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Strikes

U.S Pacific Coast vs Alaska Cruise

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Hi all! 

 

It's my first time posting here (so apologies if this is posted in the wrong area). I write plenty of Tripadvisor reviews, but I'm new to Cruise Critic.

 

I'd be really keen for some input regarding these two potential cruises. We'd be looking at travelling in Sept 2020 and are deciding between the Princess Cruises Wine Country Cruise versus an Alaska cruise with probably HAL or Celebrity. 

 

We are a couple (late 30's) taking our Mums (late 60's) and I'm overthinking it and confusing myself. I'd love to hear some first hand accounts if you've done either or both of these cruise types and have any love/hates or considerations. 

 

I've only done one cruise this year on the Royal Princess to Mexico which I really enjoyed. I didn't mind the large size of the ship. 

 

Anyway, any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks :) 

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I've never done a California coastal cruise, but have done cruises to Alaska 4 times, and plan to do it again in the future. AK is simply beautiful, and even though I have done it 4 times already, the scenery is ever-changing.

IMO, Alaska is a not-to-be-missed experience.

All of my cruises (40+) have been with Princess, and I currently have 3 more booked. Princess is known within the cruising industry for doing Alaska VERY well. Since you enjoyed your previous cruise with Princess, you might want to consider doing AK with them as well.

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Welcome to Cruise Critic!

 

We've done Alaska three times all on Princess (2 Vancouver to Whittier; 1 Seattle round trip) and 1 Wine Country Coastal also on Princess.  We loved them all but they are very different itineraries.

 

The ports are by far the most important thing on the Wine Country Coastal since you sail too far off the coast to see land.  On the other hand, the scenery to us is almost as important as the ports on an Alaska cruise (especially the one way itineraries). 

 

As flamono notes, if you need to chose 1 itinerary and you've never been on an Alaska cruise, pick that and make sure it goes to Glacier Bay (not every cruise line or itinerary visits it).  We've visited 3 times and the scenery never gets old!  Make sure you do your research on how long you have in each port and what type of enrichment programs are offered on board.  I know Princess has a full time naturalist on each ship and a variety of special speakers and entertainers on each cruise (see https://www.princess.com/learn/cruise-destinations/alaska-cruises/onboard-experience/)

 

At a later point in time do the Wine Country Coastal especially if you like wine since almost every port has wineries to visit.  Another not to be missed excursion on that cruise is Mount St. Helens (out of Astoria). 

Edited by capriccio

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4 hours ago, flamomo said:

I've never done a California coastal cruise, but have done cruises to Alaska 4 times, and plan to do it again in the future. AK is simply beautiful, and even though I have done it 4 times already, the scenery is ever-changing.

IMO, Alaska is a not-to-be-missed experience.

All of my cruises (40+) have been with Princess, and I currently have 3 more booked. Princess is known within the cruising industry for doing Alaska VERY well. Since you enjoyed your previous cruise with Princess, you might want to consider doing AK with them as well.

Giving me the choice I would choose the Alaska cruise over the  wine country one 10 out of 10 times. Alaska is amazing, it never gets old.

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11 hours ago, Strikes said:

Hi all! 

 

It's my first time posting here (so apologies if this is posted in the wrong area). I write plenty of Tripadvisor reviews, but I'm new to Cruise Critic.

 

I'd be really keen for some input regarding these two potential cruises. We'd be looking at travelling in Sept 2020 and are deciding between the Princess Cruises Wine Country Cruise versus an Alaska cruise with probably HAL or Celebrity. 

 

We are a couple (late 30's) taking our Mums (late 60's) and I'm overthinking it and confusing myself. I'd love to hear some first hand accounts if you've done either or both of these cruise types and have any love/hates or considerations. 

 

I've only done one cruise this year on the Royal Princess to Mexico which I really enjoyed. I didn't mind the large size of the ship. 

 

Anyway, any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙂

Since you're planning on cruising September 2020, I'd pick the Pacific Coastal cruise over the Alaska cruise for that time of year. All our Pacific Coastal cruises have been with Celebrity and RC, all in September. This September we skipped the Pacific Coastal cruise and did a September (14 night cruise) New England/Canada cruise. Fantastic cruise.  

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Strikes, welcome to Cruise Critic.  I hope you find the information you get here to be useful. Sadly, often, requests such as yours result in information overload.  I'm sure, however, that you understand that people are just trying to be helpful.

 

By the "Princess Wine Country Cruise" I assume you mean the 7-day cruise from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles.  I have no experience with that cruise, but the highlights to me would be the stops in Astoria and San Francisco.  I have taken three Princess "California Coastal" seven-day cruises and six Alaska cruises (on two different lines) ranging from seven to twelve days.  Most recently (two weeks ago) we were on the same Royal Princess on a 12-day round trip Alaska cruise out of Los Angeles.

 

I would strongly recommend that you consider an Alaska cruise first.  Alaska has tremendous natural beauty.  I really don't think that the other itinerary has anything like it.  Consider your mums.  (Are you English?)  At your age, you have plenty of time to get to Alaska, but, at their age, they might not be inclined or able to take an Alaska cruise in the future. 

 

You may or may not find this to be helpful.  I am one of the few people who do not feel that you life will be incomplete if you pick an itinerary that does not include Glacier Bay.  As I indicated, Alaska has tremendous natural beauty regardless of which itinerary you pick.  My best advice is to pick the cruise that best fits your schedule and your budget.

 

I will add another comment that might complicate the decision for you.  It rains in Alaska.  In my six AK cruises--one in August, two in late-April/early-May and three in September--we encountered rain at some point in every one of them.  If your cruise is going to be "ruined" by one or more rains, then, I agree, that perhaps you shouldn't consider an Alaska cruise.

 

Feel free to come back and ask more questions.

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Both itineraries are great and Princess does them well.    September in Alaska can have some rain, which is unlikely as you get farther south down the coast.   If, as someone suggested, you are British, then rain probably won't matter much to you - just take appropriate clothing.   

 

My preference would be the 14 day (back to back) Sept. 5 cruise out of Vancouver - to Anchorage and return to Vancouver.    That avoids the need to fly out of Anchorage and hopefully you'll get some nice weather that early in the month.   Vancouver is also such a lovely city to spend a couple of days either before or after the cruise.    Don't miss doing a whale watch excursion at one of the ports.  

 

The coastal cruise is also lovely - the weather can be quite warm (even hot!) as you go farther south.   Here's another idea:   Look at the Oceania Sept. 10 cruise out of Vancouver - 12 days, including Alaska ports, then heading south and visiting a couple of ports in British Columbia, then Astoria, ending in San Pedro.   Oceania is a step above the mainstream cruises in service and food reputation and should be very enjoyable.   

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Wow, how helpful are you all! Thanks so much for the detailed responses, that's been incredibly useful. 

 

I'll do some further research, but now thinking of making this one the Alaska cruise and saving the Pacific Coast cruise with just my partner to do at a later stage. 

 

I'm Australian, so not too perturbed about the rain. Either way, can't wait for another cruise. Thanks again :) 

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I have not done a wine country cruise, but have visited wine country several times while in California.  I cannot speak to the weather in Alaska in September (we went in June), but I have to agree with what several others have said that Alaska is truly incredible.  While I wouldn't do a back-to-back cruise, I would do a cruise and a short cruisetour on land in Alaska but there is not much comparison.  Instead of visiting some wineries and a few cities, you would be seeing so much in Alaska.  We did a cruisetour first, and the highlight was, of course, Denali -- an eight-hour bus tour inside the park was amazing.  Fairbanks was very good, but the weather might or might not be great by September.  I have to say that in Fairbanks we did the tourist tour -- riverboat, tour of a gold mine, etc., which sounded really hokey, but were very interesting.

 

Then along the coast, we did the Kenai Fjords tour in Seward while the ship was turned around from one cruise to another, and that was incredible as we got up close to some glaciers and watched them calve and could hear the noises the glaciers make, then the ship stopped in College Fjord so we could see all of the glaciers there (from a distance), then on to Juneau where we did a whale watch and then took a helo to hike on top of a glacier for an hour.  In Skagway we took a trip into the Yukon in Canada for the day.  Finally in Ketchikan we took a float plane up to one of the small trapped lakes in the mountains, landed there and then returned. 

 

There just isn't any way that you could say all of that with the incredible awe that the sights include about any trip to wine country.  Not that wine country is bad, but you are comparing apples and oranges.

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On 10/11/2019 at 4:36 AM, Strikes said:

Wow, how helpful are you all! Thanks so much for the detailed responses, that's been incredibly useful. 

 

I'll do some further research, but now thinking of making this one the Alaska cruise and saving the Pacific Coast cruise with just my partner to do at a later stage. 

 

I'm Australian, so not too perturbed about the rain. Either way, can't wait for another cruise. Thanks again 🙂

 

Strikes I think that is a good compromise with Alaska for now and the Pacific Coast with your partner.

 

We did Alaska in July 2017 and it was wonderful though we did have rain and mist some days. This can vary in different years. 

 

I am not sure where in Australia you are from but being from Perth I did notice the cold. Especially in northern Alaska beanies, gloves and thermals were needed especially doing any tour near glaciers. We also found thin plastic waterproof over pants useful as we did some zodiac and kayaking tours. I got them from either Mountain Design or Kathmandu.

 

I do agree with the suggestion capriccio made for the Pacific Coastal cruise. We have friends who live in Mount ST Helens and it is a really lovely small town with vineyards all around.

 

Edited by frantic36

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