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What cruise line to use for Alaska


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Looking to cruise in May 2020 and was looking for some input into what cruise line to use, I don’t want a run down ship but it don’t have to be the newest. I have cruised on many different cruise lines ....

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Impossible to answer as they all have their pros and cons. Everyone here will tell you to cruise with their favorite line but really, you need to look at which itinerary suits you along with price and included perks.

 

We have sailed with NCL (10 years ago on the Pearl) and in less than three weeks will be on the Celebrity Eclipse. The latter is probably our favorite line, but I'm not offering it as a recommendation. We had an amazing time on the Pearl and it still stands as our best vacation ever!

 

Best advice is to tell you to research it for yourself. We booked in February and managed to get all four perks (Premium drinks, pre-paid gratuities, free wifi and $300 OBC. Plus our TA added a $50 loyalty bonus and 10% of our fare ($375) as extra OBC!

 

 

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IMHO Alaska is all about the scenic cruising ( glaciers ) and time they sail in and out, lots of cruise schedules show just ports/and scenic cruising but need to pay attention to time and duration.

 

From when I did research a few years ago, Princess had the most sailings and best schedules, but some swear by other lines as long as you get the schedule and scenic cruising.  

 

Princess might not be for everyone, but if you don't get the glaciers, then who cares about the ship, food, entertainment, drink package or other thing, LOL

 

May is pretty earlier, as long as you realize neither weather or some excursion will be in prime season, don't do it just because pricing is good!

Edited by chipmaster
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Many cruisers say Princess or Holland America are the best for cruising Alaska. Most of the ships that sail the Inside Passage are small and older. The largest ship I have seen cruising Alaska is the Norwegian Bliss. The small ships seem to be able to navigate the glaciers easier. With all that said, choose the one with the itinerary you like the best. An Alaska cruise is about Alaska not the ship.

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3 hours ago, Ricks said:

Looking to cruise in May 2020 and was looking for some input into what cruise line to use, I don’t want a run down ship but it don’t have to be the newest. I have cruised on many different cruise lines ....

May is a great time to cruise Alaska..Our favorite has been mid to late May. We've done four Northbound cruises on RCI Radiance, a great ship from which to see Alaska. Enjoy whatever cruise line works best for you. 

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People ask questions in forums all over Cruise Critic like, 

"I am looking for X, what would you recommend?"  

 

I have also wondered about a question like what the OP asked: 

"What are the the best cruise lines for Alaska / what ships are especially well-suited for Alaska?"

 

The way I wish everyone would interpret this question is: 

Based on your own experience, knowledge and preferences, which X do you prefer and why?

i.e., 

Based on your own experience, knowledge and preferences, what cruise lines and ships are best suited for Alaska and why?

 

I realize that it is a lot easier for responders to answer more specific questions like: 

"I am looking for X, what would you recommend if my preferences are: 

- great itinerary

- great dining

- single supplement specials

- on-board entertainment is low priority

 

However, for people with little cruising experience like myself,  I'd rather not constrict the feedback of people who reply to my preferences unless it is a 100% absolute Go / No-Go requirement. 

Why not? 

Because you might reply with aspects I have not at all thought of; considerations that could out-weigh anything I think is important right now. 

 

Therefore, I find replies like this totally unhelpful: 

"Every cruise line / ship has pros and cons.  It's all based on your preferences.  You'll need to research this." 

 

Of course I need to research it.  That's why I'm asking the question! 

 

Caveat: 

In geek forums and once on CC, when someone had just answered the same question asked, OR it's clearly in the FAQ OR the person is asking in a rude way:  I have replied with,  "Could you read this?  Then, ask your question based on what you learned from reading that?" 

 

( But the search function here on CC can just not show hits so I refrain from that except in 1 case where the person was asking in an unfriendly way ;-). 

 

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May is my favorite month to go. Go towards mid-end of May.

 

I don't go because pricing is good - I go because it is so beautiful because the scenery is better with snow on the mountains. Also - weather is often the best in May (less rain).

 

Everything I have wanted to do, I can do in May. If you want to do bear excursions in Ketchikan, they are not often available until the end of July.

Edited by Coral
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Having completed a couple of Alaska seasons & numerous additional seasons, mid-May to mid June is our favourite time. In addition to some remaining snow & possibly drier weather, it is way quieter and days are longer than the end of the season.

 

While we would never sail on either of them Princess & HAL have the most experience in Alaska. As others have mentions select based on ports visited and also consider the amount of time in port. Another consideration is the route, as Seattle based ships generally go up the Pacific Ocean. Smaller ships also sail more of the scenic passage through BC. They all quote "Inside Passage", but bigger ships only sail Johnstone Strait & N'bd this is the first night.

 

With respect to R/T or 1-way cruises, I would always take a 1-way, as R/T only see SE Alaska, while the 1-ways go up to Prince William Sound.

 

Our preference is a smaller premium/luxury ship cruising Vancouver/Seward taking 10-12 days, cruising the entire BC Inside Passage, Glacier Bay is a must and some smaller ports in addition to the usual big 3.

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13 hours ago, Ricks said:

Looking to cruise in May 2020 and was looking for some input into what cruise line to use, I don’t want a run down ship but it don’t have to be the newest. I have cruised on many different cruise lines ....

I plan on going to Alaaka many times.

My firsts was a 7 night RT from Seattle to get my feet wet. My next was an 11 night last may.

Next year I am doing a NB and SB B2B seeing Glacier bay twice, Hubbard twice, going to Kenai Fjords National Park Glacier. I will probably do a Tracy Arm excursion out of Juneau (was booked in may and was sick so I couldn't do a 9 hour boat ride).

 

If you are only going one then you need to decide do you want to see glaciers, wildlife and if glaciers which ones, then decide on a itinerary. If you are going to go multiple time then make plans of what you will see when.

 

In a few years when I retire I will drive to Fairbanks  to see Denali and the interior north.

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Nobody can answer that question for you until you put some selection parameters into your post.  I can also guarantee that my first choice would not be your first choice but since you asked, I would recommend the Alaskan Dream - https://www.liveaboard.com/cruise/alaska/alaskan-dream - or any of the other vessels on the Alaskan Dream Cruise Line - https://www.alaskandreamcruises.com/.

 

Although I have not done it yet, a cruise on a ship such as the Northern Song - https://yachtalaska.com/ -  would also be great.  

 

Do you see a common denominator here.  I intensely dislike large ships.  That doesn't mean that you will however.

 

DON

 

 

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18 hours ago, Ricks said:

Looking to cruise in May 2020 and was looking for some input into what cruise line to use, I don’t want a run down ship but it don’t have to be the newest. I have cruised on many different cruise lines ....

There are a ton of trip reports here that might help - top of page. We have only cruised with RCI - Radiance this last May - Seward to Vancouver. Have always very much enjoyed all the Royal ships. My rather long trip report  with some starting video at the end. I agree that May is an outstanding time to go. Lots of Winter remnants still remain on the mountains. --  https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2660632-trip-report-may-24-2019-radiance-of-the-seas-seward-vancouver/

 

Edited by masterdrago
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In my opinion for me the itinerary and price are more important than what line or ship.  I have cruised all the major lines in Alaska.  Every trip was wonderful.   I really like August. Hope to get back there this month.  I certainly enjoy all my time in Alaska-  spent 6 weeks sailing there, this past  May and June.    

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We've been to Alaska on Princess, Holland America, NCL, X, and Disney. They are all obviously different onboard experiences, but the Alaska port experience is very much the same on any of them. For a first Alaska cruise I would look for a round trip (easier) itinerary from Vancouver (more scenic sailing). I would also look for Glacier Bay to be on my itinerary for a first time trip. There are not a ton of ports in SE Alaska so itineraries tend to be similar, but take a look at the ports for what you are interested in and also the amount of time in each ports.

 

For the cruise line I would take a look at the onboard amenities and figure out what is important to you. Do you want a more traditional cruise experience, or do you want some of the things that you find only on the newest and largest ships? Is a balcony important to you - it is to us. We've been to Alaska several times so we decided to do something different this summer and try Disney to Alaska. It was fantastic, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it for everyone and probably not for a first time Alaska cruise either. My recommendation for Alaska is usually Holland America. I like the "smaller" size of their ships and they have a ton of Alaska sailings so lots of itinerary and date options to choose from. The atmosphere onboard tends to be much more subdued (especially in the evenings) which I don't really mind at all for Alaska.

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Like others, I'd suggest you look at port times and other details about the itinerary to help you determine which is best for you. I've only sailed on Princess to Alaska and loved all five of those cruises. I always check out prices on Holland America and Celebrity before booking a cruise, though, and wouldn't mind trying one of them in Alaska like I have other places.

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I have been busy with work, sorry I didn’t stop by to thank everyone for their input.

This is going to be a family event for us, our niece and nephew are putting together and with a lot of thought and comparing and wanting to go on the inland water ways ... they have chose    “Radiance of the Seas May 15, 2020”.

for most of us it is our first time in Alaska, so we are excited.... 

I thank everyone for their input, a lot of what you all said went into the decisions and what our options were. 

Me, personally I’m just hoping the ship is not run down like some of the reviews say, and especially not moldy. Reviews are good, but sometimes ya just got to take them with a grain of salt.

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54 minutes ago, Ricks said:

I have been busy with work, sorry I didn’t stop by to thank everyone for their input.

This is going to be a family event for us, our niece and nephew are putting together and with a lot of thought and comparing and wanting to go on the inland water ways ... they have chose    “Radiance of the Seas May 15, 2020”.

for most of us it is our first time in Alaska, so we are excited.... 

I thank everyone for their input, a lot of what you all said went into the decisions and what our options were. 

Me, personally I’m just hoping the ship is not run down like some of the reviews say, and especially not moldy. Reviews are good, but sometimes ya just got to take them with a grain of salt.

Radiance isn't rundown at all....It's one of the most popular ships in RCI's fleet of that class of ship especially when it comes to Alaska.

You're family has chosen well...great ship, itinerary and month...I know you'll enjoy every minute of this family cruise and will be ready to book another one.

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6 hours ago, Ricks said:

...they have chose    “Radiance of the Seas May 15, 2020”.

 

Excellent choice! We will be disembarking from a TP (Hawaii to Vancouver) on the day you board. 🙂 We sailed on her last August (exactly a year ago actually), and didn't have any issues. Beautiful ship and Alaska is amazing!

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On 8/14/2019 at 1:41 PM, Ricks said:

I have been busy with work, sorry I didn’t stop by to thank everyone for their input.

This is going to be a family event for us, our niece and nephew are putting together and with a lot of thought and comparing and wanting to go on the inland water ways ... they have chose    “Radiance of the Seas May 15, 2020”.

for most of us it is our first time in Alaska, so we are excited.... 

I thank everyone for their input, a lot of what you all said went into the decisions and what our options were. 

Me, personally I’m just hoping the ship is not run down like some of the reviews say, and especially not moldy. Reviews are good, but sometimes ya just got to take them with a grain of salt.

 

I think you picked an excellent cruise.  I've cruised Radiance twice, and I did that same route on a Celebrity ship.  Radiance is a beautiful ship.  You're going to have a great time.  

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8 hours ago, Ricks said:

How is the sea’s from Vancouver to Alaska ..... I usually get a midship room for the wife, but if the sea’s are not bad I may grab a aft cabin in the back of ship.

No one knows..it can vary that first night out. Luckily during our four Alaska cruise's we've never experienced bad conditions. Once in the inside passage we've had the waters as smooth as glass and could hardly feel we were moving.

 

If you have a chance to book a "true aft" facing the wake...consider yourself fortunate as these are the most sought after locations especially for Alaska. The aft balconies on Radiance with the views and the deeper balcony is our favorite location, especially the corner afts.

 

Enjoy your cruise.

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