My husband and I are looking into taking an Alaskian cruise within the next couple of years and have started our research. From the little reading I've done, I know I want to take an inside passage that includes Glacier Bay. Can anyone recommend the best cruise line for this type cruise? Also, what is the best time to go for the warmer temperatures and the best price? Any other tips or suggestions welcome.
Princess, NCL, HAL all go to Glacier bay. Not sure of others that might. But realize that not every ship on those lines goes to the Bay either and some ships don't go every cruise. Glacier Bay is awsome and worth the extra research you'll do to find the right cruise.
Weather's always iffy in Alaska. There's always the risk of rain. Most of the land by the inside passage is rain forest.
June, July, August for the better chance of good weather. May and September for the best pricing in most cases. Funny how it works out that way. ; ^ )
But remember you can get great weather in May and lousy in August too. It changes from day to day in some cases.
You're making a good choice in choosing an Alaskan cruise....believe us.
Holland America has more ships in Glacier Bay than any other cruise line. Went on the msStatendam 8/21-8/31/03. Went Anchorage to Vancouver. We saw College Fjord, Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Inside Passage. Took Whale Watching tour with Cap'n Larry, Helicopter to Land on Glacier, Historic Sitka, Raptor Center and Russian Dancers, Ketchikan Duck Tour and Misty Fjord National Monument by Float Plane. Feel free to ask any questions.
If you want Glacier Bay, then your choices are already limited. which is GOOD!! I also will assume you are looking at a round trip cruise??- for clairfication all Alaska cruises are "inside passage" (you wouldn't get to Juneau or Skagway without it). Focus less on the ship and most on time in ports, route, price. My favorite time is mid to late August, shoulder season rates, good amount of daylight, still decent weather. BUT weather is never guaranteed, so forget about worrying about it, prepare for it instead. I always book my air independently and never would consider cruiseair. Just be aware you will have to do your own transfers.
definatley better to book airfare on your own..I am going to Alaska in May on the Radiance and got r/t airfare for 399 from Orlando..The cruise company came to 865 a person for r/t !!! Only catch is you have to be careful to make the times match up with when you have to get to the port ..They tell me taxi fare from the airport to the pier is about 30 bucks..Still quite a savings to book yourself..Good luck
We are sailing on the Vision of the Seas on June 4th and are coming down from Anchorage on the train. How far is it to the ship from the railroad and are there any places to store luggage till embarkation time. We get into Seward at 11:00 and want to see some sights before the ship
For what it's worth, I got a good deal for mid Setember AND was lucky enough to have good weather on 8 out of 9 days. There was a cold rain in Glacier Bay, however that was not such a big problem becouse of the covered promanade deck on the Holland America Statendam. I still had a roll of great photos of Glacier Bay!
So you can drop your bags at the ship, but not board for a while? Are the cruise ships that explore the Kenai Peninsula lacoted right there at the same dock? What about the kayaks?
Yep just drop off your bags- no the tour boats leave from the docks off the Seward Highway probably a 1/2 mile+ from the ship dock. Depends on the Kayak company??? but not usually? There is a map online from the Seward visitor site www.sewardak.org that will be helpful to you- be certain to request the guide. If you are planning arriving via the train and then the 11:30am Kenai Fjords boat trip- it would be best to take your bags right to Kenai Fjords- they will store them for you- you may not have time to cab to the ship from the depot and return for the boat tour.
From what I have seen,all Princess cruises go to Glacier Bay. The other lines, Including HAL may or may not. I read that Princess has top priority for getting in.
If you end up in Seward, definitely take the train to Anchorage. It was our 2nd favorite excursion since there was so much beautiful scenery, and we saw more wildlife up close than anywhere else on the entire cruise. Since Princess is going to Whittier next year rather than Seward, I'm not sure of how much of the trip would be eliminated. Also, be sure to plan a helicopter landing. That is the best, most awsome escursion and is not to be missed even if you have to economize elsewhere. I would book a balcony too. There is beautiful scenery to be seen practically the whoe way up.
We went in mid May and it was cold, but some friends went the same time the year before and had 98 degrees in Ketchikan. So what everyone is telling you is correct. You can't predict weather for Alaska.
It's also important to consider how much time the ship spends inside Glacier Bay and where it goes. GB was a full day of sightseeing on my recent Crystal Harmony cruise and we sailed far up Tarr Inlet for a close up look at Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. Then we sailed all the way to the end of Hopkins Inlet for a close encounter with Hopkins Glacier. According to the park rangers who gave us the onboard lectures, this last is one that few ships have a chance to visit.
Well, we booked on the Summit. We got a pretty good deal, and I didn't think riding the Sun Princess was worth more money than riding Celebrity Summit, College Fjords or no College Fjords. We've never been on an Alaskan cruise before, so I'm sure we'll still be wowed by Hubbard Glacier and all the rest we'll see. Maybe on our next AK cruise we'll be sure to fit in College Fjords. If you read the ship poll here at cruise mates, Summit finishes with very good marks, and the Princess ships aren't even close.
I'll be posting a new thread in the next few days or so on shore excursions. We have a pretty good idea what we wnat to do, but a little advice frome the seasoned veterans couldn't hurt!
For clairfication- the Round trip Seattle Princess ships DO NOT go to Glacier Bay- they sail the twin Sawyer Glaciers. Most ALL Glacier Bay sailings go up the Tarr inlet and spend at least 30 mins. in front of the Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers. ONLY Sept. sailings can get up to the Hopkins glacier as it is closed the rest of the season as a harbor seal sanctuary, with it closed you get a view 5 miles away. Major lines sail up there depending on schedules and I have done so twice on Sept. sailings I've been on- Princess and Carnival, but not this year. (interesting also, the starboard side got NO view of the Grand Pacific/ Margerie glaciers) Also for looking at pricing trends- you aren't going to get any deals now compared to what will be available next spring. So be certain to keep track of pricing trends especially starting around March when capacity control kicks in and they have to fill cabins- it will pay to be flexable. Last several years- back through 1999 in my recall- Princess has unloaded their inside space for about $500 and less, including my $475 trip this year. So be on the look out and be agressive if it matters to you. Happy sailing!
Our August, 2002 cruise on the Zaandam sailed all the way into the inlet to the Hopkins Glacier. Quite spectacular. We were pleasantly surprised since the year before on NCL we did not enter the inlet. I had assumed that it was a Captain's decision maybe based on tides or comfort. It's pretty tight in there.
Sorry- was too restrictive in my post. No the Sept sailing up to Hopkins in not new, but it is flexable depending on the "shape" of the harbor seals. But, I don't feel it is "tight" in there. Plenty of room for the sailing and the ability for the ship to turn around.