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  #1 (permalink)  
Old September 21st, 2003, 09:48 PM
mimigirl
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Default Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

I have been reading info. on Alaska cruises for months now. Just about when I think I have picked the winner, I see another post and it gets me second guessing. Anyway, since I am limited in the length of the vacation, I have decided an Inside Passage cruise will have to be it for this first timer. Seattle or Vancouver is now the question. I like the Radiance out of Vancouver, but now see people singing the praises of NCL Star out of Seattle. Some posts have flat out said it is a "last resort" to sail out of Seattle. Others say the only true way to see Alaska is a one-way north/southbound cruise. HELP!!! Finally, I am going to try to use our frequent flyer miles for all four airline tickets, so cost of flights isn't that big of a deal. Any thoughts out there. My girls are 8 and 12, and we will be cruising in July, 2004. Thanks so very much!!
Mimigirl
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old September 21st, 2003, 10:31 PM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

In no way is a round trip Alaska cruise a "sloppy second". So your trip will be loaded with great experiences of 3 great cities and a glacier!!!! Certainly a lot packed into 7 days!! My priority is for inside sailing- some Seattle departures don't look closely at routes. Overall though all ships are doing more outside sailing than prior years with smaller ships. Look also at time in port and glacier choice and definately price. You can perhaps snag a great quad deal with cheap rates for the 3-4th if you are all in the same cabin??? Go with what is right for you, but be certain to budget for costly excursions- you get only half a trip without them, in my opinion.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 06:06 PM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

I'm one of the fans of the northbound/southbound routes because we loved the College Fjord area as much as Glacier Bay. We saw a lot of whales in College Fjord, and the glaciers there are spectacular. We cruised from Vancouver to Seward. Some relatives recently returned from the Seward to Vancouver route and complained that they had to get up very early on their last day for the scenic sailing into Vancouver. It goes without saying that you're going to see more on the northbound/southbound routes because you're constantly moving forward instead of backtracking. I'm not a big fan of NCL either. We've cruised a lot and on a lot of cruise lines, and I don't think NCL would be my first choice in any part of the world.

For flights, we flew into Vancouver and out of Fairbanks (Alaska Airlines) with a stopover on the way home in Seattle. There are so many options.

However, I agree with the previous message stating that all of the options are great. I love Seattle, and you don't indicate whether or not you will be staying for pre- or post-cruise nights, so that might help to make your decision. We absolutely loved Vancouver and stayed in Alaska for 5 days after the cruise too, so that was a big part of our trip.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

One big advantage I found going Seattle instead of Vancouver is when the cruise ends. Seattle airport was very easy to leave from where as Vancouver on both our trips was a crowded nightmare.

The scenery out of Vancouver is a bit prettier the first part of the trip because you're on the inside and winding through more islands than the Seattle departures. At least that was our experience.

Believe me, or should I say us, no matter what route you choose you'll have a terrific visit. Alaska is an awsome place. You won't make a bad decision. And when you go back, and you will go back, try another route. :^)
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Old September 23rd, 2003, 12:01 AM
Dr Wong
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

Since you'll be using FF miles and airfare isn't an issue, why don't you take Princess' Voyage of the Glaciers route, and disembark in Seward (Anchorage) and fly back home from there? That way, the value of your RT airfare would be around $900 for the open-jaw arrangement, vs. $300-$400 for a RT to Seattle or Vancouver.

Princess and HAL are the only two lines to have access to Glacier Bay, and you'll see more ice than by heading halfway up and then doubling back. College Fjord was also spectacular. In addition, Princess has an excellent kids program for your two girls at the stern of the ship, which will keep them out of your hair except at mealtimes. :-)
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Old September 23rd, 2003, 12:16 AM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

Princess and HAL are the only two lines to have access to Glacier Bay, and you'll see more ice than by heading halfway up and then doubling back


Actually not true, NCL goes into Glacier Bay on some sailings and Princess doesn't on others. Carnival goes to Glacier Bay on their round trip runs in May and Sept. Also Princess won't be going to Seward next year, but to Whittier.
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Old September 23rd, 2003, 02:12 PM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

I would suggest that Glacier bay is a must for your first Alaskan trip IMHO. Awsome!
And as Karen16 mentions above, not every ship of the lines visits Glacier bay so this will limit your choices of ships and itineraries. Actually it makes it easier to pick a cruise if you want Glacier Bay for sure. At least it was for us.
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Old September 24th, 2003, 05:31 PM
Suzie
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

Mimigirl - If you're going to use FF miles for next July, it's not too early to book either the cruise or the flights! I just booked our flights r/t Seattle next July with Delta, and we have to go several days early and come back one day later than we had originally planned using our FF miles. July is prime time for Alaska cruises, and the airlines only have a certain number of seats allotted for FF miles. You might want to check to make sure you have available planes for whichever cruise you decide on. Depending on where you live, the airfare could be more $ than the cruise if you can't use your FF miles!
We did the r/t Seattle last year with HAL and had a great time. We're doing a slightly different itinerary next year with Princess, but I can't imagine you'd be disappointed with any cruise to Alaska. It's wonderful. Good Luck.
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Old September 28th, 2003, 09:05 PM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

Glacier Bay is incredible. We've done H.A.L. twice and enjoyed Glacier Bay both times. Seattle departures are a bit cheaper when all costs are added. We've done it both ways.

If the Star Princess includes Glacier Bay, I would sail her. She is a very fine and well run ship. We sailed her in Mexico last April and the Amsterdam out of Seattle to Alaska this past summer. The Star Princess is a far better product. I.M.H.O.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old September 29th, 2003, 09:32 PM
kb kb is offline
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

We sailed the Star Princess from Seattle in June 2003 and had no complaints about the new terminal there or the airport. We also loved the ship but it isn't going to Alaska next summer.
The summer before we did RC Legend of the Seas northbound from Vancouver and didn't like customs at all. Flying back from Anchorage was much more expensive so that is why we chose round trip this year. If the cost isn't a factor I would do one way again.
Can't say I favored one ship over the other - both were great! Star Princess was such a large ship we didn't really do 'inside passage' so in that way Legend of the Seas route was actually prettier.
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Old September 30th, 2003, 12:15 AM
thoth
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

I just returned from the HAl Statendam out of Vancouver. That airport is a pain in the neck however the city is worth the trouble I would say. Sailing under the Lion's gate bridge past Stanley park certainly added to the cruise experience. On the departure it took an hour and 1/2 queued up to finally leave. The $10 departure fee was totally stupid. You can purchase it via credit card from the ATM or queue up. For what we pay for ticket prices, you would think that would be included already.
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Old October 4th, 2003, 09:31 PM
LEtue
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

If you decide that you want to sail RT out of Seattle and still want to see Glacier Bay why not consider the NCL Star?

We have a small group from another message board booked on the 6/27/04 sailing and we would love to have you join us!

Here are the details:
Sun Jun 27 Seattle, WA 4:00pm
Mon Jun 28 Inside Passage (Cruising)
Tue Jun 29 Juneau, AK 2:00pm 10:00pm
Wed Jun 30 Skagway, AK 7:00am 5:00pm
Thu Jul 1 Glacier Bay (Cruising)
Fri Jul 2 Ketchikan, AK 6:00am 1:30pm
Sat Jul 3 Victoria, Canada 6:00am Midnight
Sun Jul 4 Seattle, WA 7:00am


http://www.ncl.com/itinerary/sched/ak02_7d_sea_sea.htm
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Old October 5th, 2003, 07:13 AM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

Here are the details:
Sun Jun 27 Seattle, WA 4:00pm
Mon Jun 28 Inside Passage (Cruising)
Tue Jun 29 Juneau, AK 2:00pm 10:00pm
Wed Jun 30 Skagway, AK 7:00am 5:00pm
Thu Jul 1 Glacier Bay (Cruising)
Fri Jul 2 Ketchikan, AK 6:00am 1:30pm
Sat Jul 3 Victoria, Canada 6:00am Midnight
Sun Jul 4 Seattle, WA 7:00am



I think Victoria is supposed to be 6pm???
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old October 5th, 2003, 10:46 PM
Mike & Kelly
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

We recently took HAL Amsterdam from Seattle with our 20 month old daughter. Here are some thoughts that may be useful to you traveling with children to Alaska...Check out what onboard entertainment there is...just because they say they have a pool (or three), don't assume it is heated-ours 35 degrees (and indoors). Check the daily inteneraries...ours had art auctions, bingo, and a lot and I do mean a lot of activities for the over 75 crowd. I don't intend on discouraging you from going, just choose the ship wisely as at least one or more days you will be at sea. Your kids will learn a lot and really enjoy the scenery. We talked to some people on Princess and it seemed like they had more activities for younger people...although the population on that ship was older (50+) as well. Did not talk to anyone from NCL ship, but it looked like a nice boat. Encourage your kids to take their favorite games, etc along.

Now to answer your question...If you have never been to Seattle and even if you have, I would suggest leaving from there, especially since you are traveling on FF points...that way you can fly in a day or two early and see the city...you and your kids will not stop seeing all the sights during those two/three days...Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Pier Area, Lake Union (house boats), Zoo, Music Experience, and the list goes on. We have been to Vancouver also...It had a park by the river. Can't think of anything else there. If you decide to depart from Seattle, and want to say cheap the Holiday Inn Express by the Space Needle is nice--newly remodled and in walking distance to the Space Needle. Can take a city bus to the zoo, and the monorail (90 sec ride) into the city near Pikes Place Market. About $8 to $12 cab ride from hotel to pier depending on how honest your cabby is.

Do try to include Glacier Bay.

Back to flying on FF points to get to a cruise...arrive in your departing city a day or two ahead of time in case you get bumped/delayed for any reason...the boat will not wait for you no matter what. They sail at the time stated even if there are major delays with the airlines. The only time they wait (which they really don't, they just get you to the next port) is if you purchase air transportation through them. Hope this helps. Enjoy, Alaska is beautiful and a once in a lifetime experience for you and your family.
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Old October 6th, 2003, 12:20 AM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

On the subject of FF miles, be sure to get the most bang for your buck. And sometimes Seattle isn't the best deal. From the east coast- it is fairly common to get $350 fares, depending on the amount of miles needed it may be more cost effective to use them to a more expensive destination. For comparism figure out what 2 cents/ mile comes to and go from there. Now Jet Blue and Southwest deserve a look, also priceline.
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Old October 20th, 2003, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

I'm looking at doing the round trip from Seattle on Celebrity Mercury. Here's the Cruise Itinerary :


Day Ports of Call Arrival Departure
1 Seattle, Washington --- 5:00 p.m.

2 Cruise Inside Passage, Alaska --- ---

3 Juneau, Alaska 1:00 p.m. 11:00 p.m.

4 Skagway, Alaska 7:00 a.m. 6:30 p.m.

5 Cruise Hubbard Glacier --- ---

6 Ketchikan, Alaska 9:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m.

7 Victoria, British Columbia 10:00 a.m. 11:59 p.m.

8 Seattle, Washington 7:00 a.m. ---


We were looking at the Summit, one way from Seward, but you'll notice the similiarity:

Cruise Itinerary


Day Ports of Call Arrival Departure
1 Seward, Alaska --- 9:00 p.m.

2 Cruise Hubbard Glacier 2:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

3 Juneau, Alaska 8:00 a.m. 10:00 p.m.

4 Skagway, Alaska 7:00 a.m. 8:30 p.m.

5 Icy Strait, Alaska 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.

6 Ketchikan, Alaska 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

7 Cruise Inside Passage, Alaska --- ---

8 Vancouver, British Columbia 7:00 a.m. ---
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  #17 (permalink)  
Old October 25th, 2003, 03:56 PM
JERSEY Diana
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

Recently retired female sailed out of Vancouver Aug. 2 on Coral Princess for 13 day Inside Passage land tour pkg. I rate this excellent. 1st time in Northwest and started with Seattle convention, moved onto Vancouver for a week and sailed out accordingly. Some have sailed out of Seattle, don't think there's much difference except we wanted to make most of our probably one and only trip to Pacific Northwest.
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Old January 20th, 2004, 12:05 PM
kalinky
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

My husband and I recently booked a cruise to Alaska on HAL in May,2004. I believe this is the Southbound cruise beginning at Seward and ending in Vancouver. This is a very special trip for us as we will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on board ship. I need some tips on what type of clothing I will need and any other good info from experienced cruisers twho have been on this cruise.
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Old January 20th, 2004, 04:37 PM
ehogan
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

We live in Vancouver, so we are slightly biased as to its beauty. If you choose Vancouver, try to get in a day or so early since there are wonderful places to explore (Stanley Park (rent a bike), Grouse Mountain, Metrotown shopping centre (huge), Gastown), but with the exception of Gastown they require about a 15-20 minute drive or Skytrain. You might want to check where the ship will port. There are two docks - one is Canada Place (absolutely lovely), close to Gastown and the other is Ballentyne Pier in an industrial area, a 15 minute taxi ride to downtown.

We have also done Seattle as a port and while the port is not as picturesque, there is lots to do close by.

We have sailed the inside passage twice, once with Celebrity and once with Holland America. We sail the Norwegian Sun on a similar itinerary in May.
The scenery is fabulous, (remember to bring binoculars) in some areas, the passage is so narrow you swear you could touch the shore.

The weather from May to September is unpredictable - we have sunbathed on deck in May and had pouring rain in Ketchikan on the same trip. You need to bring layers, a waterproof lightweight coat with a hood and a sweater.

I was going to book a Princess cruise which takes the western side of Vancouver Island route, however my TA says that is far less scenic and there is a possibility of very rough seas.

I don't know when you are going in July, but if you leave from Vancouver, you may luck into the Fireworks display at the end of July . Many cruise ships delay their departure to allow their passengers to view these world competition fireworks. They are usually on a Wednesday or Saturday nite.


You will have a wonderful time.

PS check your message boards to read passenger reviews of the different ships/lines.
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Old January 20th, 2004, 07:32 PM
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

Last August when we got into Vancouver and tried to get to our hotel Near Gastown but I forget the street) it was a madhouse. There was the world championship fireworks show finals that night. Literally thousands of people walking down towards the water to see the show. We were able to see from the hotel and it was spectacular.

A nice beginning to our Alaskan cruise which departed the next day.

Vancouver's a lovely city.
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Old January 24th, 2004, 10:34 PM
SF Sharon
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Default Re: Decisions...decisions...Seattle or Vancouver?

"I was going to book a Princess cruise which takes the western side of Vancouver Island route, however my TA says that is far less scenic and there is a possibility of very rough seas."

Absolutely true.
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