Alaska cruise-northbound or southbound? Ships to avoid?

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93 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
i am getting overwhelmed researching Alaska cruises. Do any of you have strong feelings about choosing northbound or southbound cruises (pros or cons) ? Also, any ships to avoid? Or consider?
Thanks for any advice!
MotorHome Fulltime Western US
612 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
We couldn't decide either so just did both B2B on the Coral Princess beginning in Vancouver (May 2017). There is a 26 Glacier Cruise Tour out of Whittier just for B2Bers. Love the Coral.
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Chico, California
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If doing a cruise tour I prefer land first then southbound cruise. Coral is a great ship for this itinerary. My only caveat is that I don't like Island Princess since they hacked it up and took away public space while adding cabins. More people with less public space. Nope, nope, nope. It doesn't even have an International Cafe! It's my least favorite Princess ship. For Alaska Coral would be my first choice followed by maybe Ruby.

If you are just doing the cruise without the land tour then the 26 Glacier Cruise Tour out of Whittier sounds amazing. I didn't even know about that one so now I have to go look into it.
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Suwanee & Ellijay, Georgia
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We would go with the Southbound. Living on the East coast, it's about a five hour direct flight from either Seattle or Vancouver back to Atlanta. Much longer flight and typically a plane change flying from Anchorage if we had done the Northbound. We did our own land trip last year and was also another reason to enjoy those activities, then a relaxing cruise at the end of the trip.

Our first pick would be the Coral, as our favorite ship. We like the size of the ship and has lots of open deck space. We have not sailed on the Island, however after three trips on the Coral, we know we would not like the changes they made and would not sail on it.
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We prefer the last then cruise, so southbound. And I agree with the other poster, stay away from the island. If you use the gym at at, it is on a lower level in a room with no windows..
Greenville, SC, USA
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About 2 years ago, we did a NB on the Coral, followed by a 7 day land tour and then a SB on the Star. Preferred the Coral.
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Joined Jul 2001
I also prefer the Coral Princess.

I would avoid the Royal Princess next year.
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I have read that the positive of NB is, you starts small and build up on scenery. Kind of the just gets better and better idea. With SB, has has been stated, start running, especially when doing land first, and then relax.

For is, it was a combination of timing of the offerings and building up works better for the husband. He is not a good relaxer.
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Go on any ship that includes Glacier Bay National Park scenic cruising. That is my favourite place on earth and Princess makes a big deal of that day. I love the 14 day b2b from Vancouver. It took me awhile to get talked into an Alaskan cruise but once I went I couldn’t get enough. Take layers to wear and binoculars to see.

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Northern California
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Originally posted by Coral
I also prefer the Coral Princess.

I would avoid the Royal Princess next year.
Why would you avoid the Royal in 2019?
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I highly recommend the 15 day connoisseur escorted cruise tour offered by Princess. No hassles with luggage, lodging, or transportation, most meals and some excursions included. Tour land first so you can relax more on southbound cruise. Pick the Coral Princess as it is a great ship. It has fewer passengers, the Bayou Cafe Steakhouse, and the production show "On The Bayou".
The Royal Princess has some good features such as the best buffet design of any ship in the Princess fleet. It has a nice large atrium also. The balconies are very small on the Royal class ships however and the ship carries a lot of passengers. That makes getting on and off the ship a little more time consuming and finding a seat in the theater for a production show more inconvenient.
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USS Greenling SSN614
Atlantic Ocean/Barents Sea
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Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by Italy52
Why would you avoid the Royal in 2019?
There is no promenade deck, no covered pool, etc... While I don't go into the pool, I like that space to relax and on the ships with out the covered pool (Ruby, Emerald, Crown), when the weather is not good, everyone goes inside and the ships get really crowded. So this enclosed pool area provides a beautiful indoor area.

I prefer promenade deck for glacier days and to be able to move around. There is no promenade deck which will make the top deck more crowded. Not sure how viewing would be on that top deck anyway.

Balconies are small on Royal Princess.
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Regarding north vs south. Take the 10 day RT out of San Francisco and get them both.
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144 Posts
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Southbound. We've done it twice, first time on the recommendations of several friends. We flew in to Fairbanks a day early each time, rented a car for the day and toured Fairbanks. Visited the University of Alaska Museum of the North, it is awesome. Also ate at the Turtle Club; delicious food and local favorite. We asked for local suggestions and found everyone to be very friendly. Walmart had some of the best prices for souvenirs. The first time we did a Princess cruisetour, the second time we did one from Best Cruises and Tours out of New Jersey. Both were excellent. Princess hotel in Denali is located very centrally to the park and stores. Princess McKinley Lodge has a great view of the mountain (when she decided to appear). Make sure you get a cruisetour that included the scenic train rides and tour into Denali.
Have fun and enjoy planning!
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Joined Apr 2005
Avoid Island.

We chose Star this year because we’re going early and prefer a ship with a magrodome, which left Coral, Star or Golden. I *love* Coral but DH has this weird dislike of Island/Coral for the most ridiculous of reasons (pool configuration, Horizon Court layout, phase of the moon, I don’t know), so Coral was right out. Golden vs Star came down to timing.

I’m on Team Northbound Start because the ports and scenery improve day by day. I’m also Team B2B because it improves the odds of glorious weather when you’re in that port. My ultimate itinerary would probably be a northbound start, a few days of land touring and a Southbound on a different ship.
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Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by VibeGuy
I’m also Team B2B because it improves the odds of glorious weather when you’re in that port. My ultimate itinerary would probably be a northbound start, a few days of land touring and a Southbound on a different ship.
I agree! Even B2B on the same ship is fine also.
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Victoria, BC
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i like the coral also... except in 3 weeks i'll be doing a southbound on the island. i've been to alaska on the island when she was the same as the coral. i won't like the changes but its still a cruise, i will be traveling with a bunch of family and i have my own room. its all good.

for me the southbound works because i don't have a plane ride at the end.
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seeing the world one cruise at a time

Austin, Texas area
775 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
For the southbound cruises starting with land tours, what's the difference in starting in Anchorage/Whittier vs. Fairbanks? I've noticed that the cruise tours start in both places and seem to include some of the same lodges, etc.

We're looking at June 2020. I checked out the 2019 prices for the Connossoieur cruise tour; I don't think I can swing that price for four people. Will have to stick with a regular 3 or 4-day tour.