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Last Minute Alaska Cruise - Westerdam South vs. Nieuw Amsterdam RT

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Hello All,

(Note: I may cross post this on the Holland America forum too)

 

So last July my extended family and I took a round trip Alaska cruise out of Vancouver on Holland America's Niuew Amsterdam.   I researched the heck out of it and specifically selected that route and boat.   It was my first cruise and I LOVED IT!

 

So this year has been insane with work, but i have a little break now and am toying with the idea of a last minute Alaska cruise here in the next few weeks for my wife and I - just to get to some cooler weather and really unwind.  Of course as I look at the options, I keep coming back to the same decision points I ran into last year (ports, ship, route, time, etc.).  We would only do a week so a land tour is not really on the table this year either I'm afraid.  Given the last minute compromises (i.e. limited cabin choice, September weather, etc.), I am only considering this if I can do it for a tolerable sum.  Having said that, a balcony is a must as is a more true "inside passage".

 

Anyway, I have narrowed the choices somewhat to these two options:

 

1 - Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam - Balcony Guaranteed - 08/31-09/07 - Vancouver to Vancouver Roundtrip (note: this is the same cruise we did last year) 

Ship built in 2004; refit in early 2017

 

2 - Holland America's Westerdam - Signature Suite Guaranteed - 09/01-09/08 - Seward to Vancouver (Southbound)

Ship built in 2010; refit at end of 2017

 

The boats are similar in size (about 2K passengers) but the Westerdam is an older class of ship (and 6 years older of course).  The ports are, of course, almost identical  - Glacier Bay, Juneau, Skagway & Ketchikan (besides the disembarkation obviously).  However, the Nieuw Amsterdam does offer the Tracy Arm Excursion "from the boat" on the way to Juneau (assuming that excursion isn't already booked).  The combined ship and airfare cost is only about $300 different for these two.

 

The Items that come to mind on these two are:

1. Newer boat is generally going to be nicer - win Nieuw Amsterdam

2. Signature suite (which we had last year) is DEFINITELY nicer than a regular balcony cabin - win for Westerdam

3. Guaranteed cabins are always a crapshoot, BUT the Signature suites on Westerdam are virtually all located in great areas so the risk is low.  Conversely, I (who am a bit prone to motion sickness), would be gambling a lot more with a "guaranteed" balcony (they are all over the ship - win for Westerdam.

4.  Flying in/out of Vancouver is a lot simpler, cheaper and less tiring than flying in to Anchorage.  The latter requires transport from Anchorage to Seward as well.  Southbound would be ideal if we were doing a land tour, but we aren't - win for Nieuw Amsterdam.

5.  As noted above, I am a bit prone to motion sickness.  The Nieuw Amsterdam route is pretty much ideal for me, whereas the Westerdam crosses the Gulf of Alaska (in September) and could be rougher.  If the Westerdam stopped at Hubbard Glacier it might be more "worth it" but it doesn't - win Nieuw Amsterdam.

6.  The times in port are almost a wash, but the Westerdam does have a small advantage here for Juneau as it docks and leaves earlier (and in September it will get dark around 7:00 pm so any excursions running after that may not work out) - win Westerdam.

7.  Overall route is almost a wash, but since the Nieuw Amsterdam does "pull over" on the way to Tracy Arm for a small boat excursion, it offers that option. Of coruse I have node idea if it is already fully booked.  - win Niuew Amsterdam (small).

 

Anyway, does anyone care to chime in on any of this with their thoughts/opinions?  Anything I haven't thought of here???  No wrong answers of course!!!

 

 

Itineraries:

 

NA Route.jpg

WDam Route.jpg

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We, generally, prefer N. Amsterdam over Westerdam.

 

Tracy arm is a neat addition. Worth it, IMHO.

 

They are cruise ships.

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1 hour ago, CruiserBruce said:

We, generally, prefer N. Amsterdam over Westerdam.

 

Tracy arm is a neat addition. Worth it, IMHO.

 

They are cruise ships.

 

LOL - yes, ships....As I was typing that novel I thought "I really need to change all these 'boat' references to 'ship'', but got distracted and forgot to go back and do it!.

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For a last minute Alaska I would be more inclined to go with the round trip itinerary and save the one way for when you have more time to extend the trip on land.

 

Been on both these ships multiple times, prefer the NA, buy can't go wrong with either. We were on the Nieuw Amsterdam in April, it was in great condition.

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I'd be tempted by Glacier Bay on the southbound itinerary if airfare were reasonable.

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The round trip probably makes the most sense, but just in case you had a couple of extra days, it might be worth mentioning a few activities you could accomplish before the southbound cruise.  

 

Flightseeing - You could do a flightseeing trip out of Anchorage - Denali National Park, Prince William Sound, over Cook Inlet to bear and volcano country.  Pricey but worth every penny; if you did it in lieu of some excursion during the cruise, the net cost might be close to neutral.  Look at Rust's offerings for example - https://www.flyrusts.com/

 

Glacier cruise - You could do a "26 Glacier" cruise out of Whittier with an extra day in Anchorage.  You'll get a LOT closer to tidewater glaciers - and lots of them - than you will on the cruise.  https://phillipscruises.com/

 

Kenai Fjords cruise - These originate in Seward and include fabulous opportunities for seeing marine wildlife, glaciers, stunning scenery etc.  For example - https://majormarine.com/all-cruises/

 

Alaska State Fair - You could get a car for a day in Anchorage and drive up to Palmer (around 45 - 60 minutes) and go the state fair, which ends that weekend.  See the amazing giant vegetables (long sunlight hours) and enjoy a real "locals" experience.  https://www.alaskastatefair.org/site/

 

giant-vegetable-1_wide-a214802bd012d693b

 

One note about seasickness worries - the cruises cross the Gulf of Alaska (big water) at night but things can still be a little bumpy.  But Dramamine tends to make you drowsy anyway, so most people sleep through it.  

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My wife and many others on our ship were sick when we crossed the Gulf of Alaska two years ago. If she were choosing, she would choose the round trip because of this. We are cruising round trip out of Vancouver in 13 days but missing Glacier National Park.

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6 hours ago, Gardyloo said:

The round trip probably makes the most sense, but just in case you had a couple of extra days, it might be worth mentioning a few activities you could accomplish before the southbound cruise.  

 

Flightseeing - You could do a flightseeing trip out of Anchorage - Denali National Park, Prince William Sound, over Cook Inlet to bear and volcano country.  Pricey but worth every penny; if you did it in lieu of some excursion during the cruise, the net cost might be close to neutral.  Look at Rust's offerings for example - https://www.flyrusts.com/

 

Glacier cruise - You could do a "26 Glacier" cruise out of Whittier with an extra day in Anchorage.  You'll get a LOT closer to tidewater glaciers - and lots of them - than you will on the cruise.  https://phillipscruises.com/

 

Kenai Fjords cruise - These originate in Seward and include fabulous opportunities for seeing marine wildlife, glaciers, stunning scenery etc.  For example - https://majormarine.com/all-cruises/

 

Alaska State Fair - You could get a car for a day in Anchorage and drive up to Palmer (around 45 - 60 minutes) and go the state fair, which ends that weekend.  See the amazing giant vegetables (long sunlight hours) and enjoy a real "locals" experience.  https://www.alaskastatefair.org/site/

 

giant-vegetable-1_wide-a214802bd012d693b

 

One note about seasickness worries - the cruises cross the Gulf of Alaska (big water) at night but things can still be a little bumpy.  But Dramamine tends to make you drowsy anyway, so most people sleep through it.  

Thanks - this is great info.  As a fun side note, my dad (and thus my family) was actually stationed in Alaska for 3 years in the 70s (Anchorage - Elmendorf Air Force Base), and as a result, YES I've been to the Alaska State fair and seen the giant vegetables!  As I was the oldest, I may be the only one of my siblings old enough to remember it, but I've always had fond (and often funny) memories of my time there!  I've also been to Denali which takes some of the sting out of not having been there on the last trip.  Of course my wife just reminded me "I haven't!".

 

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