Princess? HAL? Help!



Wow this is confusing. SO much information on the net....I could use a little help!

Taking the family on an Alaskan cruise...and cannot seem to get past picking a cruiseline and/or ship. We've sailed both Princess and Hal before, but it's been many years and now the more I read the more indecisive I become!

First off, there are 5 of wife and I are mid 40's.....our 2 boys age 11 and 13 along with my mom who's a very healthy and energetic 75. My kids are *not* interested in the kids programs...they mostly have a tendancy to hang with us as we always do the group/family thing. They love a good game room however (so does their dad!).

That said, I've kind've narrowed my search to the aforementioned lines...we'd like the kids to experience Glacier Bay.

Never cruised Celebrity and hear they're great...but alas, no Glacier Bay.

-The Diamond/Sapphire Princess is a consideration, but my concern is the size of the ship and crowded conditions at Horizen Court/buffet, port embarkation, excursions, etc.

-The Coral/Island is a consideration, but we're trying to book a large suite (for 4 of us - we're splurging) and these 2 ships really don't have the diversity in accomodations as that of the larger Princess ships.

-The HAL Zuiderdam/Oosterdam/Westerdam is also a consideration, but I'm worried about it being TOO low key of an atmosphere. We really wanna be pampered....and this is how I remember HAL (sailed the Noordam many years ago), but I also recall it as being not quite as family oriented as the Princess ships, with less diversified evening fun.

I've read reviews where there doesn't seem to be a lot of ship's activities after dinner, and the shows aren't that great?

I'd love to hear others opinions and recommendations!



Edit to above...

The HAL ships that sail Glacier Bay do *not* include the Vista Class Oosterdam. The ships that do Glacier Bay include: Zuiderdam (I've read a lot of negative reviews on this ship), Westerdam, Veendam and Ryndam.


As I read I was all about recommending the Infinity but then I see you have that covered off. Then you cancelled my Oosterdam experience also. so I'm hoping someone else can help you here. My wife has been on the Veendam and she says it woulod be OK. No what I would call a great recommendation casue that's a code word for it JUST ok. You might want to try the various forums for those specific cruise lines you are lookin' at.


Do you plan on spending extra time before or after the cruise for a land tour to Denali? If not, unless you really want to see College Fjords, I would suggest doing the inside passage round trip from Vancouver or Seattle. We prefered Vancouver because they sail inside of Vancouver island. Seattle cruises outside of Vancouver island however still has beautiful scenery. This might eliminate Princess for you however because I'm not sure that they do the round trips.

I notice that the Volendam visits Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm (Sawyer Glaciers). That's a great route IMHO.

We sailed the Zaandam to Alaska a few years ago and she was a great ship. In Alaska you'll find a younger crowd of cruisers, even on HAL. If you travel after school's out you'll also find quite a few kids on the ship, so if your teens do want to socialize with kids there age they won't have any problems. There is also a nice teen club from what we could see.

It seems that when the Zuiderdam launched a while ago that there were a lot of complaints as mentioned above. Not so much anymore from what I read. They've probably ironed out the problems.

As a whole the cruise, no matter which line you choose, will be more low key than a Caribbean cruise or Mexican Riviera cruise. No bands playing at the pools. No pool games.

IMHO your decision to visit Glacier Bay is a good one. This is an awsome place to see. We enjoyed our trips there more than Hubbard Glacier.......not that Hubbard isn't spectacular too.

Good luck in your decision making. That's part of the fun of a cruise I think.


We were thinking about doing Denali, but since we will only have enough time for 3 additional days post cruise, may just opt for a few extra nights at a hotel (maybe some local sight-seeing). I was advised that 3 days for Denali is *not* enough time....that the travel time from the port, and to various lodges is such that we should have a minimum of 5 days . Just too hectic doing it in 3.

But because we have that little extra time, I took into consideration that we would do either a round trip Vancouver cruise, or a north/south cruise.

So really, it cuts things down to either HAL and the Zuiderdam (RT Vancouver), Veendam or Ryndam (north/south...


Princess Coral/Island....Diamond/Sapphire (both north/south).

Wow...that's really "cutting it down (he said sarcastically)."


I'm always amazed at some of te negative reviews I read. Some folks, on a brilliant sunny day, will say it's okay but would be better if the sky was a deeper blue. Any Alaska cruise is a good one, so don't make yourself nuts splitting hairs. Our first cruise was on the Radiance of the Seas last May, and we'll be back on her this coming May for her new itinerary.

About Denali - all you need to get a worthwhile experience is 2 nights there,so you can take the NPS shuttle bus to at least Fish Creek on your full day there. The stuff that requires 5 days is fluff compared to that, unless you're into multi-day wilderness hiking. That is said from the experience of my 50-60 trips to Denali.



thanks murray. we've decided on rd trip vancouver on the zuiderdam, and expect to have a blast. the flight times doing a one way were just too time consuming (we live in florida).


You made a good choice I think. Alaska is a terrific place to cruise around and visit. You'll have a great time.

Krazy Kruizers

Have cruised many times to Alaska on HAL trips and will be doing so again this June.

You can't go wrong with HAL.