The best ship in Alaskan waters is the ship that has the itinerary that most fits what that person wants to see, IMHO...not a particular line or ship or class of ship. It's ALASKA afterall.
I chose the ship that I will sail on in just a little over a month based on
(1)route (I wanted a one-way southbound from Seward to Vancouver),
(2) glacier cruising offered (both College Fjord and Glacier Bay) and
(3) ports (I wanted one of the ports to be Sitka).
For others the ship may be of more importance than it is to me. For me, its just a nice place to "hang my hat" and get me where I want to go.
The above looks like my list. But also add time in ports and price. But if looking for a good ship- HAL is superior for deck viewing space and excellent front viewing. Too many ships have the annoying wind screens- my opinion only and I avoid them. Most everything I sail Alaska for is outside the ship. I like long port days and there is a big bonus now with an early arrival. Some days will have over 10,000 people offloaded. Plan your touring carefully and budget fully.
Good point on length of time in port, Karen! On my last Alaska cruise we were only in Sitka for a short time and that is a tender port so I didn't go ashore and then heard everyone talking about how they thought it was our most attractive and unique port of call. Price is always a consideration. I like to leave plenty of money for tours and excursions. This is my first time on HAL. It is good to know that the deck viewing space is great. The deck plans looked that way, but one can never be certain with those. I also do not like those wind screens. They make photographing the passing scenery from deck very difficult.
Well, I am biased toward the Celebrity M class. But I met many people on board my cruise who weren't biased, they had cruised with Princess, HAL and the other lines previously. They all said the same thing. Celebrity exceeds all the other cruise lines in terms of service, ship cleanliness, food quality, and just overall ambience. They said the other ships nickle and dime you the whole time, while Celebtrity is more of an all included cruise.
Another thing about our Summit Cruise is that I noticed we had more port time than any of the other ships we crossed paths with. In every occasion, we were the first ones in port. In almost every occasion, we were the last ones there. That gives you great flexibility if you want to do excursions.
I totally agree with you Celebrity is definatly the best in terms of port time because they give you so much time. Their ships are superior to other ships and the food is some of the best that you can get. Plus the service is some of the best in the industry.
So all things consirderd Celebrity is one of the best Lines in the industry!
We did the Mercury out of San Francisco to Alaska in May and it was a great time of year as we were the only cruise ship in every port. But we did not go to glacier bay and that was something we missed. Next time we will do the land portion too.
There is no "best " ship, including Celebrity. Have you sailed any others to Alaska? As mentioned- Celebrity has some negatives being no Glacier Bay nor College Fjords which is a major sailing bonus on one way cruises. But they do go to Seward which is always my preference- but most people just pass through so it doesn't matter. Any cruise will be a compromise. So research fully and book what is right for you- include- route, ports, time in ports, glacier, price. A lot of Alaska touring is outside the ship- more so than on other destinations, and not always frequent trips for some. Happy travels.
I have only been on one Alaska cruise, HAL Statendam, and will be on Celebrity Summit in few weeks. But I researched all the ships and chose HAL last time due to itinerary, smaller size, more outside deck space and reputation. We were not disappointed. We chose Summit this year due to long times in port, visit to Icy Strait Pt in addition to Skagway, which was not on our HAL trip and leaving from Seward. Downsides as Karen points out are we miss Glacier Bay and College Fjords. So lots to consider and no right answer. After this cruise, we will have insight on HAL vs Celebrity, at least based on our unique cruise, experience, and interests on what is important. Any ship in Alaska has to be hard to beat!!
As far as the best looking ship that comes through Juneau, my preference is for the Oosterdam. She has the classic lines. Not chopped off at the stern as most of the newer ones are (esp. Princess). Just my opinion. My favorites as to those I have cruised would be the Summit, and second the Carnival Spirit.
They ALL must be great ships, so "which is the best ship" is sort of an inadvertent question. It all depends on what you like! Some are Carnival people, some are into the loveboats of Princess, while others swear by Celebrity . "Freestyle Cruising" is a big hit with those who have sailed on NCL.. Personally, I like Holland America and have been to Alaska twice on that line, 2003=Statendam, 2004=Oosterdam.
I sailed the Celebrity Mercury and Regal Princess and I enjoyed the Regal. I felt Celebrity tried to nickel and dime us compared to Princess. Only difference in service was in the buffet where trays were carried for woman to their table. Celebrity dining staff had the personality of a shoe or maybe that is how Celebrity trains them. BORING. Food - Princess was much better and the dining room staff had some fun. We also didn't care for most of the Celebrity passenger who thought they where on a high dollar cruise. When in all reality our celebrity cruise was cheaper than princess. Before you added in the outrageous drink prices.
I wouldn't choose a ship that didn't go into College Fiords and Glacier Bay -- sorry, Celebrity doesn't go there.
The last time I sailed Celebrity, everything was much more expensive then the other mass lines for the same items. I felt nickle and dimed.
Princess and Holland have some great itineraries in Alaska. They also have much better Alaska information on the ships including naturalists, onboard speakers, people who come on the ship while in port to give lectures. Celebrity did none of these on my Alaskan cruise with them.
Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are my last choices for Alaska.
We did the Celebrity Summit and it was terrific. We were promised a 5.5 star experience and we got it. Simon Weir the cruise director is outstanding, the food, waiters, everyone actually was terrific. Ship was wonderful. Crowd was old, but on the bright side, there isn't too much competition for the excursions or anything else.
I posted here way back in the thread and thought I would add my post Summit experience comments. I still feel the same as Karen and Linda, that you choose your ship based on itinerary, port times and price. Which was why we chose Summit for their Sep 3rd cruise this year. However, we did not count on having mechanical problems which cost us at least 14 hrs in port time, arriving in Juneau at least 6hrs late, also in Ketchikan, and Hubbard Glacier, which ended up being right at formal dinner time, which we missed. The biggest gripe we had was not that they had a mechanical problem and told up when we got to our cabin via letter, but that even then, we were even later for everything, and not once ,even when the announced arrival time passed, were we given updates on the intercom for Hubbard or any other port. Wasn't clear whether the Capt was on board or not, never heard from him, Cruise Director made what few announcements we had.
So choose wisely, hope the schedule doesn't change and go with the flow and have a great trip.
have sailed on Celebrity and Princess and loved both. Our Alaskan tour was with Princess last august and was awesome. I would recommend a cruise and land tour if possible and do the land part first. Then you can relax on the ship--and yu won't care if it rains.