Are the standard Alaska port offerings too congested?

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

** Please post your recommendations ONLY in response to not start a new thread. Thanks!
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 02:32 PM.
Poll: Are the standard Alaska port offerings too congested?
Poll Results
Are the standard Alaska port offerings too congested?

Nope, they're still as splendid as ever.

As a repeat Alaska cruiser, I am getting a little tired with the same old options.

I haven't been to Alaska yet; wouldn't know.

We need new ports!

Voters: 82.  You may not vote on this poll.

13 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
We'd like to know, where do you stand? Are the marquee Alaska cruise ports too congested? Is it time for new "Campbell Rivers" to open shop?
Vote in our poll.
7,070 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
By the looks of the poll so far, it seems most people are satisfied with the status quo and that there are just as many who have never been on an Alaskan cruise.

We have been to Alaska several times and enjoyed our May 2006 trip the most because of all the snow and the uncrowded ports. This year we are doing the RT out of SF on Dawn Princess. I suspect our particular cruise is one of the least popular because it has only Tracy Arm as its glacier viewing day. I believe this is the only itinerary where this ship does not visit Skagway, but in its place we are going to ISP, and since we have not been there before and we love Tracy Arm and Sitka we are really looking forward to this trip.

I believe there will be 7 ships (various sizes) in Juneau the day we are there, so we have a car reserved and will get out of town! We always check to see how many ships are in port with us and make our shore plans accordingly to avoid the crowds if possible.
3,434 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
We went to Wrangell in 2005 onboard the Norwegian Sun - it was fantastic. Not crowded, new things to do, and the people were very nice. It's a shame that more cruise lines don't call there.

While I love Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, the most frustrating aspect of these ports is watching 4,000 people disembark and go straight into Diamonds International, or one of the umpteen jewlery stores. I'd like to see Alaska/BC ports that AREN'T allowed to have those, unless they're locally run.
1,246 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Have to say I was very disappointed in the ports (with the exception of Juneau) and glad we did an excursion in each that was outside of town. All 4 in our group commented on the # of jewelry stores and tourist stores and how much it detracted from the Alaskan experience. We all thought it was a shame and whenever we did go into a shop, we tried to find one operated by locals.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
AMA AMALYRA - 9/11/09 Europe's Heartland river cruise
GOLDEN PRINCESS - 12/29/07 Mexican Riviera
CORAL PRINCESS - 6/3/07 Alaska
NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS - 11/97 Mexican Baja

2007 Coral Alaska trip review posted here:
2007 Coral Alaska photos posted here:
2008 Alaska photos posted here:
2008 Alaska trip review posted here:
2008 review of CRUISE WEST Spirit of Columbia posted here:
2009 AMA Europe river cruise review posted here:
2009 AMA Europe river cruise photos:

107,536 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
The Alaskan ports have changed quite a bit since we first cruised there in the 80's. With all the mega ships and more ships going there, the ports are getting more congested abd there are now far too many jewelry shops. Starting to look like the Caribbean.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Cruising is a wonderful way to enjoy retirement!
Stopped counting a few years ago -- have done over 140 cruises.
24,980 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
I couldn't vote for 2 and 4 at the same time!

I love Alaska and am very disappointed in the "commercialization" that has occurred there. It just doesn't seem right to walk off the ship and see all the jewelry stores that you see in the Caribbean...

On the other hand - once you get out of the shopping areas, one is still able to see all the beauty that Alaska offers.

I would still like new ports. I looked at the Tahitian for next summer but it was overpriced IMO.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Email Me
8,371 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
None of the options on the poll stated my view. With the recent success of the Icy Strait Point development at Hoonah, there are almost certainly other communities looking at trying to become cruise ports on that model. For now there are lots of "non-standard" communities open to us by going with "non-standard" ships - ie the smaller ones - though at a much higher cost. At ISP, only having one ship per day will keep it from becoming another crowded, jewelery-shop-filled mess.

14,848 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
The ports CAN be too crowded, depending on how many ships are in port. We were the only ship in Skagway - which was great. We also spent the majority of our time on a rail/bus trip to the Yukon, so we didn't spend much time in town. There were 5 ships in Juneau, but again - we went immediately to Auke Bay for a whale watch and then to Mendenhall Glacier - which wasn't too overrun with people. Several ships were in Ketchikan, but they were pretty evenly divided between morning and afternoon arrivals. For our next Alaska cruise (and there are no plans for one at this time), I hope to visit Sitka and Icy Strait Point.

Princess and HAL have EIGHT (yes, 8!) ships each in Alaska. It obviously makes a lot of money for them. Princess also swapped one of it's medium-sized ships (Sun) for the Star for the Seattle roundtrip next year to increase capacity.
British Columbia • Canada
84 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Originally posted by Coral
I couldn't vote for 2 and 4 at the same time!

I love Alaska and am very disappointed in the "commercialization" that has occurred there. It just doesn't seem right to walk off the ship and see all the jewelry stores that you see in the Caribbean...

On the other hand - once you get out of the shopping areas, one is still able to see all the beauty that Alaska offers.

I would still like new ports. I looked at the Tahitian for next summer but it was overpriced IMO.
On our trip to Alaska this spring, we talked to workers in the jewelry stores that we had seen in Caribbean, also this spring.
I guess where the ships go, the shops and workers follow...
San Diego
5,138 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Alaskan ports are very over crowded.........check out Juneau this summer. There are 5 to 6 (and more) large ships in port..........every day.......
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Cruise History
Celebrity Constellation, Adriatic & Italy (2018)
Ruby Princess, Alaska (2018)
Viking Longship Baldur, Amsterdam to Budapest (2017)
Celebrity Summit, Round-trip Bermuda (NY) (2017)
Crown Princess, Round-trip Hawaii (LA) (2016)

Emerald Princess, Eastern Caribbean (2016)
Zuiderdam, Mediterranean Explorer (2015)
Emerald Princess, Western Caribbean (2014)

Jewel of the Seas, Southern Caribbean (2014)
Golden Princess, Round-trip Hawaii (LA) (2013)
Pacific Princess, Mediterranean & Adriatic (2012)
Pacific Princess, Mediterranean Collection (2012)
Island Princess, Pacific Coastal (2012)
Sapphire Princess, LA / Hawaii / Samoa / Tahiti / LA (2011)
Golden Princess, Round-trip Hawaii (LA) (2011)
Crown Princess, Greek Isles / Med + Italy (2010)
Sapphire Princess, Mexico (LA) (2010)
Royal Princess, Mediterranean + Italy (2009)
Sapphire Princess, Australia / NZ + Fiji (2007)
Golden Princess, British Isles + Scotland (2006)
Dawn Princess, Mexico (SF) (2006)
Grand Princess, Mediterranean + Italy (2005)
Tahitian Princess, Cook Island (2005)
Tahitian Princess, Marquesas Island (2005)
Zenith, Western Caribbean (2004)
Ryndam, Mexico, (2003)
Grand Princess, Eastern Caribbean (2003)
Grand Princess, Western Caribbean (2003)
Dawn Princess, San Diego to Hawaii (2003)
Dawn Princess, Tahiti to Hawaii (2002)
Dawn Princess, Hawaii to Tahiti (2002)
Royal Princess, Panama Canal (2002)
Ocean Princess, Southern Caribbean (2001)
Dawn Princess, Mexico (1991)
Golden Odyssey, Black Sea / Med (1990)
Dawn Princess, Mediterranean (1989)
Fair Sky, Alaska (1984)
Fair Sea, Panama Canal (1983)
South Jordan, UT
5,214 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
I also would have liked to have voted for both 2 and 4, but since I couldn't, I voted for 2. We've only been to Alaska twice. As much as I love it, I do think that it would be nice if there were some different itineraries offered with some new ports.

The first time we went, we did have the experience of stopping at Wrangell. I'd like to see the cruise lines pick that port back up, as it was nice to get a feel for how Alaskan towns looks before the cruise lines descend and bring in all the jewelry stores. Not much shopping available there, which suited me just fine!

I don't mind at all stopping in Juneau, as I could happily do a whale watching tour each cruise. I enjoyed the towns of both Ketchikan and Skagway twice, but if they're going to be on my itinerary next time, I'm hoping there will be some new excursions available.

I've been to both Sawyer Glacier and Glacier Bay, so I think next time I'm going to have to try to find an itinerary that stops at Hubbard Glacier. I'd also like to find a cruise which includes stops at College Fjord, so I don't think I've exhausted the possibilities yet!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
NCL Pearl 05/15 (Alaska)
NCL Jewel 05/12 (Alaska)
NCL Star 09/09 (Pacific Coastal repositioning)
Golden Princess 09/09 (one night from Seattle to Vancouver)
NCL Dawn 09/08 (Canada/New England)
NCL Pearl 05/07 (Alaska)
NCL Jewel 11/06 (Eastern Caribbean)
NCL Sea 05/05 (Western Caribbean)
NCL Sun 06/04 (Alaska)
NCL Sea 01/04 (Western Caribbean)

Roll call for 5/17 sailing

Ute_fan's email
14,848 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
If you find the port towns are too crowded for your liking, try doing just a land trip. On our post-cruise land trip, we were in some places that were NOT visited by a ton of tourists. It takes a good deal of effort and/or money to get to McCarthy/Kennicott in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park - but it was worth it. We were also in Valdez, Homer, and Seward. Seward can be crowded, especially on days when ships are in port, and the hotel prices reflect that a lot of cruisers spend time there before or after their cruise. Homer Spit can be teeming with people (especially in RV's) who want to fish - but lodging there is considerably less expensive than in Seward. It also takes more effort to get to Homer than it does to get to Seward. We didn't go to Denali, but the highways we took (Glenn and Richardson) were pretty empty. Even the Seward and Sterling highways were much less busy than I expected, and we were driving there on the weekend.