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Booking for August trip - help!


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Hi all

I'm a newbie to this board, but I just want to say that I'm so glad I found it. There's an incredible amount of info on here, and I appreciate your all sharing your love of Alaska with those who have never been. I've always wanted to go, and even though I'm sure it's late in the game, I'm going to try and book a trip for August, or September if August is not available. I just have a couple of questions......

1)I think I've narrowed my choice down to either Celebrity or Radisson. I prefer Radisson because it's much smaller - I'd rather not be on a ship with close to 2000 other people - but the Celebrity itinerary includes Icy Point, which I haven't seen on too many others. I've read a few posts on here, and it seems like a great chance to experience a more "untouched" Alaska, which I would love. So, in a roundabout way, I guess I'm asking if anyone has been put off by the big ship mentality (the herding aspect, the crowds, etc.......)

The Radisson itinerary includes Hubbard, Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Ketchikan and Tracy, along with the Inside Passage. Celebrity is much the same, except Icy Point is included and not Sitka.

2)I'm normally an independent traveller, but I am fairly squeezed for time and admittedly don't feel like driving around on my own pre or post-cruise. Therefore, I'm going to do a cruisetour, with all the benefits and problems that that entails. There are so many choices, and obviously, I can't see everything in one trip, or a thousand trips. Denali would certainly be a wonderful choice - Radisson and Celebrity cruisetours spend about a day/ day and a half in the park - at that limited amt of time, is it worth it, for that short a stay? I wish I had more time. There's another cruisetour on Celebrity that spends some time at Alyeska - I've heard about how beautiful the Alyeska resort is, and how good the food at the Seven Glaciers restaurant is. Worth it? Skip it?

Among the Radisson's cruisetour offerings are a flyover the Artic Circle (5 days), a stay at the Winterlake lodge, and chance to go bearwatching...also, a Denali stay, though again, only a full day or so.

Is it too late to book for August/ September?

I'm so sorry for all the questions, and I am doing my research - I hate to ask others to do my work for me, but I'm so torn. This would be a dream trip for me

Thank you!!

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I can't help about the cruiselines - we are taking our first cruise in August - but if you are concerned about the "herding" feeling, I would think you would feel that more with the cruisetour than the cruise itself. With the cruise itself, you can still "do your own thing" but the cruisetours are pretty structured. Personally, we opted for planning our own post-cruise. It was very easy to do and was a lot of fun researching our options.
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The only problem with planning my own post/pre cruise excursion is transportation. I don't want to rent a car ... I know it's not going to be ideal, and you raise a good point about cruisetourse, but I figure that I would still have a great time anyway.

thanks !
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betsypaige...why don't you join us on our cruise critic group cruise? We're going on the Vision of the Seas on Aug.6th and extending our trip for 3 nights,one in Anchorage and 2 in Denali with the Tundra Tour. Check out the site...we'd love to have you along! [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]


Come check out the links below for our Cruise Critic group cruise to Alaska - August 2004


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Hi Magicmom

Wow, do you guys get together alot on cruises? I think that's wonderful, and thank you for the invite!

Is this something that you do a lot? How do you pick a ship and itinerary? When you extended your trip, are you using RCI's cruisetour?

I really hadn't even considered Royal Caribbean - does that line get generally good reviews? It sounds absolutely tempting to join you all - I'd have great fun alone, but with a group, it would be even better........

thanks again!
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There is a world of difference between Radisson and Celebrity in terms of number of passengers, onboard experience etc. Celebrity is definitel an "upscale" mainstream line but there will be 2000 passengers. We have been to Alaska with Princess, HAL and Royal Carib and Royal Carib ship was lovely (Vision) and it was our 5th Alaska cruise but had it been our first, it wouldn't have been nearly as good. They had no onboard naturalist or Alaska enrichment programs, no narration at all in Hubbard and really didn't provide passengers with much insight into the Inside Passage of British Columbia etc.

Host Caroline
<font SIZE="1">[B]One can [I]never[/I] have too many days at sea...[/B]</font> [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

Sept 04-Royal Hounds Mariner of the Seas
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Hi Caroline

Despite the great reviews Celebrity has gotten, it's for exactly those reasons that I haven't booked them already. Celebrity is owned by RC, I believe, so I assume that there would also be no naturalist on board? No narration at Hubbard - a place I've never been, and who knows when I'll get back - is a definite minus.

Does anyone know if Radisson has an on board naturalist? That really is a must for me, and educational programs re: Alaska would be wonderful.

I'm thinking of taking a small cruise instead, because the idea of flexible itineraries, and being able to get closer to glaciers and such, where the big ships can't, is the kind of experience I'm looking for. I'm going to post separately about this....

thanks for your help!
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If you really want to get a "smaller" ship, either go with the small ones- Cruise West, Lindblad etc. No comparism with any of the others. Also look at HAL if you are looking at Celebrity- smaller passenger ratios and more space with their superior decks. As for the cruise tour land portion- you need to go for as long as you can afford- the shorter the tour- usually the more time in transit vs time at the destination- you are at a great disadvantage as these are point to point- missing all the great "stuff" in between. Choose carefully- and be very INFORMED of the distances- way too many ride all day on buses only to leave again the next day. My opinion only- if Denali Park is a priority- be CERTAIN to have the Tundra Wilderness TOUR included and NOT the Natural History. But better still is the Park shuttle system- my min. distance in is always Eielson, 1/3 the cost but no food or drink. For a cruise- you need to look at more sailing Alaska- include ports, time in ports, glacier (Glacier Bay is my clear preference), route- Celebrity doesn't route inside south of Juneau, and price. Be sure to budget fully for costly not to be missed shore excursions- you get only half a trip without them. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
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