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wanttocruisesomeday September 16th, 2013 06:40 PM

how to: ALASKA?
hi everyone, first time post here, but have been reading the site for a week or two. planning a trip to alaska, for 2014 or 2015.

-i like what i see about princess so far, but is the price difference worth it compared to other lines, such as carnival?
-we live 40 min from san fran. should we do the 10 day cruise from san fran, or should we do the shorter trip, and fly to seattle? it seems it would be less expensive to fly to seattle, however it appears we should get a hotel while we are there, so that we are not late? if so, this would basically make each trip the same price.
-do you need a passport for the alaska cruise? on a different site, a couple said that people who did not have passports had trouble in victoria, BC port??
-how much do people usually spend for excusions?
-lastly, is it worth it to upgrade to oceanview or balcony room? this is a once in a lifetime trip for us, i want to budget wisely, and the money spent on oceanview or balcony could be used towards excusions instead. thoughts?

thanks VERY MUCH!!:) September 17th, 2013 01:39 AM

Talk to your agent and they'll be able to answer all these questions and make sure you get a cruise that will meet your needs according to your lifestyle and budget.


wanttocruisesomeday September 18th, 2013 11:58 PM

thanks for responding. yes i am talking with my agent however i thought that the point of this section of the forum was to ask questions? i would like to hear from others who have done the alaska cruise how they feel about things. i'd rather hear from real people instead of just my agent. always best to get multiple opinions. but apparently i misunderstood and this section is not meant for asking questions. my mistake.


Originally Posted by cruise planner (Post 1484731)
Talk to your agent and they'll be able to answer all these questions and make sure you get a cruise that will meet your needs according to your lifestyle and budget.

Pete September 19th, 2013 12:49 AM

As with any cruise, everyone will have their own opinion on what to do, which cruise line to use, where to go, what to see, etc.

For example, you asked whether Princess is worth the extra price compared to Carnival. Depends on who you ask as to whether the price is worth it or not. Some people are going to say it is and others will say it's not.

Princess has the second biggest presence in the Alaskan market, next to Holland America - Carnival has one ship. They go to different places, have different itineraries, and Carnival does not offer any cruise tours. So, there's no comparison on who does it better.

As for how much to spend on shore excursions, again, it depends on how much money you want to spend and how much you want to do. You can spend $75 on a tour or you could do a helicopter dogsled tour for $450. Everyone is different.

As for questions, this is the right place, but there are so many options available and so many opinions, you really do need to narrow down some of your choices so you can get more specific information.

Alaska is definitely one of those places you have to do your homework beforehand. Look at all the ports, see what they have to offer and what you can do. For example, if you decide you want to see Hubbard Glacier, that will eliminate Carnival since they don't go there. If you want to do a cruise tour, that will also eliminate Carnival. In other words, if you eliminate Carnival from the equation because of your specific requirements, then you don't need to seek any information about them.

If price is your major concern and you want as cheap as possible no matter where it goes, then put Carnival back on your list.

As for whether to do an inside, oceanview, or balcony - again, this is a personal choice. Some people will get the inside cabin and save the extra money for excursions, which is what we prefer to do. We spend all our time on the Lido Deck so we can take pictures from both sides of the ship. Others want to sit on the balcony and enjoy the scenery, but they only get to enjoy the view from one side of the ship. What one person loves, another will hate. But your agent can let you know the prices so you can decide if you want to spend the extra money.

Alaska is a wonderful place to visit, but 7-night roundtrip cruises from Seattle only get to visit the 'tail' and you really don't get to see the heartland of the State, such as Denali. If you want to see the inland, you need to do a one-way cruise along with a tour. Obviously, this costs more money, but you see alot more and get to appreciate the beauty more.

Lots of choices, but that's why I suggested talking to your agent first, provided they are a cruise specialist and have personal knowledge about Alaska because they've been there done that and can speak from a first-hand experience. Then at least they can help you narrow down those choices because there are way too many options. Plus, they can answer alot of your regular questions quickly so you can concentrate more on the specifics.


poppadock September 19th, 2013 09:55 PM

Wanttocruisesomeday...My wife & I will be cruising to Alaska next year also on princess. The cost will be great so what, this will be a once in a life time trip. Read all U can on Alaskan tours there is a lot U will want to know. We R also taken the train tour we have been looking forward to this for two years. U go & enjoy the trip, we will go & enjoy also. LOL

Paul Motter September 23rd, 2013 12:44 PM

This is my opinion on Alaska...

The main thing is the itinerary and what you plan to do in port. Most itineraries are the same with the exception of which glacier you visit. I personally recommended Glacier Bay National Park for seeing the best glacier action. I have been on trips where we never even made it to the glacier to watch the calving because they path was blocked by chunks of ice.

When it comes to wildlife experiences, etc - plan to do them in the ports of call during "shore excursions" a big ship like Princess (or any big cruise line) is not going to stop just because it sights whales, but you can definitely SEE whales if you take a good shore excursion.

My favorite excursions have been whale-watching, visits to wildlife recovery centers, flight-seeing over glaciers and other such tours. I am just saying that I highly recommend planning for those tours before you pick a cruise - because you can arrange them before you arrive and make sure you get the best deals.

Juneau is great for whale watching and flight-seeing over a glacier. Sitka is great for wildlife recovery centers. Ketchikan is great if you want to take a nice long hike to a salmon rookery, following a stream of salmon swimming upstream.

Travelbuggs September 29th, 2013 06:23 PM

Hi, wanttocruisesomeday! We took an Alaskan cruise in May of this year, the first of what I hope will be many, as Alaska is just too big to see in one trip. I agree with the others who have said that Alaskan cruising takes a lot of planning and research. I suggest you start researching the ports and the types of tours that are available at each to see what might interest you. Each port will offer things that are very inexpensive. For instance in Juneau, you can hop on a shuttle bus and go to the Mendenhal Glacier on your own. No tour needed. The ports are small and quaint and very walkable. You will be able to find something to fit your budget.

Cruises early in the season and maybe late in the season are sometimes discounted. We got some good upgrades for very little on ours. Some of our cruise mates took the L.A. To Vancouver cruise and then did a back to back with the roundtrip Vancouver/Alaska portion. We chose the roundtrip rather than a one way due to time constraints. From my research, it seems that the trips out of Vancouver through the Inside Passage are highly recommended over the ones out of Seattle. We took the amtrack train from Seattle to Vancouver. It was indeed gorgeous scenery the entire trip.

If you are ever going to splurge on a balcony, Alaska is the place to do it. We splurged on an aft facing and wow, talk about a panoramic view! It was hard to tear myself away from the decks and windows to eat and sleep. A ship with a large forward viewing lounge would be ideal if you can't swing a balcony. Being out on deck is great, but it does get very chilly up there in Alaska!

I always say planning is almost as much fun as the trip. Enjoy!

Truck Cruiser October 21st, 2013 01:09 PM

Have you looked into doing the one way cruises with the land tour packages? I too have been looking at taking a Alaska cruise but I don't know If I want to just do a round trip or not.

Seems to me that a trip to Alaska is a one time deal and to really see Alaska then a land package would need to be added. The problem I have is the cost per person is pretty high when compared to a round trip deal.

Does anyone know If a Alaska cruise can be booked 2 years in advance so a person would have time to pay for what they want to do?

sue July 14th, 2014 05:07 PM

Hi! This will be my 10th cruise but first to Alaska<2015> and I have pondered the same question you have. We have finally purchased a Princess cruise its the Denali Explorer cruise 12 days which is 5 land days and 7 day cruise. Flying into Anchorage and cruising to V BC. Booked a mini suite since I have been hearing its wonderful to sit out on the balcony and let the glaciers go by you :) But if your budget does not permit it I think an inside is good as well as you can use the ship to sit outside. Its whatever you prefer. I have cruised both and must say I prefer a balcony anytime. To sit, have breakfast or just watch the scenery in private is awesome. As what to book again whatever you are planning on seeing. Read many boards, check out itineraries and see what you like. The expense of excursions is up to you and your budget. I usually never spend a bunch of money however on this cruise I am doing a few and it totals over 1100$. But again its what I am planning for and to me this is the trip of a life time. Choose first what and where you want to go. Also check out the different cruise lines. Each are a bit different . I have cruised Royal C. 3 times and Princess only once. However I think Princess seems to be doing a better itinerary for what I want to see. The RT cruise is def cheaper if you want to "just touch" Alaska. I think any cruise is better than none :) Good luck!

sue July 14th, 2014 05:10 PM

we just booked 12 day land/sea Explorer Denali for June 2015...plenty of time to save and plan. We are doing land first than cruise. Booked an aft suite on Star Princess. Plus I would think prices will drop and when they do you can request a price reduction! Good luck .

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