My husband and I are planning a trip this May on an Alaskan cruise. We haven't yet booked out trip - still making our way through all of the options available. I could really use some advice/suggestions from those who have previously been on any Alaskan cruises.
We are hoping to find a ship that typically has a younger crowd - or in part. We are both 28 and, although don't mind a variety in ages at all, just don't want to feel uncomfortable if we accidently get on a ship that typically caters to an older crowd. If anyone knows of any ships/cruises that might work for us we would greatly appreciate the recommendation.
This is our 1st cruise - so of course any other advice would be great! Any ports that are "must-see"? If you had to pick one?
Thanks so much!! Greatly appreciate it!
As a destination, Alaska attracts a much younger crowd overall than most others so any of the major lines except Holland America Lines (which parent company Carnival Corporation has historically marketed as a traditional cruise for older people) should be fine. Contrary to another poster, Celebrity's Alaska itineraries do attract a fair number of young adults and young families. It would be best to pick up a guidebook that describes the various cruise lines, read the descriptions and evaluations of the various lines therein, and choose the line that seems to be the best match for your tastes and style.
Alaska's ports of call offer the most extensive variety of shore excursions anywhere, so you can be as physically active as you like. The region has several major attractions.
>> 1. The scenery, carved out by glaciers, is the most gorgeous that you will find anywhere and lush with vegetation -- except, of course, where it's still covered with glaciers. It's best to take the gulf cruise northward (from Vancouver to either Seward or Whittier, depending upon the line) because the scenery becomes more spectacular as you go northward. Alas, a lot of people realize this so northward itineraries are commanding higher fares.
>> 2. Nature abounds. If you spend any time out on deck or on nature tours, you probably will see whales, sea otters and seals, puffins, lots of bald eagles (to spot them, look for galf balls in the treetops), black, brown, and polar bears, dall sheep, reindeer, elk, and many other critters.
>> 3. The indigenous culture of the Tlingit and the Aleut is different from that of other American Indian tribes. Ketchikan has totem parks and cultural centers where you can learn about it.
>> 4. The Russian presence has left its mark. Sitka, the former Russian capital, has the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the bishop's house, among other significant sites, and Juneau has St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. You'll also find Russian nesting dolls in some of the shops in this area.
>> 5. Alaska has been a major factor in several gold rushes, with major strikes around Juneau and Fairbanks. The port of Skagway became the gateway to the Yukon at the time of the Yukon Gold Rush. A rail line built to haul miners, equipment, and supplies from Skagway to Whitehorse still offers scenic rides through some incredible terrain in period coaches, so don't miss it. There's also a historic play called the "Days of 98 Revue Starring Soapy Smith" at the Elk's Hall in Skagway that's worth seeing. It's included on many of the tours.
>> 6. The samlon fishing and packing industy became a major economic force in the twentieth century. You can tour a historic packing plant at Huonah ("Icy Strait Point" on some itineraries) and take in salmon bakes in several of the ports of call. Some of the ports of call offer salmon fishing excursions, too.
>> 7. The U. S. Armed Forces arrived in force in World War II, when the outermost Aleutian Islands became the only U. S. territory actually occupied by Japanese forces during World War II, and subsequently built early warning stations (the famous "DEW Line") during the Cold War.
>> 8. Recent decades have seen the construction of the Alaska Pipeline and the development of Alaska's petroleum industry. You can visit sections of the pipeline at Valdez and several other places, and you can take a tour of the oil fields if you endure the drive of the Dalton Highway up to Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay).
If you can swing it financially, you might want to consider a cruise-tour package that goes to Denali and Fairbanks after you land in Anchorage. If not, at least (1) book the "Grandview Rail Transfer" between the pier in Seward or Whittier and the airport in Anchorage (it passes trhough some more absolutely stunning terrain) and reserve a rental car at the Anchorage International Airport and a hotel in downtown Anchorage for a weekend. Anchorage is a great city where there's something happening pretty enarly every weekend of the summer season. You also can take a day trip north to Talkeetna for lunch at the 62nd Parallel (there's actually an inn and a restaruant by that name) and a magnificent view of Mount McKinley, which is the tallest mountain in the world. If you are more adventurous, of course, you can drive to Fairbanks and stay a couple nights there, too.
You might also consider spending one or two nights in Vancouver before the start of your cruise. The Crowne Plaza St. George Hotel is in a great loation about four or five blocks from the pier (easily walked with "roller back" luggage, or you can take a cab), and very centrally located.
Have a great cruise, whatever you decide!