Alaskan Cruise

Alice_sjFebruary 21, 2013

My husband and I will be taking our first cruise ever this summer. We're going on a Princess ship from Seattle to Alaska, and I am curious about any and all advice, tips, ideas, etc. that you all might have to share with us about cruising in general, excursions, when to fly out to the starting port town, when to return home. We appreciate experienced opinions and knowing what to expect.

We already booked the trip, have the room, and picked open instead of scheduled dining, but if you have any tips on those things for future trips, we'd appreciate it.

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Been to Ak twice
First time was cruise and land
Second time I took GS on cruise only. Flew in and out of Seattle, and spent the night before boarding the ship.
Cruised on The Golden Princess and ship was outstanding. We lucked up with an upgrade from balcony to extended balcony with a mini suite. Perfect.

When you go to Anchorage by all means go to the Red Dog Saloon, just go see it :o) And be sure and ride the tram.

First time I was with a group several of us did the lumberjack show. If interested I can look it up, as I can't spell the town from the top of my head. Fun fun fun!

First and second time did the gold rush camp excursion, with an outdoor grilled salmon, AK cole slaw lunch, and they have a cute show telling about the gold rush and you end up panning for gold.

GS and I did The Deadliest Catch Aleutian boat excursion, saw whales, eagle, and got to see them bring in king crab, octopus. Most enjoyable.

First time did the whale watching excursion and very disappointed. If you do one of those be sure and read the reviews before booking one.

On board the ship, GS and I had anytime dining, which was fine for us, but I prefer early seated dining.

Be sure on the Princess you take advantage of the awesome International Cafe which is in the lobby and enjoy their fresly cooked chocolate chip or and both peanut butter cookies with a glass of milk. And anything they have is worth trying and all free.

I loaded up on sandwiches from the cafe for us to munch on flying back home.

If you want more specifics re the town's names I can tell you.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:27PM
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Thank you, Glenda. Your thoughts and opinions are appreciated.

I guess we will have to check out Red Dog Saloon. It wasn't on the top of our list, as we don't drink, but a friend of ours loves their chili. And if you recommend at least seeing it, I think we have to.

I have heard the International Cafe is a must, but isn't there a charge for some of the items? I don't mind small charges, but I just like to know what to expect when the bill comes.

Have you been to Tracy's Crab Shack in Juneau? I saw it on this last season of Top Chef, and my husband loves crab. He doesn't have it often though.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:08PM
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Couple things I thought about:

Booking excursions: if you see something you THINK you might like to do, book it, as you can always cancel. You don't pay for the excursion until after the trip. It's added on along with your tips.

If there is one that you want and the excursion is already filled, which happened to me, I put it on my wish list, and I was able to get it later, and cancelled another excursion.

One excursion I would loved to have taken my GS on, but was out of my pocket, was dog sledding, like couple hundred per person.

If you are on Golden Princess, we had the most awesome naturalist on board the whole cruise and he gave nightly talks. GS was so intrigued with the man, he kept reminding me of the time and to let's go get our seats. I also bought his book and had him sign it. We also had another lady board the ship for a lecture, and she was the first woman to win an iditirod(sp) race.

Hope you have a balcony, as when you go to Glacier Bay, you can enjoy everything from your room.

Dressing for dinner was always casual except for the formal night, but if you are doing anytime dining, it's less formal.

Will see if I can find the name of the motel we stayed in the night before boarding the ship, it was one of the cleanest motels I have ever stayed in, even tv remotes were santiized, food was great and service terrific and was like $89 for the two of us. Had a shuttle pick us up at airport, that was free, and had shuttle take us to the ship which cost us plus tip.

This post was edited by glenda_al on Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 19:42

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:17PM
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International Cafe was totally free. Specialty coffee there is a charge, but don't think they serve it.

Juneau was where we did theThe Deadliest Catch Aleutian cruise, and we didn't walk about much afterwards, just ready to get back to the ship.

This post was edited by glenda_al on Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 19:40

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:23PM
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and if you leave from seattle and can do it, save a day for pikes market, a trip up the space needle, and old town....all in the downtown area, but a distance from seatac...might want to rent a car...seatle has lots of hilly streets...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 10:12PM
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Susan, thank you for your suggestions. I lived in Seattle as a child, and I remember taking that tour as part of a field trip. I would enjoy doing it again as an adult. We have Chihuly Garden and Glass on our too see list.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chihuly Garden and Glass

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:18PM
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Glenda, thank you again. Those are great tips!

I will definitely be using your idea to pick up some sandwiches from the cafe for heading home and maybe to have a snack while out and about for the day.

My husband is very glad to hear that dress for dinner is casual. He was worried about having to be very formal, and I was trying to tell him khakis and a nice shirt (his normal attire) would be fine.

We'd also enjoy talks like the two you described, so I will have to make sure we check out the talks. I am getting even more excited to go. :)

I also was thinking we might do one of the tours of the ship during one of the days at sea. Have you done one of those?

And if you do find the name of the hotel in Seattle, we would be very appreciative about you sharing that too. It's always nice to have a recommendation from a real person, especially when they say the place is nice and clean! Inexpensive is a bonus too. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:28PM
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Oh, and we do have a balcony room. We thought exactly what you mentioned, that the views would be great on the scenic day at sea. Glad to know that was a good idea.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:36PM
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We've done the ship's tours a few times and it's just wonderful and worth every penny! You get to see the parts of the ship that are "out of bounds" for everyone....where the crew eats, where the captain lives, the crews' disco, bar, swimming area, etc. It's a long tour, but so informational.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:11AM
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Thanks for your thoughts, Eileen! We think it would be fun, so I'm glad to hear it is.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:13AM
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We are doing an 11 day cruisetour in July with the whole family, Glenda. Flying into Anchorage and embarking in Whittier and then flying home out of Vancouver. Thanks for the saloon tip, we will have to check it out as we arrive in Anchorage early afternoon. Any tips regarding the cruisetour portion of the journey?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:39AM
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I would suggest to anyone getting ready to cruise to join cruise critic where there are tips etc. Also there is a place on cc to "meet" others who will be on your ship and the ship may do a "meet and greet" which is fun. I have gotten some really good information from the cruise critic site and also met nice people. Have fun! Glenda, I am surprised that you can take food from the ship-thought that was a no no. Satine

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:37AM
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I have a travel compactible cooler, that Carnival gave me couple years ago. I use it when flying, for snacks to the port, and when disembarking both cruises I have done with GS, pick up sandwiches at the deli's on the ship and put them in plastic sandwich bags that I carry with me for that purpose.

No problem!

You are NOT allowed to take fruit, etc , tropical plants from countries you visit back into the US, satine.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:19AM
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We have cruised Alaska twice, once an inside passage cruiuse out of Vancouver and last September did a 15 day cruisetour, a week inland and inside passage cruise from Seward to Vancouver. I loved the train portion of the trip.

If time allows I would also suggest staying a day or two in Seattle. We fly into Seattle a day or two early and love Pike's Fish Market and the farmers market. Also across from Pike's is a wonderful place to have lunch, Matt's in the Market.

Here are some of the things we did and enjoyed,
Denali Park-The Tundra Wilderness tour, it is all day but so beautiful and we saw so much wildlife, brown bears, moose, sheep and eagles.
Talkeetna-Booked Talkeetna Air Taxi to fly around Mt. McKinley. Lunch at the Wildflower Cafe was delicious, the best salmon I have ever had. Our guide said the chef was at one time a chef at the White House.
Anchorage-Went to the mint and stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center on our way to Girdwood.
Seward-Resurrection Bay cruise was wonderful, lots of sea life and beautiful scenery.
Juneau-Red Dog Saloon, a must see.
Skagway-Took the ferry to Haines and toured the Big Nugget Mine at Porcupine Creek, it was a wonderful day.
Last time we took a helicopter and landed on a glacier, it was a great excursion. Don't miss going in the Red Onion Saloon, it's a must see also.
Icy Strait Point-First time we went whale watching and halibut fishing. This last time we took the bus to Hoonah and went to the Tribal House Carving Project.
Ketchican-Deadliest catch excursion, we loved it.
We also like to stay an additional day or two in Vancouver, a beautiful city.

I also suggest getting on cruise critic, a wonderful forum for information.

Enjoy your time in Alaska it is a beautiful, almost magical place!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:26AM
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I would go a day ahead of time, in case something goes wrong, you wouldn't want to miss your cruise! Take a jacket, you will need it when you get near the glaciers.
And it will be foggy and chilly in most every town you cruise to, at least in the a.m.
You will adore the spectacular scenery!!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Satine, Trixie, and Joan,a thank you for your suggestions! It's been a long day, so I will dive into them this weekend, but from a quick glance, I'll be taking away a lot of great ideas. :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 11:40PM
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