Anyone Here Been On An Alaska Cruise?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Jan 16, 2002.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    For our family's first cruise, we are considering the Glacier Bay Alaska cruise in early summer. Has anyone here been on this cruise?

    I'm looking for recommendations on what to bring clotheswise and things to do (land tours). Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks.

    ~Edwin
     
  2. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    If you have some time, either rent a car and take a trip up the Park's Highway towards Denali National Park, stop at Talkeetna and take in some scenic plane rides out to McKinley and of the glaciers. If you have time you can even spend some time in the Park, take the bus or rent mountain bikes and tour it yourself. Or if you don't feel like driving, take the train that runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks and stops in Denali rather than driving. Slow but scenic...

    Clothes, take your usual layers with some raingear and bug spray. Weather can be changing from warmer in Anchorage but cooler as you go inland and north. Rain can occur frequently so pack a raincoat and hat.

    Enjoy!

    Jay
     
  3. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    I was looking to cruise Alaska as well. I don't want to go when it's bone-numbing cold, but I heard that if it's too warm there will be a lot of fog, obsuring the views.
     
  4. PaulG

    PaulG Stunt Coordinator

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    In 1994, my wife and I went to Alaska, in July. We took a Holland America tour that lasted 19 days and included a 7 day ship cruise. I would suggest putting the cruise at the end of the trip, because the land part was pretty hectic. We took good raincoats, that also doubled as a regular coat (oil skin dusters). Bought new black walking shoes, so I could where them with a suit on the ship. We took enough clothes, so we only had to do laundry a couple of times. We actually UPSed some dirty laundry to my in-laws before we got on the ship. We brought T-shirts with sayings on them, for hot weather, long sleeves and sweaters. Dressed in layers if I had to. I didn't bring a hat, ended up buying one, the first day. We packed our ship clothes in a seperate suitcase, because the tour took those in the beginning and we didn't see them again until we got to Anchorage. This was nice, we didn't have to lug them around with us. Formal on the ship was a suit and tie for the guys and a nice outfit for the woman (a good term escapes me). I brought only one white shirt, and only wore it to dinner once. Everything is pretty casual. As far as looking for things to do, if you go on a tour, they will keep you busy, the ship is where you relax.

    We started out in Juneau, then took a ferry to Skagway for an overnight. Then by railroad and bus to Whitehorse Yukon for an overnight. From there we bussed to Dawson, where we spent a day. Then by jetboat we went down the Yukon river to Eagle Alaska, then bussed to Tok for an overnight. On to Fairbanks, we had some time here, then the next day by railroad to Denali National Park. Spent a day here, then by Railroad to Anchorage. From here, as an option we took, some of the tour went to Kotzebue (north of the artic circle, but 70 degrees when we visited) and Nome by jet plane, with an overnight in Nome. (I love tundra areas for some reason). Bug repellent is a necessity here, those mosquitos don't have alot of time to get blood, so all come at you at once. Then back to Anchorage for an overnight before we went to Seward to catch the ship. Each of the places we stopped at had something for us to do, but I ran into the local phoneman (I'm a phoneman) in Nome and we had a great time. (I wonder what my boss would say if he sent me to one of my sites and I hired a plane and took 14 days of rations with me just in case). The land tour was very busy and to fast paced for me, but we did see alot and had a real good time. The places we stayed at were not luxury hotels by any means, except Anchorage, but were all comfortable and clean.

    The ship went through a storm the first night out, and the sea was rather rough. My wife had a tough time of it, but I enjoyed it. After that it was smooth sailing the rest of the time, and she felt fine. We hit a few ports during the cruise and it was up to you if you wanted to go ashore or not. There were plenty of side trips you could buy from the ship. Glacier Bay was real interesting. The glacier calving was real active, and the ship was pushing its way through the iceburgs, but they are small. If you want Glacier Bay as part of the trip, make sure your cruise goes there. Only so many ships are allowed in there per season. We ended the trip in Vancover BC mid morning, and spent the rest of the day getting home to the Chicago area.

    I think you are going to really enjoy yourself, our tour company had a seminar we attended (it was to sell trips, we had already signed up, but they didn't mind us attending) that explained the tour and what to expect and what was expected of us. Plus with the informational brochures we received, we were well informed of how to pack and what was supplied and what wasn't. We knew what day and what meals we would have to purchase, and what meals were included and how we were expected to dress and where. It was well planned, by professionals that know what they are doing. Our tour guide (land only, not on the ship) took care of any needs and questions that would arise.

    It was the best vacation I ever had. With so many places on this planet to visit, Alaska is one that I would like to revisit, on my terms, and definitely, end with a cruise.
     
  5. PaulG

    PaulG Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian,

    We went in July, and the only real fog was in Prince William Sound. We were on the ship, and couldn't see any of the area, which was sad because of the beauty of the area. Other than that one day, we had good weather. It was raining the first time we stopped in Juneau, where our tour began, but the second time we visited on the ship was a clear day. Not that every July will be like it was in 94.
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    My wife and I went on a Princess Cruise line Alaska cruise / land excursion two years ago. It was one of the best trips we have taken. We started with the cruise portion, departing Vancouver with visits to Ketchikan (sp?), Skagway and Juneau. We also cruised through Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjords. We disembarked in Seward, took a motor coach to Anchorage, and then worked our way up to Fairbanks via train, with a stopover in Denali. We then flew home from Fairbanks.

    I agree with Paul that it would be better to do the land portion first, since it is more hectic and tiring. Princess rotates this cruise -- one week the cruise is first, the next the land portion is first.

    July is probably the best month for this trip, but it will also be the most expensive time to go. Temperatures ranged from the 30's in Glacier Bay, to the 50's in Ketchikan, to the 70's in Anchorage, to the mid-80's in Fairbanks. Therefore, you will need to pack different types of clothes.

    Princess was very well organized. I was very impressed with how they ran the land portion of the trip. We never transported our luggage. They would truck it ahead of us, and it was always waiting in our room at our next destination. Also, we were pre-checked in at each lodge, so we were handed our room keys as we exited the motor coach at the lodge. No standing in line at a reception desk to check-in.

    Edwin, if your cruise stops over in any of the spots I listed above, I would be happy to tell you about the excursions we went on and whether I would recommend them.
     
  7. Janna S

    Janna S Second Unit

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    Edwin -

    I have lived in Alaska for 20+ years, and will be happy to answer any questions you might have about Alaska and the places you are contemplating visiting. Unlike most Alaskans, I have lived in or spent extended time in just about every place mentioned in these posts. (I traveled the whole state for 12+ years when I was responsble for judicial education for the statewide court system). I am currently in Anchorage.
     
  8. Pete_S

    Pete_S Stunt Coordinator

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    I went on a Holland America cruise to Alaska with my mother last September, and we're already going back this June. [​IMG] Great food, great service, always something to do, and it wasn't even all that cold. Looking forward to the return trip...
     
  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  10. Janna S

    Janna S Second Unit

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    Edwin - if you are only doing cruise ship stops, in those small Southeast Alaska places where the ships stop you sort of can't miss what there is to to - these are very small communities by US standards, and virtually everything that is available to do in each location will be detailed for you by the cruise folks, in the assortment of pamphlets and brochures that you will find on board, in the harbor kiosks, etc.

    Given the short amounts of time you will be on land in each, it's not like there are lots of unusual and unique things you could do. But if you let me know where you are stopping, I can help you separate the wheat from the chaff in each spot (what's genuine, what's just built for tourists, etc.)

    Another thing worth picking up is the Alaska Milepost. It is issued every year and it is literally a guide to every mile of road and every tourist-accessible community in Alaska, including the Southeast towns on the ferry and cruise ship routes. It's about $25 and makes for interesting reading. I get a new one about every other year to lend to friends who come to visit.

    Bring raingear. Bring warm clothes. Bring money.
     
  11. Eve T

    Eve T Supporting Actor

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    I've never been on a cruise in Alaska but I did used to live there for 4 years near the Fairbanks area. I must admit even though it got pretty cold sometimes, it was the most wonderful place I ever lived in my life. Very serene and beautiful. Hope you have a great trip!
     
  12. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Edwin,
    In Ketchikan, we took a seaplane trip to Misty Fjords National Monument. The plane landed on one of the fjords, and we had a chance to walk around on the plane's pontoon to see the sites. It was a beautiful way to see the area.
    There's a lot to do in Juneau. We took a wildlife cruise, which I highly recommend. We saw some humpback whales, porpoises, harbor seals, and a rare treat -- a pod of orca whales. We also visited the Mendenhall Glacier, and took a tram ride up Mount Roberts (I think that's the name of it) to do a little hiking.
    Skagway is a small town with not much to do in town. However, there is a train trip that follows the gold rush trail through White Pass into the Yukon. You need to book this early, since it is a popular trip. It was booked by the time we tried to sign up, so we did the next best thing -- took a motor coach trip that follows the same path. I have seen this train trip shown on PBS's HDTV programming -- if you have an HD tuner and local access to HD-PBS, keep an eye out for it.
    If you have a couple of hours to kill in Seward before you sail, check out the Alaska Sealife Center. It's well worth the visit.
    If you can manage it, I would highly recommend getting a cabin with a balcony. One of the reasons we chose Princess was because they have a newer ship with many more cabins with private balconies. That means less cost for these cabins. You will have several days at sea -- Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjords, and the trip from Ketchikan to Vancouver. In the national park, you can view the glaciers and whales from the comfort of your own cabin, instead of fighting for prime viewing space on deck.
    My wife told me to ask you if you will take us along. [​IMG]
     
  13. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

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    Well, if your coming to Vancouver for your initial departure point you'll be seeing a brand new extension to the cruise ship terminal which is supposed to be amazing. Its big enough now that Princess Cruise lines biggest ship the Star Princess will be coming this summer.

    And, while your in Vancouver, the DVD's and CD's are probably cheaper than anywhere you'll even find online so take advantage of your US dollars.

    Hope you and your family have a great vacation Edwin.

    Patrick
     
  14. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  15. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Scott, I missed your earlier post.

    Janna, I wasn't sure how big these cities are and the amount of land tours available. But now I have a better idea. I will look at the brochure closely when we get it.

    The room with a balcony is a good suggestion. We'll see if we can swing it.

    Thanks for all the recommendations.

    ~Edwin
     
  16. WoodyH

    WoodyH Stunt Coordinator

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    Edwin -

    I lived in Alaska for 26 years, from the time my family moved up there when I was 2 years old up until just about 6 months ago, when I moved down to Seattle. It's a gorgeous state, and I hope you enjoy your time visiting!

    Unfortunately, I'm not the best qualified to say much about many of the places you'll be visiting (Janna would pobably be your best bet there) - the majority of my years were spent in Anchorage, and I didn't get out as much as many people do (I'm about as much of a city boy as you can get growing up in Anchorage...which prompted my move to someplace bigger). I've hit some areas in the Southeast from time to time, but most of those times were when I was young enough to be part of the touring branch of the Alaska Children's Choir - suffice to say, it's been a while, and I'm not too clear on the details anymore. Beautiful country, though, I do remember that much.

    Enjoy the cruise!
     
  17. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Well, we might start our trip in Fairbanks after all and work our way down. We'll see. There are lots of things to consider.

    ~Edwin
     
  18. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    went on one this summer with 'the fam' and it was boring as hell for me and my brother (19 & 20 yrs old, respectively). i think it was mainly b/c there weren't any other people there our age (or under 35 for that matter). there were three good parts IMO: free food 24/7 (and for dinner, i'd have like 2 entrees for appetizer, another 3 for main course and 2 desserts to finish [​IMG]), free room service (i think it was 24 hrs too), and there was a ping pong table. i got dangerously good at that on the cruise! oh yeah, there was a virtual golf course too. that was neat.
    what to bring: it's still cold! bring plenty of layers and waterproff clothes. there's stops to go fishing, boating, etc. that are very worthwhile. also bring plenty of film for those Kodak moments...
    anyways, have fun!
     

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