I have clients interested in cruising the inside passage next July, and we were wondering which direction is best to take during this time of year? Are there certain sights that appear north-bound in July or vice-versa (south-bound)?
Any information is appreciated!
If they are not interested in a land tour of at least 4 days, I would suggest a RT Vancouver since 6 out of 7 cruise days are the same. It is also important to avoid RCI and southbound Celebrity as they do not go to College Fjords on the one ways. A preference I have is Glaicer Bay as well. I greatly prefer southbound on a one way -for the marine wildlife bonus day the last sailing day back into Vancouver Island sailed at night on the northbound. It DOES require a large investment of time that few cruisers are willing to do though. It is also short flight times from Vancouver / Seattle.
We are travelling Carnival Spirit, July 3, 2002, northbound to Anchorage. I had posted a message regarding northbound or southbound and here is what I was told. If you leave Vancouver and head north to Anchorage, you start out with beautiful scenery and it gets better and better as you head north. You end up in College Fjord, therefore you have ended your cruise on a real high. Southbound, however, you start out with the HIGH, and so on.
That's why we chose the northbound route, and plan to stay in Anchorage for a couple of days after the cruise.
We did the Southbound cruise, no land tour. We had a long flight into Anchorage, but because it remains daylight for most of the time during July, we got our second wind and went out for dinner with friends the same evening we arrived. (We arrived at 6:44pm which was 11:44 EDT.) The next day we headed for the convention center to pre-check in and drop off our luggage. Then we were free until about 11:15am. We had time to browse through the shops and have a long leisurely breakfast at Blondies We boarded the first bus to Seward at 11:30am. The ride on the bus was wonderful as far as the sights were concerned. Someone unfortunately must have complained about the temperature and we roasted (windows fogged up etc) for a good part of the journey. I'd recommend the train if you have time. It's about 5 hours compared to our 3+ and will cost you a little more, but at least you can enjoy the time and have a drink etc....(I think). The early train arrived in Seward before we did! As for College Fjord. It was very exciting to wake up that first morning and see the ice and glaciers.....you knew for sure you were in Alaska.... throughout the cruise there was always something special to see and do. One port of call, we did not enjoy was Valdez. There is absolutely nothing to do there.... I recommend you do an excursion while in port.... We went into town and returned within an hour, along with a bus full of others. All of us were very disappointed in what the town offered.... I think the northbound cruise offeres Sitka instead of Valdez and that would have been better perhaps.... We of course ended our cruise in Vancouver. We stayed there for three days and enjoyed the city, and it's restaurants very much.... Enjoy your cruise!!!!!
For a first-time cruise to Alaska, do try ensuring you are on a Glacier Bay itinerary. I have seen, and been impressed by, others glaciers, including College Fjord; but after 4 trips into Glacier Bay, I still haven't had enough of it.
Also save some time for a few days in Vancouver and area - too many people get here and regret not having arranged for this.
You may also want to look at the round-trip Inside Passage route that starts and ends in Vancouver - with less flying as a result.
The only thing better than an Alaska cruise is another one! Enjoy...