Go Back   CruiseMates Cruise Community and Forums > Cruise Lines (Mainstream) > Norwegian Cruise Lines
Register Forgot Password?

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old March 16th, 2009, 11:20 AM
Junior Member
Beginner
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 4
Default Alaskan Cruise Advice Needed

Hi all,

A little help for a newbie.

Hubby and I are planning our first 7-day cruise to Alaska on either Star or Sun. I have some questions.

1. We can go either May 16 or June 7. Which is better and why (aside from the per person cost of cruise)?
2. We are trying to decide whether to port out of Vancouver or Seattle (we are from Phoenix). We would like to visit Victoria for a couple of days prior to cruise...which would be easier in terms of transportation to/from airport and dock?
3. We are on a budget...is it better to pay for a balcony stateroom or spend the money on shore excursions? I am leaning toward an oceanview room and spend the difference at the ports.
4. Any recommendations for fun shore excursions at Skagway, Juneau or Ketchikan?
5. Finally, how do you know which rooms are quieter (less engine noise) and where on the ship is better if hubby has tendency toward seasickness?

Thanks much in advance for any and all answers![/list]
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
  #2 (permalink)  
Old March 16th, 2009, 11:49 AM
Mike M's Avatar
Administrator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: You're Looking At Me
Posts: 24,021
Default Re: Alaskan Cruise Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi_mariposa
Hi all,

A little help for a newbie.

Hubby and I are planning our first 7-day cruise to Alaska on either Star or Sun. I have some questions.

1. We can go either May 16 or June 7. Which is better and why (aside from the per person cost of cruise)?
2. We are trying to decide whether to port out of Vancouver or Seattle (we are from Phoenix). We would like to visit Victoria for a couple of days prior to cruise...which would be easier in terms of transportation to/from airport and dock?
3. We are on a budget...is it better to pay for a balcony stateroom or spend the money on shore excursions? I am leaning toward an oceanview room and spend the difference at the ports.
4. Any recommendations for fun shore excursions at Skagway, Juneau or Ketchikan?
5. Finally, how do you know which rooms are quieter (less engine noise) and where on the ship is better if hubby has tendency toward seasickness?

Thanks much in advance for any and all answers![/list]
Mi Mariposa,

1. The best months to cruise Alaska are June and August. May "can" be colder and there is a greater chance of rain in July. I have cruised in May and had great weather but it could have been luck.

2. It is less expensive to cruise out of Seattle because of the cost of airfare. If you want to do a pre-cruise in Victoria then it would be a toss up between the two. Both Vancouver and Seattle have reasonable cab fares and transportation.

3. It's completely up to you. I personally would not cruise Alaska without a balcony. The views are wonderful and you can see them anytime without having to go on deck. If you want to spend the money on shore excursions then that is a valid concern. You do want to do at least one "high end" excursion on your cruise. A "high end" excursion would be flightseeing, glacier helicopter tour, dog sledding..."

4. I would recommend flightseeing the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan. A glacier or dog sledding helicopter tour in Juneau and the White Pass railroad in Skagway.

5. The closer you are to the middle of the ship the more stable it will be. Make sure the cabin is not under the galley or night club to assure the most quiet. If you are right under the pool area you may hear noise when the chairs are set up in morning and taken down at night.

Have a wonderful cruise and I know you'll enjoy Alaska. It is a beautiful place.

Take care,
Mike
__________________
Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator

"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me

"Fear is the assassin of dreams." ~Me
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old March 16th, 2009, 12:02 PM
Junior Member
Beginner
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 4
Default Thanks Mike!

Thank you for your very prompt reply - your input is much appreciated!
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old March 16th, 2009, 01:59 PM
Senior Member
Admiral
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 2,617
Default Re: Alaskan Cruise Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi_mariposa
Hi all,

A little help for a newbie.

Hubby and I are planning our first 7-day cruise to Alaska on either Star or Sun. I have some questions.

1. We can go either May 16 or June 7. Which is better and why (aside from the per person cost of cruise)?
2. We are trying to decide whether to port out of Vancouver or Seattle (we are from Phoenix). We would like to visit Victoria for a couple of days prior to cruise...which would be easier in terms of transportation to/from airport and dock?
3. We are on a budget...is it better to pay for a balcony stateroom or spend the money on shore excursions? I am leaning toward an oceanview room and spend the difference at the ports.
4. Any recommendations for fun shore excursions at Skagway, Juneau or Ketchikan?
5. Finally, how do you know which rooms are quieter (less engine noise) and where on the ship is better if hubby has tendency toward seasickness?

Thanks much in advance for any and all answers![/list]
you will get as many answers as people answering as there is no best answer..

For me, I would go in June unless there is a huge price difference.

I would go out of Vancouver so you can have some time in the city as well as Victoria. both are great tourist cities, so much to see and do.. Flying to Vancouver will be a little more expensive than Seattle, but will make it much easier to tour the area..

I would do the ocean view if you really want to watch the pennies. Yes, a balcony is nice but we did ocean view (that is all the ship we sailed had except for suites) and saw everything we wanted to see. You can always enjoy the beauty from the observation lounge or the desk. If it is warn enough to use your balocny it is warm enough to sit on deck.

Our favorite tour or one of them was in Skagway. It was a small local tour company that took us all over the town (fasinating history) and up to the Yukon border. We were far above the rail tracks and saw so much. I think the tour was about 3 hours long..I would suggest you either google site seeing in Skagway or go to the roll call section of this forum or antoher one and see what suggestions other will give you. If I can find the name of the company or one similar I will let you know. As much as everyone says do the train excursion, I have a little trouble with doing something like that for $125.00 per person or there-abouts, when I can get a great tour for closer to $60.00.

Try to get a cabin mid ship, it will be much smoother sailing.

Nita
__________________
ncl, carnival, HAL, Costa, RCI, commodore,chamdres,celebrity,Princess
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old March 18th, 2009, 01:30 PM
Senior Member
Captain
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Central Louisiana
Posts: 965
Default

Mike and Nita are right. Go in June if possible. May can be cold and you may not be able to navigate the fjords as well in May.

I've not looked at the Star and Sun's itinerary but the Pearl visited Victoria as a port of call. It was a bit strange as we docked at 6 PM and departed at midnight on the last night aboard. I thought it made for a stressful end to the trip. Packed before the excursion knowing I still had my excursion clothes to add later. Although the days are very long because it was so overcast that night Buchart gardens was not as enjoyable as it would have been during a daytime visit. Plus it was cold.

We have sailed Alaska three times and only once without a balcony.
Even though the balcony is not as usable as a warm weather cruise, it is certainly spectacular in the glaciers and the fjords. If your balcony is on a lower deck you may be able to hear the glacial seltzer in the fjords.
But it is a trade off money-wise. Shop wisely is all I can say.

SEA versus VCR - again I would look at the itinerary of each ship, the cost of hotel rooms and the air fare. My DD lives in SEA and I know I've seen advertisements for a ferry that goes to Victoria for day trips. Maybe that would be an option for you.

If you fly out of VCR, check ahead of time with your hotel about pier shuttle service. Ours had a company that came by on a schedule to several local hotels. The rate was very good although I don't remember what it was. You had to sign up at the hotel desk the evening before.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old March 18th, 2009, 01:43 PM
Senior Member
Captain
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Central Louisiana
Posts: 965
Default

Wasn't finished - leaned on the wrong key

Okay - piece of maybe useless info - when you fly into VCR you will need to clear immigration, which took us a very long time one visit. Not too long on the other. Since we had a late night arrival, by the time we cleared the hotel shuttle bus had stopped running and we had to pay a cab. No biggy, just a thought for ya.

If you want to sail from VCR but find cheaper hotel and air from SEA you may see if the NCL shuttle from the SEA airport to VCR balances the prices out. The shuttle is usually a bit pricey (IMHO) but it may work. We did it once and the scenery was nice. Or you could rent a car and drive.

A float plane or helicopter ride is a must do. You cannot appropriately "get" the scale of Alaska's vastness without it.
We liked the ??? Lodge by Float Plane in Juneau, We did a float plane with a fabulour blond woman named
who toured the area and landed us on an alpine lake. When we saw a pod of orcas on the way back she circled around til we all had our fill of photos. This was an independent tour and you can find lots of references to her on the AK thread. I think this was in Ketchikan but my memory's a little foggy. In Skagway the White Rail Pass is great if the weather is clear. You can do it via the ship or independently. Just walking around Skagway is cute - won't take long, it's really small.
We also enjoyed walking about the Mendenhall Glacier. You can take a local tour bus there for really cheap.

I would shy away from the tours (which we've done) where you do lots and lots of stuff. Too much to do any of them really well. Although, having said that, I'm glad we did them all.

The only excursion we've ever done that I was disappointed in was the Skagway Eagle Preserve. It is 45 minute or so ferry ride across the bay, then a 30 minute drive to the preserve and there just wasn't that much to see. And our great outdoor lunch was hot dogs! I'm not a snob, but I thought it would be a bit more substantial for what we paid.

All in all, you can't go wrong in AK. It's a phenominal place. Plan on being at the window if you're sailing the Misty Fjord's - a spiritual experience.

Enjoy!

Okay, now I'm done.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 09:18 PM
Member
Familiar Face
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Norristown, PA
Posts: 89
Default Small tour in Skagway vs train trip

We took the small van tour, visited the cemetery, oversaw the train, were in the clouds at the top, and had a tour around Skagway, all included, for a lot LESS than the train. By far the better value! You can book it as you walk into downtown, after the left turn from the road to the dock. Look on right side.

Also visit the Visitor Center of the National Park Service, across from the saloon.

PapaBear
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old April 5th, 2009, 03:24 PM
Senior Member
Admiral
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 2,617
Default Re: Small tour in Skagway vs train trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaBear
We took the small van tour, visited the cemetery, oversaw the train, were in the clouds at the top, and had a tour around Skagway, all included, for a lot LESS than the train. By far the better value! You can book it as you walk into downtown, after the left turn from the road to the dock. Look on right side.

Also visit the Visitor Center of the National Park Service, across from the saloon.

PapaBear
that is exactly the one I was referring to, awesome tour huh? I know how so many swear by the train excursion and I am sure it is great, but the one you and I took was more than great!!!!

Nita
__________________
ncl, carnival, HAL, Costa, RCI, commodore,chamdres,celebrity,Princess
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old July 16th, 2009, 06:14 PM
Member
Passenger
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 49
Default

M Mariposa -

Frank,

We did the Alaskan cruise in 2004, but we went out of Seattle. We went up a few days ahead of time and went over to Victoria from Seattle. We booked a 'combo" tour where we saw the Gardens and we're giving a tour of the city, with an option for "tea" in the afteroon at the palace. (They have other tours also, but we felt that one was the most comprehensive.) We enjoyed it and know of others who did as well. The ferry ride over to Victoria was part of the package, so I know that the times were in sync. You will just have to check the docking times and tour times to see if it will work out for you.
The name was Clipper Vacations:
http://www.clippervacations.com/tours/clippercombo
http://www.clippervacations.com
Although we went to Victoria for the day, maybe you could ferry over spend the nite & come back.


I would agree with some of the other posts - balcony would be great, but if budgeting is an issue, I think you would be just fine choosing another catgeory and watching the views from the main deck. Although it has been 5 years, I can tell you at the time, there were plenty of blankets & hot chocolate to go around.

I would have to look up the actual names of the cruise excursions, but I do know we did the whale watching - one tip I will throw in - I had brought my camera, not wanting to risk losing or damaging the video camera & I really regretted it. Pictures don't do it justice.

I don't know how "active" you want to be on the cruise but we also did a hiking, rock climbing & rappeling excursion - it was alot of fun.

We went to a lumberjack show just to take in the "local experience", but definitely not a must see. Knowing what I know now, I would've preferred to dock, crab a nice lunch in port, stroll & shop.

Enjoy!
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
alaska, alaskan, book, cruise, dock, excursionsat, floating, hal, helicopter, june, pay, plane, port, seasickness, skagway, tour, vancouver, worth

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Alaskan Cruise Advice Needed mi_mariposa First-Time Cruisers 13 June 6th, 2009 01:19 PM
Alaskan Cruise - Need advice countrygirl Royal Caribbean International 12 March 10th, 2009 09:06 PM
Need advice about Princess Alaskan cruise countrygirl Princess Cruise Lines 9 January 19th, 2009 07:19 PM
Cruise To NoWhere? Advice Needed deja Ask CruiseMates Staff 6 April 19th, 2002 05:56 AM
Alaskan Hotel advice needed shelley Alaska 4 August 30th, 2001 03:37 PM


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


 

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:53 AM.
design by: Themes by Design



Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1