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dderm

HAL or Princess for Alaska?

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DH and I are planning an anniversary cruise to Alaska in May, 2005 and am trying to decide between HAL or Princess. We REALLY would appreciate input from those who've used both lines as we're having a hard time deciding. We're planning to leave from Seattle so that narrows it down to Diamond/Sapphire Princess or Oosterdam/Amsterdam. Some of the things we're looking for are: good/excellent service from a friendly crew, decent food and while we're not much into partying, we do like meeting new people. Want to splurge on a suite and have heard both lines have recently changed what "perks" are available with the different suite categories and was wondering if anyone knew about this. (Example: have heard the concierge lounge is only available to those in S and PS, not SS cabins.) Both DH and I are 50+ with DH having a slight mobility problem. Any suggestions would be appreciated!:)

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Funny, I was about to ask the same thing! After talking about Alaska a lot here recently, I thought to look for something going that way next summer and found the Regal Princess doing 10-day R/T from San Francisco (a 'drive to' port for us). We do love Alaska and enjoyed a one way, Vancouver-Seward on the Nieuw Amsterdam some years ago. We also did a R/T Seattle on NCL (not as nice as HAL but still enjoyable) but we've never sailed Princess.

 

Hopefully someone will jump in with some data we can both use!

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We've been on the Alaska cruise 3x : 1) Princess, San Fran return, 2) Celebrity, Vancouver return, 3) HAL, Vancouver return. Although we greatly enjoyed each of these cruises, we found that our most recent journey aboard the Volendam in June which travelled to Tracey Arm, afforded the most spectacular scenery of these 3 cruises. We also found the personnel aboard the Volendam extremely considerate & patient in helping people who had mobility problems.

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While both HAL and Princess are experienced at doing Alaska cruises, I would always select HAL over Princess. We have cruised Princess about 5 times and each time, we became a little less satisfied with them. The last time to the point we don't care to return.

 

I'll always choose HAL vs. Princess.

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If you must sail from Seattle, I would recommend the Amsterdam. It is a smaller ship than the Oosterdam. I am not down on Vista ships, I just prefer the Amsterdam. I would choose HAL over Princess as HAL visits Glacier Bay which IMO is more interesting and dramatic than Tracy Arm where Princess goes.

 

If you can, why not reconsider and sail from Vancouver. The Volendam and Zaandam do the inside passage. The scenery on the first day at sea is much more beautiful as it goes between Vancouver Island and the coast of British Columbia. Sailings from Seattle go up on the west coast of Vancouver Island on the open sea. These ships visit sail Tracy Arm as well as Glacier Bay. Another plus is that, again IMO, the port of call of Skagway is more interesting than Sitka where the ships from Seattle stop.

 

I am not opposed to big ships as I have had good fun in the Caribbean on some megas where there is not much to do but go the beach and enjoy the sun. However, I prefer a smaller ship to Alaska, where besides the beautiful scenery, there is much of historical interest to explore and the sooner one can debark in the ports the better.

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I don't think you'll go wrong with either choice. The lines, and even the ships within them, offer different things. Any of the ships you mentioned would be great, IMO. Having sailed both Princess and HAL, I find Holland America ships to have a little extra in ambiance and service.

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We struggled with the same decision. Have now booked HAL to Alaska in Aug. 2005. Our decision was made as we were advised by several that HAL goes to Seward and the Kenai Fjords National park Cruise out of Seward is spectacular. It is a hard decision to make and once you do, you keep questioning yourself! I doubt if you could go wrong either way. Be sure and keep us posted and let us know how the trip went once you get back. Happy Anniversdary and Happy Sailing.

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Have done Princess (round trip from San Francisco), NCL (round trip Vancouver) and several HAL cruises to Alaska.

KK, I've done HAL from Vancouver and NCL from Seattle. We're considering the Regal Princess out of San Francisco (no air needed, whee!)

 

Any comparison to the S-class ships?

 

-dave

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Very hard choice, I think.

 

If it had to be Seattle, I would opt for Amsterdam.

 

Given my druthers (and location), I would go for Regal Princess, out of San Francisco, one the the prettiest harbors in the world. I personally think the Regal Princess has a better deck plan than a HAL "S" ship, but as neither Amsterdam nor Oosterdam are "S" class, that point is moot.

 

Michael

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My wife and I returned from the Seattle inside passage this summer and throughly enjoyed the Oosterdam. She is a vista but never once felt over crowded and it was a sell out! We celebrated our 32nd on board and i surprised my wife with the renewal of vows ceremony by the captain something you should consider as we thought it was fantastic! I cannot compare to Princess as i have been on RCL and Carnival in the past so to do Princess justice you will have to here from those who have done both lines.

We are doing HAL next year as we were pleased with the service and the over all experience with the age group. I am sure you will enjoy either ship but I thought I would give you my opinion of the O ship. Have fun.

Jerry

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Hi :)

 

Well I live in the Seattle area and do an Alaska cruise each year now it seems. Out of your choices I'd go for the Amsterdam.

 

From what I can tell, the cruises out of Vancouver often have much better deals, little flexibility on the prices in Seattle from what I've seen.

 

Some of the ships from Seattle go outside of Vancouver Island and you miss the nice inside passage part of the route. For those reasons I've usually gone out of Vancouver or flown up to Anchorage and taking a ship back, that's my preferce, but if I was sailing out of Seattle, my favorite ship that's been here is the Mercury, but the Amsterdam is the best of what you've listed in my opinion.

 

Whichever you pick it will be great :) have a wonderul time!

 

Tina

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We're considering the Regal Princess out of San Francisco (no air needed, whee!)
We sailed the Baltics/Russia on the Regal Princess and really did like the ship. It's smaller than most, and older, but very well kept and extremely easy to get around in. The cabins are spacious and the decor is pleasing. She's a good ship.

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We sailed the Baltics/Russia on the Regal Princess and really did like the ship. It's smaller than most, and older, but very well kept and extremely easy to get around in. The cabins are spacious and the decor is pleasing. She's a good ship.

Thanks Jim! :)

 

-dave

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We did a 14 day land and sea tour of Alaska three years ago on the Ryndam. From what I could tell, Princess seems to do a better job on the land portion of the tour while HAL is probably better on the sea portion.

If I had to do it over again, I would do the land myself rather than use HAL. We did love the Rnydam however and are sailing on her again in Dec.

DaveOKC

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Just returned from HAL Alaska..7day Northbound! compared stories with a couple who did same trip with Princess...Based on their story and my experience..GO H A L ALL TH E WAY!!!!

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