My Hubby and I have been on a few cruises out of America, out of the 3 lines Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Carribean, we have enjoyed them all for various reasons. We like the Grandeaur of things on board and the wow factor of appearance decor etc.
so, now I am taking my sister( whom as been sick) on her dream vacation of Canada & Alaska. Although the Cruise itself will be something to remember for her, as she hasn't cruised before, the ship itself is important! ( I have done Alaska before on Celebrity Infinity)
We are aged mid to late 50's , although we are not party animals we do like a wee tipple in a nice lounge/ cocktail bar area and love the entertainment. I myself love the Voyoger Class ships with the promenade shopping through the centre , but as these don't go out from Vancouver I am looking for some recommendations for making up my mind!
This question is harder to answer than you think. There are a myriad of choices of ships and cruise lines for Alaska. Princess, HAL, Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and others have Alaskan cruises.
Do you want to leave from Seattle, Vancouver or Anchorage. Do you want to return to the same port or go one way?
One way cruises give you the opportunity to explore after the cruise. This could be Vancouver or "near" Anchorage. Only smaller ships stop in Anchorage. The cruise ships stop in Seward or Whittier which are about two hours south of Anchorage. The drive from Seward to Anchorage is beautiful.
My first choice, for a first time Alaska cruise, would be a round trip from Vancouver. You will be able to cruise the Inside Passage and see some gorgeous scenery. I would also suggest choosing a ship that goes to Glacier Bay. This rules out Celebrity or Royal Caribbean. They do not go into Glacier Bay but do go to Tracy Arm and Hubbard Glacier, which are beautiful but, in my opinion, not as spectacular as Glacier Bay.
From your description, I would look at Princess or HAL. Specifically the Coral Princess and Volendam. They are beautiful ships but do not have the "glitz" of a Royal Caribbean or Carnival ship. IMO: Princess and HAL do Alaska the best with on board lectures, naturalists and Officers of the National Parks Service. (Other cruise lines also have Officers of the National Parks Service when going through Glacier Bay.)
Another option is: Norwegian Sun. It is a Freestyle ship and if you are use to traditional dining then this may not be for you. I personally love NCL.
If the Voyager Class ships are what you like then you may want to Carnival Miracle out of Seattle. That would probably be the closest in decor to a Voyager Class ship. The only negative about Seattle is that you go west of Victoria Island and bypass the best of the Inside Passage.
I hope you can find the cruise and ship that's right for you.
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I definitely agree with Mike about Holland America or Princess for Alaska.
Holland America has been doing Alaska longer than any other cruise line. They have the most ships there and the biggest presence. Their cruisetours are wonderful.
Princess has the second biggest presence in Alaska and has some very nice ships there.
I'm 64 and for us, it's tough to beat Celebrity and Holland America because they offer some a nice relaxing experience with great food and wonderful ships. So I'm showing my prejudice here when I say it's really tough to beat Holland America when looking at Alaska.
As Mike pointed out, there are many options to consider and one of them would have to be whether you want to do a roundtrip or one-way cruise. One-way cruises will give you the opportunity to spend some time in Alaska if you would like to go up and see Anchorage, Denaili, and/or Fairbanks, especially by train.
Talk to your agent, preferably one who's been there, so they can help you with the many different opportunities available to you.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/13 yrs exp and 48 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!