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HAL brings back the real 14-day cruise


dheianevans

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Yay! Glad to see HAL's Amsterdam is bringing back true 14 day Alaska cruises in 2014 instead of just stitching together two 7 days with the same ports.

 

Honestly, that is the undisputed best IT for me as of last year and I was one of those clamoring for its reinstatement when HAL took it out last year.

 

But now no longer indisputable, as the competition has came up with more IT choices this year. the only thing going for it is there is no repeating ports.

 

Next year, the best 14 day Alaska IT for me, if you include the price or value for money, is NCL's 14 day B2B from Vancouver.

 

Let me explain.

 

First price wise, I managed to book an inside for NCL's 14 day B2B for only $865 per person, as I booked it early this year the moment cruise ship's released their 2014 sailings. As for HAL, the cheapest I can find that time was $1,700 and it is now up to $2,499 per person. That is a huge price difference if you consider the total price of the stateroom.

 

Second, HAL's 14 day departs from Seattle, if you read all the reviews here, lots of members prefer a Vancouver departure for several reasons. NLC departs from Vancouver.

 

Third, HAL has only 2 scenic cruising days, 1 Tracy Arm and 1 Hubbard. the major drawback is Glacier Bay was omitted which is the most recommended. Quite surprising for HAL has it has one of the most rights to enter Glacier Bay. In contrast, NCL 14 day B2B has 4 scenic cruising days, aside from the most recommended 1 day Glacier Bay, it has 1 day Tracy Arm and 2 days Hubbard.

 

As mentioned, the only thing going for HAL 14 day is more ports. But NCL is still not bad as aside from visiting Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan twice, it has 1 day at Icy Strait and 1 day at Whittier which you can go to Anchorage.

 

But visiting a port twice has its pros, there is so much to do in Alaska and visiting a port twice will give you a lot of flexibility and options.

 

 

Another contender is Princess 14 days Voyage of the Glaciers, but it is pricey as well and price doesn't drop until the last minute.

 

So for me, due to the price alone, and a very decent IT from Vancouver that includes Glacier Bay, NCL now has the best 14 day in the market right now.

 

The huge money you can save from the cruise fare can be used for better shore excursions or extra amenities inside the ship

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I wouldn't waste the Whittier turnaround day on Anchorage -- you'll spend more time going and coming back than you will in Anchorage.

 

Instead, I would take a Prince William Sound glacier cruise with either Major Marine or Phillips. We really enjoyed MM's Blackstone cruise, which was able to get really close to the glacier faces and sat serenely waiting for multiple calvings.

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I'm a huge an of HAL's 14 day itinerary - have sailed it twice (May 2010, Aug. 2011) and am booked on the May 18th sailing. The most important thing going for it IS the itinerary and no repeat ports - atleast in my opinion. On our 2010 sailing, we did sail east of Vancouver Island on the way north, so we did get to experience the amazing scenery. Also in 2010, we went to Glacier Bay and Hubbard, and to Skagway instead of ISP. In 2011, this cruise again went east of Vancouver Island, but switched out Skagway for ISP added longer port times to Kodiak and Sitka, and switched out GB for Tracy Arm. So I've been fortunate enough to experience several different sailing routes and ports on this very same itinerary since its inception

 

None of the 7 day cruises on the mainstream lines go to Homer, Kodiak and right up Cook Inlet to Anchorage itself - so it wouldn't be a benefit for me to do a B2B. Even on a different cruiseline, each way wouldn't give me these three specific ports. Personally, I want a true 14 day sailing without ANY repeat ports, that is what is important to me and why I keep going back to this itinerary. Up until the end of 2009, Princess did indeed do a true 14 day itinerary - I know because we had hoped to book it, but dang it, it disappeared:o. Then HAL came up with this one, and we were on it like white on rice. I wish other mainstream cruiselines WOULD give HAL a run for their money by offering a true 14 day sailing to Alaska, including some other little visited ports - I'd sure consider it and I'm sure others would as well. There is definitely a market for it for those who frequent AK and want to visit different ports.

 

In fact, by visiting Homer twice on HAL's 14 day itinerary, we knew we wanted more. That led to our 17 day trip to Alaska this past May 30th - land only, spent 3 nights in Denali, 2 nights in the Matsu Valley, and a week in a rental house on the shores of Kachmak Bay - sheer heaven! Even a week wasn't long enough in the Homer area:D. Would love trying spending some extended time on Kodiak Island as well. So the benefits of these little visited ports for us was to give us a taste of other parts of Alaska that we knew we wanted more of.

 

Certainly different strokes for different folks, and there are plenty who will disagree, but for me, right now, only a true 14 day itinerary will do if I'm investing in an Alaskan cruise of longer than 7 days.

 

OP - if you can swing it, I'd highly recommend booking this 14 day cruise, there are only 4 sailings in 2014 so you're dates would be limited. Come join us on May 18th, we're a fun bunch;).

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I wouldn't waste the Whittier turnaround day on Anchorage -- you'll spend more time going and coming back than you will in Anchorage.

 

Instead, I would take a Prince William Sound glacier cruise with either Major Marine or Phillips. We really enjoyed MM's Blackstone cruise, which was able to get really close to the glacier faces and sat serenely waiting for multiple calvings.

 

Thanks for the tip.. but the question is how different Prince William Sound glacier cruise compared to Tracy Arm and Glacier Explorer offered by Allen Marine Tours, or cruising Glacier Bay and having 2 days in Hubbard?

 

I already have those in 14 day NCL, isn't in too much Glacier viewings in a span of 2 weeks, they will all eventually look the same.

 

Anchorage, though far from Whittier, provides a change of scenery, a break from Glacier viewing...

 

Unless Prince William Sound has something different to offer and more spectacular than Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm or Hubbard.. still learning towards Anchorage... as I have only one day here compared to 2 days on other ports so can't do both.

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Thanks for the tip.. but the question is how different Prince William Sound glacier cruise compared to Tracy Arm and Glacier Explorer offered by Allen Marine Tours, or cruising Glacier Bay and having 2 days in Hubbard?

 

I already have those in 14 day NCL, isn't in too much Glacier viewings in a span of 2 weeks, they will all eventually look the same.

 

Anchorage, though far from Whittier, provides a change of scenery, a break from Glacier viewing...

 

Unless Prince William Sound has something different to offer and more spectacular than Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm or Hubbard.. still learning towards Anchorage... as I have only one day here compared to 2 days on other ports so can't do both.

 

Just from your descriptive comments, then all that glacier viewing may not be of interest to you? But for myself and others, I NEVER tire of glacier viewing, every single trip is different and something I enjoy and certainly never look the "same". :) Every time I am in Whittier, I am on a boat tour. Depends on each person, what their preferences may be.

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Just from your descriptive comments, then all that glacier viewing may not be of interest to you? But for myself and others, I NEVER tire of glacier viewing, every single trip is different and something I enjoy and certainly never look the "same". :) Every time I am in Whittier, I am on a boat tour. Depends on each person, what their preferences may be.

 

Not at all, the problem is I have only one day. and I'm curious how Anchorage city looks like. How I wish I have 2 days in Whittier similar to 2 days in Ju, Skag, and Ket.

 

But if I decided to skip anchorage, I still have the problem to choose between Major Marine or Phillips and I have read the reviews, both have pros and cons.

 

Phillips 26glaciers seems to cover more distance since they use a faster boat but less time for each glaciers, but Major Marine gets you really close to the glaciers and has better food.

 

If I skip anchorage then I'm leaning towards Phillips coz College Fjord in included, something only Princess cruises has but NCL don't. There's one spot in the Fjord that you will be surrounded by Glaciers. So if i took that, together with Tracy Arm and Glacier explorer.. I pretty much cover all the popular glacier cruise spots of Alaska in this 14 day cruise: Glacier Bay, Hubbard, Tracy Arm, and College Fjord.

 

I think that will be the best Alaska cruise IT, but missing a visit to Anchorage which is one of my bucket list.

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Phillips 26glaciers seems to cover more distance since they use a faster boat but less time for each glaciers, but Major Marine gets you really close to the glaciers and has better food.

 

t.

 

Just one quick comment. You do not take these trips for the food but for the stuff you see. You can eat food anywhere.

 

DON

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I think that will be the best Alaska cruise IT, but missing a visit to Anchorage which is one of my bucket list.

 

You did plan a great trip for yourself. Now, if cities are really your thing and you are dying to see Anchorage, then just do it. My DH and I are not into cities. For us, vacations are primarily scenic. We visited Anchorage, but the city itself did not leave any great impression on us. There are plenty of great things to see outside of Anchorage, but in terms of the city itself, I am not sure what it is that is attracting you to it. However, like I said, if it is of great interest, then make it happen. For us the PWS tour was far more enjoyable to us than Anchorage. However, you seem to have different interests than I do.

 

I agree with Don, that I would not consider food when choosing an excursion. Pick the excursion that will provide you with what you want to see.

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Thanks after reading the responses, then I might do 26glaciers.

 

I am more for scenic also, regarding Anchorage, my reasons are really shallow: it more on just out of curiosity of "what's a big city doing in a middle of the great Alaskan wilderness" and just for the sake of "been there" thing.

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[R]egarding Anchorage, my reasons are really shallow: it more on just out of curiosity of "what's a big city doing in a middle of the great Alaskan wilderness" and just for the sake of "been there" thing.

 

It's not a big city, and there isn't really very much to do there.

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