First cruise ever. Going to Alaska next summer. We are in our 40's. Leaving the kids at home. Its supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, at least so far. Any opinions on Princess vs. Carnival. Any help making this decision would be appreciated. Thanks.
Hi. We have not cruised on Princess to alaska, friends have and were very pleased. We cruised on Carnivals "Spirit" last year, (inside passage) flew to Anchorage, cruised (from Seward, about a 2 1/2 hr. bus ride to cruise ship) be sure and check if this ride is included with cruise, , otherwise can be costly if not incl.) I think they now cruise out of Whitter, which is a shorter ride by bus.. The ship was a beautiful (2 yrs old) ship. The food was not gourmet, but very good, and plenty of everything, 24 hrs. a day. One suggestion, the off ship tours are quite expensive, when booked by cruise ship. so don't hesitate to book your own tours off ship (dock s are walking distance in just about every port) and save a LOT of $$$. Have a wonderful time, its truly magnificent..... take binoculors.... and a camera.... Good luck. Y
Carnival only goes one way- except for a couple trips at the beginning and end of the season. You need to determine WHAT you are looking at in terms of time and money. Myself, I would never consider any one way trip without at least 5 additional days for interior touring, and I would also definately do activities in Seward- a missed opportunity if you don't. I also don't consider one ways without College Fjords and give a big edge to Seward over Whittier. If you want a cheaper option- a round trip cruise essentially has one day different. But Princess is lacking a round trip Vancouver- which is my preference for more inside passage sailing. For a "once in a lifetime" Glacier Bay is the top choice. But you need to consider several factors with an Alaska cruise- ports, time in ports, glacier, route, price. ANY trip will be a compromise. If you do a one way- it is simple to tour on your own- you will also see twice as much for 1/2 the price. As mentioned - budget fully for costly excursions- you get only half a trip without them. But I never recommend not having plans and reservations in place before you leave. Flights will be long gone and time is already too short in ports to decide then what you want to do. You have a lot of decisions ahead of you- do the research on your own, get familiar with Alaska- get to your library and take out Alaska travel books. Don't rely on a TA- they have a conflict of interest sometimes and often have never been there and if they have probably don't have any independ touring experience. Good LUCK- Alaska is paradise!!!
Gail, Karen has given you some great advice. The places that she mentions like Seward and College Fjord are right on. My last Alaska cruise was a Northbound out of Vancouver on the Carnival Spirit in September 2002. At that time Carnival was sailing into Seward. (they sail out of Whittier now) The cruise was ok, but the Spirit is one of the mega-ships and so there were long lines for everything. They do a fairly decent job of most things, but nothing particularly well, but then they cater to the masses. I chose the HAL Statendam this year for several reasons. First of all, it is Southbound Seward to Vancouver. Second, we cruise through BOTH College Fjord and Glacier Bay. Carnival went into College Fjord (awesome) but not Glacier Bay. Skagway is not one of our ports of call, but then it was my least favorite port anyway. Finally, the Statedam is a smaller ship (1200 passengers vs 2000+ passengers). If you are wanting to get away from it all, including kids, Carnival is not generally, a cruise to choose. Like Karen suggested, read the guides on Alaska. Frommers has good ones on both Alaska cruises and Alaska in general. Their guides even describe the ambiance of each ship and the pros and cons of each line and itinerary. Then make your decision and go for it. Alaska is really the trip of a lifetime...you won't be disappointed.
Carnival, at least in the Caribbean, is more party oriented than Princess. We loved Princess, but we are not partiers. Princess handles crowds really well. On Carnival, we waited in line for everything. On Princess, we never waited over 5 - 10 minutes for anything. One advantage that Princess and HAL have over other cruise lines in Alaska is that they have a naturalist on board for the entire cruise pointing out sights, wildlife etc. Other cruise lines have them for portions of the cruise but not the whole way. I agree that College Fjord and Glacier Bay are the best. Also, do a helicopter glacier landing. That is the one "not to be missed" shore excursion. It is well worth the steep price! Also, a balcony is much desired in Alaska. There is beautiful scenery for practically the entire cruise. You can see it from the public decks, but you can't be out there all the time. With a balcony, you can watch as you dress, get ready for bed, etc. We spent a LOT of time on ours.
Like you, our Alaska cruise was our trip of a lifetime. We had wanted to go for 20 years. When we finally got on board and started to pull out of Vancouver, I started crying. Then I cried again when it was over.
For clairfication- Carnival IN ALASKA has similar passengers to all the other lines. I have sailed Carnival 3 times to Alaska and the majority of passengers are middle aged and above. No party ship yet. They also have a FULL TIME naturalist on board.
Either ship, you will have a great time. Carnival is generally a younger crowd and is a bit more boisterous. We have sailed on both and enjoyed both.
Try to spend a couple of days in Vancouver if you will begin or end your cruise there.
It's a beautiful city. See - Stanley Park (rent bicycle), Gastown (new Storyeum exhibit opens in Gastown June 7 and if you sail from Canada Place it is within walking distance of the ship), great shopping at huge Metrotown (a Skytrain ride away, station is at Canada Place), Robson Street in downtown for high end fashions.
I haven't sailed princess, but celebrity and unfortuanately carnival. We went on our honeymoon to the carribean 5 years ago and it was a floating trailer park, the ship was, the crowd was not.....i swear we must have signed up to be an extra in deliverance or something, i would think think the alaska crowd is different......but wouldn't take that chance
The crowd on the Carnival Spirit Alaska cruise contained a pretty good cross-section of people. I think that the majority of my fellow passengers on that cruise could best be described as "middle-class, middle-America". Not a bad crowd...just so many people.
The cruise did have a very personable and knowledgable on-board naturalist. She was a post-graduate student in the research phase of her studies in marine biology. The subject of her research was the migration of the humpback whales. I imagine that this made her job with Carnival a really "good fit". In 2002, the Carnival Spirit was in Alaskan waters during the summer and Hawaiian waters during the winter....just like the whales.
Wait, let me add more confusion!! We were on our first Alaska cruise, Southbound from Seward to Anc on Statendam and enjoyed it immensely. As much as we would like to see most of that itinerary again, especially when the sun is out and a blue sky. But we are considering other itineraries such as Celebrity southbound in order to get to Skagway and Emerald Lake and see Murray, and to go to Icey Straight Point as well. I would choose a smaller ship with lots of outside decks and space to really see nature.
Princess and HAL have had the most experience and longevity in Alaska. Frommers books and several others are important. Request free books from each port you are considering and read these as well as the old board threads. Lots of info here.
Hi Gail,, gosh i had to laugh when i read your message, every word of it sounded like my husband & I ..We 2 are going to Alska my husband is 45 & i 44, & we are leaving our 2 kids at home .. Yes this will be a trip of a life time we are leaving Aug 21st , we chose the Royal Caribbean & sailing on the Serenade of the Seas .. we didnt really know which ship to go on eaither, Our travel agent was a big help to us .. We are also going up the day before we sail so our agent took care of that too so we are staying at the Sheraton wall center, & when i looked that up on the inter net i was just blown away Hotel just looked beautiyful, any way we just deciced to fly up the day before just so we would not be stressing about getting to the ship on time we kinda just wanted to be close by so we chose to fly out the day before, we are flying into vancover & than flying back home from van.. when are you & your husband leaving .. This is called a real vacation!!!!!! well you can reply through this or you can e-mail at email@example.com
My wife and I are also in our 40's although getting near 50! We are taking our first ever cruise to celebrate our 30th together. Originally, we were booked on the Diamond Pricess out of Seattle but changed to the Island Princess southbound out of Whittier for a variety of reasons. First, we started hearing some negative reports about how new the Diamond was. I discounted most of these but then I started hearing about places to see that were not on our itenerary and quickly concluded that the South Bound was the way to go. Wife used to be a TA and she determined that getting into Anchorage and out of Vancouver was easier than the other way around. I say, go book on the Island Princess on 08/28 and join us!