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Alaska cruise-northbound or southbound? Ships to avoid?

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i am getting overwhelmed researching Alaska cruises. Do any of you have strong feelings about choosing northbound or southbound cruises (pros or cons) ? Also, any ships to avoid? Or consider?

Thanks for any advice!

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We couldn't decide either so just did both B2B on the Coral Princess beginning in Vancouver (May 2017). There is a 26 Glacier Cruise Tour out of Whittier just for B2Bers. Love the Coral.

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If doing a cruise tour I prefer land first then southbound cruise. Coral is a great ship for this itinerary. My only caveat is that I don't like Island Princess since they hacked it up and took away public space while adding cabins. More people with less public space. Nope, nope, nope. It doesn't even have an International Cafe! It's my least favorite Princess ship. For Alaska Coral would be my first choice followed by maybe Ruby.

 

If you are just doing the cruise without the land tour then the 26 Glacier Cruise Tour out of Whittier sounds amazing. I didn't even know about that one so now I have to go look into it. :)

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We would go with the Southbound. Living on the East coast, it's about a five hour direct flight from either Seattle or Vancouver back to Atlanta. Much longer flight and typically a plane change flying from Anchorage if we had done the Northbound. We did our own land trip last year and was also another reason to enjoy those activities, then a relaxing cruise at the end of the trip.

 

 

 

Our first pick would be the Coral, as our favorite ship. We like the size of the ship and has lots of open deck space. We have not sailed on the Island, however after three trips on the Coral, we know we would not like the changes they made and would not sail on it.

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We prefer the last then cruise, so southbound. And I agree with the other poster, stay away from the island. If you use the gym at at, it is on a lower level in a room with no windows..

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About 2 years ago, we did a NB on the Coral, followed by a 7 day land tour and then a SB on the Star. Preferred the Coral.

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I also prefer the Coral Princess.

 

I would avoid the Royal Princess next year.

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I have read that the positive of NB is, you starts small and build up on scenery. Kind of the just gets better and better idea. With SB, has has been stated, start running, especially when doing land first, and then relax.

 

For is, it was a combination of timing of the offerings and building up works better for the husband. He is not a good relaxer.

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Go on any ship that includes Glacier Bay National Park scenic cruising. That is my favourite place on earth and Princess makes a big deal of that day. I love the 14 day b2b from Vancouver. It took me awhile to get talked into an Alaskan cruise but once I went I couldn’t get enough. Take layers to wear and binoculars to see.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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I also prefer the Coral Princess.

 

I would avoid the Royal Princess next year.

 

Why would you avoid the Royal in 2019?

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I highly recommend the 15 day connoisseur escorted cruise tour offered by Princess. No hassles with luggage, lodging, or transportation, most meals and some excursions included. Tour land first so you can relax more on southbound cruise. Pick the Coral Princess as it is a great ship. It has fewer passengers, the Bayou Cafe Steakhouse, and the production show "On The Bayou".

The Royal Princess has some good features such as the best buffet design of any ship in the Princess fleet. It has a nice large atrium also. The balconies are very small on the Royal class ships however and the ship carries a lot of passengers. That makes getting on and off the ship a little more time consuming and finding a seat in the theater for a production show more inconvenient.

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Why would you avoid the Royal in 2019?

 

There is no promenade deck, no covered pool, etc... While I don't go into the pool, I like that space to relax and on the ships with out the covered pool (Ruby, Emerald, Crown), when the weather is not good, everyone goes inside and the ships get really crowded. So this enclosed pool area provides a beautiful indoor area.

 

I prefer promenade deck for glacier days and to be able to move around. There is no promenade deck which will make the top deck more crowded. Not sure how viewing would be on that top deck anyway.

 

Balconies are small on Royal Princess.

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Regarding north vs south. Take the 10 day RT out of San Francisco and get them both.

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Southbound. We've done it twice, first time on the recommendations of several friends. We flew in to Fairbanks a day early each time, rented a car for the day and toured Fairbanks. Visited the University of Alaska Museum of the North, it is awesome. Also ate at the Turtle Club; delicious food and local favorite. We asked for local suggestions and found everyone to be very friendly. Walmart had some of the best prices for souvenirs. The first time we did a Princess cruisetour, the second time we did one from Best Cruises and Tours out of New Jersey. Both were excellent. Princess hotel in Denali is located very centrally to the park and stores. Princess McKinley Lodge has a great view of the mountain (when she decided to appear). Make sure you get a cruisetour that included the scenic train rides and tour into Denali.

Have fun and enjoy planning!

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Avoid Island.

 

We chose Star this year because we’re going early and prefer a ship with a magrodome, which left Coral, Star or Golden. I *love* Coral but DH has this weird dislike of Island/Coral for the most ridiculous of reasons (pool configuration, Horizon Court layout, phase of the moon, I don’t know), so Coral was right out. Golden vs Star came down to timing.

 

I’m on Team Northbound Start because the ports and scenery improve day by day. I’m also Team B2B because it improves the odds of glorious weather when you’re in that port. My ultimate itinerary would probably be a northbound start, a few days of land touring and a Southbound on a different ship.

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I’m also Team B2B because it improves the odds of glorious weather when you’re in that port. My ultimate itinerary would probably be a northbound start, a few days of land touring and a Southbound on a different ship.

I agree! Even B2B on the same ship is fine also.

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i like the coral also... except in 3 weeks i'll be doing a southbound on the island. i've been to alaska on the island when she was the same as the coral. i won't like the changes but its still a cruise, i will be traveling with a bunch of family and i have my own room. its all good.

 

for me the southbound works because i don't have a plane ride at the end.

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For the southbound cruises starting with land tours, what's the difference in starting in Anchorage/Whittier vs. Fairbanks? I've noticed that the cruise tours start in both places and seem to include some of the same lodges, etc.

 

We're looking at June 2020. I checked out the 2019 prices for the Connossoieur cruise tour; I don't think I can swing that price for four people. Will have to stick with a regular 3 or 4-day tour.

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I agree! Even B2B on the same ship is fine also.

 

Southeast Alaska and the Yukon have their charms, to be sure, but Denali and the interior are their own awesome places and merit a few days. With Princess having a ship in Whittier every three or four days, you can really customize how long you’re on land. I think it’s a massively underappreciated itinerary option for people who can spare the time away.

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You go to AK for the itinerary and not the ship so as long as the ship gets you to the ports you want for the times you want, the ship is almost irrelevant. That said, I prefer small ships and the smaller the better. Our best AK cruise was on a ship that held 50 passengers. No on board amenities but we got into places that the bigger ships could not get into and we also had some flexibility on where we stopped to at look at stuff. For example, at one place the captain was told that not far from where we were, there was a very rare spirit bear on the beach. We headed over and parked for a while and watched the bear. Doubt that this would have happened on one of those oversized monstrosities that most people do AK on.

 

DON

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There is no promenade deck, no covered pool, etc... While I don't go into the pool, I like that space to relax and on the ships with out the covered pool (Ruby, Emerald, Crown), when the weather is not good, everyone goes inside and the ships get really crowded. So this enclosed pool area provides a beautiful indoor area.

 

I prefer promenade deck for glacier days and to be able to move around. There is no promenade deck which will make the top deck more crowded. Not sure how viewing would be on that top deck anyway.

 

Balconies are small on Royal Princess.

 

I see. We are booked on the Royal next year as the timing worked best with our schedule; I guess we will find out if the ship works for us. One of the nicest promenade decks we have experienced is HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. We must have spent the entire cruise on that deck taking in all the scenery --- never crowded, great walking deck and plenty of places to sit.

 

 

Thanks for the feedback.

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The thing about cruisetours and southbound is that the land portion, even though Princess handles it beautifully, is more hectic. Best to rest up on the cruise portion. We did a cruisetour northbound, so we speak from experience.

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For the southbound cruises starting with land tours, what's the difference in starting in Anchorage/Whittier vs. Fairbanks? I've noticed that the cruise tours start in both places and seem to include some of the same lodges, etc.

If you start in Fairbanks, you are traveling in a straight line on the land part. Fairbanks to Denali to McKinley to the ship.

If you start in Anchorage you are traveling in a circle and have a very long transport by bus or train between Denali and Anchorage/Whittier either at the beginning or the end of the land tour, depending on which tour you choose.

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We were on the Coral Princess northbound last July, followed by a four-day land tour. We absolutely loved the itinerary! As several have already mentioned, the scenery just gets more spectacular the further north you go. And with Denali as the climax, it’s hard to find fault with that!

 

You can’t go wrong with either itinerary, though—so schedule according to what works best for your flight schedule. The northbound cruises are a little LESS expensive than southbound, so you may want to check into that aspect, as well.

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I see. We are booked on the Royal next year as the timing worked best with our schedule; I guess we will find out if the ship works for us. One of the nicest promenade decks we have experienced is HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. We must have spent the entire cruise on that deck taking in all the scenery --- never crowded, great walking deck and plenty of places to sit.

 

I hope you have a great trip on the Millennium this summer.

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I hope you have a great trip on the Millennium this summer.

Thanks, Coral. Are you cruising to Alaska this year?

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Absolutely southbound for sure. Some of the most beautiful cruising is done on the southbound in daylight hours. Plus, the timing into Glacier bay is better as it isn't a 6am arrival on the southbound and a 6pm (dinner time for most) departure. Sure College Fjord on the first day after embarkation is early but you have a complete day at sea after that so can go and have a nap while out in the Gulf. The final day before arrival into Vancouver is all inside passage, which you miss 90% of this on the northbound as it is dark. The other positive of the southbound is the weather and seas can be rough after departing Ketchikan and out in open waters. On the south this is at night while you sleep, on the north this is from early morning through till late evening where it can be rough.

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Thanks, Coral. Are you cruising to Alaska this year?

 

I was. I had a B2B on the Coral Princess booked but in January I switched to Norway. It was cheaper - go figure. In the end, Norway will be more expensive as tours are more expensive there but it will be a different type of fjord trip for me.

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I was. I had a B2B on the Coral Princess booked but in January I switched to Norway. It was cheaper - go figure. In the end, Norway will be more expensive as tours are more expensive there but it will be a different type of fjord trip for me.

 

Your "revised" cruise plans sound wonderful. Have a fabulous time --- post a few comments when you return.

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Your "revised" cruise plans sound wonderful. Have a fabulous time --- post a few comments when you return.

 

I hope so! Same as when I travel to Alaska, my prayers for a dry trip are in existence for Norway!

 

I struggled on finding some info on excursions so I hope to do an extensive review when I return.

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I see. We are booked on the Royal next year as the timing worked best with our schedule; I guess we will find out if the ship works for us. One of the nicest promenade decks we have experienced is HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. We must have spent the entire cruise on that deck taking in all the scenery --- never crowded, great walking deck and plenty of places to sit.

 

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

We are also booked on the Royal next year and I can't wait!!! :D

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I was. I had a B2B on the Coral Princess booked but in January I switched to Norway. It was cheaper - go figure. In the end, Norway will be more expensive as tours are more expensive there but it will be a different type of fjord trip for me.

 

Consider renting a car for scenic touring while you’re in port. After all, you know the old slogan - have you driven a fjord lately?

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Consider renting a car for scenic touring while you’re in port. After all, you know the old slogan - have you driven a fjord lately?

 

Sort of difficult on the fjord boat tours :)

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I hope so! Same as when I travel to Alaska, my prayers for a dry trip are in existence for Norway!

 

I struggled on finding some info on excursions so I hope to do an extensive review when I return.

 

Looking forward to your review!

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We are also booked on the Royal next year and I can't wait!!! :D

 

Waiting is the hard part --- Alaska is so worth it!

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We're going on our third Alaska cruise next June. This time with our whole family (9 of us) including the grandchildren. We are limited by their time schedule so have chosen to do a northbound one week cruise from Vancouver. We've done two southbound cruisetours and loved them. Important part of this cruise is just being together as a family and exposing the grands to the wonders of cruising and of course the beauty and vastness of Alaska.

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yes, the "sacrifices" we have to make for our kids and grandkids, huh...;p

 

yours is the best post on here in a long time...:hearteyes:

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