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Old 01-16-2011, 10:23 PM
 
Location: Looking over your shoulder
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I知 looking for information about a cruise to Alaska trip for this summer and would like to hear from those who have gone on of the cruise ship companies. Are there companies (ships) to avoid? What was good about the trip and what was bad? How many days should a person take to cruise and visit Alaska; I知 seeing trips of 7 days and others that are 14 days. Is there a better time of year to go?
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:32 AM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
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We've been on 2 crusies to Alaska, both were 7 days. One was fantastic (July) with great weather, the other was rained out (Sept) the whole trip. Alaska averages over 150 inches of rain annually, so the weather is a crap shoot, unpredictable.
The ideal times to go are June-July. Those are the prime times and most expensive. The cruising months are May to mid-Sept. The earlier and later months are usually when the worst weather may come out.
We went on Princess Cruise Lines both times. We had outside rooms with a small patio which was good for viewing. There is a lot to do on the ship to keep you occupied. The food was good, The entertainment was great and the sightseeing trips were okay, very crowded. During the cruising period it is not unusual to see several cruise ships hit the ports at the same time, so a port city with a population of 300 can swell up to 10,000 when the ships arrive.
The down side, besides the weather, is the trip goes too fast and you don't get enough time in each port to experience everything. You need to make your sightseeing reservations as early as you can as they sell out rapidly and are limited to so many people.
We plan to go to Alaska again on a 2-3 week cruise where we can get off the ship for a week and travel further into the State to see the wild back country.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:22 AM
 
Location: rain city
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Our next door neighbors went on an Alaska cruise in May two years ago. They said it rained the whole trip.

Really, the only safe months for decent weather in the Pacific northwest are July and August.

Unless you like a cold rain of course.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:31 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitram View Post
We've been on 2 crusies to Alaska, .... One was fantastic (July) with great weather, the other was rained out (Sept) the whole trip. Alaska averages over 150 inches of rain annually, so the weather is a crap shoot, unpredictable. ...
Our Sept cruise; Last week of season was clear, warm, and fantastic on Celebrity. (Out of Vancouver BC). There are few weeks of good weather, totally not predictable. My SIL drove a tour bus to Denali every week for one season, and saw the mtn twice.

Really depends on your desired experience and your tolerance of cruise vacations. (mine is VERY low, I personally don't like the size, crowds, food, boring, entertainment, venue, always getting accosted and ripped off at ports.). YMMV (I hope so). I'm one that SELDOM travels as a tourist, I like to be with locals. (eat, sleep, party, work, commute...)

That said.... I would not do it again (AK cruise was paid for by a relative and WAS NOT optional)

I would instead do this with some excursions / rentals.
FerryTravel.com - Book Bellingham ferries to Alaska, Victoria & to Friday Harbor easily quickly & securely online.
Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System Reservation and Ticketing Agent

I did a 'self' trip for AK fishing with my sons, It was VERY cheap and very good. (went with a private person to rent cabin 6 nights and be a fishing guide 3 full days, not a commercial fishing lodge) Prince of Wales Island ~ $800 for 3 persons for one week + air. Plenty of ocean, sights, fishing, crabbing, food, bears, pretty cabin on inlet...

A co-worker rents a NFS cabin on a remote AK lake every yr ($50 for a week). Hire a float plane to fly you in and pick you up.

My son fishes in the summer out of Petersburg, AK. They take charter folks when the commercial season is suspended (various weeks). That is a great experience and right on the water, not 10 stories up. You sleep and swim in bays with animals (sea and land), waterfalls, and sounds of nature; not the rumble of your huge ship passing sights in the night. You eat FRESH seafood (that you catch). City of Petersburg Alaska Fishing and Visitor Guide Charter

I would also check into a 'motor-sailing' charter option. The silence of a sailboat is really good for finding animals unaware. Sailing is very fun and challenging (thus a motorsailer is a good idea).

Good luck, each person has individual tastes / travel tolerance. I just offered some alternative 'personal' options to consider.
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
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You should probably talk to a travel agent....they can totally help you sort out the cruiseline that would suit you, what time of year, and which route...there are several that go to different places. By using a TA, you'll get all the infomation in 1 place, and can easily compare! Brochures and up-to-date info are good things! A TA shouldn't cost you a penny!
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:08 PM
 
14,256 posts, read 23,974,521 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AksarbeN View Post
I知 looking for information about a cruise to Alaska trip for this summer and would like to hear from those who have gone on of the cruise ship companies. Are there companies (ships) to avoid? What was good about the trip and what was bad? How many days should a person take to cruise and visit Alaska; I知 seeing trips of 7 days and others that are 14 days. Is there a better time of year to go?
The biggest problem that I see with the cruises is that they visit FOUR ports - Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka, all locations where the portage is deep enough to handle the large ships. On any given summer day, there are 2-3 ships in port. That means 2000+ visitors visit a town of maybe 10,000 or so. The towns are overwhelmed.

You would see more on a cruise by BC Ferries or Alaska Marine Highway. The problem with THAT approach is that the accommodations are not what you would associate with a "cruise".

The food and lodging on the BC ships are very adequate but NOT real fancy by any standards.

The AMH takes a lot more planning as parts of their website are as clear as mud. The AMH ships stop at nearly every port including teh smaller ones and also go well into the Aluetians.

By the way, remember that you ARE heading to Alaska. If you are expecting lots of warm pool time even in the summer months, you will be disappointing. Although coastal Alaska rarely gets the hard winter freeze like Minneapolis, you also rarely get very warm.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Where the sun likes to shine!!
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Good thread AksarbeN. It is one of my dreams to go to Alaska and go on a cruise. Cruising, for me, became highly tarnished after DH and I just came back from a short cruise out of Tampa. We hated it. It was way too many people, the food was warm and mediocre, the shows weren't very good, and the pool(which I wouldn't have to worry about in Alaska) was so crowded I couldn't get a lounge chair. So that was "my" experience with cruising...but I still want to go to Alaska.

Maybe a land and cruise package....I will most likely only go once so I'd rather stay longer and do it all...but I hate crowds. I thought of the RVing end of it but it is a long way just to get "into" Alaska and then the parks will be very crowded.

Are any of the cruise ships not mega cruises? I hate lines and crowds.

I hope to hear about more trips to Alaska...as it is still one of my dream vacations
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:43 PM
 
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The bad? Well, it's not really Alaska. You see the inside passage and a few touristy cruise stops that happen to be in that state...but, really, you can't see Alaska from a ship, and you see only a very small portion because naturally, Alaska is a big state.
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:58 PM
 
Location: San Diego
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Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
The bad? Well, it's not really Alaska. You see the inside passage and a few touristy cruise stops that happen to be in that state...but, really, you can't see Alaska from a ship, and you see only a very small portion because naturally, Alaska is a big state.
Exactly. We have friends that live in Alaska, both in totally different regions. Both told us to never take a cruise ship to their state, since you won't see much. They said to fly in, rent a car, drive all around, then return at another airport and go home from there.

I find that cruise ships tend to dump you in less desirable locations. Case in point, Grand Turk. I find it hilarious when people say they hated Turks & Caicos but have only seen Grand Turk from a cruise, the cruise ship capital of the islands. TCI is the most beautiful Caribbean island, in our opinion. Of course, Grand Turk doesn't count towards that beauty since Margaritaville isn't exactly representative of the island!
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:02 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,537 posts, read 39,914,033 times
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Originally Posted by younglisa7 View Post
Good thread AksarbeN. It is one of my dreams to go to Alaska and go on a cruise. ... I'd rather stay longer and do it all...but I hate crowds. I thought of the RVing end of it but it is a long way just to get "into" Alaska and then the parks will be very crowded.

Are any of the cruise ships not mega cruises? I hate lines and crowds.
Since I follow your threads from RV to building your own rural solar house... (all of which I do too). (In Fact I was just in NE TN looking at props). I think you would really enjoy the ferry / MH idea I proposed above. Bellingham, WA or Prince Rupert BC ferries. Buy a clean rust free class B on west coast USA and sell it in AK and fly home. (something like a Roadtrek, VW Westy, or Sprinter conversion). I really like an outdoor shower in a class B, and they are EZ and cheap to ferry and quick to sell.

AK doesn't have to be a dream, go enjoy it and come home breaking even on the trip.
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