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nproell82

I am at a loss...

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I am sure this has been asked a million times and I apologize if it has. I have been doing tons of research on Alaska cruises as my family and I are planning one for late-August early September. It will be me (29 year old male), my wife also 29, my 31 year old brother, 35 year old brother, both my parents in their early 60's, and my 2 year old daughter). We have narrowed it down to a 10 day cruise tour departing Vancouver. We are nearly sold on Princess cruise lines as I understand they are one of the biggest players in Alaska. I have read that GBNP is a MUST, so that also played in to us choosing Princess. I have read that Coral Princess is the best Princess ship for Alaska.

 

 

 

My main concern, is entertainment onboard, and activities for my 2 year old. I understand the scenery in Alaska is the entertainment, but we also want to have things to do onboard after dinner and such. From what I've read, it sounds like Alaska Princess cruises lack good nightly entertainment, what are your thoughts on that?

 

 

 

Also, I understand their kids program is only for 3+, with a "playground" to use for children under 3, with parental supervision. Is there anything else onboard my 2 year old will be able to do? Will there be many kids on this cruise at all?

 

 

 

I am almost debating looking at other cruise lines (such as Royal Caribbean) just for the entertainment factor...even though that means we'd miss out on Glacier Bay National Park.

 

 

 

I am at a loss, I am planning to speak with a travel agent locally as well to get some insight, but thought I would start here for opinions from experienced travelers.

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Yes, your initial research is good as Coral has a nice itinerary and Princess does a great job in Alaska.  I think you should stick with Coral and come up with some entertainment options yourself for the 2 year old.  I think it a bit odd that anyone would pick an Alaska cruise based on entertainment options for a 2 year old.

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The cruise choice is not based around the 2 year old. She's 2, so she's pretty easily entertained as you can imagine. I just want to have options (some variety) to keep her entertained throughout the week. As adults, we can appreciate the natural beauty of watching mountains go by and wildlife, but I worry about her getting bored.

 

I also read that the entertainment on Princess ships can be quite repetitive and boring... any insight on that?

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My initial response was a bit snarky!  My bad.  We’ve cruised all the main lines in Alaska except Disney & Carnival and haven’t found a big difference in the entertainment, at least enough to consider a different line when the Coral  itinerary is just so good.  Although, I have no idea regarding the options for a 2 year old. Hopefully others will chime in here.

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I agree the Coral itinerary is great. Maybe I'm just burned out on researching so much and am starting to second guess my choices.

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How about starting with what kind of children's corner the ships have?  Seems to you that having care, or options may be important for you? However, when you check that, see if there is an age bracket for those options.

 

I agree with the others, find the best ship/route that is best for the entire family, then see if the child option works.   I doubt she'll remember the "quality' of entertainment at that age.   I would think what options is probably valuable to the family so that the peace is kept.  😉  Good luck!

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I haven't been on my cruise yet, so I don't have advice about specifics, but I have traveled with a 2 yr old (actually 3 of them at different times.....).  I think the most important thing would be to have the option of babysitting.  Since the 2 yr old is so young they might like that part of the cruise a lot if it involved playing with new toys etc.   So, look into the kids clubs and their age restrictions etc, which it looks like you are already doing.  If it were me I'd just call Princess and ask.  You might get recommendations or one ship versus another etc.  

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Princess's kids program starts at 3. The play area is allowed to be used by those younger when with their parents. Most cruise lines (except for Disney I think) start their kids program at 3. Have you considered waiting until next year to do this trip?

 

The Coral Princess has a great itinerary. There are nightly shows, comedians, etc on Princess every night... On Alaska cruises, people don't stay out late at night because the days are busy. Alaska (overall) also attracts an older demographic. Though I have to say I cruised Alaska plenty of times in my 30's and loved it.

 

There are enough adults in your group to take turns with the 2 year old. Princess does not offer babysitting services. 

 

I would go on the Coral Princess because it is great or wait until next year when she is 3. I would rethink the 3 night land tour and just do something on your own in Alaska or Vancouver.

Edited by Coral

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We did an Alaska cruise last summer and we chose to do another one this summer.  Our family is about 10 years old than yours, my husband and I are 42 and our kids at 11 and 13.  We cruised Princess last time and have opted to do Carnival this time.  I completely agree with GBNP being a must.  I'll also say that your reservations about cruising on Princess are justified.  I've only been on 2 Princess cruises, but they do have a very mature audience.  We took our kids to some of the evening entertainment but the comedian was the only one they enjoyed.  Our kids are also old enough that we could leave them in the kids club or in the room while we went out.  There isn't much happening late at night.  We found ourselves wandering around between 11pm and 1am looking for things to do.  Hopefully we'll find things a little more lively on Carnival.  

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9 hours ago, nproell82 said:

........We have narrowed it down to a 10 day cruise tour departing Vancouver. We are nearly sold on Princess cruise lines as I understand they are one of the biggest players in Alaska.

 

 

By "10 day cruise tour" do you mean a cruise plus a short land tour organized by Princess?  If so, while you know your daughter, I am not sure that many two year olds would handle a land tour very well.  They are very structured, and a number of these short tours involve a significant amount of time on motor coaches.  Just a thought.

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14 hours ago, atobols said:

  Hopefully we'll find things a little more lively on Carnival.  

Reports indicate that Carnival sailings in Alaska are not like the Caribbean as far as night life. Alaska gets a certain demographic of people. Maybe it will be livelier, I just wouldn't expect what you get in the Caribbean on Carnival.

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Have you looked at NCL sailings? The same age issue occurs with their Youth program (except for one ship that offers a nursery that I don't think sails in Alaska), but there will probably be more kids and kid oriented activities on board in general compared to Princess. On top of that, the nightlife and shows are apparently great. I haven't been on NCL, but everyone I know seems to love it (coworkers my age in their late 20's and some coworkers who are in the 60's as well who exclusively cruise on NCL). And NCL cruises to Glacier Bay National Park as well. 

 

Edit: Also, we didn't cruise to GBNP and our ship instead went to Hubbard Glacier. I thought Hubbard was fantastic as well and have no regrets about not cruising to GBNP, however we did book a flight seeing tour of GBNP so we at least got to see it too. Looking at sailings that don't go to GBNP may open up more options for you as well, and you will still have a fantastic time. 

Edited by AuroraRose

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Honestly, it doesn't sound like much of a vacation for your wife.  The group consists of your parents and your two brothers (31 & 35).  Your 2 yr old daughter is too young for the child care / camp option.  And you are concerned about night life and entertainment.  Does this mean that your wife will be in the cabin after dinner with your two year old while you are out at the shows or bars with your family?

Alaska cruises are very port intensive, meaning that you are up early and spending a lot of time off the ship exploring the towns.  It gets tiring spending hours off ship.  Does your daughter still nap in the afternoon?  Will she easily fall asleep in a room when the sun is still in the sky at 9 pm? 

Hopefully if you decide to do this cruise, you will all work together to share/alleviate the needed childcare.  I just hope it doesn't all fall to your wife (or even the grand mother).

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2 hours ago, AuroraRose said:

Have you looked at NCL sailings? The same age issue occurs with their Youth program (except for one ship that offers a nursery that I don't think sails in Alaska), but there will probably be more kids and kid oriented activities on board in general compared to Princess. On top of that, the nightlife and shows are apparently great. I haven't been on NCL, but everyone I know seems to love it (coworkers my age in their late 20's and some coworkers who are in the 60's as well who exclusively cruise on NCL). And NCL cruises to Glacier Bay National Park as well. 

 

Edit: Also, we didn't cruise to GBNP and our ship instead went to Hubbard Glacier. I thought Hubbard was fantastic as well and have no regrets about not cruising to GBNP, however we did book a flight seeing tour of GBNP so we at least got to see it too. Looking at sailings that don't go to GBNP may open up more options for you as well, and you will still have a fantastic time. 

I have looked at Norwegian as well. The fact that they charge for many onboard activities, as well as many of their restaurants was a turnoff for me. I might look in to it more and break down the costs. 

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42 minutes ago, Ferry_Watcher said:

Honestly, it doesn't sound like much of a vacation for your wife.  The group consists of your parents and your two brothers (31 & 35).  Your 2 yr old daughter is too young for the child care / camp option.  And you are concerned about night life and entertainment.  Does this mean that your wife will be in the cabin after dinner with your two year old while you are out at the shows or bars with your family?

Alaska cruises are very port intensive, meaning that you are up early and spending a lot of time off the ship exploring the towns.  It gets tiring spending hours off ship.  Does your daughter still nap in the afternoon?  Will she easily fall asleep in a room when the sun is still in the sky at 9 pm? 

Hopefully if you decide to do this cruise, you will all work together to share/alleviate the needed childcare.  I just hope it doesn't all fall to your wife (or even the grand mother).

I find it odd that you just assume since I’m a male that all the responsibility falls on my wife or my mom/grandma. 

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22 minutes ago, nproell82 said:

I have looked at Norwegian as well. The fact that they charge for many onboard activities, as well as many of their restaurants was a turnoff for me. I might look in to it more and break down the costs. 

Admittedly that's the same reason I have hesitated to book them too. We ended up taking a Celebrity cruise to Alaska which is supposed to have a better passenger:crew ratio and less "nickel and diming", but I have been eyeing a few NCL itineraries recently and have been talking to coworkers about if they like it. They all seemed to love it.  We also went on an excursion in Juneau with people around our age who were on a NCL ship in port, and they seemed to say that the nightlife on the ship was great. They were asking us about Celebrity since we were the only people that they had seen in their 20's who came off that ship. NCL certainly looked like much more of a lively crowd than the Princess, Holland America, or Celebrity ships. The NCL ships also seemed to have more kids on board. 

 

And opening up itineraries that don't include Glacier Bay would give you options on Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean which also are kid friendly and the latter two are apparently lively for nightlife/shows as well (not sure about Disney, but a lot of adults seem to enjoy that line too). 

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6 hours ago, AuroraRose said:

Have you looked at NCL sailings? The same age issue occurs with their Youth program (except for one ship that offers a nursery that I don't think sails in Alaska), but there will probably be more kids and kid oriented activities on board in general compared to Princess. On top of that, the nightlife and shows are apparently great. I haven't been on NCL, but everyone I know seems to love it (coworkers my age in their late 20's and some coworkers who are in the 60's as well who exclusively cruise on NCL). And NCL cruises to Glacier Bay National Park as well. 

 

I personally have heard the opposite and avoid NCL. I have a friend who just returned. They felt nickel and dimed everywhere, thought service was awful and will never return to NCL. They said they had to pay for meals to get decent food.

 

Princess's one ways have great itineraries. They all have 2 glacier days. Some of the best for mass market lines.

Edited by Coral

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Just go up to the sports deck with the 2 year old and throw balls and stuff around. You can see scenery and wear the two year old out. I’m dead serious about this. My 5 year old and I had a lot of fun up there and saw other younger kids with their parents there. 

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3 hours ago, AuroraRose said:

 

And opening up itineraries that don't include Glacier Bay would give you options on Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean which also are kid friendly and the latter two are apparently lively for nightlife/shows as well (not sure about Disney, but a lot of adults seem to enjoy that line too). 

Just remember - some observations about cruise lines overall don't necessarily translate well in Alaska. I went to Alaska on my RCCL cruise and it wasn't the same in the Caribbean. It didn't have "better nightlife". I have heard the same about Carnival. In Alaska - Alaska is the main attraction.

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Love Disney.  Just got back from Disney No. 6.  Yes they are wonderful with kids and the Wonder is probably my favourite ship (sailed 3x), but don't do Disney.  Some would consider the premium worth it, I don't and would rather be spending the money on actual experiences. You have a challenge ahead of you finding a balance in needs especially when travelling with an extended group.  We have been cruising since our youngest was 2.5 (on one of those extended family trips), yes we started with Disney but quickly expanded beyond them.  You are likely going to be fine on Princess, but you will need to be creative and flexible when it comes to keeping your daughter entertained.  And and as a result you will probably miss some things, reality is however you were never going to be able to do everything you wanted anyway.  We did Alaska in 2017 on Carnival (first time on Carnival) and the kids were 9 and 13.  Going back this August on HAL and doing some very different experiences planned with them now being 12 and 16.  Will probably go back in a few years with just DW and I and do the North-South run.  The more we cruise, the more it becomes about making sure we get the experiences we want.  Consider what others have suggested however and look at all the options.  I am a spreadsheet type of guy, my wife thinks its funny, but I like having everything laid out in front of me.  Good luck. 

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I appreciate everyone's feedback. I am hoping to meet with a travel agent this week. Based on your advice, i will be shying away from doing a cruise tour, and will likely just do a cruise and our own thing on land. Hopefully the travel agent will have much more to say about the logistics of getting 7 of us around, whether it be renting cars or what, and finding a place for 7 of us to sleep for a few nights without breaking the bank terribly.

 

I am still leaning towards Princess as they are the king of Alaska (looked at HAL as well, but they seem to be too "sophisticated" for our group, plus I read they have an even older demographic). Also Princess has their "Best Sale Ever" right now which gives us free drinks, as well as discounts.

 

That brings me to another question... Does Princess run this sale regularly, or is it a one time year thing? Or is it a one time ever thing?

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On 2/17/2020 at 1:05 PM, nproell82 said:

 

 

That brings me to another question... Does Princess run this sale regularly, or is it a one time year thing? Or is it a one time ever thing?

This is the first time they have run this sale and it goes towards the end of the month I think. This is one of the better sales they have run IMO.

 

You can deposit a cruise under this - just make sure it is refundable (and your agent doesn't charge a fee). It may give you more time to decide.

Edited by Coral

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