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which side of ship for Alaska?

Jetty John

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We want to take the Star Princess out of San Francisco May 3rd for the 10 day Alaska cruise.  This is the cruise that goes to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, then back to San Fran.  Does anyone have a recommendation for which side of ship is best for viewing from the cabin?  We plan on a balcony cabin.   

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Well - for departure from San Francisco, port side viewing would be best if you plan on being in your cabin during sail away. The departure is very fast... maybe only 30 minutes from Pier 27 until you're out of the Golden Gate. Then the ship turns north, and there isn't much to see from either side of the ship until Alaska.


As the ship sails around southeast Alaska, there isn't much difference between one side of the ship or the other. The exception would be Glacier Bay. Although there is little difference, I would prefer the port side for Glacier Bay. However, most people will tell you the best experience is to be out and about around the ship for different views.


Bottom line, it makes little difference... but I always choose port side (or aft-facing).


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A terrific cruise, John.  We've taken 10-day San Francisco-Alaska roundtrip cruises twice over the years.  Also, we've taken the Los Angeles-Alaska roundtrip cruises three times.  In those five cruises we've been on the port side twice and the starboard side three times.


Other that being able to view the San Francisco skyline from the port side as you are leaving, which I thought was pretty neat, I really don't think there is any significant difference in which side of the ship your cabin is on.  Alaska has tremendous natural beauty--all around.  Mrs. XBGuy gets particularly excited about seeing wildlife.  We've seen eagles, otters. seals and whales from both sides.  Some people have reported seeing bears on shore from the ship, but we've never been that lucky.  I am also of the opinion that no matter where you are, you will miss something on the other side of the ship.


Bon Voyage.  You're going to have a great cruise.

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During the Glacier Bay day, the captain (and/or pilot) will rotate the ship so everyone gets a view of every angle and your chance of seeing calving is luck's draw!


With a balcony, and that early in the season, I might consider early or late sun on the balcony, but as NS said, the choice is reversed on the way back!

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Sail away:  Port side - view of San Francisco


Juneau:  Port side -  I loved watching the eagles teaching the eaglets to and go on the water.  Bow faces (usually) towards town.  


Skagway:  Starboard side - You will be able to watch them load the train.  Bow faces (usually) towards town.


Ketchikan: That's a toss up depending on where you are moored.  Usually the ship closest to town (Starboard side).  Ship farthest berth (Port side) (I think....)


Glacier Bay.....get out and walk around.  Promenade deck is best.



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Thank you all for the replies.  The ship actually takes a route through much of the Alaskan waters that is not the same up and back.  Nevertheless, it sounds like both sides are good.  This is our first cruise to Alaska.

Map showing the port stops for Australia Getaway. For more details, refer to the List of Port Stops table on this page.

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We've done San Fran 3 times and next year the 14 day RT from LAX. For sail away, we've always been up at the lido deck for the sail away party and the view as you go under the bridge,that way we could see Alcatraz and the boats sailing in the bay. No different on the ater views. All fantastic and beautiful. 

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