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Old September 18th, 2011, 11:59 AM
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Default Alaska Sept 2012 - Planning Stages

Planning our first cruise and going to Alaska. September 2012 looks like the best time for us.

I want Glacier Bay so that is a must.

Since money is unfortunately important, we will be doing an inside cabin. Also at least 2 other couples are planning on coming too.

I have found the following 3 options.

Carnival 9/11 Seattle to Vancouver. Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway & Glacier Bay. $901.18 pp w/ taxes

Princess 9/15 Seattle to Seattle. Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Victoria, & Glacier Bay. $874.00 pp w/ taxes

Holland America 9/22 Seattle to Seattle. Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria & Glacier Bay. $828.11 pp w/ taxes

All three close in price and all additional (insurance, gratuity, & airport to cruise ship fees) are pretty close.

But if I choose Carnival I have to get a passport ($330 for two) and the flights to Vancouver are about $400 more than roundtrip to Seattle.

So I would up likely spending an additional $700ish for Carnival just to handle the travel. Like I said money is important and this $700 would not be spent for something special (say port itineraries, or upgraded rooms)

But before I make the decision, I was wondering what people thought of the 3 lines, their trips to Alaska, and is Vancouver worth $700 more?

And if I go with a Seattle to Seattle trip, would you choose Sitka over Skagway? Or would the ship/line be more important? IE Princess (Golden Princess) vs Holland America (ms Westerdam). Ages of couples (42/47, 24/25, 50/51)

Thanks for all the advice. I do have a Travel Agent and we are talking about the options but I wanted some more advice from the experts here.

We might get a passport just to be safe but even then the $400 for airline is annoying to me.

Thanks
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Old September 18th, 2011, 12:37 PM
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I don't remember my Inside Passage being that high (and for an inside) September should be bargain time, it's much cooler then and almost the end of cruise season there. Do more checking!! See about a balcony rate, you'll see more from your cabin so you won't always be outside on lido or wherever. Alaska is one cruise to have a balcony.
Having a passport gets you through anything quickly and it's a comfort to have.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 12:50 PM
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Have you priced Vancouver to Vancouver trip? Much more scenic inside passage cruising. I agree with your choice of Glacier bay being a must.
Personally, I liked Skagway much more than Sitka.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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That quote was with taxes included. IE the line posts at $699, $749, & $759 but after taxes.. You see the other rate. I started doing that because I noticed that not every Cruise Line has the same "Taxes and Fee". Norwegian's seemed about $100 more "Taxes" than other lines but their "rate" was close. But after taxes....

It also confused me when my TA was quoting a rate but had the taxes and fee's a lot higher than I was seeing. I was very confused, until I discovered that the rate she had + her taxes and fee's was the same as what I was looking at.

Pesky cruise lines. TA had $560 Room + $330 Taxes = $990. But on the website you would see $759 Room + $231 taxes. Still $990 but if you look at each one individually it can confuse you. It sure did me. So I focus on the final number, not the "rates".


I would like to do a balcony. I really do. But the prices just go outside of our range. Maybe next time. I can see us doing another one in 1 to 2 years after this and make it a cruise tour. See even more. But for our first cruise, I think even going for an inside cabin will make the trip magical.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 02:03 PM
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It will be a trip like NO OTHER. You'll find out when you go. If you thought you have heard SILENCE...you have not. Wait till you hear silence, it's amazing. Hear a branch fall, the ice crack and move as your ship is silently (and yes, silently) doing a 360 while viewing the glacier.
I really liked Skagway, though have not been to Sitka, you can even catch a free bus to a Walmart there! ;-) It's sitting on the side of a hill but not in town.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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I read a tip somewhere once where if you're in an inside cabin try and get one on the promenade deck so it's a pretty short trek to go outside so it's almost like having a balcony. And the bridge cam on the tv let's you know what the weather's like out there when you're dressing. Glacier bay is absolutely spectacular.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 03:41 PM
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I have done Alaska on both Princess and Holland America.
I haven't heard good reports from friends who have done both NCL and Carnival to Alaska (from Vancouver)
I would prefer Sitka over Skagway . Sitka and Skagway are very small towns . Walmart is on in Ketchikan and Juneau.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 05:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doopydozer View Post
I have done Alaska on both Princess and Holland America.
I haven't heard good reports from friends who have done both NCL and Carnival to Alaska (from Vancouver)
I would prefer Sitka over Skagway . Sitka and Skagway are very small towns . Walmart is on in Ketchikan and Juneau.
You are right about Walmart, I didn't think it sounded quite right when I wrote it. I just remember looking out and was shocked and chuckled both when I saw it.

I was on Carnival Spirit that left from Vancouver.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 07:27 PM
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I would certainly cosider obtaining passports regardless of what cruise you take, they are good for 10 years, and if you should cruise again, always good to have when traveling..
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Old September 18th, 2011, 11:31 PM
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Thumbs up Alaska

Alaska cruising is wonderful! We have been eight times and will go again at the drop of a hat.

Any of those cruises you are looking at would be wonderful! Personally we prefer HAL or Princess to Carnival. Of the ships you list, HAL Westerdam would be our choice as a ship goes.

The choice of Glacier Bay for your first cruise to Alaska is definitely the right one!

As far as the Sitka/Skagway question, that depends a lot on what you want. Both are small towns, but Skagway is probably a lot more touristy than Sitka is. We love driving over the White Pass from Skagway to the dog camp at Caribou Crossing, and we love the Sea Otter Search in Sitka. You can't go wrong with either one.


Check out our trip reports and pictures at Cruising with the Halls for several different reports on Alaska. I know whichever you pick, you will have a GREAT cruise!
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Old September 19th, 2011, 08:32 PM
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Another question.

How late in the season have people gone.

Holland America's trip leave on 9/22. Pretty late in the season. Is it too late?

What is the latest people have gone?
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Old September 19th, 2011, 09:32 PM
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The first time I went, it was the second week in Sept....We were super lucky, and still had good weather, just one bad day where it rained the whole day...You could tell, some of the shops were low on their inventories, most had sales, which was nice.
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Old October 7th, 2011, 07:04 AM
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My husband and I are booked on the Golden Princess on the Sept 8, 2012 sailing! We chose the particular boat and date because we booked it through a group reservation and got a good deal. We have always wanted to go to Alaska, but money doesn't grow on trees! One thing I would reccomend would be to get a passport card. It is only around $45 and is good for travel to Mexico and Canada. We went that route even though we aren't flying in and out of Canada just in case there was an emergency and we needed to get back. It also saves from having to bring along birth cert. Hope you have a great cruise!! It's so fun planning for a trip so far away!!
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Old October 7th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KDGodwin View Post
My husband and I are booked on the Golden Princess on the Sept 8, 2012 sailing! We chose the particular boat and date because we booked it through a group reservation and got a good deal. We have always wanted to go to Alaska, but money doesn't grow on trees! One thing I would reccomend would be to get a passport card. It is only around $45 and is good for travel to Mexico and Canada. We went that route even though we aren't flying in and out of Canada just in case there was an emergency and we needed to get back. It also saves from having to bring along birth cert. Hope you have a great cruise!! It's so fun planning for a trip so far away!!
In fact, why not go ahead and get a passport? It is only a bit more expensive and is good for 10 years. I predict you are going to get hooked on cruising and it will come in very handy!!

Have a GREAT cruise!
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Old October 7th, 2011, 04:28 PM
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I'm also going in September next year with a group of friends. HAL from Vancouver to Anchorage. From what I have investigated it should be a good time of year.

You will need a passport-not an option.

Good Luck!
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Old October 7th, 2011, 11:11 PM
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So I am taking to a local Travel Agent.

She is setting up a group to do the Carnival Spirit Seattle to Vancouver in Sept 2012.

At the point I was leaning towards the Princess Seattle to Seattle in Sept.

Same ports, both visit Glacier Bay.

The only difference I can see is Carnival ends in Vancouver so does the inside passage on the way home to get to Vancouver and Princess is outside passage since it is RT to Seattle.

Other than that identical except Carnival would be another $140 for the cruise fare.

But if I were to do the Carnival I would need a passport (X2) and likely do a Bus or Amtrack from Vancouver to Seattle to get RT Airline tickets a heck of a lot cheaper than one way to Seattle and then one way Vancouver to home.


So the costs would be (at a guess) about $450 extra for 2 people. Or $590 including the difference in cruise rates. Now in my case that $590 could be significant, especially to some family that are really considering coming along.

So is it worth the extra money to go inside passage to Vancouver?

I am cheap enough that I know on a Seattle RT I do not need a passport even though it is recommended and I could see not getting one. So that is why I include the price of a passport in the Vancouver destination.

I have seen some people recommend that option, but when price is important, how much is that view worth?

Thanks for the replies in advance.
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Old October 8th, 2011, 04:23 AM
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I don't know about Sir Tomster, but when you're on a tight budget on a trip, every little bit helps. We love cruises (this is going to be our 6th), but are not likely going to make it to any destinations requiring a passport for some years. Cruising to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda they will still take a birth cert. and ID. The passport cards are so much less money and hassle and are also good for 10 years.
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Old October 8th, 2011, 06:31 AM
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Since I have both cruised out of Seattle and Vancouver, going to and from Vancouver is so much better and IMHO worth the extra bucks. Also a good idea to just go ahead and get the passports, chances are you will cruise/travel again and will be glad you have them, plus they are good for 10 years.
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Old October 8th, 2011, 10:04 AM
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Talking Inside Passage

Quote:
Originally Posted by SirTomster View Post
S

The only difference I can see is Carnival ends in Vancouver so does the inside passage on the way home to get to Vancouver and Princess is outside passage since it is RT to Seattle.
First, a clarification: The "Inside Passage" refers to the travel inside the islands in Alaska, and is generally considered that it's southern end is Prince Rupert Island, above Vancouver Island. So ALL Alaska cruises use the Inside Passage.

What you are referring to is the passage around Vancouver Island. In general cruises ending in Vancouver will come down INSIDE Vancouver Island after they complete the actual Inside Passage, and cruises ending in Seattle will come down OUTSIDE Vancouver Island. (Actual routing is always up to the Captain and can change due to weather, tides, or other conditions.)

So on either trip you will get lots of Inside Passage. Whether the few hours you spend transiting Vancouver Island are worth the extra money is your call. That area is well known for orcas and if you want to spend hours out on deck with your binox you have a fair chance of sighting them. Otherwise the scenery is pretty much the same as you will get in Alaska when you hit the Inside Passage.

Have a GREAT cruise!
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Old October 8th, 2011, 10:21 AM
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The inside passage is all of the waterway from Seattle to Alaska that goes
east of Vancouver island. The outside of Vancouver Island can get very rough . Cruse ships can run into very heavy sea west of Vancouver Island in late Aug or Sept . This happened this year . One ship ran into sustained winds of 90 Kts (108 mph) gusting to 102 kts (120 mph) . The waves where over 30 ft high. This doesn't usually occur on cruises that go from Vancouver . Seattle stop in Victoria for the afternoon. Vancouver bound ships spend the day scenic cruising .:neutral:

There is a shuttle that you can take to the Seattle Airport directly from the Cruise port.
I wouldn't consider any flights from Seattle until next day or late on the day of arrival
in Vancouver . You should consider that the travel time from Van to SeaTac can be up
to 5 hrs from the cruise-port . The cost is about $60 per person.
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Old October 8th, 2011, 07:17 PM
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I just was so unhappy cruising from Seattle, if they still consider that inside, you were NEVER close to land, may as well been out in the middle of the ocean, so totally different that when cruising from Vancouver, I will never go from Seattle again...JMHO.
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