I am looking into cruising this summer to Alaska and was wondering which cruise line people preferred? We are a family of 5 and I was looking into Princess, Celebrity, NCL, & Hollard. How was the cruise and what was your experience like? (Food, Entertainment, Nightlife, etc? I have cruised before on Royal Caribbean and Carnival so I know what to expect from those lines. Thank you for any help.
I've cruised both Celebrity and Princess in Alaska and I think you will find more options and itinaries with Princess. You will want to have at least one glacier stop, so look at the different routes, ships, etc. I also found it much nicer and a scenic route by leaving out of Vancouver over Seattle.
I will say this - itinerary is the main thing. I would look for a cruise that goes to Glacier Bay (not Tracy Arm). The last time I was scheduled to go to Tracy Arm we were blocked from reaching the glacier.
Having said that, I suggest taking a smaller ship - Holland America, or an older Princess ship, because in Alaska the main things are
1) ability to navigate to the glaciers
2) ability to get on the right tours
So, with a small ship I think you will see more of Alaska than on a large ship. I like Holland America personally. I would rather take Princess in the Caribbean or Europe.
I'm with Paul. First Alaskan cruise go to Glacier Bay. We loved it even more than when we visited Hubbard Glacier (which ain't bad, believe me).
This would eliminate some cruise lines too. One of our Alaskan trips was on HAL Zaandam. You can't go wrong. Beautiful ship and line. We also sailed NCL and had no problems at all and we sailed Celebrity (but no Glacier bay).
I too agree with you on the Glacier to visit, although on Star Princess we got way up into Tracy Arm and I must say, it was quite impressive. That day was the first day in the season, which was in July when we were on, that they had the best day in Tracy Arm. Have been to Hubbard, so next cruise will have to be Glacier Bay for sure.
It's tough to beat Holland America in Alaska - they've been doing it longer than everyone else and have a bigger presence there. They also have some wonderful ships and great food. However, keep in mind that they do tend to attract an older demographics, so if you have tweens/teens, they may find it a bit too sedate.
If that's the case, then I would suggest looking at Princess next. Crowd is a bit younger, but they have the second biggest presence in Alaska. Food is very nice.
Celebrity, while very nice with great food, would normally be my first choice for other areas, would be next on my list because they just don't have as big a presence as the other two. They, too, do tend to attract an older crowd.
As you can see, I put in comments about food, because, like most people, we become foodies while on a cruise. And I know others will disagree with me, but in my opinion, Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America all have better food than NCL, so it becomes a no-brainer for us. Plus, as with Carnival, NCL just does not have a real big presence in Alaska.
Now, with all that said, an Alaskan cruise becomes more about the itinerary than it does about the ship because, after all, that's why you're there. So best advice is to look at the various itineraries, decide what are the most important things you want to see or places you want to go, and often this will help narrow down the multitude of choices rather quickly.
But foremost, talk to an agent, preferably a cruise specialist who's been there done that and is familiar with all the cruise lines so they can help you find the perfect cruise for you. Because what works great for someone else, may not be the best for you.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!