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Old January 3rd, 2007, 01:09 PM
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Default Radiance of the Seas or Coral Princess...and other questions

Hello everyone...first post here.

I am in the very beginning stages of gathering information for a planned Alaskan cruise in late May of 2008 for my family. Being a college student (and the unofficial family travel agent), I figured I had best get started over break when I have some free time, before schedules and prices are released this spring.

First off, how much do the cruise lines' schedules and prices vary from year to year? I assume they change, but are they like the airlines, where fares can double or triple in the course of six months?

Based on current schedules and prices for late May 2006, it seems as if two options stand out as affordable. (We'd like to stay at or around $10,000 for the whole trip) The first option is to take Radiance of the Seas, and get one interior stateroom and one balcony. (My parents would rather have interior, due to sea sickness issues and the desire to have complete darkness when sleeping, and with my brother and I in a balcony, all four of us could enjoy it when we wanted) The other option is to cruise on Coral Princess, but the increased prices would require that both staterooms be interior. Are we really missing out by not having the balcony? Would Princess be so much better than the interior rooms would be worth it?


Thanks!
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 06:39 PM
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Default Re: Radiance of the Seas or Coral Princess...and other quest

arb910,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Hello everyone...first post here.
Welcome aboard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I am in the very beginning stages of gathering information for a planned Alaskan cruise in late May of 2008 for my family. Being a college student (and the unofficial family travel agent), I figured I had best get started over break when I have some free time, before schedules and prices are released this spring.

First off, how much do the cruise lines' schedules and prices vary from year to year? I assume they change, but are they like the airlines, where fares can double or triple in the course of six months?
No, not really. A cruise line might replace a smaller ship with a larger ship or perhaps change a port of call from time to time, but the itineraries tend to be similar and to command the same fares from one line to another and from year to year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Based on current schedules and prices for late May 2006, it seems as if two options stand out as affordable. (We'd like to stay at or around $10,000 for the whole trip) The first option is to take Radiance of the Seas, and get one interior stateroom and one balcony. (My parents would rather have interior, due to sea sickness issues and the desire to have complete darkness when sleeping, and with my brother and I in a balcony, all four of us could enjoy it when we wanted) The other option is to cruise on Coral Princess, but the increased prices would require that both staterooms be interior. Are we really missing out by not having the balcony? Would Princess be so much better than the interior rooms would be worth it?
There are plenty of public rooms with plenty of windows, and there's plenty of open deck space both on the promenades and at the top of the ship, if you want to look out or go out. In fact, the best viewing of sea otters, whales, and other marine life is from the promenades because they are closer to the water than even the lowest balconies. Thus, I generally recommend balconies primarily for those who are planning a romantic trip and want some private space for stargazing, etc., in the evening.

The other factor to consider is that there's a lot more to Alaska than what you'll see from the ship. It's worth renting a vehicle and reserving hotels to explore on your own (a LOT less expensive than the cruise line's tours) so you can see some of the interior. If the ca$h that you save by booking an inside cabin will let you do this, book the inside cabin. Even if you can only afford one night on what you'll save, downtown Anchorage is a really neat place to explore for a couple days!

I also recommend booking a cruise that ends in Seward rather than a cruise that ends in Whittier and using the "Grandview Rail Transfer" operated by the Alaska Railroad to go from the pier to the passenger terminal at the airport, where you can reserve and pick up your rental vehicle.

Norm.
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Old January 4th, 2007, 10:07 AM
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I'm assuming both of these are one way cruises??? Superior is Princess for Glacier Bay and College Fjords. You are missing out on a perk of one ways with RCI and not going to College fjords.

I totally disagree with the Seward analogy above. I never recommend the cruise "Grandview Rail transfer". You are MISSING the whole point of going to Seward- see some of it, rather than leaving as soon as you arrive. Top touring choice here is a Kenai Fjords boat trip, consider it since you are already there. The above poster, probably has missed it completely too. Also the cruise rail is almost double the cost of just booking the regular run on your own, that at least gives you the day to enjoy Seward and leaves 6pm daily.
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Old January 4th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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OP here....

Yes, both of these are one-way cruises. The cost of airfare is only slightly higher to fly in/out of Anchorage and in/out of Seattle (transfer to/from Vancouver) than round-trip Seattle. Plus we get to see more of Alaska.

Is there anyone who hasa been on both ships, or has at lease sailed Alaska on both cruise lines?
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Old January 4th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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arb910,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
OP here....

Yes, both of these are one-way cruises. The cost of airfare is only slightly higher to fly in/out of Anchorage and in/out of Seattle (transfer to/from Vancouver) than round-trip Seattle. Plus we get to see more of Alaska.
That sounds reasonable, with one caveat. It's a lot more convenient to fly into or out of Vancouver (YVR) rather than into or out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). The transfer from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to the pier in Vancouver takes about four hours on a good day (note that the airport is midway between the two cities, or about twenty miles south of Seattle), and may take even longer if you encounter delays, which are fairly common, at the border crossing. Also, the difference in the price of transfers probably will more than offset any difference in air fares. The transfer from Vancouver International Airport, by contrast, takes less than an hour so your flight won't have to land nearly as early as if you fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

If you take the cruise southbound rather than northbound, flights to the United States clear U. S. immigration and customs before departing Vancouver International Airport, so they operate as domestic flights after crossing the interanaitonal border. Thus, there's no need to reclaim your luggage, clear customs and immigration, recheck your luggage, and go through security all over again at a connecting airport.

With regard to Karen's suggestion, you could spend a night in Seward and book a regular train on the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage, but it would not be as seamless. The regular train operates from the main station in Seward to the main staton in Anchorage rather than to the airport station, so you would have to take taxis from the pier in Seward to your lodging there (which probably would be within walking distance of the main train station, as Seward is not that big) and from the main train station to the airport to pick up your rental vehicle, unless you use a car rental company that has a downtown locatoin. It might be possible to rent a vehicle in Seward and drive up to Anchorage yourself, but then you would incur a surcharge for the "one way" rental and you would miss out on some breathtaking scenery. It also would be possible to take the rail transfer to Anchorage, pick up a rental vehicle, spend a couple nights in Anchorage, and then drive down to Seward for an overnight before departing if you wish to do it that way.

With regard to what you do in Alaska, though, your budget of $10K will be your primary constraint. You also did not indicate whether shore excursions in the ports of call, wine with dinner on the ship, meals en route to or from the ship and for any time that you may spend on land, or any other expenses will need to come out of that budget.

BTW, I should mention that several major hotel chains now offer prepaid rooms at substantial discounts to their regular rates. Under this option, the hotel bills the room to your credit card when you make the reservation for your entire stay and there's no refund if you cancel. Since you apparently have a strict budget, this might be your best option.

Norm.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 08:35 AM
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I have taken both lines in Alaska, by far Princess is superior to RCI.
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