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Old December 8th, 2013, 05:55 PM
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Default Alaska cruise

Hello! My husband and I are considering going to Alaska in July/Aug 2014. Both of us are in our late 50's and want to pick a smaller ship that may be less crowded and have activities not totally geared to the younger crowd. Neither of us have cruised before and don't care to spend money on expensive excursions or cruise line speciality restaurants. Not sure if a cruise/cruisetour is right for us or not. Any suggestions on visiting Alaska will be appreciated.
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Old December 8th, 2013, 06:26 PM
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Welcome Samsmile,
Since this will be your first cruise, I would contact a good cruise agent to help you pick the right ship for you. There are some smaller ships that cruise up there.

What ports do you want to visit, any glaciers. THis is a once in a lifetime kind of trip, so you want to do it right. NCL, Princess seem to have the most ships up there. Start by looking at their ships and routes and narrow your search down a bit..

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Old December 8th, 2013, 07:23 PM
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Alaska is one of few places I've traveled where I would say it is essential to do excursions(though you need not go through the cruiseline). Views off the ship are amazing but the ports are small and have little to offer aside from shopping or stretch your legs after being stuck on the ship a few days.

Depending what time of the season you go you can see whales off the ship, seals, even maybe a bear but it's luck of the draw. Unless you spend the whole day watching off the bow of the ship it's way easier to go on an excursion to where the animals live(and see 200 seals) instead of hoping to catch one pass by.

Also recommend Celebrity cruiseline as they tend to have less kids, better staff and higher quality food. They might cost 100-200 more per week but it's worth it. For example I just spent 3 weeks on the NCL Epic and the best way to describe the experience is death by a thousand cuts. Nothing so bad it ruined the trip but everything had issues from rude staff, to cold food, to ordering drinks and they never came. Celebrity is like an ipad it just works smoothly out of the box.
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Old December 10th, 2013, 04:19 PM
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I suppose one of the first questions is what's ones definition of a smaller ship.
The "smallest" ship we cruised in Alaska was HAL's Zaandam. Awesome.
I think Celebrity would be a good choice too however they don't go to Glacier bay and I'm of the opinion that, especially for a first Alaskan cruise, Glacier bay is a must. So I'd say look at HAL. A bit older crowd, smaller ships, great service.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 06:00 PM
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I like Celebrity but would never recommend them for Alaska because of no Glacier Bay. I think Pacific Princess is doing 7 day Vancouver returns next year. She fits your bill perfectly! HAL isn't our bag but they also have good itineraries.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 06:42 PM
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I just want to say that I would recommend at least one tour - whale watching.

It is worth the time & money - there are lots of whales up there so good sightings happen almost all the time. But you are not likely to see whales from the ship - the tours go to wherever the whales happen to be on a given day, but the ships always have to stick to their schedules.

I went decades before I finally saw a whale at sea - and it was on an Alaska tour.
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Old December 11th, 2013, 09:38 PM
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Oh, I totally agree with Paul and the whale watching in Juneau....I've gone with Capt. Larry twice now and he and his crew are so knowledgeable on whales in that area, so worth the time. You can pre-book them online and it is only a short walk into town to their office...
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Old December 15th, 2013, 08:49 PM
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Thanks Donna for the information. I really appreciate it. Have you been on a Alaskan Cruisetour? I thought about combining the cruise (through the cruise line) with a land tour to Denali/Mt. McKinkley; however, hubby doesn't like the idea of traveling on a bus and being herded like cattle So, I don't know if that is really what people experience or not.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 08:56 PM
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Recommend you get a cabin with a balcony ... Much more comfortable to take in the views than standing on deck.
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Old December 19th, 2013, 09:33 PM
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First, I agree with Donna; contact a good cruise specialist who has been there done that so they can advise you accordingly.

Second, personally I think Holland America is the best for providing cruises and cruise/tours for the older crowd. We did a 2 week cruise tour with them and it was awesome!

Third, I disagree with others about the balcony cabin. Personally, I would rather save the money on my cabin and spend more money on excursions, because Alaska is definitely one of those places you want to do some excursions.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Pete
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Old December 31st, 2013, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aerospace View Post

Also recommend Celebrity cruiseline as they tend to have less kids, better staff and higher quality food. They might cost 100-200 more per week but it's worth it. For example I just spent 3 weeks on the NCL Epic and the best way to describe the experience is death by a thousand cuts. Nothing so bad it ruined the trip but everything had issues from rude staff, to cold food, to ordering drinks and they never came. Celebrity is like an ipad it just works smoothly out of the box.
Agree with much of what you said, but I have to quibble with you concerning your comments about the Epic. Just off the Epic this month, and though it differs from a small ship experience, we found the food and entertainment to be top notch! And NCL employees we have found to be the best at sea. Yes, the Celebrity cruise fare will probably be more. I'd rather take those extra cruise $$ and upgrade to a suite or add specialty dining on several nights, or book a nice excursion on NCL.

We did Alaska on the Sun out of Vancouver roundtrip. Fabulous cruise, but we did spend some $$ on excursions. If you can manage it, it will make a huge difference in your experience!
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Old February 6th, 2014, 11:54 PM
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Personally based on what you are describing I think you as a couple are a perfect couple for a Holland America Cruise. I think you would feel most comfortable with there vessels and the adult oriented activities including culinary sessions, art and wine as well as the onboard naturalists. I highly recommend a southbound itinerary and you may want to spend a few days in Alaska on land prior to the trip. A professional travel counselor can help you find the best deals and there are many in the state of North Carolina. Glacier Bay and an Inside Passage Cruise is what to look for. I recommend the Statendam or Veendam as the vessel of choice. I do not recommend you embark around the 4th of July due to family vacations (kids) however you may not be aware that if you are doing a land based addition that actually late August is a great time to see wildlife.
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