Planning...and overwhelmed! Help!

S

strollerfreak

Guest
#1
I've been poking around on the threads on this board since early January now and I think I'm more confused now than when I began! LOL

Hubby & I are trying to plan our 10th anniversary vacation and we keep coming back to an Alaska cruise as it's something that we both are wanting to do/see.

From my research it looks like my hubby & I want to go either HAL or RCCL. We do have some time/planning constraints though...we must leave from our home in MO no sooner than July 25th, and can be gone up until Aug 12th-ish. We can fly out of either MCI or DTW (depends on what we do with our kids) and from what I've been seeing it looks like if we can we want to depart from Vancouver.

We are first time cruisers, I have a serious fear of boats/fish/open water but I'm figuring that the ship is so big that it won't bother me, and DH might have a problem with seasickness (but I've seen that the cruiselines can help with that). Since this is our first cruise, is it a necessity to try for a balcony room, or will it be better to ease our way into it...since I've heard that cruising is very addictive! ;)

Budget isn't really an issue as we've been saving for this trip, but we would like to stay around/under the $5K mark for EVERYTHING.

We want to do some excursions, but are REALLY overwhelmed as to what to pick. We caught a show on the Travel Channel about an RCCL cruisetour, and that looks somewhat up our alley.

I know we want to do the glass-topped train through Denali, and we'd like to see the glaciers calf (but that's kind of up to mother nature!) but other than that, the only other thing that really jumped out at us was the flightseeing over the glaciers, and the dogsled training camp. We have a friend who is from AK and he says that the train trip from Seward to Anchorage is something to definitely consider. We're also thinking that an Inside Passage cruise is the way to go...but I could be wrong there too!!

We don't gamble, we don't drink, we like to eat and have expensive tastes in food. (We've visited 8 of the top 10 steakhouses in the country) We aren't really crunchy, granola-y outdoorsy types...our idea of camping is in our travel trailer and not turning on the hot water heater & using the campground bathrooms. :p

Is there something that I'm overlooking, or missing? I'm trying to go into this with a good idea of what we want, but I'm not against going to a travel agent either if they are going to be able to clear my muddled mess of ideas and help make an educated decision.

Help!!
 
B

BSeabob

Guest
#2
Well as first time cruisers I would recommend that you go out of Vancouver. It actually may be a little more expensive flying into and out of Vancouver but it's much handier to the inside trips than Seattle and connections from there. I'm not sure about your trip into the Denali. Does this mean you are anting to do a Land tour up there also? If so I think you need a one way from Vancouver or visa versa with the land trip built in.

So Get a good TA that knows Ak. Ask around and then ask about stuff here some more. Planning is great but really my number one advice after you make the jump is to "Don't sweat the small stuff" It is Alaska and it's on a ship in the water and you have to rely on people etc etc. We have an expression that "Ship Happens" if you get my drift.

Lines to travel on for first cruise. RCL HAL Celebrity to Ak would be great experiences and there are others.

The other thing about Leaving Vancouver is your concern about rough water. Most ships leaving from there spend more time "Inside" that the ones leaving from Seattle due to time factors. There are stretches of water on the coast outside that I've experience some pretty rough water but only once on three trips. You have to go outside and some times regardless of where you leave from as the bigger ships do not actually follow the entire route of the "Inside passage" I guess I'm saying that it does happen and you are correct the ship does carry some "Cure's" and prevention methods.

Anything else ?

Check here for what these friends did.

Carol & Mike's Great adventures http://www.thepreismans.com/

Kathleen and Jim's almost better adventures http://web.mac.com/jimbellomo/InfinityMates2007/Home.html

oh and the other thing about Vancouver..I'm prejudice. :)
 
S

strollerfreak

Guest
#3
Thanks for your links to your friend's websites...that first one was EXTREMELY helpful...I sent it to my husband who said that we must do the Jet Limo service otherwise he'll be pulling his already thinning hair out at having to hurry up and wait.
 
M

mlpadg

Guest
#4
strollerfreak:
We had a fantastic experience in July of 2006 on a HAL cruisetour. Ours was Cruisetour #27, which was 20 days. You don't sound like you have that much time, but there are others. Holland America has great ships and tour buses. Go to this link and look at the different offerings for cruisetours. http://www.hollandamerica.com/find-cruise-vacation/CruiseTourFinder.action

We flew into Seattle about 3 days prior to our cruise to take in the sights there and then arranged for a transfer via bus to Vancouver from the Seattle airport to board the ship. Very lovely drive.......

I can give you more specifics as to what shore excursions are worth your time, if you like.

We are returning to Alaska this summer Jul 08 on Norwegian from Seattle. We will do different shore excursions and will do alot of independent "sightseeing" including finding the Best Salmon and Halibut in Ketchikan and Juneau! I didn't want to go into the long and drawn out here, but can give you lots of info if you still need it!
 
S

strollerfreak

Guest
#5
Making one central location as I research so I can find it...

Must do Denali Glass Dome Train...have to do a CruiseTour to do that unless I'm missing something/want to plan that as an pre/after cruise excursion on our own.

Possible Port Excursions -

Ketchikan - Motorcycle Tour & ZipLine
Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier & DogSled
Haines/Skagway - White Pass Railway ?
Fairbanks - Ice Museum/Chena Hot Springs ?

Pricing -
 
S

strollerfreak

Guest
#6
Apparently I can't edit yet...

Making one central location as I research so I can find it...

Must do Denali Glass Dome Train...have to do a CruiseTour to do that unless I'm missing something/want to plan that as an pre/after cruise excursion on our own.

Possible Port Excursions -

Ketchikan - Motorcycle Tour & ZipLine
Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier & DogSled
Haines/Skagway - White Pass Railway ?
Fairbanks - Ice Museum/Chena Hot Springs ?

BALCONY ROOM PRICING

Princess - 10/11/12 day approx $3000pp
Heart of Alaska - Tour 5S
Brochure Fare $7,398.00
Your Savings ($1,200.00)
Updated Cruise Fare $6,198.00
Transfers* $64.00
Gov't Taxes and Fees $247.44
Fuel Supplement $70.00
Total Price** (USD) $6,579.44
***********************************************
RCI - 10 day approx $2600pp
Package Total $5,508.20 USD
Cruise Vacation Summary
10-Night Escorted Alaska Cruisetour-Package #4
Departs: Fri, 01-Aug-2008 Vancouver, British Columbia
Returns: Fri, 08-Aug-2008 Seward, Alaska
**************************************************
HAL - 11 day approx $4000pp
Itinerary
Cruisetour 24V, 11-Day Sb on the ms Volendam
Departs Anchorage on Jul 31, 2008
Arrives Vancouver on Aug 10, 2008


Final Payment Due by May 17, 2008
Customer Pays

$4,026.07 (-$718 for the cancellation plan that I couldn't figure out how to get rid of!)
***************************************************
Celebrity - 11 day approx $2800pp
12 Night Alaska - Package #11
Guest 1
Guest 2
Subtotal
Cruise: 2,799.00 2,799.00 5,598.00
Fuel Supplement: 35.00 35.00 70.00
Taxes: 114.51 114.51 229.02
Total Price: 2,913.51 2,913.51 5,897.02


OCEANVIEW PRICING

Princess -
Heart of Alaska - Tour 5S
Brochure Fare $6,598.00
Your Savings ($1,200.00)
Updated Cruise Fare $5,398.00
Transfers* $64.00
Gov't Taxes and Fees $241.74
Fuel Supplement $70.00
Total Price** (USD) $5,773.74
**************************************************
RCI - approx $2200pp

Cruise: 10-Night Escorted Alaska Cruisetour-Package #4
Ship Name: Radiance Of The Seas
Sail Date: 01-Aug-2008 to 08-Aug-2008
Departing From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Number of Guest(s): 2
Stateroom: Deck Three, Large Oceanview Stateroom #3586
Guest 1 Cruise Fare*: $2,099.00 USD
Guest 2 Cruise Fare*: $2,099.00 USD
Fuel Supplement*: $70.00 USD
Taxes/Fees*: $240.20 USD
Package Total*: $4,508.20 USD

*****************************************************
HAL - approx $2400pp
Cruisetour 24V, 11-Day Sb


Total
Cruise / Tour

$3,319.00x2

$6,638.00
Discount Amount

($1,170.00)x2

($2,340.00)
+ Cancellation Plan

- Total Cancellation Plan Amounts

none

Non-Discountable Amount

$295.00x2

$590.00
Cruise/Tour Taxes & Fees

$156.07x2

$312.14
Fuel Supplement

$35.00x2

$70.00
+ Vacation Extras

$37.00x2

$74.00
- Vacation Extras

$37.00x2

$74.00

Final Payment Due by May 17, 2008
Customer Pays

$2,377.07x2

$4,754.14

******************************************************

Celebrity - 11 day approx $2300pp
12 Night Alaska - Package #11
Guest 1
Guest 2
Subtotal
Cruise: 2,179.00 2,179.00 4,358.00
Fuel Supplement: 35.00 35.00 70.00
Taxes: 114.51 114.51 229.02
Total Price: 2,293.51 2,293.51 4,657.02

***************************************************************
 
W

wave runner

Guest
#7
Hi strollerfreak:

First, I applaud you for taking the time to do a lot of very good research on your own. In my opinion far too many people spend five or ten minutes with a Travel Agent and then make a decision. If you decide to take a cruisetour be sure that you are aware of what is included. Often times the cruise tours do not include many meals, if any. You also should get a good idea of the time you will spend riding the bus as it does take some time to get from place to place in Alaska and sometimes you find yourself spending to much time waiting around for everyone to get on the bus and riding the bus and don't have enough time to enjoy the beauty of Alaska. Everyone is different and these are just my opinions.

I have cruised to Alaska on Princess, HAL and Celebrity. One word of warning is that I cruised to Alaska for a one-time cruise and have returned over ten times since! For a cruise to Alaska, I would recommend Princess as my first choice and HAL as my second choice. Most cruises on Princess and HAL spend two days cruising glaciers. One day is at Glacier Bay and the other day is at College Fjord. Celebrity is not allowed in Glacier Bay or College Fjord.

Probably just what you need is another option but I thought I would just throw it out there in case you were interested. As far as land tours have you considered renting a car in Anchorage and setting up your own land tour. My experience has been that it is more enjoyable and the savings are substantial, close to 50%. You also don't get that feeling that you are being herded along and can stop anytime and do what you want, as you travel. We rent a car in Anchorage and drive for a week, or so in Alaska. We like to move around so we usually spend a couple of days in Kenai at the Kenai Princess Lodge and then drive to Denali National Park and Fairbanks. We then drive back to Anchorage, since the drop charges in Alaska are very, very high. There is also a toursaver book that you can purchase that has many 2 nights for the price of one in many very nice hotels in Alaska. This book also has 2-4-1 coupons for the train to Denali and includes two nights lodging at the Princess McKinley Lodge. There are many coupons in this book, including some land tours, and it is well worth the money if you are traveling on your own in Alaska. Alaska is very easy to get around in as there are only about six main roads in the state. Last year for a one week cruise on the Island Princess in a minisuite and 1 week on land after the cruise, we spent less than $4,000, total for the two of us, for the cruise and our own land tour. This price does not include airfare (used FF miles), food when on land and any purchased tours. Another point is that last year we went in early May and the prices were lower then. While driving your self is not for everybody, it may be something else to consider.

If you are interested in more information on doing your own land tour please feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

After you post there will be a box that will appear at the bottom of the bage called "edit". You can then make your changes to your post and click on "Save Changes" This feature may only be available for a set length of time after you post, I am not sure on that one.

Hope this helps.