Jump to content

Sending Mom on a Cruise--help!!


Recommended Posts

O.K., I'm in a bit over my head.

 

Last year I went on an Alaskan cruise (Uncruise) and loved it. I thought I'd send my mom on a regular Alaskan Cruise, thinking if I'd pay then another relative who used to be in the cruise sale business would help plan. No luck there! So now I'm scrambling to figure things out and I have out-of-town visitors for a week so no real time. I think I need help.

 

Here's what I know so far:

 

My mom and her companion are around 80 years old with no significant mobility issues. Both first timers to Alaska, my mother has been on one prior cruise.

 

Budget is $1500 each, not including airfare. This includes excursions. They are not big drinkers.

 

The only "must sees" are Tracy Arm (from a smaller boat on an excursion) and Glacier Bay--all the way into it, not just the entrance. I think the Glacier Bay requirement will greatly reduce the number of possibilities but I don't know how to easily tell if a ship goes in or not and how to search for that.

 

They want to travel in August of 2019, September as a back up.

 

They are not versed in internet searches, etc so all of the research will fall to me. I am a Costco member if those deals are any good.

 

Please help me narrow my search down.....or to ask better questions.  🙂

 

--Darin

Link to post
Share on other sites

August is pretty close. Many people make reservations a year in advance. 1500 isn’t a huge budget, but could be do able depending on their expectations. Are they OK with an interior room or an ocean view (not balcony) room? This close to the cruise there might not be  huge selection of cabins left. Some might be in undesirable locations such as under the gym or theater, but you never know till you try. I did a quick search on princess and there is availability in August. An ocean view room would be in the mid 500s. The excursion in Tracy Fjord is $259 so she would already be at about half her budget. You’ll need to go to each cruise line’s website and search for Alaska cruises in August. You could try princess, Norwegian, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival (might be too much of a party atmosphere for 80 year olds). If they go in September there will be a lot fewer kids if that matters to them. Also consider that many people fly to the embarkation city the day before the cruise (flying in the same day is risky due to the possibilities of late or cancelled flights which might mean missing the cruise) which will add a day of hotel expenses. Also check to see if they have a passport. They may need it for Canada travel.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Even with a shared Inside room that might be too tight a budget, though this August there will be 'after final payment' deals (but this means short-notice flights, precruise hotel etc etc unless you/they live in Seattle/Vancouver area?) The Tracy Arm excursion alone runs over $200pp, Glacier Bay in peak season means a limited number of ships still mostly Princess/HAL; heck, depending what other excursions they want to do that entire budget could end up being spent just on excursions!!!

 

One-way deals are more common than RT deals - but flight costs almost always end up higher, and a one-way also means Vancouver so passports are needed - do they both have them already?

 

Costco deals tend to similar to other agencies with OBC, but with sometimes extra bonus in the form of cash cards to shop @ Costco, delivered after you cruise - so that won't save extra upfront cash and unless mum is also a member you'd need to be squaring each other up for the price of the card.

 

Lack of including airfare is also problematic - that could vary significantly, especially if consdering one-way cruises - so you really should be looking at the overall total for the whole thing. Do they have hotel points? If not, a precruise hotel stay is also necessary to factor in - and even if they do, expenses while staying a day or two precruise to adjust time zones (where are they coming from? Are they experienced travelers?), cost of transfers airport/hotel/pier.

 

In short, if you're looking for useful help you really need to supply more information...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some last minute sales from Royal Caribbean, won't go to Glacier Bay though, Round trips from Seattle and one ways from Vancouver and Seward.

 

Good luck planing this, we aren't going until July of 2020 and I feel like I'm behind now on planning things, can't imagine on taking a Alaska Cruise in 45 days with no plans of anykind in place alreadyl.

 

Good Luck with whatever you decide.

 

http://www.creative.rccl.com/Sales/Royal/Multi_Dest/Special_Offers/rci_sales_event.pdf

 

..

Edited by Jimbo
Link to post
Share on other sites

We just came back from a 10-day Alaskan cruise last week which was round trip from Vancouver. We are frequent travelers in our 70s and have been to Alaska many times on both land trips and cruises, and we have sailed several times in and out of Vancouver. Never have we experienced so much trouble getting through the Vancouver airport.

 

Even though we had transportation furnished by the cruise line and we disembarked on a weekday (Thursday) with little activity at the port, it was still a 45-minute drive to the airport and after arrival, it took us well over two hours to get to our gate. Check-in lines were very long to check ourselves in and pay baggage fees, print boarding passes, print luggage tags, apply luggage tags, and after the agent weighed the bags, she gave them back to us to haul them to the conveyor belt and place them on the belt. The lines going through Canadian security/customs for international flights were also long and slow. Canada does not have the TSA precheck; everyone takes off their shoes, etc. After you get through with the Canadians, you get to go through American customs. After all that standing and a lot of walking, we were wiped out by the time we got to our departure gate.

 

You didn't mention whether your mother and her companion flew often and knew their way around airports. If not, you might want to seriously consider a roundtrip out of Seattle which means that they would go through Canadian immigration at their port stop, and most cruise lines do that on the ship. That only leaves American customs to deal with on return. SEA-TAC is a big airport, too but I still think it might be easier to deal with for people their age. Both Holland America and Princess have trips out of Seattle that go to Glacier Bay.

 

It's a wonderful thing you are doing for your mother. I hope you find a trip that works well for her and for you. Good luck. 

Edited by Tricia724
typo
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/30/2019 at 1:11 PM, darinboville said:

O.K., I'm in a bit over my head.

 

Last year I went on an Alaskan cruise (Uncruise) and loved it. I thought I'd send my mom on a regular Alaskan Cruise, thinking if I'd pay then another relative who used to be in the cruise sale business would help plan. No luck there! So now I'm scrambling to figure things out and I have out-of-town visitors for a week so no real time. I think I need help.

 

Here's what I know so far:

 

My mom and her companion are around 80 years old with no significant mobility issues. Both first timers to Alaska, my mother has been on one prior cruise.

 

Budget is $1500 each, not including airfare. This includes excursions. They are not big drinkers.

 

The only "must sees" are Tracy Arm (from a smaller boat on an excursion) and Glacier Bay--all the way into it, not just the entrance. I think the Glacier Bay requirement will greatly reduce the number of possibilities but I don't know how to easily tell if a ship goes in or not and how to search for that.

 

They want to travel in August of 2019, September as a back up.

 

They are not versed in internet searches, etc so all of the research will fall to me. I am a Costco member if those deals are any good.

 

Please help me narrow my search down.....or to ask better questions.  🙂

 

--Darin

excursion budget is not very good. cost me $1,344 for an excursion 2 people.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/30/2019 at 11:11 AM, darinboville said:

Last year I went on an Alaskan cruise (Uncruise) and loved it. I thought I'd send my mom on a regular Alaskan Cruise, thinking if I'd pay then another relative who used to be in the cruise sale business would help plan. No luck there! So now I'm scrambling to figure things out and I have out-of-town visitors for a week so no real time. I think I need help.

 

Recognize that Uncruise is a VERY different experience from what is offered by the mainstream cruise lines.

 

On 6/30/2019 at 11:11 AM, darinboville said:

My mom and her companion are around 80 years old with no significant mobility issues. Both first timers to Alaska, my mother has been on one prior cruise.

 

Budget is $1500 each, not including airfare. This includes excursions. They are not big drinkers.

 

The only "must sees" are Tracy Arm (from a smaller boat on an excursion) and Glacier Bay--all the way into it, not just the entrance. I think the Glacier Bay requirement will greatly reduce the number of possibilities but I don't know how to easily tell if a ship goes in or not and how to search for that.

 

Check Holland America, many of their cruises go to Glacier Bay, and often offer the small boat excursion (transfer from the ship to the boat in the ocean) to Tracy Arm.

 

On 6/30/2019 at 11:11 AM, darinboville said:

They want to travel in August of 2019, September as a back up.

 

I'd recommend August for a better chance of decent weather.  No guarantees, of course .... but the chances are better.

 

Tracy Arm small boat excursion -- last time I checked it was about $250/person.  It books up quickly.  As soon as you decide on a cruise, book that excursion if it is a "must do".

 

Keep asking questions.  You CAN get this arranged. It may require some trade-offs, but you can make it happen. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

If they slide their time frame a little later, they can get into sholder season and cruise prices drop, but weather can be worse.  Though I just checked NCL, and if they can a northbound on the Jewel, you can get a OV for $499 pp.  We did a southbound on the Jewel and loved it, but did Hubbard instead of GB.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/3/2019 at 6:16 AM, misguy said:

If they slide their time frame a little later, they can get into sholder season and cruise prices drop, but weather can be worse.  Though I just checked NCL, and if they can a northbound on the Jewel, you can get a OV for $499 pp.  We did a southbound on the Jewel and loved it, but did Hubbard instead of GB.

When my sister retired, I treated her to an Alaska cruise on HAL in Sept.  My DH and I had been to Alaska several times, but never in Sept.  I would never go there in Sept. again.  It rained a lot and, most importantly, the slopes around Johns Hopkins Glacier (the main one in GB) were a muddy mess and the glacier itself not as impressive as it is in May/June.  I would highly recommend avoiding going there in Sept. and go instead early in the season when prices are lower than in high season, it at all possible..

Link to post
Share on other sites

O.K., thanks for all the great feedback. Here is the state of things as of today:

 

I'm looking at Holland America since it sees they go into Glacier Bay. That helps to narrow things down.

 

My Mom is traveling with a companion so I am waiting to hear back on whether that companion has a passport and double-checking their availability dates, both of which will narrow things down quite a bit. Costco pricing looks good but I will double check with Cruise Critic and Holland America sites before finalizing.

 

Now, more advice if you don't mind. I know I don't have a specific cruise yet but I'm trying to narrow down the excursions, to present them with a simple and interesting menu. I think the activity level will primarily be "easy" with maybe a moderate thrown in as appropriate.

 

What are the "must do" excursions? Booking through Costco for these the right move or is on-ship cheaper?

 

Also, how much should I budget for food in port?

 

Will have much more info very soon...

 

--Darin

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, darinboville said:

I know I don't have a specific cruise yet but I'm trying to narrow down the excursions, to present them with a simple and interesting menu. I think the activity level will primarily be "easy" with maybe a moderate thrown in as appropriate.

 

I would suggest that for simplicity/ease of doing things/getting where they need to go, book through the cruise line.  The following are all just my humble thoughts 🙂  I'm sure others will give you other great ideas, too.

 

If you get them on the small boat excursion to Tracy Arm, that pretty much takes the entire time the ship is in Juneau.  The small boat will take them back to Juneau but they won't have time to do much else.  If you don't get them on that small boat excursion, whale watching in Juneau is good.  Sometimes there's a smaller than usual excursion offered, through the ship, on a Gastineau Guiding boat -- it's called something like "Get to Know Alaska's Whales" or similar.  About 20 people.  BUT (and this is important) there's only a marine head as a bathroom on those boats.  If bathroom availability/comfort is important, get them on the regular whale watch that is offered through the ship.  Those boats have a real walk-in bathroom 😉  which helps compensate for being with 100 other people.

 

If the cruise goes to Skagway, the White Pass Railway excursions get great reviews -- fabulous scenery.  I've never done it (my back won't tolerate much time on a train) but it does get GREAT reviews. 

 

If the cruise goes to Sitka, consider the Sea Otter Quest or the Fortress of the Bear excursion. 

 

In Ketchikan, there are two totem parks for excursions.  Saxman Village and Totem Bight.  It's been a decade since I was at Totem Bight, but I think there's more walking involved there than at Saxman.  Or if they are adventurous they could catch the shuttle bus that runs through downtown up to Creek Street, and enjoy the pretty touristy but cutesy shopping/eating area at Creek Street, and perhaps see some spawning salmon in the creek.

 

Other than some walking, those are all reasonably easy. 

 

4 hours ago, darinboville said:

Also, how much should I budget for food in port?

 

You'll need to budget for meals pre-cruise, in either Vancouver or Seattle (depending on where they embark).  You will also need to budget for a hotel one night pre-cruise.  And transportation to the hotel  and the ship.  As for the ports, they won't be having breakfast onshore, and likely won't be having dinners onshore. So a coffee break w/snack, and possibly a lunch?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Holland America is a good choice.  Call HAL reps to help you choose your itinerary  and book with your big box store which will give your mom some On Board Credit  to help cover gratuities with maybe some OBC left over for excursions or a special dinner.   Excursions would be best booked  through the ship because your mom and friend will be able to travel with a group and any issues will be handled by the cruise line.  We used the excursion site that you mentioned for a transfer from the airport in San Francisco to Fisherman’s Wharf.  It was not handled very well.  If you schedule  a transfer from the airport to the ship HAL will have someone waiting for them at the luggage pickup area at the airport.....or there will always be someone to ask.  The rep  will either have a Princess or HAL clipboard with names of people who have paid for the transfer.

Edited by oaktreerb
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/4/2019 at 4:55 PM, VennDiagram said:

Addendum.  We are not permitted to name travel agencies of any kind on CC, whether they sell only travel, or also sell hot dogs and lawn furniture 😉

 

Oh! I think I read that somehwre but for some reason it didn't "click" when talking about the hot dogs and lawn furniture place. Sorry about that!

 

--Darin

Link to post
Share on other sites

O.k., another update! My out-of-town guests are gone and now I can focus on this a bit more...

 

I just learned that the traveling companion cannot go in August as we had hoped, but can only go from about August 27 onward. I spoke to my mom about the high possibility of rain and she seems fine with the idea. She read an article about the record heat in Anchorage and so is putting her faith in global warming. 🙂

 

They both have passports, so Vancouver or Seattle is fine.. We are looking at 7-Day cruises. With the "Go into Glacier Bay" requirement that narrows it to Holland America. I want a cruise that does NOT go into Tracy Arm but allows enough time at Juneau for Tracy Arm to be done in a smaller craft.

 

All of which narrows it down to 18 cruises. I just started a spreadsheet. What would the next major factors I should consider in order to shrink the list further?

 

The cruises, as far as I can tell, seem very similar to each other--I suspect I'm not seeing important differences.

 

-Darin

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Great Sky Girl said:

Be sure to check the times in port. Sometimes it is very short. Ketchikan is routinely short. You want enough time they can enjoy their excursions.

 

The round-trip cruises that sail from Seattle have a lot shorter time in Ketchikan than the ones that sail from Vancouver.  The ones out of Seattle have to stop in Victoria to satisfy PVSA (I think that's what it is called....)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fingers crossed on September!

 

Meanwhile, I looked at the cruises, ruled out any that go into Tracy Arm, looked at the day/time the others got into Juneau--many get there too late to catch the early Alaska Unbound Tracy Arm boat, and then looked to see which days the Tracy Arm Tour were sold out. That filtered out everything but three cruises:

 

September 8 Noordam sailing

September 1 Westerdam sailing

September 15 Westerdam sailing

 

Each of these also has the (unexpected) advantage of going to Haines, which I thought was a super cool place.

 

I'm doing more research--meanwhile, ant thoughts on why one of these might be better than the other??

 

I'm getting close!

 

--Darin

Link to post
Share on other sites

O.k., no sooner do I narrow it down than I discover maybe I narrowed it too far. All of those are one way cruises from Seward. Flights from Cleveland are almost twice the cost of flights to Vancouver. The key is the Tracy Arm excursion.

 

I was looking at Alaska Unbound but I know the cruise ships use the Alaska Dream folks. How do I look up excursions available for any particular cruise and the cost? I bet that some of the cruises I ruled out would work if the Alaska Dream excursion is available, despite it being $100 higher than the other guys.

 

--Darin

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Q&A with Chris Prelog, President of Windstar Cruises!
      • Register Now for Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Royal Caribbean
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...