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Alaska cruise/cruising in general
Old 07-17-2012, 05:02 PM   #1
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Alaska cruise/cruising in general

Just got back from an Alaska cruise and noticed a few earlier threads on the general subject of cruising. My wife and I have been on 3 cruises including the one we just finished. This one was great! It was run by Alaskan Dream Cruises on the Admiralty Dream, a ship with a capacity of 66 guests but there were only 24 on this sailing (at least for the first part; we picked up 13 more for the last 3 days.) Great food, magnificent scenery/wildlife and enjoyable fellow cruisers. We generally stopped in smaller, out-of-the way places where we were the only cruise ship there. (Exception was Juneau where there were 4 floating hotels inport.) In all cases we were able to get close to the shore line, glaciers, etc. which the deeper draft larger ship's can't do. Also, there was a lot more flexibility in the schedule so if we saw something interesting the captain was free to spend more time there or alter the itinerary. They had both a science/nature expert and a cultural expert on board, so we got to hear a lot of lectures about what we were seeing and the native people. Of course, when you go on a smaller ship, the price per person goes up.

Our first cruise was on a Norwegian Cruise Lines big ship with several thousand of our closest friends for a trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile around Cape Horn and through the Strait of Magellan. It was a great trip and since my only frame of reference for cruising at that point was Navy ships, it was a distinct improvement. But I felt we didn't really need the multiple restaurant options, the shows, the pool, etc. We definitely didn't need the gambling casino. The prices for the shore excursions were a bit steep, we thought.

The second cruise was a river cruise in Russia (Moscow to St. Petersburg) and we are anxious to try river cruising again, probably in France, Germany or Italy. That was larger than the Alaska ship but much, much smaller than the Norwegian ship and had the advantage of pulling up to piers for every stop rather than anchoring out and taking launches into shore. With only one or two exceptions, there were no extra charges for shore excursions.

I realize others may have different tastes and expectations for cruises but after 3 trip, we prefer smaller rather than larger.
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:35 PM   #2
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Ms G. and I are booked for 2013 in Alaska on Inner Seas Discovery, a small 76 passenger expedition ship. We also are taking another week to do a rail to Denali trip before leaving Juneau. Our trip sounds similar we can kayak in the morning, have lunch and hike 3-6 miles on shore in the afternoon. Yea, could have done 2 big ship cruises for the same price.

Our only cruise has been Princess to the Caribbean, with Chandon a CA winery. I was able to get by with a blue blazer, white slacks, and topsiders the whole trip. I have to say with wine tastings twice a day, and 2 bottles of sparkling at each dinner table, I thought I was back at Club Med.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:58 PM   #3
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We just finished a cruse on various Alaskan State Ferries last month stopping at Skagway, Juneau, Gustavus to take smaller vessels to explore sea life and the shore line up close. Our shipmates were doubtless a different community than either of you experienced.

I think I saw the Admiralty Dream south of Skagway.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:13 PM   #4
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We did the small ship cruise (~100 passenger) in the Inside Passage in 2000. It was great to go to the out of the way places, and I very much enjoyed that there was no casino, no nightclub, no pool, no shops etc. I think it generated a far different crowd than you might find on the Carnival cruise (although we've never done that, so I could be wrong). We were there to enjoy the natural beauty of Alaska and got far more out of the naturalist talks and the library. We appreciated the fact that our temporary shipmates were like minded.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat View Post
We just finished a cruse on various Alaskan State Ferries last month stopping at Skagway, Juneau, Gustavus to take smaller vessels to explore sea life and the shore line up close. Our shipmates were doubtless a different community than either of you experienced.

I think I saw the Admiralty Dream south of Skagway.
I am a big fan of 'cruising' on the Alaska ferry system, and highly recommend them to people who want to see Alaska in a different manner than the big cruise ships.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:02 AM   #6
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We did a mega-ship Inside Passage cruise a few years ago. We thoroughly enjoyed it but would probably have gone with a small ship if the cost wasn't so much more. We got a great recession deal on the big ship but didn't see anything comparable on the small boats at the time. We did a small (18 passenger) trip in the Galapagos and still rate it as our top trip ever. Also did a 21 passenger bike and barge trip in Belgium and Holland and loved that.
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Old 07-19-2012, 07:52 AM   #7
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We leave Saturday for an Alaska cruise, it not my dream trip it will be on a large ship and out land excursion short time in Denali , but I figure this is what we could do this schedule and and money wise, so why wait. We can always go back
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:08 AM   #8
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We are going on an inside passage 7 day trip from Seattle on a Celebrity ship. The larger ships are usually a lot less than the smaller ones. This way we can stay in the city a few days before and get the most of both worlds. I don't need the detail of the specific birds and otters, etc. that a lot of people like. Hopefully the scenery should be great. Are there any specific tours or places to visit that anyone has really liked in the towns of the inside passage? There doesn't seem to be much offered by the cruise ship.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:59 AM   #9
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If you are stopping at Skagway there is a tour that uses a mini-bus to Carcross (Yukon), catch the White Pass train back to Skagway. Lunch included. Bus & Rail Tour to Carcross and Emerald Lake, Yukon - Skagway, Alaska Shore Excursion Husband is a rail fan but concluded that we got much more from this tour than just the train ride tours offered by the cruse lines. Because you are going into Canada you will need to bring your passport.


In Ketchakan catch the city bus to go to Totem Heritage Center. The town's bus serviceoperates three bus lines (Red, Green, and Blue) for locals and visitors. They provide visitors access to Totem Bight State Park (Blue Line) approximately 10 miles north of town to Fawn Mtn School (Red Line), approximately 4.5 miles south of town. Buses run 60 minutes apart. Fare: $1 adult; $.50 senior/student. A free Downtown Shuttle runs May through September, making 20-minute loops from the four cruise ship berths to Totem Heritage Center and back. Because we were embarking from the Alaska Ferry dock we took the Blue Line to the totem park.


In Juneau we took really enjoyed this trip to Tracy Arm Fjord: Allen Marine Tours - Juneau Alaska - Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer

We heard that the Mendenhall Glacier is a shadow of its former self but if you want to explore that consider these options: The public Capital Transit provides daily bus service for downtown Juneau and vicinity and charges $1.50 for travel in one direction. Route 3/4 serves the Mendenhall Valley, but can get you no closer than about a mile to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.


At the cruise ship docks, several bus services offer low-cost rides ($16 round trip) to the Mendenhall Glacier during the summer visitors season.
  • Mighty Great Trips "Blue Glacier Express" is a blue schoolbus that departs every 30 minutes, 9am to 6:30pm on most summer days.
  • Juneau Tours Glacier Shuttle runs from the cruise ships to the Mendenhall Glacier and back every 30 minutes on most days.
Although we didn't get to the Alaska State Museum or take the Mt. Roberts Tram they would be on our list for the next time.
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:36 PM   #10
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Thanks a lot Brat, that was really nice of you to write that return message. I will reference these sites and look further into them.
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