The daylight sailing of Vancouver Island on the southbound is always a highlight for me, and my preference. I have sailed both directions, but I also would never consider any one ways without at least another week interior touring. More important in my opinion is the route, glaciers, and I give a big preference of Seward over Whittier.
i have been on the spirit twice for the roundtrip to glacier bay. LOVED IT. i went in sept and then this past may. may is definetely the most beautifu time to go with all the snow on the mts and lots of beautiful waterfalls going on. and you will like the ship as well. but my next trip to alaska will be the southbound. if you want to take in a couple days of tours in danali ( spelling ) or seeing the sights and not be wore out when you get home , then you can get on the ship and have a relaxing cruise back. i would definetely get a oceanview or balcony cabin on the port side so you will see the land sites all the way down. and if you have not used yvr airport before in vancouver ''' book your flight later in the afternoon'''. it can be a nightmare to get through customs and security. especially if there are a number of ships getting into port the day you do. www.cruisecal.com is a good site to use too see how many ships will be in your ports . just leave the first two questions all then put in your port and the date you will be there. if you can manage it, stay the night and enjoy this great city. it has many things too offer as you have probably already read here on this thread.
i hope this helps. and if you want to see whales absolutely book a whale tour. seeing them from the ship is very unlikely and they are a awesome thing to see on a tour. no i did not see any BEARS because i did not go on a tour for them.
Totally a style question. For myself, I went Northbound and thought it was definitely the way to go. Let me try to debunk some of the myths or at least show you the other side of the coin so you can make the decision thats right for you.
I assure you we weren't thinking about packing on our glacier viewing days ... we weren't even thinking about the end of the vacation because we still had much interior exploring to do (which is what really makes 1-way worthwhile). To the contrary, I liked the fact that things built up ... start in the Pacific Northwest with scenery that we were familiar with and watch it get progressively more stunning and along the while we're learning about Alaska (its people, history, and natural environment) before we get to the climax of the glacier viewing as a great topper.
I also didn't find the land tour tiring (certainly not more tiring than the cruise). Cruisetours tend to be too short and involve a lot of traveling compared to touring, so they can be tiring. Independent touring is actually pretty relaxing if you plan things well (very easy) and allow sufficient time (a couple of days to tour Denali as a little tack-on is where the problem starts). Don't make the mistake and you won't have the exhaustion issue.
Actually, I want the relatively easy part of the vacation to be the first couple of days. I'm always pretty tired from work those first couple of days and I definitely don't mind being pampered during that time - going to the spa, reading a book, not having to make real decisions about where to eat, etc. I do not want to begin my vacation with a long plane ride to Anchorage followed up by really long drives (5.5 minimum to Denali followed by an 8 hour driving tour of the park followed by another 5.5 back to Anchorage and than onward to board a ship). We are pretty high impact on our excursions and we get up early for deck viewing with relaxation mixed in, so for us the cruise portion wasn't (and we didn't want it to be) pure pampering and relaxation...just not our way. So, cruise portion wasn't less tiring then driving on a well-planned independent land tour with sufficient time to relax and explore.
Another advantage, I thought the structure of the cruise really helped us to tour independently in the interior -- through lectures on the ship and discussions with our guides on excursions during the cruise portion, we learned enough and developed a really great appreciation of Alaska's natural environment to do the interior more on our own. We also found that Denali was far more meaningful after all of the other experiences ... after kayaking with salmon jumping and eagles swooping, after seeing whales breaching, after seeing glaciers kalving, etc. Others seem to find the reverse true, but for me, I like to get in the small experiential things that build up to the big highlight.
Our cruise experience was in large part set in stone because we booked our excursions in advance (as you'll want to do to get the best excursions). The land tour was more free form. We knew a bunch of alternatives in each of our destinations and along the way, so we could pick and choose once we were there. After the fixed cruise portion, we could better guage the land experience we wanted - did we want more native culture or more nature/wildlife or more museums, did we want more physical activity or something more relaxing, did we need to do some more shopping, etc. It just led us to have a more well-rounded and enjoyable vacation because we could adapt the land portion in a way that we could never adapt the cruise portion. I know how I vacation, and if I went Southbound my first time, I probably would have been trying to do too much on the land tour even though they were experiences I could deemphasize after having experienced the cruise portion.
Issues in favor of southbound are cruising Vancouver during the day and not having to bear the long flight from Alaska at the end of your vacation. You'll have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.
1. The original post did no exclude the possibility of a land tour. Many (maybe even most) people incorporate a land tour in a 1-way and in fact some here recommend considering RT if not doing a land tour. More to the point, one of the previous posters made this same assumption and provided advice accordingly and about how doing this post-cruise is a bad idea. And Karen's post mentions her preference for Seward over Whittier, which is only relevant if a land tour happens. At very least, it would probably be good to give advice in a way that highlights landtouring pros and cons in case the OP is considering it. I think giving the opinion for a particular direction on a cruise-only is great too, just don't understand why its wrong for others to give enough information in case the OP is or might consider adding the land tour as well.
2. As for the "myth" issue. I don't have my copy of Webster's handy, so I can't directly respond to whether opinions might never be labeled myths. But why do you think that comment was directed at you? The N/S issue is raised a lot and you typically get a lot of the same responses with the predominant being relax on the southbound trip because the land tour is so exhausting (I realize this brings up your concern that the OP does not explicitly state a land tour, but I'm just hopeless so ...). I think that is a myth perpetuated by numerous travel agents I've spoken to and by many on various boards that stems from the fact that they do a short land tour. I don't think people should buy into that before learning anything about what they want there Alaska trip to be like. Now it is entirely different if someone holds the "opinion" that it is nicer to end with a cruise because you can go to the spa everyday and eat endless good food which will always be more relaxing than a land tour that involves any amount of driving, but that's not the normal thing you hear on this issue. Or for someone to appreciate that short land tours are not advised and that if they insist on doing it, southbound may be a better choice. I certainly don't debate whether people are entitled to have an opinion on whether they prefer (a) seeing glaciers at the beginning of their trip or (b) they would rather let the anticipation build over the course of the vacation.
My post very clearly begins and ends by noting that there are different opinions on which direction is better and that there are pros and cons each way and that it depends on the individual's style. I even mention that others have cited the same criteria that I mention and consider it better fullfilled by going Southbound and I raised at least one pro-South reason not mentioned previously and echoed a pro-South reason offered by Karen.
Guess next time I will just say "North is better."
"Guess next time I will just say "North is better.""
Actually, you can say that the one trip you did was north with a land tour and you enjoyed it.
Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the long narrative and reasons for your choice. But you should also respect the opinions of others, and since you responded directly after mine, I did think the myths comment was aimed at me.
There really are pros and cons, I just gave my opinion, after north, south and round trip, of which I preferred, and all three were on the Spirit that the original poster asked about.
In doing a cruise only, I found I was far more tired after shore excursions, late nights on the ship, early mornings viewing the scenery and general having fun to have as much fun at the glaciers and Anchorage as I did going south and starting out there. I did South first and North second, round trip third. I'm not in a relaxing mode on an Alaska cruise, I'm hyper to see everything there is to see. Our opinions definitely differ (I wouldn't do an interior tour, I've seen pictures and Travel Channel specials and it doesn't interest me), but that's the good thing about the boards. I really thought that 'myths' was aimed at me, so sorry if I was wrong. But please don't say north is better, I would much rather you expand as much as possible on your reasons again if it comes up and say what you prefer, as I did.
As mentioned, there are many opinions, but with all due respect, if you haven't done both, it is hard for someone to compare???
I actually see a great many people just do a one way cruise and hop in a plane for home to/from Anchorage. They are certainly grossly missing out in my opinion, but what they don't know doesn't matter. So there are pluses and minuses for both certainly, none significantly either way or the other. Go with either- just go.
Thanks for the full details of north bound. When I mentioned I was doing the north bound on Sun Princess, 6/20, many of my friends claimed I should end with the cruise, as it's the most relaxing... Not do cruise first, but land then cruise. I agree with your reasoning for Northbound and am so happy now I selected Northbound. I've never been to Vancouver or Alaska, so the anticipation build up is already here and will be for the next week; till I fly out. We are doing two days in Vancouver, 7 nights on the cruise, then 6 more days from Whittier fishing trip, Talkeetna, Denali, then back to Anchorage for the last of sightseeing.... We'll be able to sleep in a couple of the days, seeing daylight lasts so long, so we'll still have a relaxing end...I'll put in my review when I return... I can't wait....
'Just wanted to say that I gained a lot from these postings. There are a number of things here that I never would have thought of (like relaxing for the first couple of days to shrug off work ... or weighing the discomforts of land tours and flights when planning). Consequently I have elected the inside passage .... no flights, no tours .... 'See you by the pool ....