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Annicruise2014

Staying on the ship in Alaska Ports

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What are your thoughts on staying on the ship in Alaska and Canada ports?  It's not warm like in the Caribbean and you can lay out on the deck. Are there things planned for those that stay on the ship?

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Most cruise ships have indoor pools that you may enjoy in Alaska while in port.  Other activities are very limited since very few folks will stay aboard in port.

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Why would you want to stay on the ship in Alaska? I am in port almost the entire time. Alaska is beautiful - while you are there - you should try to see it.

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You don’t need to pay $$$ for excursions in any of these ports.  Just walk off the ship—probably no tenders—and walk around the town.  With a little pre-planning, you can find free or low cost walking tours or even, as I did, download detailed walking tour itineraries from online sources.  (FWIW, we pre-booked a free NPS ranger-led tour in Skagway that was excellent and a pay-what-you-want walking tour in Vancouver.). After spending a couple of hours walking around town, you can head back to the ship for some quiet time before the excursion-goers return.

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1 hour ago, Annicruise2014 said:

What are your thoughts on staying on the ship in Alaska and Canada ports?  It's not warm like in the Caribbean and you can lay out on the deck. Are there things planned for those that stay on the ship?

We have been in Alaska with temps in the 90's for most of a week. Last summer in Vancouver we had minimum of mid 80's for over a month. That's not warm enough?

 

If you don't want to head ashore, I question why you would select Alaska, as the ship is secondary to the scenery and ports. In every port you are either in town, or a short walk. You don't even have to partake in the expensive excursions, as on our last cruise we did no excursions.

 

Juneau we went to the Alaska Brewery. Walked up to their store and signed up for the tour (cost about $10). They drove us to the brewery were we had a short tour, then spent the rest of the day sampling their products. They drive you back to town when you are ready.

 

Skagway - hiked up to the lower lake and then around town, where we enjoyed lunch.

 

Ketchikan - walked down the creek, browsing the shops.

 

We have done all the usual tours on previous visits, so this was a pleasant change.

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My thoughts:  Alaska cruises are more expensive.  To stay on the ship and do on board activities while in port, I'd take a less expensive cruise.

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1 hour ago, naxer said:

My thoughts:  Alaska cruises are more expensive.  To stay on the ship and do on board activities while in port, I'd take a less expensive cruise.

IMO - it is a waste to spend the money to go to Alaska and not see it. My first trip I just did 2 excursions and walked around town. The National Park Service tour is pretty good and free. I would make it a point to save some money and do some excursions. Get out of the downtown area and see some beauty that Alaska provides. They don't have to be expensive but they are more expensive than the Caribbean. Just budget accordingly for it. It would be a waste to go and not see Alaska. BTW - I didn't think I would like Alaska. I will pick Alaska over the Caribbean any day now. I find the Caribbean boring now compared to Alaska.

Edited by Coral

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I am going to be polite here.  Going to AK and not getting off the ship does not sound like a very good idea to me.

 

DON

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4 hours ago, Coral said:

Why would you want to stay on the ship in Alaska? I am in port almost the entire time. Alaska is beautiful - while you are there - you should try to see it.

That's exactly what I was thinking!

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I have to agree. Unless you are joining a group that is already going, and you just have no interest in Alaska, this is the wrong itinerary to just stay on the ship.

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Thanks for everyones thoughts on this question.   I chose THIS Alaska cruise because of the location and the bigger, (which means more people) ship.  I know it is more expensive and that is not an issue.  We are going in September, getting off in Vancouver and going BACK to Alaska for an additional week. I know it is beautiful and I DO want to see all of what Alaska is.  I have never been on an Alaskan itinerary or this big of a ship.

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Our first Alaska cruise included 6 ports, we did one inexpensive excursion. The rest of the time we spent wandering around the ports, had a wonderful time. You don’t need excursions to enjoy the beauty.

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While I agree that the thing to do in Alaska is enjoy Alaska, I will add that I also enjoy relaxing on my ship 😉 I don't recall what organized activities there were on port days [I don't tend to participate in many and we typically are on small ships], but I certainly found time to enjoy lunch on deck, a dip in the hot tub (and even pool!) and reading on deck or on my balcony after a little time wondering around ports on our own....

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2 hours ago, Annicruise2014 said:

Thanks for everyones thoughts on this question.   I chose THIS Alaska cruise because of the location and the bigger, (which means more people) ship.  I know it is more expensive and that is not an issue.  We are going in September, getting off in Vancouver and going BACK to Alaska for an additional week. I know it is beautiful and I DO want to see all of what Alaska is.  I have never been on an Alaskan itinerary or this big of a ship.

 

No one can tell you what activities will be on Ovation while in port since this upcoming season is the first time Ovation will be sailing to Alaska.  I would expect limited hours for Northstar while in port, not sure about iFly.  Solarium will be open as well as the indoor family pool.

 

I doubt you are going to the same ports on your land portion of your trip as you will on the ship.  I would get off the ship and enjoy what is there.

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You picked a ship with minimal time in Alaska. Not fully sure why you are going to Alaska in the first place.

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Strongly advise to get off in ports in Alaska or don't do cruise.   You can just do a land trip to Alaska.  Unless Alaska is a priority for you, I would advise going somewhere else due to price of getting to/around Alaska. 

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Anni:  The Alaskan ports are very different some in some other areas of the world.  For example, in both Asia and South America a number of the cruise ports are very industrial, and the items of interest are not right within walking distance.  

 

In the Alaskan ports a number of items of interest actually are within walking distance.  Alaska itineraries area popular with the crew as it is very easy for a number of the crew to actually leave the ship for an hour or two.  In Ketchikan there is a crew shuttle to take them to the local Walmart for personal shopping.  On our favorite cruise line there will be very little happening/staffed on the ship during port time -- often only one bar and the coffee shop, with no trivia offerings by the activity staff.  Not only is the Hotel Director assuming that most of the passengers will be off the ship, but they are also assuming that they can make the crew and staff happy scheduling time for them to also be off the ship if they so choose.

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Several things come to mind....

1) You will not experience "all Alaska is" in a week, or 2 weeks, or even several trips. Alaska is HUGE, and different parts of Alaska offer different things. A cruise is a great way to get a TASTE of what Southwest Alaska is, which is different than other parts of Alaska. I've been to Alaska 3 times, and each was a very different experience.

 

2) The ports in Alaska are very easy to navigate by yourself. You don't have to do an expensive excursion to have a good time there. It is unlike any other cruise you will go on. I've been on 7 cruises. Alaska is still my favorite.
 

3) In all of the excursions I've ever done, and on all vacations I've ever been on, including the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, and Mexico, my favorite thing I've EVER done was go on a helicopter ride to the dog sled camp on the glacier. YES, it's expensive, but it's worth every penny! (We booked separately from the cruise line). You can do an excursion like that and still have some time on the ship. It doesn't take all day. Or you can just go see the logging show or wander through the port area.

 

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Anni,

 

i haven’t been to AK yet, going this year.  But we will have been on an inland tour for eight days and have tours in Ketchikan and Juneau, but in Skagway we are just going to relax on the ship.  We need to figure in some rest time too.  To each his own.....just do what you want and/or need for yourself!

 

Kari

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50 minutes ago, Id rather be diving said:

Anni,

 

i haven’t been to AK yet, going this year.  But we will have been on an inland tour for eight days and have tours in Ketchikan and Juneau, but in Skagway we are just going to relax on the ship.  We need to figure in some rest time too.  To each his own.....just do what you want and/or need for yourself!

 

Kari

 

Skagway is a 10 minute walk or $2 shuttle into town, the forest service visitor center is a nice visit, you could leave before or after lunch for a few hours, enjoy a little bit of town and be back on the boat. I think the main part of town is about 6 blocks  on one street and about 3-4 on another

 

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On 1/10/2019 at 5:59 AM, Annicruise2014 said:

Thanks for everyones thoughts on this question.   I chose THIS Alaska cruise because of the location and the bigger, (which means more people) ship.  I know it is more expensive and that is not an issue.  We are going in September, getting off in Vancouver and going BACK to Alaska for an additional week. I know it is beautiful and I DO want to see all of what Alaska is.  I have never been on an Alaskan itinerary or this big of a ship.

 

Deleted

Edited by donaldsc

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PLEASE get off the ship at every port. Even if it’s just to walk the town. Talk to some locals, have a cup of coffee. It’s a complete waste to stay onboard. 

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There is plenty to do on a vacant ship, HOWEVER. In Ketchikan the ships dock within feet of store and eateries. Creek Street is within 5 minute walk. VERY convenient to take on soda and such. Juno port is very close to businesses. Skagway is about 1/2 mile, but a lot of people take the train excursions that load right next to the ship.

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So we have done two Alaska back to back cruises, both were the last cruise of the season to Alaska and then a west coast cruise ending up in LA or San Diego. We have now booked the exact same cruise for this coming year but just doing a different cruise line. 

 

Its your money so you do what you want on an Alaska cruise. On our first cruise the only organised excursion we did was in Skagway and we did the White Pass railway trip up into the Yukon and back. That was 12 years ago and it was expensive then. In Juneau we got off the ship and took ourselves up Mount Roberts and then had lunch at the Twisted Fish restaurant before we got back on board. 

 

On our second trip to Alaska our only pre-organised excursion was with Harv and Marv for whale watching and we were under whelmed considering the price we paid. We saw plenty of wildlife but our captain wanted to do her own thing and now follow the other boats and we missed out on a lot.

 

Personally its your trip and your money so do what you want. We saw lots of whales from the ship when we were at sea and just cruising. You have to have keen eyes and patience (a pair of binoculars helps as well) but for us the ship is always as much a part of the cruise as are the ports. We were generally always back on board pretty early and the restaurants were open and the indoor pool areas were usually pretty empty. We spent a fair bit of time sitting in the restaurants or bars that had views out over the town or the scenery just playing cards and watching the world pass by.

 

Im sure you will have a good time no matter what you do

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