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Alaska Cruisers -- Please help me pick an itinerary!

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There are three ships that we are considering -- don't want to influence you by cruise line. We are 46, 44, 16, 14 and 10 -- which itinerary will we enjoy the most? This will be our first time to Alaska. We want to do all the fun activities as well as see some really beautiful nature and wildlife. Which would you choose?

TIA for your thoughts!

 

First:

Friday, June 14  Seattle, WA   4:00pm 

Saturday, June 15  At Sea    

Sunday, June 16  Inside Passage, AK (Cruising)    

Sunday, June 16  Juneau, AK Noon  9:00pm 

Monday, June 17  Skagway, AK 7:00am  8:30pm 

Tuesday, June 18  Endicott Arm, AK (Cruising)    

Wednesday, June 19  At Sea    

Thursday, June 20  Victoria, BC, Canada 9:00am  6:00pm 

Friday, June 21  Seattle, WA 6:00am 

 

 

Second

Saturday, June 15  Seattle, WA   4:00pm 

Sunday, June 16  At Sea    

Monday, June 17  Ketchikan, AK 7:00am  3:00pm 

Tuesday, June 18  Juneau, AK 7:00am  1:30pm 

Wednesday, June 19  Skagway, AK 7:00am  5:00pm 

Thursday, June 20  At Sea    

Friday, June 21  Victoria, BC, Canada Noon  7:00pm 

Saturday, June 22  Seattle, WA 7:00am 

 

Or Third:

Sunday, June 16  Seattle, WA   3:30pm 

Monday, June 17  At Sea    

Tuesday, June 18  Juneau, AK 2:30pm  11:00pm 

Wednesday, June 19  Skagway, AK 7:00am  8:00pm 

Thursday, June 20  Glacier Bay National Park, AK (Cruising)    

Friday, June 21  Ketchikan, AK 7:00am  1:00pm 

Saturday, June 22  Victoria, BC, Canada 7:30pm  11:59pm 

Sunday, June 23  Seattle, WA 6:00am 

 

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As very frequently discussed here, Glacier Bay is a really significant location. So I would take the cruise that included Glacier Bay.

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1 hour ago, Kfamilycruise said:

There are three ships that we are considering -- don't want to influence you by cruise line. We are 46, 44, 16, 14 and 10 -- which itinerary will we enjoy the most? This will be our first time to Alaska. We want to do all the fun activities as well as see some really beautiful nature and wildlife. Which would you choose?

TIA for your thoughts!

Or Third:

Sunday, June 16  Seattle, WA   3:30pm 

Monday, June 17  At Sea    

Tuesday, June 18  Juneau, AK 2:30pm  11:00pm 

Wednesday, June 19  Skagway, AK 7:00am  8:00pm 

Thursday, June 20  Glacier Bay National Park, AK (Cruising)    

Friday, June 21  Ketchikan, AK 7:00am  1:00pm 

Saturday, June 22  Victoria, BC, Canada 7:30pm  11:59pm 

Sunday, June 23  Seattle, WA 6:00am 

 

 

1 hour ago, CruiserBruce said:

As very frequently discussed here, Glacier Bay is a really significant location. So I would take the cruise that included Glacier Bay.

 

 

As Bruce said, see Glacier Bay . I am going to Alaska 2 more times over 2 years and I hit Glacier bay on my 2020 trip,

I wish I had done it first.

 

 

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Thanks to you both. I have read that is the place to go, but the other two cruises are slightly better timing and pricing so I wanted to get some opinions.

 

Thanks again.

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I would normally say the one w Glacier Bay but look at the port timing for Juneau and Ketchikan.  I would not pick any of the 3.

 

DON

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My DH and I have been cruising to Alaska pretty much yearly for 12 years and I'd definitely say Glacier Bay over Tracy Arm. If there was one with Hubbard Glacier I'd say that over Glacier Bay. It's truly magnificent. All of these itineraries have Skagway and not the best times in Juneau. Keep looking for cruises that arrive in Juneau earlier and I'd look at Sitka. Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway are all pretty "touristy" with the requisite jewelry stores in abundance (except Skagway but still too touristy). Our favorite stop is Sitka. So much more un-touristy and closer to a "real" Alaska stop with no jewelry stores in sight! 

 

Karen

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9 hours ago, Northern Aurora said:

Just curious -- have you considered departing from Vancouver?

I haven't looked at ships departing from Vancouver yet. Thanks. I'll take a look.

 

6 hours ago, donaldsc said:

 

I would normally say the one w Glacier Bay but look at the port timing for Juneau and Ketchikan.  I would not pick any of the 3.

 

DON

Thanks Don. I thought the timing was off as well.

 

25 minutes ago, luvteaching said:

My DH and I have been cruising to Alaska pretty much yearly for 12 years and I'd definitely say Glacier Bay over Tracy Arm. If there was one with Hubbard Glacier I'd say that over Glacier Bay. It's truly magnificent. All of these itineraries have Skagway and not the best times in Juneau. Keep looking for cruises that arrive in Juneau earlier and I'd look at Sitka. Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway are all pretty "touristy" with the requisite jewelry stores in abundance (except Skagway but still too touristy). Our favorite stop is Sitka. So much more un-touristy and closer to a "real" Alaska stop with no jewelry stores in sight! 

 

Karen

Thanks for all of the great advice.

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My two cents: 

Of the three options, #1 is better than the other two.  Time in Juneau on Option #2 is to little.  Option #3 leaves little time to experience Victoria, BC and disembarking in Victoria is always delayed.  My favorite excursion in Victoria is Butchart Gardens whick takes more time than you will have available.

 

As previously stated, departing from Vancouver allows more times in many ports.

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1 hour ago, Crew News said:

My two cents: 

Of the three options, #1 is better than the other two.  Time in Juneau on Option #2 is to little.  Option #3 leaves little time to experience Victoria, BC and disembarking in Victoria is always delayed.  My favorite excursion in Victoria is Butchart Gardens whick takes more time than you will have available.

 

As previously stated, departing from Vancouver allows more times in many ports.

 

The problem is that you have half a day in Juneau, you do not visit Ketchikan and you don't visit Glacier Bay.  There has to be better options out there.  

 

This is to the OP and not to Crew News.  Why are you unwilling to name the cruise line.  You may be restricting yourself to bad cruise line choices.  The OP should remember that in AK, it is not what is inside the ship but what is outside the ship that counts.  Too many CCers pick a ship for AK based on ship ambience, food quality, type of entertainment or some other silly thin.  That may work for the Caribbean but not for AK.

 

DON

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38 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

 

The problem is that you have half a day in Juneau, you do not visit Ketchikan and you don't visit Glacier Bay.  There has to be better options out there.  

 

This is to the OP and not to Crew News.  Why are you unwilling to name the cruise line.  You may be restricting yourself to bad cruise line choices.  The OP should remember that in AK, it is not what is inside the ship but what is outside the ship that counts.  Too many CCers pick a ship for AK based on ship ambience, food quality, type of entertainment or some other silly thin.  That may work for the Caribbean but not for AK.

 

DON

Thanks Don. I appreciate that, but making sure my kids have activities on the ship is also really important to me and connecting rooms. The first itinerary is RCL Ovation of the Seas, 2nd is NCL Joy and 3rd is NCL Bliss. It's a hard balance between making sure kids on the ship, activities for kids to do and a good itinerary. Very difficult choices!

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15 minutes ago, Kfamilycruise said:

Thanks Don. I appreciate that, but making sure my kids have activities on the ship is also really important to me and connecting rooms. The first itinerary is RCL Ovation of the Seas, 2nd is NCL Joy and 3rd is NCL Bliss. It's a hard balance between making sure kids on the ship, activities for kids to do and a good itinerary. Very difficult choices!

 

How old are your kids.  We took our 10 year old granddaughter on a cruise on Princess w/o her parents.  She took one look at the kids club activities, took one look at what was going on outside the ship and pronounced the kids club activities silly.  She spent her cruise taking in AK and never went back to the kids club..  That is one smart kid.  We are taking 2 more granddaughters to AK next summer.  Hopefully they will do the same.

 

That is why I asked how old your kids are.  

 

DON

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18 hours ago, donaldsc said:

 

How old are your kids.  We took our 10 year old granddaughter on a cruise on Princess w/o her parents.  She took one look at the kids club activities, took one look at what was going on outside the ship and pronounced the kids club activities silly.  She spent her cruise taking in AK and never went back to the kids club..  That is one smart kid.  We are taking 2 more granddaughters to AK next summer.  Hopefully they will do the same.

 

That is why I asked how old your kids are.  

 

DON

My boys are 10, 14 and 16 at time of sailing. The older kids always hang out at the teen club and the younger one usually prefers hanging out with us and doing the activities around the ship -- his favorite of which is the hot tub. He really likes waterslides, but not sure how much of that he'd be doing on an Alaskan cruise anyway. 

 

I really like bigger ships and I loved that the NCL Bliss and Joy have observation areas where you can stay warm inside.

 

It seems like Princess has the best itineraries for Alaska. We have to have connecting rooms, so that leaves the Coral and Golden out. Other options are Royal and Island Princess or on Royal Caribbean, Radiance of the Seas.

 

All of those itineraries seem much better, with longer times in port and cruising by at least one glacier. 

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35 minutes ago, Kfamilycruise said:

My boys are 10, 14 and 16 at time of sailing. The older kids always hang out at the teen club and the younger one usually prefers hanging out with us and doing the activities around the ship -- his favorite of which is the hot tub. He really likes waterslides, but not sure how much of that he'd be doing on an Alaskan cruise anyway. 

 

I really like bigger ships and I loved that the NCL Bliss and Joy have observation areas where you can stay warm inside.

 

It seems like Princess has the best itineraries for Alaska. We have to have connecting rooms, so that leaves the Coral and Golden out. Other options are Royal and Island Princess or on Royal Caribbean, Radiance of the Seas.

 

All of those itineraries seem much better, with longer times in port and cruising by at least one glacier. 

 

Seems like this is your first trip to AK and I think that you are beginning to get it.  Unlike most cruises and this is a bit of an oversimplification and just my opinion, AK is all about the itinerary and not the ship.  You don't go to AK to lounge around the ship, do shows, etc.  You go to AK to experience the wonderful scenery, the great towns that you visit and the excursions that you can do nowhere else.  I hate to sound harsh but if the older kids can't deal w this, that is their problem and not yours.  How many times do you expect to revisit AK.  Don't let what you perceive are the needs of the older kids ruin your trip. 

 

Hopefully BudgetQueen will chime in at some point in this discussion as she is sort of the resident CC expert on AK.  Trust anything that she says.

 

DON

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On 10/30/2018 at 7:26 AM, luvteaching said:

My DH and I have been cruising to Alaska pretty much yearly for 12 years and I'd definitely say Glacier Bay over Tracy Arm. If there was one with Hubbard Glacier I'd say that over Glacier Bay. It's truly magnificent. All of these itineraries have Skagway and not the best times in Juneau. Keep looking for cruises that arrive in Juneau earlier and I'd look at Sitka. Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway are all pretty "touristy" with the requisite jewelry stores in abundance (except Skagway but still too touristy). Our favorite stop is Sitka. So much more un-touristy and closer to a "real" Alaska stop with no jewelry stores in sight! 

 

Karen

Skagway was actually our favorite port, although we didn't actually spend any time in Skagway. We rented a car and drove into Yukon.

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On 10/31/2018 at 2:03 PM, Kfamilycruise said:

My boys are 10, 14 and 16 at time of sailing. The older kids always hang out at the teen club and the younger one usually prefers hanging out with us and doing the activities around the ship -- his favorite of which is the hot tub. He really likes waterslides, but not sure how much of that he'd be doing on an Alaskan cruise anyway. 

 

I hate to say this but maybe the Caribbean is better suited for your family.

 

Alaska is amazing - Alaska is about scenery, the ports, the glaciers, etc... 

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2 minutes ago, Coral said:

I hate to say this but maybe the Caribbean is better suited for your family.

 

Alaska is amazing - Alaska is about scenery, the ports, the glaciers, etc... 

We've done the Caribbean. I'm sure I'll find an itinerary and ship that works for us.

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1 minute ago, Kfamilycruise said:

We've done the Caribbean. I'm sure I'll find an itinerary and ship that works for us.

I would recommend buying Alaska by CruiseShip by Anne Vipond. This will help you prioritize what you want to see in Alaska. You really can't approach Alaska like the Caribbean. They are entirely different vacations. 

 

Once you figure out your interests, you should be able to pick an itinerary better.

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I also recommend you research Alaska first. It doesn't appear you have done any research. Your comments about how to choose a ship based on slides and teen clubs is the wrong way to go. I personally would pick by best itinerary.

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You may get better responses if you list what you want your family to get out of Alaska such as I want my kids to go dog mushing on a glacier, view bears, see whales, see salmon jumping, experience the Deadliest Catch, learn about Gold Rush history, etc.

 

I think all 3 of your choices are poor for seeing Alaska. If you are really interested -- pick ship with better port times. Otherwise it is not worth going. If you do that -- the activities on the ship such as the kids club is less important and the kids won't even notice. They will experience Alaska.

Edited by CaribbeanIsland

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On 10/30/2018 at 4:51 AM, Kfamilycruise said:

I haven't looked at ships departing from Vancouver yet. Thanks. I'll take a look.

Two things to consider.  First, if you have more time available than just the week for the cruise, there are lots of activities in or close to Vancouver that can be very enjoyable for your family.  You could drive up to Whistler for a couple of VERY active days in stunning scenery, or explore one of North America's most exciting cities... lots of options.

 

A big advantage over sailing from Vancouver instead of Seattle is that the ships stay to the east of Vancouver Island on sheltered Inside Passage waters the whole way.  Those leaving from Seattle travel through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and then stay west of Vancouver Island on open ocean, which can be rougher and which doesn't offer any scenery.  

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On 10/30/2018 at 12:54 AM, donaldsc said:

 

I would normally say the one w Glacier Bay but look at the port timing for Juneau and Ketchikan.  I would not pick any of the 3.

 

DON

I'm not sure what you think is wrong with the port timing for Juneau and Ketchikan.  They'll be up there near the summer solstice when daylight will be at its maximum.  For example on in June when they'd be in Juneau, the sun rises about 4 am and sets at 10 pm.  The times are similar in Ketchikan.

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1 hour ago, BarbinMich said:

I'm not sure what you think is wrong with the port timing for Juneau and Ketchikan.  They'll be up there near the summer solstice when daylight will be at its maximum.  For example on in June when they'd be in Juneau, the sun rises about 4 am and sets at 10 pm.  The times are similar in Ketchikan.

The problem is scheduling tours. Each year - people come to this board with similar times in Juneau and say they can't get the tours they want or as many tours as they want had they been scheduled 7 am to 8 pm. They often want to do 2 things and have a difficult time planning them.

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23 hours ago, Coral said:

The problem is scheduling tours. Each year - people come to this board with similar times in Juneau and say they can't get the tours they want or as many tours as they want had they been scheduled 7 am to 8 pm. They often want to do 2 things and have a difficult time planning them.

I hadn't thought of that, since we rarely do tours, except those arranged by other folks (and sometimes me) on our roll calls and have never felt the need to one except do one in Alaska except for whale-watching at Juneau, which are frequent .  In Ketchikan, one can walk to the local sites including to the funicular that takes one up to the ridge for great views overlooking the town, the inside passage, etc.  In Juneau, one can take the tram up Mt. Roberts where there are fabulous views, eagles soaring at eye level to you, and a rustic restaurant where you can have a meal or just something to drink.  There is also an inexpensive school bus that goes out to Lake Mendenhall for views of that glacier, its beautiful lake, and Nugget Falls.  In Skagway, there's the train that takes you out along one of the ridges west of town with views of the valley below.  None of these are free, but they're cheaper than taking a tour.  Of course, if one wants to be more adventurous there are the more expensive float plane trips, etc.

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I would pick the first choice, if I knew I would return one day to see Glacier Bay.  I like the timing of the ports, and the hours in each much better than the second or third choices (based on what we like to do).  I personally wouldn't plan an entire cruise around Glacier Bay if the other ports hours were lacking, because there is so much more to Alaska than GB.  But, I plan to go several more times to Alaska.

 

If you are planning to make this a one-time trip, I would probably choose Glacier Bay.  Understand that the weather can come into play, making GB and other ports a 'washout'.  Can't predict the weather.  :classic_biggrin:  

Edited by barbeyg

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On 11/20/2018 at 12:49 PM, BarbinMich said:

I hadn't thought of that, since we rarely do tours, except those arranged by other folks (and sometimes me) on our roll calls and have never felt the need to one except do one in Alaska except for whale-watching at Juneau, which are frequent .  In Ketchikan, one can walk to the local sites including to the funicular that takes one up to the ridge for great views overlooking the town, the inside passage, etc.  In Juneau, one can take the tram up Mt. Roberts where there are fabulous views, eagles soaring at eye level to you, and a rustic restaurant where you can have a meal or just something to drink.  There is also an inexpensive school bus that goes out to Lake Mendenhall for views of that glacier, its beautiful lake, and Nugget Falls.  In Skagway, there's the train that takes you out along one of the ridges west of town with views of the valley below.  None of these are free, but they're cheaper than taking a tour.  Of course, if one wants to be more adventurous there are the more expensive float plane trips, etc.

Great suggestions, thanks!

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I don't think any of those 3 choices are particularly strong.  The port times are very limiting if you planned on getting out and enjoying the sights of Alaska.   Fine if all you want to do is wander around and look at jewelry stores and ride the tram and funicular .  With more port times, and less sea days you don't have to worry about keeping your kids entertained on the ship; they'll be on shore enjoying the sights and activities.  

As gardyloo pointed out, Vancouver is another option to explore.  The Vancouver itineraries are superior .... port days of 8 hrs or more so you will have time to see and do more in Alaska, plus HAL includesTracy Arm AND Glacier Bay. Plus Vancouver is a fantastic city.

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I just booked an Alaskan cruise for next August,  There were two main focus points of booking.... Glacier Bay and the most time in Skagway to explore the Yukon.  While it was slightly more than other itineraries, I don’t was to wish I would have booked it since this may be the only opportunity to visit Alaska. 

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On 11/20/2018 at 6:49 PM, BarbinMich said:

I hadn't thought of that, since we rarely do tours, except those arranged by other folks (and sometimes me) on our roll calls and have never felt the need to one except do one in Alaska except for whale-watching at Juneau, which are frequent .  In Ketchikan, one can walk to the local sites including to the funicular that takes one up to the ridge for great views overlooking the town, the inside passage, etc.  In Juneau, one can take the tram up Mt. Roberts where there are fabulous views, eagles soaring at eye level to you, and a rustic restaurant where you can have a meal or just something to drink.  There is also an inexpensive school bus that goes out to Lake Mendenhall for views of that glacier, its beautiful lake, and Nugget Falls.  In Skagway, there's the train that takes you out along one of the ridges west of town with views of the valley below.  None of these are free, but they're cheaper than taking a tour.  Of course, if one wants to be more adventurous there are the more expensive float plane trips, etc.

These are sort of weak excursions IMO. If this makes you happy, that is great. I would be bored with these.

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7 hours ago, mapleleaves said:

I don't think any of those 3 choices are particularly strong.  The port times are very limiting if you planned on getting out and enjoying the sights of Alaska.   Fine if all you want to do is wander around and look at jewelry stores and ride the tram and funicular .  With more port times, and less sea days you don't have to worry about keeping your kids entertained on the ship; they'll be on shore enjoying the sights and activities.  

As gardyloo pointed out, Vancouver is another option to explore.  The Vancouver itineraries are superior .... port days of 8 hrs or more so you will have time to see and do more in Alaska, plus HAL includesTracy Arm AND Glacier Bay. Plus Vancouver is a fantastic city.

This is my main point - the port times are very limiting for shore excursions. One really shouldn't spend the time and money to get there and then just wander around or focus their entertainment/enjoyment on the ship - they can do this in the Caribbean. Focus should be on Alaska.

Edited by Coral

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On 10/31/2018 at 4:03 PM, Kfamilycruise said:

My boys are 10, 14 and 16 at time of sailing. The older kids always hang out at the teen club and the younger one usually prefers hanging out with us and doing the activities around the ship -- his favorite of which is the hot tub. He really likes waterslides, but not sure how much of that he'd be doing on an Alaskan cruise anyway. 

 

I really like bigger ships and I loved that the NCL Bliss and Joy have observation areas where you can stay warm inside.

 

It seems like Princess has the best itineraries for Alaska. We have to have connecting rooms, so that leaves the Coral and Golden out. Other options are Royal and Island Princess or on Royal Caribbean, Radiance of the Seas.

 

All of those itineraries seem much better, with longer times in port and cruising by at least one glacier. 

I suggest getting your ten-year-old and perhaps the other two their own binoculars for Christmas. When  my son was 10 we went camping and stopped off at a park on Campobello Island and my son was so fascinated that he "might" be able to see seals out on the ocean that he grabbed the binoculars from his sister and refused to give them back. I had to drag him out of the park to catch the ferry and he did not want to leave. So if you give them all binoculars, their attention might turn to the ocean instead of what's on the ship and if they all have their own, there won't be any fights. 

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I would not do any of those itineraries. Keep looking. You should really consider a one way, what you see on those cruises is not the best of Alaska, only a portion of the southeast rain forest.

Edited by zqvol

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On 11/22/2018 at 7:53 PM, Joeghartman said:

I just booked an Alaskan cruise for next August,  There were two main focus points of booking.... Glacier Bay and the most time in Skagway to explore the Yukon.  While it was slightly more than other itineraries, I don’t was to wish I would have booked it since this may be the only opportunity to visit Alaska. 

can i ask what line/ship you booked with

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The Glacier Bay itinerary. Have been there the last two years and will go again. It’s an amazing day.

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I second all of the posters that commented on not selecting the cruise by ship.  We bit the bullet and took our (then) 5 year old on Princess for her first trip to Alaska earlier this year.  I think she went to the kids club twice the entire week. We did a northbound trip from Vancouver (which included Glacier Bay and College Fjord).  In fact, she loved Alaska so much that she requested to go back for her birthday (so about 2 months later...). We did not go back two months later, but have booked another cruise to Alaska for her birthday this year.  We are cruising on the same ship, but RT out of Seattle this year.  It's very important to know what you want to get out of Alaska or you could feel let down.  

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we originally booked on the ncl joy. however, that ship was not goin to skagway, so i cancelled and chose the bliss. and the reason for the bliss was because it has the race car and laser lights (we are traveling w/our 16 yo gd & wanted to make sure she enjoy the ship as much as the trip). i found this trip to be the worse ever to plan.

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OP, only consider sailing out of Vancouver unless riding the high seas is your thing!?!

Islip, if race cars and laser lights take a priority, why bother. How. About race dogs and northern lights? I think that the young lady would have more lasting memories from these unique to alaska things....

just guessin here...

Happy sailing to all!

DD

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3 hours ago, dyeadave said:

How. About race dogs and northern lights?

Please do the northern lights dance for us!!! haha.  2-3 sailings before ours this year the lights were out on the way to Skagway from Juneau.  The KP index was high when we visited but it was never dark enough.  At least looking at our August 2019 sailing on the sunrise/sunset by date shows astronomical twilight on our dates. I think my child fusses every time we are in the north and we don't see them.  Next shot in a few weeks...

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How about a bear dance?!?

A small bear is sleeping under one of my buses which is parked in the garden lot between my house and the house of my BIL.

the little bruin emerges just long enough to gorge on the apples from our trees and then back under the bus he goes to sleep it off.

we are trying to get a permit to live trap and relocate but this has to come from the state, so who knows if we get this in time before the apple supply runs out......

Wish you were here!

DD

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5 hours ago, dyeadave said:

How about a bear dance?!?

A small bear is sleeping under one of my buses which is parked in the garden lot between my house and the house of my BIL.

the little bruin emerges just long enough to gorge on the apples from our trees and then back under the bus he goes to sleep it off.

we are trying to get a permit to live trap and relocate but this has to come from the state, so who knows if we get this in time before the apple supply runs out......

Wish you were here!

DD

She would love to see that, too! We saw a bear somewhere outside of Fraser earlier this year. She said it looked cuddly and she wanted to hug it. Um, absolutely not! 5 (now 6) year olds...... 😂

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