I was all sold on Celebrity until I came to this board. The selling point on Celebrity is the great food vs. Princess which has great Alaska itneraries and entertainment, but I've seen reviews of Princess's food ranging from excellent to inedible.
Can you give me more pros/cons to consider for each?
Food matters little to me in Alaska. Everything I go there for is outside the ship. I have seen a decline in food everywhere over the past several years, but by no means would I consider it not eatable. More choices than ever to go with and hopefully with no 6*** expectations, you will find plenty of good food. As for the ship differences - a major negative on Celebrity on a one way is usually no College Fjord- my opinion only but I would not consider a one way trip without it. A plus is ending/begining in Seward IF you allow at least a day of touring there- most do not so not a plus then. ANY trip will be a big compromise- and none bad- some better than others? yes. Information will lead your way. Research what is your priority for going to Alaska.
An aditional "Pro" for Princess is their excellent infrastructure regarding pre and post cruise land packages. We have taken 5 Alaska cruises and the very best was Princess with a 5-day pre cruise land package.
I like the Princess cruisetour itineraries better than Celebrity. Which package did you book on and when did you go? We are considering the 12 night/13 day that starts with 2 nights in Fairbanks, then 2 nights in Denali and 1 nights in Anchorage. Thereís another that does a different hotel every night and adds Talkeetna and Mt. Whitney Lodge, but with 7 children between two families, I donít know if changing hotels every night will wear us out.
Any information will help me. Iím very confused right now.
Be aware very very few kids are on the tours. It is just very costly and most families will go independently so to have more flexability. Be prepared for a long bus ride Denali Park- Anchorage 6+ hours, if by rail 8 hours and in assigned seats- table style on princess - so 2 passengers ride backwards. It can be far more cost effective going independent. Also look at ARR tours. In my opinion, Fairbanks is far more than a boat ride and gold dredge, but a car is necessary for the area.
That's the package we took, 12 nights with 2 nights at Fairbanks, 2 Nights at Daneli and 1 Night in Anchorage. It was great. Princess has collage kids working for them to help you along the way and to make sure that those of us who are older (and more feeble-minded) get on the right buses and go to the right hotels. It really was personalized service. The Fairbanks tours (Riverboat and Gold mine) were a lot of fun and well run. The train ride was wonderful and the meals on the train were excellent. Ar Daneli, we chose the helicopter tour besides the bus tour into the park. Our friends went river rafting. We all had a great time. In Anchorage we relaxed and walked around town. The cruise was great. The highlight on the cruise was a whale watching tour in Juneau. We took the ship's tour and it was excellent. (We had gone with Captain Larry before and the ship's tour was much better in my opinion. Less crowded, larger boat, better snacks.) Everyone cooperates in finding the whales, so all the boats come together. In Slagway, we took the free walk with the Ranger. I think it goes at 9:00 A.M. and again at 1:00 P.M. The office is right at the edge of town as you walk in from the ship. Have a great time!
I haven't been on Celebrity in Alaska but have cruised Celebrity in the Caribbean. I cruised Princess in Alaska and think they are fabulous in this area. As far as the food, this is just my opinion on that, but I have a hard time with anyone that says the food was terrible because there is SO MUCH of it! If you get something you don't like, it's really simple--you just order something else. But I'm not a food snob and go for the scenery and the ports and the beauty of Alaska, so if the food really needs to be gourmet for you, Celebrity might be a better alternative. I just think that everything Princess has to offer outweighs the difference in the food quality. I think the difference might just be one grade (as in Celebrity might be an A- and Princess a B- or whatever). So since I think Princess is an A in all other areas in Alaska, I would be willing to accept a small compromise in the food.
I agree with the previous post about the northbound/southbound itineraries being far superior to the roundtrip--we wouldn't have missed the College Fjord/Prince William Sound area for the world and liked it as much as Glacier Bay.
I hope you will consider the independent arrangements for the ground portion of your trip because I think it is more enjoyable than the group tours. The group tours are more convenient and possibly easier for some with physical limitations, but you have plenty of time to do your planning if you don't fall into that group. Would you rather spend a lot of your time waiting for the buses to load/unload, potty breaks, etc., or would you rather be spending your time seeing what you want to see in Alaska? Just a thought . . . .
Princess has naturalists on board their cruises, pointing out and explaining interesting sights and helping to spot wildlife. If not for the naturalist, we would have missed most of the wildlife we saw and would have been completely in the dark about what we were seeing.
We haven't been on Celebrity so I can't compare. As Donna said, on Princess, the food was plentiful and they were always eager to bring something else if you didn't like what you ordered. We didn't really find many desserts we liked, and found more food to our liking on Carnival's Lido restaurant buffet rather than Princess' Horizon Court. However there was always something in the dining room that we liked - other than the desserts.
On Princess, we never had long lines. They manage crowds really well. Embarkation and debarktion were simple and fast.
Slagway, we took the free walk with the Ranger. I think it goes at 9:00 A.M. and again at 1:00 P.M. The office is right at the edge of town as you walk in from the ship
These walking tours run every hour and are different depending on the ranger. At the visitor center they also have ranger talks, a movie, small museum. Located at Broadway and Second. http://www.nps.gov/klgo/pphtml/activities.html
We went on Princess last year and had no problems eatting the food :-) Most everything was quite tasty, although our kids (2, ages 13 and 10) got a little tired of having to eat steak, but enjoyed the walkup pizza and hamburgs :-) We opted for planning our own land portion, because we wanted lots of time in Denali (thanks Karen!) and we wanted flexibility if we had a bad/tired kid day. We rented a car and that worked well. The Princess cruise was great with the kids and they had a wonderful time - lots of activities and enough freedom to do things they enjoyed.