Alaska cruise-northbound or southbound? Ships to avoid?

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#21
2,037 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by Coral
I agree! Even B2B on the same ship is fine also.
Southeast Alaska and the Yukon have their charms, to be sure, but Denali and the interior are their own awesome places and merit a few days. With Princess having a ship in Whittier every three or four days, you can really customize how long you’re on land. I think it’s a massively underappreciated itinerary option for people who can spare the time away.
#22
Las Vegas
11,740 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
You go to AK for the itinerary and not the ship so as long as the ship gets you to the ports you want for the times you want, the ship is almost irrelevant. That said, I prefer small ships and the smaller the better. Our best AK cruise was on a ship that held 50 passengers. No on board amenities but we got into places that the bigger ships could not get into and we also had some flexibility on where we stopped to at look at stuff. For example, at one place the captain was told that not far from where we were, there was a very rare spirit bear on the beach. We headed over and parked for a while and watched the bear. Doubt that this would have happened on one of those oversized monstrosities that most people do AK on.

DON
#23
Northern California
7,140 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
Originally posted by Coral
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.
I see. We are booked on the Royal next year as the timing worked best with our schedule; I guess we will find out if the ship works for us. One of the nicest promenade decks we have experienced is HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. We must have spent the entire cruise on that deck taking in all the scenery --- never crowded, great walking deck and plenty of places to sit.


Thanks for the feedback.
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#25
Humble, Texas
2,095 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
The thing about cruisetours and southbound is that the land portion, even though Princess handles it beautifully, is more hectic. Best to rest up on the cruise portion. We did a cruisetour northbound, so we speak from experience.
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#26
Cleveland
443 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Originally posted by Kellie in Texas
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.
If you start in Fairbanks, you are traveling in a straight line on the land part. Fairbanks to Denali to McKinley to the ship.
If you start in Anchorage you are traveling in a circle and have a very long transport by bus or train between Denali and Anchorage/Whittier either at the beginning or the end of the land tour, depending on which tour you choose.
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#27
8 Posts
Joined Nov 2017
We were on the Coral Princess northbound last July, followed by a four-day land tour. We absolutely loved the itinerary! As several have already mentioned, the scenery just gets more spectacular the further north you go. And with Denali as the climax, it’s hard to find fault with that!

You can’t go wrong with either itinerary, though—so schedule according to what works best for your flight schedule. The northbound cruises are a little LESS expensive than southbound, so you may want to check into that aspect, as well.
#28
26,360 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by Italy52
I see. We are booked on the Royal next year as the timing worked best with our schedule; I guess we will find out if the ship works for us. One of the nicest promenade decks we have experienced is HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. We must have spent the entire cruise on that deck taking in all the scenery --- never crowded, great walking deck and plenty of places to sit.
I hope you have a great trip on the Millennium this summer.
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#29
Northern California
7,140 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
Originally posted by Coral
I hope you have a great trip on the Millennium this summer.
Thanks, Coral. Are you cruising to Alaska this year?
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#30
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
43 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Absolutely southbound for sure. Some of the most beautiful cruising is done on the southbound in daylight hours. Plus, the timing into Glacier bay is better as it isn't a 6am arrival on the southbound and a 6pm (dinner time for most) departure. Sure College Fjord on the first day after embarkation is early but you have a complete day at sea after that so can go and have a nap while out in the Gulf. The final day before arrival into Vancouver is all inside passage, which you miss 90% of this on the northbound as it is dark. The other positive of the southbound is the weather and seas can be rough after departing Ketchikan and out in open waters. On the south this is at night while you sleep, on the north this is from early morning through till late evening where it can be rough.
#31
26,360 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by Italy52
Thanks, Coral. Are you cruising to Alaska this year?
I was. I had a B2B on the Coral Princess booked but in January I switched to Norway. It was cheaper - go figure. In the end, Norway will be more expensive as tours are more expensive there but it will be a different type of fjord trip for me.
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#32
Northern California
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Joined Oct 2002
Originally posted by Coral
I was. I had a B2B on the Coral Princess booked but in January I switched to Norway. It was cheaper - go figure. In the end, Norway will be more expensive as tours are more expensive there but it will be a different type of fjord trip for me.
Your "revised" cruise plans sound wonderful. Have a fabulous time --- post a few comments when you return.
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#33
26,360 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by Italy52
Your "revised" cruise plans sound wonderful. Have a fabulous time --- post a few comments when you return.
I hope so! Same as when I travel to Alaska, my prayers for a dry trip are in existence for Norway!

I struggled on finding some info on excursions so I hope to do an extensive review when I return.
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#34
11 Posts
Joined Oct 2017
Originally posted by Italy52
I see. We are booked on the Royal next year as the timing worked best with our schedule; I guess we will find out if the ship works for us. One of the nicest promenade decks we have experienced is HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. We must have spent the entire cruise on that deck taking in all the scenery --- never crowded, great walking deck and plenty of places to sit.


Thanks for the feedback.
We are also booked on the Royal next year and I can't wait!!!
#35
2,037 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by Coral
I was. I had a B2B on the Coral Princess booked but in January I switched to Norway. It was cheaper - go figure. In the end, Norway will be more expensive as tours are more expensive there but it will be a different type of fjord trip for me.
Consider renting a car for scenic touring while you’re in port. After all, you know the old slogan - have you driven a fjord lately?
#36
26,360 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by VibeGuy
Consider renting a car for scenic touring while you’re in port. After all, you know the old slogan - have you driven a fjord lately?
Sort of difficult on the fjord boat tours
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#37
Northern California
7,140 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
Originally posted by Coral
I hope so! Same as when I travel to Alaska, my prayers for a dry trip are in existence for Norway!

I struggled on finding some info on excursions so I hope to do an extensive review when I return.
Looking forward to your review!
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#38
Northern California
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Joined Oct 2002
Originally posted by Jmcdonald85
We are also booked on the Royal next year and I can't wait!!!
Waiting is the hard part --- Alaska is so worth it!
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#39
Pennsylvania
131 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
We're going on our third Alaska cruise next June. This time with our whole family (9 of us) including the grandchildren. We are limited by their time schedule so have chosen to do a northbound one week cruise from Vancouver. We've done two southbound cruisetours and loved them. Important part of this cruise is just being together as a family and exposing the grands to the wonders of cruising and of course the beauty and vastness of Alaska.
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