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shelldogok

First Time - Overwhelmed - looking at Alaska Cruise for extended family...HELP!

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What an amazing forum! So glad I found this but it's making me even more overwhelmed.

 

None of us have ever cruised.

 

We're looking at an Alaskan cruise with people aged 17-75. We'd need four rooms....one with my husband and I, one with my three kids (ages 22, 20, 17), one with my brother and family (mom, dad, 18-year old nephew) and one for my dad (age 75).

 

My dad isn't in the best of health because he smoked since he was 12. He can't walk long distances without having to rest and breathe heavy. He does have a scooter that he uses on occasion although he hates to use it. Would he be able to do any shore excursions? How about getting around on a ship? Would a smaller ship be better?

 

We're probably fly out of Seattle. We're looking at 7-day cruise.

 

Any advice and tips would be so greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance!!

 

Shelley

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Welcome to cruise critic.

 

Having worked 2 Alaska seasons as Navigator back in the 70's/80's and also many since then as a passenger, I have been in Alaska a few times.

 

The Alaska season generally runs from May to September, although you will also see some cruises in April & October. Weather in Alaska can be very unpredictable, especially the early/later months. Personally, we prefer mid-June or early September, when the local schools are in, which reduces the number of kids.

 

For a 7-day cruise you have 2 options for departure port - Seattle & Vancouver. All cruises from Seattle must be round-trip and must visit a Canadian port to comply with the US Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA). The Seattle cruises all head up and down the West Coast of Canada, using the Pacific Ocean, which can be rough sailing at any time. Since the Seattle ships also have more distance to steam and must visit Victoria, I suggest comparing the times you get in port.

 

Vancouver departures are not affected by the PVSA, so you will find both 7-day R/T cruises to SE Alaska and 7-day N'bd cruises through SE Alaska and up to Prince William Sound. They also offer 7-day S'bd from Prince William Sound to Vancouver. In addition to being a spectacular departure, the Vancouver ships use the sheltered Inside Passage to reach Alaskan waters.

 

In Alaska, in my opinion, having visited it many times, the highlight is Glacier Bay. Unfortunately, only 2 ships per day visit the National Park and most of the permits are held by Princess & HAL. In Glacier Bay, the Rangers come aboard, providing a commentary throughout the day.

 

If doing a 7-day R/T, I would definitely look for a ship that has Glacier Bay on the itinerary. Alice Arm is nice, but I consider it a poor alternative. To see even more than just SE Alaska, I would consider a 7-day N'bd or S'bd to/from Vancouver. It does require a flight to/from Anchorage, but it may also include Hubbard Glacier & Prince William Sound. Personally, I would look for a N'bd or S'b itinerary that includes Prince William Sound, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay plus the usual SE ports.

 

Regarding cabins, I believe most mainstream mega ship lines require any passenger under 21 to be accompanied in the cabin by a person > 25. Therefore, you may have to adjust cabin assignment slightly. With more than 2 people in some cabins you need to find ships with 3rd/4th person cabins. This may eliminate some of the smaller ships, as our preferred cruise line Viking Ocean only has 2 berth cabins.

 

Regarding moving around the ship, the newer mega ships are big, so he may wish to consider a scooter/wheelchair. Ashore, you should find a selection of tours that have minimal activity requirements. The train in Skagway departs right from the dock (Princess berth)

 

Good luck with research finding a cruise.

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You have several issues. I suggest you measure the ACTUAL widest part of the scooter. Then contact a travel agent that has experience with cruises. You may require a wheelchair accessible cabin due to the scooter. These cabins are reserved over a year in advance.

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You need a good travel agent, well-versed in cruises. They are invaluable for 1st timers. It's true...most cabin doorways are small and tight...until you get to the suites or an HC cabin. They have wider doors that will accommodate a scooter or wheelchair. All medical devices MUST be stored in the cabin...you cannot leave them in the hallway...halls are narrow and folks can't pass by if there is stuff in the hall.

 

Certainly, he can do excursions or tours.....if you research your ports, he may find stuff he'd enjoy without an "excursion"...many things are doable on your own! The more you know about your ports, the better off you'll be.

 

Honestly...do your research...figure out WHAT you want to see in Alaska...then book a cruise that goes there! And PLEASE, consult a travel agency/agent.....they can help with your diverse group!

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"Regarding cabins, I believe most mainstream mega ship lines require any passenger under 21 to be accompanied in the cabin by a person > 25. Therefore, you may have to adjust cabin assignment slightly. With more than 2 people in some cabins you need to find ships with 3rd/4th person cabins. This may eliminate some of the smaller ships, as our preferred cruise line Viking Ocean only has 2 berth cabins."

 

The ONLY line with the over 25 age rule is Carnival. And that is only if the guests parents are not on board. So it wouldn't apply here, even if they choose Carnival. Viking Ocean also is adults only. EM

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Welcome to Cruise Critic.

Your father should bring his own scooter -- renting one from a company can be expensive.

Also you mentioned that he is going to be in a cabin himself -- very expensive for a solo cruiser in a cabin -- usually 200% fare.

And he will need a handicapped cabin to handle the scooter -- you can not leave it out in the hallway.

Definitely talk to a TA in your area.

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In addition to embarking in Vancouver & Seattle...

You can also embark in Seward & Whittier...

Seattle is generally a RT

Vancouver generally provides passage North

Seward & Whittier provide passage South

In addition, there are one off cruises w/ different lines departing out of California.
We have an amazingly beautiful state - if you plan a one way cruise - I highly recommend allowing time to tour the Alaskan Interior as well.  You can plan this independently or as an add-on to your cruise.

Good Luck w/ your planning & ENJOY your Cruise!!!

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