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Cruisetour questions


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For our 20th anniversary in 2016 my wife and I thinking of taking another Alaskan cruise, with about a week spent in Seattle pre-cruise, but we're curious about the Cruisetours that Celebrity offers. Who here has taken one? What is the overall experience like? In your opinion, did you feel it was worth added cost to the cruise? And, finally, what is actually offered with one? The website is noticeably slim on details...

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I was wondering the same thing looking at the website today. Frankly I think Holland America and Princess are more established in Alaska, and offer better tour prices (especially after final payment date). I'm glad we're doing our first Alaskan cruise on Celebrity, but will probably be switching to HAL next.

 

Make sure to check out Pike's Place Market in Seattle, and Leavenworth is neat if you are renting a car. ;)

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Originally, we were only looking at HAL or Princess to Alaska. But, about 1 month ago we booked a 5 night cruisetour and 7 night southbound cruise in Alaska on Celebrity.

 

We liked this tour because it gives you 2 nights in Denali and it spends a night in Aleyska, a hotel I really wanted to see. Also, the price for Concierge was a lot less than Princess. Didn't care for their land offerings. And, the celebrity cruise gives us an extra port!

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we've been on two cruisetours with Celebrity -- 4 night Alaska land tour prior to cruise and the Paris/London land tour prior to the British Isles cruise. We loved both and were very pleased with the tour guides and hotel selections. They are expensive and if you like to do all the planning yourself, cruisetours aren't for you but we liked that someone else did all the planning. One thing that we also appreciated was the amount of free time that is built in to the tours giving you a chance to do some sightseeing on your own.

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In order to fulfill a 35 year promise to my DW we took a northbound cruise-tour out of Vancouver on the Millennium. The land tour portion was 5 days. But we were on the infamous August trip at got caught in Ketchikan. So our cruise essentially stopped after our second full day. While this wasn’t good it wasn’t all bad either. We had electricity and toilets that flushed. Everything on the ship functioned as it should and as long as you stayed off deck 3, where the transfers were being handled, life on board was good. Another plus was that we got to see more of Ketchikan than you could see in one day. Let me address Celebrity’s compensation to us first and then I’ll address the land tour portion.

Before I start let me say that this was our experience and compensation. Others may have a completely different experience and I certainly don’t wish to open old wounds for those that had a terrible time. We received a full refund for the price of our cruise, minus taxes and port fees in Ketchikan. We were refunded the gratuities that were not used because the cruise was cut short. OBC’s were not refunded. Additional expenses were refunded as long as you provided a receipt. I understand that some folks also received $75 per diem, but we didn’t take advantage of this which I’ll explain later. We were given a voucher, in the mail, that could be applied to a future cruise. We used this voucher this past February for a Western Caribbean cruise and Celebrity added an additional $350 OBC. Something you need to know if it wasn’t explained was that the cruise portion of the cruise-tour is discounted in order to sell the land tour portion. So you are paying less for your cruise then someone that is on a cruise only trip. At least this is how I understand the way it was explained to me.

When time came to evacuate the ship the cruise only passengers were scattered to the winds with their flights. There are several long threads from individuals detailing their stories. On the other hand the folks on the cruise-tour were treated much differently to my experience. We were some of the last to be evacuated from the ship. We were flown, by chartered air, to Anchorage and from there bussed down along Turnagain (pronounced Turn-again) to the Alayaska hotel. Our tour group would spend two nights at the Alayaska and some other tours would spend an extra night or two. After the first night we were bussed down to Seward for the official start of the land portion of the cruise-tour. We, DW and I, actually enjoyed the drive down as the tour guide gave a running commentary of what we were seeing. On the negative side this drive would cost us about 2 hours of sightseeing time in Seward so we were a bit rushed.

The moment we rolled into Seward the weather cleared and it was postcard like almost the rest of the trip. The tour of Resurrection Bay was spectacular and would set the tone for the rest of the trip. We received lunch – our last “free” meal of the tour. After the bay tour we were taken to the Marine Aquatic Center (I think that what it was called) but only got a little over an hour there which was too little time in my opinion. Then on the dinner train back to the Alayaska. The meal was good but a bit on the expensive side but the trip, to quote Teddy Roosevelt, bankrupts the English language, heck, I’ll even throw in the American language too. Another night at the Alayaska, a trip up the mountain, and then the bus to Anchorage. I enjoyed the museum in Anchorage but that’s about it. I know others have had different experiences but for us our time was short. Imagine a small city with limited facilities and forty-eleven thousand tourists and to me that’s Anchorage. Some things had changed since I was there 30 years ago, like the airport, but to my mind not much else.

Next we were off to Denali and the McKinley Lodge for two nights. Here we took a walking tour from the visitors center that was just under a couple miles. The ranger was very entertaining and answered every question asked. And if he didn’t know the answer he was convincing enough in his story so that you believe what he said. We saw the husky puppy farm which changed my whole outlook on how these dogs are trained and socialized. We took the tour into the park about 65 miles or so. Remember to take a lunch. So folks took the white water rafting trip and just loved it. I found myself wanting to spend another day just to take this trip. Make sure to leave a wakeup call with the front desk in case of the Northern Lights. Sometimes they only last for a few moments and I regret not seeing them on this trip. Then off to Fairbanks.

We arrived in Fairbanks right at lunch. The number of tourists was down to twenty-eleven thousand here, but the city is only a third the size of Anchorage. We went to Gold Dredge #8 and panned for gold. We wound up getting a whole $32 worth of gold. Which we promptly spent $64 for a locket to put it in, we are such suckers. We were then returned to our hotel and this was the official end of our land tour. We still had a whole day to kill the next day as we were taking the redeye back to Minneapolis. We rented a car and drove over to the University of Alaska and their museum. This truly is a can’t miss and one of many highlights of trip. We then drove out to China Hot Springs and spent some time. This is a long beautiful drive with several places to pull off and explore.

One note of the price of food and other items. You can expect to pay anywhere between 20-50% more for just about everything. Be prepared.

So would I do it again? Alaska is a beautiful place and yes, I’d go again, maybe on our own next time. But this is a big big world and you can find beauty anywhere if you look deep and hard enough.

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We took the cruise tour to Machu Picchu after Galapagos. Well, we intended to. Machu Picchu actually shut one week before we traveled due to mud slides knocking out the train line. We were offered the opportunity to cancel or take an alternative trip to the Nazca lines which we did. The entire trip was beyond our expectations. We were treated like royalty and stayed at hotels that blew my mind. I have no idea if this is how all cruise tours are, but would be more than willing to take another.

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