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Old June 19th, 2014, 11:22 AM
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Default ideal itinerary for 10 days out of Vancouver

Greetings from chilly south australia.....my wife (49) and I (52) had planned an extended first time stay in Vancouver with our daughter this year from sept 3 - 14 before heading on to NYC and asia. unfortunately her study hasn't worked out and she is heading home to Adelaide SA in July. we are still going ahead with our round the world trip but 10 days in Vanc isnt quite the same without her there obviously.
therefore we are considering a cruise out of Vanc to see Alaska & ideally some of the beautiful hinterland regions.
We are not touristy people per say, enjoying the simple things in travel - the people, food & culture - and i love all types of travel photography so am obviously excited to head to one of the worlds most scenic regions.

i have had a quick look at whats on offer (using local australia travel agent and web) and seems best bet would be something like the 10 night Princess Cruises 'Cruisetour' (sea/land trip on the Coral Princess) departing early Sept. from Vanc.

My main questions at this early stage

1. is this the best way to see the best of the region in such a time span - Im not keen to do a self drive trip after long trip from australia

2. is sept still OK for a cruisetour weather and viewing wise (wildlife still active?) ( I appreciate there are no guarantees with weather or wildlife anywhere in the world) tho I hear Alaskas mozzies/midgies match our blowflies

3. is it worth paying the extra for a balcony on such a trip or is it wasted money because most of time is spent on land during daylight with sailing at night? as a photographer I will tend to be trying to get to where the best shot can be taken from whilst on board (whilst my wife is happy to read, snooze or hit the gym) .

4. is it too risky to wait and book a last minute deal (ie mid-August?) to save a few bucks to put towards additional excursions and activities. Do they generally have specials right up til departure? - we are flexible enough to take the risk and if we miss out maybe do a train tour out of Vanc - not as spectacular of course.

I look forward to hearing from you wisened travellers/cruisers

many thanks in anticipation from this pair of rookies.

Leppo
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Old June 19th, 2014, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leppo View Post

My main questions at this early stage

1. is this the best way to see the best of the region in such a time span - Im not keen to do a self drive trip after long trip from australia.

i have had a quick look at whats on offer (using local australia travel agent and web) and seems best bet would be something like the 10 night Princess Cruises 'Cruisetour' (sea/land trip on the Coral Princess) departing early Sept. from Vanc.
You really can't drive in Alaska, the entire populated region is a series of non-connected islands. You have to fly or sail, there are no highways.

A Princess land/cruise package is not bad - but can be expensive. On the land tours you are there to see the Rocky Mountains. I think you have plenty of mountains in Chile.

Here is what I recommend. Another idea is to fly to Juneau and book a nice B&B and spend three days there. Go on a long whale watch, Helicopter to the top of Mendenhall glacier. Go to a fishing lodge and enjoy some fresh caught salmon. Then you can catch a fuller Alaska cruise (7 days) back to Vancouver, and see more of Alaska.

When it comes to price, the major cruise lines are far cheaper, but Un-cruise is a fantastic experience where you really get up close to whales & glaciers. Do try to get a cruise that goes to Glacier Bay (not just Tracy Arm) or you may not get close to a glacier. Hubbard is Okay. Tracy Arm is a nice glacier, but the passage to it is often blocked with ice, so you would miss one of the best reasons for going to Alaska - watching a galcier up close.



Quote:
2. is sept still OK for a cruisetour weather and viewing wise (wildlife still active?) ( I appreciate there are no guarantees with weather or wildlife anywhere in the world) tho I hear Alaskas mozzies/midgies match our blowflies
In Alaska it all about whatever the weather decides to do. Early Sept. is fine but I prefer early to later. I won't say late September is fine, it can get cold. Actually I think most mosquitoes are more inland. I never had a problem with them myself but it won't hurt to take a wipe on repellent if you need it at some point.


Quote:
3. is it worth paying the extra for a balcony on such a trip or is it wasted money because most of time is spent on land during daylight with sailing at night? as a photographer I will tend to be trying to get to where the best shot can be taken from whilst on board (whilst my wife is happy to read, snooze or hit the gym) .
I think it is worth it. There is a lot of scenery to be seen in Alaska, and you never know when it might show up. Whales, sea lions, ice...

Quote:
4. is it too risky to wait and book a last minute deal (ie mid-August?) to save a few bucks to put towards additional excursions and activities. Do they generally have specials right up til departure? - we are flexible enough to take the risk and if we miss out maybe do a train tour out of Vanc - not as spectacular of course.
I don't think it is too risky, probably a good idea, especially in Sept when the herd thins out.

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I look forward to hearing from you wisened travellers/cruisers

many thanks in anticipation from this pair of rookies.

Leppo
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Old June 19th, 2014, 07:39 PM
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Great suggestion Paul,
I would also mention looking at Princess cruises in Alaska. They offer quite a few cruises that go both North/South to and from Vancouver...I absolutely love cruising Alaska when going from Vancouver, the scenery is something else.

Please, let us know what cruise you book....
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Old June 20th, 2014, 01:17 AM
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thanks for that Paul - all very interesting alternatives for me to look into especially the smaller cruise lines tho I imagine they come at a cost.
Would we see nearly as much in Juneau as we would in Denali? as I mentioned we arent the types that get into the real touristy stuff (shows, large tour groups, arts & crafts etc) but tend to prefer doing things at our own pace in quieter more 'normal' surrounds - so maybe this is the appeal of what you suggest?
I will look into the options you prosed and keep you posted.

Thansk againfor your valuable help.
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Old June 20th, 2014, 01:19 AM
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thanks Donna - Yes my first choice from my limited amount of reading was one of the Princess' Sea & Land Cruise tours but I will look into other ideas such as Pauls to see if they are more to our budget and preferences. We wont get back to ths area for quite a while I imagine so will want to make the most of it.
Thansk for your thoughts.
Cheers
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Old June 20th, 2014, 03:53 AM
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To me Juneau is the true Alaska. In Denali you might see a bear from 200 feet away, but in Juneau you will see whales swimming right next to your boat. Denali is is a big maintain, but you are not going to climb it - the real Alaska is in what you see in the main towns - not in the inland so much.
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Old June 20th, 2014, 08:07 AM
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thanks Paul - im now starting to look at the un-cruise options in and out of juneau with the flights to/from Vancouver.....so many choices..such littletime

do you know if un-cruise ever do 'last minute' or stand by on any of their cruises?
cheers
Leppo
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Old June 20th, 2014, 10:57 AM
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I don't think Un-cruise does that, but they are like a family run business, so the best bet is to just call them and see what you can do.
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Old June 21st, 2014, 12:07 PM
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Sept is a lovely time to do Alaska - the mozzies are pretty well finished for the year, you can sail quite close to the glaciers since the pack ice has thinned out; crowds are fewer, Bears are already fattened up for winter, the salmon are surging up the rivers. I would suggest the museum in Juneau and the taxidermy shop in Ketchican as must -sees. Often there are great last minute deals. A balcony is great if in your budget; otherwise plan on spending lots of time on deck or near windows.

A couple days in Vancouver would be super too. Don't miss the Sun Yet Sen gardens in Chinatown, the Grouse gondola lift, Stanley Park. You can't miss with the combination of Alaska and Vancouver.
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Old June 21st, 2014, 10:37 PM
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thanks Marg - that's certainly whetting our appetite to make the most of our time - problem is trying to fit it all in but we will take a few days off NYC to soak up more of Alaska and Vancouver. thanks for the tips!
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 11:30 AM
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We just done 7 days Voyage of the Glaciers along with 5 days land tour. Would not miss doing inland Alaska! The cruise covered the narrow island spots of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway with Glacier Bay and College Fjords (lovely, gorgeous scenery). But that is not "true" Alaska in my book.

The land tour was a train up to Princess McKinley Lodge (just inside Denali State Park and two nights in a dense wooden forest, another train up to Princess Denali Lodge (on the edge of the Denali National Park where we took the Tundra Wilderness tour and a motor coach up to Fairbanks Princess Lodge with a steamboat river trip. Just a note, we never saw Denali, as it was covered in a haze and is not seen by 2/3 of the people who visit. But, the scenery is beautiful even without seeing Denali, itself.

The Tundra Wilderness tour is a not-miss. We saw several moose (one with calf walking right next to our bus and the calf still had umbilical cord attached so it was VERY recently born), a grizzly with two cubs, another grizzly sleeping on its moose kill, Dall sheep and caribou. Some of those animals I really don't want to see too closely!! We went from close to 60 degree (F) weather to snow during the tour. It was definitely a neat way to see some of the interior of the state. During the steamboat river trip, we stopped at a replica of an Athabascan tribe camp and had young people of Athabascan heritage explain the camp, the buildings and the culture, traditions and habits. It was a highlight of the boat trip.

I hope you can find the time to explore this state. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me here or to send me a private message. I am usually on this site 3-4 times a week.
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