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Alaska out of Seattle or Vancouver?

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In anticipation of the upcoming release of 2021 sailing dates for Alaska, I’m trying to decide between sailing out of Seattle or Vancouver. I’ve been to both cities before and love them, what I’m wondering is if one sailing offers more must see sights vs the other? Any insights would be welcome! 

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We sailed out of Vancouver and loved it.  Sailing up the inside passage, we had AT&T cell service the entire time with the exception of and hour or two at the most.  We also did a 3-day inland tour with RCI at the end of our cruise.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect cruise. 

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I loved Seattle as a teen. I would visit my Aunt and Uncle in Washington and Seattle was always the highlight for me so when I booked an Alaska Cruise in 2017 for Sept of 2018 Seattle was a no brainer for me. I have never been or want to go to Vancouver.

As an adult I still love Seattle BUT a couple grown up things that turned me off a little bit.  Airport is WAY outside Seattle and even a Lyft was pricey. Speaking of Pricey, Seattle in a whole is expensive. $40.00 for two for lunch is not out of the question. I'm talking sit down restaurants for burgers. Hotels are expensive... use the EXPRESS DEAL option on Priceline.com like @Matt always suggest (single greatest suggestion ever)

If you plan on Seattle a get in town a few days early...get the City Pass to save cash on sightseeing.

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10 minutes ago, whitsmom said:

We sailed out of Vancouver and loved it.  Sailing up the inside passage, we had AT&T cell service the entire time with the exception of and hour or two at the most.  We also did a 3-day inland tour with RCI at the end of our cruise.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect cruise. 

Is the inland tour an excursion you book with RCI? Or is this a sailing with a land tour included? I’m intrigued. 

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We sailed out of Vancouver, one of the top reasons was that the port fees and taxes were significantly lower. However, we flew into Seattle (from the East coast) as those flights were significantly lower. We did a one-way car rental up to Vancouver.  The drive up was so scenic - unforgettable.  We had a great time sight-seeing in Seattle.  

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54 minutes ago, MotleyCruiser said:

As an adult I still love Seattle BUT a couple grown up things that turned me off a little bit.  Airport is WAY outside Seattle and even a Lyft was pricey. 

Sea-Tac to Downtown Seattle is 13-15 miles, depending on what part of downtown. So let's just call it 14. To compare to others, it's not that far out:

Lower Manhattan to JFK is 20 miles; LGA is 11 miles, EWR is 14-15 miles. YYZ to Downtown Toronto is 16-17 miles. O'Hare to Downtown Chicago is 17-19 miles. LAX to Downtown LA is 18-20 miles, and Burbank to Downtown LA is 16-17 miles. DEN to Downtown Denver is 24-25 miles. Houston Bush to Downtown Houston is 20-22 miles.

I'll stop there, but with the exception of some ridiculously convenient exceptions (Boston, Washington Reagan, things like that) SEA is relatively close to downtown, and has a good rail link between the airport and city center. 

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As a man that lives in Seattle, I'm partial to our city. I would base it on Ship/itinerary vs. city. For instance, Ovation sails out of Seattle, while Radiance and Serenade sail out of Vancouver. Radiance is N/S, while Ovation and Serenade (typically) are round trip. Though this could change in 2021. 

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As 2021 itineraries unfold keep an eye out for Glacial Bay.  NCL includes it on Seattle based cruises.  

I've done both one-way and Seattle based Alaska cruises.  Both have merit.  Seattle is easy to plan and execute for Americans.  Round trip flights are easy and affordable. 

Sometimes Seattle based itineraries are not as exciting as the one-way North or South itineraries.  Glacial Bay could change that.  

One way Alaska itineraries are more immersive because they start or stop in Alaska.  You spend more time in Alaska as a result.  They are more to plan because flights are not round trip and airlines like Southwest don't fly to Alaska so you are stuck using legacy type carriers.  

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2 hours ago, twangster said:

They are more to plan because flights are not round trip and airlines like Southwest don't fly to Alaska so you are stuck using legacy type carriers.  

Or our “local” airline Alaska Air. Far from a legacy carrier. But, they fly in and out of nearly every city in Alaska with an airport. 

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17 hours ago, J-Ro said:

Is the inland tour an excursion you book with RCI? Or is this a sailing with a land tour included? I’m intrigued. 

It was thru RCI.  There are several to pick from on how many days/nights that you want.  We picked the 3 due to having to return to work.  It included transportation and lodging but not any food.  It was an awesome experience and we want to go back and stay longer.

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1 hour ago, Jim82Mac said:

Or our “local” airline Alaska Air. Far from a legacy carrier. But, they fly in and out of nearly every city in Alaska with an airport. 

We flew Delta and used points for most of our flights.  We flew into Vancouver and flew out of Anchorage.

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16 hours ago, PG Cruiser said:

I chose to sail from Seattle because it was a US port.  My thinking was that there would be less hassles with immigration.  Was my reasoning valid?

We had no issues and it didn't take long at all.  We did fly in a day early so that may have helped.

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1 hour ago, Jim82Mac said:

Or our “local” airline Alaska Air. Far from a legacy carrier. But, they fly in and out of nearly every city in Alaska with an airport. 

Heck yeah, Alaska is a fantastic airline. My favorite North American-based airline, personally, and I've flown on a lot of them. 

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2 hours ago, Jim82Mac said:

Or our “local” airline Alaska Air. Far from a legacy carrier. But, they fly in and out of nearly every city in Alaska with an airport. 

Alaska is not an LCC.  In so many ways they are a legacy type carrier which I why specifically I included that extra word.

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On 10/9/2019 at 5:09 PM, PG Cruiser said:

I chose to sail from Seattle because it was a US port.  My thinking was that there would be less hassles with immigration.  Was my reasoning valid?

Immigration?  Or do you mean customs?   Customs is not an issue as long as you understand and respect their laws.  Have your passports ready.

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9 minutes ago, Zeashore said:

Immigration?  Or do you mean customs?   Customs is not an issue as long as you understand and respect their laws.  Have your passports ready.

I'm pretty sure it's called the immigration area for passengers to be processed.  Customs is for goods being brought in.

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2 hours ago, PG Cruiser said:

I'm pretty sure it's called the immigration area for passengers to be processed.  Customs is for goods being brought in.

Flying into any country tends to involve two steps that are sometimes blurred into one step.  Immigration is often first, followed by Customs once you have all your luggage.  

YVR isn't bad unless your flight arrives when several international wide body aircraft from overseas arrive.  Same with Montreal, same with Toronto.  Same with Atlanta or New York or <insert name here>.  It's not the end of the world, it's just the way it is arriving from a foreign country.  In fact it's a big indicator you are starting on a real adventure.

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22 minutes ago, twangster said:

Flying into any country tends to involve two steps that are sometimes blurred into one step.  Immigration is often first, followed by Customs once you have all your luggage.  

YVR isn't bad unless your flight arrives when several international wide body aircraft from overseas arrive.  Same with Montreal, same with Toronto.  Same with Atlanta or New York or <insert name here>.  It's not the end of the world, it's just the way it is arriving from a foreign country.  In fact it's a big indicator you are starting on a real adventure.

Global Entry has spoiled me.  I'll see how it is to go through immigration again when I visit Israel next month.

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I have not checked the itineraires lately, but the one time we went to Alaska we chose Vancouver for these reasons:

  1. It offered the Hubbard Glacier as a part of the itinerary.  We were coached by a Royal Caribbean rep to not miss the Glacier ... they were right.
  2. It offered the Inside Passage as well.  We spent hours sitting on the balcony watching scenery pass by from our balcony (it was so close we thought we could touch the land).
  3. You will probably get this out of Seattle as well, but do not miss "Sailing into the Sunset".   When leaving Vancouver Radiance took a sharp turn to the west and the views (from the Viking Crown Lounge) were stunning.  Schedule your dinner so as not to miss this.  (As an aside the Diamond Lounge on Radiance is one of the best in the fleet).
  4. Starting or ending your trip in Seward is perfect (instead of a round-trip to Seatlle).  We spent and extra 5 days traveling to Denali and back ... these were the best days of our "cruise".  Thanks to the Royal Caribbean rep again, who had said, "You can not go all the way to Alaska and not see Denali.  I should know ... I am from there".

Serendipity strikes!

Have a blast ...

Curt from Canada

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When sailing from Vancouver, you spend a lot more time sailing in the beautiful Inside Passage. From Seattle,  you have a day at sea on the way north and on the way back south. So I prefer sailing from Vancouver for that reason. 

   However, if you want to go to  Victoria, then the Seattle cruises offer a stop there. 

  

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