Jump to content

Alaska back to back ...advice please.


Recommended Posts

We live in Wales. UK.

We are thinking of doing an Alaska cruise next August and as the airfare is over

£ 1200 we would like to make the most of the trip.

Is there any advantage in doing a back to back cruise from Vancouver to Steward or would we be better doing 7 days from Seattle. I have tried to read lots of posts but can't seem to find any references to BTB cruises.

 

Additionally we have wondered about flying from Seattle to San Francisco instead of BTB.

 

Basically We are asking is there enough to do on a BTB when the ports are the same.

 

Or has anyone added on a Celebrity land tour? They seem very expensive and the agent on the Eclipse knew nothing other than what is printed on the internet.

We are more DIY excursion people but this would be completely new.

 

Advice please.

Thank you

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are many more experienced cruisers who will chime in but from what I've researched, you will see more of the glacier and Inside Passage if you cruise out of Vancouver rather than Seattle. From Seattle you'd spend two days just sailing the Pacific. Someone recommended to me that I consider flying to Vancouver and sailing one cruise line northbound, followed by a few days on land. Then do a different cruise line southbound to Vancouver. This allows some new ports and a chance to revisit others. So we are northbound on Celebrity, 5 1/2 days on land which we will plan ourselves. And southbound on Princess back to Vancouver.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Alaska is very easy to get around if you want to do your own land based vacation either prior to or after your cruise. We did a week inland prior to our Southbound cruise on Millie last year. If you head over to the Alaska board here on CC, you can get lots of ideas on what to do. Research is the key. Read some of the travel books (Frommers Alaska, Fodors, Anne Vipond's Alaska) to get ideas of everything there is to do and then start narrowing down your choices based on your priorities.

 

Alaska is expensive, but you can find deals. A good place to start is to look at the TourSaver and Northern Lights coupon books. You can check out their websites and look at the list of available coupons before you purchase the book. I ended up buying both, but I really should have just purchased the Northern Lights book as it had a wider variety of coupons (hotel, car rental, food) than the TourSaver did.

 

If you do cruise Southbound from Seward to Vancouver, you can take the Amtrak Cascades train to Seattle if you want to spend time there.

 

As for whether to do roundtrip or Southbound, that is a personal choice. The things I discovered in my research: Seattle roundtrip is the least scenic, there is a possibility of rough seas and it has the shortest port times. Vancouver roundtrip is much more scenic, the port times are longer and if I remember correctly, there are only 3 port stops. One way (either Northbound or Southbound) have the longest port stops (with the Southbound a little longer IIRC than Northbound), very scenic cruising, an extra port stop and the opportunity to add time either before or after to tour inland. The biggest disadvantage for a one way cruise is the airfare - flying into Anchorage (or Vancouver) and flying home from a different city (Vancouver or Anchorage).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe look into a cruisetour?

 

This is my suggestion, and this is what my wife and I planning for our 20th in 2016:

 

Go to Seattle, spend some time there, explore the city. It's a gorgeous city with tons of awesome restaurants. From there, take the train up to Vancouver. Our plan is to go in the day before our cruise leaves, but if you've never been to Vancouver you may want to add in a couple of extra day to sight see. It's also a gorgeous city. From Vancouver you catch your cruise for 7 days. Once you arrive at Seward you do a land portion of the cruise. They have anywhere from 3 to 6 days land portions. The trip we're planning is only 3 days and ends at Anchorage.

 

Your BTB obviously would only encompass 14-15 days (assuming you fly in a day before the cruise), whereas what I suggested could be upwards of 21 or more days. However, if you want to make the most of your trip, you'd definitely would do that! :) This way you'll not be seeing the same ports twice and you'll a great adventure in the Northwest of America.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sue & I have done five Alaska cruises since 2006, We're ready for another.

 

Our favorite is the North or South Bound cruises from Vancouver to Seward (Anchorage) or reversed.

 

DO NOT worry about enough to do if you visit the same ports twice. You could spend a week in each port if you had the time, I'm sure.

 

Our choice for BTB would be from Anchorage (Seward) to Vancouver and back. Upon arrival in Anchorage you would probably take the cruise line transfer bus to Seward (A 3 Hour tour in itself).. and upon your return to Seward, book the scenic train right from Seward to the Airport (book ahead if possible, Sue and I waited until the middle of a cruse we were on and all the seats were sold).

 

We have not taken a Cruisetour (adding a few days to the cruise where you go by coach into the wilderness and stay at slect lodges) but have heard many say it was great too..

 

Dennis & Sue

 

myticker.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would do a back to back out of Vancouver. And honestly, I would do it on Princess. I think their itineraries are nicer and if you do a back to back they aren't exactly the same northbound and southbound. You can also do an amazing tour of Prince William Sound out of Whittier on the turnaround day. Highly recommend!

 

I like Celebrity more than Princess, but having done Alaska with both, I would give the edge to Princess on this.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have taken four back to back Alaska cruises over the years and I highly recommend this approach.

 

There is more to do in any single port than you can do in a single day. Also, as the weather in Alaska is unpredictable, it is nice to have the chance of a sunny day if you have only been to a port on a rainy day.

 

We were on the Millennium this year, starting in Vancouver, with stops in Ketchikan, Hoonah (Icy Strait Point), Juneau, Skagway and a turnaround day in Seward.

 

While I suggest you pick up a travel book, such as Frommer's or Fodor's, here are two completely separate suggestions for each port.

 

Day One -- Walk through town, up creek street, to the Salmon Run. Also visit one or more totem pole park.

Day Two -- Kayak or take a water based excursion (not that fishing excursion here may be expensive)

 

Hoonah:

Day One -- Walk on the beach, keeping an eye out for whales. We saw whales and sealions from shore. In addition, at low tide you get to see what was underwater. We saw starfish and a number of interesting seabed creatures. Watch people on the zip line. Attend a tribal dance.

Day Two -- Choose from a bear watching tour, whale watching, kayaking, zip lining.

Both days -- eat Dunganess crab caught nearby and priced well.

 

Juneau --

Day One -- Trail walk up Mount Roberts. Take a tour of the Alaska Brewing Company.

Day Two -- Take the shuttle bus to Mendenhall Glacier and walk to the waterfall.

 

Skagway --

Day One -- Take a tour to the Yukon, see sled dog puppies and Emerald Lake. We enjoyed Trail of '98 tours, but there are many operators offering similar tours.

Day Two -- Trail walk to either the lower lake (a few hours) or the upper lake (all day) from a trail which starts right by the cruise docks.

 

Seward --

Turnaround is only a single day. If you have not taken a boat in Kenai Fjords, you must. Google this.

 

If you have specific questions, please ask.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever you do make sure that you have enough time to see Vancouver it is a beautiful city, with lots to see & do. You might also want to drive to Whistler or take the ferry to Victoria.

Edited by If only
Link to post
Share on other sites

We did a B2B from Vacouver. What is nice is that you will visit the same ports twice, so if you missed something you will have the chance to do it on the next visit. It was also nice that you could easily book the tours at the port on shore so if the weather was lousy you could book something else that isn't affected by the weather and do it the next time.

 

It was a great cruise.

 

Happy cruisng 🌊🚢🇺🇸🌅

Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe look into a cruisetour?

 

Go to Seattle, spend some time there, explore the city. It's a gorgeous city with tons of awesome restaurants. From there, take the train up to Vancouver. Our plan is to go in the day before our cruise leaves, but if you've never been to Vancouver you may want to add in a couple of extra day to sight see. It's also a gorgeous city. From Vancouver you catch your cruise for 7 days. Once you arrive at Seward you do a land portion of the cruise. They have anywhere from 3 to 6 days land portions. The trip we're planning is only 3 days and ends at Anchorage.

 

 

Fantastic advice. Another option that some friends did, (and enjoyed it IMMENSELY) was to book one ship northbound, do your own thing in Anchorage for several days, then book a different ship southbound. :D

 

Another add on in Seattle is to visit and tour the Boeing Factory. AWESOME. ;)

 

 

I would do a back to back out of Vancouver. And honestly, I would do it on Princess. I think their itineraries are nicer and if you do a back to back they aren't exactly the same northbound and southbound. You can also do an amazing tour of Prince William Sound out of Whittier on the turnaround day. Highly recommend!

 

I like Celebrity more than Princess, but having done Alaska with both, I would give the edge to Princess on this.

 

Normally I am a solid fan of Celebrity, but in this case I agree completely with koolforkatz. :cool:

Edited by teecee60
Link to post
Share on other sites

I, too, recommend a B2B out of Vancouver but then, I'm biased. Having said that, we love Seattle too. The scenery in the inside passage is awesome. papadave has it down pat----great ideas. I would also encourage you to arrive in Vancouver a few days early as you will not see Victoria and the famous Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island on the B2B itinerary. BA #85 flies non stop to Vancouver from LHR and #84 goes back again. There is also an airline called Air Trans that is very cheap and flies from Vancouver to Gatwick. We have never flown on it so I can't tell you if they charge for the air you breathe or not, but they sure are cheap.

Link to post
Share on other sites
We have done the 14-day cruise R/T Seattle on HAL and would highly recommend it. All different ports.

Would like to do this next Aug/Sept, but the Statendam has been sold to MCS cruiseline & this would be her last cruises. A little apprehensive about what to expect with that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I would do a back to back out of Vancouver. And honestly, I would do it on Princess. I think their itineraries are nicer and if you do a back to back they aren't exactly the same northbound and southbound. You can also do an amazing tour of Prince William Sound out of Whittier on the turnaround day. Highly recommend!

 

I like Celebrity more than Princess, but having done Alaska with both, I would give the edge to Princess on this.

Looking at the Aug/Sept 14 day sailings for 2015, the only ones r/t out of Vancouver are on Norwegian. I know some folks really like their "casual" culture aboard, but the one cruise we have taken on them in 2013 just wasn't our cup of tea. So that leaves Celebrity (on the Infinity) or one of the last Statendam HAL cruises before she is sold. We are targeting the end of the Alaska season to have fewer children onboard.

Edited by BJzink
misspelling
Link to post
Share on other sites
Looking at the Aug/Sept 14 day sailings for 2015, the only ones r/t out of Vancouver are on Norwegian. I know some folks really like their "casual" culture aboard, but the one cruise we have taken on them in 2013 just wasn't our cup of tea. So that leaves Celebrity (on the Infinity) or one of the last Statendam HAL cruises before she is sold. We are targeting the end of the Alaska season to have fewer children onboard.

 

There are actually four Princess ships that do the north and southbound itineraries Vancouver-Whittier, all marketed as Voyage of the Glaciers. They are sold as 7-day cruises each way, though, not 14 days.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not know how this would impact your air fare but how about this as an alternative suggestion. Do a one way cruise to AK and then spend as many days as you can on a DIY AK driving trip. At the end of the driving trip, fly back to your cruise start location and then fly home.

 

Another way of doing this would be to do a one-way flight to the cruise start point and a one way flight home from your AK end point.

 

Ignoring fare implications, I would do that as opposed to a B2B.

 

DON

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cruising the inside passage and Glacier Bay are probably the two best things about Alaska. I have done the land tour and it wasn't as full-filling as the cruise portion. I like the B2B idea because sometimes there is rain on a day that you are in port and excursions may be cancelled or aren't as spectacular. With the B2B you can also do different excursion in the same port or just relax on those days. I think you will really enjoy Alaska and I'd love 14 days of it!

 

Another option is Princess does a 10 night out of San Francisco, that affords a full day in Victoria BC, which is one of my all-time favorite ports. I did that cruise and loved sailing in and out of San Francisco!

Edited by rebeccalouiseagain
Link to post
Share on other sites
I do not know how this would impact your air fare but how about this as an alternative suggestion. Do a one way cruise to AK and then spend as many days as you can on a DIY AK driving trip. At the end of the driving trip, fly back to your cruise start location and then fly home.

 

Another way of doing this would be to do a one-way flight to the cruise start point and a one way flight home from your AK end point.

 

Ignoring fare implications, I would do that as opposed to a B2B.

 

DON

Actually in 2007 we bought a small motor home & spent 3 months on the Alaska Ferry System for the Inside Passage, & a land tour of inland Alaska & Canada. We were able to see a lot more than on any cruise. But, time takes its toll & we are not as mobile now as then. We figured we could still enjoy the scenery from the ship, and can go ashore when the ship is close enough to the towns.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We are more DIY excursion people but this would be completely new.

 

Advice please.

Thank you

 

I would strongly advise a one-way Alaskan cruise combined with a DIY land tour. The interior of Alaska is not to be missed, especially if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for you.

 

If your cruise arrives/departs from Seward there is a non-cruise affiliated bus to take you to the Anchorage airport. However, do spend a couple of nights in Seward so that you can take a Kenai Fjords boat cruise and maybe a hike to Exit Glacier.

 

Once you are in Anchorage, pick up a rental car. From there the opportunities are endless. You can take the Alaska Marine Highway via the auto-train from Portage to Whittier and cruise to Valdez from where you can drive the Richardson Highway to the Denali Highway.

 

Do not miss Denali!! We spent a couple of nights at North Face Lodge near Wonder Lake (pricey, but worth it) and were fortunate that we were able to see the mountain thanks to clear weather.

 

Hatcher Pass is another suggestion with the Lodge there consisting of cabins lacking running water and flush toilets but a great experience nonetheless.

 

You can go elsewhere in the great state of Alaska. Research and decide if Fairbanks is a must-see for you, or perhaps Homer which is on the other side of the Kenai peninsula from Seward.

 

A cruise/land trip gives you far more to experience than a B2B cruise. Alaska is expensive, but you can save $$ and see much more if you DIY!

Link to post
Share on other sites

There have been so many good suggestions on this thread. There are two major cruise disembarkation ports in south-central Alaska -- Seward and Whittier. Some folks have arranged their B2B cruises on different lines such that they disembark in Seward and then days later embark in Whittier for the southern run.

 

There is also much information on the Alaska Cruise Critic forum which would be of great help to the OP.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually in 2007 we bought a small motor home & spent 3 months on the Alaska Ferry System for the Inside Passage, & a land tour of inland Alaska & Canada. We were able to see a lot more than on any cruise. But, time takes its toll & we are not as mobile now as then. We figured we could still enjoy the scenery from the ship, and can go ashore when the ship is close enough to the towns.

 

You did essentially the same thing that we did except that we stayed in B&Bs. It was one of the best trips we have ever taken. Loved the Alaska Ferries.

 

Glad that you are still traveling even if at a reduced pace.

 

DON

Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely go to the CC Alaska board.

 

If you're going to do a DIY land tour, book early, it's a short season. Note that Princess has its own lodges and anyone can book them: http://www.princesslodges.com/ Alaska Railroad has a good site, and so on.

 

I'd also do the land part first then relax on the cruise:)

 

I actually found Alaska hard to plan, maybe I was over ambitious, don't know but I ended up throwing my hands up and booking a CruiseTour with Celebrity ! It was a great success, we lucked out and had a small group.

 

I also like the look of Princess' CruiseTours, some imaginative ones there.

 

Good luck.

Edited by pspercy
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for all your help.

Unfortunately Celebrity cannot give me any information regarding flights as it is too early for next August. This makes booking difficult as we are not willing to book flights without knowing the name of the airline, connection times, length of journey etc. Celebrity says the journey could take nearly 24 hours either through Las Vegas, Philadelphia or Chicago. We asked about breaking the journey but the rep. Said that could only be arranged when the flights have been allocated but didn't know when that would be. I politely explained that it was difficult to decide on a date for travel if we didn't have this sort if information.

After all with that length of flight we would need 'down/catching our breath time'

in order to enjoy the cruise never mind the worry of catching the ship.

 

 

Obviously we need to do a lot more research re getting to Seattle ...as we liked the idea's given re visiting here and taking a train to Vancouver therefore making the most of our long journey.

Once again thank you all.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for all your help.

Unfortunately Celebrity cannot give me any information regarding flights as it is too early for next August. This makes booking difficult as we are not willing to book flights without knowing the name of the airline, connection times, length of journey etc. Celebrity says the journey could take nearly 24 hours either through Las Vegas, Philadelphia or Chicago. We asked about breaking the journey but the rep. Said that could only be arranged when the flights have been allocated but didn't know when that would be. I politely explained that it was difficult to decide on a date for travel if we didn't have this sort if information.

After all with that length of flight we would need 'down/catching our breath time'

in order to enjoy the cruise never mind the worry of catching the ship.

 

 

Obviously we need to do a lot more research re getting to Seattle ...as we liked the idea's given re visiting here and taking a train to Vancouver therefore making the most of our long journey.

Once again thank you all.

 

welshfamily -

 

I certainly understand your concern and possible frustration, but it is common practice around the world to make flight schedules available to the general public about 330 days out. If you book a cruise in 2016 when the schedules come out, there is no way to book a flight for that cruise until you get within the 330 day window of your return flights. That is just the way it works. Currently, I will not be able to book any flight segments for my 2016 cruise in Australia until sometime in late April of 2015.

Edited by vulcan1971
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Vulcan1971,

Thank you for your reply.

Yes I realised that the flight companies don't give out schedules to the general public this early but we have booked fly cruises with Celebrity before...granted only to Europe well over a year out. On those occasions we were told the price both for a straight fly cruise and the added cost for deviation. The rep. knew that the flights would be schedule and through the airlines hub hence our 'hope' that Celebrity would have 'Historical' information such as American Airlines do a flight via Chicago which is x number of hours ...you may change once the airline has been allocated, this will be 330 days out. There may however be an additional cost. Not you will know the details approx. 40 days before you fly. Please also remember here in the UK we can't cancel a booked cruise without losing our deposit.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with Barbara Muckermann, CMO Silversea Cruises
      • ICYM Our Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Explore the Remote World with Hurtigruten!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...