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Old March 31st, 2012, 10:00 PM
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Default Is SanFrancisco to Alaska a good option

We are planning to take our parents (55+) to Alaska. everyone are first time cruisers. Reading from these forums we would like to take a balcony, visit Glacier Bay and also do the helicopter tours - so we want to cut cost in other areas.
We live in SFO and was wondering if it is cheaper to take a 10 day cruise from SFO OR fly to Seattle/Vancouver and do a 7-day cruise.
In case we have to fly to a port, do we have to book a pre and post hotel arrangements also?

Please advice.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 05:43 AM
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It is always nice to be able to do a pre and or post stay in port, but a lot will depend on where you are flying from, what time the flight arrives and departs, etc. You can also fly in and out and not have to stay the extra time...
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Old April 1st, 2012, 09:54 AM
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The biggest decision is whether the 10 day SFO cruise will cover what you want to see.

Three? of those days are sea days and they can be rough travelling. It seems that most

cruises go to Tracy Arm only. consider a 14 days cruise from Vancouver and you get

two full days in glacier bay , an afternoon in college fiord and an afternoon at the

Hubbard glacier .To get to Vancouver consider Amtrak instead of the plane.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 12:57 PM
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Question Questions

These are complicated questions that are hard to answer in a single paragraph. Everybody on this board answers from their own perspective based on their own experience, one cruise to Alaska or several. That may not cover all the different possibilities available.

Here is my answer based on our experiences: If you can take a taxi to the port, or get somebody to drop you off, you might save a little bit by going from SFO, but since the cruise is two or three days longer it will almost certainly be more expensive. Also, the portion of the trip from San Francisco to Vancouver is probably the least scenic, and has a reputation for the roughest water. It is perfectly possible to fly to Seattle or Vancouver on the day of embarkation, and many people do, but there is a slight chance of flight delay which may mean you miss the entire cruise. Travelling to Seattle the night before and staying in a hotel, then taking the ship's transfer or alternative transportation to Vancouver, works for us. There is usually no need for a post cruise package unless you want to.

Note that all these are generalities, and there are many other options that you might want to consider, far more than we can easily discuss here. The very best advice I can give you for answers to your particular questions is 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.

You can check out some of the options we have used in our eight cruises to Alaska at the page in my sig below.
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 11:23 PM
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I did a cruise from LA to Alaska and loved it. My motto is why fly when you can cruise.

I must disagree with one poster mentioning that it can be rough cruising...No way no how..The ship did'nt once rock from LA all the way to glacier bay...the water is as still as bath water. It is a fabulous cruise and would recommend it to all.

Please note that most of the tours are rather expensive HOWEVER the helicopter tour was one of the greatest tours I ever took...after some considerable flight time we landed on the very top of a glacier...it was wonderful nothing ever compared to that tour we took.

Also the white pass train ride is pretty entertaining...you take and old fashioned train ride into a gold rush town where you watch a show eat and pan for gold...it was pretty nice...

Alsaka is one of the most wonderful places I have ever been to and the tours are fantastic...do not I repeat do not miss the helicopter tour...it is pricey though..Back in 1999 the price of the helicopter tour if im not mistaking was about $200 per person. WELL WORHT IT.

Enjoy it will be a trip of a life time. and yes cruise from San Fran..the stop in Vancover is very nice...
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Old April 4th, 2012, 01:18 PM
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Exclamation Rough seas

Quote:
Originally Posted by buttons16 View Post
I must disagree with one poster mentioning that it can be rough cruising...No way no how..The ship did'nt once rock from LA all the way to glacier bay...the water is as still as bath water.
This board is a valuable place as cruisers share their experiences. However in most cases we get the experience of one cruise. Buttons16 was fortunate that his ship found calm water all the way.

However, the stretch from San Francisco to Vancouver is in open water, and the chances of some roughness in the seas are much higher than the classic Inside Passage cruise which is mostly in protected waters. Quite a few cruisers have reported running into rougher seas there.

Does this mean that an Inside Passage cruise is always completely smooth? NO. Does this mean that a San Francisco cruise will always run into rough water? NO.

But on the whole, and especially for those prone to seasickness, the chances of greater motion in the ship are higher sailing out of San Francisco.
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Old April 4th, 2012, 02:05 PM
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On one cruise HAL had there ship damaged during a cruise from Vancouver to San Diego . Normally the waters between San Francisco and Alaska are fairly calm . I've talked to people on the Vancouver Alaska run say that they will probably ever do a cruise to Alaska that goes west of Vancouver Island due to rough seas.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Default Outside or inside

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Originally Posted by doopydozer View Post
On one cruise HAL had there ship damaged during a cruise from Vancouver to San Diego . Normally the waters between San Francisco and Alaska are fairly calm . I've talked to people on the Vancouver Alaska run say that they will probably ever do a cruise to Alaska that goes west of Vancouver Island due to rough seas.
I'm sure you mean "never" ...

Indeed in our cruises to Alaska, the roughest water we ever had was West of Vancouver island. We were on Sapphire Princess and she made it to port in Victoria but we heard that two smaller ships turned back.

However, that was ONE trip. On other trips we have had beautiful smooth water there. So as I said above, the experience of one poster in one trip is not necessarly the general or normal situation.

In general going outside of Vancouver island is for the Seattle itineraries, so you balance off the chance of rougher water against the much better availability of flights from Seattle.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 09:53 PM
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I just don't understand how they can call cruising from Seattle an inside passage, there is nothing inside about the entire trip? Cruising from Vancouver is so much nicer, just beautiful...
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Old April 6th, 2012, 11:03 PM
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Of course you will venture into rough sea if a storm is brewing no matter where you sail to, but for the most part a cruise up the coast from San Fran to Alaska and the inside passage is calm.

I on the other hand always ran into rough sea passing by Carolina on the way to Bermuda, some of the roughest seas I ever encountered. Another area to stay away from due to rough sea is cruising north from the Panama Canal to Grand Caymen...if you are prone to sea sickness be carefull of those two I mentioned.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 09:52 AM
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Talking Inside passage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna View Post
I just don't understand how they can call cruising from Seattle an inside passage, there is nothing inside about the entire trip? Cruising from Vancouver is so much nicer, just beautiful...
Definitions vary. In many cases, the "inside passage" is defined as starting At Prince Rupert, NORTH of Vancouver Island, and proceeding through the many off shore islands, thereby being rather protected. Pretty much all of the common cruise destinations are in this Inside Passage.

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Old April 7th, 2012, 05:27 PM
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I don't know about that, may be inside, but you could never even see land, until you got to the port of call....
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Old April 7th, 2012, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna View Post
I don't know about that, may be inside, but you could never even see land, until you got to the port of call....
Not being able to see land does not mean its not an inside passage...think of it more like this..the cruise ship is moving along large water canals both north and southbound. If you were cruising the outside passage then the cruise ship course would take you west of what is pictured on the map and that is where you would encounter very rough seas.. years ago I remember a few cruise lines that actually cruised the outside passage, I'm not sure if that is still true, if it is true I would want no part of an outside passage, not in those waters any way.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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If you cruise to and from Vancouver you are always. Insight of land. On one cruise it was clear & sunny and could clearly see the BC coast mountains about 50 miles east of the ship. This considered part of the inside passage. I even saw the track where a cruise ship went into the BC Inside passage nearer to the coast mountains.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 08:36 PM
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My first Alaska cruise was from Vancouver and truly felt like an inside passage, where when going from Seattle didn't, even though it was called an inside. Just too different and was expecting being very close to land and that wasn't the case....Live and learn...
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Old April 8th, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna View Post
My first Alaska cruise was from Vancouver and truly felt like an inside passage, where when going from Seattle didn't, even though it was called an inside. Just too different and was expecting being very close to land and that wasn't the case....Live and learn...
I would think that todays ships 100,000 plus tons need room to meanuver about, being to close to land with other ship around can be somewhat dangerous specially if a storm hits. Im not sure if I would want to hug the coastline on a cruise ship no matter where it went. They do have river boat cruises that hug the shoreline if that is something you really want.

Remember your not the only ship out there, though there is a limit to the amount of ships allowd to go to Alaska, still it can be a safety issue.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buttons16 View Post
Of course you will venture into rough sea if a storm is brewing no matter where you sail to, but for the most part a cruise up the coast from San Fran to Alaska and the inside passage is calm.

I on the other hand always ran into rough sea passing by Carolina on the way to Bermuda, some of the roughest seas I ever encountered. Another area to stay away from due to rough sea is cruising north from the Panama Canal to Grand Caymen...if you are prone to sea sickness be carefull of those two I mentioned.
Perspective has a very strange way of getting warped by experience.
As always, your mileage may vary.

I have sailed ships between San Francisco and Alaska nearly 100 times over the past 35 years.
A few of the trips were like sailing in the Caribbean; warm, sunny, calm, sun-tanning weather.
About 90 of the trips were cold, windy, rainy, foggy, choppy, and generally nasty.
Many of the passengers were seasick for most of the trips. We saved a great deal of money on food cost on those itineraries.
Whenever we do make that trip, we generally expect to be late arriving in Vancouver. Rough seas and high winds usually force us to slow down.
Anyone planning to disembark in Vancouver should not plan on a morning flight. The chances you will miss the flight are quite high.
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