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Moondoggy51

Need info on Alaska cruise leaving Seattle

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My wife and I would like to take a cruise to Alaska leaving out of Seattle.  Assuming that the various cruise ships leave out of the same port in Seattle, can anyone point me toward a hotel near the port that (1) is close to the port (2) offers a free shuttle from the hotel to the port (3) is a nice, clean,  hotel good for vacationers and (4) a hotel you can easily reach from the airport as we would be flying in and we won't be renting a car.  Also can anyone suggest whether one should plan on staying over night when the cruise is over prior to going back to the airport?

 

Also, can anyone suggest which cruise line is better for a couple in their mid-sixties?  We've been on Carnival and Princess before and each was OK but those were cruises to mexico and Caribbean and since this Alaska I would appreciate some suggestions on which line would be more enjoyable for us.

 

Thanks in advance for the info.    

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47 minutes ago, Moondoggy51 said:

 

Also, can anyone suggest which cruise line is better for a couple in their mid-sixties?  We've been on Carnival and Princess before and each was OK but those were cruises to mexico and Caribbean and since this Alaska I would appreciate some suggestions on which line would be more enjoyable for us.

 

 

Mid-sixties says a little, but not much.  If you prefer relaxed and slow-paced, and entertainment is not important to you, I recommend Holland America.  If you enjoy great shows and energetic activities, I recommend Royal Caribbean.  If you're looking for something in the middle, I recommend Celebrity.  Eclipse would be a good choice.  

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Thanks for the recommendations on which cruise lines to go with.  We're both active seniors that work out in our local gym so we're not afraid to get out and walk on excursions but we do like creature comforts as well.  We like to gamble on the boat and engage in other activities.  We would never take a Disney cruise anywhere as we would be more inclined to be around adults more than children so perhaps RC or Celebrity would work best.  What about Princess?  Where do they fit in the mix?

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1 minute ago, Moondoggy51 said:

 What about Princess?  Where do they fit in the mix?

 

Princess isn't a bad choice either.  You cruised them prior, so an Alaskan cruise wouldn't be much different other than having a naturalist on board for lectures.  I'm not a big fan of Princess' newer Royal Class of ships because they have no interior lounges with panoramic views looking outward.  Plus, the balconies are miniscule.  

 

You said you like to gamble.  Celebrity's casinos are 100% smoke free.  That could be attractive or a deterrent, depending on whether or not you smoke.  

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Why not look at Windstar?  You are the exact demographic you'll find on their ships.  They go out of Vancouver though.  The advantage is that they are smaller and can get to places some of the big ships can't.

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My wife and I would like to take a cruise to Alaska leaving out of Seattle.  Assuming that the various cruise ships leave out of the same port in Seattle, can anyone point me toward a hotel near the port that (1) is close to the port (2) offers a free shuttle from the hotel to the port (3) is a nice, clean,  hotel good for vacationers and (4) a hotel you can easily reach from the airport as we would be flying in and we won't be renting a car.  Also can anyone suggest whether one should plan on staying over night when the cruise is over prior to going back to the airport?

 

As mentioned above, an Alaska cruise should always be about the itinerary.

 

A number of years ago, we visited Alaska on a 7 night northbound and a 7 night southbound out of Vancouver with HAL.

 

We then booked a 14 night R/T Seattle, again with HAL as we liked the itinerary which included some spots other lines didn't cover, plus their ships had more outside and inside viewing options than others. If you decide to go with HAL, check the HAL Boards to ask more recent pax which ship is best for viewing both inside and out.

 

Once you decide which line and ship,  check the Seattle port website to see which pier you will be using.

 

We stayed at a Seattle  airport hotel and used a  paying (shared) shuttle service to get to the port and back again as we stayed over both pre and post cruise.

 

There are so many ways of getting to the port and so many hotels with shuttles that it is probably best if you read some of the many websites which detail hotels, locations, price points etc. and which offer cruise terminal shuttles.

A simple internet search using "seattle hotels with free cruise terminal shuttles" brought up many results you can read.

 

You can also look at the Seattle Shuttle option, plus taxi, Uber etc for comparison.

 

 

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We sailed with HAL and enjoyed it a lot, and we were the same age group when we did it.  It is not so much a question, in my mind, of your level of activity as much as the amount of partying that might or might not be going on. 

 

If I could give a tad more detail, I would sail one way to Seward.  When you arrive in Seward, take the better part of the day to take the Kenai Fjords tour.  It is on a much smaller boat and takes about five hours.  Of all the things we did on our cruisetour, the Kenai Fjords tour was second only to the tour of Denali (which I would also do).  On the Kenai Fjords tour, you will be on a 100 - 150 passenger boat, and you will get within 1/2 mile of the face of the glacier.  You will see calving up close and personal, they generally scoop up a piece of floating ice for you to look at, you will hear the glacier (they are not quiet), and you really don't see any of this from a cruise ship a mile from the glacier.  You will also see tons of wildlife on the tour.

 

It would be worth it to either take a pre-set tour from Anchorage for a few days to take in Denali.  The Tundra Wilderness Tour, which takes 8 hours, was fantastic.  You are in a bus and go 52 miles into the park.  Whenever anyone sees any wildlife, they yell and the bus stops.  You will see tons of grizzlies -- many as close as 30 feet -- and lots of other animals as well.  If you are lucky, you will be able to see the top of Denali.  If it were me, I would take a longer cruisetour and get up to Fairbanks and perhaps more, but the two tours I mentioned are worth everything, IMHO.

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Thanks everyone for the feedback but I think our plans have changed a bit.  We've had a lot of people tell us that if we don't do the Cruise and Denali tour with the buses and train we will really miss out.  Since this will probably be the only trip to Alaska we have decided to go that route.  Since this is our new direction can anyone tell me if this makes a difference in the cruise line and Denali package we would want to take?  We have also heard that it's better to take the southbound cruise and it seems to most of these return to Vancouver, BC instead of Seattle.  Any and all info will be appreciated.

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1 hour ago, Moondoggy51 said:

Thanks everyone for the feedback but I think our plans have changed a bit.  We've had a lot of people tell us that if we don't do the Cruise and Denali tour with the buses and train we will really miss out.  Since this will probably be the only trip to Alaska we have decided to go that route.  Since this is our new direction can anyone tell me if this makes a difference in the cruise line and Denali package we would want to take?  We have also heard that it's better to take the southbound cruise and it seems to most of these return to Vancouver, BC instead of Seattle.  Any and all info will be appreciated.

My friends sailed Princess, and did the cruise and land tour and loved it.


The reason the ship has to go to Vancouver when it starts in Alaska, is because of the Passenger Vessel Service Act (PVSA). Passengers cannot be be transported from one US port to a different US port without stopping at a distant foreign port. There are no distant foreign ports on the West Coast. Cruises doing round trips from the same city, only need to stop at a foreign port, Victoria or Vancouver. That’s why these land and cruise tours either start or end in Canada.

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Alaska cruising and land tours are not as simple as other itineraries as there are so many possible options. We found on our north and southbound itineraries that many pax were using the short itinerary as a means of getting to some of the bays or glaciers which would be more complicated as a DIY. They were  doing their own land/island trips pre or post cruise, or both, not through a cruiseline. This is another option you could consider.

 

The 14 day R/T Seattle was different as everyone onboard was there for the duration.

 

IMHO HAL and Princess offer the most options for a combination Alaska and Denali Tour. This is where viewing options on ships becomes important so do ask on the respective boards.

 

I believe (but am happy to be corrected on this!) that they own some of the private trains and lodges.

 

Both have a good number of options on their websites and if you have not already looked you may be surprised to find as many as there are.  There are so many possible combos that you really need to read the info for both lines to try to get an idea of which length of trip you want, costs, and the airports to get you there and home again. And also when you might want to travel as not all wildlife and sealife is there at the same time throughout the short season. Which would appeal to you most.  Sealife or wildlife?  So much to consider.

 

Both lines also do FAQS/tips  for Alska cruising and land trips which are helpful to read, in fact you may want to start by reading these first.

 

It will take some time to read and you will think your head is in a spin, but as you read and learn more, you should also begin to form an idea of the best option for you personally. 

 

And this may not be your "one and only" Alaska. If you love it as much as we did, you will want to go back!

 

 

Edited by edinburgher

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14 hours ago, Moondoggy51 said:

Thanks everyone for the feedback but I think our plans have changed a bit.  We've had a lot of people tell us that if we don't do the Cruise and Denali tour with the buses and train we will really miss out.  Since this will probably be the only trip to Alaska we have decided to go that route.  Since this is our new direction can anyone tell me if this makes a difference in the cruise line and Denali package we would want to take?  We have also heard that it's better to take the southbound cruise and it seems to most of these return to Vancouver, BC instead of Seattle.  Any and all info will be appreciated.

Good choice .

You will see much more of Alaska with the N/S route combined with a tour .

Cruise Tour $$$ will be pricy compared to the Inside Passage  R/T  that you were looking at.

Deciding on  the tour portion can be overwhelming with or without research.

Good time to contact a Cruise Specialist TA who actually books a lot of Alaska Cruise Tours and has done them his/her self.

Always Interview new TA before proceeding.

 

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47 minutes ago, edinburgher said:

I believe (but am happy to be corrected on this!) that they own some of the private trains and lodges.

 

Holland America Group (HAL and Princess) they own the White Pass train in Skagway. They own their train cars for their trips to Denali. They own most of the Princess and HAL hotels that they stay at on land trips (not Captain Cook in Anchorage) plus other hotels in Alaska. HAL owns the Gray Line buses in Alaska also.

 

You are right.

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You don't say the approx. months of travel but watch closely the Denali road work and possible closures. You can get more info at the NPS site and the Anchorage news. In my option a bus ride only to mile post 43 is a waste of time.  

sightcrr

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Thanks. I didn't know they also own the White Pass train from Skagway.

 

We did that trip and wonderful it was. Drove up by coach through lovely scenery and crossed into the Canadian Yukon, returned to Skagway on the train.

 

Blessed with beautiful weather that day, it was one of our best shorex.

 

And Gray Line buses too. They have their fingers in many Alaskan pies!

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Thanks to everyone that posted on this tread.  After looking at the various cruise lines and their Cruise/Tours we decided to go with a 11 day packaged tour called GB4.  This is a southbound tour that starts in Fairbanks and ends up in Vancouver.  Princess was offering a number of incentives and we were able to get a nice balcony room mid ship on deck 12 for our trip in June.  I think we'll have a great time based on what I saw.  Thanks again for the help and advice.

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Thanks to everyone that posted on this tread.  After looking at the various cruise lines and their Cruise/Tours we decided to go with a 11 day packaged tour called GB4.  This is a southbound tour that starts in Fairbanks and ends up in Vancouver.  Princess was offering a number of incentives and we were able to get a nice balcony room mid ship on deck 12 for our trip in June.  I think we'll have a great time based on what I saw.  Thanks again for the help and advice.

 

Researching available info has meant you could book something which suits your personal interests.

 

I hope you enjoy the trip and that it is not a "one off".  Alaska is wonderful so I am sure you will want to plan another trip!

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On 2/26/2020 at 1:15 PM, Moondoggy51 said:

Thanks to everyone that posted on this tread.  After looking at the various cruise lines and their Cruise/Tours we decided to go with a 11 day packaged tour called GB4.  This is a southbound tour that starts in Fairbanks and ends up in Vancouver.  Princess was offering a number of incentives and we were able to get a nice balcony room mid ship on deck 12 for our trip in June.  I think we'll have a great time based on what I saw.  Thanks again for the help and advice.

 

You didn't post the GB4 itinerary but from what I can tell it only has 1 night in Denali:

- Day 4  bus from Fairbanks to Denali 

- Day 5  train from Denali to Whittier.  

 

Typically with a one-night stop, you only have time for the Natural History Tour which only goes to Mile 30 of the park road. There are almost 90 miles of park road to travel!!  Only going to mile 30 means you will miss out on the wildlife and scenery.  ie prime bear viewing starts around mile 50.  To be blunt, if you only go to mile 30, it's not worth going. 

 

I suggest you contact Princess and ask which Denali tour is provided.  If it's the Natural History Tour, ask what time you will arrive to Denali.  If you arrive early enough in the day you could upgrade to the Tundra Wilderness Tour  to mile 62, or better yet, take the transit bus to Eielson Visitor Center to 66.  

https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/the-denali-tour-experience/tundra-wilderness-tour/

 

Since this is only a 4 night land tour, you could have easily done this as a DIY trip.  DIY gives you more control of where to go and how long to stay.  DIY doesn't mean you have to drive, you can travel by train the entire trip. If you won't want to bother with the research, Alaska Railroad offers pkg tours by train, an Alaska Tour & Travel offers tours by train and/or bus.   

https://www.alaskarailroad.com/travel-planning/packages/summer-packages

https://www.alaskatravel.com/vacations/packages/

 

 

 

 

 

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