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Alaska back to back ...advice please.


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Hi Welshfamily - I certainly know what you mean about the expensive airfares and so making the most of your trip. I did heaps of research and booked our cruise around going to Anan Creek National Park to see the bears catching fish in the river. Luckily for us we ended up having a perfect day on the day we booked. I discussed the best time to visit Anan with a company in Ketchikan and settled on July 30 as the best date. I had already chosen Celebrity Millennium Seward to Vancouver, so then booked that cruise. I knew we wanted to do a land tour as well, so I did lots of research and organised my own 10 day tour. We flew into Anchorage, drove up to Denali and did lots of other fun things until we arrived in Seward 10 days later. While researching the cruise portion, I realised there was so much to do in each port, so we booked a B2B and added Vancouver back up to Seward. The only downside is that we had such a short time in Vancouver. We were away for a month, and we had a fabulous time. As for the airfares, I just booked them early on so that I did not need to worry about them. I got a pretty good price, and was happy with what I paid. Alaska was just amazing, we had a wonderful time. Yvette

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I don't think a B2B is a bad idea as long as the itineraries are different (HAL and Princess both go out of Seward too). Only line I know of off hand that goes through Whittier is NCL.

 

I think there's no better way to see Alaska than a land vacation. Living in Alaska I can literally do pretty much all the popular shore excursions (fishing, ziplining, whale watching, glaciers, helicopter and seaplane rides, dog mushing etc) within 4 hours of my house. I don't think a cruise tour is necessary but everything in Alaska is super expensive in the summer (which makes cruising all the more appealing considering hotels can easily run $300/night.

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If you don't mind packing up and moving, back-to-back on two different ships is a great choice for the chance to experience different itineraries with different glacier viewing, different meals and entertainment and decor and stateroom categories.

 

Even better, if you have the time and budget, is taking two different ships with an inland Alaska land tour between them, or before, or after.

 

Cruise in or out of Seward one way, and Whittier going the other way, including a wonderful Kenai Fjords tour at Seward and one of the glacier boat tours at Whittier.

 

That scenic trip through the Canadian Rockies, previously suggested, is another wonderful add-on.

 

 

Edited by fleckle
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Having just gotten back from Alaska, I would highly recommend a one way cruise with Denali before or after (on the Anchorage end). I highly recommend checking out Princess for Alaska, they have seven ships in Alaska as compared to Celebrity which has two. Many of their ships dock in Whittier rather than Seward which is an hour closer to Anchorage. Also, only Princess and Holland America go to Glacier Bay which is beautiful, some ships cruise College Fjord as well, which is also spectacular. Using Tripadvisor it's easy to figure out the land portion by yourself. If you do it with the cruise line they take good care of you, but it is more expensive. I agree in general that Celebrity is a nicer line, but just not the right one for Alaska. All of the ports are small towns, the shore excursions tend to focus on activities which can be expensive. It is definitely a worthwhile trip.

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I join in with the others in recommending flying into Alaska, doing a land trip including Denali Park and the Kenai peninsula, and then taking a one way southbound cruise or the reverse itinerary. You can book the land tour through the cruise line, on your own or through many other agencies easily found on the internet who organize pre/post cruise tours. We did this years ago flying into Anchorage and traveling to Denali via train and using local tour companies or taxis for other transportation. Other's will do this trip by bus or rent a car. Lots of discussion and recommendations on the Alaska port of call forum here on Cruise Critic.

 

When we did this trip years ago it was difficult to decide if the land tour or cruise part of the trip was more enjoyable - both were great!

 

If you are interested here is a review of our land trip: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=231529

And some photos:

Edited by Lsimon
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Having just gotten back from Alaska, I would highly recommend a one way cruise with Denali before or after (on the Anchorage end). I highly recommend checking out Princess for Alaska, they have seven ships in Alaska as compared to Celebrity which has two. Many of their ships dock in Whittier rather than Seward which is an hour closer to Anchorage. Also, only Princess and Holland America go to Glacier Bay which is beautiful, some ships cruise College Fjord as well, which is also spectacular. Using Tripadvisor it's easy to figure out the land portion by yourself. If you do it with the cruise line they take good care of you, but it is more expensive. I agree in general that Celebrity is a nicer line, but just not the right one for Alaska. All of the ports are small towns, the shore excursions tend to focus on activities which can be expensive. It is definitely a worthwhile trip.

 

NCL also goes to Glacier Bay as do a few other lines but they only go in May/September which can be more hit or miss weather wise (snow?).

 

No matter what you decide you'll be in Alaska and it's an amazing place to visit no matter how you choose to see it!

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I live in Vancouver and I've lost track of the Alaska cruises I've been on. Almost every line and I've done the back to back. One thing I learned is to go on two different cruise lines. If I was to book for next year I would take Princess or Celebrity out of Vancouver seven day northbound and take the southbound on Holland America's Statendam. The reason I say this is because you will visit all different ports! Holland America on the Statendam southbound visits: Homer, Kodiak, Sitka and Victoria. Princess and Celebrity will take you to Ketchikan, Juneau and either Icy Strait or Skagway. I think there is more to see in Skagway but it depends on what you want. You will have different entertainment and see more of Alaska than taking the same cruise twice! Transport between Seattle and Vancouver is easy. You can take Quick Coach.com from Seattle's Pier 91 or the airport direct to the Vancouver airport or pier.

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My Alaska cruise was a land cruise, followed by a B2B from Seward to Vancouver to Seward. My thinking was this might be the only time I got to Alaska and plane fare was expensive. The land trip was well done and even though it was a bus of 50 it was just fine. On the first leg of the cruise I did all the really touristy stuff....white water rafting, flying over Denali, helicopter to the glacier. On the second leg I took it easy. Rented a car and drove around in the towns and it was quite fun. It was like being on two different cruises. YMMV

Barbara

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