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  #1 (permalink)  
Old January 28th, 2008, 05:37 AM
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Default 1st time cruisers to Alaska

We wil be 1st time cruisers to Alaska in June 2009 and are confused with all of the available information.

What is the best Cruisetour in Alaska for 2 within the cost of 5,000 dollars including airfare from Wichita, KS.

We love scenery, widlife, and train rides.

We are also non-smokers
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Old January 28th, 2008, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: 1st time cruisers to Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by texcokeman
What is the best Cruisetour in Alaska for 2 within the cost of 5,000 dollars including airfare from Wichita, KS.
Read and explore everything that you can...then find a good Travel Agent who can listen to what you want, how much your budget allows and then make a professional recommendation.

By 2009, pricing may be higher than now. Your $5000. is a good number, but you may want to bump it up a little. It would be hard to do if you include airfare. Airfare this year will likely be in the $650. and up range.

Oh, wait, you are in Wichita...I was looking at airfare in and out of Wichita recently...ouch! Apparently you have no Lo Cost Carriers that the biggies have to compete with. Maybe leave out of Tulsa or OKC.

If you want to take your tour early (May) or late (September), your money will go farther.

I would personally explore Princess or Holland America for a cruisetour.

Have a great trip!!
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Old January 29th, 2008, 02:04 PM
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A cruisetour is also your most costly touring in Alaska, it can be done for less going independent and having the freedom to see and do much more. Few cruisetours include the top wildlife areas of Denali Park and Kenai Fjords, which are must dos for wildlife priorities.

You also do NOT want to consider May, with a wildlife priority, UNLESS, you are at the end of May and on a northbound trip. Otherwise you aren't going to get into Denali park any distance. Same with Sept. I would still only recommend a north bound first week Sept cruise, then be in Denali Park first on the itinerary.

If you want to consider independent options, it is simple and using coupon books, can offer significant savings. I suggest looking at 2 weeks and if you want to consider an inside cabin, you should get close to your budget.

I have a problem with putting Alaska cruisetours in the hands of agents. Most are NOT very knowledgable and won't be able to tell you more than what is in the brochures. Do your homework, and understand fully what you are looking at, most people do not.

Signifcant is the Denali Park option. Realize NONE of the tours get far into the park. The Natural History is completely worthless, only to mile 16 which is the public road. The Tundra Wilderness is only to mile 53. My min. distance in is mile 63/66 Fish Creek/Eielson with ideally Wonder Lake mile 85. Those are on shuttle buses, which cost 1/3 the price of the shorter tour buses. So make the choices you want for your Alaska touring.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: 1st time cruisers to Alaska

texcokeman,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We wil be 1st time cruisers to Alaska in June 2009 and are confused with all of the available information.

What is the best Cruisetour in Alaska for 2 within the cost of 5,000 dollars including airfare from Wichita, KS.

We love scenery, widlife, and train rides.

We are also non-smokers
Let's see if I can help you cut through the baloney. All of the major cruise lines offer three basic cruise itineraries with only minor variations. The first basic cruise itinerary operates round trip from either Vancouver or Seattle. This itinerary obviously won't meet your need since it does not go to the interior. The second basic itinerary operates northbound from Vancouver to either Seward or Whitter, which are ports to the south of Anchorage, so you can visit the interior, either on your own or on one or another of your cruise line's tour packages, after your cruise. The third basic itinerary operates southbound from either Seward or Whittier to Vancouver, so you can visit the interior before your cruise. All three itineraries typically visit three of the four major ports of call along Alaska's Inside Passage (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka), a minor port of call, and one or another of the major glacier areas (Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, and College Fjord). The cruise lines may give these itineraries various marketing names ("Voyage of the Glacers" or whatever), just to make life more confusing than it needs to be. Several cruise lines also offer longer itineraries, but most of the longer itineraries return to their ports of embarkation and thus won't serve your purpose.

As to choice of cruise line for a cruise to Alaska, the major differentiator is the style of each cruise line because the itineraries of all the cruise lines are so similar. Some cruise lines are more "upscale," more formal, dressier, etc., than others, and each cruise line also has its own style of cuisine and standard array of activities and events. The best choice depends entirely upon your personal style and tastes, so the fact that I or anybody else prefer one line or another does not mean that it would be a good choice for you. I strongly recommend stopping into your local bookstore and buying a guidebook to cruise lines and cruise ships so you can read the descriptions of the various lines to determine which would be the best match for you. A reputable travel agent also would be very willing to assist you with this choice rather than pushing you to a line that might not be the best choice for you.

If you are constrained by that budget, your best option would be to book a cruise without the land tour and make independent arrangements to see what you want in Alaska's interior on your own, either before or after your cruise. The cruise lines charge $plenty for the land tour portion of the cruise-tour packages, and all of the major destinations in the interior (Anchorage, Mount McKinley and Denali National Park, and Fairbanks) are quite accessible by other means. There are, however, several great destinations where the cruise ships call along Alaska's "Inside Passage" that simply are not accessible by land. You'll have to book your flights on your own, but that's not a significant problem because the airlines offer "open jaw" fares that are the same as "round trip" fares. Note, also, that most travel agents routinely waive their normal fees for booking flights, hotels, rental cars, etc., when booking them in conjunction with a cruise package because the cruise lines still pay reasonable commissions to their travel agents. I do recommend reserving your hotels in advance, partly to lock in "advance booking" rates and partly because you may encounter "no vacancy" signs in places where the nearest available lodging is a considerable distance away if you don't.

For transportation within Alaska's interior, your cruise line will offer transfers between Anchorage (either the Egan Center downtown, where the cruise lines operate hospitality suites on embarkation/disembarkation day, or Anchorage International Airport). Once you get to Anchorage, you can rent a car and drive on your own. Alaska's main roads are quite good, and driving there is no different than driving in any other state. The Alaska Railroad also is an excellent option if it works within your budget. The Alaska Railroad does stop at all of the major points on the land tours that the cruise lines offer. In fact, the cruise lines' private cars usually just get tacked onto the rear of the Alaska Railroad's regularly scheduled passenger trains as needed for cruise-tour service.

Finally, be sure to budget enough money to cover tips on the cruise ship (approximately $10.00 per passenger per day, depending upon the line), tours in the ports of call, and meals on land, and local tours or admissions at your destinations in the interior.

Have a great trip!

Norm.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 06:05 PM
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Default Alaska cruisetours/ independent crusing

Hi there, my husband and I have just planned our 2nd cruise to Alaska (leaving in late June) and I highly recommend either a northbound or southbound cruise and then an independent tour (renting a car is the mose efficient way) of the interior to take advantage of the amazing wildlife and have more flexibility in your plans. Also, it is quite a bit less expensive to "go on your own" vs. taking a cruisetour. Simply by reading these boards and scouring the internet, we have found some wonderful small hotels & independent tour operators in all the different towns. The Denali park website gives you all the info on shuttle buses into the park where you can get deeper inside than you ever could on the cruise tours. You can even book your shuttle right online. It is so much fun planning for yourself too! Enjoy!
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:39 PM
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Default Re: 1st time cruisers to Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by texcokeman
We wil be 1st time cruisers to Alaska in June 2009 and are confused with all of the available information.

What is the best Cruisetour in Alaska for 2 within the cost of 5,000 dollars including airfare from Wichita, KS.

We love scenery, widlife, and train rides.

We are also non-smokers
Hi texcokeman and welcome to the boards!

We agree with most of the others who have suggested looking into traveling independently while on land in Alaska. Also do a lot of research, on your own, to learn about all options involved and the track record for some ships. Last year we did a one-way Princess cruise to Alaska and then rented a car for a week and toured on our own. The savings of going this route are significant. Last year we splurged for a minisuite and the cost was about $4,000 for the cruise and the land portion for one week for two. This price does not include air fare because we used frequent flyer coupons for that and also does not include any ship tours or organized land tours. If you booked an inside cabin the price would fall by about $1,400 for two.

If you have any more questions please post here or feel free to email me if you need more information.

Debra
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Old February 1st, 2008, 07:05 PM
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As noted on previous messages there are many options for tours before or after your cruise if you go one way, northbound or southbound. Many options for you but it can get confusing. As many different opinions as options.

One book we liked on Alaska cruising was by an author whose name I think is Anne Vipond........I'll be corrected if I'm wrong. A lot of good information and maps.

In any case, from the ship, you will not be lacking for scenery. The Alaskan coast is spectacular.

My first suggestion for even more scenery is book a ship that stops at Glacier bay. That's my favorite with Hubbard glacier my second choice.

You like trainrides so IMHO a must is the WhitePass railroad in Skagway. Awsome scenery and history.

My favorite wildlife excursion was whale watching in Juneau. A big hit with all visitors on our trips.

You'll see whales from the ship most likely but usually not very close. Keep binocs handy.

Keep your eyes open in Juneau and you could see many bald eagles and gosshawks, especially if you go when the salmon are running. At least, we did on our trips.
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