It's almost two weeks since I returned from our Alaska cruise. This was our second time up there. Coming from the colder climate of Canada I normally prefer a hot weather cruise. However, I really all cruisers should try and cruise Alaska once. Scenery is awsome, some spectacular wildlife, and adventurous excursions.
Trust Kuki.... and make plans for an Alaskan Cruise.
I agree, it is a really different cruise experience. What I think is most surprising is cruising up the inside passage which is so narrow you can see land on both sides of you at nearly all times. I t is like cruising up a river rather that across the ocean. Of course, you get you open sea cruising as well for parts of the journey, but it is great to just watch the scenery go by from your deck chair - with everyone all bundled up and sipping hit tea or boullion.
We were in Alaska in May, the weather was great. In the 70's everyday. No rain which is very unusual. I agree everyone should do Alaska at least once. Nothing like it in the whole world. I thought Hawaii was the most beautiful place on earth until I saw Alaska. And I did't want to go, I'm a warm weather cruiser but hubby insisted we see Alaska. Very glad we did.
I took the HAL cruise tour on the Statendam last summer. I took the cruise part first, and in retrospect, I might choose to do the trip in the opposite direction if I ever do the whole thing again. The land part was awesome, but pretty grueling, with early starts most days, and full days that left us too tired to do much when we got back to our hotel. I know Princess offers almost the exact same tours, as we ran into Princess cruisers everywhere we went, and we talked to some folks on the plane home who had gone on Princess and were very satisfied. We were extremely happy with HAL, and it looks to me like they are offering more active excursions in an effort to attract families of cruisers. You will see lots of folks on these boards that plan and order independent excursions before they leave home, and I don't have personal experience doing this, but most folks seem more than satisfied, and you can generally save money. The only thing is, Alaskan weather is unpredictable, and you may find that one of your "flightseeing" tours is cancelled, and if you can keep at least some of your options open, you can always book at another port. Denali was great, and the train ride to and from was very scenic and the group "bonded" during the long ride. Lots of fun for all ages, I think. I have been to Alaska in late June (20th) and in late August (21) and both time the weather was almost identical. It was generally in the high 50's low 60's with some showers, but never enough rain to really kill any of our plans. Layers of clothes are the way to go. Late June are the longest days of the year, so you will have lots of time for outdoor excursions earlier in the summer. HAL has lots of itinerarys to choose from, I know you will have a great time. I would choose a ship other than the Westerdam for this trip, we saw so many whales while eating meals, and the Westerdam's beautiful dining room is low in the ship and only has portholes. Save a trip on the Westerdam for when you will be eating after dark!