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Retirement Cruise - Alaska


skiorcruise
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My wife and I will be retired by April 2018. I would like to take her on an Alaskan Cruise as a retirement gift.

 

I am asking for advice from other cruisers on any of the following subjects:

 

Timing - we are thinking July. She is not a fan of cold or wet weather.

 

Cabin - we normally cruise with a balcony, but are thinking that an outside view will be adequate for this trip. Great viewing and we will be on deck. Cold or wet weather and we wouldn't use the balcony.

 

Round Trip or one way - We are thinking round trip for this cruise. She is not interested in the train to the interior. While this might be a once in a lifetime trip, I hope to make another longer trip in the future 4-5 years.

 

Must Do Excursions - Neither of us have any must do's in mind. We enjoy tours and wildlife, but are both getting a little to mature to enjoy hikes or ziplines.

 

We have been on 10 cruises, all to warm weather ports from Long Beach, Tampa, New Orleans, Miami and Galveston. We love the Spirit class ships, and have been on the Legend twice. We will be 65 by the time this trip rolls around. We will probably drive to the Pacific Northwest and spend a day or two sightseeing in each direction.

 

Thank you for all of your help.

Edited by skiorcruise
correcting the number of cruises
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My wife and I will be retired by April 2018. I would like to take her on an Alaskan Cruise as a retirement gift.

 

I am asking for advice from other cruisers on any of the following subjects:

 

Timing - we are thinking July. She is not a fan of cold or wet weather.

 

Cabin - we normally cruise with a balcony, but are thinking that an outside view will be adequate for this trip. Great viewing and we will be on deck. Cold or wet weather and we wouldn't use the balcony.

 

Round Trip or one way - We are thinking round trip for this cruise. She is not interested in the train to the interior. While this might be a once in a lifetime trip, I hope to make another longer trip in the future 4-5 years.

 

 

Must Do Excursions - Neither of us have any must do's in mind. We enjoy tours and wildlife, but are both getting a little to mature to enjoy hikes or ziplines.

 

We have been on 10 cruises, all to warm weather ports from Long Beach, Tampa, New Orleans, Miami and Galveston. We love the Spirit class ships, and have been on the Legend twice. We will be 65 by the time this trip rolls around. We will probably drive to the Pacific Northwest and spend a day or two sightseeing in each direction.

 

Thank you for all of your help.

 

You realize this whole area is basically a rainforest. We have went twice in May and had hardly any rain however our last trip in July was more enjoyable. We had more rain but it was off and on. Salmon run at Juneau hatchery was amazing, estimated 1 million salmon were waiting to go up the fish ladder. Also would encourage booking small boat excursion from ship that goes to glacier. Skagway the 8 hr train that includes going to Yukon or the 4x4 mule excursion were fabulous. Ketchikan very walkable to see many interesting things and to eat king crab. Just some suggestions.

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I surprised my husband with an Alaskan cruise for his retirement. We sailed on the Spirit out of Seattle, roundtrip during the month of July. We had an Aft balcony & it was wonderful. The weather was beautiful with temps in the 70's. We did a helicopter tour & landed on a glacier & also did a whale watching tour. The walk on the glacier was an experience I will never forget. I never had a real desire to cruise to Alaska & basically booked it because my husband never said no to any of my cruise requests so I did this for him. Don't hesitate, you will both love it.

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Thoughts....

  • I love mid-July... August starts the wet season.... September is best for storm chasers. However... mid-July may be peak pricing for statistically best weather.
  • think about your glacier viewing experience. Some say "Glacier Bay" is a must for a first time Alaskan cruiser.... does your ship itinerary have Glacier Bay?
  • if you can't decide on which excursion.... look at "Best of" combo excursions for ideas at each port. Most popular in general... Skagway has the White Pass train ride and Juneau Mendenhall or humpback whale watch.

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I have cruised to Alaska on Carnival, Celebrity, Princess and NCL.

They were all fun ships.

 

The month of May is the cheapest month to cruise.

 

Book Seattle to Seattle to avoid customs in Vancouver. It is a hassell.

 

I think all ships will stop in Victoria B.C. or a Canadian port.

 

You MUST BOOK A CRUISE Ship THAT VISITS "GLACIER BAY"because it is a AWESOME experience to see it.

 

The Carnival ship I cruised on didn't visit Glacier Bay and I was disappointed because the cruisers on the ship had to pay $200. EACH to take a small boat to see the glaciers that were hidden. They had a great time but it costs extra to see the glaciers.

 

I think you should know that the snow will be gone from all of the ports.

It has never been super cold in ALASKA in May, June or July when I cruised.

One time it was raining and believe it or not it was a warm rain. lol.

The SUN comes and goes out during the day. When the sun is out it feels like Summer time.

 

Get a balcony if it will be more fun for the both of you. You will have a beautiful view of the mountains and land as you cruise. LucyR.

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We have done Alaska cruises 3 time (4 if you count our last back to back as 2). Love the itinerary and have always done early season May and had great weather. Highly recommend a balcony. Last cruise we did 7 days up and then 7 days back while it was visiting each stop twice we did something different each time and really got a better sense of the stops. Alaska is one of our favourites topped only by the Baltics.

 

 

 

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My favourite shore excursion on Alaska cruises is the helicopter tour from Juneau that goes over to Mendenhall Glacier and sets down on the glacier where you get out and walk around. Very cool. A bit pricey, but worth it.

 

 

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Went in mid-July a few years ago and temp never got over 60-65 degrees. Didn't care though, I was in ALASKA! Helicopter to glacier in Juneau got cancelled due to weather so went on whale watch. Best excursion I've ever been on. Definitely do a balcony. Gorgeous views through the Inside Passage. We had an ocean view (porthole) and it got tiring running up to a deck all the time. Still trying to talk DH into going back (went with my sister the first time). Enjoy your trip and Happy Retirement!

 

 

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Timing - we are thinking July. She is not a fan of cold or wet weather.

 

SE Alaska is in a rainforest... (Some people on CC say that there are historical drier months. I haven't paid attention to that information, myself. Just because _____ is the driest historically does not mean that my cruise will be dry.)

 

Round Trip or one way - We are thinking round trip for this cruise. She is not interested in the train to the interior. While this might be a once in a lifetime trip, I hope to make another longer trip in the future 4-5 years.

 

 

Since this is a retirement gift (CONGRATS! BTW) you might want to look into HAL's 14-night Round trip out of Seattle. It goes all the way up to Kodiak. (It does miss Glacier bay, which is a shame, but the plusses make up for that - for me & I am STRONGLY in the "include Glacier Bay" camp.)

Edited by TheCalicoCat
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My wife and I will be retired by April 2018. I would like to take her on an Alaskan Cruise as a retirement gift.

 

I am asking for advice from other cruisers on any of the following subjects:

 

Timing - we are thinking July. She is not a fan of cold or wet weather.

 

Cabin - we normally cruise with a balcony, but are thinking that an outside view will be adequate for this trip. Great viewing and we will be on deck. Cold or wet weather and we wouldn't use the balcony.

 

Round Trip or one way - We are thinking round trip for this cruise. She is not interested in the train to the interior. While this might be a once in a lifetime trip, I hope to make another longer trip in the future 4-5 years.

 

Must Do Excursions - Neither of us have any must do's in mind. We enjoy tours and wildlife, but are both getting a little to mature to enjoy hikes or ziplines.

 

We have been on 10 cruises, all to warm weather ports from Long Beach, Tampa, New Orleans, Miami and Galveston. We love the Spirit class ships, and have been on the Legend twice. We will be 65 by the time this trip rolls around. We will probably drive to the Pacific Northwest and spend a day or two sightseeing in each direction.

 

Thank you for all of your help.

 

I researched some of the questions you asked here. Also, talked to cc friends on other cruises about their experiences.

 

Everyone that I talked to recommended an AFT balcony if possible and at a minimum a balcony. We had an AFT on our NCL Sun cruise and it was great when spend most of the day in Glacier Bay and the next day visiting the Hubbard Glacier.

 

What is so good about an AFT. An AFT balcony doesn't get the wind, which is cold and you still have the sun to warm you. You can see it all on your balcony and not fight others for viewing up on the common areas.

 

Also, recommend taking a cruise out of Vancouver instead of Seattle. This will probably result in a one-way. We did Vancouver to Seward. You see more of the inside passage.

 

Also, spend time in Vancouver prior to the cruise. Wonderful city with lots of things to see there.

 

The one tour or excursion that I think is a must do is the Skagway White Pass train ride. We did the rain forrest hike in conjunction with that and it was great.

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Congrats on retirements. Still 7-8 years away for us but we plan to take advantage of Seattle area cruise opportunities when we do.

 

Timing - it's always a dice roll for weather up there but based on Seattle patterns mid-July to September is the dry season. Then again Juneau had a very rainy and cool summer this past year. Max daylight is at end of June so the longer past that the less.

 

Cabin - we do balconies too but based on non-use on last Alaska cruise due to cold/wet we initially booked an inside for the next one. But this week switched to balcony when some moonlighting I'm doing brought in some unexpected funds. Oceanview would be a good compromise but at the moment HAL has a promotion (Views & Verandahs) where they are the same price.

 

Round Trip or one way - Lots of advantages to R/T, especially airfare, but some will say you have not seen the real Alaska until you at least get to Anchorage. Also R/T from Seattle will go outside of Vancouver Is. so not totally Inside Passage. Vancouver cruises (pretty much all the one-ways) go "inside" the island but most of that is done at night.

 

Must Do Excursions - Ketchikan, hands down Misty Fjords NP - preferably by boat/floatplane combo (worth the splurge). Juneau - we found Glacier Gardens by accident and loved it. Aside from the unique flowers and arrangements if you've never been deep in a temperate rainforest it's a great experience. A glacier helicopter flight might be interesting. Whale watching can be cool but if vigilant onboard the ship and have some binoculars you can often spot them on your own cruising between ports.

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Our first trip to Alaska was a "retirement" cruisetour about 10 years ago. Having very little information I wanted to see Sitka (Russian history), Glacier Bay, and Denali. We have been back every year and will be adding the Yukon again this year. We have only sailed with HAL. We have sailed rt Seattle, rt Vancouver, and VAncouver-Seward and Seward-Vancouver.

 

My favorite times are early June through mid-August for long daylight hours. If you do a cruise only I recommend rt Vancouver for smooth sailing and scenic cruising inside Vancouver Island. The 14 day HAL Seattle round trip is also excellent. I also suggest a balcony since this is a special occasion and you have experienced sailing in a balcony. Glacier Bay is amazing and you will want to be out and about but your balcony will be the perfect quiet place to "hear" the glacier.

 

You will probably be back. There is so much to experience in this great land!

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Wow - 11 responses in less than 24 hours.

 

Thank you all for your input. Some trips I plan extensively, this will be one of them. Any and all input is greatly appreciated.

 

Keep the info coming. I will be away from the computer and message boards for a few days now, but just happened to have time to check. I am truly blown away by the great response.

 

Dave

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Here is a link to the roll call thread for the cruise we are doing in June. Basically I am the only person posting there (with 1 exception) but I have posted a whole bunch of Alaska (from Seattle) related links to useful web sites. Some of this might be helpful in selecting a cruise, itinerary and excursions no matter what line or ship you decide on..

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2399514

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Last I looked, only Princess and Norwegian go to Glacier Bay which is a must see area. Also they only do it on the northbound run, some of the stops southbound are different too. I would absolutely recommend getting up on the front bow for Glacier Bay for views of a lifetime. We brought warm clothing and a complete rain suit (jacket and pants) as wind blockers because it's cold and windy in there. Glad we did - other people were shivering. I sense that you (the OP) perhaps are not up for this, but I hope I'm wrong because this IS the Alaska experience . . . of a lifetime.

 

As far as balcony, do you want to sit out on your balcony and watch whales or not? Oh sure, you can go up on deck, but are you going to go up on deck in your robe at 5 or 6 a.m. when you wake up, peek outside, and see humpbacks rising and diving in range of the ship?

 

Don't forget to bring binoculars!

 

PS: congratulations!

 

 

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Edited by J&Jtravelcouple
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A reply to the previous post...see responses in red.

 

Last I looked, only Princess and Norwegian go to Glacier Bay which is a must see area. Cruiselines that visit Glacier Bay are limited due to not having permits, but I know Holland America and Carnival both visit Glacier Bay. Not sure if there are other cruiselines or not. Also they only do it on the northbound run. Princess visits Glacier Bay on MANY of their itineraries...both northbound and southbound plus round trip cruises from Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
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