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Old September 18th, 2006, 10:35 PM
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Default Planning trip to Alaska

Trying to plan a trip to Alaska in July 2007 with family member of friends, 70’s 60’s 40’s 17, 14, 12, 7, 6, 4.


We were thinking about RCCL even though some other friends are going on HAL Zuiderdam, however, it does not seem that RCCL includes Glacier Bay.

1. Is this a big loss?


2. Also thought RCCL would be more kid friendly than HAL but after reading posts maybe not so. Are they basically the same.? Which is the line for children as well as adults.

3. Does Hubbard Glacier make up for it or totally different experience.

4. If we do RT Hubbard Glacier as follows, which itinerary is better?


7 night Hubbard Glacier July 7 Serenade

Vancouver, British Columbia; Inside Passage (Cruising); Sitka, Alaska; Hubbard Glacier (Cruising); Skagway, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia

(No Icy Strait Point)

OR


7 night Hubbard Glacier July 14 Serenade

Vancouver, British Columbia; Inside Passage (Cruising); Icy Strait Point, Alaska; Hubbard Glacier (Cruising); Skagway, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia

(No Sitka)


5. (Neither has Ketchikan - is this a big loss – it seems from posts it may be.


6. Is it much nicer to do one-way as follows which includes Ketchikan if time and monies permit?

7 night Alaska Northbound Radiance

Vancouver, British Columbia; Inside Passage (Cruising); Ketchikan, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Skagway, Alaska; Icy Strait Point, Alaska; Hubbard Glacier (Cruising); Seward, Alaska

7. If so, how many days minimum do we need post cruise to include Seward, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks? We would probably only be able to take 5 days, 4 nights after cruise.

8. Please tell me how you think I should set it up.

9. Is it worth going all the way to Fairbanks?


Please let me know if I have missed anything would appreciate any input. I am sure this will be only the first few of my questions.

Love this website.

Thanks so much.


Gail




Carnival Victory Feb 2003 Eastern Caribbean
Carnival Victory July 2006 Halifax and Nova Scotia
RCCL Explorer July 2007 Bermuda
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Old September 19th, 2006, 02:56 AM
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Gail,

We were thinking about RCCL even though some other friends are going on HAL Zuiderdam, however, it does not seem that RCCL includes Glacier Bay.

1. Is this a big loss?


Well, yes and no. Glacier Bay is a unique attraction, but far from the only unique attraction in Alaska. There's no way that you will ever be able to see everything in a week, so you can't go to Glacier Bay without missing something else. Thus, it's probably a wash overall.

2. Also thought RCCL would be more kid friendly than HAL but after reading posts maybe not so. Are they basically the same.? Which is the line for children as well as adults.

I would not recommend Holland America Lines for your group. Carnival Corporation has marketed Holland America Lines as a traditional cruise for the geriatric set over the past two decades, so the line's passenger mix, and thus its activities, tend to reflect that heritage with a median age of about eighty-five. A few of the "regulars" may bring their chilrden, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and there may be a few passengers whose travel agents misdirected them, but you won't find many adults under sixty. If you feel that you absolutely must go to Glacier Bay, go with Princess instead.

3. Does Hubbard Glacier make up for it or totally different experience.

It's undoubtedly different, but note that "different" does not imply a value judgement. If spectacular glaciers are your priority, skip both and find a cruise that's going to College Fjord instead.

4. If we do RT Hubbard Glacier as follows, which itinerary is better?

Again, I think that it's pretty much a wash.

5. (Neither has Ketchikan - is this a big loss – it seems from posts it may be.

Ketchikan also has unique attractions, but, again, you won't be able to see everything in seven days anyway. A cruise that goes to Ketchikan must skip something else.

6. Is it much nicer to do one-way as follows which includes Ketchikan if time and monies permit?

Yes, absolutely. If you do an "Inside Passage" cruise, you'll spend the last day at sea basically retracing your steps back to Vancouver and you won't see any of Alaska's interior. Also, the difference in cost is not very great as a percentage of what you are spending to go to Alaska in the first place.

7. If so, how many days minimum do we need post cruise to include Seward, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks? We would probably only be able to take 5 days, 4 nights after cruise.

If you have "only" four or five days after the cruise, you won't have enough time for all of those destinations. You probably would do best to take the cruise line's transfer to Anchorage International Airport, pick up a rental vehicle (reserved in advance) there, and check into a hotel (also reserved in advance) in Anchorage for the time that you do have. Seward and Talkeetna are easy day trips from Anchorage, and you'll have a couple days to see the city itself. Here are some possible day trips.

>> If you monitor the weather reports and pick a clear day in the valley to drive up to Talkeetna, you'll be rewarded with truly spectacular views of Mt. McKinley, which is the tallest (but not the highest) mountain in the world, and the splendid valley below. The Latitude 62 restaurant, just beyond the scenic overlook, serves up a great lunch.

>> If your cruise does not visit College Fjord, you could do a cruise to College Fjord on a day boat from Whittier. College Fjord has the most spectacular glaciers that I have seen.

>> Seward is an easy day trip from Anchorage. An afternoon should be plenty of time to see Seward's significant attractions.

>> The Mount Alyeska Resort, located just south of Anchorage, offers spectacular views from atop the mountain. It also has restaurants there, where you can enjoy the views over lunch.

Of course, downtown Anchorage also has a lot to offer -- great shopping, fantastic restaurants (I have yet to find a bad restaurant anywhere in Alaska), a historical walk commemorating the Anchorage earthquake, and outdoor markets and street festivals nearly every weekend of the summer. If you have a choice, try to spend weekend days downtown.

8. Please tell me how you think I should set it up.

See previous answer.

9. Is it worth going all the way to Fairbanks?

Yes, but you really need more time to do that.

Please let me know if I have missed anything would appreciate any input. I am sure this will be only the first few of my questions.

If you can add another week to your trip, stop at Talkeetna en route to Denali (1 night) and Fairbanks (2 nights) then continue on to Dawson City (2 nights) and St. Elias National Park (1 night) en route back to Anchorage....

BTW, I don't recommend the cruise lines' cruise-tour packages. The land tour portions are very expensive.

Norm.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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Having only been to Hubbard glacier, I must say, I was very impressed with it. I think we just had an excellent day there, lots going on, great views and sounds. Hopefully someone who's been to both can give you more insight, but I'd love to go back and see Hubbard again...
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Old September 19th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Default Rev 22 and Donna

Thank you so much for your input. It was very helpful.

Gail
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Old September 19th, 2006, 01:24 PM
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The Hubbard glacier IMHO is more impressive than the glaciers in Glacier bay however the scenery and overall visit is much nicer in Glacier Bay. I much preffered Glacier Bay to Hubbard....just spectacular.

My son who was 8 at the time loved the kids program on HAL. We found it to be as good or maybe even a tad better than on NCL and Celebrity (also Alaskan cruises). If you choose HAL the kids should have a great time. If you are traveling in the summer when school's out there will be plenty of kids aboard even on HAL.

We found the age mix of passengers also similar among HAL, Celebrity, NCL in Alaska. I assume that it's similar for Princess and RCL. Everybody in your groupl will have plenty of people in their age group on an Alaskan cruise.
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Old September 25th, 2006, 11:59 AM
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My opinion only, Glaicer Bay is always my first choice, I have been to all glaciers sailed by the the major cruiselines. Over all you must look at many factors. Some to consider- ports, time in ports, ship naturalist, route, price. HAL wins on most of these, and I totally disagree with Norm, HAL is an excellent line for all ages. I have sailed 5 different lines to Alaska including both RCI and HAL.

HAL is superior, bottom line, their ship naturalists are top notch and it greatly enhances an Alaska trip if you have them on board. RCI does not. College Fjords is a must on a one way, an added highlight to a one way itinerarary. As for your land touring question, look at at least another week. Alaska requires TIME, otherwise all your time is in transit rather than enjoying the attraction of Alaska. McKinley is rare to see, if a priority schedule a flight with a summit my preferece.

I never recommend Seward as a day trip, it is way less than ideal to have at least 6 hours in transportation for a short time there, plan on at least an overnight. There are way more attractions there to enjoy.


Again, Norm is off base, first off, you will not get a regular car rental that will allow you to get to Dawson City, none allow the drive on the unpaved road. It also requires way more time than his estimation, IF you do get a car that allow the drive. I always fly there, a better option with a 2 day stay, but usually there aren't daily flights so it requires careful planning. Coming back down the Richardson to Valdez is the highlight, with the most scenery between Glennallen and Valdez, not skipping it an across the Glenn. At least a full day for McCarthy and Kennicott is a must, and at least a full day in Valdez.


I also disagree that one ways are so superior to round trips, they aren't. Especially if you go with RCI. The round trip do not retract the Inside Passage, they make a loop which is loaded with scenic sailing. Round trip gives you wonderful Inside Vancouver Island. RCI sails OPEN ocean, between Hubbard and Seward, skipping College Fjords.

If Norm has sailed BOTH lines, IN Alaska, then certainly is entitled to his opinion on both, but if not, also perhaps consider the comments by someone who has.


IF you only have 5 days with a one way, I suggest you skip Fairbanks, a sample routing to consider, northbound, off the ship early and spend the day in Seward. Take the 6pm train to Anchorage, rent a round trip Anchorage car, drive to Talkeetna, flightsee, overnight, 2 nights at Denali park with a SHUTTLE bus to at least Fish Creek. Anchorage one night with sightseeing along the way and in the city. You don't have time for Fairbanks.
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Old September 25th, 2006, 09:29 PM
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Karen16,

My opinion only, Glaicer Bay is always my first choice, I have been to all glaciers sailed by the the major cruiselines. Over all you must look at many factors. Some to consider- ports, time in ports, ship naturalist, route, price. HAL wins on most of these, and I totally disagree with Norm, HAL is an excellent line for all ages. I have sailed 5 different lines to Alaska including both RCI and HAL.

HAL is superior, bottom line, their ship naturalists are top notch and it greatly enhances an Alaska trip if you have them on board. RCI does not. College Fjords is a must on a one way, an added highlight to a one way itinerarary. As for your land touring question, look at at least another week. Alaska requires TIME, otherwise all your time is in transit rather than enjoying the attraction of Alaska. McKinley is rare to see, if a priority schedule a flight with a summit my preferece.


Bizarre... you never mention either of the lines on which I have gone to Alaska (Princess and Celebrity), discussing instead only HAL and Royal Caribbean. By all accounts, Princess also offers everything that you attribute to HAL, but Princess draws a much younger crowd overall and thus is decidedly a better choice than HAL for (1) adults under 60 and (2) families with children.

I never recommend Seward as a day trip, it is way less than ideal to have at least 6 hours in transportation for a short time there, plan on at least an overnight. There are way more attractions there to enjoy.

Sure, one can do an overnight to Seward, but that means packing and unpacking twice -- a LOT of hassle to stay in Seward just one night. It's more convenient to set out from Anchorage early in the morning, arriving before lunch, spending the whole afternoon, and perhaps even for dinner, and returning to one's hotel in Anchroage late but with plans to "sleep in" the next morning. Now if one were to contineu on to Kanai or other destinatoins on the Kenai Peninsula, that woudl teip the balance your way, but then it becomes a question of how much is realistic in foru or five days.

Again, Norm is off base, first off, you will not get a regular car rental that will allow you to get to Dawson City, none allow the drive on the unpaved road.

Yes, this requires special arrangeents iwth the rental car company -- but the major issue is that Dawson City is in Canada.

It also requires way more time than his estimation, IF you do get a car that allow the drive.

As ambitous as it may sound, the cruise lines' tours do the trek from Fairbanks to Dawson City in a day. Of course, one could plan an overnight in Tok or Eagle if desired. Nonetheless, remember that this is part of my "what to do if you have a week or more in aidditon to the time you spend in and around Anchorage" suggestion -- which menast aht we're talking about a week and a half to two weeks in Alaksa and the Yukon after the cruise. It's not so ambitious as your commetn would suggest.

back down the Richardson to Valdez is the highlight, with the most scenery between Glennallen and Valdez, not skipping it an across the Glenn. At least a full day for McCarthy and Kennicott is a must, and at least a full day in Valdez.

I'll admit to not being familiar with that area, but that's great for folks who can push the length of the trip out to three weeks or more.

Norm.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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Sorry Norm, but I HAVE sailed both Princess and HAL TO Alaska, several times, they BOTH have similar passenger demographics, middle aged and above the bulk, but all ages sailing. Overall, Princess does not have younger passengers. I greatly prefer HAL for the Seward port.

I still will NOT ever recommend Seward as a day trip from Anchorage. The highlight is Kenai fjords, a major reason to consider going there if short on time, again, have you been there??? It's best to allow 3 hours each way for the drive, which can take much longer if you plan on enjoying it and stopping along the way. It's never a marathon drive for me. Again my opinion only, with always spending time in Seward and always on at least 1 Kenai Fjords boat trip- every trip. (even on my winter trips)
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