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Princess ships sailing to Alaska


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We are hoping to do a summer 2022 cruise to Alaska on the Discovery or the Emerald. I believe they are in the same class. Is it always better to go with a newer one- more venues, restaurants, activities, etc?  We are also considering RCL Ovation. Any information is appreciated. Thanks!

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Princess would be preferable to me as they are one of the few lines that have access to Glacier Bay, which is a must see.

We did Alaska on the Royal Princess and I have not cruised on the two ships you mention so I'll leave comments about the better ship to others.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, sjde said:

We are hoping to do a summer 2022 cruise to Alaska on the Discovery or the Emerald. I believe they are in the same class

Discovery is the newest class of Princess ship & the Emerald is the class before it.
 

We’ve sailed on both classes of ships & much prefer the Royal-class ships such as Discovery which we’re booked on in Spring 2022 from LA. Princess ships are similar in design from the 1998 Grand to their newest ships. For us Royal-class ships have many more pros than cons but sure you’d enjoy either ship.

 

Princess has a great Alaskan experience & has been top rated for many years.

Edited by Astro Flyer
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Leck57- We were on the HAL Maasdam almost 20 years ago and I think that went to Glacier Bay. Or is there another glacier some ships spend a day viewing?  

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The Emerald is my favorite ship. It has more public venues than Discovery and better outside areas for viewing the glaciers. It is also smaller and has fewer passengers.

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19 minutes ago, sjde said:

We were on the HAL Maasdam almost 20 years ago and I think that went to Glacier Bay. Or is there another glacier some ships spend a day viewing?  

HAL is owned by Carnival, who also owns Princess, so I am pretty sure that you probably went there, as I know most HAL sailings still do.

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1 hour ago, sjde said:

We are hoping to do a summer 2022 cruise to Alaska on the Discovery or the Emerald. I believe they are in the same class. Is it always better to go with a newer one- more venues, restaurants, activities, etc?  We are also considering RCL Ovation. Any information is appreciated. Thanks!

Well, Discovery and Emerald are in two entirely different classes. Discovery is much larger and you'll find many opinions that conclude the ships in this class don't have as much viewing space and can feel more crowded. So Emerald, being a part of the Grand-class, is usually ranked better suited for such purposes, especially on scenic cruises such as Alaska. However, the biggest thing you have to ask for yourself is what is your traveling group like and what would they want out of the trip? NCL and RCL famously deploy larger ships with all of the fixings to Alaska because they have become big attractions themselves and for good reason. The kids pretty much love them.

 

I guess what I'm saying is that Discovery will definitely have the nice, new stuff, but Emerald will probably allow you to be a bit more intimate with the Alaskan scenery and experience. But this is not to say Royal-class ships like Discovery are suddenly inadequate for the purpose they're designed to serve. So I'd implore you to read about Royal Princess in Alaska (debuted in the region in 2019) and also about Emerald/her sister ships. Hope this helps just a bit!

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It really depends on what part of the experience is most important to you. I am all about outdoor space, so I would definitely choose the Emerald.  Discovery does not have a walkable promenade deck, only a small walking/running track on a very high deck. The balconies are also bigger on Emerald, if you are planning to book a balcony or mini suite.  If you want a nice indoor place with a view, Skywalker's on Emerald is usually very quiet during the day, although sometimes blocked for private events.

 

 

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The size difference didn't really seem all that great-3650 passengers vs 3100 on the Emerald. That said , Discovery seems to have more restaurants and bars, not sure about more pools and activities. 

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6 hours ago, sjde said:

Leck57- We were on the HAL Maasdam almost 20 years ago and I think that went to Glacier Bay. Or is there another glacier some ships spend a day viewing?  

 

Yep, HAL go into Glacier Bay as well - but you only mentioned that you were considering Princess and RC in your initial post.

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While the Discovery will be a new ship the Emerald's design is a better choice for Alaska. WHile older the Emerald was nicely maintained when we sailed on her. Emerald is a Crown Class ship. Discovery is a Royal Class ship. They are totally different in design. The Emerald is a better ship for Alaska. More upper deck viewing areas. Full 360 degree promenade with full bow view on deck 8. Forward viewing area over the bridge may be open. Almost all cabins have larger balconies than the Discovery. Additional lounges including Skywalker's and Adagio. Better sailing route through the inside passage. Royal Class ships have to sail around the outside of Vancouver Island. 

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I thought Emerald was a Grand class ship.  

 

I hadn't known that about the Inside Passage. That's important to know since  I am prone to seasickness when it's rough and the Inside Passage is more protected.

Is the reason because the Discovery is a larger ship? I had thought that might be in it's favor since supposedly you may be less likely to get sick on a larger vessel (less movement). 

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I agree with comments by donswife, snoozecrooze & skynight.   Great info.

Also, the Royal Class ships do not take the “inside passage” because the ships are too large for that route.

 

Princess Cruise Ships scheduled to cruise in Alaska 2022

Grand (Grand Class) -- refurbished 3/2019

Guests - 2600

Length – 949 ft

Tonnage – 107,707

Sapphire (Grand Class) – refurbished 3/2018

Guests – 2670

Length – 952 ft

Tonnage – 115,875

Emerald (Crown Class) – refurbished 4/2019

Guests – 3080

Length – 951 ft

Tonnage – 113,561

Ruby (Crown Class) – refurbished 10/2018

Guests – 3080

Length – 951 ft

Tonnage – 113,651

Majestic (Royal Class) – built 2017

Guests – 3560

Length – 1082 ft

Tonnage – 143,700

Discovery (Royal Class) – debuting 2022

Guests – 3660

Length – 1083 ft

Tonnage – 143,700

Princess Classes of ships:

Royal Class

Grand Class

Crown Class

Sun Class

Sun2 Class

Source:  Princess & Cruise Deck Plans web sites

Have fun planning you cruise.  John

 

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Thank you!

 

Looking at the map on Princess.com, it looks like all the ships only use the inside passage for one way/direction. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, sjde said:

I thought Emerald was a Grand class ship.  

 

I hadn't known that about the Inside Passage. That's important to know since  I am prone to seasickness when it's rough and the Inside Passage is more protected.

Is the reason because the Discovery is a larger ship? I had thought that might be in it's favor since supposedly you may be less likely to get sick on a larger vessel (less movement). 

The Emerald is a Crown Class ship also called by some as a Grand Class or Super Grand Class. The layout is fairly similar to the Grand Class, but there are differences. True grand class ships remaining in the fleet are the Grand, Sapphire, Diamond. 

I may have been somewhat misleading about the inside passage. On the 7 day one way voyages between Vancouver and Whitter the Royal Princess has sail around the west side of Vancouver Island with other class ships using the inside passage. The RT sailing all seem to sail around the west side of the island. As I understand Royal Class ships because of their size can not sail on the east side of the island without a tug escort.

https://www.princess.com/cruise-search/details?voyageCode=A212

Both class of ships will have an active youth center.

The Discovery will be a brand new ship. First sailing scheduled in March 2022. She will be beautiful inside.

Edited by skynight
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2 hours ago, sjde said:

Thank you!

 

Looking at the map on Princess.com, it looks like all the ships only use the inside passage for one way/direction. 

 

Correct.  If you are going to sail a round trip route from the US mainland (typically Seattle), one direction is inside passage and one direction is outside.  This is due to the long trip between Skagway and Seattle plus the need to stop in a foreign port (Victoria). 

 

The one-way Alaska/Vancouver cruises use the inside passage both ways because they don't need to make a speed run, and because they either depart or arrive at a foreign port and don't need to stop in Victoria.

 

Generally all cruises hit Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.  Southbound one-way trips cruise near 7 mile wide Hubbard Glacier on the way to Glacier Bay.  Assuming you don't want to do an interior Alaska visit, the best way to cruise is B2B Vancouver to Whittier to Vancouver.  This lets you hit Glacier Bay twice (three days apart - and very different) and Hubbard Glacier.  You can also take the Phillips 26 glacier cruise on turnaround day in Whittier.  And no long flights to or from Alaska.  We did this on our third trip to Alaska.

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Thank you for clarifying, LeeW.

 

A few years ago someone asked almost the same question about the Royal (so similar to the Discovery) and the Grand (so similar to the Emerald). I am not real clear on the differences between the Crown class and Grand class.  Between that thread and this one  , I am leaning toward the Emerald. The 5 grandkids (aged 4-17) make me hesitate a little. That's also why we had the RCL Ovation in the mix.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, sjde said:

The size difference didn't really seem all that great-3650 passengers vs 3100 on the Emerald. That said , Discovery seems to have more restaurants and bars, not sure about more pools and activities. 

Royal-class ships such as Discovery do have more dining options & a few more bars.

 

Dining:

  • Gelatos (fee)
  • Gigi’s Pizzeria (Alfredo’s on other Royal-class ships & on Grand)
  • Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar (fee)
  • Winemakers Dinner in the Wine Cellars ($40/pp)
  • La Mer French Bistro ($29/pp)
  • Lido deck grill & pizza (Salty Dog & Slice) have an expanded menu
  • World Fresh Marketplace buffet is much, much better but as with all buffets it’s unknown how the pandemic will affect it.

Bars:

  • Bellini’s
  • Good Spirits

Entertainment:

  • Take Five (Jazz themed)
  • Princess Live (modified from TV studio seating on the 1st 3 Royal-class ships to like a lounge beginning with Sky)
  • Movies Under The Stars (MUTS) has a larger & improved screen


As I recall the Piazza area is 50% larger than on their previous classes of ships with more room including a larger International Cafe. 
 

As I wrote earlier both ships have their advantages & disadvantages and would gladly sail on either ship. As has been posted the Emerald has larger balconies & more outdoor viewing areas. As donswife wrote it depends upon your preference...more outdoor or indoor. We’ve cruised for over a combined 2 months on Royal-class ships & can always find quiet places to relax. Any ship will be crowded when too many people want to do the same thing at the same time. 😉

 

We’ve sailed several transatlantic cruises & felt the larger Royal-class ships were smoother in similar conditions although the difference in Alaska would likely be negligible.

 

If you have not viewed their North to Alaska activities here’s a link to that information including some for youth.

 

https://www.princess.com/learn/cruise-destinations/alaska-cruises/north-to-alaska-cruise-activities/

Edited by Astro Flyer
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2 hours ago, sjde said:

Thank you for clarifying, LeeW.

 

A few years ago someone asked almost the same question about the Royal (so similar to the Discovery) and the Grand (so similar to the Emerald). I am not real clear on the differences between the Crown class and Grand class.  Between that thread and this one  , I am leaning toward the Emerald. The 5 grandkids (aged 4-17) make me hesitate a little. That's also why we had the RCL Ovation in the mix.

Basic differences between the Crown Class (Crown, Ruby & Emerald) and the Grand Class (Grand, Sapphire and Diamond) Note Diamond hasn't sailed from US ports.

Crown Class. Extra deck, 500 additional passengers, no indoor pools, Adagio Lounge, Club Fusion a nightclub style lounge/dance/activity area, Skywalker's on all three ships, no Alfredo's.

Grand Class. One less deck & 500 fewer passengers, indoor pool, No Adagio Lounge, Grand & Sapphire have Alfredo's, Sapphire and Diamond have Skywalker's, Grand has One5 Lounge/Nightclub, Sapphire has Club Fusion, Grand has the Vista Lounge in the same space which is a smaller show lounge with bench seating.

Cabin cat. configuration on all ships is the same. Emerald & Ruby have many more connecting cabins.

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The price quote surprised me. I expected Emerald to be less since it's an older ship but for balcony rooms it was $2000 more. That's not much I suppose,  when talking about 11 people. 

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3 hours ago, sjde said:

The price quote surprised me. I expected Emerald to be less since it's an older ship but for balcony rooms it was $2000 more. That's not much I suppose,  when talking about 11 people. 

 

I'll only repeat my earlier post when I said that we did Alaska on the Royal and found it fantastic. Some people consider the smaller ships are better due to the ability to get closer to the sites and viewing areas, and I accept that. However we had no problem whatsoever getting good viewing spots in addition to our balcony. In fact there are open decks on level 7 that were hardly ever used as many people don't know they exist.

If the decision between what ship you should take is close, then I would take the newer ship every day of the week. 

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