Princess cruises; Alaska

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by Andrew DEREK UK, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    Ok my time to ask, and yes know I have committed a sin already with the thread not being DCL.

    For the cruise experts out there, on Alaska, and how have sailed with Princess as well.

    I have been disappointed with DCL's Wonder itinerary to Alaska, and with my Med 7/30/2011 being changed started to look at the alternatives.

    One alternative I am researching is Alaska with Princess, they say they are regularly voted best cruise line to Alaska and have permits for Glacier Bay. I have sailed with Princess many times and found there ships,service, and crew very good.

    Now they have *too many* options and I want to cut that down to what is the best.

    Options/views on these:-

    -Connoisseur Voyage Cruise
    This exciting 14-day cruise ventures deeper into Alaska to explore out-of-the-way places rarely featured on other itineraries. Visit Seward and Kodiak as well as popular Inside Passage ports of Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and Ketchikan. Glacier-viewing in Glacier Bay National Park and Tracy Arm Fjord plus a stop in Victoria, B.C. complete this unique, 2-week Alaska cruise exploration round trip from Seattle.

    or

    -Inside Passage - 10 Days Round Trip San Francisco
    This 10-day itinerary features ports of call in Victoria, B.C., Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan plus glacier-viewing in Glacier Bay National Park.
    Like this as I would like to go to San Fran again. So can add 4 nights there.

    or

    7-night Voyage of the Glaciers Cruise with 5-night Land Tour featuring 1-night Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, 1-night Denali Princess Lodge, 2-nights Fairbanks and 1-night Seattle.
    The train and Denali national park look appealing but see fewer ports.

    All these include flights for me and appear to be very competitive against DCL.



    View from the experts who have cruisesed in that area before with these add ons.
     
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  3. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

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    The land/sea is spectacular. Can't address the others.
     
  4. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    :thumbsup2
     
  5. shoes99

    shoes99 DIS Veteran

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    We did the Inside Passage on the Inaugural Diamond Princess out of Seattle.. We had a blast. We should have done the land/sea but I wanted to go to Disneyland after the cruise, so that is what we did (we live in NJ). We are DCL/Princess lovers and do either one based on price and itinerary.
    We just changed from DCL to Princess for the June 2010 Baltics cruise. We had an inside cabin, and changed to a mini-suite for less $$$. We love both lines, but we have no children so either is good for us.
     
  6. jrask

    jrask Earning My Ears

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    I've been to Alaska with Princess once. So, not an expert but I'm happy to give my two cents. I agree you want to combine the cruise with a trip into the interior -- so that's the third option you listed. Here's why:

    The interior is just amazing and so different than what you get from the cruise portion. We had an incredible trip, but Denali really was the highlight.

    That being said, my recommendation is to book the land portion on your own. This sounded complicated to us initially, but it couldn't be easier. The cruise tours give you benchmarks for what to do and where to stay. The Alaska board on another website can give you everything you need. In fact, it was easier to plan the land portions then to pick shore excursions on this trip. It was far cheaper, but it was also a far better trip. It gave us flexibility to spend more time as we saw fit, to avoid included activities that we didn't care for.

    It even saved our trip: We got to Denali one day ahead of the cruisetour that we would have otherwise been on. It was incredible when we were there. But when the cruisetour arrived, the place was blanketed with smoke from a terrible fire in the Fairbanks area. So, they didn't see much of Denali and then they continued on their path to Fairbanks where things got worse whereas we were heading back down to Anchorage and decided to do daytrips even further away from the smoke that we hadn't planned on.

    Excursions are expensive but absolute necessities to experience the Alaska that is in your head. To give you a sense of our itinerary/excursions and why we would do the land portion:

    1. Cruise embarked from Vancouver so we spent a day there.

    2. Ketchikan. We did an incredible sea kayaking trip not booked through the ship. No experience necessary. It was just us and the guide and bald eagles and salmon jumping. Then we explored town a bit (shops, galleries, a museum)

    3. Juneau. This place is excursion heaven, so we booked two. First was a guided hike through the temperate rain forest...very simple, most on a wheelchair accessible path. Then took a helicopter for a hike on a glacier.

    4. Skagway. Interesting for gold rush history, but made it a short day basically walking around shops and doing free tours/lectures provided by the National Park Service.

    5. Glacier bay. Terrific glacier viewing. You may see whales, sea otters, seals.

    6. College Fjord. Terrific glacier viewing (better than glacier bay on our particular trip)

    ***For wildlife up to this point, we saw lots of bald eagles, jumping salmon, and whales. Other sea mammals are doable with a whale watching trip and small bears with an expensive bear watching excursion.***

    7. Disembarked in Whittier and took Princess transport to the Anchorage airport, rented car and drove to Denali...fairly lengthy trip but some interesting places to stop along the way.


    8. Stayed the night at Denali Princess Lodge (same one that the cruisetour does)...you need the overnight because you want to tour Denali as early as humanly possible for best animal viewing.

    9. Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour (there is also another tour that is shorter and not as worthwhile) offered by the National Park itself...same one that would be on the cruisetour unless they are now offering the shorter/worse tour. We got close encounters with grizzly, caribou, moose, and a bunch of other animals that we never would have seen on the cruise portion. (Not the kind of thing you are likely to see on the cruise portion.) Plus the terrain is out of this world.

    10. Crashed after the tour and then grabbed food in any of the hotels along the block...very easy. Spent second night at Denali hotel.

    11. Next morning drove back to Anchorage and stayed in a Marriott or Sheraton or something like that. Spent the next day in Anchorage then got bored with city stuff (I came to Alaska for nature!)

    12. So, the next day we decided to take a drive down to Seward and did a tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park (all by boat) and saw humpback whales, killer whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions, and puffins. All with the exception of puffins are possible on the cruise portion of the trip, but not the same experience as a small boat unless you specifically go on a whale watching trip.
     
  7. eskimoinparadise

    eskimoinparadise Mouseketeer

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    We've done the 10-day inside passage on Princess and it was spectacular. The only part that might be touchy is the sea day between SF and Victoria. On the outbound it was fine, but on the return we had high seas and rain.
     
  8. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    Interesting thank you, I know what you mean on prices, my Cat3 for the Blatic is far higher in price than rival lines, my sister just did the RCCL cruise to the Baltic, and was way cheaper,,, (She did have to pay for her soda though!)
    Wow lots of detail, thanks for that and contrats on first post. Going to spend more time on yuor detail.
    I am torn on this there is an appeal of going back to San Fran but if the seadays are a waste and I can do more as above, it might swing it.
     
  9. nikkistevej

    nikkistevej DIS Veteran

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    Hey Andrew!!

    My family and extended family are also doing an Alaskan cruise in summer 2011 with someone besides DCL- we are going to do Princess or maybe Celebrity. I have heard Princess is the best for the Alaskan cruises. I wasn't overly impressed with the DCL itineraries. I want to do Glacier Bay, so we'll see which one we choose. :goodvibes
     
  10. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    Hi...:thumbsup2

    Yes, If its Alaska for me in 2011, it will be Princess, as 1/ I have sailed them before and liked it, 2/ They seem to be the best, by a large margin, if I go there and invest a lot of money in it, I want to see *all* the main highlights and sightseeing possible in a vacation. Princess appear to go to far more places and have lots of add ons so does appeal.

    And I can get UK flights included for a lower overall price, than just a Wonder cruise without flights.
     
  11. shoes99

    shoes99 DIS Veteran

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    This was the Highlight of our Inside Passage on Princess:
    [​IMG]
    We chose the 2:30PM tour in Skagway and we were the only helicopter tour that got off the ground, all others in the AM were cancelled due to weather.
    Worth every penny.
     
  12. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    Looks great.:goodvibes :thumbsup2
     
  13. ACDSNY

    ACDSNY I love my job! I love my job! I love my job!

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    We've only gone on one Alaska cruise and it was Princess RT from Seattle. I really want to go again and see Glacier Bay this time and spent a week inland.

    We did the private fishing tour in Ketchikan that was great and they cooked our catch for lunch.

    Skagway we took a tour the included a bus trip to the Yukon and the return was on the White Pass Railroad. The fall colors were wonderful in Sept.

    Juneau the guys went fishing while I went to a glacier and whale watching.

    We loved all of our tours.
     
  14. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    :thumbsup2 Thank you.
     
  15. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Personally, I've done the Princess Voyage of the Glaciers, with the add-on Land Tour, only it wasn't that land tour. The one I took included 2 nights on the Kenai Penninsula rather than the 1 night in Seattle. Otherwise it looks the same. I thought it was FABULOUS. While I enjoyed the ports, and thought that Glacier Bay was THE highlight of the cruise, I also really found the inland portions (Fairbanks, Denali, Kenai) to be way more interesting. I loved the combination. And the time on the Alaskan Railroad is wonderful. What a great way to travel, and what amazing scenery!

    I checked the Princess site, and they call it the Explore: Kenai itinerary now. If you do go to Kenai, you can do the Kenai Fjords Cruise, which was an incredible cruise through fabulous scenery & rock formations, with ALL sorts of wildlife sightings (even a whale, way out of season!)

    I highly recommend doing it Tour first, Cruise after. MUCH more relaxing that way!

    If you really want the more port-intensive cruise, I would go for the first one you list, the Connoisseur Voyage Cruise. Seward is on the Kenai Penninsula, and where you would take the Kenai Fjords cruise from. I highly recommend Seattle. If you like San Francisco, you will also like Seattle. Very cool, very interesting town. You would not be disappointed with pre- or post- nights there.

    If you have any questions about Princess to Alaska or Alaska in general (I've been there twice now, once with Princess, and just this year with ABD) feel free to ask. It's a remarkable place, and I HIGHLY recommend it!

    Sayhello
     
  16. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    THANK YOU

    I know from the Princess website there is about 65 variations in a month of pre/post cruise add ons and thats the confusing bit, so all of this is helpful, if to go for the straight forward 14 night cruise, or the land/sea add on.

    I am tempted on the train add on to Denali, as my son and I like trains, pre cruise sounds logical, thanks for info on Seattle, being like San Fran, its one of thoose things, been to SanFran pre kids, know they would like it, but do not know Seattle so its a case of doing what you know.
     
  17. speakupjc

    speakupjc DIS Veteran

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    Please give me advice as I have never been to Alaska. I know everyone is less than thrilled with the Disney Itinerary but I don't know why. Can anyone please tell me as I am looking into cruising to Alaska with DCL but don't want to make a mistake. Cruising to Alaska with another line isn't an option for me as I cruise on points, however, I could do a Mexican Riveria cruise or something else if the Disney itinerary is horrible.
     
  18. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    Well this in part is what I have been asking here, now firstly I suggest you take a look at Princess cruises website and their Alaska cruises, you will see there is a far greater variety of cruises, many options 7,10,14 nights, and many pre and post cruise add ons, often it appears to me they are far cheaper and have more ports than DCL

    2011 is DCL's first cruise to Alaska other lines such as Princess have been doing it for many years and have invested a lot in the area, having permits for Glacier bay, DCL cannot cruise there, and also the add ons such as the Trains and lodges.

    DCL have one 7 night itinerary, that they repeat and has a selection of the places of interest, not all of them. That is most likely why you are not impressed.

    Now its each to there own some will like the DCL trips, they have sold well, but it will not suite everyone and there is far greater selection out there.
     
  19. justmestace

    justmestace <br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/i

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    We've cruised with Norwegian twice before, and this coming summer we will be going to Alaska with them. My number one reason, of course, was the money...with number two being the itinerary.
    We were able to get an aft corner mini-suite, with a great view on 2 sides, for far less than a comparable Cat 4 (or whatever they're calling it now) on Disney. And I mean FAR LESS. With Alaska excursions as high in cost as they are, the extra money will help. Not to mention, we got a $400 OBC with Norwegian. I'd say they might be worth checking out, too, Andy.

    Sorry I can't help with your decision until this summer! And I'm sure you'll want to be booking before then. ;)
     
  20. Andrew DEREK UK

    Andrew DEREK UK DIS Veteran

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    Thank you Stace, helpful, had looked at them a bit but not in depth will look again, based everything so far on 2010, none of them apart for DCL is on sale for 2011. So there is time.
     
  21. woody73

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

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    We've been on two Alaska cruises, though not on Princess.
    THE highlight was Glacier Bay.

    Woody
     

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