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Old September 21st, 2011, 04:09 PM
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Default Help me choose an itinerary

My family is going on an Alaskan cruise next summer, as a surprise gift to my grandparents for their wedding anniversary. It will probably be the last big trip we all take together, it's my grandma's dream vacation. I have been designated as the family travel agent, and I've been doing a LOT of research....but there are so many options that I am still overwhelmed.

I have read not to miss seeing Glacier Bay if this is your first and only time to go. I have read not to base your cruise off of the ship, although that's tough for me as we took a Carnival Cruise last year and the ship was so outdated that it kind of ruined it for us (that, and my sea sickness that led to me being quarantined for the biggest port of the trip, but that's another story!)

All this to say....opinions and advice welcome for the following options I have put together. We are going in June, due to work schedules, and we can probably sail out of either Seattle or Vancouver, doesn't make much of a difference for us. I really was attracted to the Celebrity ships, but none of the trips in June make it to Glacier Bay, so I don't know.

Thanks in advance!

Option 1:
Seattle Roundtrip
Golden Princess
Sails June 9
Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle.

Option 2:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Volendam
Sails June 6, 13, 20
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver

Option 3:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Zuiderdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver

Option 4:
Seattle Roundtrip
Holland ms. Westerdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Seattle, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle

Option 5:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Celebrity Century (older ship)
Sails June 3, 10, 17
Vancouver, Inside Passage, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver

Option 6:
Seattle Roundtrip
Celebrity Infinity (redoing in November!)
Sails June 1, 8, 15
Seattle, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Inside Passage, Victoria, Seattle
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Old September 21st, 2011, 07:09 PM
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I once cruise on Infinity, but with the Century itinary and it was exceptional. A few years later did Star Princess from Seattle and it was not nearly the same, highly recommend going from Vancouver, truly an inside passage. Since Century will be re-done, that would be my favorite itinary out of all your options....I hope to get to Alaska again in 2013 and may just do a one way from Vancouver or ending there. Did see Tracy Arm and it was amazing, we had an exceptional day there, but Hubbard Glacier is something to really see..
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Old September 21st, 2011, 08:46 PM
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I cruised with Holland America but I preceeded it with a 7 day land tour.
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Old September 21st, 2011, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MauidAndy View Post
My family is going on an Alaskan cruise next summer, as a surprise gift to my grandparents for their wedding anniversary. It will probably be the last big trip we all take together, it's my grandma's dream vacation. I have been designated as the family travel agent, and I've been doing a LOT of research....but there are so many options that I am still overwhelmed.

I have read not to miss seeing Glacier Bay if this is your first and only time to go. I have read not to base your cruise off of the ship, although that's tough for me as we took a Carnival Cruise last year and the ship was so outdated that it kind of ruined it for us (that, and my sea sickness that led to me being quarantined for the biggest port of the trip, but that's another story!)

All this to say....opinions and advice welcome for the following options I have put together. We are going in June, due to work schedules, and we can probably sail out of either Seattle or Vancouver, doesn't make much of a difference for us. I really was attracted to the Celebrity ships, but none of the trips in June make it to Glacier Bay, so I don't know.

Thanks in advance!

Option 1:
Seattle Roundtrip
Golden Princess
Sails June 9
Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle.

Option 2:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Volendam
Sails June 6, 13, 20
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver


Option 3:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Zuiderdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver

Option 4:
Seattle Roundtrip
Holland ms. Westerdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Seattle, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle


Option 5:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Celebrity Century (older ship)
Sails June 3, 10, 17
Vancouver, Inside Passage, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver

Option 6:
Seattle Roundtrip
Celebrity Infinity (redoing in November!)
Sails June 1, 8, 15
Seattle, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Inside Passage, Victoria, Seattle
I would select option 2 or 3 or 4 over the others.
The age demographic has a tendency to be older . This would
be better for your grand parents . . If they are fairly active on other cruise might be better.:-)
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Old September 21st, 2011, 09:00 PM
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I agree with Donna. A ferw weeks ago, we were on the Coral Southbound which included both Hubbard and Glacier Bay. I always tuted G.B. but after viewing Hubbard.. I think Glacier Bay is highly overated. Try to book an ony-way (you're cut off from most of of the beautiful scenery if you leave from Seattle.)And be sure to include Hubbard Glacier...if nothing else.. on you itinerary.
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 12:20 AM
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If destination (more and better scenery) is important to you, HAL Volendam or Zuiderdam is a clear winner. After studying all itineraries of recent years, I found there are four highlights: 1. Glacier Bay, 2. College Fjord, 3. Hobbart Glacier, 4. Tracy Arm Fjord. Most ships take you only to one of the above four places. Some HAL and Princess one-way ships take you to #1 and #2. I, a picky scenery seeker, took it as advised by a senior cruise agent and was truly satisfied (#2 was surprisingly good). But paid more for air tickets. Last time, I organized a group and picked up Volendam, round trip from Vancouver visiting #1 and #4 in early August. Again, a big winner. Tracy Arm is a scenic long narrow fjord. No close look at glaciers but I loved it. All ships have ďAt SeaĒ days, but they are not the same. If you study itinerary maps carefully, youíll find lots of ďAt SeaĒ are actually at ďopen oceanĒ, which means no scenery plus possible rough cruise. A friend took Westerdam from Seattle last May and got bad seasick. I wouldnít take any round trip from Seattle. You save on airfares, but lose more on trip quality. Volendam took true inside passage. It was good everyday except the second day. We only saw lands at distance, but itís OK because the second day is the day to explore the ship. After that, not even one boring day. On our way back, there was another day of At Sea, but it was unusual. We went thru some narrow passages and encountered many whales and bald eagles. HAL and Princess didnít just cruise around the inlet of Glacier Bay; they take you deep inside. Other ships may not do the same due to license restriction. Time wise, July and early August would be the best and thatís why the price is higher. Heavy rain can ruin the cruise. Late June could be a good choice for weather and price. You wonít get disappointed with HAL ships and foods. I think elder people prefer HAL. My only complaint against Volendam was sometimes I felt the engine a little bit when cruising at full speed (I was on lower floor near the front). Or, maybe itís a mid-sized ship. A big cons of mid size is much less people. If you need tips about Skagway, ask me later. Iíll stop here-the more I write, the more I want to go back to Alaska.
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MauidAndy View Post

Option 1:
Seattle Roundtrip
Golden Princess
Sails June 9
Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle.
A nice ship, a bit older. How long is the stop in Victoria? Sometimes this is just a short stop to comply with the Passenger Service Act.

Quote:
Option 2:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Volendam
Sails June 6, 13, 20
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver
A very nice ship, a bit older and a bit smaller, which has advantages. Nice itin with both Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay. I would put this high on the list.


Quote:
Option 3:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Zuiderdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver
A beautiful, large, newer ship. Between option 2 and option 3, the question is whether you like the larger ship.


Quote:
Option 4:
Seattle Roundtrip
Holland ms. Westerdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Seattle, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle
A sister to the Zuiderdam, large and beautiful. The attraction here is Sitka, a great port especially if you are interested in the sea otters.


Quote:
Option 5:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Celebrity Century (older ship)
Sails June 3, 10, 17
Vancouver, Inside Passage, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver
Glacier Bay is much better than Hubbard Glacier, but you would enjoy this itinerary. Icy Strait Point is a great place for bear watching.

Quote:
Option 6:
Seattle Roundtrip
Celebrity Infinity (redoing in November!)
Sails June 1, 8, 15
Seattle, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Inside Passage, Victoria, Seattle
NO. No glacier experience. Tracy Arm does not in any way compare to Glacier Bay or Hubbard.

I made two pages from our trips to Alaska that might help you:
Alaska Excursions Guide
Alaska Glaciers

and also check out
Cruising with the Halls
for trip reports on most of those ships.

Have a GREAT cruise!
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 10:56 AM
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Thanks so much everyone! I loved reading all the comments.
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 06:11 PM
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My vote is option 2 or 3. Glacier Bay and Tracy arm's a nice option. We preferred the Vancouver round trip too. More inside passage sailing and our ship got to Juneau in the morning which I liked. Our Seattle passage got to Juneau at 2pm which wasn't as good for us. Of course I assume that was because Juneau was our first port. The stop in Victoria arrived at about 7pm or so and that was mostly a waste of time for us other than obeying the Jones act law.
Hubbard Glacier is awsome but I do think that Glacier Bay was nicer.
We preferred Skagway over Sitka too.
Oh, you can't go wrong. It's awesome up there. We're all very opinionated on our likes and dislikes so you really have to work with what you like as well. Don't get us started on the balcony vs inside cabin debate!
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 06:36 PM
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I prefer Sitka or Skagway especially if a lot of ships are in port .
By pass Haines if you can it's a total bust as a port.
You can see most of it 2 hrs just by wandering around.
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Old September 26th, 2011, 08:02 PM
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Only 3 cruise lines are allowed in Glacier Bay. Those lines are Princess, Holland America Line, and NCL. I cannot speak of Holland America but the other two lines have good food, with Princess having the better food of the two. In choosing your itinerary, look at the ports of call and how long is spent in each one. If you find specific things you want to do in a particular port, you need to make sure you have a full day in that port. I would work with a good travel agent that specializes in Alaska and Cruise to help you make the best decisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MauidAndy View Post
My family is going on an Alaskan cruise next summer, as a surprise gift to my grandparents for their wedding anniversary. It will probably be the last big trip we all take together, it's my grandma's dream vacation. I have been designated as the family travel agent, and I've been doing a LOT of research....but there are so many options that I am still overwhelmed.

I have read not to miss seeing Glacier Bay if this is your first and only time to go. I have read not to base your cruise off of the ship, although that's tough for me as we took a Carnival Cruise last year and the ship was so outdated that it kind of ruined it for us (that, and my sea sickness that led to me being quarantined for the biggest port of the trip, but that's another story!)

All this to say....opinions and advice welcome for the following options I have put together. We are going in June, due to work schedules, and we can probably sail out of either Seattle or Vancouver, doesn't make much of a difference for us. I really was attracted to the Celebrity ships, but none of the trips in June make it to Glacier Bay, so I don't know.

Thanks in advance!

Option 1:
Seattle Roundtrip
Golden Princess
Sails June 9
Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle.

Option 2:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Volendam
Sails June 6, 13, 20
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver

Option 3:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Holland ms. Zuiderdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Vancouver, Inside Passage; Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver

Option 4:
Seattle Roundtrip
Holland ms. Westerdam
Sails June 2, 9, 16
Seattle, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle

Option 5:
Vancouver Roundtrip
Celebrity Century (older ship)
Sails June 3, 10, 17
Vancouver, Inside Passage, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver

Option 6:
Seattle Roundtrip
Celebrity Infinity (redoing in November!)
Sails June 1, 8, 15
Seattle, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Inside Passage, Victoria, Seattle
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