Author Topic: Alaska Cruise?  (Read 10600 times)

mozar

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Alaska Cruise?
« on: January 24, 2017, 06:40:43 PM »
My mom and I are planning on going on an Alaskan cruise in May 2018. She's never been on a cruise before. She wants to spend as little as possible but is the sort who complains about bad service. Is it worth it to shell out extra money for something like the Norwegian Pearl, or save a couple hundred on a cruise like Holland America?. We live on the east coast so this is a big trip for us.
We are looking at the 7 day trips.

Freeme

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2017, 08:30:58 PM »
We cruised on the NCL jewel which is the sister ship to Alaska. It is one of the greatest trips we ever took. Considering another one. Love the casual atmosphere on NCL. they will nickel and dime you but if you can resist you will love it.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2017, 09:36:53 PM »
The only cruise I ever went on was with Holland America. I have nothing but praise for their service. The boat was heavily skewed toward the older crowd.

jmras5

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2017, 06:20:23 AM »
If you don't mind a younger crowd I highly recommend Royal Caribbean. I have been on a few of those and they are great! Holland America, and Princess are directed towards older crowds. You should use a travel agent when booking cruises to get the best deal. The big travel agent companies buy out a huge block on all the cruise ships so they can get a better deal for a bulk price. Also then you don't have to be bothered with all the planning. My brother is a travel agent if you need one....But highly recommend cruises! They are a lot of fun and relaxing!

chasesfish

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2017, 06:36:40 AM »
All cruises have some level of Nickle and Diming you.  If you go during a non-peak season, the rooms are always sold at an operating loss and their business model is to break-even based on other stuff they sell.  They make all their profit in 10-12 weeks of the year.  (Invested in CCL for a week after being the nerd studying their business model during a few few cruises).

You should decide on the itinerary/time you want to go, then spend some time on Cruise Critic, they do a great job reviewing the pros and cons of each trip.  My only advice on Alaska is go out of Vancouver, much smoother ride because it runs up the inside passage.

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2017, 06:54:18 AM »
alaskan cruise is the only cruise i've been on where i would say a balcony is a must.  if she's never been on a cruise the service level will be great no matter what.  if you like to drink some it may make sense to try to book a booze inclusive cruise this is pretty common now. 

mozar

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2017, 09:22:22 AM »
Oh, this is great advice! Why is balcony a must?

Secretly Saving

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2017, 09:31:24 AM »
We cruised with Princess to Alaska.  They have won tons accolades for their cruises to Alaska, which is why we went with them.  You'll have a great time.


TheAnonOne

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2017, 09:33:21 AM »
Oh, this is great advice! Why is balcony a must?

It isn't. I generally think it's a waste of money.

I am so busy on cruises doing fun activities, that I used the room to sleep and that's it. Even if I were a leisure man, the amount of outside room on the ships is impressive.

kite

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2017, 10:06:16 AM »
Oh, this is great advice! Why is balcony a must?

The reason I went on Alaskan cruise is to see the scenery along the way, not just in port.  Having your own balcony enables you to do that for the most amount of time.  You'll sit out there and see whales, bears, eagles, etc.  It depends on how much you're into that.
A glacier is going to calve when it's going to calve, which may not be when you've emerged from your room and headed up to the Lido deck.  If all you can afford is an interior, you do what you can do. 
In my experience, Holland America is more actually more posh than Norwegian.  We took Princess to Alaska.  It was great, and the service did not disappoint.  Still, Holland America is a notch above Princess. 
May is shoulder season, cheaper, colder but still nice, and fewer bugs (not a cruise ship problem, more of a land problem).  When you compare prices between ships, make sure it's apples to apples, obviously.  RT out of Seattle is different from one way, Vancouver to Whittier.  You save money by not gambling, drinking or shopping on board.  You also save by skipping ship excursions.  Wing it or haggle whilst in port. 

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2017, 10:08:36 AM »
Oh, this is great advice! Why is balcony a must?

It isn't. I generally think it's a waste of money.

I am so busy on cruises doing fun activities, that I used the room to sleep and that's it. Even if I were a leisure man, the amount of outside room on the ships is impressive.

its a must on alaskan cruises b/c you can see the shore most of the time.  as well as leaving your door open when you are in your room so that you can hear when people are shouting about seeing wildlife. 

yes on most caribbean cruises this is a waste of money but in alaska its definitely worth the added cost in my opinion

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2017, 10:10:01 AM »
Our alaskan cruise was with Princess they have a naturalist onboard who will do talks and discuss the wildlife in certain areas of the inside passage.  not all cruise lines have this and i think finding one with this person on board would be well worth it. She was a highlite of our cruise when onboard.

geekette

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2017, 10:12:42 AM »
Oh, this is great advice! Why is balcony a must?

It isn't. I generally think it's a waste of money.

I am so busy on cruises doing fun activities, that I used the room to sleep and that's it. Even if I were a leisure man, the amount of outside room on the ships is impressive.
If you're an extrovert and in the Caribbean, an inside room is fine.  For Alaska (and the Panama Canal, IMHO), a balcony (or one of the newer ships with floor to ceiling windows at least) gives you your own viewing area, so you're not trying to elbow your way to the rail.

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2017, 10:46:27 AM »
Also best way to get the price reduced (if you're into travel hacking)

Subscribe to travelzoo.com and watch for cruise deals.  crucon is a decent one too.

Once you've booked the cruise you can get the following cards
1. barclay arrival plus - good for 500 off your cruise use a payment of 500 to the cruise line as part of your minimum spend
2. Capital one Venture good for 400 use the same way as above.

getting one for you and your mom if possible of each would likely make a balcony free. 

I would sign up for Cruise Critic's role call  for your cruise here you can meet others on the cruise and plan affordable not ship shore excursions. 


mozar

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2017, 11:04:18 AM »
How do the ship excursions work? You can pay on the ship or you can find the same thing and pay on shore?

pachnik

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2017, 11:18:45 AM »
How do the ship excursions work? You can pay on the ship or you can find the same thing and pay on shore?

I am curious about this too.  I've never been on a cruise either and my husband and I have booked an Alaska cruise for later this year.   We live in Vancouver, Canada and are departing from there.
 
I was looking at Celebrity's website and some of those excursions sound pretty excessive (and $$$) to me.  I would be more interested in just walking through Ketchikan on my own rather than going up in a helicopter or what have you.   

Anyway, I have no information for you, Mozar, but I will be keeping an eye on this thread. 

Hunny156

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2017, 11:19:50 AM »
I agree, travelzoo and CruCon are where I tend to get my best deals.  FYI, Travelzoo's top 20 came out a few hours ago, and they happen to have a deal on an Alaska cruise, you may want to check it out.

I've done the Alaskan cruise out of Seattle, on the NCL Pearl.  Smaller ship, less nickle & diming that than the newer mega ships, and the crew is rated as one of the best of the fleet, and they took excellent care of us.  If you can afford a balcony, you will certainly enjoy it for Alaska, but it's not required.  We could only afford inside at the time, but we still got to see plenty of wildlife and whale watching from the various vantage points on the ship.  One of the ports of call is the inside passage, and they bring in a park ranger to educate and narrate, which made that port even better.  I'm a wuss w/cold, so I stayed in the nightclub and watched the view in comfort while sipping hot chocolate.  Hubby went up on deck and eventually got a spot in front to snap photos.  Calving is occurring much more frequently due to global warming, we saw it happen several times during our few hours in the passage.  Sounds like thunder!

Keep in mind that Alaska is an awesome place to experience, but it is very expensive, even more so if you choose to do cruise excursions.  Once you book, sign up for the message boards at cruise critic and find the thread for your cruise.  We got lucky in that we found a few other people who were planning excursions, so we were able to join them, get better excursions for far less money.  But even eating in port can be quite expensive.  In Ketchikan, we were able to find the one bar in town that does not roll up the sidewalks at the end of cruise season, and it's the one all the locals eat at.  Their fish & chips were better, as they used Halibut instead of Cod (if memory serves).  That cruise was maybe 4 years ago, and the cost for fish n chips at lunch was $35!  In another port, a "nice" dinner where we shared entrees w/two other people still cost $120/couple, and the only alcohol was one pitcher of Alaskan Pale Ale.  It all adds up, our tally after the cruise was much higher than we had anticipated.  Totally worth it, but it is something to consider.

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2017, 11:22:17 AM »
How do the ship excursions work? You can pay on the ship or you can find the same thing and pay on shore?

There are lots of off ship shore excursions.  For alaska we booked everything off ship including the train in skagway and it was about 25-50% cheaper.  That was a few years ago ... recently i've seen some steap increases in cruise ship booked excursions  i think they are trying to make up for starting to include booze and reducing the front end prices. 

but i'd never book thru the cruise line.  you can search online for deals as well as work with other people in the cruise critic roll call

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2017, 11:24:09 AM »
How do the ship excursions work? You can pay on the ship or you can find the same thing and pay on shore?

I am curious about this too.  I've never been on a cruise either and my husband and I have booked an Alaska cruise for later this year.   We live in Vancouver, Canada and are departing from there.
 
I was looking at Celebrity's website and some of those excursions sound pretty excessive (and $$$) to me.  I would be more interested in just walking through Ketchikan on my own rather than going up in a helicopter or what have you.   

Anyway, I have no information for you, Mozar, but I will be keeping an eye on this thread.

ketchikan we did on our own walking around
Juneau we booked an offship whale watch and mendenhal glacier
Skagway we did the train - booked offship. same train 25% less 3 years ago.

Hunny156

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2017, 11:32:46 AM »
How do the ship excursions work? You can pay on the ship or you can find the same thing and pay on shore?

I am curious about this too.  I've never been on a cruise either and my husband and I have booked an Alaska cruise for later this year.   We live in Vancouver, Canada and are departing from there.
 
I was looking at Celebrity's website and some of those excursions sound pretty excessive (and $$$) to me.  I would be more interested in just walking through Ketchikan on my own rather than going up in a helicopter or what have you.   

Anyway, I have no information for you, Mozar, but I will be keeping an eye on this thread.

Cruise Critic is a great place to start, you can look at all the ports of calls and see entire threads on what to do, and then decide what you want vs what is fluff.  Also check out tripadvisor, they will even have excursions you can purchase through them, and you can compare the costs from the cruise line vs DIY.  Half the price is the norm for DIY, and it is often the same vendors as the cruise line.  However, if you are concerned about getting back to the ship on time, you should pay the premium and go with the cruise excursion.  They will hold the ship for you if there's a delay.  Outside vendors can't make that promise, but they know that they will get rated harshly on the web if they caused someone to miss the ship, so they are generally really good about getting you back hours before you need to be back on the ship.

FYI, we skipped the helicopter tours and didn't do that train excursion that is pushed so much.  We rented a car in one port and drove to the national park, got to see everything that way for next to nothing.  I forget the port names, sorry, I suck at names, but in the port with the train excursion, we had four other couples we met through Cruise Critic, and we had an AMAZING all day journey through Alaska and up into Canada and back.  We saw sites that the cruise line excursions just can't get to in the same time frame, since they use big buses and there's a lot more time spent getting on and off, especially since Alaskan cruises tend to skew older in age.  And hubby's a big fan of Deadliest Catch, so I booked him on the excursion, they do it on one of the ships that was featured in season one.  It's an expensive excursion, even purchasing it direct, but hubby loved every minute of it.  I slept in and met him at the dock to walk around town and grab lunch afterwards.  :) 

pachnik

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2017, 11:34:24 AM »
Thanks boarder42 and Hunny156

My husband might want to do a fishing excursion but we will look into booking offship.  I've got my eye on Cruise Critic too.  It kind of scared me a bit because the ship we are on seems to be getting low ratings.   But, on the other hand, we were also looking for a cheap vacation so we'll see how it goes.   :) 
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 11:36:06 AM by pachnik »

Hunny156

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2017, 11:52:33 AM »
Thanks boarder42 and Hunny156

My husband might want to do a fishing excursion but we will look into booking offship.  I've got my eye on Cruise Critic too.  It kind of scared me a bit because the ship we are on seems to be getting low ratings.   But, on the other hand, we were also looking for a cheap vacation so we'll see how it goes.   :)

No problem, feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.  I have a friend who lives in Seattle and cruises frequently, so I could run it by him and see what he thinks of the ship.  Also, take the reviews w/a grain of salt.  Some people think that they should be waited on hand & foot, and that's not how this works!  ;)

kite

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2017, 12:41:58 PM »
Our alaskan cruise was with Princess they have a naturalist onboard who will do talks and discuss the wildlife in certain areas of the inside passage.  not all cruise lines have this and i think finding one with this person on board would be well worth it. She was a highlite of our cruise when onboard.

+1
Agreed. 

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2017, 01:16:38 PM »
We rented a car in one port and drove to the national park, got to see everything that way for next to nothing.  I forget the port names, sorry, I suck at names, but in the port with the train excursion, we had four other couples we met through Cruise Critic, and we had an AMAZING all day journey through Alaska and up into Canada and back.  We saw sites that the cruise line excursions just can't get to in the same time frame, since they use big buses and there's a lot more time spent getting on and off, especially since Alaskan cruises tend to skew older in age.

Have not done an Alaska cruise, but we typically do not book excursions ahead unless there are 'must do' items.  Otherwise, it's nice to stay flexible.  Some ports can easily be done renting a car (try to book a day in advance online or call to be sure you get a car) and sometimes there are '3rd party' excursions.  Although they don't guarantee return to the ship the way the official excursions do, I've never heard of these excursions missing the boat.  On the other hand, renting a car does put this risk on you.  Folks do lose track or miss the boarding time for whatever reason and then you have to book a last minute flight to catch up to the ship - major vacation fail.

doggyfizzle

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2017, 02:17:20 PM »
Costco Travel is another great place to check for cruise prices.  I have no idea what your budget is, but the Costco website is showing pricing from $879-$4000 pp for upcoming Alaska cruises depending on cabin type.

westtoeast

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2017, 02:43:10 PM »
Hi, I am from Southeast AK. I would actually not recommend a cruise if you are mainly interested in really seeing Alaska. I worked at a tourist shop in HS. The cruise ship tourists get off the boat for a few hours, visit some cheesy trinket shops, and barely see anything. I would highly recommend doing the inside passage (+Sitka) using the ferry system. This will let you spend longer in each town and you will be able to do some camping, kayaking, hiking, etc.

Of course if you are more interested in the cruise experience then go for it! I am certainly not dissing cruises as a concept. Just be aware that you do not always get a ton of shore time.

Have fun with whatever you choose!

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2017, 02:54:13 PM »
Hi, I am from Southeast AK. I would actually not recommend a cruise if you are mainly interested in really seeing Alaska. I worked at a tourist shop in HS. The cruise ship tourists get off the boat for a few hours, visit some cheesy trinket shops, and barely see anything. I would highly recommend doing the inside passage (+Sitka) using the ferry system. This will let you spend longer in each town and you will be able to do some camping, kayaking, hiking, etc.

Of course if you are more interested in the cruise experience then go for it! I am certainly not dissing cruises as a concept. Just be aware that you do not always get a ton of shore time.

Have fun with whatever you choose!

This is true of all cruises you get around 8-10 hours in a port. It's how they work.

Cassie

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2017, 03:11:11 PM »
WE love to cruise. Usually we take Royal Caribbean and the crowd is mostly 40 and up. Everything is excellent and we often get deals through the cruise line. WE also got much cheaper airfare booking through the cruise line. When we went to Alaska we booked Princess because it left directly from SF so no airfare needed. What a mistake. The food was not very good, staff rude, ship was leaking and even the tender boats they used were leaking from the top. There were buckets in lots of the hallways to catch water, some people had their rooms flooded and as the cruise progressed many of the bathrooms in the common areas were out of order.  Usually in the Caribbean we book tours through the cruise lines because they guarantee to get you back in time or they pay for the cost of flying you to your ships next port. In Alaska however we figured the tours would be more reliable and we did save a ton of $ by booking onshore. WE either get a interior room or ocean view room. The balconies are a ton more $ and we are never in our room except to sleep or shower.  Lots of space to be outside on the ship.

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2017, 03:21:20 PM »
I don't know how much extra it costs, but Princess and Holland both have packages that involve trips on the Alaska Railroad up through Denali NP and to Fairbanks.

Hunny156

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2017, 03:37:30 PM »
We rented a car in one port and drove to the national park, got to see everything that way for next to nothing.  I forget the port names, sorry, I suck at names, but in the port with the train excursion, we had four other couples we met through Cruise Critic, and we had an AMAZING all day journey through Alaska and up into Canada and back.  We saw sites that the cruise line excursions just can't get to in the same time frame, since they use big buses and there's a lot more time spent getting on and off, especially since Alaskan cruises tend to skew older in age.

Have not done an Alaska cruise, but we typically do not book excursions ahead unless there are 'must do' items.  Otherwise, it's nice to stay flexible.  Some ports can easily be done renting a car (try to book a day in advance online or call to be sure you get a car) and sometimes there are '3rd party' excursions.  Although they don't guarantee return to the ship the way the official excursions do, I've never heard of these excursions missing the boat.  On the other hand, renting a car does put this risk on you.  Folks do lose track or miss the boarding time for whatever reason and then you have to book a last minute flight to catch up to the ship - major vacation fail.

Agreed, I've never heard on one excursion company missing the boat, but you never know what could happen, no mater how remote the chance.  On a Mediterranean cruise, we came very close to missing the boat in Italy, we got back with maybe 15 min to spare.  I wasn't too concerned, since I'm fluent in the language and familiar with their public transportation systems, but others in my party were clearly worried.  We quickly saw a theme in the Italian ports.  While we sometimes were concerned with traffic back to the port, the cruise excursions ran way later than we ever did, so the back to ship times were merely a suggestion, lol!  One evening, the cruise excursion arrived back to the ship 3 hours after we were supposed to leave, all those people missed dinner as well.  We watched the staff get everyone on board, and we were off very quickly.  In order to make up for lost time, the captain deactivated the stabilizer bars.  I've been on some rocky cruise ships before, and believe me, nothing compares to not using stabilizer bars!  It was quite the rocky night.  But we did make it in port the next morning on time.  ;)

crazy jane

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #30 on: January 25, 2017, 03:44:47 PM »
Not Mustachian, but Un-Cruise is a small ship cruise company. I took my parents this summer and it was beyond amazing.

JoJo

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #31 on: January 25, 2017, 04:10:01 PM »
I don't know how much extra it costs, but Princess and Holland both have packages that involve trips on the Alaska Railroad up through Denali NP and to Fairbanks.

Or you could rent a car and do this for 1/4th the price.

Even these tack-on tours nickle & dime you.  They say they go to Denali but they just bring you to the hotel and then guest what - if you want to go into the park that will be $250 apiece for the day tour.

CheapScholar

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #32 on: January 25, 2017, 04:55:45 PM »
I cruised NCL Jewel 2 years ago.  Loved it, one of the best vacations of my life.  I actually just booked NCL Bliss (new ship) for 2018.

We had an ocean view.  One thing I'll say about NCL is that if the price drops after you book, you can often call and at least get an upgraded room.  I've done this twice on NCL.  I've cruised RC as well.  You get assigned table mates and dinner time on RC.  I'm not a fan of that.

I don't know if you NEED a balcony for Alaska.  I was fine without one, but I booked a balcony for next time.  It does cost a lot more for a balcony on NCL.  Above poster is correct about the cruise industry.  They turn good profits in high season and then break even operate some months.  Unfortunately, it's really hard to get a great deal on Alaska because it's popular and a relatively short cruise season.

I highly recommend the train excursion in Skagway.  You can book excursions on the ship.  The risk is they could sell out, but that's rare. 

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #33 on: January 25, 2017, 05:21:36 PM »
I don't know how much extra it costs, but Princess and Holland both have packages that involve trips on the Alaska Railroad up through Denali NP and to Fairbanks.

Or you could rent a car and do this for 1/4th the price.

Even these tack-on tours nickle & dime you.  They say they go to Denali but they just bring you to the hotel and then guest what - if you want to go into the park that will be $250 apiece for the day tour.

Well sure. I could offer all kinds of advice for seeing AK apart from cruise companies. I figured I'd throw it out though since they were on a cruise anyways.

CheapScholar

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #34 on: January 25, 2017, 06:36:16 PM »
I think that OP is probably doing a closed loop cruise (starting  and ending in Seattle).  This would mean Denali is not an option.  Mozar, I'd recommend visiting the cruise critic forum and reading some reviews.  This will be a major expense no matter how you slice it - do it right and have the time of your life.

mozar

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2017, 08:08:31 PM »
Quote
I worked at a tourist shop in HS. The cruise ship tourists get off the boat for a few hours, visit some cheesy trinket shops, and barely see anything. I would highly recommend doing the inside passage (+Sitka) using the ferry system. This will let you spend longer in each town and you will be able to do some camping, kayaking, hiking, etc.

I'm thinking this is more of a cruise trip than a see Alaska trip. I may come back some day to do hiking, kayaking, and Denali. If I see Glacier Bay I'm happy.

Joel

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #36 on: January 25, 2017, 10:57:13 PM »
If you are in skagway, I highly recommend the ziplining course.

Personally, I would skip the train ride in Skagway and the helicopter tour of the Mendenhall glacier in Juneau.

The Alaskan brewery tour in Juneau was interesting (if you are into breweries). We went to Alaska for the fishing and that was the highlight of our trip.

Instead of doing the cruise ship route though, we took the Alaska State Ferry from Bellingham, Washington up to the inside passage. The commodities on the ship weren't as good as a cruise ship, but it was a great price. And we got to stay in the towns and enjoy them, as opposed to being let out when everyone else on the cruise ship was let out. That was comical to watch. I actually have no desire to go on a cruise after watching how they operated in Alaska.

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2017, 04:00:23 AM »
I think that OP is probably doing a closed loop cruise (starting  and ending in Seattle).  This would mean Denali is not an option.  Mozar, I'd recommend visiting the cruise critic forum and reading some reviews.  This will be a major expense no matter how you slice it - do it right and have the time of your life.

This doesn't have to be a major expense and costs can be greatly controlled see my post above.  My wife and I just did a 14 day cruise in Europe with booze and a balcony. The whole trip including excursions cost us 1500

deborah

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #38 on: January 26, 2017, 04:04:21 AM »
Last year I went to Alaska. Relocated an RV from Seattle to Anchorage (for 25% of the normal hire price, for 3.5 weeks) - had an amazing time doing that, and drove over a fair bit of Alaska (what you can that's paved - the RV had 3000 miles on it when I started, and 8000 when I finished). Then I went back with the Alaskan Marine Ferry, and I stopped at towns for a couple of days at a time on the way. It was WONDERFUL, and I saw a lot more that the cruise ships do, for a lot less. As a result I saw the Alaskan interior as well as the inner passage, went on local tours in boats that could get a lot closer to the attractions than the cruise ships can, and wasn't part of the enormous crowd that gets off and on the cruise ships.

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2017, 07:14:39 AM »
I did the Norwegian Pearl Alaska 7 day cruise in summer 2015.  It was great!  Definitely book a balcony for Alaska.  I got super lucky and got a super, super cheap upsell on an AMAZING room two days before the trip, and since it was our 20th anniversary trip, I splurged.  From what I understand, they generally offer the upsells to balcony rooms first. 

With NCL, you get to pick a perk, either free drinks, or free signature dining.  We picked the dining.  The sig. dining restaurants were very good.  The regular restaurants were just okay.  I will say, I was underwhelmed by the desserts overall on the ship. 

I second looking at cruise critic for advice. 

Excursions...I booked mine ahead of time, but it isn't entirely necessary for all but the most popular ones.  I really enjoyed Ziplining in Skagway.  The train was just okay.  In Juneau we did a whale watch and Mendenhall Glacier visit, which was great. 

The absolute best part, hands down, was the morning trip through Glacier Bay.  Breathtaking. 

I also spent a lot of time in the spa.  Later in the week, the spa starts offering discounts so I got a massage, which was also nice, but they try to sell you fancy products so just be prepared for that. 

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2017, 07:18:34 AM »
Last year I went to Alaska. Relocated an RV from Seattle to Anchorage (for 25% of the normal hire price, for 3.5 weeks) - had an amazing time doing that, and drove over a fair bit of Alaska (what you can that's paved - the RV had 3000 miles on it when I started, and 8000 when I finished). Then I went back with the Alaskan Marine Ferry, and I stopped at towns for a couple of days at a time on the way. It was WONDERFUL, and I saw a lot more that the cruise ships do, for a lot less. As a result I saw the Alaskan interior as well as the inner passage, went on local tours in boats that could get a lot closer to the attractions than the cruise ships can, and wasn't part of the enormous crowd that gets off and on the cruise ships.

this sounds like a summer trip once our kids reach pre teen age.  i like it.  my Granparents drove their RV to alaska when i was 10 or so and we spent 2 weeks in the summer up there with them it was great.

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2017, 09:38:37 AM »
I think that OP is probably doing a closed loop cruise (starting  and ending in Seattle).  This would mean Denali is not an option.  Mozar, I'd recommend visiting the cruise critic forum and reading some reviews.  This will be a major expense no matter how you slice it - do it right and have the time of your life.

This doesn't have to be a major expense and costs can be greatly controlled see my post above.  My wife and I just did a 14 day cruise in Europe with booze and a balcony. The whole trip including excursions cost us 1500

You can get great deals on cruises.  I've cruised a 13 night Europe cruise, 7 night Alaska, and 7 night Caribbean.  The bottom line is, if you were telling someone new to cruising to get a good cruise on a bargain, you probably wouldn't steer them to Alaska (especially since OP is from the east coast).  I highly recommend an Alaskan cruise - it's just an amazing experience.  But it's not going to be cheap, even if making smart choices like booking excursions directly from the vendors, avoiding casinos and specialty restaurants, etc.  You won't find rock bottom deals on Alaska cabins on any cruise line (partly because of the high port charges passed to passengers on the AK cruises) - especially if you want a balcony.

Is there a MMM thread about cruises?  I think it would be informative. 

pbkmaine

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2017, 09:40:26 AM »
I would like to hear from anyone who has done the Bellingham ferry. I have a dear friend in Bellingham, so this would be a perfect trip for me.

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2017, 09:40:45 AM »
I think that OP is probably doing a closed loop cruise (starting  and ending in Seattle).  This would mean Denali is not an option.  Mozar, I'd recommend visiting the cruise critic forum and reading some reviews.  This will be a major expense no matter how you slice it - do it right and have the time of your life.

This doesn't have to be a major expense and costs can be greatly controlled see my post above.  My wife and I just did a 14 day cruise in Europe with booze and a balcony. The whole trip including excursions cost us 1500

You can get great deals on cruises.  I've cruised a 13 night Europe cruise, 7 night Alaska, and 7 night Caribbean.  The bottom line is, if you were telling someone new to cruising to get a good cruise on a bargain, you probably wouldn't steer them to Alaska (especially since OP is from the east coast).  I highly recommend an Alaskan cruise - it's just an amazing experience.  But it's not going to be cheap, even if making smart choices like booking excursions directly from the vendors, avoiding casinos and specialty restaurants, etc.  You won't find rock bottom deals on Alaska cabins on any cruise line (partly because of the high port charges passed to passengers on the AK cruises) - especially if you want a balcony.

Is there a MMM thread about cruises?  I think it would be informative.

you still didnt read my previous post on this. 

Its called travel hacking ... with proper planning an alaskan cruise can easily cost 0 dollars out of pocket. flights SW Credit card hack get 2 fly for free.  barclay cards captial one cards etc.

Joel

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2017, 09:59:23 AM »
I would like to hear from anyone who has done the Bellingham ferry. I have a dear friend in Bellingham, so this would be a perfect trip for me.

@pbkmaine - it was a great experience. I went with my father and elderly grandfather, so we rented a birth. It was a small room with a shower and bunk beds. It was sufficient for us - not luxurious by any means though. There were many younger people who brought tents and slept on the patio are at the back of the boat. Had I not been with my grandpa, that's probably what I would have done.

The boat also had a decent dining hall / restaurant and a bar. The views were just as spectacular as you would expect on a cruise ship. You can take your vehicle if you want (we did not). I would highly recommend going this route if you don't need to stay in the luxurious cabin of a cruise ship.

It also allowed us to stay longer at the various cities during times that there wasn't a flood of tourists. Enjoying the evenings and taking tours during the off-hours was excellent. For example, the ziplining tour in Skagway was probably the highlight of our trip, as it was me, my dad, and one family instead of a full group. Because of that, we were able to befriend the workers, and they let us circle back and make multiple extra zips. The course here was amazing as you could do backflips and other tricks - something I haven't found at other zipline courses. I'm an adrenaline junkie and absolutely loved it. My dad, whose scared of heights, was nervous about the excursion but he ended up loving it as well and was very glad that we did it.

CheapScholar

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2017, 10:26:43 AM »
I think that OP is probably doing a closed loop cruise (starting  and ending in Seattle).  This would mean Denali is not an option.  Mozar, I'd recommend visiting the cruise critic forum and reading some reviews.  This will be a major expense no matter how you slice it - do it right and have the time of your life.

This doesn't have to be a major expense and costs can be greatly controlled see my post above.  My wife and I just did a 14 day cruise in Europe with booze and a balcony. The whole trip including excursions cost us 1500

You can get great deals on cruises.  I've cruised a 13 night Europe cruise, 7 night Alaska, and 7 night Caribbean.  The bottom line is, if you were telling someone new to cruising to get a good cruise on a bargain, you probably wouldn't steer them to Alaska (especially since OP is from the east coast).  I highly recommend an Alaskan cruise - it's just an amazing experience.  But it's not going to be cheap, even if making smart choices like booking excursions directly from the vendors, avoiding casinos and specialty restaurants, etc.  You won't find rock bottom deals on Alaska cabins on any cruise line (partly because of the high port charges passed to passengers on the AK cruises) - especially if you want a balcony.

Is there a MMM thread about cruises?  I think it would be informative.

you still didnt read my previous post on this. 

Its called travel hacking ... with proper planning an alaskan cruise can easily cost 0 dollars out of pocket. flights SW Credit card hack get 2 fly for free.  barclay cards captial one cards etc.

I'm skeptical that out of pocket would be zero with all these hacks.  I do have a SW card and I recommend it to anyone near a city served by SW.  Do you have a blog or recommend one about travel hacking?

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2017, 10:38:08 AM »
I think that OP is probably doing a closed loop cruise (starting  and ending in Seattle).  This would mean Denali is not an option.  Mozar, I'd recommend visiting the cruise critic forum and reading some reviews.  This will be a major expense no matter how you slice it - do it right and have the time of your life.

This doesn't have to be a major expense and costs can be greatly controlled see my post above.  My wife and I just did a 14 day cruise in Europe with booze and a balcony. The whole trip including excursions cost us 1500

You can get great deals on cruises.  I've cruised a 13 night Europe cruise, 7 night Alaska, and 7 night Caribbean.  The bottom line is, if you were telling someone new to cruising to get a good cruise on a bargain, you probably wouldn't steer them to Alaska (especially since OP is from the east coast).  I highly recommend an Alaskan cruise - it's just an amazing experience.  But it's not going to be cheap, even if making smart choices like booking excursions directly from the vendors, avoiding casinos and specialty restaurants, etc.  You won't find rock bottom deals on Alaska cabins on any cruise line (partly because of the high port charges passed to passengers on the AK cruises) - especially if you want a balcony.

Is there a MMM thread about cruises?  I think it would be informative.

you still didnt read my previous post on this. 

Its called travel hacking ... with proper planning an alaskan cruise can easily cost 0 dollars out of pocket. flights SW Credit card hack get 2 fly for free.  barclay cards captial one cards etc.

I'm skeptical that out of pocket would be zero with all these hacks.  I do have a SW card and I recommend it to anyone near a city served by SW.  Do you have a blog or recommend one about travel hacking?

there is a whole course offered on it ... travelmiles 101 ...

just to show you how this could easily be 0 dollars lets run down the cards needed to make this cruise 0 dollars in a balcony
http://cs.cruise.com/cs/forms/CruiseDetails.aspx?skin=1&phone=888-333-3116&pin=&lid=en&did=10&mon=5%2F1%2F2017&iid=3210545&sno=4

979 per person 2386 after fees

Flights
SW card - 12 bucks per person - will be eliminated with a cash back card later

Cruise
2x Barclays - 1k
2x CapOne - 1k
CapOne Sparks - 500 this is cash can be used for the flight fees as well and also a bit more for the excursions


Excursions
CapOne Sparks - 500
2x Bank Americard travel - 400 - use to cover gratuties and the little bit extra from excursions.

free cruise.  probably come home with a little cash in your pocket too.



Cassie

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #47 on: January 26, 2017, 11:47:08 AM »
RC does have anytime dining so you don't have to dine at specific time if you don't want to.  I had a friend that got left behind because her tour was late. Fortunately she booked through the cruise and they flew her and the others to the next port on their dime so it did not cost them anything.

boarder42

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #48 on: January 26, 2017, 12:12:28 PM »
RC does have anytime dining so you don't have to dine at specific time if you don't want to.  I had a friend that got left behind because her tour was late. Fortunately she booked through the cruise and they flew her and the others to the next port on their dime so it did not cost them anything.

many off ship cruise agencies will do this but getting back late is highly unlikely as they have to maintain their quality to get more people to book with them and not leave bad trip advisor reviews.

deborah

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Re: Alaska Cruise?
« Reply #49 on: January 26, 2017, 12:49:43 PM »
I would like to hear from anyone who has done the Bellingham ferry. I have a dear friend in Bellingham, so this would be a perfect trip for me.
The Alaskan Marine Ferry is to/from Bellingham, so when I came back from Anchorage, using the ferry, I eventually got to Bellingham. The train station is across the road from the ferry, so it was easy to get to Vancouver or Seattle from the ferry. One reason I would really recommend the ferry is that it has locals on it. For instance, I went to Juneau with the crowd going to "Celebration" and came out of there a couple of days later with the crowd who had been. Everyone was busy making music, and button blankets all over the ship, and that gave me an experience that I really treasure. I am from Australia, and one of the things I wanted to do in the Pacific North West was to see the indigenous culture, and there I was immersed in it.