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1st time to Alaska


larry_s_taco

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You would be best to do some homework. :) Head to your library and take out Alaska By Cruiseship, a very good reference.

 

There are many variables to consider and really no "bad" Alaska cruises.

 

Determine, first, how much time you have and if you want a round trip or one way cruise. IF going with a one way, then also consider adding as much time as possible to take advantage of being there for some interior Alaska touring.

 

Once you decide that, then you can get more useful recommendations.

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We selected the 7-day Inside Passage - Voyage of the Glaciers on Princess for our first cruise ever (Coral - a lovely ship) and enjoyed every minute, even on the occasional soggy day. We sailed northbound from Vancouver to Whittier and had great views from both sides of the ship. Glacier Bay was magnificent. The Coral and Island sail on Mondays, so we we flew to Seattle a day or two early and took Amtrak to Vancouver, which was a treat in itself. We thought it would be our one Alaska cruise, but on the first day knew we'd be back - and here we are, booked again for this year.

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I have done a lot of research in the last two months for our first Alaskan cruise. Your best prices, generally, are in May and September. However, for the 2009 season May is filling up fast and the prices are changing rapidly. We booked a Seattle roundtrip in May. We got an outside cabin on the HAL Amsterdam for $553.00 per person with a shipboard credit of $100.00 per cabin. Airfare was cheaper for RT to Seattle. The cruises that go either north to south or south to north can be a little cheaper but the airfare can add alot to more than make up the difference. Price was a big factor in our booking we think we got a good deal. Our cruise is at sea only 1 day with ports the rest of the days. Looks like we will be very busy on this cruise.

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A seven day northound or southbound or a seven day return itinerary out of Vanocuver are the better itineraries as you sail in the Inside Passage the whole way so you are insight of land for most of your cruise. Those ships that sail out of Seattle do not enter the Inside Passage until north of Vanocuver Island and therefore are out of sight of land for about a 1.5 days in either direction and are subject to the sea conditions of the Pacific. From a weather perspective, everyone has a favourite time, mine is the period of mid July to mid Aug as I found the weather to be best at that time. That said the weather on the north coast and Alaska is extremely variable from year to year so there are no guarantees. Pack for cool and wet and hope to be surprised.:)

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Well, I nearly went insane trying to decided when to go to Alaska and on what cruise line. DH's slow season at his business is the fall, but cruises end around mid sep. So, going as late in the season was number 1 in decision making. As noted above, north/south is important too. I bowed out from N/S bc of added hassle of plane fair. Also, I chose Vancouver bc more sights of Inside Passage. Then I learned about the OBC system. RCI departs at a port about 8-hr drive one way. We did a 4-day cruise from there on RCI to do a next-cruise booking to get an OBC. So, that limited us to RCI. Also, I want C&A points. So, for first-time Alaska, DH and I called it Taste of Alaska. I'm not really thrilled with my port itinerary, but I think DH and I will be fine and find happiness on the RCI cruise. We prefer, btw, RCI over Carnival. but just an opinion. food better. well, hope my two cents help you as you shift thru brochures. oh, I also attended a cruise convention in my city, went to that with a bookbag on wheels. We went from cruise line booth to cruise line booth and gathered up their booklets. This way have schematics of ships to look at. Helps when picking a room. bye.

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Our cruise is at sea only 1 day with ports the rest of the days. Looks like we will be very busy on this cruise.

 

You actually have a lot of sea time. Your ports are short timed in Juneau and Ketchikan, Hubbard glacier is sailing, not a port and you don't get to Victoria until 6pm. First and last full days have the roughest sea potential. Take precautions if prone.

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Wow, thanks for a lot of information in a short time. Does anyone have any thoughts on balcony's vs outside cabins. We usually book a balcony, but wonder if it would be worth it on an Alaskan cruise. It seems like you would want to spend alot of time on deck on this type of cruise.

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For us, balcony is a must. Yes, we spent a great deal of time on deck. However, there were also many many hours sitting on our own private little part of the ship with a book (or binoculars) or dressing for dinner and being treated to unexpected wildlife sightings, magnificent mountains or beautiful sunsets that were the really special moments. Sleeping with the curtains open and seeing the mountains in that dim light you get early early in the morning during summer - very cool! DH was on the balcony at 2 AM the first night sailing north out of Vancouver when we cruised through the narrows... we wouldn't have been up on deck for that, but it was easy to wrap up and step out the balcony door. For us, we'd rather spend a little bit more for a balcony because we'll enjoy if for the entire trip. (my, but I DO go on:D)

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We almost always take balconies (we didn't once) and as much as Alaska is all about scenery and a balcony is a wonderful, it does come down to economics....so if an ov or inside fits best then don't pass up an Alaskan cruise. There are lots of viewing opportunities from public areas.:)

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We usually love to have the balcony, but I was hesitant for this trip. I was reluctantly talked into this trip. You are talking to a stanch Caribbean cruiser here (sorry). You guys have convinced me in a hurry. A balcony it will be! What about your favorite ships? We were thinking NCL because you don't have to worry about packing the formal stuff. We are flying from the midwest. We figure we can carry on our winter coats on the airplane and pack lighter. I am a fan of Holland America's smaller ships, but figure they may be too formal to pack for this trip. What are your thoughts?

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We usually love to have the balcony, but I was hesitant for this trip. I was reluctantly talked into this trip. You are talking to a stanch Caribbean cruiser here (sorry). You guys have convinced me in a hurry. A balcony it will be! What about your favorite ships? We were thinking NCL because you don't have to worry about packing the formal stuff. We are flying from the midwest. We figure we can carry on our winter coats on the airplane and pack lighter. I am a fan of Holland America's smaller ships, but figure they may be too formal to pack for this trip. What are your thoughts?

 

You can tell from my signature we picked NCL Pearl for our Alaska trip. We only had time for a cruise and airfare was cheaper to Seattle R/T. I also wanted Glacier Bay. So the Pearl it is for us and we went with a balcony and most of the time we get an inside but I don't do cold well so this way I can run inside when I get cold.

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We usually love to have the balcony, but I was hesitant for this trip. I was reluctantly talked into this trip. You are talking to a stanch Caribbean cruiser here (sorry). You guys have convinced me in a hurry. A balcony it will be! What about your favorite ships? We were thinking NCL because you don't have to worry about packing the formal stuff. We are flying from the midwest. We figure we can carry on our winter coats on the airplane and pack lighter. I am a fan of Holland America's smaller ships, but figure they may be too formal to pack for this trip. What are your thoughts?

 

You don't have to go formal on any ship. Eat in the buffet those nights, in my opinion. Leave the winter coat at home. Far better is to take a lightweight lined jacket and LAYERS, knit hat, gloves, rain gear.

 

You may want to make your choices first on routing and itinerary, rather than ship at this point. There can be big differences to consider.

 

I disagree with your HAL comment, as mentioned, eat elsewhere perhaps, or scale down in formality, black can go a long way, but don't go with casual. And HAL has some of the best itineraries for Alaska in my opinion. If you like them, then consider them.

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Thanks to all. You have given me a good start. As many resource books as there are out there it can be very confusing. I have found no greater resources than my fellow CC members who have been there and done that. Pass along any other tips you have. They will be greatly appreciated.

Larry

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