A group of friends planning an Alaska cruise for next year and we need to know which itinerary is best to take.... inside passage round trip out of Seattle or one way from Vancover to Glacier Bay and Ancorage? What would you "seasoned" Alaska cruisers recomend?
I have only done the round trip from Vancouver. But here's my input. Round trip from Seattle spends more time "outside" particularly if it's a seven dayer. Longer would be better. One way gets you into more northern waters but you usually add another flight and or costs when you disembark in Alaska. so........ is one better or not.?? Didn't help much I'm afraid. Personally for a first cruise I'd do the return from YVR but I am a little biased.
IMHO, if you are not going to do the land tour from Anchoridge to Denali, etc. the round trip would be the way to go. We've done round trips from both Seattle and Vancouver. I would say the Vancouver inside pasage route is nicer however there is no lack of scenery from the Seattle route either.
We found that traveling from SoCal was much simpler going thru Seattle. Much less bother getting out of the airport on our return trip. Vancouver (we've done this twice) had hideous check in and security lines.
My number one "Must" for an Alaskan cruise is Glacier bay. It is spectacular. Hubbard glacier is stunning as well but not in as beautiful an area and it's longer to get there. We never went to the Sawyer Glacier area.
I would probably choose a round trip from Vancouver that goes to Glacier Bay if I were to do the round trip again. However if I could only get to Glacier Bay via Seattle, I wouldn't hesitate.
Some cruises also go to Sitka instead of Skagway. We prefer Skagway.
Thanks for the info about Glacier Bay. I was starting to worry about missing Hubbard Glacier (Frommer's said it was better than Glacier Bay NP). We are first time cruiser to Alaska and are doing the the RT from Seattle W/ Glacier Bay. Maybe next time we will do inside passage one way trip. At least we will spend another 10 days in Seattle and WHISTLER after the cruise. Any info on Whistler things to do?
Whistler is great any time of year and you can ski until "when ever" also. Great hotels and eating,mountain biking, roller blading, atv tours , outdoors stuff, etc etc. The village is almost a two day exploration thing by itself. shops etc. Just a great spot. Getting a little touristie however along with the prices. & of course the Olympics in 2010
Your options may be narrowed by your expectations. If you wish to get a wonderful cruise experience, either is fine. If you would like to experience the size and untamed nature of this huge state, it is better to have a pre or post trip that includes the Denali area which requires going thru Anchorage.