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Majestic Princess Alaska Routing from Vancouver


J_Bronco34
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Hello fellow cruisers 🙂. My first post on the forums. Hopefully in the correct place.

Myself and my GF are keeping our fingers crossed for the Alaska cruises returning soon. We are booked for the Majestic Princess northbound on June 4, 2022. I was on the NCL Sun on my first Alaska cruise in June 2015 out of Vancouver and I recall going under the Lions Gate Bridge and the scenery along that passageway was unforgettable, even before getting to Alaska!

My question is the routing of the Majestic: Does anyone have any information on if it will sail to the east or the west of Vancouver Island on it's way up to Ketchikan? According to the Princess website, once it leaves Vancouver, it is supposed to go to the west of Vancouver Island however it says on the website that is the Royal Princess of route, so should we assume that the Majestic Princess would take the same route?

What a shame if so. That truly is the Inside Passage and it can be argued that defining an Inside Passage cruise is deceptive if it is sailing west of Vancouver Island. You do miss out on the protected waters of the Pacific Ocean through the Seymour Narrows and of course, the scenery that goes with it. I understand that there also might be a height restriction, because of the Lions Gate maybe? Or I believe that I read on here in one of the posts regarding this same topic, that a ship officer had informed a passenger sailing on an Alaskan cruise that Princess was trying to get the Royal Princess "cleared", if you will, for traveling east of Vancouver Island going northbound rather than west as he was aware that passengers are or were not pleased about going west of Vancouver Island. Whether or not that actually came into fruition is unknown.

Any information about this topic that anyone else has would be appreciated. 

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Hi J_Bronco34,

Yep, you posted in the right place, although you also have your cruise's roll call and this website's Alaska boards to inquire at as well. As for your question, since Majestic and Royal are sister ships, then based off of what happened in 2019 with Royal's debut Alaska season, this means, yes, the Majestic will most likely be sailing along the west side of Vancouver Island. It mostly has to do with the size of the ship, if I'm not mistaken. I don't have a status on whether or not Princess was able to "clear" the Royal-class size of ship, so I will let others answer that. But this issue of sailing on the other side of Vancouver Island has been one of the hotter topics on here, at least pre-pandemic, as it pertained to choosing which ship to sail in Alaska, so don't feel like you're alone in wondering and deciding what's best for you. 

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West. Believe it has to do with the ship's size, standard propeller/rudder and the requirement that the ship would have to be escorted by tugs to pass east of Vancouver. Chengkp75 would have more exact information.

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2 hours ago, skynight said:

West. Believe it has to do with the ship's size, standard propeller/rudder and the requirement that the ship would have to be escorted by tugs to pass east of Vancouver. Chengkp75 would have more exact information.

The Alaska pilots have used simulators to test both podded propulsion ships and conventional propulsion ships in the inside passage, and feel that the Princess ships, with their conventional propellers and rudders are less maneuverable at low speed, and therefore they won't allow them into parts of the inside passage.  While not a deck officer, I watched maneuvering the Norwegian Sky (Pride of Aloha) for several years in Hawaii, and with the twin propellers, the twin "high lift" Becker rudders, and the bow and stern thrusters, the ship handled just as well as a podded ship, with properly experienced Captains at the helm.  Our Captains spent many hours practicing on simulators, and some even went to asking us not to provide certain aspects of the maneuvering system (like no bow thrusters), during actual maneuvering, to learn how to handle the system.  Very few pilots are experienced with "high lift" rudders, which provide far greater maneuverability at low speed than conventional rudders, and that is what they are designed for, so with more time on the simulators, they may get more comfortable with allowing the Princess ships there.

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8 minutes ago, Paula_MacFan said:

According to the map of your cruise on the Princess website it looks like it's the west side. 

 

Map shows port stops for Voyage of the Glaciers (Northbound). For more details, refer to the List of Port Stops table on this page.

how much ship time is actually spent in that 'inside passage' and is it during daylight hours on that itinerary ? - we're beginning to look at a possible cruisetour in 2023 ... maybe

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As Chengkp75 stated above, the problem with the big Princess ships is their rudder/propeller configuration.  Add to this the fact that Royal Princess has somewhere around 3.1 acres of sail area (the amount of surface exposed to a wind blowing on the side of the vessel), and Alaska pilots were concerned about getting her through narrow parts of the Inside Passage.  If I remember correctly she will "crab" or go sideways at about 8 degrees with a 25 knot wind on her beam.  She was also not allowed to dock at the SE Alaska ports under various wind conditions.  Fortunately 2019 was a nice summer with very few storms.  
 

BC made the decision that she would not be allowed to transit Seymour Narrows, which meant she had to sail west of Vancouver Island.  I sailed on Royal for 3 months in 2019, and not once did we sail east of Vancouver Island.  Clearing Lion's Gate bridge is not a problem.

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14 minutes ago, voljeep said:

how much ship time is actually spent in that 'inside passage' and is it during daylight hours on that itinerary ? - we're beginning to look at a possible cruisetour in 2023 ... maybe

Northbound the ships depart around 4:30 pm. Mid July the initial 4 to 5 hours should be daylight while travelling east of Vancouver Island. By 9am the next morning you should be north of Vancouver Island.

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Thank you for the information. While it is not enough for us to change our minds about doing the cruise or not, it puts a bit of a damper on it that first day. But now I understand the reasoning behind it. There does not appear to be too much concern about the maneuverability of the Majestic between Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Interesting information. All the more reason to try and secure a starboard side cabin for the cruise though if cruising northbound. 

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4 hours ago, voljeep said:

how much ship time is actually spent in that 'inside passage' and is it during daylight hours on that itinerary ? - we're beginning to look at a possible cruisetour in 2023 ... maybe

I'm telling you, there was nothing like sailing both ways in the inner passage. Just beautiful scenery and it feels like your are taking a fast boat ride in the middle of a small river passing all the homes/mansions. It's a must do journey to try if at all possible.

 

I would guess it's kind of cool looking out and seeing a mid-size cruise ship sail right out your windows 🙂

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2 hours ago, J_Bronco34 said:

Thank you for the information. While it is not enough for us to change our minds about doing the cruise or not, it puts a bit of a damper on it that first day. But now I understand the reasoning behind it. There does not appear to be too much concern about the maneuverability of the Majestic between Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Interesting information. All the more reason to try and secure a starboard side cabin for the cruise though if cruising northbound. 

Take a look at the map and how narrow the passage is north of Campbell River.

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2 hours ago, AZjohn said:

I'm telling you, there was nothing like sailing both ways in the inner passage. Just beautiful scenery and it feels like your are taking a fast boat ride in the middle of a small river passing all the homes/mansions. It's a must do journey to try if at all possible.

 

I would guess it's kind of cool looking out and seeing a mid-size cruise ship sail right out your windows 🙂

Totally agreed. That inside passage route has unspoiled beauty. That is, besides the glaciers, the best stretch of the entire trip...the ship weaving and winding it's way through the little islands of the Passage. It almost begs to look at the smaller ships that also do the Inside Passage and give the other cruise ports a shot like Wrangell and Sitka...where the larger ships cannot dock or anchor at apparently. 

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8 hours ago, skynight said:

Northbound the ships depart around 4:30 pm. Mid July the initial 4 to 5 hours should be daylight while travelling east of Vancouver Island. By 9am the next morning you should be north of Vancouver Island.

The first evening headed north out of Vancouver is nice.  You sail south in the Strait of Georgia to Victoria and then turn west into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so you are in "inside" waters until after sunset.

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2 hours ago, wolfie11 said:

The first evening headed north out of Vancouver is nice.  You sail south in the Strait of Georgia to Victoria and then turn west into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so you are in "inside" waters until after sunset.

Rougher waters west of Vancouver Island is what is said can occur versus on the east side? 🤔🤔

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13 hours ago, J_Bronco34 said:

Rougher waters west of Vancouver Island is what is said can occur versus on the east side? 🤔🤔

Yes. You also sail several miles away from land so no scenery.

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