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paulgraff

Best way to cruise Alaska???

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Hi,

 

Confused on best way to cruise Alaska, inbound or outbound, time of year, etc...

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

PG

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1 minute ago, paulgraff said:

Hi,

 

Confused on best way to cruise Alaska, inbound or outbound, time of year, etc...

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

PG

Alaska cruising is only during (roughly) end of May to maybe mid September so your options are somewhat limited. The most expensive/popular times are probably July/August.  But it's great no matter which sailing date you pick.  We did our first Alaska sailing as a closed loop out of Seattle for the inside passage.  That only made us want more. Then about 2 years ago, we did the land and cruise tour. We started in Fairbanks, toured down to Seward and cruised to Vancouver.

 

Ultimately, it comes down to your time and financial options and then your preferences. I will say, if you can afford it, do try to get a balcony so you can see the amazing views as much as possible.  And enjoy.

Erika

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I personally think the best way to cruise Alaska is a one way from either Vancouver or Seward on the Radiance. Spend a night or two in Vancouver and then spend some time in Alaska before or after the cruise.

 

With that said, if ships are important to you, you might want to try out Ovation on a roundtrip cruise from Seattle. Gives you less time in Alaska, but offers the North Star and fantastic sea views from interior spaces (Two70, Solarium, etc). Radiance will offer a quieter experience, but the views are great and she is still a fantastic ship. 

 

I can't comment on the best time of year, but we went the first week of June and the weather was fantastic. 

 

I would also recommend getting a balcony if possible. 

Edited by OfTheSeasCruiser

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Some reading on the board would be valuable. You would learn, for example, that Glacier Bay is a very desirable site, and that, in contrast to the RCI advertisement above, that RCI doesn't sail to Glacier Bay, so you would miss some of the most amazing views in Alaska if you sail RCI.

 

What does "inbound or outbound" mean? There are one way trips, and roundtrip cruises. There are 7, 10 and 14 day cruises, with a small sprinkling of other length trips as well.

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I see you are coming from New Orleans so depending on what your budget is, you will want to consider where your departure ports - generally San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver or Seward/Whittier in Alaska. Flying in and out of the same city for your cruise tends to be more cost effective, and in those instances make a round trip cruise easier to budget. The one way cruises that sail from Vancouver to Seward or Whittier or vice versa are great and probably the most scenic, but you will need to fly into one city and out of another unless you have 14 days available and can do a back 2 back cruise, which we have done and loved it! Other things to consider when making your choice are the ship and itinerary - we tend to favor Princess, but there are many lines cruising Alaska - you really want to look for which one offers the itinerary that works best for you and ideally gives you long days in the ports and a scenic visit to Glacier Bay would be important to me if this was my first cruise to Alaska. You might look back through the archives here and read some of the trip reports to get some sense of the different options. 

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I'd say the best way to cruise to Alaska is as frequently as possible. If you're doing a land tour in addition to the cruise, many people recommend doing it first followed by the cruise. That's what we did one our one cruise tour--flying to Fairbanks and then five nights on land followed by seven nights on the ship. Our two previous cruises to Alaska were round-trip ones from Seattle. They were great, too, but you only get a tiny glimpse of Alaska on them.

 

I'm booked for round-trip cruises next month from Vancouver to Whittier and return. I'll get to go to Glacier Bay both ways. Going up the ship goes to College Fjord. On the way back it goes to Hubbard Glacier. It goes to Icy Strait Point on the way up and Ketchikan on the way back. We'll have stops in Juneau and Skagway both ways, but the port times are better on the way up. If you want to maximize your time in ports, northbound, at least on Princess, seems to be the way to go. For instance, we'll be in Juneau from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. on the northbound cruise and from 6:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the southbound. 

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4 hours ago, geoherb said:

For instance, we'll be in Juneau from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. on the northbound cruise and from 6:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the southbound. 

You really should do AdventureBound Alaska trip to Tracy Arm on that first Juneau day! It does beat the Whittier excursion.

 

https://www.adventureboundalaska.com 

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Best is in the eye of beholder.  I've only cruised to Alaska four times and each was 'best' but for different reasons.  Every visit is different, that's Alaska.

 

Balconies are great but that is depending on prices and your financial situation.  Balconies can be twice or more the price of interior cabins.  Go twice in interior or once in balcony?  I'd take two visits every time.   

 

Alaska excursions are expensive but incredible.  If money is a consideration, book interior but splurge on excursions.  My best memories are from my time on excursions, not time on balconies when I've had them.  If money isn't an issue by all means a balcony is better as long as it doesn't cause you to miss out on great excursions due to overall budget.   I spent $900 per person on excursions this year but they were great!

 

When at a glacier or other notable destination I'm all over the ship from low decks to high decks to helipad if its accessible.  I'd never watch a glacier from my balcony because the ship turns and you miss stuff stuck on one side.  

 

Seattle round trip are easy to fly to and easy to plan.  They are a great starter Alaska experience or even for a seasoned Alaska cruiser who just wants a less expensive and easy to execute Alaskan cruise .  The one-way North/South take more planning and booking flights tends to be more expensive but in general terms they visit more ports because they don't have to back track and incur extra sea days getting back to Seattle or Vancouver.  

 

Carefully looks at times in each port as you compare itineraries.  Some cruises require a stop in Victoria to keep the cruise legal with respect to the PVSA but sometimes those stops are 6pm to 11pm which sucks. Victoria is a beautiful city but arriving at dinner time when stores and attractions are closing limits options.  It never ceases to amaze me that people complain about limited times in a port when they booked it that way and the cruise line delivered exactly what they booked.  Pay attention to details like arrival and departure times in each port.

Edited by twangster

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