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14 Day Alaska v. Alaska Cruise Tour

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CC Members,

I am looking for comment from experienced Alaska cruisers.  For many years I have been looking at the HAL 14 day cruise.  I have read reviews and comments on this site and I don't recall reading one negative thing about the 14 day cruise.  And I love the small ships!  I had the cruise booked for last year, and then cancelled it to go to Cuba.  I'm looking to book in the next couple of days for September 2020.  My issue/question is will I be disappointed if I don't do a land tour and visit Denali and the Yukon?  Your thoughts and experience are appreciated.

Thank you,

BaltimoreCruise 

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To me, those are two different---but each very worthwhile---trips. I love the 14-day Alaska cruise, and have taken the HAL version of it 3 times; I'm taking the 21-day version this year.
I have also done a land tour, along with a 7-day cruise, and done a 7-day cruise, then toured on my own.
All of these trips have offered a different experience, none of which I wish I had skipped.

I always recommend a cruise only if it's your first trip to Alaska, and the scenery along the coast gives the most BANG! for the buck. The 14-day cruise, especially, is good because it brings you to less visited ports. Some of those ports will offer you excursions inland, that are also worthwhile.

You can always do a land tour on your next trip to Alaska. (once there, you will want to do another trip to Alaska).

Whatever you choose, you cannot go wrong on this. Have a great time in The Great Land.

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I've done only cruises in Alaska, not land tours, but I agree with Ruth. The 14-day has interesting ports and offers a good variety of land excursions. 

 

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We have taken the 14 day Alaska Cruise 4 times on 3 different ships:  The Amsterdam, Statendam and Zaandam.  Visiting Anchorage, along with the scenery, especially around Homer/Kodiak is spectacular and I highly recommend this cruise!  I would do this cruise first before a land tour.

Karen

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I have experienced the 14-Day and the Denali cruisetour.  I have booked them again for the next two years.  Anytime you go to Alaska you will be disappointed that you missed something and with so much to see, you just have to choose.  It is my experience that once you experience Alaska, there is a large probability that you will return.

 

The smaller HAL ships are my preference and the whale watching in Icy Strait Point is the very best.

 

image.png.495c25a36c421d9eed3690d46e6116f9.png

 

The Denali cruisetour is unique in the amount of wildlife in view.  I would avoid Fairbanks as the final destination unless you like flights home after midnight.

 

image.png.654237b87de8becc21a142d32e9dd94e.png

 

image.png.0215a95af43c81f82c1badb15845bc90.png

Edited by Crew News

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25 minutes ago, Crew News said:

The Denali cruisetour is unique in the amount of wildlife in view.  I would avoid Fairbanks as the final destination unless you like flights home after midnight.

We found that out after we booked our cruise for July. However through HAL's Flight Ease we found a return flight on Alaska Airlines that leaves Fairbanks at 8am and has us back home in Dallas, Tx before midnight that day. It stops in Seattle to change planes. This was the only flight out that did not leave at 1:30am or after 5pm and required flying all night. Flight Ease also saved us about $400 pp over what we could do on our own.

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We have done the 14 day cruise twice and enjoyed it both times.  Also have done a 14 day Land Sea cruise thru the Yukon and Denali and loved it also.  Both are very different.  Here is a link to our review on the Land /Sea cruise we did in 2016 with pictures.

 

Here is a link to photos taken on our last 14 day Alaska cruise from Seattle on the Amsterdam in 2014.

https://onedrive.live.com/?id=7AFC87CDF2F6DCA!11426&cid=07AFC87CDF2F6DCA

 

 

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We've been cruising Alaska just about every year since 1992.  Are we addicted?  Yes.

The first year we just did a round trip, the second year we did a tour followed by a cruise.  Since then we've done B2B a couple of times, the 14-day six times, and several "one offs".  There's always something new to see and visiting some of the smaller towns each year is like going to visit Grandmother each summer.

To sum up, you can't go wrong with whatever decision you make, but be prepared to go again to see the things you didn't see the first time.

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The HAL 14 day out of Seattle is probably still my favourite cruise to date (Amsterdam in 2012). It is hard to compare a cruise only to a cruise with a land portion as they are different, not apples to apples.  Read some reviews of the 14 day itinerary and you will see it is a favourite of many. I would do it again in a heartbeat! It was so good it almost spoiled doing a ‘regular’ 7 day roudtrip Alaska itinerary now.  Having said all of the above I do hope to get to Denali one day!

 

My Review from 2012 (with some photos)

Edited by trophy_23

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We've done mostly 7-day cruises out of Seattle and Vancouver.  Also done a few longer out of San Francisco.  Sometimes, the 14-day doesn't include Skagway.  The 14-day in 2020 does Haines instead.  We've also done a 13-day cruisetour on Princess.  We're hoping they return to Seattle in 2021.  We're considering a 2021 Panama Canal to Seattle followed by a (hopefully) 14-day Alaska.  Will probably have to change to a smaller ship for Alaska.

 

We like the scenic cruising option.  Last year, we did two 7-day B2B.  Alaska closed circuit Vancouver, followed  by a a cruise that took us to Seattle.  Starting w/ the Pacific Coastal from San Diego, we had to get off the ship in Vancouver and board a new ship the next day so it would comply with the PSVA.

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1 hour ago, trophy_23 said:

The HAL 14 day out of Seattle is probably still my favourite cruise to date (Amsterdam in 2012). It is hard to compare a cruise only to a cruise with a land portion as they are different, not apples to apples.

For some one doing their first Alaska cruise, going out of Seattle HAL itineraries this year bypass cruising the inside Passage which I think is one of the best parts of the Alaska cruise. Most of the 14 day cruises from Vancouver include the Inside Passage both leaving and returning. When you do not cruise the inside passage the first night and day are spent cruising the open ocean west of Vancouver Island. My parents did this 15 years ago and during a strong pacific storm,  the  cruise was so rough that a  huge number of the passengers were seasick for almost 2 days. My mother was so sick she could hardly leave her cabin. Cruising the Inside Passage is like river cruising  and you are never out of sight of land with a lot to see from you balconies.

Edited by terrydtx

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1 hour ago, terrydtx said:

For some one doing their first Alaska cruise, going out of Seattle HAL itineraries this year bypass cruising the inside Passage which I think is one of the best parts of the Alaska cruise. Most of the 14 day cruises from Vancouver include the Inside Passage both leaving and returning. When you do not cruise the inside passage the first night and day are spent cruising the open ocean west of Vancouver Island. My parents did this 15 years ago and during a strong pacific storm,  the  cruise was so rough that a  huge number of the passengers were seasick for almost 2 days. My mother was so sick she could hardly leave her cabin. Cruising the Inside Passage is like river cruising  and you are never out of sight of land with a lot to see from you balconies.

 

This was the case when we went in 2012 as well, but the seas were ok.  If you leave from Vancouver you miss doing Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage (proper).  

 

When you say 14 day out of Vancouver you are just combining 7 day NB & SB itineraries, if that is the 14day that OP wanted to compare to then I’d chose one with a land portion, rather than doing the same port over again which often happens.

Edited by trophy_23

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I sailed on the Amsterdam a couple of years ago on her 14 day itinerary and really enjoyed the opportunity to see some new ports (Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage) that one does not usually visit.  I have not done any cruise/land tour with any cruise line.  After several visits to Alaska, including those to visit my Nephew and his family who live in Anchorage, I have yet to visit Denali.  I am going again this Summer and this time, I'm getting to Denali.  I hope.

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4 hours ago, trophy_23 said:

 

This was the case when we went in 2012 as well, but the seas were ok.  If you leave from Vancouver you miss doing Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage (proper).  

 

When you say 14 day out of Vancouver you are just combining 7 day NB & SB itineraries, if that is the 14day that OP wanted to compare to then I’d chose one with a land portion, rather than doing the same port over again which often happens.

 

In 2020 HAL is shifting the true 14 day itinerary to Vancouver instead of Seattle, and it will be on the Maasdam. Kodiak, Sitka and Victoria are dropped and Valdez and Haines are added, along with cruising Misty Fjords and the inside passage.  HAL is not repeating the 21 day itinerary offered on Maasdam in 2019 for 2020.

 

I personally prefer the 2020 itinerary over the one that has been offered from Seattle for the last number of years. We're we not already committed for 2019 I'd book Maasdam in 2020 in a heartbeat!

 

HAL will have 7 ships in Alaska in 2020 - Eurodam and Oosterdam from Seattle doing 7nt round trips, Konigsdam and Volendam from Vancouver doing 7nt round trips, Noordam and Westerdam between Vancouver/Seward on the 7nt one way cruises, and Maasdam from Vancouver doing 14 day cruises.

 

Amsterdam will not sail Alaska in 2020, she will instead be in Canada/NE along with the Zaandam.  Nieuw Amsterdam returns to Europe in 2020 doing Mediterranean cruises. 

 

 

My mother and I chose the 14 day cruise over a land/sea journey. The ability to unpack/pack only once and no shuffling from hotel to hotel for us outweighed going to Denali or Fairbanks.  Also with the cruise only option there is no worrying about budgeting for meals, etc. As the 14 day cruise has 8 ports we are able to do far more in terms of variety. In fact we are doing 11 shore excursions (doubling up in 3 ports). We would not have had as much free time on the land/sea journey to do so many different things. 

Edited by AtlantaCruiser72

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Thank you to everyone that took the time to share your experiences.  I'm planning to book the 14 day, hopefully this morning!

 

BaltimoreCruise

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3 hours ago, BaltimoreCruise said:

Thank you to everyone that took the time to share your experiences.  I'm planning to book the 14 day, hopefully this morning!

Excellent choice.
Enjoy.

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Atlanta Cruiser72 - Thanks for the summary of HAL ships in Alaska for 2020. I am pleased to learn  Amsterdam is doing Canada New England.  That will be quite aswitch since she has been doing Alaska for years.

Edited by SJSULIBRARIAN

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Here is another vote for the 14 day Alaskan cruise --we did it twice on the Amsterdam and loved it.

 

Many, many years ago we did the land portion first and then the cruise.  We were younger than, but the land portion was long and wore us out.  We were glad to get on the ship and rest.

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You ask a good question, re land-cruise vs cruise.  And I like either one equally.  They are different, but each so interesting.  Definitely do the 14 day itinerary, as you will visit many ports not always seen.  For the land-cruise, we flew into Fairbanks first, several days before boarding the train to Denali.  The University is in that city, and actually we had a lot to see and visit.  And also easy to get around on buses or taxis.  HAL put us in a suite-style room while we were in Flagstaff.  Even the locals were fun to visit, altho we were only tourists.  Denali is certainly worth seeing, we only stayed for two days.  There is a three-day excursion also.  Lots of wildlife to see in Denali, and also from the train.  I even saw a moose running across the street just after boarding the bus to the hotel in Fairbanks.  Ending up at Anchorage and the sailing to Vancouver also was very scenic.  I'm scheduled for another 14 day cruise later this year, but I look longingly at the Yukon-land-cruise trip.  Perhaps next year.  Hope this info helps.

Marianne

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