I am organizing an Alaska cruise for 12 other relatives. I personally would like to do a Seward/Vancouver cruise but I think for this group, that roundtrip Vancouver inner passage cruise might be easiest for everyone. One is 80 and in a wheel chair and won't get off ship. 4 others are over 60, moderately able not super active. 6 of us are aged 35-45 and 2 are under 5.
I've ruled out Regal princess for lack of good deck and absence of balconies. That leaves Zaandam, Volendam, or the Vision/Radiance ships from RCI.
Any advice about which way to go -- Holland or RCI? Or should I go back to original idea and do Seward/Vancouver routing with more cruise options.
Appreciate any suggestions. We want to go in June so time is running out on this one, rapidly.
Your decision on which ship to take is, to me a personal choice, but both seem like they would be good. You could also post in the "bargain finder" and get prices for them and compare in that respect? Here is a link and it may be a good idea to include all the information you mentioned in this post about age, wheel chairs etc. Good luck and it sounds like a great cruise for all those people, have fun. Do let us know what you finally decide on??
I wonder seeing you say some will not get off the ship, why not go all the way between Seward and Vancouver? At least the people who stay on the ship will be able to see more glaciers from the ship and possibly more whales or other sea life. The glaciers between Seward and Vancouver are fantastic to see. If it were me I would sail the whole way so the others have more to look at than just the land and water sailing by. Just my opinion you know what is best for your family. Either way you will enjoy an Alaskan cruise.
Will everyone be buying the cruise line airfare? If so, it doesn't make any difference whether you pick round-trip Vancouver or Vancouver to Seward. If everyone is going air/sea, the airline will arrange air and transfers.
These days, there's a much broader range of passengers aboard all ships cruising Alaska. You'll find families, seniors and everyone in between on all the cruise lines you mentioned, although Holland America's passengers tend to be the oldest overall. I think you're right in picking one of the mid-size ships, since they all have a wide range of facilities and will perfectly suit a wide range of ages.
Of the cruise lines you've mentioned, here are my personal opinions: I think Princess is probably the best and most experienced in shore excursions. Of Princess ships, the "Sun Class" ships (Sun, Ocean, Dawn and Sea Princess) have the most balcony cabins. Very good food and alternative restaurants.
Vision of the Seas is also a spectacular ship, although cabins are the smallest of the three cruise lines). Lots of glass in lounges and lobbies; I've heard from some travel agents that Royal Caribbean has some problems getting groups.
together. The quality of their food is so-so. Lots of balconies, but their alternative dining venue isn't that good.
Holland America has the largest cabins and this cruise line is very, very experienced in Alaska. No alternative dining and the food may be so-so, depending on the ship. Zaandam is quite nice.
Personally, I'd pick one of Princess' Sun-class ships, suggest that everyone buy airfare from Princess (transfers included) and sail Vancouver/Seward.
There shouldn't be much of a difference in convenience between round-trip Vancouver and Seward-Vancouver except as it relates to air arrangements. Either route will be the same for folks staying on the ship, though they may experience more spectacular scenery as they head north of the Inside Passage.
For Alaska, my money would be on either Princess or Holland America. These lines are the leaders in Alaska and have great shore excursions and the most permits into Glacier Bay. Of these two, I think Princess might be more appealing to your wide demographic.
Princess has tons of balcony cabins and they will be expanding their "Personal Choice Cruising" concept to all their ships in 2001, though I'm not sure which ships will have it implemented by June. I wish they'd release a schedule, because I'm considering Alaska this summer, too, and I love the idea of restaurant-style dining as opposed to arranged seating.