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2021 Alaska cruise options


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Hi there,

I know many members here have done an Alaskan cruise, but I do find it hard to search for comparisons on this forum...maybe just me.  The search feature isn't very good, IMO.

 

Anyway, I'm thinking at this point that summer 2021 may be the earliest I'll be willing to cruise.  I have enough FCC to choke a horse, so looking to book a cruise in the summer (must be July or August) of 2021, to Alaska.  We had a cruise booked pre-COVID-19 that I chose to cancel, so I received FCC.

 

To get to the point, I'm looking at two different cruise options for Alaska for next summer.  Of course these itineraries may be altered (or cruise cancelled) at any time.

 

I just would like some input on (a) the two different itineraries and (b) the ship.  Again this would be summer 2021 booking.

Thanks all....hope you are all keeping well and safe!

 

Option (1) Alaska: Dawes Glacier, Juneau & Ketchikan - On the Bliss

Option (2) Alaska: Glacier Bay, Skagway & Juneau - On the Encore

 

For either option we are thinking  the Haven proper.  (our pre-COVID-19 plans were the Haven Aft).  We plan to leave the kids at home if we do Alaska, and I've been assured we can apply their original cruise dollars to our Alaska cruise for just me and my partner.

 

I'm really interested on thoughts on the itinerary and the ships.  Thanks all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We were originally booked on the Bliss for May 2020 but had to cancel, we were looking forward to the being on the Bliss but her 2021 itinerary was different, no longer visiting glacier bay which is amazing, so we opted to book the Encore as she has a stop there. 

 

The two things I would consider is do you prefer the ship over the itinerary or the itinerary over the ship, Take a look at this thread it has some info on the two ships 

 

 

 

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Both of these are fairly similar.  We are actually looking into booking the Encore for next summer to take our family.  But, my preference would be a one-way.  The land portion is the best part of our Alaska trip!  Don't get me wrong, the cruise portion was great, but we truly loved our land tour (wildlife cruise in Seward, Denali National Park tour).  We did it on our own and had no regrets except we wished it could have been longer!  I planned a trip for some friends 40th anniversary last year and they also took a one-way and did a land tour and said the same thing.  If your budget allows it you might want to consider it.

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3 hours ago, localoneguy said:

Always pick the cruise which goes to glacier bay. End of story

I don't agree.   Have you personally been to all the glacier areas?   5?    Each is very worthwhile and different from the others.    ALL certainly have been enjoyed by myself.   

 

I think=  it's the whole cruise is best to look at-  ports,  time in ports,  route   -  all come into play with an Alaska cruise selection.     

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I have the totally unpopular opinion, so let me explain my reasoning. 

 

Yes - Glacier Bay is extremely gorgeous... but, out of the two above, I would pick the one that goes to Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier (Bliss). I much prefer the half day in Juneau, and the half day visiting the Arm vs a day in Glacier Bay. Plus - this specific itinerary offers one of the #1 Alaskan Shore Excursions that broke the charts for the past years. (I just did it again on the Joy last year). It's called Endicott Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer. You get on the smaller vessel in Juneau about 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time of the ship, and then you head into arm for a few hours. The ship then comes and picks you up right in front of Dawes Glacier. The point of this excursion is to give you the up close and person experience with the Glacier that the cruise ship cannot give. Yes, it gets close, but not nearly as close as this excursion can get you. 

 

*Yes, this excursion is also offered in Juneau on the Glacier Bay itinerary, but it's not nearly as extensive as the one that is offered on the Dawes Glacier itinerary, as at the end the smaller vessel needs to take you BACK to Juneau vs the ship coming to pick you up in the Fjord, giving you more time at the Glacier.* 

 

If I may, I'd like to offer some advice. The Jewel leaves from Vancouver and does one way cruises Northbound and Southbound. Vancouver to Seward and Seward to Vancouver. If you do a back to back (or a one way with an added Denali/land portion) this is the BEST way to see Alaska. If you do a combo Northbound and Southbound (total of 14 days) on the Jewel... you will see EVERYTHING in Alaska. You hit all the major parts in one shot... Tracy Arm, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier... etc. From what you say above with all that FCC, this may be a good option! 

 

I am personally doing the Jewel B2B Northbound and Southbound July 2021 and I cannot wait. Alaska is just beautiful and I can go over and over! 

 

Hope this helps!

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6 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

I don't agree.   Have you personally been to all the glacier areas?   5?    Each is very worthwhile and different from the others.    ALL certainly have been enjoyed by myself.   

 

I think=  it's the whole cruise is best to look at-  ports,  time in ports,  route   -  all come into play with an Alaska cruise selection.     

I've been to all five and then some, and I'd pick Glacier Bay.  Hubbard is up there as well, but can be a bust with the ship unable to get close enough due to ice or fog.  Dawes is good, but as mentioned above, you need to be on an expensive small ship excursion to really experience it at its best.

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13 hours ago, GettotheSun said:

Hi there,

I know many members here have done an Alaskan cruise, but I do find it hard to search for comparisons on this forum...maybe just me.  The search feature isn't very good, IMO.

 

Anyway, I'm thinking at this point that summer 2021 may be the earliest I'll be willing to cruise.  I have enough FCC to choke a horse, so looking to book a cruise in the summer (must be July or August) of 2021, to Alaska.  We had a cruise booked pre-COVID-19 that I chose to cancel, so I received FCC.

 

To get to the point, I'm looking at two different cruise options for Alaska for next summer.  Of course these itineraries may be altered (or cruise cancelled) at any time.

 

I just would like some input on (a) the two different itineraries and (b) the ship.  Again this would be summer 2021 booking.

Thanks all....hope you are all keeping well and safe!

 

Option (1) Alaska: Dawes Glacier, Juneau & Ketchikan - On the Bliss

Option (2) Alaska: Glacier Bay, Skagway & Juneau - On the Encore

 

For either option we are thinking  the Haven proper.  (our pre-COVID-19 plans were the Haven Aft).  We plan to leave the kids at home if we do Alaska, and I've been assured we can apply their original cruise dollars to our Alaska cruise for just me and my partner.

 

I'm really interested on thoughts on the itinerary and the ships.  Thanks all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following.  We're booked for July 2021 Glacier Bay, Encore.  There are about 20 of us.

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Thanks everyone.  It sounds like we really couldn't go wrong either way.

 

The Bliss cruise is a bit cheaper - not sure if this because of the Encore being the newest ship, the itinerary, or both.  

 

This will likely be the one and only time we visit Alaska so a lot to think about when considering the excursions too.

 

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1 hour ago, GettotheSun said:

 

 

This will likely be the one and only time we visit Alaska so a lot to think about when considering the excursions too.

 

Be careful-  I thought the same thing.  🤩

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19 hours ago, GettotheSun said:

I have enough FCC to choke a horse, so looking to book a cruise in the summer (must be July or August) of 2021, to Alaska.

 

 

Just curious, exactly how much FCC does it take to choke a horse?

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Same here..this summer’s Alaskan Cruise on the Bliss cancelled and rebooked for next summer (fingers crossed) on the Encore in order to visit Glacier Bay. I will however miss the entertainment offered on the Bliss vs the Encore. BUT NOT TO COMPLAIN...to be able to return to cruising will be wonderful.

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The itinerary for the Encore seems preferable to that for the Bliss.  Glacier Bay is spectacular.  I really like Skagway.  It's fun just to walk around the town, and the White Pass & Yukon Railway offers great views of amazing scenery.  Taking the Encore would mean missing out on Ketchikan.  Its a fun town with an amazing display of totem poles.  The lumberjack show is fun, also, but I still prefer Skagway. 

 

I haven't been on board the Encore, yet, so the adventure of doing something new would add to the appeal of that ship.  The Bliss was built for Alaska, though, and the forward observation lounge is absolutely the best in the NCL fleet.  Some of the other Breakaway and Breakaway-plus class ships have the lounge, some don't, but none are as large and well-appointed as the one on the Bliss.  Extra points for that.

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We have a cruise scheduled next August on this Bliss.   One reason is that the stop in Victoria is at 2 PM so you can spend a couple of daylight hours at Butchart Gardens.  We have been there before, both during the day and at night, and there is NO comparison....daytime is much, much better.  I believe that on the Encore its shore excursion begins at 7 PM, a non-starter for us.

 

Also, we have been to both Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm.  IMO if you don't see any glacier calving it really doesn't make that much difference.  As I said, just my opinion.  This will be our third Alaska cruise and you really can't go wrong whatever ship you choose.  If you think this will be your only time in Alaska I agree with Mscloyd not to miss Denali National Park and the full day trip into the park.   

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2 hours ago, lvcrzn said:

 I will however miss the entertainment offered on the Bliss vs the Encore. 

 

I also wonder if the entertainment on the ships may be a reboot with the restart of sailing...I wonder how much will actually be replaced or "updated" whether it be entertainment, restaurants, ports, you name it...once cruises resume.

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I don't know why the Encore would miss Ketchikan These two AK itineraries have been around for several years now the most recent change has been the substitution of Icy Point Straight for Skagway on some Bliss cruises. The typical Joy (now Bilss) is Seattle, Ketchikan,  Juneau, glacier sailing, Skagway/ICP, Victoria Seattle The Bliss now Encore was similar but hit Juneau first then Skagway, GB, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle. 

 

We have done both itineraries on three different trips and we have a fourth on the books for 2021 on the Jewel - going to see the great interior of AK this time. On the trip in 2012 we took the small boat tour of Tracy Arm and loved every minute of it - it was also on that trip that we saw Glacier Bay - and while we had been up Tracy Arm two other times, we never got that close to the glaciers as we did on that trip. It was also the only place where we saw them calving. I am not sure they still sell this tour on the Encore - but it was the highlight of that trip. Yes we missed out on seeing anything else in Juneau - but we had seen it twice before. Glacier Bay is also fantastic as there are many more glaciers to see.

 

As for making just one trip - well back in 02 when we started cruising with an AK cruise we though the same thing - yet we were back in 03 and 12 and now again in 21.

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56 minutes ago, The Traveling Man said:

The itinerary for the Encore seems preferable to that for the Bliss.  Glacier Bay is spectacular.  I really like Skagway.  It's fun just to walk around the town, and the White Pass & Yukon Railway offers great views of amazing scenery.  Taking the Encore would mean missing out on Ketchikan.  Its a fun town with an amazing display of totem poles.  The lumberjack show is fun, also, but I still prefer Skagway. 

 

I haven't been on board the Encore, yet, so the adventure of doing something new would add to the appeal of that ship.  The Bliss was built for Alaska, though, and the forward observation lounge is absolutely the best in the NCL fleet.  Some of the other Breakaway and Breakaway-plus class ships have the lounge, some don't, but none are as large and well-appointed as the one on the Bliss.  Extra points for that.

 

Glacier Bay does seem to be the consensus on "must see".  Although again, both sound amazing and can't lose.

 

For the ships, it does sound like there are some small differences, but again, can't really lose with either Bliss or Encore by the sounds of it.  

 

I just hope this guy doesn't upchuck with sea sickness.

 

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Personally, I would forget about the Haven on Encore or Bliss, and instead use that FCC to book the luxurious Norwegian Jewel in either a club balcony suite or a regular suite on one of the ship's Cruisetours that includes Denali.  Why not have all the best of Alaska.

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27 minutes ago, Eggs2Go said:

Personally, I would forget about the Haven on Encore or Bliss, and instead use that FCC to book the luxurious Norwegian Jewel in either a club balcony suite or a regular suite on one of the ship's Cruisetours that includes Denali.  Why not have all the best of Alaska.

Alternatively-  “best” for mainland is independent and-  time.   🤩

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17 minutes ago, Budget Queen said:

Alternatively-  “best” for mainland is independent and-  time.   🤩

 

Yes, that would be best of the best, but we're talking about going on a cruise here; in fact, a cruise that is expected to be the one and only time in Alaska, although posters have told them: You'll be back. 

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