Alaska

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by dizneygirl123, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. dizneygirl123

    dizneygirl123 Mouseketeer

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    We are wanting to go on an Alaskan cruise - please give me feedback on what cruise / ship you loved. We have only cruised Disney so I'm little worried about branching out to other cruise lines - thanks
     
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  3. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    There have been a lot of discussions on this subject since DCL started sailing to Alaska. Do a search, and I'm sure you'll find tons.

    The short answer is that DCL does not have the best itinerary. Mostly that's because they don't do Glacier Bay or Hubbard Glacier. They do Tracy Arm, which some folks will tell you is just fine and beautiful. I've never been to Tracy Arm, so I can't comment, but Glacier Bay is totally phenomenal. Also, in the past, the amount of time in port has not been that great, but that's varied. It was the worst when they sailed out of Seattle. There has also been issues with them not sailing in the Inside Passage for parts of the cruise, which takes them into rougher water.

    My personal experience was with Princess. Princess was wonderful for a lot of reasons. First off, they do one-way cruises, which allow you to add on a land portion before or after the cruise. That's pretty difficult to do with a round trip from Vancouver or Seattle. They do Glacier Bay on a lot of their itineraries. They have a naturalist onboard for things like the Glacier Bay day, and that really adds a lot to what you're seeing. I found the service on Princess to be every bit as good as DCL. Just no Mouse. And I was able to afford a balcony room for a lot less than the window room I just sailed in on the Fantasy. A balcony is a really nice thing to have on an Alaska cruise, as you are almost always close to land and beautiful scenery.

    You do have to be selective with Princess, as some of their itineraries don't do Glacier Bay, and some of them sail outside the Inside passage, also. Make sure you choose one that includes Glacier Bay and sails withing the Inside passage for as much of the time as possible. (ie, between Vancouver Island and the mainland, and with land on both sides of the ship in Alaska).

    I'd do a cruise with Princess again in a second.

    Sayhello
     
  4. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS Veteran

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    I second sayhello's response. We've done 2 cruises to Alaska on Holland America. HAL & Princess have been doing Alaska the longest, so have the most experience with those itineraries.

    Our first cruise had both Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm. Both are beautiful, but different. We were on the Zuiderdam for our first and the Zaandam for our second (which we did with the land tour - also wonderful). HAL, IMO, does tend to have a bit older crowd, but does get good reviews on their kids programs. Also, maybe, a bit more laid back (but I have no experience with Princess, so I really can't compare to that).

    Going early in the season may keep you from actually cruising into Tracy Arm because of the ice. We went in September and were able to get all the way in.

    HAL also has a naturalist onboard during Glacier Bay (or any glacier cruising).

    It's real important to check the itineraries and choose the one that goes where you want to go.

    :cutie:
     
  5. valbob89

    valbob89 Registered

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    Can't agree more with both postings. Princess owns Alaska. If you are going all the way to Alaska, don't miss doing the land portion. I always think of Alaska as just up north from us in San Francisco, but in fact it is over 2,000 miles, the flight from SFO to Anchorage is 5 hours, 11 hours from the east coast. After coming (and paying) all that way, don't miss seeing Alaska. You will see more animals in Denali park in one hour then you will see the entire cruise. The port towns on the cruise are lovely, but small and filled with tee-shirt shops. Although the cruise is beautiful, you won't see Alaska. Princess has their own train and lodges. Both the Denali and Mount McKinley lodges are beautiful.
    Princess is great, not Disney, but great.
     
  6. luv2sleep

    luv2sleep DIS Veteran

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    Would you do it with young children?
     
  7. woody73

    woody73 <font color=darkorange>Enjoyed the Pumpkinmen<br><

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    On our HAL cruises to Alaska, we had an excellent naturalist onboard the entire cruise. He was a young and enthusiastic university professor, so the summer Alaska cruises fit his academic schedule perfectly.

    On sea days, he gave enrichment lectures on the wildlife we could expect see -- including how to identify the different types of whales based on their hump and spout pattern.

    He was also an avid photographer, so he also gave lectures with tips for photographing the Alaska landscape and wildlife.

    Woody
     
  8. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

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    We did Alaska on Celebrity....much the same as the above. They offer both one way and round trip cruises out of Seattle and Vancouver. There is a naturalist on board. While we had no experience with the kid program, I did talk to a couple of parents with young kids--they had only good to say. The naturalist on board was amazing. The food was better than DCL. The ship had some amazing features, but in other ways was not as impressive. There was an enclosed pool/hot tub area with a sign specifying the hours when kids could use the area (on non-Alaska cruises, it is an adult area). A whole lot was very much the same--Steiner runs the spa. It had the same specials, same "treatments," etc. as DCL, and the rainforest is called the Persian something.....Guest Services was AMAZING. The cost was 1/2 of DCL's pricing for the cruise.

    Young kids are not going to be into the scenery. You may be more pleased with the special kid excursions arranged by DCL and the kid programming.
     
  9. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Sorry, I have no kids, so I can't comment on that. Hopefully someone with young children will jump in here.

    Sayhello
     
  10. jiminyC_fan

    jiminyC_fan <font color=FF00CC>Missing Captain Mickey!<br><fon

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    We cruised Alaska through HAL. We did the one way from Fairbanks to Vancouver which included the land portion and cruise. Alaska has so much to offer. The land portion to us was just as important as the cruise portion. Denali is just as spectacular as Glacier Bay. The naturalist was wonderful. The pool area on HAL was much more suited to Alaska than the Wonder. We found the food to be pretty much on par as DCL. Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to cruise HAL again.
     
  11. woody73

    woody73 <font color=darkorange>Enjoyed the Pumpkinmen<br><

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    The HAL pool areas are heated and well designed with retractable glass roofs. Perfect for lounging around or swimming while it's freezing outside.

    Also, on one HAL cruise, they scheduled a nighttime chocolate buffet near the pool area. After the chefs set up the chocolate displays and chocolate fountains, it started to drizzle. No problem! All they had to do was close the retractable glass roof.

    I, too, wouldn't hesitate to cruise HAL again.

    Woody
     
  12. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    We did DCL to Alaska this past summer (July 2012). Our DD had just turned 3. It was awesome and although we knew we weren't taking the best itinerary, we loved every minute of it. The sights were fantastic, the scenery fantastic, and of course the crew/food/ship (our favorite is by far the Wonder) was fantastic.

    We didn't mind the short port times, especially with a young child. Scenery is boring for a young child. Disney entertained her, excursions entertained us. It was a good compromise.

    It's too bad they're going out of Vancouver again. My parents sailed out of Vancouver w/the Wonder in 2011 and didn't care for Vancouver and had to spend extra $$ to get to Victoria themselves.
     
  13. Four Swampers

    Four Swampers Picture is Disney Wonder at Cabo San Lucas

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    We did a cruisetour (land and sea) with Princess to Alaska in 1999. We had our 15 month old daughter on the ship with us, but not on the land portion.

    We did DCL Alaska cruise out of Seattle this summer, 2012.

    Seeing Fairbanks and taking the train to Denali and Anchorage was excellent. Glacier Bay is slightly superior to Tracy Arm. Princess definitely provided a chance to see more of Alaska.

    On board, DCL beat Princess like a drum. Now, bear in mind that I am comparing 1999 Princess to 2012 Disney. Maybe Princess is now super awesome. All I know is that after the Princess cruise, I planned to never cruise again. A quick DCL cruise to the Bahamas in 2009 to please my daughters changed that.

    If possible, do a land/sea cruisetour with Princess or HAL. If you will be doing just the cruise, I would choose DCL, as their superior family entertainment and superior service trumps seeing glaciers in Glacier Bay (Princess) vs seeing glaciers in Tracy Arm (DCL). At the end of the day, they are both glaciers, even though Glacier Bay is more majestic.

    More important than which line you choose is what excursions you do. Alaska is expensive, but if you just look at it from the ship you will not get a true experience. In Skagway, ride the train that follows the route the gold prospectos followed. In Ketchikan, find bear or salmon or king crab. In Juneau, get up on Mendenhall Glacier. If you really want to experience Alaska, have a plan for each port and get out there!
     
  14. luv2sleep

    luv2sleep DIS Veteran

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    Wow, this is really helpful! :)

    I would definitely not do a land and tour trip with a young child. So since he has to come along it would just be a cruise at this time in our lives. When he is older or if I take a trip sans my kid, I would definitely do a land tour. I think DCL would be good for young families from what you mention.
     
  15. tvguy

    tvguy Question anything the facts don't support.

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    Never been on Princess, but in travel circles HAL is the line known for Alaska, been going years longer than other cruise lines. They tend to have the best permits to go to glaciers and best docking locations.
    We found HAL comparable or a hair better than Disney on service.
     
  16. Luv2Diz

    Luv2Diz We love the Wonder and Magic of Disney cruising!

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    This helpful......I'd like to cruise to Alaska again. But with DCL prices and them now leaving out of Vancouver instead of Seattle, I am looking for other options. I'm on the fence between Princess and HAL.
     
  17. woody73

    woody73 <font color=darkorange>Enjoyed the Pumpkinmen<br><

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    I don't think you could go wrong with either Princess or HAL for an Alaska cruise. They are my top choices.

    Woody
     
  18. lodge

    lodge DIS Veteran

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    I wonder what is the best time of year to experience Alaska? DCL itineraries limit the choice, but it sounds like the other lines give options.
     
  19. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS Veteran

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    The Alaska season generally runs from May-September. On any cruiseline.

    We've been in September and May/June. Both great choices. Next time we're going in July (in spite of there probably being more people). Each month is really it's own season, so different things to see/experience.

    :cutie:
     
  20. Luv2Diz

    Luv2Diz We love the Wonder and Magic of Disney cruising!

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    "I wonder what is the best time of year to experience Alaska? DCL itineraries limit the choice, but it sounds like the other lines give options."

    Weather-wise we really lucked out with our cruise the week of August 27th this year. Every port had sunny, warm weather. We were walking around the ports in sunglasses and t-shirts!

    I also think later in the season you have a chance of getting closer to the glacier since the ice has melted in the channels. The captain said we supposedly got closer to the glacier than any other DCL cruise the entire season. It was a beautiful, sunny day.

    I know we were very lucky, but I would cruise again in late August/early September to Alaska for sure.
     
  21. tvguy

    tvguy Question anything the facts don't support.

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    We cruised Alaska in June on HAL, but looked at Disney first, knowing the rates would be higher. What was the deal killer was Disney goes Monday to Monday instead of Saturday-Saturday or Sunday to Sunday. I would have to burn up an additonal vacation day to make Monday to Monday work, and they prefer we take our vacation in week chunks, not days. We had done Alaska on HAL 10 years before, that time on the Amsterdam, this time on the Westerdam.
     

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