We're considering a Princess cruise to Alaska, but now have to choose from all of their terrific ships that ply those waters.
Can anyone provide a rating across several of their ships as to
how one is better than the other. Right now, due to flights, we're mostly considering the Ocean, Sea, and Sun. From what I've read so far, the Sea seems to edge out the other two by a nose.
Also, any insight as to whether it is best to originate from Vancouver or Seward would be appreciated. I'm leaning toward Vancouver due to flight times, since I can get a full day in Vancouver and a good 9 hours in Seward/Anchorage before flying home.
I am booked on the Ocean Princess for the northbound itinerary out of Vancouver in August. I sailed the Ocean Princess during it's third cruise last year and it's a beautiful ship. We are VERY happy to be sailing her again. The Sea and Sun are sister ships and should be identical to the Ocean, except the Ocean is the newest.
I would have given equal consideration to a cruise with HAL or Celebrity, but I got the best price for the period I was looking at on Princess.
There are a lot of beautiful ships sailing on those three lines....it is a tough call!
All those ships are the same class. They only have minor differences between them. If I were you I would sail from Vancouver to Seward as you are considering. I have sailed both ways and I am doing so again, however I prefer south to north. Things just seem to keep getting better as you head north. I have sailed on the Sun and will be on the Dawn this time.
My family and I sailed last year on the Dawn Princess. We did a land and sea tour. It was fabulous. We sailed North to South and loved it as we did the land portion and were then able to relax a bit on the cruise. Don't know much about the other ships, but you can check them out on various web sites. As far as the Dawn was concerned, I can't imagine you could do any better.
I don't recommend any one way trips unless you are willing to invest at least 4 days touring the interior. Very easy to do on your own with a rental car. Costs on your own vs the ship tours will be about 1/3 the costs. It is a long and expensive trip to Anchorage, just to leave the same day as arrival. Also most cruisers do not realize that 6 out of 7 cruise days are the same on both the round trip and one way Alaska cruises. As for ship selections- having been on 4 different lines to Alaska- most cruise passengers are similar middle aged and above. All have very good service. What you should be going to Alaska for is outside the ship. Make your choices first on glacier and ports desired. Then with the gross oversupply of ships in Alaska I would make price my second priority.
I also greatly prefer north to south. If on one of those cruise tours- you will be on a very fixed schedule with intense traveling. The cruise is a relaxing finish. But my main reason is the last full sailing day back into Vancouver. This is a wildlife bonanza watching day. I am out on deck from early afternoon through evening. I have always been greatly rewarded with Dolls porpoises, white sided dolphins, humpbacks and orcas. This is sailed in darkness on the northbound trips.
As another response noted, all four ships on the "Voyage of the Glaciers" itinerary between Vancouver and Seward are sisters (virtually identical). The noticeable differences are the names of some public spaces (the champagne and caviar bar opposite the disco on the Promenade Deck, for example, is variously Rendez-Vous, Entre Nous, Magnum's, or Apres Vous -- but it has the same layout and serves the same purpose aboard all four vessels). Thus, it won't matter which of these vessels you choose.
FWIW, MV Sun Princess, MV Dawn Princess, MV Sea Princess, and MV Ocean Princess are my favorite cruise ships to date. I'll choose any of them over MV Grand Princess any time!
The only Princess ship in Alaska that's different this year is MV Regal Princess, which is an older and somewhat smaller vessel. She's operating the "Inside Passage" itinerary (round trip from Vancouver) this year -- which means that she's the only Princess vessel that's calling at Sitka. There does seem to be a general consensus that some of her public spaces leave a bit to be desired, and "the dome" in particular draws much criticism. On the positive side, though, her cabins are much bigger than those of the other vessels.
I concur with the recommendation of going southward from Seward if you are doing a landtour as part of your trip. Otherwise, I think you should check out flight schedules to see what is most convenient for you. Some feel that the lengthier flight (Anchorage) is better taken at the start of your vacation than at the end. If you are not doing an interior landtour, you might consider a roundtrip to and from Vancouver since you will visit most of the same ports as you do on a one-way cruise and your flight times (and possibly price) will be less. I don't think there are any significant differences among the Sun, Ocean and Dawn Princesses and you should be as pleased with whichever one you select.