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Alaska Cruise

ChopperChopper Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

Taking this trip with my wife's side of the family this July; 10 of us total including 4 teenagers. Generally speaking I'm not a cruise fan but I've had this one on my wish list for a long time as it would seem a cruise is a good way to see a lot of that part of the world. Taking Princess out of Seattle and back for 7 days. Who's done this and what tips do you have?

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    dragonslayerdragonslayer Posts: 700 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Wife and I are going on a Norwegian Cruise Line to Alaska out of Seattle June 8 - 15. First time there. Escaping the US Open traffic here.

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    MarkBoknechtMarkBoknecht Posts: 1,541 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    My parents took an Alaskan Cruise in the 90's. Really enjoyed it. In another part of the state, a friend of mine visited Denali National Park, formerly Mt. McKinley, Had a blast. Southern Alaska and British Columbia are known for their beautiful mountains and epic snowfall.

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    CigarDawgCigarDawg Posts: 2,566 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    You know how vacation spending happens, though. Impulsivity and FOMO takes overrides budgeting.

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    dragonslayerdragonslayer Posts: 700 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    We booked shore excursions on our own, only one with the cruise line. Decidedly less costly.

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    Old_lady_dawg_fanOld_lady_dawg_fan Posts: 1,298 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Will you be going to Sitka?

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    ChopperChopper Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
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    dshaffers46dshaffers46 Posts: 55 ✭✭✭ Junior

    Book the railway trip in Skagway (cheaper to do so away from the ship) Glacier Bay is awesome—just cruise and enjoy. If you are lucky, you'll see grizzlies on a beach and gray wales in the bay. In Ketchikan, get out and stroll Creek Street. Also can walk a bit to the fish hatchery—both free. The tram in Juneau is worth the ride and not outrageously costly.

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    dshaffers46dshaffers46 Posts: 55 ✭✭✭ Junior

    Another tip: if you are strolling around a port and decide to eat lunch away from the ship, many restaurants have what I call "cruise customer" menus that are significantly more costly than what locals pay. Make sure that you are getting the same rate as the locals pay or else hit he streets. I always pretty much ate on the ship if it wasn't far away because I had already paid for that meal.

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    Old_lady_dawg_fanOld_lady_dawg_fan Posts: 1,298 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited May 23

    The Milepost Alaska book will be your best source of information, especially if you're trying to dodge the thousands of people who descend on these small towns from the cruise ships. Bring a great raincoat, one that is both water repellent and breathable. Stick a few mosquito wipes in a pocket.

    One of the things I loved about living in Southeast Alaska is the ongoing presence of Alaska Natives. Ketchikan and Juneau both give the opportunity to experience their cultures. The state museum in Juneau is well done in more than just the historical respect. (It's downtown, but I can't recall how walkable it would be from the terminal. Weigh the cost of all local transportation against what the ship charges to get you both admission and a bus to a location.) The small boat cruise out to Tracy Arm is spectacular, but I'd weigh it against what you'll see up in Glacier Bay. The tram can be fun and you can almost certainly arrange that experience for yourself since it's right at the terminal. You can also hike up to the Glacier ice field at Mendenhall.

    I can second the rail trip from Skagway if you have plenty of time. It's spendy anyway, more than $100 I think, so comparing the ship to local price is likely worth it. What I don't know is how they now handle the Canadian crossing. The Skagway downtown area is lovely and there's a great trail that takes you up and over the harbor. The National Park Service manages the Klondike Gold Rush park/exhibits and is one of the few places with "gold" in it that I can recommend. (Most are tourist traps.) I don't know how the cruise ships manage Park Service entry fees, but I'm going to bet getting the agency's nationwide, yearly pass would be much cheaper especially if you visit several of their sites.

    Unless your heart is set on eating a specific food, restaurants are going to be expensive and you'd be better off on the ship. Everything in Southeast Alaska is shipped in and costs a lot even outside of the tourist season. The halibut, though, can be better than anything I've eaten in the lower 48. King Crab is shipped anywhere you'd go in Southeast Alaska, so I'd enjoy it at home for far less. Dungeness is more likely to be local. It's highly unlikely you'll find a tavern near a cruise ship terminal that's anything but an expensive tourist trap that the locals avoid completely. Be aware that much of the shopping involves non-local chains and are nothing special. There are, however, shops in Juneau that offer local art.

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