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Wogman75

First Cruise Ever

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This will be my first cruise with my wife and son from Cleveland, OH. We book the 7 day cruise through costco travel on Norwegian Bliss with ports in

Seattle       5PM

Juneau      2:30 - 11PM

Skagway   7:00AM - 8:15PM

Glacier Bay

Ketchikan 7:00AM - 1:15PM

Victoria     8PM - 11:59

Seattle      6AM

 

We haven't book any excursions yet and was wondering if we should do that once on the ship or better to do that in advance? What should we do any ideas or must do's? I put together a trip board on trip advisor that can be seen here https://www.tripadvisor.com/Trips/83998002. I think that zip lining would be fun as our family really enjoys that. My wife would like to try dog sledding but don't know if it would be worth the money or not.I want to make the most out of this trip because don't know if we would ever get back but don't want to break the bank either. Another question I have is I arranged for transportation through the cruise line to the docks and they took my money and sent me a deviation. They didn't give me any other instructions will they be waiting for me when I get off my flight? How will I find them? We also have a tight timeline on departure I booked our flights according to cruise line guidelines but they are the bare minimum. On the return flight flying home will they debark us in order of priority to make our flight, again they are transporting us to and from the docks to airport. Booking and trying to figure this vacation has been a fun but daunting task for someone who has never done this before. Thanks in advance Paul.

 

 

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Search on this board to find excursions that interest you. Most of the ones you can buy on the ship can be arranged independently for less money. Some places you don't need to book in advance--such as if you want to take a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau or want to take the tram up to the top of Mt. Roberts there. The big thing you should do is plan on what you're doing in each port. Our first cruise to Alaska was a similar itinerary on a Princess ship. The only port where I booked an excursion through the ship was snorkeling in Ketchikan. That was primarily due to our short time in port there--plus it was something I really wanted to do.

 

Here is one person's report of how there are lots of things to do inexpensively: 

 

 

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We aren't allowed to mention travel agent so you might want to edit the travel agent name to big box store.

Do you want to see whales, then Juneau might be a good choice. Join your roll call and you might be able to do private excursions with other members, otherwise the online excursions where you arranged your travel are 10% off when you cruise.

 

Skagway you can take the train up to the boarder, then a van out into the Yukon and back.

Skagway is about 4 blocks by 5 blocks so lots to see just walking. The forest service as a visitors center with lots of information and some presentations. The history of the Gold rush is pretty fascinating.

 

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If there is an excursion you want to do, I would book it to avoid it being sold out.

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I prefer to book independently whenever/wherever I can - it's typically cheaper AND I prefer the control ;-) It's not necessary in Alaska, but finding a group on a roll call to do a private tour is so nice in lots of ports!

 

I will book through the cruise if it's something I can only get there, like the Ventures zodiac tours on Seabourn last fall.

 

[Alaska was my first cruise too! It was 1986, on HAL - don't know which ship at this point - with my parents, in an interior cabin...]

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Please bear in mind that an Alaskan cruise is VERY different from one sailing in the Caribbean. First of all, you can be lucky with the weather, but expect rain and cool temperatures, so you may spend a lot of sailing time indoors and not lounging around the pool getting a tan.

 

Don't get me wrong, Alaska's an awesome destination and still remains our best vacation ever. In fact, we'll be up there (from Georgia) in August.

 

I recommend that you try and make your second or subsequent cruise on that's sailing to warmer climes so you have a true reflection on what cruising has to offer.

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1 hour ago, Guindalf said:

I recommend that you try and make your second or subsequent cruise on that's sailing to warmer climes so you have a true reflection on what cruising has to offer.

 

Not all of us enjoy warmth or beaches. I could never visit the Caribbean again and die happy ;-)

 

There are LOTS of places one can cruise, pleasing all sort of people. Yes, one should research and figure out what is on offer and what sounds appealing. Sand, heat, Caribbean, crowds? No thank you....

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8 minutes ago, Hoyaheel said:

 

Not all of us enjoy warmth or beaches. I could never visit the Caribbean again and die happy 😉

 

There are LOTS of places one can cruise, pleasing all sort of people. Yes, one should research and figure out what is on offer and what sounds appealing. Sand, heat, Caribbean, crowds? No thank you....

 

+1 on this comment.  I understand why people who live in places where winter is severe might want to go to the Caribbean but I can't personally imagine any other reason for going there.  I have been to the Caribbean twice.  It was one time too many.  Just my opinion clearly not shared by many.

 

DON

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It just seemed odd in this thread, which is about Alaska. If someone wanted a recommendation on where to cruise, and/or said they wanted things that a Caribbean cruise could offer, sure.....

 

[FYI - Alaska is the only cruise destination I've repeated thus far- 3 AK cruises :-) Of course, we do a lot of land trips and don't cruise as often as so many on this messageboard, but other than NYC, we don't tend to repeat any vacation destination. TOO MUCH to see in this great big world ;-)]

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8 hours ago, Wogman75 said:

... Another question I have is I arranged for transportation through the cruise line to the docks and they took my money and sent me a deviation. They didn't give me any other instructions will they be waiting for me when I get off my flight? How will I find them? We also have a tight timeline on departure I booked our flights according to cruise line guidelines but they are the bare minimum. ...

How tight are we talking? Because if your flight is delayed and you don't board the ship in Seattle, you will be on your own if you booked it yourself... even if it's within the guidelines, NCL are not going to hold the ship for you if you are late, and thanks to PVSA rules you cannot fly ahead to any other port except Victoria to join the ship (it's illegal for a foreign flag ship to move people between 2 US ports). Having their transfer is meaningless if your independently-booked flight isn't on time!

 

You could certainly find things to enjoy in and around Seattle, but even if you have insurance there will be a raft of potential exclusions that enable them to weasel out of refunding you for your vacation because of a delayed flight. You'll find that there are very, very few people on these board who do not recommend arriving the day before - and even the folks who do recommend flying in same day would be pushing you to a) the earliest possible non-stop flight and/or b) booking air through the cruiseline, so that if there is a problem THEY are on the hook to get you to your ship, eating any levied fines for doing so, or getting refunded for your missed trip...

 

So first  I strongly suggest looking at alternative flights, and eating the cost of a change fee if there's no padding in your schedule. Whether you do that or stick to your close-to-the-limit flight, assuming it lands on time you should find someone with a sign or clipboard displaying the NCL logo hanging around the luggage claim area.

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We arrive about 6 hours before the ship departs at the start of the trip but on departure we leaving only 4 hours after we arrive in port of seattle.

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FWIW, dog sledding was one of the best things we’ve done anywhere, and if you think this might be your only trip to Alaska - or even if you don’t - I think you’d be very happy you made budget room for a dogsledding excursion, either with the cruise line or independently.  Whale watching in Juneau is also something that’s very popular, for good reason.  It’s an amazing site to see pods of whales from a (relatively) small boat.  Again, you can book this independently, or with the cruise line for more $$.  

Whatever you elect to do, I second 1025cruises’s recommendation to book in advance.  It ensures that you get the excursion you want, and it also helps give you an “anchor” event for each port day, so you can build other things into your schedule around that in advance.   The White Pass railroad is a wonderful thing to do, as well, at least once, so I’d recommend that you at least check that out as an option.

 

So, if your return flight is at 10:00 a.m., that’s going to be tight.  Everything will have to work perfectly - which it may, but it also may not.  It will eliminate a ton of stress if you check into alternatives now; otherwise, I’m afraid you’ll be worrying about it in the back of your mind during your entire trip.  If there’s any way to move your flight to later in the day - even 12:00 noon would help, but I’d suggest 1:00 p.m. or later - even if there are some penalties or additional costs involved, I’d strongly recommend you do that if you can at all fit it into the budget.

 

Finally, I’d recommend that you call Norwegian and ask them, very specifically, how everything works upon arrival, since you’ve booked your air independently.   It’s your first time dealing with this, so asking detailed questions and getting detailed answers directly from the cruise line is going to make you feel a lot better about what happens when you step off the airplane.  (In general, as Martincath noted above, you’ll go to baggage claim and get your luggage, and there will be a Norwegian rep with a sign that will be fairly easy to spot.  But I’d still call NCL, give them your flight number and arrival time, and ask very specific questions about exactly where and how you are to find the representative.)

 

 

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23 hours ago, Wogman75 said:

This will be my first cruise with my wife and son from Cleveland, OH. We book the 7 day cruise through costco travel on Norwegian Bliss with ports in

Seattle       5PM

Juneau      2:30 - 11PM

Skagway   7:00AM - 8:15PM

Glacier Bay

Ketchikan 7:00AM - 1:15PM

Victoria     8PM - 11:59

Seattle      6AM

 

We haven't book any excursions yet and was wondering if we should do that once on the ship or better to do that in advance? What should we do any ideas or must do's? I put together a trip board on trip advisor that can be seen here https://www.tripadvisor.com/Trips/83998002. I think that zip lining would be fun as our family really enjoys that. My wife would like to try dog sledding but don't know if it would be worth the money or not.I want to make the most out of this trip because don't know if we would ever get back but don't want to break the bank either. Another question I have is I arranged for transportation through the cruise line to the docks and they took my money and sent me a deviation. They didn't give me any other instructions will they be waiting for me when I get off my flight? How will I find them? We also have a tight timeline on departure I booked our flights according to cruise line guidelines but they are the bare minimum. On the return flight flying home will they debark us in order of priority to make our flight, again they are transporting us to and from the docks to airport. Booking and trying to figure this vacation has been a fun but daunting task for someone who has never done this before. Thanks in advance Paul.

 

Keep in mind....the minimum required boarding time for the Bliss in Seattle is 2 hr before departure.

 

 

Screenshot (156).png

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So our plane get into Seattle by 11:15 AM so that should allow us plenty of time to board at least 2 hours in advance.

 

So can I do for example a 3:30 Whale Watching Tour in Juneau? We don't have to wait 2 hours to get off the boat at various ports. I assume that we can get off at whatever the arrival time is listed and head out to our excursions.

 

So here is what I thinking after planning this all day with my Wife.

 

Juneau - Whale Watching/Mendenhall Glacier Combo tour.

Skagway - Full day tour of the Yukon (Frontier)

Ketchikan - Sea plane flightseeing tour of Misty Fjords (Carlin Air)

 

 

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I don't know how often our OP flies across the country, but I would never arrive the day of the cruise departure.  A major weather event can disrupt air travel across the continent.  And we have experienced mechanical delays including times when an alternate plane had to be used.  We have never cruised with NCL but our favorite cruise line requires passengers be on board for embarkation at least 90 minutes prior to departure.  Please consider changing that air and fly into Seattle a day before.

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Here is a video interview with an Alaskan travel guide and his recommendations at 5 different ports. 

 

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I watched this and it helped me alot. I did take his advice on some stuff but didn't do the train ride as a first time visitor because I wanted to get out and see stuff and take pictures. I would have done the DIYJeep tour, but when I checked the rentals for the day we were in port was already booked up. I have booked all my excursions for now and would like to thank everyone for there help.

 

 

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On 6/8/2019 at 6:30 PM, Wogman75 said:

We arrive about 6 hours before the ship departs at the start of the trip but on departure we leaving only 4 hours after we arrive in port of seattle.

Are you TSA Pre-checked to shorten time at TSA lines?  Ship arrives at 600 needs to clear customs, and first passengers debark around 700.  You could be tight with SEATAC history of long TSA lines.

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I had to recheck our luggage on Saturday of Memorial day weekend, the wait was two hours or more because we weren't precheck.

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On 7/1/2019 at 6:27 AM, Wogman75 said:

Thanks for advice we will be TSA precheck.

 

What does TSA precheck mean if you don’t mind me asking? 

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