We are planning a cruise for next summer with our two teenagers (17 and 13). In looking at the different itineraries, I see that some cruises are round trip from Seattle or Vancouver and that others are one-way (ie: Vancouver to Whittier or vice versa). My husband wants to do the one-way cruise and then go on to Anchorage for one night before we fly home. I think that after 7 nights on the ship, our teenagers will be ready to get back home and so I am leaning towards the round-trip itinerary. Anyone have thoughts on which might be better as far as scenery or getting a truer feel for Alaska?
I did notice that on the one-way cruise there are two days in a row of "cruising" through the fjords up north. Would that get boring for teenagers?
Im definately in the minority but I thought the whole cruise was some what boring. I would suggest that you go from north to south ending your cruise in Vancouver and then spend a night or two in Vancouver wich was definately one of the highlights of our trip. Depending on where you live its a much shorter flight from Vancouver to get back home than Anchorage. Be aware that when you book your overpriced excursion that you are not garunteed anything but them taking your money. I took the helicopter ride with my wife that took us to the glaicer and then went dog sledding. This excursion was the most exciting but for a family of four it will set you back at least $1500.00 USD. We went on a whale excursion ande saw maybe two or three whales in a three hour period. The price per person was $120 USD. My suggestion, save your money and goto the aquarium in the Vancouver park, its the best deal to see marine life. We saw next to no wild life on our trip. We had an outside cabin (the best Ive ever had on a cruise), but if I had to do it again I would get an inside cabin and use the extra dough on excursions.
A trip beginning or ending in Vancouver is better than Seattle in my opinion. You may like to fly in or out of Seattle and rent a car to get you between the 2 places.
I have cruised from both and would recommend Vancouver because of the fact that you are not outside in the ocean too much.
Regarding costs of excursions etc. You can have a great cruise without paying too much for excursions. Study the different places that you will visit and do independent tours [I do and we have never been dissapointed]
I would also recommend Seward over Whittier as your starting or ending place. Plan to stay there a day or 2 and a half or full day trip on the water there wont cost you an arm and a leg.
Have a great time planning and reading as much as you can. Its a great place to visit [Alaska] and as many times as we have been we are still in awe of its beauty
Anne, it depends a lot on the taste of you and your family. I love the one-ways and wouldn't do it any other way. The area covered on the Northern part of the cruise is quite different than the Inside Passage. As to whether your teenagers would get bored depends a lot on their interests and the ship you choose. If they like the outdoors...things like hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, or rafting they will LOVE an Alaska cruise. Shore Excursions include all of these activities at one or more of the ports of call. You might want to research the ammenities and reviews of each cruiseline too. Both Carnival and RCCL tend to be active-high energy ships with lots to do for all ages. On days when you are not in port, the cruise usually offers a lot of on board activities in addition to the glacier viewing. As Lu mentioned, if you do a one-way, Seward is wonderful. If you do plan on just doing the cruise and not staying for a day or two post-cruise on a one way, I would suggest the Southbound route if you do not live on the west coast. I did a Northbound the first time and went home right after the cruise on the "Red-Eye" out of Anchorage..not a great end to an otherwise great trip. . Hope this helps.
My husband and I are debating this also. I find that the round trip cruises are less expensive...my fear is what do you miss? We are looking at Celebrity Mercury vs Infinity vs summit. My biggest concern was the open jaw flights and the expense...but we have just enough airline miles to cover all four of us. Looking for advise...Thanks Nancy
Anne---Last summer we travelled northbound, Vancouver to Seward on HAL Veendam (children ages 13 and 16). We spent 4 days before the cruise in Vancouver and had a great time...much to choose from to do. The shipped stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka, and also went to Hubbard Glacier. The kids loved all the excursions we had planned -duck boat, Lumberjack Show, wheeled dog sledding (glacier dogsledding was too expensive for the 4 of us and this was a good alternative), rafting float trip by Mendenhall Glacier, White Pass Railroad (husband is a train fanatic!) Raptor Center, etc. Yes, the excursions can be expensive, but we tried to choose carefully. On the ship the kids were both so active with the other teenagers...and they had a great time. The staff that "worked" with the "Teen Club Activities" were great and really enjoyed their jobs. The kids got a daily listing of activities and times for their age group. At the end of the trip we spent one night in Anchorage before flying home. It was a 4 hr. train ride from Seward to Anchorage, so it worked out well to have the afternoon to walk around Anchorage and relax a little before flying back to the east coast. Have a GREAT trip...let me know if you have any questions.
My opinion only- you are missing a GREAT deal if you do not invest at least 5 additional days for interior touring with a one way cruise. Why go all the way in/out of Anchorage not to take advantage of the just EXCELLENT touring opportunites? If you look at routes- one way and round trip cruises have routes similar 6 days. The Gulf of Alaska is great sailing- but neither Celebrity nor RCI go to College Fjords- I would never consider a one way without it- a major reason to sail one way in my opinion. I also give a big edge to Seward- but again, most people do not take advantage of the excellent touring available here and just pass through- a great deal is missed. Alaska may not be a frequent destination?? take advantage of being all the way there. If you can't invest the time, I would consider a round trip Vancouver- superior for routing over Seattle usually. And just plenty of excellent touring available in EACH worthwhile port. For more information - request each city's visitor guide. Look over a shore excursion list and see what is of interest to your family, have a family meeting. If you go interior, consider going independent with a rental car or RV.
Bottom line- any trip will be a compromise- look at - ports, time in ports, route, glacier, PRICE. Then fit in ships. If going interior- consider the www.toursaver.com book.