My husband, toddler, mother, mother's husband (both mid-60's), and I are planning a vacation this August and are keen to go an Alaska cruise. None of us has ever cruised before, though my husband and I have been to Alaska. The Alaska cruise option appeals to us b/c of the incredible nature, being pampered/spa, getting to see many sights w/o packing bags, and the fact that it would accomodate all age groups. (We have no interest in casinos, glitzy shows, etc. but do take food rather seriously, with a preference for healthy veggie fare.)
We were going to go on either on the newly refurbished RC ship or the HAL "Z" ship (forget exact names). But because of restricted dates that we can travel and poisonously high airfares to Vancouver, we're left w/the Norweigen Sky in and out of Seattle as our only option. Reports of Norweigen seem to be mixed at best. The question is, do we go anyway, or wait (several years or more) until we can go on a more consistently recommended line/ship? We are unlikely to do this more than once. If we decide not to cruise this year, the alternative would likely be a spa resort in the Pacific NW. Also, I might be pregnant at the time of our vacation. We need to decide soon in order to get good rates.
I wouldn't limit yourself just due to airfare to Vancouver. Lots of people fly to Seattle and take a bus/train /shuttle/etc to Vancouver. that's how we are doing it and the total price is not bad. Some cruise lines even offer transfers from the seattle airport to the cruise dock in vancouver and back. we are taking the vancouver express shuttle which is about $30 per person.
How do I get info. on the Vancouver Express Shuttle? Is that the same as the Quick Shuttle out of Seattle? Have reserved a rental car thru National for $140 RT and thought that was pretty good. We too are flying into Seattle as it is just too expensive to fly into Vancouver.
Sorry, I had the name wrong. Yes, it is the Quick Shuttle from Seattle to Vancouver (www.quickcoach.com). I found the rates to be about $40 per person one way on their web site but, they are in Canadian dollars so it is actually much cheaper. How are you doing the rental car? Don't they have horendous ($250) fees for leaving the car in Vancouver? Our trip ends in Fairbanks so we only needed the one way to Vancouver and the cheapest car I could find was close to $300.
Personally, I'd go anyway. I think NCL does a better job in Alaska than in the Caribbean (they are getting higher rates in this area). Don't expect the very highest levels of food and service, and you'll probably have a wonderful time. Nearly every cruise line uses the same ground operators in Alaska, so your shore-side time would be wonderful.
Suggest you check out CruiseMates' Alaska cruising area for a lot of good tips on visiting this area. Go to: Contents
This is a very, very good point! Thanks for pointing out that you can still pick a ship cruising from Vancouver. The cruise lines will help you arrange for a charter bus that goes right from the airport to the pier in Vancouver.
There are several rental companies that allow cars one way
Seatac- downtown Vancouver or reverse. I have personal experience with Avis, Budget and National- all without drop off fees. I don't know where you are looking but one way cars are very available.
We are going on the Norwegian Wind rather than the Sky. We live in NY and would have to go to Newark to get cheap Air to Seattle. When we figured the cost of the transfers and an additional 3 to 4 hours on a bus after sitting on a plane from the east coast for 6 hours plus an extra night in Seattle on the return trip, the difference was under $200, so we went for it JFK --YVR non stop. The Sky does not give you full days in most of the ports and then that silly 3 hour stop in Victoria to satisfy the Jones Act, so we decided on the Wind.
Whatever your decision take the trip--it's worth every dollar.