We are planning our first Alaska Tour. We are a family of three my husband and I in
the early 30 and our 11 years old girl.We been in 4 cruises before but all in the
Caribbean( we are from Puerto Rico)
We want to know which is the best cruise line for
Alaska, When is the best time to go ( remember we are not used to cold weather)
Which is the best itinerary.We are so confused with the several itinerary and want to know which is the best
for first Alaska Crusers.
I personally think that you should do research on the different cruise lines. Do you want a land/cruise tour? Do you want to do a north to south/south to north? Do you want an inside passage? Do you want to see Glacier Bay? There are just so darn many choices available. I have cruised Regal Princess on the Inside Passage and will re-do that same trip in Sept. 01 on the same ship. Reason--I loved the Regal Princess. I like the round-trip out of VanCouver, BC. I have sailed on the sun-class Sea Princess but felt that it just carried tooooo many passengers. The Regal only carries 1500. I like Princess Cruise Lines due to the laid-back feeling I get when I cruise with Princess. You will have to investigate which ports are appealing to your own needs. Then investigate the excursions that are available in those ports, again what is appealing to you. As for the weather......You will probably be cold in comparison to the temperatures you are used to living in and it will probably rain. We sailed in May, 1999 and had no rain and sun each day with highs in the 60's. That is unusual. Hopefully someone will answer your post who has been to Alaska during July or August when the annual-mean temps are supposed to be higher. Good Luck on your search. There are many web-sites with complete information on Alaska. For starters, a great web-site is Cruise News Daily. www.cruisenewsdaily.com/ They even list the Alaska Excursions by cruise line.
Personal preference......on the inside passage. I have visited Anchorage, Seward and a few other places. I have done the fjords and just personally don't find them as captivating and pristine as Glacier Bay. Regal Princess visits Juneau, Skagway and Sitka (and Glacier Bay on several of her inside passage cruises) and these ports, I find, are most interesting. These ports have lots of excursions available or they are just fun to walk the towns and see the sights. Of course, if you talk to other cruisers they might find other ports to their likeing. Again, research is the key. Hopefully other CM will give you their opinions on different routes into Alaska. Any cruise to Alaska will leave you a bit 'awe-struck'. You just cannot have anyone explain to you the beauty of the USA's 49th State. When you finally get to Alaska, you will understand exactly what I mean by that statement. Some people prefer the land/cruise tours. For me, that is out of the question as I go to Alaska for the cruise experience. Just research each port. Find out which excursions might be interesting to you. Then research the cruise lines to see which of them stop in the places your are interested in. Good Luck....You will love Alaska. I guarantee it.......
We are leaving for our first Alaska cruise June 6.
I bought several books for our first cruise, but first I checked them out from the library to see which ones I liked best. Frommer's and Fodor's both have small paperbacks that are designed for cruise ship passengers and have good information to help you make a decision on which cruise ship/which itinerary etc. The book I really liked is Anne Vipond's "Alaska by Cruise Ship" -- I found this to be excellent because it gives good background information about Alaska, the native culture, wildlife as well as the ports.
You have some tough choices. I don't recommend a one way unless you are willing to invest at least 4 days interior touring. 6 out of 7 cruise days are the same on both the one way and round trip Vancouver. For a first timer don't go any later than late August, the bad weather factor can multiply as Sept goes on. Make your choices based on ports desired and glacier, then pick a ship that fits. Alaska has been in great oversupply the last few years so big discounts are available - take advantage.
I would second eeinusa's advice on getting a couple of the smaller Alaska cruising specific paperbacks. The libraries in my area don't have current travel books so I just went the big chain bookstore and looked though the selection there. For example, Frommer's Alaska Cruises & Ports of Call is $12. The other thing I would do is get some cruise brochures - either from a TA or through the cruise lines' web sites. Be sure to get Princess Cruises’ Alaska cruise brochure - they include the big fold out map of the whole Vancouver to Seward cruising area. It's a great free resource regardless of which cruise you take. See http://www.princess.com/request/index.html
Lastly, I'll respectfully offer a somewhat alternative opinion to Karen's. I like the one-way (Vancouver-Seward) cruises because you get to see the Prince William Sound and College Fjord area (depends on specific cruise). In contrast, on the Vancouver round-trip you get a second time cruising the inside passage between southern Alaska and Vancouver. (This is not necessarily a bad thing.)
The other appeal of the one-way is getting to see the Kenai Peninsula between Anchorage and Seward. All of the cruise ships use Seward as their (dis) embarkation port. However, Anchorage is about 130 miles away and is where the major airline flights land. Thus, in getting from Anchorage to Seward (or reverse) you’ll have an opportunity to see one of the most beautiful parts of Alaska. See this web page for a description of sights along the way. http://www.alaskan.com/bells/seward_highway.html
The cruise lines offer bus service between Anchorage and Seward for about $70 pp. But, I would recommend getting a one-way car rental (Hertz has offices in Anchorage and Seward). This will cost about $180 (AAA Hertz rate) but will give you the opportunity to do your own sightseeing on the way. Yet another alternative is to take the Alaska Railroad “Coastal Classic”, see http://www.akrr.com/passenger/summer_schedule.html
Things to see along the Seward Highway include Alyeska resort, Turnagain Arm, Portage Glacier, Exit Glacier, and Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise, to name a few.
Of course, the financial feasibility of this is largely dependant on what you can get for airfare. Generally, a round-trip out of Vancouver (or Seattle) is going to get you the cheaper airfare compared to an “open-jaw” ticket for Vancouver and Anchorage. I’m traveling on frequent flyer awards, so it makes no difference either way.
Hi, I know I'm getting in late on this, but Do your research carefully. We just returned from a Hubbard Glacier, "Inside Passage" cruise on Celebrity's Infinity, Which was drastically different from our previous RCl Glacier Bay Inside passage cruise. The first one was magnificent, with almost all the cruise inside passage. The Infinity was 4 days of open water,going at fast speeds, no scenery until the last day, It didn't effect me, but alot of people were sick.We didn't see our daughters for 2 days! I believe only Princess and Holland America now, can go into Glacier bay, with Everyone Else going to Hubbard. We are going again in a few years, being sure to do the "Real Inside Passage"