Has anyone done a cruise to Alaska or been to Alaska on vacation? What are the must sees? Any good or bad expiriences with crusie lines appreciated! We are thinking of getting an inside cabin to save a few $, is that a bad idea? I have never been on a cruise at all, so I am just looking at ones with the most stops... Thanks!
We went in 2006, on Holland America. Many Alaska cruises leave from Seattle, so budget for travel to and from Seattle, and perhaps an overnight stay in Seattle before the cruise. Nothing is more stressful that arriving at the port city the day your ship is scheduled to leave, and things go wrong. They don't hold the ship for you. Prime time for Alaska cruising is late June and early to mid-July. Our cruise was only a 7 night, with stops in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchican, Victoria, BC and maybe one or two other places. Shore excursions at the ports are optional, and we went whale watching (highly recommended) and had a trip to Mendenhal Glacier which was really neat, and a bus tour of each city just to see the sights. There was a whole day spent cruising Glacier Bay, and that's the day I liked the verandah suite the most. I'm not a fan of inside cabins, and hubby and I have had a few "but think of the money we'd save" discussions about that. If you have an inside cabin, you can always watch from the deck, or from an enclosed common area, so you will still get to enjoy the scenery. The weather for our cruise was great, with no rain, and very little fog. Scenery was pristine, and we have many good photos. Bring binoculars! Pack gloves and long underwear if you plan a glacier hike or something with a lot of outdoor time. Enjoy!
Regarding inside cabins, it IS a big money-saver, and for that and on the advice of a friend who did the Cunard World Cruise, I had one on Queen Mary 2. It really didn't matter as I was almost never there unless I was resting. There's so much to do on a cruise (on an Alaska trip you'd probably never pry me off the rail) you just don't need to spend much time in your cabin.
I'll have to look into Holland America now, too! I really want to give my parents an Alaska trip for an anniversary present.
Did one with Princess quite a few years ago and still remains my favorite vacation ever. We had a cabin with a large window which was great. Due to the long daylight hours, I almost completely stopped sleeping, so I would just sit in the window and watch the scenery all night. Little warmer than sitting on the deck at that time of the day!
We did a 7 day cruise/7 day land tour package. Went up into the Arctic circle. It was awesome. Try to add on a land tour - go up to Denali and spend time touring the park. The animal life was great and the scenery is incredible. We took a train up to the park so we got to see a lot of Alaska along the way. My only beef - the northern lights weren't turned on while we were there...
My husband and I went for our anniversary in 2009 and I've been wanting to go back ever since. We did a 7 day out of Seattle through NCL. We had an inside cabin, and I sometimes did wish we had a balcony, but the money savings is nice and there was a nice lounge on one of the high up floors that had glass walls for great viewing. The nice thing about the inside cabin is that it was dark enough that I could sleep at any hour. We went in July, so lows were in the 40s which is pretty comfortable. We hiked Mt. Roberts in Juneau and it was 70 degrees out. When we got to the top there was still some melting snow, it was amazing. We did a lot of the excursions that the cruise line offered and they were all great. Our whale watching did get cancelled for wind in Victoria, but we at least saw whales from the cruise boat anyways. We did a horse drawn tour instead, so at least I got my horse fix. The day going through glacier bay was amazing, the views are gorgeous. I've never been on a more relaxing vacation.
If you are interested in seeing my photos (I took a ton!) and are on facebook pm your name and I will friend you so you can see.
My husband and I went via Norwegian from Seattle. We booked the package through the cruise line so they managed our flights, transportation to the boat as well as shipping our luggage. It was nice not to have to worry about being late or coordinating anything. All we had to do was go from home to the airport and back. They scooped us up from Seattle, hauled our luggage around and got us to port. They even took our suitcases to our room. When the cruise was over, they scooped up our suitcases from the hallway and carted them to the airport and shuttled us back.
We did a 7 day Sawyer Glacier your and had a balcony room. The views were amazing! We stopped at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert. We were married in Ketchikan.
Pick your shore activities in advance - they do sell out! Read through everything carefully and go to the kiosk on board to ask questions.
We did a cruise up the inside passage in the summer of '94. We also lived in anchorage for 3 years. It's a fabulous place to visit.
To do a cruise you would want to go between mid June to mid August. At any time in AK you need to be prepared for 50F or colder; Bring coats, gloves and hats as well as long sleeves and long underwear. Also very important is a good camera to take pix of the fabulous scenery and wildlife. Oh, save your pennies, AK is up to 30% higher than CONUS. Our cruise went up the inside passage; started in Victoria, BC, to Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Haines and one other that I can't think of right now. The cruise lines offer side trips for extra $$$. DH went fishing for king salmon in Ketchikan. He caught one and the ship's chef cooked it for us . There was so much salmon that we shared it with the people at our table. It was so good we still remember ! We went to the mendenhall glacier in juneau and did some white water rafting. In Skagway we rode the train up the path that the miners went up. Speaking of Skagway make sure you take lots of bug spray. The Mosquitos are intense! Lots and lots of fun stuff!!
If you make it up to Anchorge, shopping, sea food, the Kenai peninsula, Denali national park (a must see if you can get there; some of the cruises do dock in anchorage then they put you on a train),glaciers within driving distance.
If you wanted to go during the winter, the Iditard dog race is the end of February to early March. There is Fur Rondevous, which is cold but fun. There are carnival rides, shopping, food and of course the dogs. The race itself which has the ceremonial start in anchorage and the restart in willow. The restart happens on a frozen lake. Cold!! But fun!
Yes, living there was fun, but the winters were cold, dark and long.
We went on Princess back in September of 2008. We did a 7 day trip that left out of Seattle and went to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchican and Victoria, BC. We arrived a day ahead of time so we could check out Seattle. DH and I had an inside cabin, but my parents went on the same cruise and got a cabin with a balcony. I think if I did it again I'd want at least a window. It's some of the most beautiful scenery and I'd want to see as much of it as I could. That said, there were a lot of nice places on the ship. It had an elevated night club that during the day had great (warm) spots to sit with a cup of coffee and book and look out at the beautiful landscape.
The only down side to our trip was that we went at the end of the Salmon run so there were a lot of dead, stinky fish laying around - especially in Ketchican. Since I love cold weather but live in the south where it's in still in the 90's in September, the 50's felt GREAT!
All in all - I highly recommend it! It's one of the best trips I've ever taken.
DH and I went on an Inside Passage cruise on Celebrity cruises in May of 2005. Departed Vancouver and returned to Seattle, which was a little awkward but not too bad - flew RT to Seattle and just drove a rental car up to Vancouver for the departure. Saw some pretty country along the way.
We had an inside cabin and had no problems with it. As another poster mentioned, it was really nice to be able to sleep at any time of day or night. We would absolutely recommend Celebrity. Our experience with the ship and staff was outstanding.
Our favorite stop was Skagway. We LOVED it! Spent a lot of time walking around the town and even took a horseback excursion, which was the first time DH had ever been on a horse. I was not yet back into riding at the time so it was like a homecoming for me. The horses were well cared for, but typical trail string horses (very stoic) - except for when they all scented a bear just off-trail. Things got a bit lively! I especially appreciated that the folks running the trail rides required every rider to wear a helmet - BONUS POINTS.
We're looking forward to going back someday.
Enjoy your planning and your cruise!
So much to think about! Thanks guys! Danceronice: Holland America has the best rates, which is a consideration for us, but it seems somewhat notorious for having an over 70 age crowd. Other people have told me that is a steriotype, no idea how old you are or if that matters. I'm not much of a clubbing type I just want to see as much of Alaska as possible and if I have good food and a nice bed between stops that's plenty for me.
Would LOVE to get to the Arctic circle... I don't think finances will allow something extra like that But one reason to go back!
Essie: The Iditorod would be cool, a winter trip to Alaska seems intense!
Thanks everyone for the responses. DH and I are planning this and it is our first trip since our honeymoon. Glad to hear everyone has had fun regardless of the rooms and cruise lines you had.
Yes, living there was fun, but the winters were cold, dark and long.
When I visited Alaska, I noticed all the post offices had designated mailing slots for Netflix DVDs. I figured Netflix must be a big thing there all winter.
I did not do a cruise, but I spent a week near Anchorage a few years ago. I agree with everyone who said the scenery is BEAUTIFUL. Everywhere you look it's like a postcard.
I was there in early June, and it was broad daylight until 11:00 PM, and never really got dark at night. That was a bit weird, and I would hate to think of coping with the opposite schedule in December. I was talking to somebody on the flight home who had lived there for a year, and he had never really gotten used to the daylight thing.
Bring warm layers, binoculars, and a good camera. You will need them all. Have fun!