Need advice for an Alaskan Cruise on Princess

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#1
Shalimar Florida
200 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
This my first post on this board and I need advice on an an Alaskan cruise for late May or early Jun 2019. I would like to take my family of four (son and daughter in their 20's) on a 7-day cruise leaving out of Seattle that goes through Glacier Bay. We have cruised the Caribbean on Carnival twice, RCI once and Disney twice. All were great cruises. We don't drink, smoke, pay extra for dining, use casinos, spas or do shore excursions (we just walk around the ports). We like to go to all of the shows and do any not for fee activities except maybe pay for Bingo. We don't like to dress up above causal. I'll wear a coat, if I must, but no tie.

It looks like the Ruby Princess may be the only ship that does Glacier Bay and everything I've read says that this is the one place that you shouldn't miss on an Alaskan cruise. We will book a basic balcony room. I would love to here your thoughts and advice as to whether Princess would be a good fit for my family. The other options that I'm considering are Norwegian and Celebrity. Holland America sounds like it's too formal and a much older crowd. I appreciate any seasoned cruisers advice.
#2
Sacramento
326 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
Princess and HAL are your best choices to get in to Glacier Bay. Princess has better entertainment, HAL has better food. Princess you can wear a jacket with no tie on formal night and HAL doesn't do formal night any more. The passengers are a little older on HAL but they offer a great cruise with great service so you would enjoy both in my opinion.
#3
Florida
625 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Originally posted by cruisefamilyforever
This my first post on this board and I need advice on an an Alaskan cruise for late May or early Jun 2019. I would like to take my family of four (son and daughter in their 20's) on a 7-day cruise leaving out of Seattle that goes through Glacier Bay. We have cruised the Caribbean on Carnival twice, RCI once and Disney twice. All were great cruises. We don't drink, smoke, pay extra for dining, use casinos, spas or do shore excursions (we just walk around the ports). We like to go to all of the shows and do any not for fee activities except maybe pay for Bingo. We don't like to dress up above causal. I'll wear a coat, if I must, but no tie.

It looks like the Ruby Princess may be the only ship that does Glacier Bay and everything I've read says that this is the one place that you shouldn't miss on an Alaskan cruise. We will book a basic balcony room. I would love to here your thoughts and advice as to whether Princess would be a good fit for my family. The other options that I'm considering are Norwegian and Celebrity. Holland America sounds like it's too formal and a much older crowd. I appreciate any seasoned cruisers advice.
If you can swing the price increase, or catch a deal - you might want to consider a deluxe balcony room for the extra space and sofa - can't even imagine being in a cabin with 4 people
#4
1,402 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
I think, in most cases, I would much prefer a departure from Vancouver.
These sail within the inside passage. I believe this should make for calmer and more scenic sailing.

Do not rule out a Vancouver departure and/or one way North or South bound cruise too quickly!

IMHO, for an Alaska cruise one really needs to take excursions and 'get out there' to experience Alaska.
#5
St. Lucia, West Indies
3,482 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by voljeep
If you can swing the price increase, or catch a deal - you might want to consider a deluxe balcony room for the extra space and sofa - can't even imagine being in a cabin with 4 people
Ruby Princess doesn't have Deluxe Balcony cabins with the sofa. That cabin category is only on Royal class ships. Ruby does have Mini-suites, which would be better for four adults over a balcony cabin as they have larger bathroom, somewhat separated sitting area with largish sofa, second TV, etc. Or two balcony cabins side by side.
#6
Florida
625 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Originally posted by Wishing on a star
I think, in most cases, I would much prefer a departure from Vancouver.
These sail within the inside passage. I believe this should make for calmer and more scenic sailing.

Do not rule out a Vancouver departure and/or one way North or South bound cruise too quickly!

IMHO, for an Alaska cruise one really needs to take excursions and 'get out there' to experience Alaska.
We would do the White Pass Railroad again - maybe even the longer trip
#8
Clifton, NJ
2,925 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
If you choose to do no excursions, your scenery opportunities will primarily be limited to Glacier Bay, which is obviously spectacular scenery, and whatever you might see from the ship or just walking around town. For me, Alaska is primarily about the scenery, but you need to get out of town to see it. Also, leaving from Seattle will result in more open ocean cruising and less closer in viewing than would be offered by an inside passage cruise to or from Vancouver.

There's no need to book Princess excursions in Alaska. There are plenty of great operators where you can book directly and don't need to put a group together. However, even the private options are pricey in Alaska.

Having said all that, yes I highly recommend Princess for Alaska, they do a great job.
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#9
Richmond, Virginia
2,589 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Nothing wrong with a basic balcony room but it will be tight quarters with 4 adults. Might want to consider a balcony room with an Interior right across the hallway. If all you intend to do is walk around the various ports on the cruise then you will missing so much that Alaska is famous for. Having lived in Alaska and taken two cruises I feel I would have missed so much by only walking around town. But after all it is your choice on what you do and see. Have a great cruise whichever way you decide.
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#10
Washington
441 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
We have been to Alaska 4 times and LOVE it! Three times were on Princess. One on Celebrity.
1- Yes, consider a balcony with an interior across the hall. This worked
great with our two grown daughters.
2- Also, the Celebrity itinerary included Hubbard Glacier which was just as impressive as Glacier Bay.

We were on HAL once and do not care for it at all. (Mexican Riviera)

As has been said, PLEASE get out there in the ports! So much to see and do and there are many
private shore excursions that are also fabulous!!!
#11
Vancouver, WA
642 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by cruisefamilyforever
This my first post on this board and I need advice on an an Alaskan cruise for late May or early Jun 2019. I would like to take my family of four (son and daughter in their 20's) on a 7-day cruise leaving out of Seattle that goes through Glacier Bay. We have cruised the Caribbean on Carnival twice, RCI once and Disney twice. All were great cruises. We don't drink, smoke, pay extra for dining, use casinos, spas or do shore excursions (we just walk around the ports). We like to go to all of the shows and do any not for fee activities except maybe pay for Bingo. We don't like to dress up above causal. I'll wear a coat, if I must, but no tie.

It looks like the Ruby Princess may be the only ship that does Glacier Bay and everything I've read says that this is the one place that you shouldn't miss on an Alaskan cruise. We will book a basic balcony room. I would love to here your thoughts and advice as to whether Princess would be a good fit for my family. The other options that I'm considering are Norwegian and Celebrity. Holland America sounds like it's too formal and a much older crowd. I appreciate any seasoned cruisers advice.
I did the same cruise on the Crown Princess, and they did a fantastic job with the "North to Alaska" program. I think Ketchikan is very walkable, and there are some places you can easily walk in Juneau. You might enjoy the tram up Mt. Roberts if the weather is nice. Skagway is a good port for an excursion. We booked online through Frontier Excursions, and had a great time.
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#13
704 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
I have written
to you on the Norwegian board about this topic.
Another thought... Princess usually puts Alaskan cruises on sale.
You can book a cruise when you find one that you would like ,then watch for price drops on the Princess web site. If there is a reduction in the fare,Princess will honor the reduced price.
This may help with the affordability of a cruise for you and your family.
#14
103 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
I have taken both Celebrity and Princess to Alaska. Celebrity lost its license to do Glacier Bay, so it is not in the running these days.

I would get one balcony and one inside cabin. Let the kids come spend time on your balcony, if they get tired of being out on deck.

I agree that the White Pass Railway is an excursion worth taking. Take the cheapest one if you want, but I do recommend that you do it. For me, that is the only "must do" excursion.

There are some other excursions that I felt were well worth the cost. Raptors, totem carving, folkloric dance, ... -- these are relatively reasonably priced and they add to the experience of Alaska.

Some people swear on the various flight excursions, but they are expensive. I do not need to take a helicopter or plane to a glacier just to be on a glacier. Kayaking up to the face of the Mendenhall Glacier would be more interesting to me (and is much less expensive).

I had mushed a team of sled dogs decades ago in Laconia, New Hampshire, and I needed to give my wife a try at this, so we did a dog sled excursion on our last Alaska cruise. Expensive, but it was bringing back part of my childhood experiences, and as such was well worth it for me.

Enjoy Alaska!
#15
Shalimar Florida
200 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by MJSailors
I have written
to you on the Norwegian board about this topic.
Another thought... Princess usually puts Alaskan cruises on sale.
You can book a cruise when you find one that you would like ,then watch for price drops on the Princess web site. If there is a reduction in the fare,Princess will honor the reduced price.
This may help with the affordability of a cruise for you and your family.
Money is not really an issue. I had a $12k cruise booked on the Disney Fantasy over Christmas and my wife decided to change it to another trip to Disney World trip instead. The reason we don't do excursions is my daughter has severe IBS and being near a bathroom is a must. My wife and daughter have decided they will only go on one more cruise because of their health, so I said we are going to Alaska. I want to cruise on a line we haven't been on before. The primary purpose is to see glaciers from the ship. Also, we have always shared a single cabin as a family, it works out fine for us. We are only in the room to sleep.
#16
outside of Anchorage
1,836 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
I live in Alaska, and work for Visit Anchorage.....I truly believe that Princess has the best presence in Alaska. They bring a lot of Alaskans on the ship in different ports...Libby Riddles in Juneau (She was the first woman to win Iditarod), Ryan Redington and his puppies on in Skagway. They have a naturalist on the ship...and more of them in Glacier Bay...who give lectures and tells you what you are seeing...If this is your only chance to see Alaska....I would go with Princess. I have been on most of the ships...not Disney, and I really think that Princess has the best presence up here. BTW, the ranger walks in Skagway are also free, and a lot of fun. They also have free talks about the gold trail every summer daily. These are very small towns that you are visiting. Not sure if you could do any of the White Pass RR but if you book through the ship, you board right from where the ship docks.
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#17
Land of Bad Comedy
3,189 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Cheap tours
Skagway: Tour the town, you can burn multiple hours if you try in this tiny town.
Skagway: Check out hiking in the area as there are many hike starting right from Skagway
Ketchikan: town
Ketchikan: Hike to fish hatchery and park
Ketchikan: Funicular up to Cape Fox Bar for a drink or two
Juneau: City Bus to Brewery, Mendenhall Glacier
Juneau: Tour the State Capital,
Juneau: Downtown history tour around

And a bunch more that I could come up with if the law required.
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#18
Land of Bad Comedy
3,189 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Your Casual desires make NCL a better choice, but the nickel and diming on NCL might kill you. Princess allows for a total casual cruise by eating in the buffet on formal nights and wearing a button down shirt/polo and pants on other nights. As Phil Collins sang: No Jacket Required. But in Alaska you will need a jacket/sweater or two anyway, so why not make on of the jackets a sports coat/sweater.
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#19
1,402 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
Thanks for the additional info! That does help.
I would still consider a departure other than Seattle.
And, if being on, and close-to, the ship is important, then you will want an itinerary that offers the most sight-seeing and glacier viewing from onboard. We cruised SouthBound, late May, and were able to enjoy a pre-cruise "36 Glacier" tour of Prince William Sound and College Fjord. We were able to get close enough to enjoy Hubbard Glacier. And, of course Glacier Bay.

I believe that some Northbound itineraries might offer the chance to do a boat excursion of Tracy Arm Fjord, on the way to Juneau.

If some of your party are up for more sight-seeing, I do not know if it would be considered for you to leave the ladies onboard, and rejoin them later? But, yes, some of the most wonderful sightseeing is when you do leave the ship.

If money is not a huge factor, I would def. go with a second, ocean-view or inside cabin.
I know for me, in the end, it would be well worth it. Just for the additional bathrooom!!!! : )

Enjoy!!!!
#20
Raleigh, N.C.
12,300 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
I'd say a balcony isn't a must for Alaska. We enjoyed having one on our third cruise, but we still had great views of the glaciers from the public areas on our first two cruises. The first two cruises were round-trip from Seattle that went to Tracy Arm instead of Glacier Bay. I'm glad we finally got to see Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay when we did a southbound cruise. We were lucky to get upgraded to the cabin with a balcony on that cruise. Otherwise, we would have been out on the public decks like we were on the previous cruises.

We did one or two excursions per cruise. In other ports, we did the things that did not cost a lot of money. Our first time in Juneau, we toured the State Capitol, State Museum, and took the bus to Mendenhall Glacier. It was a dreary day, and we did not hike very far. But it was still interesting. On our second cruise, we took the tram up to the top of Mount Roberts. It was a clear day. On our third cruise, I booked an independent kayaking excursion in Mendenhall Lake.

In Ketchikan, we took a snorkeling excursion the first cruise; did kayaking excursion the second; and took the public bus to Totem Bight State Park the third.

In Skagway, I booked an independent kayaking excursion in Haines the first cruise. We rented a car to drive to Emerald Lake on the second cruise. That was a great experience--being able to stop whenever and wherever we wanted. The third cruise we hiked to the Gold Rush cemetery and Lower Reid Falls, then to the Jewell Gardens.