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bubbapuck

Alaska Cruise Decisions

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Have a great cruise, Bubba.

 

I am going to add one more idea for you.  Since you are budget conscious, in Skagway there are some hiking trails that you can do for free.

 

To help you out a bit, here is a map of Skagway:

 

SkagwayMap1.thumb.jpg.86b5a7d8abd1f2f24afc669534e878ef.jpg

Typically, cruise ships dock at the Railroad Dock or the Ore Dock.  These locations are circled in black in my little map,  The red circles depict trail heads that I have tried,  The Yakutania Trails (upper left on the map) are the easier ones.  From the ship, you walk over to the airport and, cross a footbridge over the Skagway River.  From there you can go to the left to an area called Smugglers Cove, or you can go to the right and hike along the river.  The Dewey Lake Trails are a tad more challenging.  It is an uphill climb to the the Lower Dewey Lake.  Old guys, like me, have to take a couple of breaks on the way up to catch our breath.  Of course, getting up high does offer some picture-taking opportunities.  Here is a picture from last April with the Ruby Princess docked at the Ore Dock in the  background.

 

DSCF2221.thumb.JPG.f6b4a7f0adbf426225b9f8d475be6176.JPG

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One other thing to keep in mind in Alaska in June is The sun is up by 4:30 AM and doesn't set till 11:30 PM.  Can make it really hard on some folks to sleep if they need a "really" dark room to sleep.

 

 

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2 hours ago, BrennerM said:

I didn't read the whole thread but I do have one comment for you:  the weather in Alaska can be pretty volatile, so the nice thing about the Vancouver cruise is that you get two chances to have a nice weather day at each of the ports (other than Whittier of course).  So you can plan ahead based on weather forecasts to ensure that you do your excursions on the best of the two days in each port.  Or you can do two excursions if there are multiple things you want to do.

Also, Glacier Bay is amazing and I would always recommend the cruise which includes it.  And take the Skagway train up the gold rush trail, it is incredible (when the weather/visibility is good...)

 

 

Thanks for the insight Brenner. Somone had mentioned this but it is a good reiteration of this fact. The fact that I can go to many of the places twice was a definite plus for me. Whether it is weather or seeing things we missed, or even seeing things again, as a first timer to Alaska, it will be nice to see have an optional "sea day" if we decide not to get off the boat on a port we have visited.

 

I honestly think the Skagway train is what sold my wife on the trip to Alaska... I know it sold me! I love that type of thing.  

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53 minutes ago, XBGuy said:

Have a great cruise, Bubba.

 

I am going to add one more idea for you.  Since you are budget conscious, in Skagway there are some hiking trails that you can do for free.

 

To help you out a bit, here is a map of Skagway:

 

Typically, cruise ships dock at the Railroad Dock or the Ore Dock.  These locations are circled in black in my little map,  The red circles depict trail heads that I have tried,  The Yakutania Trails (upper left on the map) are the easier ones.  From the ship, you walk over to the airport and, cross a footbridge over the Skagway River.  From there you can go to the left to an area called Smugglers Cove, or you can go to the right and hike along the river.  The Dewey Lake Trails are a tad more challenging.  It is an uphill climb to the the Lower Dewey Lake.  Old guys, like me, have to take a couple of breaks on the way up to catch our breath.  Of course, getting up high does offer some picture-taking opportunities.  Here is a picture from last April with the Ruby Princess docked at the Ore Dock in the  background.

 

 

This is great information! Thanks XBGuy! 

 

I am definitely doing the train in Skagway but my wife and I love to hike. Since we are going to Skagway twice, this will a nice cheap thing to do and see other parts of Skagway.

 

When the time comes, I will start doing series research on each port to find fun, cheap/free things to do. This is a great idea to put in my "folder". Especially since it has a map. I love maps!!! Thanks again!

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12 minutes ago, TNTLAMB said:

One other thing to keep in mind in Alaska in June is The sun is up by 4:30 AM and doesn't set till 11:30 PM.  Can make it really hard on some folks to sleep if they need a "really" dark room to sleep.

 

 

 

My wife needs as much darkness as possible when sleeping. As much as I would love a balcony. I have to go interior or else I will have a crabby lady on my hands. Thanks for the heads up!

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17 hours ago, bubbapuck said:

 

My wife needs as much darkness as possible when sleeping. As much as I would love a balcony. I have to go interior or else I will have a crabby lady on my hands. Thanks for the heads up!

 

We've always done an inside cabin in Alaska and it's great for sleeping.  Then we just use the Promenade deck to see the sights. Since it wraps around the whole ship (caveat: except on Royal-class ships!) you can walk to any side pretty quickly.

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Well I mentioned yesterday I was going with Vancouver. That was the plan until I spoke with my daughter. My daughter is very much like her mother and knows what she likes. We had an hour talk last night as I laid out everything this great group has provided for me. It took her 2 seconds to say "Los Angeles". As she explained her reasoning, it made sense. I should have spoken with her a month ago!

 

Leaving out of LA is official. Thank you all again!

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34 minutes ago, bubbapuck said:

Well I mentioned yesterday I was going with Vancouver. That was the plan until I spoke with my daughter. My daughter is very much like her mother and knows what she likes. We had an hour talk last night as I laid out everything this great group has provided for me. It took her 2 seconds to say "Los Angeles". As she explained her reasoning, it made sense. I should have spoken with her a month ago!

 

Leaving out of LA is official. Thank you all again!

 

Again, just my opinion but major mistake.  If you want to do a California cruise, go out of LA.  You are going to do an AK cruise but are going to waste 2 days each way getting to AK.  Makes no sense to me but different strokes etc.

 

DON

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59 minutes ago, bubbapuck said:

Well I mentioned yesterday I was going with Vancouver. That was the plan until I spoke with my daughter. My daughter is very much like her mother and knows what she likes. We had an hour talk last night as I laid out everything this great group has provided for me. It took her 2 seconds to say "Los Angeles". As she explained her reasoning, it made sense. I should have spoken with her a month ago!

 

Leaving out of LA is official. Thank you all again!

 

I also think this is a mistake.  You will miss Glacier Bay and Collage Fjord.  Give it some more thought.

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@CruzinNoony and @donaldsc I agree with you. I would love to do the Voyage of Voyages also. My actual plan is to present both trips to my wife and let her decide. The LA trip is slightly less expensive an closer to our actual budget. We are worried the stress of flying and new places (she has a phobia of these things) plus it being more expensive may cause her to choose LA. My daughter and I will sit with her to discuss all the options and let her decide. My actual hope is she loves the trip and will want to go again!!! 🙂

 

EDIT: Also, the city that intrigues her the most (besides Skagway) is Sitka. The Vancouver cruise doesnt go there. Again, hoping she loves it and will want to do a shorter 7 day cruise in the future to hit Glacier Bay.

Edited by bubbapuck

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1 hour ago, bubbapuck said:

Well I mentioned yesterday I was going with Vancouver. That was the plan until I spoke with my daughter. My daughter is very much like her mother and knows what she likes. We had an hour talk last night as I laid out everything this great group has provided for me. It took her 2 seconds to say "Los Angeles". As she explained her reasoning, it made sense. I should have spoken with her a month ago!

 

Leaving out of LA is official. Thank you all again!

I hate to jump in with all the family but has your daughter actually BEEN to Alaska?

 

If your decision is based solely on logistics, I get it. But you WILL miss a lot of great stuff and spend too many days at sea that could be more beautifully spent in Alaska.

Edited by The Mikado

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5 minutes ago, bubbapuck said:

My actual hope is she loves the trip and will want to go again!!! 🙂

I can almost guarantee this will be the case.

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Check out the 12 day May 7, 2021 on Coral - looks like a great choice to me.  Given that, we also like the LA cruise due to no flying.  We've also done the VXR 14 dayer and loved it too.

 

image.png.0b69edd83f8d8abed11d3bcbf0c289e6.png

 

In Skagway: (even if you're on a budget) look at the VIP car on the White Pass Route, private car, with large comfy chairs, large viewing platform, private guide, snacks, beer and wine.

 

Ketchikan: Hump Island Oyster and Kelp Farm (a new tour).

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On 12/11/2019 at 2:03 PM, 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. 

 

 

 

We've done 4 AK cruise/land tours. If only going once, I agree interior of AK is amazing and not to be missed.  We did a Yukon tour on HAL, plus Canadian Rockies, Denali w Fairbanks, all were 12 -14 nights including a 7 day cruise and a 7 day R/T Seattle with extra days there for independent touring including the Boeing experience.  At minimum the Denali experience is encouraged, especially if Fairbanks can be the starting point.  If only seeking a cruise, then Seattle IMHO as a b2b would give you the double ports, I'm not a fan of the open seas in a smaller ship out of LA, Seattle has the pier to port free luggage transport on the return, which is a competitive advantage to me.  Enjoy your travel and happy anniversary. PS August is our favorite month to go there. 

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We have been to Alaska 5 prior cruises & yes we have done the interior on our own , make sure you look at the " alaska discount books  on google "  .also if you get to Denali with a rental car ,the best place we found to stay is the Denali Lake view INN  ,it is about 10 to 15 minute drive to the park entrance .They make box lunches for the park tour .It is a triple diamond AAA bed & breakfast with private balconies . Prices are right as well 

 

 We just booked today ,Dec 18,2019 , the 15 night august 14 ,2021 R/T San Pedro on Sun Princess ,in a mini suite 😀

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20 hours ago, bubbapuck said:

@CruzinNoony and @donaldsc I agree with you. I would love to do the Voyage of Voyages also. My actual plan is to present both trips to my wife and let her decide. The LA trip is slightly less expensive an closer to our actual budget. We are worried the stress of flying and new places (she has a phobia of these things) plus it being more expensive may cause her to choose LA. My daughter and I will sit with her to discuss all the options and let her decide. My actual hope is she loves the trip and will want to go again!!! 🙂

 

EDIT: Also, the city that intrigues her the most (besides Skagway) is Sitka. The Vancouver cruise doesnt go there. Again, hoping she loves it and will want to do a shorter 7 day cruise in the future to hit Glacier Bay.

You will still see glaciers. As far as Glacier Bay goes, chances in early June of actually cruising the area without having to abort early due to ice are between slim and none. Listen to your wife and daughter. I have have been the only Male in my house for the last 45 years (am raising two grandaughters now due to an accident) in any event when you have two with an opinion, you have none. I did have a Male cat  too commiserate with. The daughters and wife had him neutered for singing.... As I said before there is no wrong decision for a cruise to alaska. They are all amazing.  As long as everyone has an opinion,  mine is simple 2days on a cruise ship or a day of flying? There is no decision to be made lol.....(especially if it involves LAX)

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On 12/18/2019 at 12:58 PM, Ferd Berfle said:

 

Check out the 12 day May 7, 2021 on Coral - looks like a great choice to me.  Given that, we also like the LA cruise due to no flying.  We've also done the VXR 14 dayer and loved it too.

 

image.png.0b69edd83f8d8abed11d3bcbf0c289e6.png

 

In Skagway: (even if you're on a budget) look at the VIP car on the White Pass Route, private car, with large comfy chairs, large viewing platform, private guide, snacks, beer and wine.

 

Ketchikan: Hump Island Oyster and Kelp Farm (a new tour).

 

Thanks Ferd! I am starting to compile a list of great restaurants... I will add these to the list!

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8 hours ago, TNTLAMB said:

You will still see glaciers. As far as Glacier Bay goes, chances in early June of actually cruising the area without having to abort early due to ice are between slim and none. Listen to your wife and daughter. I have have been the only Male in my house for the last 45 years (am raising two grandaughters now due to an accident) in any event when you have two with an opinion, you have none. I did have a Male cat  too commiserate with. The daughters and wife had him neutered for singing.... As I said before there is no wrong decision for a cruise to alaska. They are all amazing.  As long as everyone has an opinion,  mine is simple 2days on a cruise ship or a day of flying? There is no decision to be made lol.....(especially if it involves LAX)

 

Thanks for the laugh Lamb!!! Hats off to you for raising your granddaughters. I have two grandsons and one granddaughter and they are a handful for just a few hours!

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I spoke with my CVP on the issue and she suggested booking both and see what my wife says. Duh! I have booked both cruises now. I will give her some time after Christmas for us to discuss and have her make the decision she wants. I have a feeling she chooses Vancouver. We will see.

 

Thanks all for talking me off the ledge!

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@bubbapuck, please come back after your cruise and let us all know how much you and your wife loved it! Not if, how much!

 

Happy anniversary! Be careful: it was a 25th anniversary Princess cruise to the Baltic that got PapaFej and me hooked on cruising! Now we are working on spending the money we diligently squirreled away for the last 30 years before the kids have a chance to inherit it! We are spending  much of it by cruising!

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34 minutes ago, bubbapuck said:

 

Thanks Ferd! I am starting to compile a list of great restaurants... I will add these to the list!

 

Here's another one.  You have received a few recommendations for restaurants in Ketchikan.  I haven't been to most of them.  So, I really don't know how this compares.

 

Cape Fox Lodge Restaurant.

 

The really cool thing about this restaurant is that it is up on the mountain, a tad.  So, it has a great panoramic view of the town and docked cruise ships below.  The food is good, certainly, not trendy, and fairly priced.  Again, you can find the menu on line.

 

There is something of a trick to getting there.  From your ship, walk to Creek Street--just follow the crowd.  Creek Street consists of a collection of business that are, mostly, tourist-oriented.  These businesses are on a boardwalk next to, surprise, the creek.  (Depending on the time of year, the creek will be jammed with salmon.)  In, roughly, the middle of the Creek Street boarwalk businesses you'll find the Creek Street Funicular.  I think the locals just call it the Tram.  It will take you up the hill to the Cape Fox Lodge.  Make a left as you exit from the funicular area and there is the restaurant.  The fee for the funicular is $3, but they collect that on the way down.  As we exited from our trip up, a lady told us that if we bring our receipt from the restaurant, then there is no charge for the down trip.

 

The reason my wife scoped out this restaurant prior to our last cruise is because she saw that they offered oysters on the half-shell.  We love those.  

 

Which now leads to another story, that, presumably nobody really cares about.

 

We were pretty excited that the ship on which we took our last cruise, the Royal Princess, had a nice sounding seafood bar over the Piazza, and one of their menu items was oysters on the half-shell.  We were definitely goint to check that out.  For whatever reason we did not get there until Day 3 of the cruise (2nd Sea Day).  We were able to find a table and make ourselves comfortable and review the menu and the wine list.  The waiter gave us a few minutes and, then, came over for our order.  I ordered a bottle of Albarino and my wife asked, "Where are your oysters from?"

 

"Texas," came the reply.

 

I knew what that meant, and I tried to deflect, "Well, there is an 'r' in 'September.'"

 

No dice.  My wife will not eat Caribbean oysters.  I apologize to readers from the Gulf Coast.

 

We found something else to order and enjoyed it with the wine.

 

Two days later, we berthed in Ketchikan, walked over to Creek Street and took the funicular up to the Cape Fox Lodge.  We were seated at a terrific window-side table with a great view.  The waitress came over, and I ordered a bottle of Silverado Sauvignon Blanc.  My wife asked the waitress, "Do you know where are your oysters from?"

 

She gave us the funniest look which I now know was embarrassment.  "I don't know.  I've asked before, but nobody has been able to tell me."

 

My wife relays the ship seafood bar story and explains that she cannot understand how a cruise ship on the west coast of the United States gets their oysters from Texas and not from the Pacific Nortwest.

 

That was enough for the waitress to reassure us, "Oh, I know, absolutely, that our oysters are from the west coast."

 

With that, we ordered a half-dozen.

 

When she brought our wine, the waitress also gave us an update.  She found another person to ask and learned that their oysters were Hump Island.  So, not only west coast, but local.

 

I don't even remember what else I ordered for that lunch, but it was an enjoyable experience.

 

 

 

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I have been to Ketchikan three times and the funicular was never running! I thought it had not run in ten years! 

 

Just my bad luck I guess.

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On 12/19/2019 at 4:31 PM, XBGuy said:

 

When she brought our wine, the waitress also gave us an update.  She found another person to ask and learned that their oysters were Hump Island.  So, not only west coast, but local.

 

I don't even remember what else I ordered for that lunch, but it was an enjoyable experience.

 

 

Yea! for Hump Island Oysters, also available at the Mean Queen @ Totem Square in Sitka.  The tour I mentioned is a ship's excursion out to the farm - family owned and friends and family staffed.  The farm recently started shipping (it takes 3-5 years for 1st market sized oysters).  New tour this year.  See how oysters are grown from babies on *.  And you may see whales in the channel on the boat ride out to Hump Island. They share 2 Oysters pp, and Kelp Salsa.  No affiliation, just a fan!  You can also get Alaska oysters at Skagway Fish Company (but they are occasionally out of them).

 

*The babies come from Japan 

image.png.90e8fa897bb166f7f42df5a47db52c68.png

 

Princess does buy from them!  But you may only see them at the specialty restaurants.  I too learned the Royal "seafood bar" used frozen oyster already shucked and calls them "fresh" 

image.png.4e5d1a752f7e4d350890fab00f0b9a67.png

 

Edited by Ferd Berfle
typo

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