer
Unfortunately, our schedule only will allow for the Tracy Arm Fjord sailing, so it looks like we’re “stuck” with that rather than Glacier Bay. Out of SF. I hope we won’t regret it. Since we’ll be cruising May 26, 2018 do you think the ice will be melted enough for the Grand to be able to maneuver through the fjord? After reading your post, now I’m wondering if we should even GO on that cruise and wait until 2019 to see Glacier Bay...if our schedule will allow for it.
Glacier Bay is one of the greatest possible days of cruising and there's just nothing else in the world like it. I think it would be better to choose a different cruise. I looked at what is available starting May 26, 2018 and there is a 7 day on the Holland America Niew Amsterdam round trip Vancouver that includes Glacier Bay. Vancouver is a spectacular city - very similar to San Francisco with an International Airport. From Vancouver it is easy to take a train tour of the Canadian Rockies. Don't know how many total days you have for your vacation (my Aussie relatives usually have 3 - 4 weeks) but that is probably what I would do. Alternatively, Vancouver is an incredible city and well worth an entire vacation on its own and you could always fly to Seattle which very inexpensive. The port of Vancouver is next door to the Pan Pacific Hotel which is an absolutely delightful place to stay and a great base for exploring all that Vancouver has to offer - which is a ton! You could fly to Vancouver, take a taxi to the hotel (about 30 minutes), check in, get a great dinner, get some sleep and then the next day check out, walk next door and check your luggage in for your cruise. Then when you get back, you could check back into the Pan Pacific or head to the train station for your next adventure.

I'll tell you this: honestly, we have been to Alaska 3 times (so far) and are highly likely to go back because it is such a vast place it is impossible to see it all on one trip. Once you have been, I think you will want to go back. BTW, do bring some anti-seasickness medication as the ride up or down in the open seas can be a wild ride - once you are in Alaska, no problem. But good to go prepared!
#11
Texas
1,609 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by Thrak
However, if you want to do your land component in Alaska that won't work for you. In that case I would recommend doing a connoisseur land tour in Alaska. I would recommend (my preference only of course) that you do the land tour first and then the southbound cruise afterward. The cruise portion of the tour is either south to Vancouver, BC or north from Vancouver, BC. You can't cruise out of the US and end up in a port other than the one you left from - at least not a cruise to or from Alaska. I'd do at least a 13 day cruisetour which means 6 days on land combined with the 7 day cruise. A great thread about the connoisseur land tour is located HERE

Others will obviously feel differently than I regarding the land tour and direction of the cruise but this is my opinion.
I totally agree with Thrak. We took the 15 day escorted connoisseur cruise tour beginning in Fairbanks. We stayed at 4 different Princess lodges. It included good excursions and most meals. Our escort was fun and informative. He took care of all the details and made the land tour hassle free.
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#12
Colorado
1,796 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
We've done two northbound Vancouver-Whittier with land tours and one B2B cruise Vancouver-Whittier-Vancouver. The latter was interesting because we hit Glacier Bay four days apart and the changes in Margerie Glacier were incredible. Also got to see seven mile wide Hubbard Glacier on the southbound trip. Also got to take the 26 Glacier cruise during the stay in Whittier. All our trips were on Coral or Island, and we spent a lot of time in the glassed-in Lotus Pool area.

If I was only going once, I think I would recommend a land tour with a couple of days in Denali Park. You need a two day stay to take at least the Tundra Wilderness bus tour into the park. Did this twice in September and had cloudless viewing both times (average is only 30% chance of seeing the mountain on a 9 hour bus ride). The train is fun but does take a lot of time, including waiting for the train. BUT, the land tour is a lot of riding in a bus or on a train and some stays in nice hotels. Some animal viewing and basically one mountain. We enjoyed both trips, but in 14 days the B2B cruise we actually had better scenery overall and lots more glaciers and animals.

McKinley Lodge is mostly a waste of time (45 minutes west of Talkeetna and nothing around except maybe a view of the south side of the mountain and good viewing of the Northern Lights). All tours from there you need to go back to Talkeetna.

Also one of our favorite trips was up through the Canadian Rockies, from Waterton Lake to Jasper. Much more dramatic scenery than we have in Colorado. These can be done as a loop from Vancouver.

By the way, we did NOT do the connoisseur tour. Costs a lot more and basically you get meals at an inflated price (although all food in Alaska is expensive). We had the same guides through our land tours but wanted to pick where we were going to eat.
#14
East Meadow, NY
1,036 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
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