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Old December 23rd, 2010, 10:48 AM
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Question Best Alaska Cruise?

The Alaska cruise season is rapidly approaching! People should be booking NOW!

So -- who can tell us what they think is the BEST Alaska cruise they have ever taken?

My choice? HAL Zuiderdam, with both Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay, dog carts in Skagway and the Ducks in Ketchikan! Of course, the fact that my dear Aunt Ruth treated us to adjoining suites helped a bit! Check out our trip report and pictures at Cruising to Alaska on HAL Zuiderdam
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 11:16 AM
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Time in Denali followed by College Fjord and Glacier Bay then fly home from Juneau if possible! BTW does any cruise line follow that itinerary?

My thoughts on Skagway and Ketchikan are unprintable.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by anniegb View Post
Time in Denali followed by College Fjord and Glacier Bay then fly home from Juneau if possible! BTW does any cruise line follow that itinerary?

My thoughts on Skagway and Ketchikan are unprintable.
Not that I have heard of. Some people board in Vancouver and get
off in Skagway as part of an organized tour.
First boarding in Anchorage (Whittier or Seward) and getting off in Juneau
is against the law . The Jones Act (Passenger Services Act of 1896?) makes this type of cruise very illegal for the cruiseline and passenger.
The line can be fined up to $1 Million dollars a day for this .
The passenger can be fined up to $1 million and/or up to 10 years in jail.
The cruise also has the right to sue the passenger for amount of the fine
that they have to pay .
Could end up being a very expensive cruise for the passenger
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by doopydozer View Post
Not that I have heard of. Some people board in Vancouver and get
off in Skagway as part of an organized tour.
First boarding in Anchorage (Whittier or Seward) and getting off in Juneau
is against the law . The Jones Act (Passenger Services Act of 1896?) makes this type of cruise very illegal for the cruiseline and passenger.
The line can be fined up to $1 Million dollars a day for this .
The passenger can be fined up to $1 million and/or up to 10 years in jail.
The cruise also has the right to sue the passenger for amount of the fine
that they have to pay .
Could end up being a very expensive cruise for the passenger
Pardon my ignorance - as a non American I have never heard of the Jones Act; why is it illegal?

Would it be possible to book a ferry southbound to Juneau? and leave there?

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Old December 23rd, 2010, 06:34 PM
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I like the itinerary we did on Zuiderdam but hated that ship. Next time it'll be a 7 days up and the 7 days back and not on HAL.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 08:56 PM
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anniegb,

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Originally Posted by You View Post
Pardon my ignorance - as a non American I have never heard of the Jones Act; why is it illegal?

Would it be possible to book a ferry southbound to Juneau? and leave there?
Historically, the Congress of the United States enacted both the "Jones Act" and the "Passenger Services Act" to protect the United States Merchant Marine at the behest of its labor unions, which are very powerful politically. Technically, the "Jones Act" governs transporation of goods and the "Passenger Services Act" governs transportation of passengers for hire. The unions' objective is to suppress competition by vessels of foreign flag, and thus to guarantee jobs for their members.

The "Passenger Services Act" permits the following, subject to any other applicable laws.

>> 1. A vessel of U. S. flag may disembark passengers in any port, regardless of their port of embarkation.

>> 2. A vessel of foreign flag that embarked passengers in a foreign port may disembark those passengers in any foreign port or in any port of the United States.

>> 3. A vessel of foreign flag that embarked passengers in a port of the United States may disembark those passengers in any foreign port, without restriction.

>> 4. A vessel of foreign flag that embarked passengers in a port of the United States may disembark those passengers in the same port if it has not called at any other port since the embarkation of those passengers.

>> 5. A vessel of foreign flag that embarked passengers in a port of the United States may disembark those passengers the same port if it has called at any foreign port since the embarkation of thsoe passengers.

>> 6. A vessel of foreign flag that embarks passengers in a port of the United States may disembark those passengers in a different port of the United States only if it has called at a distant foreign port since the embarkation of those passengers. (The Passenger Services Act defines the ports of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Oceana, South America, and the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao to be "distant" for purposes of this provision.)

All cruises that operate to or from the United States have itineraries that conform to one or another of these provisions, as the "Passenger Services Act" also has teeth -- in the form of a fine of $2,000 per violation, with each illegally disembarked passenger constituting a separate violation. This is easily seen with the standard itineraries to Alaska.

>> All of the "inside passage" itineraries that operate round trip out of Seattle call at a Canadian port (typically Prince Rupert, Victoria, or Vancouver) to conform to #5.

>> All cruises that embark passengers in Vancouver, BC, comply with #2 thereby.

>> All of the southbound "Gulf of Alaska" cruises, which embark passages in either Seward, AK, or Whittier, AK, terminate in Vancouver, BC, to comply with #3.

The itinerary that you propose -- from either Seward, AK, or Whittier, AK, to Juneau, AK -- would have to stop in a distant foreign port en route. I'm not sure whether the nearest distant foreign port would be in Kiribati or Russia, but this requirement would add perhaps a couple weeks to the itinerary in either case.

Norm.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 09:10 PM
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anniegb,

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Originally Posted by You View Post
My thoughts on Skagway and Ketchikan are unprintable.
Good grief, why? Both of these ports of call offer about eighty different shore excursions, with something for everyone. That's more variety and diversity than any port of call in Europe (and yes, I have done several cruises to Europe, so I do know of what I speak).

>> In Skagway, I highly recommend the ride to Summit Lake on the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR). The scenery is even more spectacular than both College Fjord and Glacier Bay. On a second visit, the "Ghosts and Goodtime Girls" walking tour of Skagway's back alleys is quite interesting!

>> In Ketchikan, Saxman Village is well worth the price of the excursion. I also would like to see the lumberjack show on a future visit.

And I'm sure that others have plenty of additional recommendations as to what's worthwhile in these ports of call!

Norm.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 09:10 PM
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Thanks Norm

Simple then - when visiting Alaska- don't cruise! The best is at the top end! Skagway and Ketchikan IMHO - do Alaska or the US no favours!
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Old December 24th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Default PSA

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Originally Posted by Rev22:17 View Post
anniegb,

The "Passenger Services Act" permits the following, subject to any other applicable laws....

Norm.
Wow, Norm! You really have all your ducks in a row! That is positively the BEST explanation of the PSA I have ever heard of.

Now -- of course, this act was passed to benefit the US Maritime unions, a long time ago when many US lines, particularly Matson, were cruising. Years ago we cruised on the Matson Monterey from California to Hawaii, a trip which is not possible now.

So why, in this day when not a single US flagged ship is sailing anyplace (the NCL ships in Hawaii are beneficiaries of a special deal worked out with Congress), is this obselete law still on the books? Even if the major cruise lines need the large airports for their passengers, surely some of the small ship lines would love to cruise the Inland Passage from one Alaskan port to another?

The most reasonable explanation I have heard is that the cruise lines fear that if they were given the ability to cruise between US ports, too many things would come along with it, including compliance with OSHA, the ADA, minimum wage rules and all the other things the Federal government requires of US companies. I don't think they are willing to take that chance, and therefore they are not going to make a push to repeal the PSA.

And as for the state of Alaska, they have a true love/hate relationship with the cruise lines and AFAIK have no impetus or desire to increase the ease of cruising to Alaska.

So -- with all this political going on -- guess who is the big loser? Yep, you guessed it: YOU AND ME, the cruisers!
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Old December 24th, 2010, 12:46 PM
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Talking Skagway and Ketchikan

Quote:
Originally Posted by anniegb View Post
Thanks Norm

Simple then - when visiting Alaska- don't cruise! The best is at the top end! Skagway and Ketchikan IMHO - do Alaska or the US no favours!
Wow -- do you hate Disneyland too?

Skagway and Ketchikan are, IMAO, a couple of wonderful tourist ports, with things to do for almost everyone. To be honest, Juneau trails way behind them in my estimation, and Seward/Anchorage leave much to be desired.

Skagway has the Old Gold Rush atmosphere about it, and it is a lot of fun to tour in the Yellow Buses and go to the Days of 98 show. However, the big attraction here, scenery, history and things to do, is the White Pass route, of course. Taking the train is a lot of fun, especially if you are an old train buff, but what we really like to do it to rent a car from Avis and drive over the pass to Caribou Crossing for the great museum and the dog musher's camp! Check out our trip report and pictures at Driving from Skagway into the Yukon. This trip makes Skagway one of our very favorite ports.

Ketchikan is the place that is most famous for totem poles. The Totem Heritage Center is the museum that will give you lots of information, and can fit into a nice tour of the town (or even the Ketchikan Ducks which are a kick!). Totem Bight State Park is wonderful, and with a good guide to explain all the symbolism of the totems can be very interesting. The best show in town is the dancing in the long house at Saxman Native Village. There are lots of other things to do too, but for the first visit to Ketchikan I really recommend the totems.

Perhaps the people who dislike Skagway and Ketchikan neglected all the many things to do and just wandered down the streets crowded with jewellery stores and souvenir shops? If so they missed a lot of great things to do!

You can check out some of our favorite excursions, at those ports as well as Juneau, at Alaska Excursions Guide

I don't think we will get to go to Alaska this season ... but maybe again next year!
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Old December 24th, 2010, 12:53 PM
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Hi Norm

I did the WPR - it does not hold a candle to the Fort William- Mallaig railway trip which has been voted again the best railway trip in the world.

Saxman village did nothing for me.

In the unlikely event of my returning to Alaska I would concentrate on Denali and Glacier Bay area.

I got from the trip what I wanted but IMHO the tourist traps of Skagway and Ketchikan do your country no favours. I certainly would not recommend cruising Alaska and fully understand why so many experienced European based travellers tried to get me to cancel the trip.

Best

Annie
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Old December 24th, 2010, 12:55 PM
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I love Disneyland and the Grand Canyon and Bryce,Zion,Yosemite,Yellowstone areas.

IMHO Alaska does not hold a candle to any of the above.

Best

Annie
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Old December 24th, 2010, 01:02 PM
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Forgot to say the museum in Anchorage eclipses anything in Skagway esp the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Centre and the entire gallery of paintings by Laurence - and the cafe bar serves Guinness

JMHO

Best

Annie
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Old December 25th, 2010, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MercedMike View Post
Wow, Norm! You really have all your ducks in a row! That is positively the BEST explanation of the PSA I have ever heard of.

Now -- of course, this act was passed to benefit the US Maritime unions, a long time ago when many US lines, particularly Matson, were cruising. Years ago we cruised on the Matson Monterey from California to Hawaii, a trip which is not possible now.

So why, in this day when not a single US flagged ship is sailing anyplace (the NCL ships in Hawaii are beneficiaries of a special deal worked out with Congress), is this obselete law still on the books? Even if the major cruise lines need the large airports for their passengers, surely some of the small ship lines would love to cruise the Inland Passage from one Alaskan port to another?

The most reasonable explanation I have heard is that the cruise lines fear that if they were given the ability to cruise between US ports, too many things would come along with it, including compliance with OSHA, the ADA, minimum wage rules and all the other things the Federal government requires of US companies. I don't think they are willing to take that chance, and therefore they are not going to make a push to repeal the PSA.

And as for the state of Alaska, they have a true love/hate relationship with the cruise lines and AFAIK have no impetus or desire to increase the ease of cruising to Alaska.

So -- with all this political going on -- guess who is the big loser? Yep, you guessed it: YOU AND ME, the cruisers!
I number of California ans Hawaii senators and others tried to actually strengthen the law . So that Cruises from LA , San Diego & San Francisco had to further away then Ensenada . This would mean that all cruises would have to start further off shore . :-x
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Old December 25th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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Unhappy Denali

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In the unlikely event of my returning to Alaska I would concentrate on Denali and Glacier Bay area.
Interesting. I don't know if you mean an extended land stay in Glacier Bay NP, but I don't know any other way to concentrate on that area.

As far as Denali, after reading all the rave reports, we finally went there. It is a looooooong day on the train to get there. It is a looooooong day on the train to leave there! So two days out of whatever time you have is gone. The park is moderately interesting. If you like watching wildlife through binoculars the tour is moderately interesting. As a tourist attraction I would rate it about half as good as the places like Skagway and Ketchikan we visited in one eight hour port call without all the boring travel. We will return again (and again) to the Inside Passage, but I don't think we will ever bother with Denali again.

Check out our trip report and pictures at Alaska Cruisetour, Fairbanks to Denali

Funny how diff'rent folks see things in diff'rent ways, isn't it?
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Old December 25th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Interesting. I don't know if you mean an extended land stay in Glacier Bay NP, but I don't know any other way to concentrate on that area.

As far as Denali, after reading all the rave reports, we finally went there. It is a looooooong day on the train to get there. It is a looooooong day on the train to leave there! So two days out of whatever time you have is gone. The park is moderately interesting. If you like watching wildlife through binoculars the tour is moderately interesting. As a tourist attraction I would rate it about half as good as the places like Skagway and Ketchikan we visited in one eight hour port call without all the boring travel. We will return again (and again) to the Inside Passage, but I don't think we will ever bother with Denali again.

Check out our trip report and pictures at Alaska Cruisetour, Fairbanks to Denali

Funny how diff'rent folks see things in diff'rent ways, isn't it?
You are quite right - different folks see things in different ways. Would the world not be very boring if we all liked the same trip

If the Inside Passage floats your boat - pardon the awful pun - good for you!

Enjoy your return trips but the 16000 miles I travelled to/from Alaska - I will use towards Oz/NZ.

Best

Annie
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