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Old December 5th, 2010, 08:21 PM
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My son and I want to take a 7 day Alaska cruise maybe in May.....I have check prices and Carnival seem to be a bit less....I do not need to go first class, but want a nice cruise. of course. Has anyone taken the Carnival Spirit to Alaska? Or should we stick with someone like Holland for this kind of trip. I am on a budget, would like to take in some whale watching and siteseeing. I have taken three cruise with Carnival before and had no problems....Thanks for any advise.....
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Old December 6th, 2010, 01:39 AM
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Have you tried Princess Cruise line. They have an Alaska cruise for 10 days from San Francisco. You check for dates on there website.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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I've heard some good reviews of Carnival Spirit in Alaska. Just be sure to check all the ports you'll visit. A good idea to compare to Princess as well, they have quite a few ships that are up in Alaska all summer and find the right one for you. Make sure there is a glacier stop as well. To me, cruising in Alaska is almost a once in a lifetime kind of trip, not one to settle for the less expensive. Keep in mind, the excursions are very expensive so you need to choose wisely.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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A cruise to Alaska would almost be a waste without trying some of the more costly excursions.. in my ipinion at least one "flight-seeing tour" is a must. You can't go dog sledding on a glacier in the Caribeean

Going to Alaska and simply strolling the streets in each port of call means you miss SO MUCH.

With that in mind, if you have to go to with the least expensive cruise, to be able to participate in the tours, that's what I'd do.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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There are soooo many good ships going to Alaska. Each has it advantages and disadvantages.

By and large we prefer Princess and HAL in Alaska. They also seem to have the most Glacier Bay permits. I am not sure if Carnival goes to Glacier Bay. I seriously recommend Glacier Bay for a first time Alaska cruise. Check out our trip report and pictures at Alaska Glaciers for a comparison of Alaska glaciers.

As others have noted, shore excursions in Alaska can be wonderful, and many of them are very expensive. Now helicopters are NOT for me, but my DW loves them and would seriously recommend at least one expensive flight. Check out our trip report and pictures at Alaska Excursions Guide for some other ideas.

Personally what I would suggest is to save by means of taking a lower cabin. We have been to Alaska in everything from a full suite to an inside cabin and had a perfectly good time in any of them. Balconies in Alaska are VERY expensive and frankly not worth the big extra cost IMAO. YMMV.

Since there are sooooo many options in Alaska, I highly recommend that you find a good local Travel Agent who is a CLIA Accredited Cruise Counselor (look for the agent's diploma on the wall, not just an agency sticker). Ask your friends and co-workers for a recommendation. The service is entirely free to you. ACC's are trained to find the very best cruise for you, after learning your personal situation and preferences, and work hard to get you the very best rate.

Have a GREAT cruise!
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Old December 6th, 2010, 01:45 PM
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Thanks everyone for your help. Looks like I need to do more homework on this one.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 04:21 PM
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I have been on the Spirit to Alaska, the very last cruise of the season, which gets you into ALL the fingers of Glacier Bay. It was absolutely amazing and something I will do again. Note: The last cruise is the only one that gets you into all fingers, I think the rest of the time they go into two or three.
It is in September, the second week. Very cold. We were there for first snow.
The tours are great, we did the train through the old gold rush area, we also did the tour from the crab boat that is based after the show on discovery channel, have been on the Spirit to Alaska, the very last cruise of the season, which gets you into ALL the fingers of Glacier Bay. It was absolutely amazing and something I will do again. Note: The last cruise is the only one that gets you into all fingers, I think the rest of the time they go into two or three.
It is in September, the second week. Very cold. We were there for first snow.
The tours are great, we did the train through the old gold rush area, we also did the tour from the crab boat that is based on the show on discovery channel, Deadlist Catch, of course bars and the ladies of the night areas.
Be sure and do a helicopter tour. We did that as well. Landed on a glacier...again. amazing.

Be sure to get a balcony though, they get in the fingers and do a 360 with the ship, you so everything. I enjoyed it with a few bottles of wine.

I have heard Princess has alot more land time than Carnival does, but we made the most of every second we had. catch, of course bars and the ladies of the night areas.
Be sure and do a helicopter tour. We did that as well. Landed on a glacier...again. amazing.

Be sure to get a balcony though, they get in the fingers and do a 360 with the ship, you so everything. I enjoyed it with a few bottles of wine.

I have heard Princess has alot more land time than Carnival does, but we made the most of every second we had.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 12:41 PM
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Question Balcony

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Originally Posted by LizandPhil View Post

Be sure to get a balcony though, they get in the fingers and do a 360 with the ship, you so everything. I enjoyed it with a few bottles of wine.
The thing we found frustrating about a balcony in Glacier Bay was listening to the rangers as we sailed in ... it seems every time they said, "there is a beautiful waterfall," or "there is an eagle sitting on a chunk of ice," it was on the other side of the ship. And even as the Captain did a 360 in front of the glaciers, it always seemed that whatever they were talking about was on the opposite side from us.

I highly recommend spending the time in Glacier Bay out on one of the decks ... at the front of the ship is very good, but usually cold!!
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Old December 7th, 2010, 07:49 PM
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irishseamom,

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My son and I want to take a 7 day Alaska cruise maybe in May.....I have check prices and Carnival seem to be a bit less....I do not need to go first class, but want a nice cruise. of course. Has anyone taken the Carnival Spirit to Alaska? Or should we stick with someone like Holland for this kind of trip. I am on a budget, would like to take in some whale watching and siteseeing. I have taken three cruise with Carnival before and had no problems....Thanks for any advise.....
In Alaska, all of the major cruise lines offer the same set of three standard seven-night itineraries: (1) Gulf of Alaska Northbound from Vancouver to either Seward or Whittier, (2) Gulf of Alaska Southbound from either Seward or Whittier to Vancouver, and (3) Round Trip Inside Passage from either Seattle or Vancouver, by whatever marketing name they call them. All of these itineraries call at three of the four major ports of call along the inside passage (Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, and Skagway) and spend one day visiting one of the major glacier areas. Some cruise lines also add a minor port of call while others offer a second day of glacier viewing. Realistically, the major differentiator is the ambiance and style aboard ship. If you like Carnival Cruises, by all means go to Alaska with Carnival Cruises -- which has the additional advantage that you will both receive and continue to build up your perks as a repeat passenger.

That said, I do recommend (1) taking the Gulf of Alaksa cruise rather than a round trip cruise and (2) spending a weekend at a hotel in Anchorage while you are there, even if resources are a bit thin. The downtown area is very clean and safe, even in the middle of the night, and it's imminently walkable. There's a street festival nearly every weekend, an open air market on Friday and Saturday, and a lot of attractions and historical sites right in the downtown area (which is roughly in the rectangle of city blocks bounded by Third Avenue, C Street, Sixth Avenue, and K Street). If you choose to stay a bit longer and rent a car, there are also several great options for day trips from Anchorage.

After two Alaska cruises, I don't agree with Kuki's comment that a flightseeing excursion is essential. Alaska's major ports of call offer more to see and do, and more variety of shore excursions, than any other cruise destination in the world, including Europe! If resources are tight, you'll have plenty of choices even if you limit yourselves to the less expensive shore excursions or even choose to go ashore on your own. You'll be in the "good ol' U. S. of A." and are fluent in the native language, so going ashore on your own is no problem. Also, the ship or tender piers are very convenient to the downtown areas in all of the ports of call, which are very walkable.

I do, however, recommend one "splurge" very strongly. The ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route passes through some of the most spectacular scenery that you will find anywhere. Don't miss it!

Norm.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 08:15 PM
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I do, however, recommend one "splurge" very strongly. The ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route passes through some of the most spectacular scenery that you will find anywhere. Don't miss it!
Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.

We have done the WP&YRR once, and it is indeed a trip through some spectacular scenery. The cars are reproductions and for an old time rail fan it is very interesting. It is indeed pretty expensive, especially for a family.

BUT -- we have twice taken a much less expensive alternative, which is to rent a car from Avis and drive over the White Pass ourselves. The road parallels the rail route on the opposite side of the valley and includes much of the same spectacular scenery. With a car it is possible to continue on down past the summit into the Yukon and travel through the beautiful valley full of lakes to Emerald Lake and Caribou Crossing. Check out our trip report and pictures at Driving from Skagway into the Yukon

So honestly, unless old railroads are your thing, I would not suggest the WP&YRR be your choice for a "splurge" in Alaska. But there are so many choices, to each his own.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 08:44 PM
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I'm with you Mike. Renting a car in Skaway was way more fun than the rail tour. We stopped for sightseeing in several places, and also had a chance to drive up the Chillicoot Trail, which no train goes near
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Old December 8th, 2010, 05:40 PM
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MercedMike,

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We have done the WP&YRR once, and it is indeed a trip through some spectacular scenery. The cars are reproductions and for an old time rail fan it is very interesting. It is indeed pretty expensive, especially for a family.
You are painting interest in the WP&YR (the name is "White Pass & Yukon Route" -- hence only one "R") too narrowly. The WP&YR is an authentic encounter with the infamous "Days of '98" (Yukon Gold Rush era) which put Skagway on the map as the gateway to the Yukon. Anybody with a moderate interest in history won't want to miss this experience because one simply cannot experience the heritage of the "Days of '98" by motoring up the modern road in a modern automobile.

Norm.
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Old December 8th, 2010, 06:45 PM
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You will also get a narrative history of the area on the ride up, simply breathtaking. A must do at least once while in Skagway. I do believe however, that you have to book this through the cruiseline.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 01:01 PM
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Wink Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.

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MercedMike,



You are painting interest in the WP&YR (the name is "White Pass & Yukon Route" -- hence only one "R") too narrowly. The WP&YR is an authentic encounter with the infamous "Days of '98" (Yukon Gold Rush era) which put Skagway on the map as the gateway to the Yukon. Anybody with a moderate interest in history won't want to miss this experience because one simply cannot experience the heritage of the "Days of '98" by motoring up the modern road in a modern automobile.

Norm.
Hey, not really something to argue about. Two different options, two different viewpoints. As I noted we have done both and recommend the rental car approach. That's one viewpoint. Yours is another.
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Old January 9th, 2011, 03:31 PM
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We LOVED our Alaska cruise on Carnival Spirit - a northbound from Vancouver to Whittier.

Here are lots of pictures:
Carnival Spirit - Northbound Alaska - May 27-Jun 3, 2009 - Main

You don't have to spend enormous sums on shore excursions, but you do want to do more than just walk around port areas. Some of the port areas are very interesting, however. There are also private excursions that are less expensive than what the cruise ship offers.

I'm ready to go back!
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