I have been elected to plan an Alaskan cruise to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday sometime early August 2004. There will be at least 14 of us going. Most of us live on the East coast. Time is an issue so we need to go on a 7 day cruise and money is an issue for some so I thought we should depart from Seattle (round trip) as opposed to Vancouver. I have read many comments over the last few days and I have gotten the impression that Holland American or Princess is the cruise line to go with. How important is seeing Glacier Bay over Hubbard Bay or Tracy Arms? and should we avoid a cruise that goes on the western side of Vancouver Island? I feel this awesome responsiblity to pick the right cruise line and itinerary and I would appreciate any advice and comments. Also, any recommendations to get the best deal from a reputable company.
Seattle and Vancouver are only 3+++ hours apart and the benefits are many, going out of Vancouver. Especially HAL and Princess out of Seattle they do too much outside passage sailing for my preferences. There is one NCL sailing that does go inside Vancouver Island and Glacier Bay, sailing from Seattle. I have been to all 3 of the inside passage glaciers and Tracy Arm would be my third choice. I sailed it on an all day trip out of Juneau going to both of the Sawyer Glaciers, it appears the cruise lines only make it to one??? As a poster claimed he didn't realize there were two?? Any trip will be a compromise. Go with what fits your schedule best- strongly considering price, and budget for costly excursions. Any sailing will be worthwhile.
We cruised round trip through Vancouver and I really liked it a lot. We also had some time to walk around the town in Vancouver before the ship left. We did pay a little more for the airfare, but I think it was worth it, the Vancouver airport is beautiful and we had no problems flying in and out.
About 25 (including two who were in their 80's) of us went on an Alaskan cruise in August 2003. We left from Vancouver and highly recommend it as a departure point. Vancouver and Vancouver Island are beautiful. We went a couple of days early and thoroughly enjoyed the time in Vancouver. If you are doing a round-trip, 7-day cruise, you are probably going to go to Glacier Bay. Our cruise was one way and we went to Hubbard. Either are well worth seeing and if the weather is clear you can't go wrong. We did not like our ship, HAL Ryndam, but others on the cruise seemed to think it was OK. From what I have read, Celebrity would be my first choice although we sailed on the Norwegian Sun a couple of years ago (Caribbean trip) and really enjoyed it. With 14 people going you should be able to get a reasonable deal. www.vacationstogo.com has some really good prices although I have not had the time to try them out since I found out about them.