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Alaska Cruise Decisions

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Does anyone have any opinions on the ships? Sun from LA vs Star from Vancouver? I have heard when going to Alaska the ship is very important... with me living on the ship for 2 weeks, I would love to know opinions on which ship is better. Also, can anyone tell me about the port experiences. Good or bad?

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Personally, I found everything north of Juneau stunning.  The cold/chill was toughest when the ship was moving and we were on deck, but outside of that very manageable.  BUT, I had a friend go last year and it was warm!  So, it depends.

 

I'm not sure how close you are to the shoreline from LA through to Seattle.  Once you hit Vancouver island, you are in the inside passage and from there it's pretty picturesque.

 

I'm personally more of a fan of one way, with some dabbling interior however that is possible be it train, bus or car.   

However, if I had to choose?   Probably the RT from Vacounver.  I love the city, and enjoy the northern area past the inside passage.

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41 minutes ago, Jnsplace1 said:

Personally, I found everything north of Juneau stunning.  The cold/chill was toughest when the ship was moving and we were on deck, but outside of that very manageable.  BUT, I had a friend go last year and it was warm!  So, it depends.

 

I'm not sure how close you are to the shoreline from LA through to Seattle.  Once you hit Vancouver island, you are in the inside passage and from there it's pretty picturesque.

 

I'm personally more of a fan of one way, with some dabbling interior however that is possible be it train, bus or car.   

However, if I had to choose?   Probably the RT from Vacounver.  I love the city, and enjoy the northern area past the inside passage.

 

 

Thank you... one thing that intrigues me about leaving out of Vancouver is I heard there is a bridge or something you go under? Do you know anything about that? Is it right after departure?

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Currently, cruise ships go under Lion's Gate bridge.   Well, the older ones. 

I guess one of the newer ships went under it earlier this year, and there was very little clearance, so there are signs that the big newer ships will not be able to depart out of Vancouver unless they create a new cruise port for them.

 

Yes, it's an amazing sight.  It's right there!    Below is the Bliss from earlier this year, I think this is the one of the new ones that are making folks talk.

 

Image result for cruise vancouver bridge

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1 minute ago, bubbapuck said:

 

 

Thank you... one thing that intrigues me about leaving out of Vancouver is I heard there is a bridge or something you go under? Do you know anything about that? Is it right after departure?

Yes, that would be the Lion's Gate Bridge, which isn't quite as spectacular as sailing under SF's Golden Gate Bridge, but still a great way to start a cruise.  We have done several Alaskan cruises:  from San Francisco most recently and from Vancouver twice.  On the one from SF, we did NOT go between Vancouver Island and the mainland, so that may be the case when sailing from LA as well.  Cruises leaving from Vancouver (and probably Seattle) may go between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  However, I believe the term "Inside Passage" refers to the area between the Alaskan mainland and various islands, from the port of Ketchikan to the port of Skagway.  BTW, the city of Vancouver BC is NOT on Vancouver Island, but is on the BC mainland.

 

Enjoy your first cruise to Alaska!

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2 minutes ago, BarbinMich said:

Yes, that would be the Lion's Gate Bridge, which isn't quite as spectacular as sailing under SF's Golden Gate Bridge, but still a great way to start a cruise.  We have done several Alaskan cruises:  from San Francisco most recently and from Vancouver twice.  On the one from SF, we did NOT go between Vancouver Island and the mainland, so that may be the case when sailing from LA as well.  Cruises leaving from Vancouver (and probably Seattle) may go between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  However, I believe the term "Inside Passage" refers to the area between the Alaskan mainland and various islands, from the port of Ketchikan to the port of Skagway.  BTW, the city of Vancouver BC is NOT on Vancouver Island, but is on the BC mainland.

 

Enjoy your first cruise to Alaska!

 

Thanks for the great info. Curious how the Vancouver port is. Embarkation experiences, getting to the port, etc. I have heard bad things... especially about Embarkation.

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Just now, bubbapuck said:

 

Thanks for the great info. Curious how the Vancouver port is. Embarkation experiences, getting to the port, etc. I have heard bad things... especially about Embarkation.

We always go to a port a day early (we live in Michigan so we're far from any port <g>).  I think it's risky to fly in the same day even when you live much closer to the port; could be delays for some reason, etc.  The two times we sailed from Vancouver I don't remember having any problems.  We stayed in a hotel relatively close to the pier at Canada Place the day before and enjoyed exploring Vancouver (there's the wonderful Stanley Park with an aquarium and a Totem Pole display).

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We have been on 14 Alaska cruises.  Yes, 14.  Our most recent was out of Vancouver for the 14 day B2B on the Island Princess.  If you do this one, make sure to do a glacier cruise in Whittier.  That was outstanding.  You can use the Princess guarantee when applying for it because the same tour done privately is cheaper.  Without a doubt, I would choose the Star over the Sun simply because the Sun is almost 25 years old.  The Star is much larger and is a beautiful ship.  If you want me to explain the "Princess guarantee program" email me at cruisebabe1 at live dot com.  Meredith 

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3 hours ago, bubbapuck said:

Does anyone have any opinions on the ships? Sun from LA vs Star from Vancouver? I have heard when going to Alaska the ship is very important... with me living on the ship for 2 weeks, I would love to know opinions on which ship is better. Also, can anyone tell me about the port experiences. Good or bad?

 

I would disagree w that.  IMHO, I think that when going to AK, the ship is the least important of your decision factors.  AK is all about what is outside of the ship.

 

DON

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43 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

 

I would disagree w that.  IMHO, I think that when going to AK, the ship is the least important of your decision factors.  AK is all about what is outside of the ship.

 

DON

 

Thanks Don! I agree with what your saying. What I meant was on other posts I have read, some posters said things like "Ship X is better because it has more deck area to see Glacier Bay as you cruise through". Others have said things like not wanting a large ship in Alaska because they cant get as close enough to stuff. These are the things I meant by which ship is better. Alaska is definitely the main event for me. Both cruises have so many quality positive and negatives I am looking at every angle to pick the cruise. Thanks!

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2 hours ago, bubbapuck said:

 

Thanks for the great info. Curious how the Vancouver port is. Embarkation experiences, getting to the port, etc. I have heard bad things... especially about Embarkation.

I've embarked there once, piece of cake. Disembarked three times. Easy peasy. However, my experiences (so far) aren't necessarily like those of other folks. 

 

You might want to consider using Sky Train if you're going straight to or from the airport, or staying at a hotel near a train stop. We have found it easy to use, but we often use public transportation when traveling, so we are comfortable doing so. We also pack lightly. If you've got big or multiple bags each, you might prefer another option. 

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Bubba, you are doing a good job of analysis.  Also, a lot of good opinions have been offered here.  So, one more won't slow you down too much.

 

I have not cruised to Alaska as often as some, but I do have some experience.  Six Alaska cruises:

 

  • 1 X Whittier-Vancouver southbound  (August)
  • 2 X Roundtrip out of San Francisco (September)
  • 3 X Roundtrip out of Los Angeles (2 X April, 1 X September)

I, personally, find dealing with airports and airlines to be completely humiliating.  So, the last three have been a matter of driving to San Pedro and avoiding airports.  On this same theme, I find that the trip home is really awful if I am relying on an airline.  On the flight to the cruise, I am pumped with adrenalin and can better deal with all the hassles.  On the flight home, I am more phyisically and emotionally drained and any little iritation is magnified.  Once on the last sea day of a cruise, I woke up with a sore throat.  It happens.  On disembarkation morning I has a full raging respiratory infection with, as you might imagine, quite stuffed sinuses and eustachian tubes.  Descending in an aircraft from 30,000 feet when your ears are stuffed is quite painful.

 

I do agree that Vancouver, BC is a great town to visit.  Our only experience was a port stop a couple years ago.  While I have no experience, but my understanding is that hotels in Vancouver, BC are quite spendy.

 

The question of the number of sea days is a good one to consider.  My wife and I love them.  Your concern about how well your wife will enjoy six, or so, sea days on the Los Angeles roundtrip is valid.

 

Other than the airplane thing, I do not have much of a preference one way or another for any particular itinerary.  I have seen calving glaciers on every one of our cruises and I have seen whales from the ship on every one of our cruises.

 

I agree that Sitka and Icy Strait Point are excellent stops.  One of the highlights of all our AK cruises was a "Bear Search" excursion at Icy Strait Point.

 

Rain is a reality in Alaska.  We have been on only one AK cruise--last April's--where we did not encounter rain.  If your idea of "bad weather" is rain, then prepare for disappointment.

 

You will, certainly, encounter warmer weather in July than in May.  In fact, you should definitely pack sun screen for a July cruise, and it is not a bad idea for a May cruise.  In Ketchikan on a September cruise a few years ago, I reboarded the ship with a sunburn.  Insect repellant would also be a good idea on a July cruise.  We have never encountered a problem in the spring or autumn cruises.  A July cruise will have more families on it since school will be out.  There will be a few kids on a May cruise, but not as many.

 

I want to pick a bone, a bit, with the posters who insist that the seafood in Alaska has been frozen.

 

So what?

 

I am quite OK with the fact that the only fish that I have ever eaten that I knew was not previously frozen, was whatever I caught that day myself.  If there was more than I could eat that day, it went into the freezer.  I am quite sure that any fish I buy in a local market has been previously frozen.

 

Here are my tips for seafood in AK ports--both of these places are in Juneau.

 

  • Tracy's King Crab Shack--This place is situated right next to the docks where the cruise ships berth.  It is easy to find.  It is the place with the line of customers waiting to get in.  The crab is amazing.  However, it is pretty spendy, and I completely understand if you want to allocate your budget otherwise.  There is some indoor seating, but there is more seating on the adjoining patio.
  • Deckhand Dave's--This place is downtown.  So, depending on which berth a cruise ship uses, it is a walk of less that a quarter mile to, maybe, a half mile.  Dave's has the most amazing fish tacos.  (I am also partial to their french fries.)  It is all outdoor seating under umbrellas.  So, if it is drizzly, you can keep dry while you are eating.  The prices are not too bad.

Tracy's attracts, mostly, tourists off the cruise ships. That is neat because you may be seated at a communal table next to people who are on other cruise ships and you can compare notes.  Since Dave's is not right on the docks cruisers do have to search for it.  Also, though, it is fairly close to various government buildings and, so, attracts a lot of locals for lunch.

 

You can use Google to learn more about both Tracy's and Dave's. 

 

I have no experience with either the Star Princess or the Sun Princess, although we are booked on the Star Princess in January.  So, I cannot offer any opinion, there,  In our six Alaska cruises we have been on five different ships--ranging in passenger capacity from 800 to 3600.  I do not feel that the ship made any difference in our enjoyment of Alaska.

 

Here is something we spotted right outside our balcony as we were leaving Ketchikan last September:

 

DSCF2547.thumb.JPG.fddb96da34b81b0137515165598c67b0.JPG

 

 

We had never seen this before and were totally jazzed.  This is a whale feeding strategy called a bubble net.

 

By the time the whale popped up we were passed him, and I was't too quick with my mobile phone camera, but here he is:

 

DSCF2549.thumb.JPG.9a7b9dcf2b2f39c35e541e4a56f2e2d9.JPG

 

 

 

You'te going to have a great cruise, Bubba.  Bon Voyage.

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Great info from @XBGuy

I did totally forget about insect repelant.  I swear they breed those suckers big.  

Do agree about eating on land, I once had some marvelous halibut in Ketichan right near the cruise docks (Annabell's).  

 

Regarding the ship.  I guess it depends, are you doing a balcony?  If not, I hear many people congregate in various deck areas to watch the world go by.

 

Lastly, yes the path that the ship takes might be worth looking at.  Is it interesting, or is that ok?  

 

My honey is going on a cruise for the first time next year with me,  he's looking forward to sitting in a chair and watching the water with a beverage in his hand.  For me, I perfer the places we stop at, or the things to do.  To each their own!

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In Ketchikan, there is also The Alaskan Fish House for halibut or salmon fish-and-chips, at the bottom of the hill below Creek Street. That's "our" place, I guess it's become a tradition. Not a sit-down restaurant; they have indoor picnic tables, but you place your order at a counter and get your draft beer at a different counter. 

 

In Juneau, I cannot recommend the Red Dog Saloon. Yes it is iconic, but it was standing room only to eat small and poor FnC. In 2018, we ate at a little brewpub in town (I don't recall the name, we asked a local and it was suggested). In Skagway, there is a brewery, at least four years ago there was, with good fish-n-chips. You may see a pattern in my choices!

 

Regarding the channel between Vancouver Island and British Columbia, you will normally only sail there from Vancouver. Our Seattle R/T did not. But you will see a lot of trees looming over the shore between the ports in Southeast Alaska! However, that is one draw to sail from Vancouver.

 

The Star Princess is scheduled to get MedallionNet in June 2020; the Sun is not on the schedule. The Star is being transferred to P&O Australia in late 2021.

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6 hours ago, XBGuy said:

Bubba, you are doing a good job of analysis.  Also, a lot of good opinions have been offered here.  So, one more won't slow you down too much.

 

I have not cruised to Alaska as often as some, but I do have some experience.  Six Alaska cruises:

 

  • 1 X Whittier-Vancouver southbound  (August)
  • 2 X Roundtrip out of San Francisco (September)
  • 3 X Roundtrip out of Los Angeles (2 X April, 1 X September)

I, personally, find dealing with airports and airlines to be completely humiliating.  So, the last three have been a matter of driving to San Pedro and avoiding airports.  On this same theme, I find that the trip home is really awful if I am relying on an airline.  On the flight to the cruise, I am pumped with adrenalin and can better deal with all the hassles.  On the flight home, I am more phyisically and emotionally drained and any little iritation is magnified.  Once on the last sea day of a cruise, I woke up with a sore throat.  It happens.  On disembarkation morning I has a full raging respiratory infection with, as you might imagine, quite stuffed sinuses and eustachian tubes.  Descending in an aircraft from 30,000 feet when your ears are stuffed is quite painful.

 

I do agree that Vancouver, BC is a great town to visit.  Our only experience was a port stop a couple years ago.  While I have no experience, but my understanding is that hotels in Vancouver, BC are quite spendy.

 

The question of the number of sea days is a good one to consider.  My wife and I love them.  Your concern about how well your wife will enjoy six, or so, sea days on the Los Angeles roundtrip is valid.

 

Other than the airplane thing, I do not have much of a preference one way or another for any particular itinerary.  I have seen calving glaciers on every one of our cruises and I have seen whales from the ship on every one of our cruises.

 

I agree that Sitka and Icy Strait Point are excellent stops.  One of the highlights of all our AK cruises was a "Bear Search" excursion at Icy Strait Point.

 

Rain is a reality in Alaska.  We have been on only one AK cruise--last April's--where we did not encounter rain.  If your idea of "bad weather" is rain, then prepare for disappointment.

 

You will, certainly, encounter warmer weather in July than in May.  In fact, you should definitely pack sun screen for a July cruise, and it is not a bad idea for a May cruise.  In Ketchikan on a September cruise a few years ago, I reboarded the ship with a sunburn.  Insect repellant would also be a good idea on a July cruise.  We have never encountered a problem in the spring or autumn cruises.  A July cruise will have more families on it since school will be out.  There will be a few kids on a May cruise, but not as many.

 

I want to pick a bone, a bit, with the posters who insist that the seafood in Alaska has been frozen.

 

So what?

 

I am quite OK with the fact that the only fish that I have ever eaten that I knew was not previously frozen, was whatever I caught that day myself.  If there was more than I could eat that day, it went into the freezer.  I am quite sure that any fish I buy in a local market has been previously frozen.

 

Here are my tips for seafood in AK ports--both of these places are in Juneau.

 

  • Tracy's King Crab Shack--This place is situated right next to the docks where the cruise ships berth.  It is easy to find.  It is the place with the line of customers waiting to get in.  The crab is amazing.  However, it is pretty spendy, and I completely understand if you want to allocate your budget otherwise.  There is some indoor seating, but there is more seating on the adjoining patio.
  • Deckhand Dave's--This place is downtown.  So, depending on which berth a cruise ship uses, it is a walk of less that a quarter mile to, maybe, a half mile.  Dave's has the most amazing fish tacos.  (I am also partial to their french fries.)  It is all outdoor seating under umbrellas.  So, if it is drizzly, you can keep dry while you are eating.  The prices are not too bad.

Tracy's attracts, mostly, tourists off the cruise ships. That is neat because you may be seated at a communal table next to people who are on other cruise ships and you can compare notes.  Since Dave's is not right on the docks cruisers do have to search for it.  Also, though, it is fairly close to various government buildings and, so, attracts a lot of locals for lunch.

 

You can use Google to learn more about both Tracy's and Dave's. 

 

I have no experience with either the Star Princess or the Sun Princess, although we are booked on the Star Princess in January.  So, I cannot offer any opinion, there,  In our six Alaska cruises we have been on five different ships--ranging in passenger capacity from 800 to 3600.  I do not feel that the ship made any difference in our enjoyment of Alaska.

 

Here is something we spotted right outside our balcony as we were leaving Ketchikan last September:

 

DSCF2547.thumb.JPG.fddb96da34b81b0137515165598c67b0.JPG

 

 

We had never seen this before and were totally jazzed.  This is a whale feeding strategy called a bubble net.

 

By the time the whale popped up we were passed him, and I was't too quick with my mobile phone camera, but here he is:

 

DSCF2549.thumb.JPG.9a7b9dcf2b2f39c35e541e4a56f2e2d9.JPG

 

 

 

You'te going to have a great cruise, Bubba.  Bon Voyage.

Thanks for so much great info XBGuy! Those pictures are so awesome. Love to see thing a like that. 
 

I am not a big airport guy myself but do enjoy flying. Just Dont like the craziness at LAX. Also very good points about the trip home. I hate long trips home. 
 

if you had a choice between a cruise with only ISP and Sitka or one with Whittier for 12 hours? Which would you prefer. Seems like that will be ONE of the Main defining factors of which cruise I choose. 
 

The weather really isn’t a deal breaker. I love cold wet weather. My wife can deal with it. 🙂

 

also thanks for the restaurant suggestions. Looking forward to it!

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6 hours ago, Jnsplace1 said:

Great info from @XBGuy

I did totally forget about insect repelant.  I swear they breed those suckers big.  

Do agree about eating on land, I once had some marvelous halibut in Ketichan right near the cruise docks (Annabell's).  

 

Regarding the ship.  I guess it depends, are you doing a balcony?  If not, I hear many people congregate in various deck areas to watch the world go by.

 

Lastly, yes the path that the ship takes might be worth looking at.  Is it interesting, or is that ok?  

 

My honey is going on a cruise for the first time next year with me,  he's looking forward to sitting in a chair and watching the water with a beverage in his hand.  For me, I perfer the places we stop at, or the things to do.  To each their own!

Thank you for the tips JNS. No matter which cruise I go on, I hit Ketchikan so I will put Anabels on my list. 
 

Really want a balcony but unfortunately it is way out of our budget. We usually hang out in common areas and relax, checking out the sites. 
 

Does it make me a geek that I am fascinated by the paths and routes the ships take? I love those intricate details. 

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4 hours ago, crystalspin said:

In Ketchikan, there is also The Alaskan Fish House for halibut or salmon fish-and-chips, at the bottom of the hill below Creek Street. That's "our" place, I guess it's become a tradition. Not a sit-down restaurant; they have indoor picnic tables, but you place your order at a counter and get your draft beer at a different counter. 

 

In Juneau, I cannot recommend the Red Dog Saloon. Yes it is iconic, but it was standing room only to eat small and poor FnC. In 2018, we ate at a little brewpub in town (I don't recall the name, we asked a local and it was suggested). In Skagway, there is a brewery, at least four years ago there was, with good fish-n-chips. You may see a pattern in my choices!

 

Regarding the channel between Vancouver Island and British Columbia, you will normally only sail there from Vancouver. Our Seattle R/T did not. But you will see a lot of trees looming over the shore between the ports in Southeast Alaska! However, that is one draw to sail from Vancouver.

 

The Star Princess is scheduled to get MedallionNet in June 2020; the Sun is not on the schedule. The Star is being transferred to P&O Australia in late 2021.

 Crystal, you are quite a fountain of great information. Thanks for the restaurant suggestions. Adding them to my list. Bummed about Red Dig though. Seems like a great place with rich history. Would hate to miss it. 
 

 

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53 minutes ago, bubbapuck said:

 Crystal, you are quite a fountain of great information. Thanks for the restaurant suggestions. Adding them to my list. Bummed about Red Dig though. Seems like a great place with rich history. Would hate to miss it. 

Well, you can grab a beer there on your way back to the ship. It is literally next to the dock. Just look for your seafood elsewhere!

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9 hours ago, crystalspin said:

Well, you can grab a beer there on your way back to the ship. It is literally next to the dock. Just look for your seafood elsewhere!


That’s probably what we were going to do Crystal. I prefer eating at places that are not as crowded. We may just go and grab appetizers or something. Just want the experience. Once I pick a cruise I will do a lot more research on actual top quality Hometown restaurants. 

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11 hours ago, bubbapuck said:

 

Does it make me a geek that I am fascinated by the paths and routes the ships take? I love those intricate details. 

Then if you don't know about this site, you might enjoy it for the geekness it is.  😉

(Ribbon on the top for more goodies to explore)

 

https://www.cruisemapper.com/

 

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5 hours ago, Jnsplace1 said:

Then if you don't know about this site, you might enjoy it for the geekness it is.  😉

(Ribbon on the top for more goodies to explore)

 

https://www.cruisemapper.com/

 

 

There are a lot of other sites that are better than that site since it does not cover a lot of cruise lines but only the really big major ones.  For example, it does not include Azamara.  Check out this site for a list of some of the better and more complete ones - https://www.marineinsight.com/know-more/top-8-websites-to-track-your-ship/amp/.

 

DON

 

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18 hours ago, bubbapuck said:

 

if you had a choice between a cruise with only ISP and Sitka or one with Whittier for 12 hours? Which would you prefer. Seems like that will be ONE of the Main defining factors of which cruise I choose. 
 

 

If I am understanding your question correctly, Bubba, I would choose the cruise that visited Icy Strait Point and Sitka.  I agree with the other posters that these two stops are very different from the other Alaska ports.  It has been well over two decades since my only visit to Sitka, but I really don't remember much from that visit other than the "Nature Cruise" excursion that we took.  That was pretty neat, even though my wife and I sat on the outside of the boat in something of a drizzle,.  This was our first AK cruise and we saw something on this excurstion that I haven't seen, since.  You know in those PBS nature shows where they show an eagle soaring just above water, and it suddenly drops its talons into the water and flies off with a trophy-sized salmon?  We actually saw that.  I am, however, sure that we paid extra for that part of the tour.  (I also am pretty sure that the group of yuppies who did not want to get damp and, so, were inside the boat, did not see the eagle.)  The only other  thing I remember from Sitka was the Russian Orthodox church.  I would love to go back there and am giving thought to that 14-day Los Angeles roundtrip this year.  Icy Strait Point is a fairly new cruise port.  Also, I think it can only accommodate one cruise ship at a time.  I may be wrong, there.  I suppose that an addition ship could anchor and tender passengers ashore. The neat thing about Icy Strait Point is that all the businesses are all locally owned.  So, I found that the docents on the Whale Watch and the Bear Search excursions that we took really tried hard to make the experience memorable for us.

 

A valid reason why my opinion may be invalid is because I have never visited Whittier as a port start, only as an embarkation port.  We flew into Anchorage and took a bus to Whittier.  Somebody mentioned a glacier cruise excursion, and I have to agree that sounds pretty neat.

 

Since you are pondering a cruise where Whittier is a port stop, you might find the rest of this post to be irrelevant.  So you can feel free to skip it,

 

Somebody posted in one of your threads that the bus ride from Anchorage to Whittier was long with the implication that it is boring.  I beg to differ.

 

I mentioned that we did take the Whittier-Vancouver southbound cruise once.  It was our very first AK cruise.  We flew to Anchorage and took the cruise line's bus to Whittier.  Leaving Anchorage you travel next to a waterway called Turnagain Arm.  So, on the right is water and on the left is mountains.  Our bus driver did a little tour guide stuff and pointed out where you could see sheep on the mountain, she also pointed out the Fireweed, and what the why the expanses of dead trees are called "Ghost Forests."  The coolest part, though, was the fact that the road doesn't actually go to Whittier.  The bus pulls off at a railroad siding and drives onto a flatcar.  You stay on the bus and the train takes you through mountain tunnels (actually, I don't remember if it was one long tunnel or a series of tunnels) to get to Whittier.  Very cool.  I saw my first glacier from that bus and couldn't believe how beautiful it was.  In the latter stages of my career I made three or four business trips to Anchorage.  On one of these, Larry, the local rep took me to dinner at Alyeska.  To get there, we traveled on that same road along Turnagain Arm  Larry, of course, pointed out when we were coming up to were the mountain sheep were, but he also mentioned that over here on the right you can sometimes see Beluga Whales.  Sure enough.  Within seconds I spotted what, at first, I thought was a very large albino dolphin.  Nope.  A Beluga Whale.  Then, three or four more.

 

Sorry I am so long-winded, Bubba.  As you might gather, I love to pontificate.

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On 12/11/2019 at 11:03 AM, bubbapuck said:

Hello Everyone! I had a post removed for some reason. Not 100% sure why but I read the rules and am rewording my post to get the info I need. 

 

My wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2021. I want to surprise her dream cruise to Alaska for Christmas. I have looked at the prospective itineraries and have narrowed it down to two options... which I am struggling to pick one. I will list the cruises and explain why I like/dislike and would like anyone's opinion. As a single family income, cost is important but both of these are in our budget.

 

1) 14-Day Inside Passage (Roundtrip Los Angeles w/ Hubbard Glacier) out of Los Angeles in July 2021. This will be on the Sun Princess. It hits Ketchikan, Skagway, Icy Straight Point, Sitka, Juneau, Victoria, and the Hubbard Glacier.

  • Los Angeles is our home port and would not have to pay for flights, hotel, or transport to the port.
  • No Glacier Bay and we don't go up to Anchorage.
  • We love sea days and this gives us 5 or 6 full sea days. This cruise doesn't seems as rushed as there are not as many port days where we may feel obligated to get off and do something.
  • I have a feeling the cost of this cruise may lower in the future and thus save me on the cruise cost. The itinerary is not as good as the other cruise. Since there are only 4 cruises from LA in 2021 on a smaller ship, the demand may be higher and the price may not lower as much as I think.

 

2) 14-Day Voyage of the Glaciers Grand Adventure out of Vancouver in May 2021. This will be on the Star Princess. It hits Ketchikan twice, Juneau twice, Skagway twice, Glacier Bay twice, Hubbard Glacier, Anchorage, and College Fjord.

  • We would have to fly to Vancouver. The cruise and flights match the cost of the LA cruise but the hotel, extra meals, transport, etc may cause the cost to be higher.
  • I THINK I like this itinerary more as we go deeper into Alaska and hit multiple Fjords/Glaciers. Would you prefer Anchorage over Icy Straight Point/Sitka?
  • We love sea days and this doesn't have as many. It does have cruise ports multiple times so we can have extra "sea days" on days we hit ports already visited.
  • More port days means more $$$ spent in port. Excursions, meals, souvenirs, etc. 
  • I am not sure if this cruise will lower in price. it seems to be a more popular cruise but there are many more Glaciers Grand Adventure cruises that has more supply than the 4 LA cruises.

 

We are honestly not that picky which one we pick. The main things we want to do are the train up the mountain, visit the state capital in Juneau, and eat some quality sea food. It is a dream to just visit Alaska and enjoy time together, we will be very happy with either. Either cruise achieves all of these goals. Also, I have the budget for both cruises now.... the basics and a few excursions (I know they are much higher in Alaska than other cruises).  Any sort of future cost savings are great but I just want to make sure any hidden costs may cause the costs to go much higher. 

 

I would just love anyone's feedback. The more conversation, the more I learn and can make the best choice. Please do not discuss anything that may have this post disappear. My previous post has good advice from people that is now gone. 

 

 

 

Take the sea days as they are the best part of cruising.  Our home port is San Francisco so we like to leave out of there but we have left out of San Pedro 20 other times.  My co-worker left out of Vancouver and was upset as she felt her cruise was just getting in port, getting off of the ship, getting back on the ship and sleeping to wake up in a new port the next day.  This last year she took the one from San Pedro up to Alaska and loved the sea days, she said it made up for the floating hotel experience.  

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30 minutes ago, XBGuy said:

The coolest part, though, was the fact that the road doesn't actually go to Whittier.  The bus pulls off at a railroad siding and drives onto a flatcar.  You stay on the bus and the train takes you through mountain tunnels (actually, I don't remember if it was one long tunnel or a series of tunnels) to get to Whittier.  Very cool. 

 

Not anymore. Several years ago, the tunnel (there's just one) was converted to joint rail-highway use. As it's only a single lane wide, traffic is only open in each direction of 15 minutes of each hour - from Whittier from :00 to :15 and to Whittier from :30 to:45 with the other 30 minutes reserved for rail traffic and operational needs (on Princess cruise days, there are at least 8 scheduled trains (4 Alaska RR and 4 Princess charters) plus deadhead moves involving the Princess charters plus freight traffic). There is no more loading road vehicles on to flatcars to go through the tunnel. 

 

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2 minutes ago, lstone19 said:

 

Not anymore. Several years ago, the tunnel (there's just one) was converted to joint rail-highway use. As it's only a single lane wide, traffic is only open in each direction of 15 minutes of each hour - from Whittier from :00 to :15 and to Whittier from :30 to:45 with the other 30 minutes reserved for rail traffic and operational needs (on Princess cruise days, there are at least 8 scheduled trains (4 Alaska RR and 4 Princess charters) plus deadhead moves involving the Princess charters plus freight traffic). There is no more loading road vehicles on to flatcars to go through the tunnel. 

 

 

Thanks, L.  My experience was from 1992.

 

Sorry Bubba. It sounds like the Anchorage-Whittier trip is not as fun as it used to be.

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