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Scooter girl 58

Which Cruise?

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I am hoping to do an Alaska cruise in 2020 and also the Rocky Mountaineer.  As I will be traveling from the UK this will be a once in a lifetime holiday so want to get it right  I have got two cruises in mind and can not decide which would be best.  I have made a list of pros and cons but it's just too close to call.

Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas

Ketchikan 7.00 to 16.00

Juneau 9.00 to 20.30

Skagway 7.00 to 2030

Tracy Arm fjord Cruising 7.00 to 12.00

 

Celebrity Eclipse 

Icy Strait point  15.00 to 22.00

Hubbard glacier cruising 10.30 to 14.30

Juneau  7.30 to 20.00

Ketchikan 14.00 to 20.30

I am edging towards the Celebrity one as it includes the Hubbard glacier, but the times in port aren't as good and it doesn't go to Skagway.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  

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We are doing an alaska cruise followed by the rocky mountaineer in about 6 weeks.  also a trip of a lifetime for us.  I'm not sure my answer will help as we chose HAL (which isn't on your list) - mostly because it was important we leave from and return to vancouver (as direct flights from nz, rocky mountaineer leaving from here too, and less open sea sailing.)  We ended up narrowing it down to the one option which worked in well with the mountaineer and school holiday dates, although it's not a package deal - we booked individually.  We do tracey arm and hubbard, and shore times seem to work with what we want to do.  

 

If i had to choose one of the above, I think i'd choose the one with skagway as the excursion we are most looking forward to is the grizzly bear ziplining there.  But you may have other criteria!  Good luck deciding - we personally found out of all the options, it kind of came down to one cruise due to timing and start/finishing port.  It probably wasn't our top pick of ship initially but hopefully it all works out for us! 

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We worked with a travel agent to decide which Alaska cruise to book. We have only sailed on Royal Caribbean to this point, but for Alaska next year (May 2020) we are sailing on Celebrity Millennium, and our itinerary includes the ports you listed as well as Skagway. We are also doing a land tour before the cruise where we'll be in Anchorage, Denali, Alyeska and Seward. Our cruise is southbound, Seward to Vancouver.

 

This is also our first trip to Alaska so we were open to seeing pretty much anything, as long as we get to do some whale excursions and got to see Denali. Our travel agent helped up pick the Celebrity trip because we don't have children and we like a more relaxed atmosphere. The TA advised us that Celebrity tends to be geared more towards adults and is more relaxed without all the water slides, surf riders, rock climbing walls, etc. Plus we are in our early 50s, the target demographic for Celebrity.

 

I've always been happy with Royal Caribbean, but since this cruise is so port intensive I'm looking forward to a more relaxed atmosphere on board.

 

Good luck, I'm sure whichever you choose you will have an amazing time!

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Thanks for your replies.  We also need a cruise that departs and returns to Vancouver to fit in with our itinerary.  We have travelled with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity before and enjoyed both.  HAL would also fit our itinerary but we think it would not be as much to our taste.  Now edging towards the Serenade one, just wish Hubbard Glacier was on that one, but I'm looking for perfection (even though I know that's never possible) I'm sure we will have an amazing time which ever one we decide on.  

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It's too bad you can't find an itinerary that takes you to a glacier--they're so amazing.  We've been to Alaska four times and have twice visited College Fjord which has many glaciers, Glacier Bay three times and Hubbard Glacier once.  I guess now there are so many cruises to Alaska that they can't all visit a glacier.  At Juneau, you can visit Mendenhall Glacier, just outside of town.  However, it's receded considerably since we first saw it and hard to see much from the Visitor's Center; there are other options to see it from closer up, but all cost money because they're excursions.

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Coral's link is to a one-way cruise - which I would seriously consider, as it does not add any time to your cruise but does bring in Glacier Bay (the safest-by-far glacier site to visit by cruise ship for a once-in-a-lifetime, since Tracy Arm you can pretty much assume you will NOT see from your ship - so you need to factor in an expensive small boat cruise, which may not even be offered by Royal). The only extra required is a flight from Anchorage home (our outbound if you cruise first) compared to Vancouver - but US flights have lower taxes/fees so even though ANC isn't as busy as YVR you may still end up not having any extra cost even if you can't fly direct (and if you weren't planning to fly non-stop back home, you may find Icelandair via Reykjavik extremely convenient and very well-priced back to various regional UK airports, so unless your home airport is in London it could end up just as quick as a YVR-LON-your home airport flight).

 

Given the port-intensive nature of Alaskan cruises, the cruise line/ship should be the least of your concerns - all the lines you are considering are in the same bracket quality-wise, mainstream lines. While there are differences you can still expect more similarities than differences, so which ports, how long in those ports should be much more important factors in your decision making.

 

Also, given that you're dropping a ton of cash on Rocky Mountaineer, personally I'd consider instead ploughing those funds into a serious upgrade of the cruise portion and cross the Rockies by rental car or bus tour - aside from the inside of tunnels, you'll see as much or more from the roads (buses stop at scenic viewpoints, in your own car you can stop anywhere you like) and usually you're in the same valley as the railway on the main road - but have the option of a couple of totally different routes too which no train ever sees. Unless you are train fanatics of course 😉

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The other option which is similar to what martincath mentions. Pick whatever cruise you want that ends in Vancouver.

 

Then - on your own, add your tour to Banff/Calgary. You can add the Rocky Mountaineer yourself, you can add a bus or drive. I know you are from the UK and personally I am afraid to drive in your part of the world and understand if you are afraid to drive in Canada. This leaves your options for cruises almost unlimited and it is easy to add the Canadian Rockies tour on your own to whatever cruise you want.

 

Also, if you can even extend the trip a tad more - you can add Denali or interior Alaska before your cruise and then catch your ship in Seward or Whittier to Vancouver.

 

Unlimited options - all beautiful scenery.

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I second the idea of finding a cruise that goes to Glacier Bay instead of Hubbard or Tracy Arm. There are some Princess cruises from Seattle that go there--and it's not that far to travel from Vancouver to there.

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Agree with Martincath, fly into Calgary and hire a car, or small Motorhome. Driving to the coast is only 600 miles and visit the places that are of interest - suggestions are Banff/Canmore, Jasper/Icefields/Maligne Lake, Lake Louise, Fairmont Hot Springs, Okanagon wine region.

 

If you only plan on one cruise to Alaska, I suggest visiting Glacier Bay is a must. Probably been 30+ times, but am still first out on deck. The Park Rangers also come aboard and provide info. I would also prefer a 1-way cruise to experience Prince William Sound. The flights to/from Anchorage/Vancouver are only a few hours, so you should easily make the UK flights departing Vancouver, which are late afternoon/evening.  

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Posted (edited)

Thank you all very much for taking the trouble to give your advice. You have certainly given me a lot to think about.  I use a mobility scooter and travel with another female friend and neither of us would want to drive, but every year we go on an adventure and  have had some amazing holidays.  We love traveling “across the pond” as the US is so much more accessible than Europe.  I will have a look at some land based tours to add to the cruise, as an option to the Rocky Mountaineer and also at taking one or more internal flights. 

Edited by Scooter girl 58
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16 minutes ago, Scooter girl 58 said:

Thank you all very much for taking the trouble to give your advice. You have certainly given me a lot to think about.  I use a mobility scooter and travel with another female friend and neither of us would want to drive, but every year we go on an adventure and  have had some amazing holidays.  We love traveling “across the pond” as the US is so much more accessible than Europe.  I will have a look at some land based tours to add to the cruise, as an option to the Rocky Mountaineer and also at taking one or more internal flights. 

Canada is also pretty accessible also.

 

You have lots of options and time to figure things out.

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I feel strongly about the one-way cruises.   I will only do a round-trip if I am financially- and time-strapped to the point that at least a round-trip is better than nothing.  

 

Two issues I have:

1)   if you look at the sailing routes, over half the time the round-trips are more like Outside Passage cruises--not Inside Passage.  And that matters; especially if you've got a balcony, and on the wrong side of the ship.  The at-sea days on your balcony are a big part of what sets Alaska apart from other destinations.

2)  You miss the ports closer to Anchorage, and those are the best ones (even Whittier, your first time).  All-in-all the port times are just not as good on round-trip.

 

 

I will grant that the round-trips often stop in Victoria where the one-ways don't, and Victoria is nice.  However the one-ways start/stop in Vancouver, and the ferry ride to Victoria from Vancouver is cheap and a scenic cruise unto itself.  I prefer just to tack on a land portion in Vancouver instead.

 

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On 5/28/2019 at 6:20 AM, tetleytea said:

I feel strongly about the one-way cruises.   I will only do a round-trip if I am financially- and time-strapped to the point that at least a round-trip is better than nothing.  

 

Two issues I have:

1)   if you look at the sailing routes, over half the time the round-trips are more like Outside Passage cruises--not Inside Passage.  And that matters; especially if you've got a balcony, and on the wrong side of the ship.  The at-sea days on your balcony are a big part of what sets Alaska apart from other destinations.

2)  You miss the ports closer to Anchorage, and those are the best ones (even Whittier, your first time).  All-in-all the port times are just not as good on round-trip.

 

 

I will grant that the round-trips often stop in Victoria where the one-ways don't, and Victoria is nice.  However the one-ways start/stop in Vancouver, and the ferry ride to Victoria from Vancouver is cheap and a scenic cruise unto itself.  I prefer just to tack on a land portion in Vancouver instead.

 

The amount of time sailing the Inside Passage varies with departure port and size of ship/cruise line. Seattle based ships spend less time in the Inside Passage than Vancouver based ships. Some of the Luxury/Premium lines also cruise the entire Inside Passage, as all cruise ships did back in the 70's & 80's.

 

Only Seattle R/T cruises must stop in Victoria, or other Canadian port, as R/T cruises from Vancouver do not have to stop at any port outside of Alaska, as US PVSA is not applicable.

 

Unfortunately the Victoria stops are so short, so agree an extension for a few days on Vancouver Island is highly recommended.🙂

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What about RCCL Radiance of the Seas one way either northbound or southbound (Vancouver to Seward or the revers)? We did it last summer and it was amazing, and we got quite close to Hubbard Glacier and it was incredible watching it calve (where chunks break off and fall into the ocean). I don't feel like we "lesser" experience seeing Hubbard and not Glacier Bay, and we had really good port times (long days) in Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Skagway too.

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