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Really having a hard time with Alaska. We want to go some time next year but there are so many options. is it totally necessary to have a balcony. They seem double the price at least compared to oceanview. Weve been on the Ovation and its my favorite ship but Ive been told thats not the best itinerary for Alaska. Help please!

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If you are comfortable going up to the open decks on the ship, then a balcony is absolutely not a necessity.

 

Ovation can't go to some of the ports because of size which is why people don't feel it's the best itinerary.  It's a more convenient itinerary because it sails roundtrip from Seattle so airfare is easier.  If you want a taste of Alaska and enjoy Ovation, it's not a bad option at all, especially if you plan on visiting Alaska again.

 

If this is a once in a lifetime trip you definitely should consider one of the one-way trips that leave from either Seward or Vancouver.  Tack on a land tour..I know that's even pricier but if you don't think you'll make it back to Alaska again, it is completely worth it.

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We are going to Alaska for the first time in September and booked Ovation, As Ashley stated, we are looking for a taste of Alaska (cannot possible experience most places in one trip), want to visit Seattle some plus love the larger ships for its amenities. if we want to see more in the future then we can better fine tune a second trip  

Edited by Tulsacoker

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We also have the Ovation booked for July 31st. Wanted to sail out of Seattle and return. One of the reasons was size of ship. 

Do have a balcony cabin booked. Will be my wife's first visit to Alaska.

 

 

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We're booked on the Radiance on the southbound from Seward to Vancouver. We decided on this the one-way option because we could rent a car and spend a few days in Denali before the trip. You do have to keep in mind that even though the cruise prices may be lower on one-way trips, there is the added cost of transportation either from (southbound) or to (northbound) Anchorage and you have to get one-way airline tickets into/out of Vancouver and Anchorage. So if you aren't planning to do Denali, I think a round-trip from Vancouver or Seattle would be the most cost effective. 

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The southbound is the way to go!  There is so much more you can see verses leaving out of Seattle...several articles will tell you this!  Now, ROS is an older ship and that is the downfall but we are going for the ports.  We have an Oceanview bc like you stated a balcony is so much more costly!  The trip is already expensive enough.....We are leaving out of Vancouver and going to Seward.....

Edited by RCLcruiser2012

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We are doing the Radiance on the southbound from Seward to Vancouver. We are booked in 2 interior cabins.  I want to say we have spent more on the port excursions than the cruise.  And only one is a royal excursion.  

 

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If you need near complete darkness to sleep, get the inside cabin. There can be some long days up there. That being said, you'll want to see the sights from the top deck where you can move around so I wouldn't splurge on a balcony myself. 

 

When we stopped in Skagway, we rented a jeep and drove all the way to Emerald Lake near Carcross in Canada. It was great. 

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On 1/29/2020 at 5:57 AM, AshleyDillo said:

Ovation can't go to some of the ports

 

I disagree. Exactly which ports and where you did you get this information?

 

On 1/29/2020 at 5:51 AM, paradise4me said:

is it totally necessary to have a balcony. They seem double the price at least compared to oceanview.

 

Balcony is not required in my humble opinion.

Many reviews written when bad weather occurs and cruisers barely used the balcony.

If your balcony is on the port side, and Captain announces whales on starboard side, do you get to see the whales?

Are you going to stay in your balcony as the Captain spins the ship around at the Glacier? Or will you be out on the deck enjoying the Glacier no matter which way the ship is facing?

Best place to view Alaska while sailing is top deck dressed warmly or inside in the warmth in front of massive windows... which is where Ovation hands down is the very best ship ever for views while at sea.

 

 

On 1/29/2020 at 5:51 AM, paradise4me said:

 

Ovation and its my favorite ship but Ive been told thats not the best itinerary for Alaska. Help please!

 

However Ovation 7-day itinerary? It's acceptable, not great.

Radiance? Much better. Best for RCL if you wish to visit land up in Denali a couple of days pre cruise

Serenade? Best for flights/ease of planning as it's closed-loop cruise from/to Vancouver.... no flight needed to Anchorage,.

 

Best big-mega ship itinerary hands down is NCL Bliss (includes both Ketchikan + Glacier Bay) closed loop to/from Seattle.

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- Not necessary to have a balcony, but it is nice.  If it was a deal breaker, I would be in the inside room to be on the ship.

 

- Ship is less important then the itinerary.  If doing this sailing more then one time in life, its a toss up.  If it is a once in a lifetime trip - do the one way, ending in Alaska and then do the land portion.

 

- Go to Seattle / Vancouver a few days early.  Time adjustments.  We go from the East coast so the 3 hours to Seattle and then 1-2 hours more on the cruise, it helps going a few days early (and Seattle is a fun town.)

 

- IMO, the best inside viewing ship was the NCL Bliss - the 2 story, huge, made for Alaska lounge up front (and wrapping half way back on each side), complete with bars, buffets, etc. was amazing.  Radiance ships would be great too.

 

- We had a balcony room this past May, but spent much of the time on the upper decks, helipad, etc.  while in Glacier Bay and in some of the other viewing areas.  Pulling into port, and at sea, balcony was amazing as we would pop in and out, see the wildlife (lots of it.) and chat with our family and friends (we had 7 balconies in a row).

 

- Skagway - rent a car, drive to Caraboo crossing and Emerald Lake.  Cost of the car is less then one person on the train, and, IMO a much better trip.  Stop when you want, take time, see wildlife right there, stop for pictures, stop at the Alaska sign. Plus, you get as much time as you want at the Crossing..  Train people only had an hour, was way to crowded by the time they got there - we had the place to ourselves for almost an hour before the first bus showed up!

 

- Juneau - rent a car, head to Mendenhaul, explore the park, then head to town and see the whale statue, buy a real Ulu at the Alaska Knife works, and eat on the docks.

 

Enjoy your trip - it is amazing!

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1 hour ago, Hoopster95 said:

However Ovation 7-day itinerary? It's acceptable, not great.

Radiance? Much better. Best for RCL if you wish to visit land up in Denali a couple of days pre cruise

Serenade? Best for flights/ease of planning as it's closed-loop cruise from/to Vancouver.... no flight needed to Anchorage,.

 

I'm doing a 9-day RT Vancouver on Radiance in 2021.  The itinerary covers all the same the ports as the one-way, except 9-day does Sitka and one-way does Seward.

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If this will be your only visit to Alaska, try to find an itinerary which includes Glacier Bay. This will eliminate most Royal and Celebrity voyages in 2020 and Forward as RCI has minimal permits to the Park.  Princess or Holland America are really the way to go for Alaska. Leaving from Vancouver, either one way or round trip will keep the ships between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. Beautiful scenery. Larger ships, such as Princess’ Royal class, are the exception. Balcony...definitely not a requirement. 

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4 hours ago, Hoopster95 said:

 

Best big-mega ship itinerary hands down is NCL Bliss (includes both Ketchikan + Glacier Bay) closed loop to/from Seattle.

The Bliss was built to cruise  Alaska.  The entire front third of the ship has a two deck high observation area that is breathtaking.

Princess though is the line to choose if you are going to do a land/sea combination.

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10 hours ago, Hoopster95 said:
On 1/29/2020 at 8:57 AM, AshleyDillo said:

Ovation can't go to some of the ports

 

I disagree. Exactly which ports and where you did you get this information?

 

I don't see Ovation going to Ketchikan or Icy Straight Point on their 7-day cruises.  I guess I falsely assumed that was because of size, but if Norwegian Bliss goes to them, then they should be able to handle Ovation.  Royal just didn't put those on any itineraries for Ovation.

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We actually chose Holland for our Alaska trip. 14 nights round trip from Seattle. No duplicate ports. I think we had 10 ports. 

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On 1/30/2020 at 9:33 PM, Hoopster95 said:

 

 

Best big-mega ship itinerary hands down is NCL Bliss (includes both Ketchikan + Glacier Bay) closed loop to/from Seattle.

 

 

But the Bliss does not have really good port times.  For instance Juneau and Ketchikan their times is shorter than most.  Bliss and Joy do half days in Juneau.  

 

I am doing the Royal Princess r/t 14 days from Vancouver in July 2020.  It stops twice at Ket, Skag, Juneau, and twice at Glacier Bay, and once Dawes, and once Hubbard.  Ship docks in Seward for a whole day.  I know this is RCI, but if ya want a lot of Alaska, this 14 day Princess is great.  I think HAL does a similar 14 day coastal.

 

I have done Radiance and then also a Cruisetour.  Alaska is a place to keep returning to and trying different ships and itineraries.  I am glad I did the first Ovation cruise as I liked Icy Point.  Now they won't be going back which is odd to me.

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We too, are making our 1st run to Alaska at the end of May. I was overwhelmed by the inteneraries, excursions, places to see etc.  Make sure to price out ALL lines.  We are Diamond + with RC, but went with Celebrity.  They had an offer that if you booked an oceanview, you got a free upgrade to a Veranda.  The price was still better than RC.  It pays to shop around

 

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I did the Ovation and it was great. I spent most of my time in the Solarium and up on the pool deck and still feel there was no need for a balcony. In fact, I had a studio with a virtual balcony (tv screen that shows a live feed of everything outside) and it was perfect for me.

 

The "best" is going to be what works for you for your travel, length of days, and what you want to see/do. I needed a roundtrip out of Seattle and could only take a certain amount of days from work to make it happen. My suggestion - look at the timing, the flights, and check the various excursions to see what it is you would like to do in each port. That will probably help narrow it down quite a bit. 

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I went to Alaska many years ago and I am wanting to go back soon! I would argue that of all the itineraries that RC puts out for Alaska, the Radiance 7 day one way Northbound itinerary is the best for a few reasons.

 

1. Radiance is such a beautiful ship! 

2. There are a lot of ports to visit (Vancouver, Ketchikan, Icy Strait, Juneau, Skagway, Seward...plus Hubbard).

3. Icy Strait Point is a very nice, relaxed port with great whale watching. I remember it being mostly local shops (i.e. No Diamonds International when we went).

4. The extra long port time and early arrival in Juneau allows you to do a tour with Adventure Bound to Tracy Arm (best part of our last Alaska Cruise...possibly best excursion I have ever done from a cruise ship). For some reason, the southbound stay in Juneau is a bit shorter in Juneau and gets in later. Not sure if you could make an Adventure Bound excursion (the website shows the boat boarding at 8:15am).

 

This is a very port intensive itinerary, but I feel Alaska should be about the ports and the Caribbean should be about the ships.

 

As far as balcony, Im not going to fault anyone for getting one, but the price difference between an inside and balcony is a big factor to me considering how much the excursions and food are in Alaska. The price difference pretty much paid for all of our excursions, meals, and gifts. I find that I spend most of my time on deck anyway (you get a lot of freedom to look at scenery on all sides of the ship easily). If I had a chance to do it again, I would probably book an inside close to the top deck. 

 

Good luck! I hope you have great weather and a wonderful time no matter what you end up selecting!

 

 

 

Edited by ikirumata
grammar/spelling

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We've done Alaska three times - Princess, Celebrity, Princess.  The last time we went to Glacier Bay.  That is such an incredible day I would be willing to book everything around getting on a ship going there.  And if you go to GB, get a balcony.  The US Forest Service makes the ships stay at the glacier for at least one hour so once you sail up the fjord you will be at the glacier there for an hour.  The boat spins after 30 minutes so each side gets a view.  The kicker is on your balcony you can hear the ice crack and thunder.  It's incredible.  Then you go up on deck and everyone is talking and the US Forest Service guy is on the intercom explaining and while you can hear some it's not like on the balcony.

That's my two cents worth.  Lots of good ideas and advice here.  But I say GO TO GLACIER BAY.  You won't regret it!

P.S. Salmon don't run big - tons of them coming up the streams till middle to late July.  Thus no bears in the streams fishing till then.  If you want to see fish and bears time your cruise appropriately.

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On 1/31/2020 at 5:28 AM, AshleyDillo said:

 

I don't see Ovation going to Ketchikan or Icy Straight Point on their 7-day cruises.  I guess I falsely assumed that was because of size, but if Norwegian Bliss goes to them, then they should be able to handle Ovation.  Royal just didn't put those on any itineraries for Ovation.

Ovation can't sail east of Vancouver Island for that leg of the inside passage, probably doesn't go to Ketchikan because of the route and wanting Skagway and Juneau. Ovation was in ISP and Sitka on an 11 night this last May.

20190516_090509.thumb.jpg.4bf8d841b8b590d95fd22bc802960d16.jpg

 

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