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-   -   A once in a lifetime cruise (http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/alaska/304626-once-lifetime-cruise.html)

oliviafrances November 29th, 2005 06:43 AM

A once in a lifetime cruise
 
I've been reading everybody's comments and am finding you all so helpful. Here's my question: My husband, brother, sister-in-law, mother (88 years old) and I want to take a cruise to Alaska in 2006. It'll probably be the only one we take there, so what would you all recommend as the essentials to see if you were to go only once? Which ports of call? Which route? My brother and his wife are in San Francisco, and the rest of us live in Indiana.

Thanks for your help.

Karen16 November 29th, 2005 01:03 PM

If you are looking for a true "once in a lifetime" and money no object, then consider Cruise West, Lindblad etc. way superior for scenic sailing, knowledgable personal one on one attention, wildlife etc.

If looking at the major lines and cruise only (are you interested in 2 weeks with a week interior travel???) I think the best routing, with 2 glaciers and 3 ports are the HAL round trip Vancouver Glacier Bay trips. Just excellent itinerary, smaller ships, plenty of deck space etc.

But ANY Alaska cruise is a compromise, so look at ports, time in ports, glacier, routing, ship naturalist, price. Budget fully for costly excursions, you get only half a trip without them.

Qcruiser November 30th, 2005 05:08 PM

A round trip cruise is your best bet for scenery and convienience... a one way cruise means you will need to fly into one city and out of another, this is more costly and means a long flight with transfers. Choices for a round trip are Vancouver (inside passage) or Seattle (outside passage). The inside passage is superior as you will sail between the island and mainland so it is far more calm seas and wonderful scenery as well. Out of Seattle you are in open ocean so it can be a bit rough. Hubbard glacier, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan are the most common ports...do your homework, find a great TA (travel agent), and you will have a wonderful cruise....

oliviafrances November 30th, 2005 05:56 PM

Thanks for this information. I didn't realize that from Seattle you just get outside passage.

PeterC November 30th, 2005 07:54 PM

We've sailed from both Seattle and Vancouver and although we preferred Vancouver as the departure port, Seattle was fine too. We saw plenty of great scenery sailing outside Vancouver island.

There's always the risk of rough weather on either route. Getting to Hubbard Glacier and back can be quite choppy.

IMHO a must for first and maybe only Alaskan trip...Glacier Bay. It's stunning and better (and calmer) than the Hubbard trip. Hubbard's quite impressive in its own right. But Glacier Bay is tops.

oliviafrances November 30th, 2005 10:15 PM

thanks for your information. Can anybody tell me whether an itinerary MUST say Inside Passage if they sail there, or do you assume you're doing the Inside Passage if the itinerary says ports like Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, etc? This is confusing to me because I'm looking at lots of itineraries and sometimes they actually say "sailing the Inside Passage" and sometimes they don't but the ports are the same. Help!!!

PeterC December 1st, 2005 01:01 AM

Let me clarify something about our trip out of Seattle. The first night we went outside of Vancouver Island but when we woke the next morning there was land on both sides of the ship and for the rest of the trip until the last afternoon heading to Victoria. I have read on this site that this is not always the case however. We weren't all that close to the land but it was visable. The Vancouver trips we took there were times where the land was so close I think we could have thrown a baseball from the ship and hit land. Now that's what I called the Inside Passage!

If you go the Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Glacier Bay itinerary you'll be inside virtually the whole trip except as noted above from Seattle.

To go to Sitka and Hubbard Glacier you will leave the inside passage (on the major cruise lines). We had some rough seas those days.

All of us that have cruised Alaska are quite opionated so take everything we say with a grain of salt. You really can't make a wrong choice. Alaska is awsome.

Karen16 December 1st, 2005 09:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oliviafrances
thanks for your information. Can anybody tell me whether an itinerary MUST say Inside Passage if they sail there, or do you assume you're doing the Inside Passage if the itinerary says ports like Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, etc? This is confusing to me because I'm looking at lots of itineraries and sometimes they actually say "sailing the Inside Passage" and sometimes they don't but the ports are the same. Help!!!


ALL Alaska cruises can claim Inside Passage, that is the only way to get to Juneau or Skagway. The big difference is the routing getting there. Get yourself an inside passage map- detailed more than the rough copy in the cruise brochure. There many differences and ships now overall sail far more outside open ocean than they did 10 years ago, when they sailed all the narrow passages the entire trip. :) Overall, HAL takes great care in their routing with excellent captains that are interested in the wildlife and scenery. NCL, RCI, Carnival also have interested capts. Celebrity however has the worse, with some cpts. not even allowing the ship naturalist to announce sightings- (direct information from my ship naturalist friend, he never even went in the bridge this year).


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