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Alaska Ship & Itinerary Recommendations


Jacqui
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I'm thinking of possibly doing an Alaska cruise in 2023.  Most likely in June if we do decide to go.  I'm curious of others' opinions on ship and itinerary.  Which ship (enchantment, ovation, quantum, or radiance) do you prefer and why?  What itinerary or ports do you recommend and why?  Seattle is probably the easiest and cheapest to get to and from, but I'm open to any start or end ports.  Thanks!

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I personally vote for a smaller ship, it can get places where the larger ships cannot get into/dock.  We are on the Radiance of the Seas doing a pre tour and then sailing.  We have been trying this for the last 3 years, and hopefully 2023/third time is a charm.  It also helps if you check the way you are sailing so if you have a view you can see more out the window and or balcony or just being on deck.  

Also larger ships have more to do, and we are going to Alaska for the scenery not for all the bells and whistles  

Edited by not easy being green
left out the last sentence sorry
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9 minutes ago, not easy being green said:

I personally vote for a smaller ship, it can get places where the larger ships cannot get into/dock.  We are on the Radiance of the Seas doing a pre tour and then sailing.  We have been trying this for the last 3 years, and hopefully 2023/third time is a charm.  It also helps if you check the way you are sailing so if you have a view you can see more out the window and or balcony or just being on deck.  

Also larger ships have more to do, and we are going to Alaska for the scenery not for all the bells and whistles  

Thanks for the input.  I am torn for these reasons.  I know the smaller ships can get to places the bigger ones can't, but at the same time I worry about the smaller ships being outdated and not have as much to do/less dining options and such.  I was spoiled with Symphony being my first Royal cruise this past October so now I'm used to having a brand new ship with tons to do 😐.  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's opinions but I have a feeling it'll lean towards the smaller ships.

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One consideration with respect to the ship is...  In the Caribbean the ships plays a more prominent role because you tend to leave an island at 4pm-ish so the ship is a bigger part of the overall experience.  Once away from the port it tends to be nothing but ocean around you.

In Alaska most port stops are long, like 7am to 7 or 8pm.  Then when the ship does set sail at 8pm with longer daylight hours there is lots of scenery and wildlife to catch from 8pm to 10pm. You probably aren't in the open ocean most nights with nothing around you, you are probably in the Inside passage with lots to see.

I've done 6 Alaska cruises and I often do not go to any show when in Alaska.  I'm there for Alaska so I am taking in every minute of Alaska that I can.   I guarantee you will see zero whales from the theater.  

It is true that smaller ships will have less to do on board but that's okay because you may not need to rely on the ship as much to fill in the blank spaces between ports.

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2 hours ago, twangster said:

It is true that smaller ships will have less to do on board but that's okay because you may not need to rely on the ship as much to fill in the blank spaces between ports.

Any thoughts on why balconies are priced lower on the two Quantum class ships than Radiance or Enchantment? Is it because they can't go to the smaller ports? I was shocked to see Ovation was cheaper than any Radiance sailing in 2023. 

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10 hours ago, DDaley said:

Any thoughts on why balconies are priced lower on the two Quantum class ships than Radiance or Enchantment? Is it because they can't go to the smaller ports? I was shocked to see Ovation was cheaper than any Radiance sailing in 2023. 

Quantum class are mostly balcony cabins.  There are very few interior and OV on them, relative to the number of balcony cabins.

Older class have fewer balcony relative to the total cabin count.

The classic pricing models adjusts pricing based on demand.  When a certain cabin type are in demand the pricing engine drives the price up.  Supply & demand.

Look at Enchantment anywhere she sails.  Very few balcony cabins and they sell out quickly.  These ships have a lot of Interior and OV cabins so those are the cheaper cabins.

The appearance of Ovation in Alaska was where I first noticed this effect.  Reasonably priced balconies in Alaska!  What a concept!

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We’re doing Radiance Southbound with a 3 night land tour to Denali before the cruise this coming May. It’s likely our only trip to Alaska so making the most of it. 
 

Alaska is a totally different experience than the Caribbean. I’m going for Alaska not the ship. Caribbean sailings on oasis class ships usually have 3 full sea days and yes, you need stuff to do. Not so much with Alaska. 
 

I will recommend that if you choose the one way itinerary that you book SOON! I booked our May cruise literally the day they were announced. I got an aft corner junior suite and that category sold out so quickly that I was never eligible for any price drops. Not only that, but this sailing has NEVER been included in ANY cruise planner sales. That’s proof how popular this itinerary is. 
 

 

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On 12/14/2021 at 11:32 AM, Jill said:

We’re doing Radiance Southbound with a 3 night land tour to Denali before the cruise this coming May. It’s likely our only trip to Alaska so making the most of it. 
 

Alaska is a totally different experience than the Caribbean. I’m going for Alaska not the ship. Caribbean sailings on oasis class ships usually have 3 full sea days and yes, you need stuff to do. Not so much with Alaska. 
 

I will recommend that if you choose the one way itinerary that you book SOON! I booked our May cruise literally the day they were announced. I got an aft corner junior suite and that category sold out so quickly that I was never eligible for any price drops. Not only that, but this sailing has NEVER been included in ANY cruise planner sales. That’s proof how popular this itinerary is. 
 

 

Thanks for the tip!  We will do balcony so there should be a little more availability, but it did still seem limited when I looked.  I'll talk to my husband soon to see if he has any preferences and make sure he definitely wants to do this given that the next few years are a bit up in the air when it comes to some personal stuff.  Hopefully it'll all work out for us!  He's been wanting to do an Alaska cruise for many years now.

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1 hour ago, Jacqui said:

Thanks for the tip!  We will do balcony so there should be a little more availability, but it did still seem limited when I looked.  I'll talk to my husband soon to see if he has any preferences and make sure he definitely wants to do this given that the next few years are a bit up in the air when it comes to some personal stuff.  Hopefully it'll all work out for us!  He's been wanting to do an Alaska cruise for many years now.

You can always put down a refundable deposit while you decide what to do. The prices will only go up with each passing day/week

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On 12/16/2021 at 1:34 PM, Jill said:

You can always put down a refundable deposit while you decide what to do. The prices will only go up with each passing day/week

That's what I was thinking.  When I did a mock booking, it came up as a non-refundable deposit, but I'll have to see if there's an option to change it further in the booking process.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We are booked in August 2022 on the Ovation of the Seas! We are all super excited to go! First time going to Alaska, and looking for some ideas for places to stay in Seattle and things to do.  We will have 1 full day in Seattle and we are taking my In-Laws who are older with mobility issues.  So it would either need to be within walking distance or a shuttle.   If anyone has any ideas it would be great! I feel like I'm going crazy planning all of it! 🙂

 

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There are no hotels within walking distance of the port, so you'll have to grab a Lyft or Uber no matter where  you stayed.  So pick a hotel that's near what you'll want to do in Seattle (likely near Pike Place Market).  Alternatively, pick something at a better price point and simply plan to grab a Lyft to visit whatever area you'd like.  My favorite hotel closed, so I don't have any particular recommendations.

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18 hours ago, adever7137 said:

We are booked in August 2022 on the Ovation of the Seas! We are all super excited to go! First time going to Alaska, and looking for some ideas for places to stay in Seattle and things to do.  We will have 1 full day in Seattle and we are taking my In-Laws who are older with mobility issues.  So it would either need to be within walking distance or a shuttle.   If anyone has any ideas it would be great! I feel like I'm going crazy planning all of it! 🙂

 

What's your budget for hotel? Seattle is very expensive in the downtown core. I live here and did the Ovation this past summer and was very disappointed with the ship and the itinerary, so much so we moved our two Alaska sailings from Seattle to Vancouver B.C. it's more expensive for me to travel to B.C. but the itinerary has Hubbard Glacier!!! That's what you see in Matt's video with all the ice surrounding the ship. Your not going to get that out of Seattle. Our first cruise with Royal was on Allure in a crown loft and we are hooked on the newest and best ships Royal has to offer except when it comes to Alaska. Alaska is different because you want to see outside as much as possible. The ship's entertainment was good on Ovation but I'm not going to miss it. We've never sailed on a older, smaller ship but we are very excited to be this time because of the itinerary. For us the itinerary is THE most important aspect of cruising Alaska. 

If you let me know what you budget is I'll give a few suggestions. Just beware Seattle has decided to cut the funding of police here and it had a huge effect on the number of police officers that have left and crime has soared. They don't respond right away unless it's life or death situation. If you get robbed expect to wait a long time for an officer to come and take your report. Seattle like many cities has a large homeless population and many live by tourists areas because they can panhandle and the city is very liberal and let's homeless camps pop up where ever. Even right across from the court house. The camp became such a problem that court employees had to be escorted from their cars to inside. There's many beautiful and wonderful places to see in Seattle just be careful. 

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On 1/2/2022 at 8:55 AM, 12thman said:

What's your budget for hotel? Seattle is very expensive in the downtown core. I live here and did the Ovation this past summer and was very disappointed with the ship and the itinerary, so much so we moved our two Alaska sailings from Seattle to Vancouver B.C. it's more expensive for me to travel to B.C. but the itinerary has Hubbard Glacier!!! That's what you see in Matt's video with all the ice surrounding the ship. Your not going to get that out of Seattle. Our first cruise with Royal was on Allure in a crown loft and we are hooked on the newest and best ships Royal has to offer except when it comes to Alaska. Alaska is different because you want to see outside as much as possible. The ship's entertainment was good on Ovation but I'm not going to miss it. We've never sailed on a older, smaller ship but we are very excited to be this time because of the itinerary. For us the itinerary is THE most important aspect of cruising Alaska. 

If you let me know what you budget is I'll give a few suggestions. Just beware Seattle has decided to cut the funding of police here and it had a huge effect on the number of police officers that have left and crime has soared. They don't respond right away unless it's life or death situation. If you get robbed expect to wait a long time for an officer to come and take your report. Seattle like many cities has a large homeless population and many live by tourists areas because they can panhandle and the city is very liberal and let's homeless camps pop up where ever. Even right across from the court house. The camp became such a problem that court employees had to be escorted from their cars to inside. There's many beautiful and wonderful places to see in Seattle just be careful

Thank you for the tips. Our budget is around 150 to 250 a night for a hotel.  We may not do much in Seattle because of the older adults in our group. The Hubbard Glacier is on my bucket list, but for this trip since it was a FCC because our 12 day caribbean was canceled we tried to not go over that.   Hopefully the longer cruises will return sooner than later

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12 hours ago, adever7137 said:

Thank you for the tips. Our budget is around 150 to 250 a night for a hotel.  We may not do much in Seattle because of the older adults in our group. The Hubbard Glacier is on my bucket list, but for this trip since it was a FCC because our 12 day caribbean was canceled we tried to not go over that.   Hopefully the longer cruises will return sooner than later

This first one is directly across the Seattle Center, that's where the Space Needle is located. To get to the port you'll need to book a shuttle. https://www.staypineapple.com/hotel-five-seattle-wa?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=GMB&utm_term=hf

Next this one I've not stayed at but it's closer to the port https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/seahwhw-homewood-suites-seattle-downtown/?cid=&WT.mc_id=

Another option is to check out some air bnb's city of Seattle limits them and I've never used that service anywhere.  Another option is Trip Advisor. Hope that helps. I'm sure you'll enjoy the cruise especially if it's your first. 

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We loved the Ovation of the Seas and enjoyed its itinerary when we sailed in 2019. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt which was downtown in a very convenient location. The port is located about a 15 minute drive from the downtown area and there are no hotels nearby. Due to where the port is located, just walking from the street to the terminal would be quite a distance and not preferable. Count on a shuttle/taxi/Uber type of transportation. The uber/lyft drop off is about a 1/4 mile from the terminal but a very easy walk. 

https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/washington/grand-hyatt-seattle/seagh

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Our vote is for the smaller ships.  We did the Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier Post Cruise Tour in June 2017 on the Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver...The best cruise we have ever taken.  The Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter even though expensive was worth every penny and awesome way to experience the glacier.  Whale watching at Icy Straight Point we got our best photo ever of a group of whales bubble feeding.  We liked the land tour so much we have decided to do another land tour when we go back this June on the Serenade of the Seas except we are going to do the Canadian Rockies instead of Alaska.   

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11 hours ago, 12thman said:

This first one is directly across the Seattle Center, that's where the Space Needle is located. To get to the port you'll need to book a shuttle. https://www.staypineapple.com/hotel-five-seattle-wa?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=GMB&utm_term=hf

Next this one I've not stayed at but it's closer to the port https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/seahwhw-homewood-suites-seattle-downtown/?cid=&WT.mc_id=

Another option is to check out some air bnb's city of Seattle limits them and I've never used that service anywhere.  Another option is Trip Advisor. Hope that helps. I'm sure you'll enjoy the cruise especially if it's your first. 

Thanks. I will check them out.  1st time alaska/visiting Seattle.  26 times out of Florida:) so im used the the Florida protocols, and where to stay and not stay.  But when it comes to other ports, I like to reach out to people and get ideas 

 

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For whoever is reading for ideas.
We did the 3 day Land tour prior to the cruise.  It was exhausting, but worth it.  Paid extra to get up super early for Denali, while the rest of the family slept in and went later.  We saw way more than they did.  Mind you our cruise was over the  July 4th week and it happened to be  their hottest summer on record, and from what I read the animals don't like the heat so they get a very early start then go for shade.  My SIL did NOT book a whale watching tour, and she regrets that to this day.  I absolutely LOVED our whale watching tour-can't for the life of  me remember the port-i felt it was worth every expensive penny.   I had 2 of my kids do the helicopter to the glacier (I had done a helicopter on my honeymoon in Hawaii many moons ago, and I wanted them to have that experience.. and it was also very expensive, they were both grateful.   That day hubby and I went to a museum and a salmon bake-again I do not recall which port.  Bottom line, I felt this was a "once in a lifetime" trip and it was necessary to spend money to enjoy the scenery I knew I would not get likely get to see again.     Drink packages really weren't necessary because the days were long in the ports, and how much can you drink when you need to get up the next morning to see even more beautiful scenery?.  
We did save some money by packing lots of snacks (bus ride) and doing a Walmart run while in Anchorage-to be able to bring on our own water/seltzer and snacks for the ports.  BTW, when done with the land tour you will NOT be getting to the ship early in Seward so don't plan on an early embarkation. 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 12/13/2021 at 3:20 PM, not easy being green said:

I personally vote for a smaller ship, it can get places where the larger ships cannot get into/dock.  We are on the Radiance of the Seas doing a pre tour and then sailing.  We have been trying this for the last 3 years, and hopefully 2023/third time is a charm.  It also helps if you check the way you are sailing so if you have a view you can see more out the window and or balcony or just being on deck.  

Also larger ships have more to do, and we are going to Alaska for the scenery not for all the bells and whistles  

We are on Southbound Radiance as well. Do you know how we meet US protocol for negative test to get back into US from Vancouver? Will they offer tests on the ship before disembarkation?

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I've done a Northbound on Radiance a long time ago and a round trip on Ruby Princess more recently.

Based on this experience, there really is no substitute for going on the one way trip.  The round trip has a more interesting ship, but I'm there for Alaska! You'll get more interesting ports and more time in the ports.

In fact, I'm going back this summer.  I'm extending the northbound cruise by staying in Seward overnight, taking the railroad to Anchorage, staying 2 nights there and then flying home.

There's plenty to see.  Seward is located at the Kenai Fjords National Park and has Resurrection Bay tours.  

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On 1/31/2022 at 6:34 AM, steverk said:

I've done a Northbound on Radiance a long time ago and a round trip on Ruby Princess more recently.

Based on this experience, there really is no substitute for going on the one way trip.  The round trip has a more interesting ship, but I'm there for Alaska! You'll get more interesting ports and more time in the ports.

In fact, I'm going back this summer.  I'm extending the northbound cruise by staying in Seward overnight, taking the railroad to Anchorage, staying 2 nights there and then flying home.

There's plenty to see.  Seward is located at the Kenai Fjords National Park and has Resurrection Bay tours.  

This is very similar to our plans for our Alaska trip later this year,  I have planned a couple of days for a fishing charter out of Seward after our cruise ends there with an company that my family has been using for years, it will be my hubby's first time for that 🙂 and then we will be taking the train back to Anchorage as well to fly home from there. 

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