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Alaska: northbound vs. southbound


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We're looking at making our next Princess cruise an Alaskan cruise. In looking through the website, I see they do one-way cruises - northbound or southbound. I'm liking that idea because we would like to extend our vacation in Alaska (on our own) and that allows us the opportunity. They are only slightly different - South goes to Hubbard Glacier; North goes to College Fjord. Though there is a price difference, it's not much..... at least for the dates I'm looking at.

 

Question:

If we have to choose (which of course, we DO!!! :)) which itinerary gives the best views?

Even though the price difference is slight, would we get the same experience with going with the less expensive cruise?

What is the difference between Hubbard vs. College Fjord?

Are there better views on one route vs. the other?

...and while we're at it...is there a 'best side' of the ship to be on??? :)

Lots of questions, I realize, but any info would be helpful! :) thanks!!

Edited by rgmacm
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There are many posts, mostly in the Alaska forum, about this highly debated topic. Use the search function and enter "Northbound" or "Southbound" and you will find a lot of good posts with opinions regarding the pros and cons of each direction. If you are going to do a land/sea cruisetour or extend your time in Alaska with a do-it-yourself land portion(which I highly recommend), then it boils down to whether you prefer to take in the sights on land, and then get on the ship to relax(Southbound) or cruise/relax first and then extend your stay once reaching Alaska with a land tour portion. Some feel that the land tour portion is more energy consuming with more things to do and places to see. Guess it's all perspective though. We have done 2 Northbound cruises with a land tour after. We like how the scenery keeps getting better every day as you cruise Northbound and then you reach Alaska where every day of your land portion is breathtaking! This approach has a long flight home from Anchorage or Fairbanks at the tail end of your vacation and some prefer an easier flight home from Vancouver or Seattle at the end of their vacation. Many perspectives to read about. In terms of port or starboard, again, folks are passionate about what's important to them while underway. Port side balcony scenery matches up with the narrative being provided by the Naturalists or Park Rangers while entering Glacier Bay National Park. Going Northbound, starboard side balcony provides more land views during some portions of the voyage when you are not in the "inner passage". As all will agree, you will have a great journey no matter how you choose and you can't go terribly wrong with your choices. Alaska is breathtakingly beautiful and once you go you will be smitten with dreaming of your next opportunity to return and see more! Good luck and enjoy the planning as much as the journey!

Edited by Dbld777
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My husband and I are looking to do an Alaska Cruise in 2016, the schedule does not come out until Mar-April timeframe but I have been told there is not a great deal of difference. This means I have Not been on an Alaska Cruise yet... but have done some research. Perhaps someone better suited can correct me, but this is what I have found out:

We are planning on doing the Cruise tour first, flying into Fairbanks and taking the 14 or 15 cruise tour (2015 tour # PB7, QB8 or RB8); then the Southbound cruise ending in Vancouver. Any comments on these choices?

 

The inside passage probably does provide viewing all around, but the recommendation was to get on the Port Side for southbound. As you pointed out the southbound goes to the Hubbard Glacier and the northbound goes to the Fjord. Personal preference, we just thought we would prefer the Hubbard Glacier for our first trip. Everything else appears to be identical for both 7 day cruises.

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The Pacific currents run North to South, so one will normally have a smoother ride on the Southbound cruise. I think it's nicer to do the tour portion first, then be able to relax on the cruise afterwards. In our case, it's a shorter flight home too.

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For sheer beauty, Northbound is the way to go: every day gets more spectacular.

 

For logistics with a land tour, I can't weigh in.

 

If you have the time to spare, consider sailing both directions and sandwiching your land time in the middle. That's truly the best of both worlds and isn't hideously more expensive if you are booking with some flexibility.

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The Pacific currents run North to South, so one will normally have a smoother ride on the Southbound cruise. I think it's nicer to do the tour portion first, then be able to relax on the cruise afterwards. In our case, it's a shorter flight home too.

 

WOW!

didn't know that :eek:- husband is very motion sickness prone - so Southbound for sure!

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My husband and I are looking to do an Alaska Cruise in 2016, the schedule does not come out until Mar-April timeframe but I have been told there is not a great deal of difference. This means I have Not been on an Alaska Cruise yet... but have done some research. Perhaps someone better suited can correct me, but this is what I have found out:

We are planning on doing the Cruise tour first, flying into Fairbanks and taking the 14 or 15 cruise tour (2015 tour # PB7, QB8 or RB8); then the Southbound cruise ending in Vancouver. Any comments on these choices?

 

The inside passage probably does provide viewing all around, but the recommendation was to get on the Port Side for southbound. As you pointed out the southbound goes to the Hubbard Glacier and the northbound goes to the Fjord. Personal preference, we just thought we would prefer the Hubbard Glacier for our first trip. Everything else appears to be identical for both 7 day cruises.

 

I think what you have proposed is excellent but I'm no expert as I've only done 1 Alaska cruise which was a northbound cruise.

 

I don't think I'd do that again as the flight home afterwards is a killer and took us over 24 hours to get home switching planes twice.

 

I'd much rather get that out of the way first flying into Alaska and then just having to fly home from Vancouver afterwards.

 

Bill

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We're looking at making our next Princess cruise an Alaskan cruise. In looking through the website, I see they do one-way cruises - northbound or southbound. I'm liking that idea because we would like to extend our vacation in Alaska (on our own) and that allows us the opportunity. They are only slightly different - South goes to Hubbard Glacier; North goes to College Fjord. Though there is a price difference, it's not much..... at least for the dates I'm looking at.

 

Question:

If we have to choose (which of course, we DO!!! :)) which itinerary gives the best views?

Even though the price difference is slight, would we get the same experience with going with the less expensive cruise?

What is the difference between Hubbard vs. College Fjord?

Are there better views on one route vs. the other?

...and while we're at it...is there a 'best side' of the ship to be on??? :)

Lots of questions, I realize, but any info would be helpful! :) thanks!!

 

I have heard that doing the land tour first lets you rest up and relax on the way down. Otherwise, you get off th ship in Alaska and start running around for several days-which can wear you out....

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We have done SB twice and NB once on Princess.

 

If doing land, I do prefer to complete it first...along with having the longer flight out of the way.

 

Although, I have to admit that NB is nice with each day scenery building on itself. I also am a minority that I much prefer College Fjord over Hubbard Glacier. Of course the day in College Fjord was a gorgeous sunny day and both Hubbard days were rainy and overcast. I also love the sail away from Vancouver and going under the bridge.

 

There is definitely something to be said though for the energy on the land portion. I couldn't imagine doing the land after I sailed NB...and I'm fairly young at 42 YO.

 

In the end, I don't think you could choose "wrong". I would say go for the itinerary where you get a great price and the ship you want/dates, etc. I have loved all 3 Alaska cruises on Princess!

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At risk of beating a dead horse, the only extended remnant of the old Inside Passage Cruise is between Vancouver Island and the continent. That's been debated on other threads. On the northbound trip, that happens at midnight and later. On the southbound trip it happens in the afternoon/evening of the day before Vancouver. We have pictures of Orca's taken from the ship through Johnstone Straite. Dusk through Campbell River and Seymore Narrows remains one of my favorite images of our trip. Some prefer the continent side of the ship. We enjoy both.

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The Pacific currents run North to South, so one will normally have a smoother ride on the Southbound cruise. I think it's nicer to do the tour portion first, then be able to relax on the cruise afterwards. In our case, it's a shorter flight home too.

 

Agree on the tour first, then southbound. It also gets the longer flights (especially from El Paso) out of the way first. Ours ended in Vancouver and we stayed a couple of days so we could do some sightseeing there - beautiful city.

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We've done two cruise tours to Alaska with Princess--the first, a Northbound cruise and then the land tour, and the second was the land tour first and then the Southbound cruise. We much preferred doing the land tour first and getting the long flight done at the beginning of the vacation. We loved relaxing on the Southbound cruise after the strenuous land tour and then having a relatively easy flight home from Seattle. We also booked port side on the Southbound cruise and starboard on the Northbound, and really liked those cabin alignments for cruising. Enjoy your cruise to Alaska, and if you can, do have a balcony for this cruise. It's so worth it. We loved Alaska and would cruise it again in a minute.

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We enjoyed doing the land portion first before the southbound cruise. We were on a cruise tour that started in Fairbanks. It was a very long day getting there. It was also a long day getting home from Vancouver but not quite as long. We did spend one night in Vancouver before our flights home.

 

There's also the option of doing round-trip cruises from Vancouver if you book either back-to-back on one ship or a northbound cruise on one ship, some time in Alaska, and then a southbound cruise back. That's what I'd like to do the next time we cruise to Alaska--after we retire and have the time to do so.

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We've done Northbounds and Southbounds. They have equally spectacular scenery, and I really couldn't pick a fav between Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord. For us, we do prefer the Northbound because each day builds until the crescendo of Glacier Bay. That being said, if you're doing a land tour, too, and I highly recommend that you do, it probably would be wiser to do the land tour first, and cruise Southbound after. The land tour is more tiring, so having the cruise after to relax would be nice. Either way, you can't lose. Have fun! 🚢

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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I've done a NB and SB. Either way you go it is a great trip. I'm never going to do a NB again because most all flights are red eye leaving Anchorage and I was quite tired when I arrived home. The flight up to Anchorage was during daylight and was spectacular.

Edited by PhotoPete
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We chose southbound so that we would see the best scenery first (before we became tired) and so that the weather would warm up as we go. As noted it was nicer to have the longer flight and travel day at the front end. It will be a wonderful trip either way. We booked a mini-suite on the port side foe southbound, but you really see a lot from both sides of the ship.

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We've done 4 Alaska cruises and our favorite by far was Southbound. So loved seeing the whales on the last day. I was mesmerized! Sadly, the ship sails past this area during the night on the northbound.

 

Do me a favor and say hi to my daughter and her family when you're in Fairbanks :):)

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We've been there twice. My advice: choose either route that included Glacier Bay. Tracy Arm was a disappointing venue. You're too far away from the glacier to appreciate it.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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We chose southbound for this my 3rd trip to Alaska (one north one southbound) for Hubbard Glacier figuring that we can do College Fjord from Whittier (26 Glacier Tour) if the day is nice. But reading this post has given me several other reasons to be glad we did.

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  • 4 years later...
On 1/15/2015 at 7:50 AM, VibeGuy said:

For sheer beauty, Northbound is the way to go: every day gets more spectacular.

 

For logistics with a land tour, I can't weigh in.

 

If you have the time to spare, consider sailing both directions and sandwiching your land time in the middle. That's truly the best of both worlds and isn't hideously more expensive if you are booking with some flexibility.

Surely you'd be paying for 2 separate cruises, so double the cost? Or am I missing something (quite likely) please advise?

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