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Old April 12th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Default Which itinerary to Alaska for 1st time cruise?

A group of friends planning an Alaskan cruise for next year... which itinerary is best for 1st time... inside passage round trip out of Seattle or one way to or from Anchorage to see College Fjord/ Glacier BAy? Cost differences in airfare and cabin choices (starboard vs port) come into play.....advise?
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Old April 12th, 2005, 03:04 PM
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Default Re: Which itinerary to Alaska for 1st time cruise?

OUr first and only (so far) Alaska cruise was an inside passage round-trip from Vancouver. I'm glad we flew directly into Vancouver, we still had an afternoon to explore the town, loved it. If possible, go out of Vancouver and have the time to really see a bit more of Alaska, its breathtaking...We thought the little extra in the airfare was a time saver and we didn't have to travel from Seattle to Vancouver, which is extra cost and takes time. Just a thought, but thats what I would recommend.

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Old April 12th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: Which itinerary to Alaska for 1st time cruise?

The major advantage to going 1-way is that you have an amazing opportunity to tour the interior, which gives a dramatically different sense of things...different topography, different wildlife, etc. Denali for instance will give you a very cheap excursion with what is likely to be better wildlife encounters than you get on more costly excursion in ports. When I first started planning, my sense for the wildlife was warped and I then learned that what I would see in the inside passage was bald eagles, salmon run (depending on time), and with excursions whales, otters, seals, sea lions, and with very expensive excursions or amazing luck bears. Denali gives you grizzly, caribou, moose, dall sheep, etc. Plus lots of other amazing touring options in the interior.

For a first time - especially if you're uncertain that you will return any time soon - I'd take enough time to do a good land tour (independently) and complete the experience.

Without this time, I'd strongly consider the RT mainly due to cost. College Fjord is a big trade off (we liked it more than GB), but I'm not sure it alone would sell me on doing the 1-way with no land tour. Glacier Bay is great too, but you'll want to make sure you get some solid glacier time on whatever RT you're looking at.

As to cabin choice, is the only issue port/starboard? Consider that a preference that is minorly beneficial. Do NOT let that determine an itinerary at all. If you're going RT, port/starboard doesn't matter. If going 1-way, port better for southbound and starboard better for northbound...mainly if you are getting a balcony. But, it won't affect things very much. You'll still have a good view on the "wrong" side except for the 1 day in the Gulf (between Glacier Bay and College Fjord). Even then, the "good" side often loses its view for a good portion of this day as you're sailing too far out. No matter the location of your cabin, you'll want to be out on deck for a good amount of your viewing in any event (and certainly for much of the glaicer viewing).

I'd concern myself with other issues about the itinerary as well: which ports, time in ports, etc. For instance, there is a lot to do in Juneau and we made sure we had long port times ... as much as 4-5 hour more than some other itineraries. Are you interested in Skagway or Haines or Sitka, which tend to vary between itineraries? As Donna says, Seattle should be a second choice for your departure as compared to Vancouver. Don't be loyal to a particular line the way you might be on another cruise. This is a destination cruise with the focus on port experiences and Alaska scenery. Go with the best itinerary regardless of minor differences between lines.
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Old April 12th, 2005, 05:24 PM
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Default Re: Which itinerary to Alaska for 1st time cruise?

A very good summary above, I think Jrask is a Budget Queen graduate, if I am not mistaken, who did a great job researching on his trip.

I can not stress enough, if you are looking at a VARIED Alaska experience with interior travel you need to budget TIME. This year especially I have gotten a boat load of inquiries on plans that were not thought out enough and poorly planned, now looking for fixes, that can't be done. Don't know why so many, but at all costs avoid them and make realistic plans for your touring desires. I have done several round trip Vancouver sailings- they are just excellent packing a lot of wonderful touring into 7 days. My preferences are for the most inside passage sailing so I look carefully are round trip Seattle on routings. ANY cruise is a compromise, just be WELL informed and understand fully. Look at - ports, route, time in ports, glacier, price. I then fit in a ship- which is my last choice. For me everything I go to Alaska for is outside the ship.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 10:48 PM
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Default Re: Which itinerary to Alaska for 1st time cruise?

I most definitely recommend 1 way northbound. Each day will bring you a new and improved landscape. You will remember this trip for the rest of your life. If you're only going to see Alaska once, do it the right way!
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Old April 15th, 2005, 10:34 AM
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Default Re: Re: Which itinerary to Alaska for 1st time cruise?

What's the deal with the hyperlinks imbedded in my/our text. Kinda creepy.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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Default Re: Which itinerary to Alaska for 1st time cruise?

My first trip on an Alaskan cruise was in Sept '90 and I have gone back every few years since then (leaving May 1 for back to back Pacific Coastal- Inside Passage too so I am a happy clam). I mention this since the post refers to "first time" but hopefully not the last. There is SO much to do and see that I say not to panic and just do what you can afford this time. Maybe save up for a cruisetour later on or venture out on your own in conjunction with a cruise. Just my two pennies, Robbie
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