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-   -   First Time Cruiser (http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/princess-cruise-lines/345810-first-time-cruiser.html)

Jennie Marie January 31st, 2008 07:07 AM

First Time Cruiser
 
Hi Everyone. My husband and I (ages 33 & 30) are going on a cruise in the middle of May to Alaska, aboard the Star Princess. Being that this has been my dream vacation since I was a little girl, I don't want to miss out on anything. Anyone one have some good advice about what to do once on land? I'm a little leary of the excursions you can book through the ship. I've heard they are a bit expensive, and a little "cattle-like". My husband has no patience for huge crowds and long lines. Also, we are both drinkers, and I was wondering if it's possible to bring Vodka for me, and beer for him. Don't get me wrong, we will be more than happy to spend our money at the ship's bars and restaurants, but we'd like a couple of "nips" in our own stateroom. Can we buy liquor on board, to take back to our room? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

topher January 31st, 2008 10:07 AM

We went to Alaska a few years ago (our first cruise) and loved it. We booked excursions thru the ship and had a wonderful time. The tour guides were terrific and added a lot to the experience.
Cruise lines frown on taking liquor on board although wine is ok. I take wine for myself and then when we board the ship my husband buys a bottle of bourbon to have in the room. It's a little more expensive but a lot less trouble than trying to bring it on board and have it confiscated. They may not go that far but why take the chance. Don't know about the beer.
Have a terrific time.

Beverly

Jennie Marie January 31st, 2008 11:12 AM

So does that mean that I can buy a bottle of vodka, once I'm on the ship? I don't want to break any rules...

TravelBugs January 31st, 2008 11:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jennie Marie
So does that mean that I can buy a bottle of vodka, once I'm on the ship? I don't want to break any rules...

Yes, you can buy a bottle on board. The Princess Cruise Answer Book lists the following vodka can be ordered for your stateroom:

Smirnoff Red, 375ml bottle #2357 $17.00
Absolut, 375ml bottle #2351 $20.00

Rev22:17 January 31st, 2008 07:22 PM

Re: First Time Cruiser
 
Jennie Marie,

Quote:

Originally Posted by You
Hi Everyone. My husband and I (ages 33 & 30) are going on a cruise in the middle of May to Alaska, aboard the Star Princess. Being that this has been my dream vacation since I was a little girl, I don't want to miss out on anything. Anyone one have some good advice about what to do once on land? I'm a little leary of the excursions you can book through the ship. I've heard they are a bit expensive, and a little "cattle-like". My husband has no patience for huge crowds and long lines. Also, we are both drinkers, and I was wondering if it's possible to bring Vodka for me, and beer for him. Don't get me wrong, we will be more than happy to spend our money at the ship's bars and restaurants, but we'd like a couple of "nips" in our own stateroom. Can we buy liquor on board, to take back to our room? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Alaska is a fantastic destination! The only problem is that there's far more to see and to do in Alaska's major ports of call than in the ports of call of any other cruising area anywhere in the world, including Europe! You'll have about enough time to scratch the surface since you will be in each port of call for only a day.

That said, I do have a few specific recommendations.

>> In Ketchikan, the ship's excursion to Saxman Village, located just south of the town, is an excellent introduction to the indigenous culture of the Tlingit tribes. Saxman Village has an interesting and historically significant collection of totems at its entrance, and you will see totem carvers at work during the tour. The carvers make totems in all sizes, and they will make them to order for those who wish. There are also some interesing exhibits on Tlingit traditions, but the highlight is a show of Tlingit dance presented in a reasonably authentic Clan House. After the tour, you will have plenty of time to walk the historic town since the ship moors at the warf right in the center.

>> Alaska's capital city, Juneau, is quite walkable, and there are several attractions that are worth your time. If the weather is clear, you can take the tram right next to the warf (turn right coming off the ship and go to the end of the warf) up to the summit of Mount Roberts for some spectacular views of the area. IIRC, there's also a good lunch spot up there. Returning to the base, the state capital, located just a few blocks from the warf (turn left coming off the ship along the main street parallel to the warf and bear right at the fork in the main street, offers free tours throughout the day. About a block beyond the capital, the (Russian Orthodox) Church of St. Nicholas and the (Roman Catholic) Cathedral of the Nativity, both located on 5th Street, have very interesting icons and other art that make them worth a visit. Returning to the waterfront, you'll find several shops that offer souvenirs that reflect Juneau's Russian heritage including authentic nesting dolls. And if you would like to go to a salmon bake, Juneau offers one of the best -- but I strongly recommend taking the ship's tour to that, as it's outside of town and late enough so the timing could be tight if you go on your own.

>> Skagway offers two unique and very worthwhile attractions. The first is a play called "Days of '98 Revue Starring Soapy Smith" that's performed at the Eagles Hall, which is on the far side of town from the piers. Princess offers a decent shore excursion that combines this play with a tour of the city's highlights, providing seemless transportation. The other "must" attraction is a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR), a narrow gauge railroad built to haul miners and supplies from Skagway to the Yukon Territory during the Yukon Gold Rush (c. 1897-1899). Built with "pick and shovel" through virtually impassible terrain in a matter of months, the WP&YR remains a marvel of civil engineering with replica coaches that offer a taste of the "Days of '98" with some of the most spectacular vistas that you can imagine. Princess offers several shore excursions that include a ride on the WP&YR, some of which combine it with various other activities that may or may not be of interest to you.

>> If your cruise also calls in Sitka, be sure to see the show by the Russian folk dancers and, of course, to visit the Russian Orthodox cathedral there, which is home to a very interesting collection of icons, whatever else you decide to do. I understand that the city's Raptor Center is also very interesting.

I'm sure that you will have no problem finding activities of interest in Alaska. You won't be able to do everything in any of the ports of call, so relax and do what you can do well. There will be plenty of time to do more on another cruise to that destination!

Norm.

kandajones February 1st, 2008 07:44 AM

Hi Jennie, if you take a look at the thread "A case of wine" in this section, you will see that the rules appears to be about as flexible as a rubber band on a hot day.

However there is a link provided (http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/...ies-090707.cfm) to the ships 'official lines' which is worth a read. For Princess, it states that they request that you DO NOT bring drink aboard.

Have a wonderful time, in an area that's till on our to-do list.

Alan & Katrina

SandyBreit February 1st, 2008 11:03 AM

Hi Jennie - my husband and I are also first-time cruisers and scheduled to go to Alaska at the end of August, to celebrate my 60th birthday! I never thought I would want to leave home when the weather is nice to go somewhere even colder (I live in northern Michigan) instead of going somewhere warm in the winter, but seeing Alaska has been my dream for years as well - now I just have to figure out how to get through the next 7 months of waiting to go!!

Norm, thanks for the very informative post about what to do on shore - as much as I'm looking forward to my first (not last, I'm sure) cruise, I'm even more excited to see whatever I can on land there. Wish we had more time and $$$ so we could do a tour to Denali and such, but will have to save that for the next visit. What a great resource this web site is, thanks so much to everyone for sharing their advice and experience!!

Sandy

AdventurousCanuck February 2nd, 2008 11:24 PM

Hi Jennie,
I've been to Alaska twice and it's beautiful, the inside passage is unbelievable . In Skagway I took the local bus for $2 to the waterfalls and the gold rush cemetery (next to each other). The bus driver dropped us off about a half a mile from the waterfall and we walked the rest of the way. He asked us to use a phone which was located on a street pole to call when we were ready to be picked up. The Tram is a great idea for an exertion as well, a bit of money, however you see quite a bit.

nmnita February 3rd, 2008 07:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AdventurousCanuck
Hi Jennie,
I've been to Alaska twice and it's beautiful, the inside passage is unbelievable . In Skagway I took the local bus for $2 to the waterfalls and the gold rush cemetery (next to each other). The bus driver dropped us off about a half a mile from the waterfall and we walked the rest of the way. He asked us to use a phone which was located on a street pole to call when we were ready to be picked up. The Tram is a great idea for an exertion as well, a bit of money, however you see quite a bit.

We didin't do quite that route but we did find a local tour company that gave us an 1/2 day tour clear into the Yukon with several stops. Of course this was many years ago but I am sure there are several such companies around. It was $30 per person compared to $90 for the ever popular Train excursion and we are sure ours was more enjoyable. Of course that is just our feeling. Skagway was our favorite port.

Nita :wink:

richstacy February 11th, 2008 05:24 PM

I agree with Norm, by all means ride the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR), narrow gauge railroad to White Horse in Yukon territory. If you have relatively clear day the scenery is once in a lifetime drop dead gorgeous!

Another thing I recommend is the helicopter ride in Juneau to the Mendenhall Glacier. They take you up and leave you on the glacier with a naturalist for about a half an hour then come and pick you up and drop off more tourists. It is a great experience. A bit expensive but worth it.

As for the drinks, people have been known to sneak vodka aboard in water bottles -- but far be it from me to suggest such a thing. :twisted:

Bon Voyage :!: :)

Rev22:17 February 11th, 2008 07:01 PM

Sandy,

Quote:

Originally Posted by You
Norm, thanks for the very informative post about what to do on shore - as much as I'm looking forward to my first (not last, I'm sure) cruise, I'm even more excited to see whatever I can on land there. Wish we had more time and $$$ so we could do a tour to Denali and such, but will have to save that for the next visit. What a great resource this web site is, thanks so much to everyone for sharing their advice and experience!!

You're welcome!

Actually, I don't recommend booking the cruise lines' tour packages in Alaska. It's much less expensive to rent a car, book your own hotels, and go touring on your own.

>> At a minimum, I recommend spending a long weekend in Anchorage while you are there. Anchorage is a really neat city with a lot of great restaurants, points of interest, and activities and events, and the whole downtown area is imminently walkable. There's also a street festival and an open air market right downtown nearly every weekend. If you have a rental car, there are also several easy day trips including (1) Talkeetna, with its scenic overlook that offers spectacular views of Mount McKinley and a great lunch spot called the Latitude 62 Inn (but make sure that it's a clear day in the valley before settint out on this one...), (2) day cruises to College Fjord from Seward (with lunch included), (3) the town of Seward, and (4) Mount Alyeska resort are all within easy striking distance.

>> If you have more time, you can drive up to Denali National Park and Fairbanks to see the attractions in those destinations on your own.

I do recommend booking your hotels in advance for two reasons. First, many hotels offer substantial (50% or more) discounts for prepaid rooms. And, second, the summer being Alaska's peak tourist season, you run the risk of encoutnering "No Vacancy" signs a LONG way from the nearest hotel with vacancy if you don't.

But have a great cruise in any case!

Norm.

richstacy February 11th, 2008 07:23 PM

Since this is your first cruise, I think you will be quite amazed that the very best part of the cruise is the ship itself and what you can see from her decks, especially in Alaska. :) Stunning scenery :!: In addition, there is romance to a ship that can never be equalled on land :!: :!:

SandyBreit February 12th, 2008 08:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rev22:17
Actually, I don't recommend booking the cruise lines' tour packages in Alaska. It's much less expensive to rent a car, book your own hotels, and go touring on your own.

Norm.

Actually, my first thought for this trip was to fly into Anchorage, rent a car, and do our own tour -- but since we've been wanting to do a cruise for a long time, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the two adventures. Again, thanks so much for the input -- I can't believe how many cruises many of you on this board have taken, it's clearly an addiction! Very reassuring to have so much experience to call on for advice.

Sandy
(200 days and counting! :D )

subtropic February 12th, 2008 09:46 AM

I agree with the Mt Roberts tram, and the Sitka rr trip to the Yukon. Hope you can stop in Carcross. In Juneau hit the Red Dog Saloon for some laughs. I would opt for the cruise line tours but that is my opinion. Check out the options for yourself. Get a balcony cabin and enjoy the passage through the "inside". It is unlike anything you will experience.

DeepSpace February 12th, 2008 10:23 PM

Hi Jennie,
My wife and I and some of our friends took that cruise a few years ago, and we still talk about it and we always look at the pictures we took. You will love the sceenery. Hope you will have a cabin with a balcony.

My wife brought several bottels of wine on board, without any problems, and you can order drinks to your cabin at night. Also you have to have some drinks in Juneau at the Red Dog Saloon, from the days of the gold rush. If you have any questions check your cruise answer book.

Have a great time.

Jennie Marie February 14th, 2008 03:01 PM

Wow, thanks for all of the great responses. Yes, luckily, my hubbie and I were able to get a mini-suite, with a balcony. So I'm definately looking forward to the views. Red dog saloon sounds fun...thanks for the idea. May seems so far away, but I'm sure the wait is well worth it. Happy Cruising, everyone!

richstacy February 14th, 2008 03:40 PM

Mini Suite with a balcony :!: You're gonna love it :!:

nmnita February 14th, 2008 06:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by richstacy
Mini Suite with a balcony :!: You're gonna love it :!:

and I am jealous.
:wink:

sidari February 15th, 2008 06:27 AM

Hello All...we will be taking our first cruise in November 08 on the New Ruby princess to the Western Caribbean and looking forward to it.

We are Dave 51 and kerry 46 and we are from the North West of England, and around 15 miles from Manchester.

Dave and Kerry.

Wormy53 February 18th, 2008 03:59 PM

My 2 cents:

Ketchican - if you are into wildlife, August is bear time and Michelle at
Island Wings takes a small plane to Neats (sp) Bay to see them or to
Misty Fjords - unbelievable scenery. She landed the plane on a small
island. This was probably our most memorable excursion ever!

Juneau - Whales!! Capt. Larry takes a fast boat out and you are very
close to the humpbacks. He will drop you off later to take in Mendenhall
Glacier. We even had time to take the Mt Roberts tram for the scenery.
There is a wonderful place that had some Halibut Fish Tacos that were
great (Twisted Fish)!!

Skagway - I would do the train ride. Not a lot of activity, but as said, the
scenery is worth it. Then you can walk around the tourist town and go
to the Red Onion Saloon and see the bordello! Kind of a Pat O'Brien's
type atmosphere.

Wish I was going back with you!! LOL


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