I'm researching Alaska cruises for my parents who are in their early 60s. There are so many cruiselines and so many different ships, options, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, etc....it's a little overwhelming. I want something really nice (but the 6-stars are too expensive)...maybe 5-star with a range of ages on board and excellent service and accomodations. They definitely would want a window or balcony.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
We are going for the first time next month, so this is just the advice I was given. I was told that Princess or Holland America were the lines to choose in Alaska. From my reading, it seems that the average age on HAL is a little older than Princess. But I have heard that they are all the same in Alaska. We're going on Princess this year then going back again in a year or two with our family, probably on HAL. No matter which line they choose, they will love it!
We are going to Alaska with my husband's parents who are in their 80's. I also was confused by all the choices. We chose RCCL radiance. It was a toss up between princess and radiance to me. Good and bad reviews on both. We are first time cruisers though so won't know if we made a good choice till August. Many of the people hear have said we will love RCCL so that makes me feel better.
Ship services are similar and I do not agree that Princess is any better. You are unlikely to find 4 star any longer on the "regular" lines, perhaps also look into Crystal and similar for that range. On ANY Alaska sailing- it is important to determine how many days you can invest. You need at least 14 with an interior tour of which is my only choice with any one way cruise. It is a waste of time and money not to take advantage of getting all the way to/from Anchorage. Cruises are more similar than different comparing one ways and round trips. On one ways- be certain it includes College Fjord and don't consider a ship without it, this is the major reason for a one way cruise, to go there. Look closely at ports (you'll usually have a choice of 3 out the major 4), time in ports- very important, route- choose very carefully as some Seattle sailings have more outside passage sailing- something wouldn't consider and glacier- with Glacier Bay my preference. Factor in price and be certain to budget for costly excurions. - a necessary part of Alaska touring.
First, our apologies in advance for the length of this post. ...On these and other boards, you'll get lots of opinions, but please keep in mind that only a very small subset of all cruisers ever post to these boards. Each poster views things through their own experiences/preferences (their own "rose colored glasses" if you will), which may or may not "match" yours.
Although we truly appreciate the comments both here and on the other board of a frequent poster who has apparently traveled extensively in Alaksa, we initially found many of those posts quite discouraging. We want to see as much of Alaska as possible, but we can only afford to be gone 1-1/2 weeks. We are taking a cruisetour (7 day cruise with 4-day land package) and saw many posts that indicated anything less than a week's land tour with a cruiseline was worthless. We also saw a lot of posts that highly advised against booking shore excursions through the cruiselin, which seemed a very handy option to us.
But only we know ourselves; other posters do not. So we began viewing the comments (particularly the very strong ones) in a different light. We gleaned what we could on these boards, but stopped letting strong opinons discourage us. We then made decisions that worked for us--the majority of which actually go against much of the advice we found here. That isn't because the advice on these boards wasn't valuable or worthwhile; it simply didn't fit our situation and lifestyle.
We found that consulting a variety of resources (travel agent, friends/family who have traveled, public library) exposed us to alternative viewpoints/information that were very helpful. Severl books in our public library that we found particularly helpful were:
1) "Cruising Alaska: a Traveler's Guide to Cruising Alaskan Waters & Discovering the Interior" by Larry H. Ludmer
2) "Alaska by Cruise Ship" by Anne Vipond
3) "The Unofficial Guide to Cruises 2003" by Kay Showaker with Bob Sehlinger
4) "Complete Idiot's Travel Guide to Cruise Vacations" by Fran Wenograd Golden
5) "Alaska Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places" by Melissa DeVaughn
6) "Alaska - Fodor's 2003"
We're not trying to put anyone down here, and we truly do respect the opinions that are shared. We just decided we'd "brave" it and share our thoughts, too.
Best wishes to you in planning your trip. From everything we hear, ANY Alaska trip is a most memorable experience.
We want to see as much of Alaska as possible, but we can only afford to be gone 1-1/2 weeks. We are taking a cruisetour (7 day cruise with 4-day land package) and saw many posts that indicated anything less than a week's land tour with a cruiseline was worthless. We also saw a lot of posts that highly advised against booking shore excursions through the cruiselin, which seemed a very handy option to us.
Certainally - with all due respect- I get many emails on this subject and I tend to post factually. Unfortunately- 4 days is not enough for interior touring and my point to consider that, is just information. Descriptions are intentionally vague by the tour companies and it is easy to get led "astray" by travel agents who have never taken one. Just some points to consider- if traveling by rail Anchorage - Denali Park is 8 hours with an arrival in Denali Park about 4pm. If only one night at the park and departure by rail the next day your departure back to Anchorage is at noon. Clearly this is a point that may not be considered. It is very important to consider your Denali Park touring options since this is usually a high point and much desired area for wildlife viewing. You aren't going to get wildlife on the Natural History tour- you are only going into the park 17 miles. I find it unreasonable for people to travel all the hours back and forth to Denali Park for a 3 hour tour. The Tundra wildlife tour goes at least to mile 53 and has extensive opportunities for wildlife viewing with excellent commentary. The other option in is the Shuttle buses- which is my preference to at least Eielson mile 66. If traveling by bus- expect travel times of at least 5 hours+ Anchorage- Denali Park. As for shore excursions- my only point is that Alaska travel is unique- there is a lot of opportunity for independent touring. I have been on flights- side by side ship booked passengers who have always paid more. Certainally - take the ship tours if that is your preference. I don't know from your post if you have already gone???? But surely you will be blown away by Alaska- it truely is paradise. Have a wonderful trip.