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Devoira

CORAL PRINCESS vs NOORDAM for ALASKA CRUISE & LAND

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Hi there - I am planning a 10-day land and cruise tour out of Vancouver through Inside Passage, ending in Fairbanks this August 2019.

My travel agent has narrowed it down to either Holland America's Noordam or Princess's Coral Princess.

Does anyone have experience of both and can comment on how the ships compare?

And any comments on the Cruise and Land tour would be good too.

Many thanks!

 

 

 

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Been on both and Coral Princess is terrific for Alaska.  We’ve done Princess Coral Alaska more than a few times.  It has the  best viewing platforms, just below the bridge, promenade decks,  balconies.   It was built for Panama Canal and Alaskan scenic cruising and to my knowledge it has not been butchered yet.  Sister ship island Princess has been enlarged. 

In our opinion, the Princess alaskan program beats Holland but Holland is OK for Alaska. But there is nothing special about the vista class ships like Noordam, , although we liked the ship in other locales. 

 

The cruise tour tour offered by Princess is one of the great travel experiences, not because it is luxurious or fancy.  But if you haven’t been to Alaska this is a good start. Food and accommodations in the lodges is average.  Every Lodges is unique, the atmosphere is generally  charming.   The Fairbanks lodge is open year round, reminds me of a Marrriott Courtyard.  The Copper River lodge is remote and hotel like.  The Denali lodge is a massive complex,  a little hokey.  Some people dislike the Princess McKinley lodge because it is remote but you can ride the shuttle into Talkeetna from there.  We love the Kenai wilderness lodge, charming cabins in a gorgeous area. 

 

 Cruise tours offer an in-depth exposure to Alaska culture and scenery at the most reasonable price. 

Princess organization, bus guides, train guides were excellent as are the naturalists on the ship.   

But ten days is not long enough, look at the longer day land tour options so you see more.  

 

Most cruise tours do not include food, which is fine for us. It is  pay as you go.  Some tours include meals and a guide who stays with the group, most do not.  

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I’m not sure which of the Princess sister ships it happened to, Coral or Island, but one of them had the wraparound promenade negated, astern.  This would make it bottom of the barrel for me, especially for a cruise where I want to move about to find the best scenic vantage point.

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2 hours ago, SetAnOpenCourse said:

I’m not sure which of the Princess sister ships it happened to, Coral or Island, but one of them had the wraparound promenade negated, astern.  This would make it bottom of the barrel for me, especially for a cruise where I want to move about to find the best scenic vantage point.

Thank you for this - I have posted the query on the Princess Cruise board.

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Posted (edited)

We leave tomorrow on our Noordam Alaska cruise tour. We are doing the 11 day double Denali which gives us one full day in Denali. We compared the two cruise ships when we booked last year. It all came down to price since both ships had almost identical itineraries and land tours with one exception. The CP h does not do Glacier Bay and every thing we read said Glacier Bay was a must vs Hubbard Glacier alternative in the CP.

 

Price wise we booked a Signature Suite for a lot less than the CP mini suite and since our 10 year old Grandson is going with us it only cost $499 to add him as a third person in our cabin. The best Princess would do was a 50% discount on the 3rd person in our cabin.

Edited by terrydtx

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Posted (edited)

Island Princess was the one that was butchered. 

 

I love Coral Princess. But I was on Noordams sister Oosterdam this past spring and would book again. But really, Coral Princess is my favorite.

 

ETA Glacier Bay - Coral does not do it? Then I would choose Noordam.

Edited by Jammu2

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We sailed Princess for a land and sea journey. We really did like the Princess lodges. Haven't been in HAL's lodges, so can't compare. Our "home" is Holland America, but I must say that Princess did a great job for us in Alaska.

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If you book Princess, be aware that standard balcony cabins and below no longer have a barrel chair in the cabins. They have implemented this fleet wide. We only had a desk chair in our cabin on a Caribbean cruise last February on Crown Princess. This policy is a non-starter for us and we have given up on Princess. Stupid management decision.
Premium balcony cabins and above still appear to have chairs.

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12 hours ago, Devoira said:

Thank you for this - Just FYI - the answer came back that it was not the Coral Princess that that happened to.

 

12 hours ago, Devoira said:

Thank you for this - I have posted the query on the Princess Cruise board.

 

 

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Just FYI to queries re whether Coral Princess goes to Glacier Bay - Here is Alaska Princess Tour FA4  Itinerary which says it does go there...

 

Tour FA4

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to Fairbanks

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3 hours ago, TriumphGuy said:

If you book Princess, be aware that standard balcony cabins and below no longer have a barrel chair in the cabins. They have implemented this fleet wide. We only had a desk chair in our cabin on a Caribbean cruise last February on Crown Princess. This policy is a non-starter for us and we have given up on Princess. Stupid management decision.
Premium balcony cabins and above still appear to have chairs.

HAL has a love seat and a chair in all balcony cabins our SS has a full size couch.

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Since you are including a land tour keep in mind that you need a minimum of two nights in Denali National Park and if a tour into the park is included the Tundra Wilderness Tour goes farther into the park than the shorter Natural History Tour.  Ten days is about the shortest cruise /land tour offered and you will be on the train or bus for most of it.....if you only have three days on land.

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12 minutes ago, oaktreerb said:

Since you are including a land tour keep in mind that you need a minimum of two nights in Denali National Park and if a tour into the park is included the Tundra Wilderness Tour goes farther into the park than the shorter Natural History Tour.  Ten days is about the shortest cruise /land tour offered and you will be on the train or bus for most of it.....if you only have three days on land.

Thank you for this! And luckily I am booking the 11-day tour which has 2 nights in Denali... included is the Natural History Tour but I will look into your suggestion of upgrading to the Tundra Wilderness Tour (another Cool Cruiser also suggested that...)

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Posted (edited)

Noordam unless you can swing a mini-suite or above on the Princess ship, for the reason @TriumphGuy gave above. On Noordam OceanViews and above have at least a loveseat and chair; large insides on Main Deck have a wraparound sofa, and insides on higher decks have at least a storage-stool at the desk and a chair.

 

I do not recommend an inside for Alaska, but I have always kinda wanted to try one of the LARGE Main Deck "Super K" or J insides. However DH does much better with some natural daylight, so probably not going to.

 

Even if they bring back the barrel chairs, I have always chosen HAL over Princess, as "big room on a small ship" over "small room on a big ship" preference. I am booked on Golden Princess 2020 because she's sailing out of our home port, no flying! That made it so we can justify the MiniSuite!

 

ETA: Also the Vista class ships, that Noordam is one of, are our current favorite HAL ships for size and configuration.

Edited by crystalspin

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One thing to think about if you’re looking to have fun while on the ship, HAL usually has only a CD and maybe an assistant to run trivia and bingo. Princess has a CD and 4-6 assistants to make sure there is a variety of events on both sea days as well as port days to keep everyone entertained!

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On 7/19/2019 at 7:16 PM, SetAnOpenCourse said:

I’m not sure which of the Princess sister ships it happened to, Coral or Island, but one of them had the wraparound promenade negated, astern.  This would make it bottom of the barrel for me, especially for a cruise where I want to move about to find the best scenic vantage point.

I believe the Island lost the wraparound.  We are going on the Coral next year and it still has the full promenade.

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I am by no means a cheerleader for either of these lines.  There's really only one reason I would pick Princess over HAL, and that's the entertainment.  When it comes to variety and being able to experience something different every night, Princess blows HAL away.

 

That said, HAL has better cabins, less crowded ships, and a better viewing lounge.  I would pick Noordam in this case.  

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I would look at what is included on the Sea portion of the cruise and use that as the deciding factor.  I've done land/sea on both Princess and HAL.  (Sorry, can't remember ships.)  HAL has that wonderful wrap around Promenade Deck which I prefer for scenic viewing.  (You can walk all around Princess, too, but have to go up and down stairs.)  Food is subjective, but I prefer HAL.  There are more activities on a Princess cruise, so Princess wins if you are looking at stuff to do on the ship. 

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I think Noordam is still awaiting its drydock, so still little TVs And dated cabins.  Perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong.  

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The Coral Princess does not have a "crows nest" - its the Lido grill which eliminates a great viewing area.

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