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Alaska pre-planning question...


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So...I know some of you will laugh at me for this after proclaiming up and down that (already coming from too much cold weather) I have no desire to sail Alaska. However, I will be the first to admit that I can be wrong (sometimes lol), and it might be in our 2023 summer plans.

I totally blame two things for this recent turn of events, one being our recent trip through the Rockies (turns out Hubby really likes mountains/waterfalls/creeks), and the recent pics and stories posted by @Cruising With JT, and @l9dance. And looking back through old @twangster blogs, I can admit that I see things in a different light now. I still don't feel a burning desire, but a cruise to Alaska is a decent compromise for Hubby and I. He gets his outdoor piece, and I get my cruise.  Also, we would have our two teenage girls with us on this one.

Here are my preliminary questions for the group, I am sure I will have more as time goes on.

1. Sail from Seattle or Vancouver? Flights are not a factor. I can fly from DTW or Toronto. Non issue. I am assuming the world will be in a better place by 2023 and border closures are a distant memory. We more or less want to know which embarkation port gives us better itineraries. (Edit: thinking of mainly RT itineraries this time around)

2. Getting a balcony is an obvious yes for us, but side balcony or aft?

And yes, before anyone points it out, I am fully aware there may not be a CK available! lol

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I recommend the one way cruises that end or start in Seward. More of Alaska is seen and no retracing back to Seattle. The ships that currently do this are not Quantum class. So big decision between ship newness vs quantity of Alaska seen. My family enjoyed a day in Anchorage and if additional time is available I have heard great things about Denali park.

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I gotta vote for the southbound/northbound route. Yes, smaller older ships but if you think this will be your one and only trip to Alaska, go big or go home and that includes doing a land tour to Denali. 
 

The only reason I’d consider the RT on a quantum class is that the teens would probably enjoy the ship more than a vision class. However, this is a port intensive trip and in my opinion the ship is more so the means to get me to each port. 
 

The smaller ships can also get into places the bigger ones can’t. 
 

Plus…….you can take the glass top train from anchorage to Seward and that’s a must do! 

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50 minutes ago, Jill said:

I gotta vote for the southbound/northbound route. Yes, smaller older ships but if you think this will be your one and only trip to Alaska, go big or go home and that includes doing a land tour to Denali. 
 

The only reason I’d consider the RT on a quantum class is that the teens would probably enjoy the ship more than a vision class. However, this is a port intensive trip and in my opinion the ship is more so the means to get me to each port. 
 

The smaller ships can also get into places the bigger ones can’t. 
 

Plus…….you can take the glass top train from anchorage to Seward and that’s a must do! 

I agree with @Jill.  I've done both one way and round trip.  There's just no comparison.  Do the one way and spend a few extra days in Alaska.  Some things you should not miss while there:

Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward

Alaska railroad.

If you have time, do a cruise tour that includes Denali

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Other than 2021 with ATRA bypassing Canada, in a normal year SEA has Quantum class while YVR (Vancouver) has Radiance class.

The original plan for 2021 and the plan that remains for 2022 is Radiance doing the one-way North/South and Serenade doing YVR round trip.

I'm a big fan of the one way and have done it twice.  That being said when Serenade was added for the 2021 season she had double glaciers on some dates visiting Endicott Arm, Tracy Arm and/or Hubbard Glacier in various combinations.  Those double glacier itineraries are very compelling.  

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While I do agree with the others that one way (southbound for us) is our favorite way to cruise Alaska, if I had to choose between Seattle and Vancouver, I would choose Vancouver.  Vancouver is such a cool city, with so many wonderful things to do before or after a cruise.  I prefer the airport there over SEA as well.

We are cruising from Seattle next year ourselves (hopefully!!!) only because we are taking two seniors with us, and we wanted one direct flight each way for them.  We can't do that with Vancouver, and I really don't want to wear them out with the travel to/from.  Compound that with the viewing from the Solarium and 270 on the Quantum class, and Seattle just works best for them.  If it wasn't for that, we would sail from Vancouver roundtrip, or better yet, from Seward southbound to Vancouver.   ?

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47 minutes ago, barbeyg said:

While I do agree with the others that one way (southbound for us) is our favorite way to cruise Alaska, if I had to choose between Seattle and Vancouver, I would choose Vancouver.  Vancouver is such a cool city, with so many wonderful things to do before or after a cruise.  I prefer the airport there over SEA as well.

We are cruising from Seattle next year ourselves (hopefully!!!) only because we are taking two seniors with us, and we wanted one direct flight each way for them.  We can't do that with Vancouver, and I really don't want to wear them out with the travel to/from.  Compound that with the viewing from the Solarium and 270 on the Quantum class, and Seattle just works best for them.  If it wasn't for that, we would sail from Vancouver, or better yet, from Seward southbound.   ?

The Seward cruises end in Vancouver or start in Vancouver and end in Seward.

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2 hours ago, Jill said:

However, this is a port intensive trip and in my opinion the ship is more so the means to get me to each port. 

Totally agree.  I have already accepted the fact that "if" we sail this one, it will likely be on a smaller ship.

2 hours ago, twangster said:

Who are you and what have you done with @Lovetocruise2002?

I swear, being stuck in dry dock for so long is making me crazy! ?

2 hours ago, steverk said:

I agree with @Jill.  I've done both one way and round trip.  There's just no comparison.  Do the one way and spend a few extra days in Alaska.

I will keep this in mind for sure moving forward but with the kids, and this being our first (but probably not only) Alaskan cruise, I'm not sure I want to spend that much time there.  It is a compromise after all, still not an outdoor person at heart.  But Hubby and one of my girls are so, you know.

2 hours ago, twangster said:

Those double glacier itineraries are very compelling.  

Agreed.  That is why I am leaning towards RT YVR if they keep those same itineraries for 2023.

1 hour ago, Chadster said:

Man, this thread has given me a lot to think about, so thanks for creating it, and of course, thanks for the folks in the know for weighing in! I'm now rethinking my Alaska plans and possibly going for a shorter cruise on a Radiance-class than the longer cruise on the Quantum-class.

I am not responsible if @Chadsterbooks another cruise!

1 hour ago, barbeyg said:

Vancouver is such a cool city, with so many wonderful things to do before or after a cruise. 

And I can spend Canadian dollars there pre-cruise so another win! lol

 

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Recommend southbound out of Seward.  Land tour should at least be considered.   If not, go early.  We love Anchorage (my birth place), Alyeska,  Talkeetna (the deck of the lodge is still one of our favorite cruise memories)  and Denali.   Foodie comments..   Anchorage..  Jen's Restaurant for dinner and Snow City Cafe for breakfast.  Alyeska - Seven Glaciers Restaurant (reservation recommended).  Talkeetna- eat at the lodge with views of Denali as the background (halibut chunks?).  In Juneau,  we did the Bike and Brew and loved it.  On the way back, Red Dog Saloon was great (Duck Fart anyone? ?).  I am full of Jealousy.   

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I've done two trips through Alaska, and both were loop trips.  My next one is definitely going to be a southbound out of Seward.  I really love all the ports and glaciers seen on that cruise.  I think that both Seattle and Vancouver have wonderful sightseeing options for before or after your trip.  Both are really fun cities.  @Bob_KY I also did the Bike and Brew excursion and had a great time, but what I really want to know is what is in that Duck Fart Shot?

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First, Alaska is majestic, from the mountains to the glaciers, there's a lot to see and do. If you have time, try to add a land trip(Denali) as well as a cruise.

Second, Vancouver and Seattle both offer options for pre or post cruise.  I would choose based on the cruise itinerary.

For us, aft balcony always wins out, however you won't be spending as much time outside when sailing as it is definitely cooler up north.

We have been to Alaska 3 times on 7, 14, and 17 day sailings. Enjoyed them all. We leave next week on the Ovation for a 7 day to Alaska. Can't wait to get back on the water.

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Hi @Lovetocruise2002 Thanks for following along my social media posts on Instagram and Facebook, and now uploading videos on YouTube slowly but surely! Just seeing this thread now returning from Ovation of the Seas yesterday from Alaska, and going back again next Friday 8/27 ? I'm a bit bias towards leaving out of beautiful Seattle and doing the Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier experience. The sailing into Dawes Glacier might even be better than the Glacier itself. Ovation stays pretty far from the Dawes Glacier so you really have no chance of experiencing any "calving"... I think Glacier Bay national park is the place to go if you want to see that, which unfortunately Royal Caribbean does not go to at this time, which is why I booked Norwegian Encore in October -- yes 3 times to Alaska in 2 months seems nuts but I live in Seattle and I am okay with driving 1 hour to port and going on a cruise to beautiful Alaska.

Norwegian Encore does Glacier Bay later this season so I'd recommend that itinerary if you really want to see Glaciers, but Ovation of the Seas hands down is the nicer ship. I am not familiar with the itineraries for northbound/southbound but those little ships don't interest me, I need something big and has a lot to offer, as I am sure your children will want as well. I recommend Ovation/Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier out of Seattle OR Norwegian Encore/Glacier Bay national park out of Seattle. Side balcony was good for me but can't go wrong with that aft view...if you want peace and quiet though, the aft is much louder due to the sounds of the wake... Hope that helps!

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An Alaska Cruise is my hope in the sometime future so I've done a little research. And while I can't speak to the direct experience on what has been addressed, I would like to say what I've heard others speak of regarding balconies.

If either of you (Possibly your hubby since he's a mountains/streams guy already) like wildlife, get a balcony that faces towards Canada and Alaska.  I've heard on a RT or NB trip, take a starboard.  Southbound a Port side.  Let him sit out there with binoculars while you stay inside where it's warm!

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On 8/20/2021 at 12:08 PM, Lovetocruise2002 said:

I am going to have to find that place just to try that drink lol

You can't miss it.  The Red Dog Saloon is one of the more prominent buildings in Juneau (because it's pretty bordello-looking and there are a zillion people in and out of it's swinging doors), and you pretty much pass it if you're going to walk into town at all.  We walked in once, and just turned around and left - just not our thing, but it's super popular.  We tend to walk just a little farther into town, past all of the Diamond Internationals, and sit at the Alaskan Hotel bar.  We're usually one of just a few tourists in the place, so talking to locals is pretty fun.  Mr. SpeedNoodles did nearly get mugged outside of it once, though, but that happens everywhere, right?

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