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katielance

Considering the Grand Princess 10-day cruise out of SF but need your advice....

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Hi everyone! My husband and I are looking to book a trip to Alaska this June 2019. We live near San Francisco so we are tempted by the 10-day Princess cruise. We have 2 kids 8 and 11. My concerns from reading the reviews online are that it's an older ship and may need maintenance (Grand Princess) and also the length of time. I want to make sure there are enough things for us to do as a family especially during at sea days. We also looked at Royal Caribbean and Disney - but they are both 7 days and out of either Seattle or Vancouver (plus, Disney is expensive.) We also looked into NCL. 

 

Any advice you have would be great! Is the Grand Princess too dated? Is a 10 day cruise too long with kids? Is the ship kid-friendly or does it skew to an older crowd? Any other recommendations? Is it worth it to fly to Seattle or Vancouver for a better cruise ship?? So many options!

 

Thanks in advance!

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A  10 day cruise will skew toward an older demographics.    I suggest you may want to look more at "Alaska"??    If that is of interest-  then compare ports and time in ports-   and determine-  what you want to occupy your port time with???      A round trip San Francisco,    has more potential for rough sailing as well.  :)   

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1 hour ago, Budget Queen said:

A  10 day cruise will skew toward an older demographics.    I suggest you may want to look more at "Alaska"??    If that is of interest-  then compare ports and time in ports-   and determine-  what you want to occupy your port time with???      A round trip San Francisco,    has more potential for rough sailing as well.  :)   

 

Thank you for the feedback! I think we may be leaning more toward NCL out of Seattle. Seems like the ship is a bit more updated and perhaps more options for kids. Thank you for your advice!

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Four thoughts.

 

Do you want to spend more of your time and your money getting TO Alaska or else spending time IN Alaska.  If you leave from San Francisco, you will be spending a significant amount of time and money getting to Alaska.  The money that you waste on the sea days could be spent on excursions in Alaska if you leave from either Seattle or preferably Vancouver.  

 

Visiting Glacier Bay is a must especially on your first trip to AK.  If the cruise does not go to Glacier Bay, don't take it.  

 

People always worry about what the kids will have to do on the ship.  I don't worry about that and especially in Alaska.  If they can't figure out what do do in AK and are not interested in what is happening outside of the ship, that is their problem.   The same thing for the people who worry about amenities and activities on the ship.  Again, when you go to AK, it is all about what is in Alaska and not what is happening on the ship.

 

You need to check port times very carefully.  I feel that you need a full day in each port.  Some of the cruises may arrive at a port at 6 AM and leave at 1 PM or else arrive at 2:00 PM and depart at 11 PM.  That does not work for me.

 

Hope that helps.

 

DON

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8 hours ago, donaldsc said:

Four thoughts.

 

Do you want to spend more of your time and your money getting TO Alaska or else spending time IN Alaska.  If you leave from San Francisco, you will be spending a significant amount of time and money getting to Alaska.  The money that you waste on the sea days could be spent on excursions in Alaska if you leave from either Seattle or preferably Vancouver.  

 

Visiting Glacier Bay is a must especially on your first trip to AK.  If the cruise does not go to Glacier Bay, don't take it.  

 

People always worry about what the kids will have to do on the ship.  I don't worry about that and especially in Alaska.  If they can't figure out what do do in AK and are not interested in what is happening outside of the ship, that is their problem.   The same thing for the people who worry about amenities and activities on the ship.  Again, when you go to AK, it is all about what is in Alaska and not what is happening on the ship.

 

You need to check port times very carefully.  I feel that you need a full day in each port.  Some of the cruises may arrive at a port at 6 AM and leave at 1 PM or else arrive at 2:00 PM and depart at 11 PM.  That does not work for me.

 

Hope that helps.

 

DON

 

Hi Don - those are all good points - I appreciate your feedback. I think we are now leaning toward an NCL 7-day cruise out of Seattle or Vancouver. Thank you for your advice! A lot to think about...

 

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, katielance said:

 

Hi Don - those are all good points - I appreciate your feedback. I think we are now leaning toward an NCL 7-day cruise out of Seattle or Vancouver. Thank you for your advice! A lot to think about...

 

 

 

Princess and HAL have most of the Glacier Bay slots.  Does NCL have as many Glacier Bay slots?  I have never cruised on NCL so I don't know.  

 

Another thing.  You want to cruise to AK on the inside passage.  That is the scenic route.  It also tends to have calmer seas.  I looked at one of the NCL cruises out of Seattle which says that they do the inside passage but the map clearly shows that they do the outside passage.  In other words, they are either lying about doing the inside passage or they pulled up the wrong map to show the cruise route.  The NCL cruise out of Vancouver will almost certainly do the inside passage.  

 

Check out the map for this cruise  (https://www.ncl.com/cruises/7-day-awe-of-alaska:-inside-passage-&-glacier-bay-from-seattle?itineraryCode=JOY7SEAJNUSGYKTNVICSEA) versus the map for this one (https://www.ncl.com/cruises/7-day-alaska-with-glacier-bay-from-vancouver-(northbound)?itineraryCode=JEWEL7VANKTNJNUSGYSWD) to see the difference between an inside passage cruise and an outside passage cruise.  On an outside passage cruise, you are out in the ocean and don't see an y land.  On an inside passage, you are cruising between Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland and there is scenery on both sides of the ship.

 

You have to be very careful about believing anything that a cruise line says.  You must do your own research.

 

DON

Edited by donaldsc

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Thanks Don that is really helpful - all of this is really overwhelming. I do like how the NCL Joy from Seattle is basically a brand-new ship and they have a ton of things onboard that look great for our kids (another reason we were considering Disney.) But, like you said -  I see what you are saying about the map with NCL - never noticed that!

 

I think NCL does have one Glacier I will double check. 

 

NCL does have a cruise out of Vancouver but it's an older ship - the Jewel which looks dated from the pictures. I will check out HAL as well.

 

All the Princess ships feel dated to me and an older crowd - I could be wrong but that was my impression after doing a lot of research. 

 

One thing I like about Disney is how long you are in port plus it does the inside passage from Vancouver. So many choices! 

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We did the 10 day out of San Francisco last summer and loved it! It was  great to be out of a port so close to our home and not have to fly anywhere.  The ship was a little worn in some places, but the service was wonderful.  Our children our grown, but I think if we had taken them where they were younger, they would have enjoyed the craft classes, zumba classes, swimming, board games and watching movies.  Good luck with your choice!

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22 hours ago, katielance said:

Thanks Don that is really helpful - all of this is really overwhelming. I do like how the NCL Joy from Seattle is basically a brand-new ship and they have a ton of things onboard that look great for our kids (another reason we were considering Disney.) But, like you said -  I see what you are saying about the map with NCL - never noticed that!

 

I think NCL does have one Glacier I will double check. 

 

NCL does have a cruise out of Vancouver but it's an older ship - the Jewel which looks dated from the pictures. I will check out HAL as well.

 

All the Princess ships feel dated to me and an older crowd - I could be wrong but that was my impression after doing a lot of research. 

 

One thing I like about Disney is how long you are in port plus it does the inside passage from Vancouver. So many choices! 

OK flame away.   :)  :)  :)   With your ship and kids priority,   you'd do a lot better sailing the Caribbean.    Alaska-   many times is a much more costly vacation spot.   One reason to consider going there is for-    Alaska.    I've already mentioned,  I don't defer to kids.   Give them shore excursion lists and get their input and involve them in planning-   Alaska.   Nothing will involve them more.     I find the comments about the Jewel a "dated"  ship,  is  going to be the case for you with a very high percentage.     Bliss and Joy-   aren't typical of the ships sailing Alaska.   

 

IF a ship is why you are going,   then those 2 are going to be a good selection and offer you  a lot of ship activities and more families.    The ship highlights however come at the expense of superior Alaska itineraries ,  my opinion only.   

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I am not a fan of people flying to San Francisco to get on a ship for a longer cruise  to Alaska when the extra days are sea days traveling to and from Alaska.

 

If I lived near SFO and had kids and could avoid air, I would do the cruise out of SFO.

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13 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

OK flame away.   🙂 🙂 🙂  With your ship and kids priority,   you'd do a lot better sailing the Caribbean.    Alaska-   many times is a much more costly vacation spot.   One reason to consider going there is for-    Alaska.    I've already mentioned,  I don't defer to kids.   Give them shore excursion lists and get their input and involve them in planning-   Alaska.   Nothing will involve them more.     I find the comments about the Jewel a "dated"  ship,  is  going to be the case for you with a very high percentage.     Bliss and Joy-   aren't typical of the ships sailing Alaska.   

 

IF a ship is why you are going,   then those 2 are going to be a good selection and offer you  a lot of ship activities and more families.    The ship highlights however come at the expense of superior Alaska itineraries ,  my opinion only.   

 

ABSOLUTELY totally agree. I was worried before our first Alaska cruise because I had read some reviews that the Radiance was dated. Once we got on her and sailed away, I realized that I didn't even notice if she was dated (she really wasn't, the Radiance is a great ship), because I was going to Alaska. I just didn't care. Choose Alaska according to the itinerary, not the ship. I could've saved some money by doing a round trip out of Seattle, but that itinerary was not what I wanted, so we flew to Vancouver and sailed one way to Seward. Hands down, the best vacation of my entire life, and the amenities on the ship had absolutely zero to do with it.

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A 10 day SFO-Alaska cruise has 3 days of clouds, fog, rain, choppy seas and nothing else on the way to Alaska, then repeating the process on the way back - leaving you 4 days in Alaska.

 

A 7-day Seattle-Alaska cruise has 2 days of clouds, fog, rain, choppy seas and nothing else in the outside passage, then repeating the process on the way back - leaving you 3 days in Alaska.

 

A 7-day Vancouver-Alaska cruise starts the minute you leave Vancouver, taking the inside passage. From the first afternoon, you see eagles, whales, orcas, mountains, glaciers. The inside passsage is smooth sailing, calm, little rain or fog, beautiful scenery - all the way up to Alaska. You repeat it on the way back. This 7-day trip gives you 7 days of what you came to Alaska for.

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We've sailed to Alaska four times between 1996 and 2014.  The latter cruise was from SF  in May and we picked it because it was a longer cruise than the usual 7-day and because we love SF and hadn't been there for a number of years.  First time sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was a special treat.  Also, enjoyed sailing west of Vancouver Island--we were lucky (?) to have flat seas and a long and beautiful sunset late that afternoon.  Finally, it went into Glacier Bay which is always a treat even if it wasn't a blue-sky day.

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We are booked on the 10 Alaska on the Grand out of SF on July 5, 2019.  This will be our 2nd cruise to Alaska (last one over 20 years ago, on a different Princess ship), and our  3rd on the Grand.  We did the California Coastal out of SF 2 years ago on the Grand, and the Mexican Riviera out of SF last year on her as well.  (We live about 3 hours away, so it is easy to drive and park.) 

 

As far as kids are concerned, we have 6 grand-kids, 4 of which are in the same age range as yours.  We have done several cruises with them, but NOT on the Grand.  And not this time as we will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary!  But we found that no matter the ship they simply love cruising and love being able to take 'ownership' of the ship.   When we did the Coastal it was in Oct.  We were in an elevator lobby one day on the ship and heard two parents talking.  They said there were only 33 kids on the ship...with the same staff level as if there were hundreds!  So they were loving it.  June should have quite a few kids sailing which would give your children plenty of opportunity to make friends.

 

As far as the Grand is concerned...well, we simply love it!  Sure it's getting long in the tooth, but so what.  It is a marvelous vessel and we love the staff!

 

Steve

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On 1/5/2019 at 12:05 PM, BruceMuzz said:

A 10 day SFO-Alaska cruise has 3 days of clouds, fog, rain, choppy seas and nothing else on the way to Alaska, then repeating the process on the way back - leaving you 4 days in Alaska.

 

A 7-day Seattle-Alaska cruise has 2 days of clouds, fog, rain, choppy seas and nothing else in the outside passage, then repeating the process on the way back - leaving you 3 days in Alaska.

 

A 7-day Vancouver-Alaska cruise starts the minute you leave Vancouver, taking the inside passage. From the first afternoon, you see eagles, whales, orcas, mountains, glaciers. The inside passsage is smooth sailing, calm, little rain or fog, beautiful scenery - all the way up to Alaska. You repeat it on the way back. This 7-day trip gives you 7 days of what you came to Alaska for.

 

This is the perfect explanation of why we, who live only 40 miles from San Francisco, have never cruised to Alaska from San Francisco (and never will). I would much rather spend my time cruising in Alaska rather than cruising to and from Alaska.

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We are headed on HAL to Alaska to and from Vancouver this summer. We have 2 kids (will be 12 and 14). 

 

We live right in Seattle, only a few miles from the port and I considered the Bliss and Joy, which would have been much easier for us logistically. (Our neighbor would have dropped us off and picked us up!)  But I liked the port times and route in and out of Vancouver much better, so we are taking the time to drive up there the day prior. It is extra cost for the hotel and parking for the week, but I am confident we made the right choice for what we are looking for out of the trip.  

 

As for the ship and our kids, I am not worried. There looks to be plenty to do on the HAL cruise for kids, even though I realize this is not their primary audience. And since my kids have never been on a cruise before (and are not browsing cruise critic!)  they have no idea about all the fun activities on the Joy/Bliss. But I would rather keep the focus on the destination. Otherwise, when we are exploring in port, they would just be begging to go back to the ship and ride the go carts or go bowling. Neither of which I want to do on my Alaska cruise. :)   Good luck in your planning!

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And just some more input on the Grand re sailing out of SF on the Grand.  Here is a link to a short slideshow of us walking from the parking garage and then the sailaway under the Golden Gate:  Link to slideshow

 

And here is a short youtube video I created of the sailaway also:  Link to sailaway video

 

And down in my signature is a link to a slideshow I did of our friends sailing out of SF on the Celebrity Infinity back in 2012.  I rode my bike from where I worked (at the time) at One Market Plaza to see them at the ship and then 'raced' it to the GG bridge.

 

Steve

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On 1/2/2019 at 12:47 AM, katielance said:

Hi everyone! My husband and I are looking to book a trip to Alaska this June 2019. We live near San Francisco so we are tempted by the 10-day Princess cruise. We have 2 kids 8 and 11. My concerns from reading the reviews online are that it's an older ship and may need maintenance (Grand Princess) and also the length of time. I want to make sure there are enough things for us to do as a family especially during at sea days. We also looked at Royal Caribbean and Disney - but they are both 7 days and out of either Seattle or Vancouver (plus, Disney is expensive.) We also looked into NCL. 

 

Any advice you have would be great! Is the Grand Princess too dated? Is a 10 day cruise too long with kids? Is the ship kid-friendly or does it skew to an older crowd? Any other recommendations? Is it worth it to fly to Seattle or Vancouver for a better cruise ship?? So many options!

 

Thanks in advance!

We too live near San Francisco and thought how great to leave from there. Our consideration though was not the ship but the limited itinerary. We had not taken an Alaska cruise before so decided on a 10 day out of Vancouver to see more ports.

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Hi everyone - thank you everyone who chimed in - I so appreciate it. Your advice was so sound and it really helped solidify in my mind and my husband's what we were looking for. 

 

We ultimately decided a few things:

  • We chose not to do the 10 day cruise because we felt it was too much time at sea and we after reviewing a lot of videos online, as beautiful as the ship is (I actually sailed on it 20 years ago when it was new) - it did look dated and I know me and my husband - that would have bugged me to have spent so much money on a ship that had visible wear and tear. 
  • We also really realized that we wanted as much time in Alaska as possible so we looked closely at time in port - going to Alaska has been a dream of my husband's for so long so this was really important.
  • We are taking our 2 boys and as much as we know they will love Alaska and probably any ship - we wanted to be on a truly family-friendly vacation.
  • Lastly - after all of your feedback - we decided leaving out of Vancouver was the way to do it to see the inside passage. 

So - we decided on the Disney Wonder in mid June 2019 we splurged and booked a room with a verandah. It's much pricier than we wanted to pay but we are also huge Disney fans and I love how Disney does it in terms of service and how they are trained, etc. I also love that the ship doesn't have a casino - although fun for me and my husband - not needed for us with the kids. I've heard mixed reviews about the food but that isn't the biggest priority for us - we aren't picky so I think we will be fine.

 

Overall I think this experience even just with my 1st post here on CC was so helpful to really nail down what it is we wanted from a cruise. I forgot how much work and comparison shopping goes into play. In any event - all the reviews here have been so helpful. Lastly - we did end up booking through Costco which has a nice perk for members - we will be getting back a nice Costco gift card which is a big bonus for our family. Thanks again everyone! 

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Great decision making process!  And thanks for coming back and putting closure on your thread.

 

We sailed on the Wonder with our whole family and it was a marvelous experience...one of the best cruises we have ever done!  (We've been on the Wonder, Magic and Dream, and all were great!)  And we thought the food/service were wonderful!  But we have friends that sailed Disney and they complained about the food/service.  But they were going into in with a 'glass half empty' attitude, (their son-in-law planned it, and they couldn't see spending the up-charge that comes with cruising Disney) so I think they were prepared to complain about anything 😉 

 

Have a great cruise!!!

 

Steve

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1 hour ago, calberry said:

Great decision making process!  And thanks for coming back and putting closure on your thread.

 

We sailed on the Wonder with our whole family and it was a marvelous experience...one of the best cruises we have ever done!  (We've been on the Wonder, Magic and Dream, and all were great!)  And we thought the food/service were wonderful!  But we have friends that sailed Disney and they complained about the food/service.  But they were going into in with a 'glass half empty' attitude, (their son-in-law planned it, and they couldn't see spending the up-charge that comes with cruising Disney) so I think they were prepared to complain about anything 😉 

 

Have a great cruise!!!

 

Steve

 

Thanks Steve! I appreciate the kind words. That is great to hear that you've had such a great experience. It's interesting to read everyone's reviews and feedback for all the ships - you can really go crazy reading everything LOL. But, as I read the reviews it became apparent to me why certain things were great or not-so-great things for certain people - which in turn helped me really think about what was most important to us. I'm looking forward to this cruise - now the next step is to plan excursions! No pressure! :) Thanks again!

Katie

 

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