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Should we cruise to Alasca


guest26
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I usually like traveling in scenic nature like I had in cruise to Norway, road trip in Iceland and traveling to switzerland. This times might go cruising with my 12 years daughter. I expect to see:

- large chunks of Ice not very  far from ship

- whales, seals, dolphins, sea lions

- eagles, salmons swiming back, maybe bears from distance??

- scenic views with many reflections, fjords etc.

What I do NOT want:

- go on Helicopter or small jets

- walking around villages to see streets and stores.

 

My questions:

1. Do you think it is possible to expect or I am completely wrong and Alsca cruise is not for me?

2. in respect to ot which ports are MUST when I search for a cruise and which ports are nice to have?

3.  Would it bettet to add a land tour before/after cruise as it cost way much more? Should it be only by ship or are there private companies?

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Thanks!

The point is that I wand a big ship with facilities for the kid so she will enjoy also. 

I just wondered if my imagination regarding Alaska is as I described or that I will find myself with no too much views/glaciers from ship, no whales/dolphins/seals and in all port the main things will be taking helicopter tour or walk between stores.

I imagine that she plays with facilities some of the day, I could see beautiful views from deck, sometimes also whales and when we get down to port we get by bus/train/boat to see wildlife (eagels, whales, seals etc) and glaciers from close, maybe some easy hiking.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, guest26 said:

- large chunks of Ice not very  far from ship

We didn't see any large chunks on any of our Alaska itineraries, mostly only little bittyy bits which had come off calvings.

 

If you want BIIIG bits of ice, actually huge icebergs, you need to consider Greenland, Newfoundland or Labrador.

 

 Glacier Bay is considered #1 for scenic cruising. The White Horse and Yukon railroad/bus combo out of Skagway is also highly recommended.

 

There is lots to see and do in Alaska without going anywhere near a tourist store, but you would need to read more about Alaska to learn what these are.

 

Eagles, especially  bald eagles are usually fairly common to see, but for salmon and bears you would need to check on the best seasons to see them as they are not present throughout the summer months. Same with whale spotting, although there are some very good whale watching boat trips available from Juneau.

 

Deciding WHEN to visit Alaska is quite tricky and you should rely on your own reading/research to help you decide which dates might give you the best opportunities to match your  personal "wish list".

 

There is also a huge amount of Alaska information on this board to help you get started. There is lots of info and suggestions waiting to be found on current and past threads.

Edited by edinburgher
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2 hours ago, guest26 said:

Thanks!

The point is that I wand a big ship with facilities for the kid so she will enjoy also. 

I just wondered if my imagination regarding Alaska is as I described or that I will find myself with no too much views/glaciers from ship, no whales/dolphins/seals and in all port the main things will be taking helicopter tour or walk between stores.

I imagine that she plays with facilities some of the day, I could see beautiful views from deck, sometimes also whales and when we get down to port we get by bus/train/boat to see wildlife (eagels, whales, seals etc) and glaciers from close, maybe some easy hiking.

 

 

I think you need a ship from Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line or Carnival. You need to look for itineraries with glacier visits...Hubbard, Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, College Fjord.

 

Most all port stops will have some wildlife activities,  and some walking or hiking activities.  Each town will have the tourist shops and areas. You can ignore them.

 

There...a summary of the research required. 

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I don’t think your expectations fit with an Alaska cruise. We saw smallish chunks of ice in the water, but mostly only near Hubbard Glacier (and that’s because we took a small boat tour). You won’t see whales or dolphins close to your cruise ship. We did spot some Humpbacks on several occasions, but they weren’t close to the ship. Sure, you’ll see fjords, but if you want glaciers you need to specifically choose a cruise that includes at least two glacier days. Also, the typical ports are touristy. If you don’t want to walk around touristy areas you will need to take an excursion or rent a vehicle. I would consider another location, personally. I also feel that Norway is prettier than Alaska so it may be a let down for you. Maybe not.

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9 hours ago, guest26 said:

I usually like traveling in scenic nature like I had in cruise to Norway, road trip in Iceland and traveling to switzerland. This times might go cruising with my 12 years daughter. I expect to see:

- large chunks of Ice not very  far from ship

- whales, seals, dolphins, sea lions

- eagles, salmons swiming back, maybe bears from distance??

- scenic views with many reflections, fjords etc.

What I do NOT want:

- go on Helicopter or small jets

- walking around villages to see streets and stores.

 

My questions:

1. Do you think it is possible to expect or I am completely wrong and Alsca cruise is not for me?

2. in respect to ot which ports are MUST when I search for a cruise and which ports are nice to have?

3.  Would it bettet to add a land tour before/after cruise as it cost way much more? Should it be only by ship or are there private companies?

You need an expedition cruise that emphasizes nature and wildlife and not a big ship with the main emphasis on drinking, shopping, and casinos.  You can’t have both.  Look at Hurtigruten, National Geographic, or Uncruise.

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1 hour ago, nordicacres said:

I don’t think your expectations fit with an Alaska cruise. We saw smallish chunks of ice in the water, but mostly only near Hubbard Glacier (and that’s because we took a small boat tour). You won’t see whales or dolphins close to your cruise ship. We did spot some Humpbacks on several occasions, but they weren’t close to the ship. Sure, you’ll see fjords, but if you want glaciers you need to specifically choose a cruise that includes at least two glacier days. Also, the typical ports are touristy. If you don’t want to walk around touristy areas you will need to take an excursion or rent a vehicle. I would consider another location, personally. I also feel that Norway is prettier than Alaska so it may be a let down for you. Maybe not.

 

Well I got to the Alaska idea as in google photo I saw cruises of ship right close to ice/glaciers with many water reflections. But maybe I was wrong and you really need to take a small boat to see it from close? In Norway the cruise ship was really near the mountain could almost touch it.

How is the Glacier Bay or Inside Passage? Which one is better? (sometimes I see this in schedule and sometimes the other..)

 

I do not mind take excursions on ports but prefer not helicopters or small airplanes.

 

In fact we did a very short cruise in Norway and maybe it is a good option but the point is that not too much wildlife there and I have read that in Alaska it is quite easy to see whales, seals, eagles etc...

In Iceland there was a famous beach of seals that you sit really close to them.

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Those small ship cruises that were mentioned would be the best way to see what you’re looking for although not usually a good fit with a 12 year old. You’ll need to plan your excursions carefully and will be able to see most of what you want although it might be pricey.  You’ll most likely be disappointed if expecting to see all these things from the ship.

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Our cruise ship definitely did not get close to shore or glaciers. The small boat tour we took to Hubbard Glacier got a 1/2 mile away (cannot get closer due to safety reasons and glaciers calving). The cruise ship only got to 4.5 to 5 miles away per the ship captain’s announcement. I’m not sure what kind of pictures you saw, but I’m assuming they were zoomed in.

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Look at this link for people stand on deck. They seem quire close

https://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/articles/a-day-in-glacier-bay?stay=1&posfrom=1

 

Or this:

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidnikel/2024/05/07/how-to-plan-a-memorable-first-time-alaska-cruise/

 

Isn't is so on all cruises?

 

In iceland I got with zodiak boat maybe 20  meters from glacier

 

 

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Take a cruise that offers a small boat excursion where you transfer directly from your ship to a catamaran and sail into Tracy Arm (large chunks of ice near your catamaran).  Possibly bears on shore, whales, seals.  Princess has kids programs and has a lot of experience sailing in Alaska.

 

This year the ports have had so many huge cruise ships visiting that the towns are overcrowded.  Maybe in a few years there will be restrictions in place as to how many people are allowed in port.  The best choice is to choose excursions that will take you out of the port area.  Whale watching, Bering Sea Fisherman’s Tour, etc.  

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13 hours ago, guest26 said:

In iceland I got with zodiak boat maybe 20  meters from glacier

That sounds too close to comfort for me in respect of safety should there be a larger calving which would create waves and chunks of ice, not always the best when a small boat  such as a Zodiak is in the vicinity.

 

Maybe others would disagree?

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I've only done one Alaskan cruise so maybe we were just very lucky in what we saw. We just got off this week from a cruise that started from Vancouver and did the inside passage and went into Endicott Arm to Dawes Glacier. Starting the second morning we were seeing humpback whales from our balcony, at times close enough that we heard them spouting and breathing. On our Endicott Arm day we saw large ice chunks that came off the glacier that were large enough there were 8 sea lions laying on one. We got within a couple miles of the Dawes Glacier because it was safe to do so on the day we were there and as they turned the ship our side saw it calve. According to the naturalist on board, this was the closest our ship had gotten this year and the largest calving of that glacier she had seen this year. So that varies for each trip.

 

We also saw a pod of orcas, though they weren't as close as the humpbacks and also saw dolphins playing in the ships wake. Eagles were plentiful. The salmon were there in some streams in the ports, but were not plentiful yet. We did not see any bears, again, I think we were a little early for that.

 

Each of the ports (Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan) did have lots of touristy shops but we had pre-planned excursions so walked right past them and nobody was pushy. We did not do any flying tours, took shuttle buses to our tour locations usually 20-30 minutes outside of the towns and saw amazing wooded scenery, birds/eagles and small wildlife along the way. 

 

We were with kids aged 7, 12 and 14 and while they enjoyed the activities on the ship each of them spent a fair amount of time looking out at the scenery too. 

 

As I said, maybe we just got lucky with what we saw and other trips won't see the same things. Even without many of the things we saw, the scenery of wooded mountains with waterfalls cutting through them, glassy glacier blue water is memorable. 

 

 

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Whatever you do don’t book a cruise to alsaca. Who knows where you will end up. But I bet you would love a cruise to Alaska. 
 

Oh, and some useful information so the mods won’t hate me:

 

1) For bears and salmon, later in the season is better than earlier. August is ideal. 
 

2) Don’t worry about the port towns that much. Unless you want something specific (train ride, lumberjack show etc) they are more the same than different. 
 

3) While you can see some wildlife from the ship (bring binoculars) the best wildlife views are on excursions in port. Excursions in Alaska are typically expensive, so be sure to include that in your budget. 
 

4) I was serious up above; from what you posted I suspect you and kid will love Alaska. 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/11/2024 at 8:20 AM, edinburgher said:

How sad, but exactly my point.  Way too close for safety..

 

Also anyone who has ever done any kayaking knows that you do not dress for the air temperature but for the temperature of the water that you might fall into.  The problem is that many people who have never kayaked before and have no idea what they are doing decide to do a kayaking tour on a cruise because the tour companies make it sound it sound easy and fun.  It is easy and fun until something happens.

 

DON

Edited by donaldsc
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We just returned from a wonderful cruise to Norway and the fjords there. It was spectacular - just beautiful. We loved it. 
 

We have cruised in Alaska numerous times. I will say without hesitation it is equally as beautiful. The glaciers are much larger and more impressive, the wildlife is abundant, the towns are charming and full of history. It is a destination not to be missed which is why we keep returning and my son actually just moved there to work as an attorney in Anchorage. 
 

Out kids grew up cruising Princess. They have a good program for youth and wonderful Alaska itineraries. You and your daughter will love it. Just a few of the thousands of photos from our many trips. 

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