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Old December 5th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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Default Need help for Alaska Cruise proposal

Hi everyone;
So basically I am looking into an 7-9 Alaska cruise for 6 ppl travelling end of May into June, or end June into July 07 out of Seattle or Vancouver. We have a budget of around 2000 a person. Since I brought up the idea..i was given the task of setting up the proposal. So just trying to get as much info as possible, answers to any of these questions is greatly apppreciated.

1) I live in Bellevue, any reputable travel agents around the Seattle area?

2) Biggest concern is the weather during the May 26-July 8 time period...I researched some temp averages, but any first hand experience; was it too cold to lay out in the sun and/or swim in the pool on the ship?

3) Group Info: enjoys nightlife, theater shows, eating, shopping, some outdoor excursions, but definitely want to enjoying the weather, scenery, and wildlife. Ages: 54, 53, 27, 23, 21, 20.

- Any recommendations on which cruise line to use and/or ship?
- Any recommended part of alaska/canada to cruise and/or port stops?

My family and girlfriend have never cruised before, and I just want to do as much research as possible. Thank you so much.


~Gavin Ng
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Old December 5th, 2006, 06:51 PM
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gspin2k1,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
1) I live in Bellevue, any reputable travel agents around the Seattle area?
I'm sure there are, but I can't give you a referral because I live on the other coast. I spent two years in Bremerton in the early 1980's, but I was not using travel agents back then. The best way to find a good travel agent is to ask friends, coworkers, and other contacts who have taken cruises which travel agent they use.

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2) Biggest concern is the weather during the May 26-July 8 time period...I researched some temp averages, but any first hand experience; was it too cold to lay out in the sun and/or swim in the pool on the ship?
The weather won't vary much in that time span. The end of June might be a bit warmer than the beginning of June, but fares tend to be higher later in the month. Since you are on a budget, you probably would do better to go earlier when fares are lower. Ketchikan is surrounded by a rain forest so it probably will be drizzly to rainy and Juneau is a 50/50 proposition, but a little rain most assuredly won't phase anybody who is from the Seattle-Tacoma area. Skagway usually has very nice weather and Anchorage tends to get a good chinook and lots of sunshine to warm the air. You probably won't spend much time sunning yourself on an Alaska cruise, but many of the newer ships do have a heated pool under a retractable dome and thus suitable for year-round use.

That said, be sure to bring a warm coat, gloves, and a warm hat because you will want them when you are around glaciers. The calving of the glaciers provides a steady supply of ice into the bays and inlets where the glaciers meet the sea, and the air above those bays and inlets is not much warmer than the ice water within them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
So basically I am looking into an 7-9 Alaska cruise for 6 ppl travelling end of May into June, or end June into July 07 out of Seattle or Vancouver. We have a budget of around 2000 a person. Since I brought up the idea..i was given the task of setting up the proposal. So just trying to get as much info as possible, answers to any of these questions is greatly apppreciated....

3) Group Info: enjoys nightlife, theater shows, eating, shopping, some outdoor excursions, but definitely want to enjoying the weather, scenery, and wildlife. Ages: 54, 53, 27, 23, 21, 20.
The demographics on most of the major cruise lines are sufficiently diverse so you all will meet people in your own age group on just about any Alaska cruise. Also, all of the major cruise lines offer pretty similar itineraries so that's not a significant differentiator, either. The most important question is your personal styles and tastes. Your best bet would be to pick up a guide to cruises -- or, better still, a guide to cruising Alaska -- at a local bookstore and read the descriptions of all of the major lines to determine which lines seem to be a good match for the people in your group, then make your selection from those. I have never seen anybody more miserable than "champagne and caviar" folks who book on a "pretzels and beer" cruise line or vice versa. You'll want to book on a "premium" line like Celebrity, which typically has two "formal" evenings ("black tie" or dark business suit), two "informal" evenings ("coat and tie"), and only three "casual" evenings, if you all really like dressing up for dinner and on a "freestyle" line like Norwegian Cruise Line, which typically has two "formal optional" evenings and five "casual" evenings) if you don't. Most lines split the difference, with two "formal" evenings and five "casual" evenings, but do your homework in any case.

Your budget is quite reasonable, but you will have to make some choices. If you settle for inside cabins on the ship, it should be enough to cover the cruise line's transfer from Seattle (either downtown or the airport) to Vancouver ($60/person), a "one way" cruise from Vancouver to Seward ($700/person), decent shore excursions in each of the ports ($250/person), gratuities aboard the ship ($75/person), the Grandview Rail Transfer from Seward to Anchorage($90/person), a couple nights at a hotel in Anchorage ($200/person) with rental of a minivan during the stay ($50/person), and the flight home from Anchorage ($500/person) with $75/person left over for souvenirs. There's really no down side to an inside cabin, either, as there are plenty of lounges on the ship with lots of windows and excellent visibility so the cabin is really just a place to sleep, shower, shave, change clothes, and stow your belongings -- for which you really don't need a window anyway. Anchorage is a great city with wonderful restaurants (I have yet to find a restaurant there to which I would not return), lots of street festivals and an open air market on weekends in the summertime, and many points of interest. There are also several easy "day trips" from Anchorage, including Talkeetna (where a scenic overlook offers a spectacular view of Mt. McKinley, the world's tallest mountain, on a clear day -- and be sure to stop at the Latitude 62 Inn for lunch if you go there! -- and the renouned Mount Alyeska Resort. You might well be able to beat some of my estimates, too, in which case you might be able to stay a third evening in Anchorage within your budget.

As far as shore excursions are concerned, the one real "must" is a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR), a narrow gauge railroad between Skagway, AK, and Whitehorse, YT, built to haul prospectors and their equipment to the Yukon in 1897-1898, that's still regarded as an incredible marvel of civil engineering. In particular, the segment between Skagway and Summit Lake, just beyond the international border, traverses some of the most rugged -- and gorgeous -- terrain that you will find anywhere. For other excursions, Ketchikan offers an opportunity to encounter the indigenous culture of the Tlingits at Saxman Village, where artisans still carve totems (there are some excellent examples on display) and present a show of Tlingit dances. Juneau is a town that you can explore on your own on foot quite easily, but you may also find some shore excursions there that are of interest. I also recommended the "Grandview Rail Transfer: between the pier in Seward and the main passenger terminal at Anchorage International Airport because this segment of the Alaska Railroad also passes through some incredible terrain, which the narration points out as the train goes by it, and it takes you right to the main terminal where you can pick up your rental vehicle.

The scenery and wildlife are pretty much everywhere. To spot bald eagles, for example, just look for what appear to be golf balls -- the eagles' heads -- in the treetops. You'll see them up and down the whole inside passage.

Have a great cruise, whatever you decide!

Norm.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 07:14 PM
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The vast majority of Alaska cruises are 7 days, except for a few that leave from California.

The most convenient for you would be cruises Seattle/return... which would of course save you transportation costs.

You shouldn't necessarily restrict yourself to agents doing business in your area. Using toll free numbers, and e-mail you may find great agents all over the country who are able to service you as well as, or better, than any local agents.

Weather in Alaksa (like anywhere) is variable. We've been in Alaska in swimsuits in late Sept., so you just never know. The key is to have clothing you can layer depending on what you actually encounter. Requires a bit of extra packing, but Alaska is one area you do need to be somewhat prepared for everything.

Doing Seattle/return itineraries.. the cruise lines all offer somewhat similar itineraries. More choices available if you're prepared to do one way cruises to or from Alaska.

The standard areas visited on return cruises are Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway... some may be alternated with a stop in Victoria, B.C, or perhaps Sitka.

Alaska is awesome, and your first time you can't go wrong with most any itinerary.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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I disagree, Seattle round trips aren't the best option for scenic sailing, has the least compared to round trip Vancouver, which is grossly superior. For a one way- you don't have enough time in my opinion, and I certainly would NOT consider the costly cruiseline "Grandview" rail option missing out on Seward completely and spending 2 nights in Anchorage.

Far superior would be to tour Seward and take advantage of being there, especially Kenai fjords is a must do.

I also disagree that all cruiselines are essentially the same itinerary. Absolutely not- there are significant differences in routes, glaciers, time in ports, ship naturalists, price.

Middle aged and above is the norm of passengers on all lines, with all ages sailing.

With your priority?? for nightlife/shows, these will be a step down on Alaska sailngs. The "show" is Alaska for some, including me. I never go to any ship shows sailing there since I am up very early every day and have a full day of touring etc.

Budget fully for excursions, you get only half a trip without them in my opinion.

You can do a round trip cruise with your budget, again my opinion only, I don't do one ways without at least another week for interior touring, make the most of being there, especially if not a frequent trip.

The top round trip Vancouver itinerary in my opinion is HAL with their Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm sailings, just superb.

Your timeframe is a crapshoot for weather, no way to predict and you will need to be prepared for a wide possible range. With sunbathing important, you will need an indoor covered pool. Perhaps find that out first then go through other factors in your choosing.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
on the ship?



. There are also several easy "day trips" from Anchorage, including Talkeetna (where a scenic overlook offers a spectacular view of Mt. McKinley, the world's tallest mountain, on a clear day

Have a great cruise, whatever you decide!

Norm.[/quote]


Wrong- tallest mt in NORTH AMERICA. Everest is the tallest in the world. And a day trip to see it is going to have overall poor results. It's rare to have sightings without more time invested. Flightseeing out of Talkeetna is excellent with my preference the summit flights.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 04:47 PM
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Karen,

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Wrong- tallest mt in NORTH AMERICA. Everest is the tallest in the world.
No, YOU are wrong. Mt. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, but Mt. McKinley is the tallest. Mount Everest's summit is just over 29,000 feet, but its base in the Tibetan plateau is well over 17,000 feet, so it's less than 12,000 feet tall. Mount McKinley's summit is just over 20,000 feet, but its base is below 1,000 feet so it's over 19,000 feet tall, and more than 7,000 feet taller than Mount Everest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
And a day trip to see it is going to have overall poor results. It's rare to have sightings without more time invested.
Not if you get a clear day! Yes, Denali offers better views, but that's not ealistic on the original poste's budget. The "more time" is either waiting for a clear day or going further north.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Flightseeing out of Talkeetna is excellent with my preference the summit flights.
I agree, but that's not at all realistic within the original poster's budget. The $30/person or so that you'll save by taking the motorcoach rather than the train from Seward to Anchorage is not going to close the gap, either, and you'll be missing out on some absolutely spectacular scenery.

Norm.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 05:00 PM
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Check out the Coral Princess. Great itinerary, great ship, great price.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 06:49 PM
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I would suggest also that if the pools are important to you or your group, find a ship with a covered pool.

I'm also a "Must have balcony" person for Alaska. Yes, you can spend time up top on the public decks, and should do so, but there's nothing greater than a balcony in Alaska IMHO.

I do agree with Karen that if you're willing and able to sail round trip from Vancouver choose the Glacier bay and Tracy arm cruise. IMHO Glacier bay is a must for a first Alaskan cruise and going to Tracy arm as well will be icing on the cake.
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Old December 8th, 2006, 09:59 AM
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From what it seems, looks like Vancouver is the way to go, which isn't bad considering it's only a 3-4 hour drive from where I live. Looks like my older brother and I will be doing more research into that...maybe even considering booking the cruise for August (if the weather is more predictable and nicer then). Thanks again for everyone's responses. I'm sure we'll be back with more questions, but just wanted to say thanks a bunch..all the information provided to us is greatly greatly appreciated.
~Gavin Ng
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