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Forums » Alaska » Alaska Cruising family, a bunch of questions and concerns

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styme123

Alaska Cruising family, a bunch of questions and concerns

by styme123 »

I'm starting to try and plan for a trip to Alaska with my family at the beginning of July 2016.(7 of us: husband 3 older children and their GF/Husbands). I have never traveled much of anywhere so this will be my first real "trip". This is also our first "big" trip as a family. I'll be paying for the cruise and airfare for everyone so it will be pretty expensive for me (over $10,000). We are thinking of staying about a week ( since most of the cruises are that long) but we can stay an extra week if we needed more time. I was thinking of traveling from NY (we live in NY) to Seattle. It seemed like the cheapest way to get there as a few cruises sail from Seward. Flights are about $500 R/T I think. Is this the best way to get there? Should we fly into someplace else? Any recommendations on cruise lines? I started looking at Royal Carribien and Norweign Cruise Line. Are there excursions that are must sees? ones to stay away from that aren't worth the money? I'm trying to aviod as many "touristy expenses" where they over charge you because your part of the cruise. With many of the cruises your not in port for very long. Should we think about doing our own self guided land tour before or after the cruise to get a real feel for Alaska or to see as much as we can while we are there. There seems like a bunch of things to do there but it's hard to choose with so many options. Since it's so much money for me I want to make the best choices I can. Still nervous that I'm making the right choice of going to Alaska versus Ireland. That was another choice of travel at about $15,000. We've always wanted to go there but my family though it would be too much planning for a first trip out of the U.S. Is Alaska as amazing as others have said? Is it just it's natural beauty that it offers or is there more to it?  Any opinions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank You. 

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Pauline Frommer

RE: Alaska Cruising family, a bunch of questions and concerns

by Pauline Frommer »

First off: good for you for doing this wonderful thing for your family!!

Some answers: you'll pay less on airfare for cruises that go into and out of the same port, often significantly less. But this may mean that you pay more for the cruise (since it will likely be longer) and unless you start and end in Anchorage it would be difficult for you to do an add on in Alaska if you do it this way.

As for the cruise lines: Holland America and Pricness were the two lines that "pioneered" Alaskan cruising, so they sometimes have slightly more interesting itineraries because they have "grandfather" rights to go some places that others don't. That being said, these are slightly more "staid" lines than Royal Caribban and Norwegian, both of which MAY have more hopping nightlife (if that's important to you or your kids). As well, the ships will vary GREATLY by the age of the ship. So my biggest suggestion to you would be to talk with an experienced cruise agent who can walk you through your options and the plusses and minuesses of each ship. See if a friend has a cruise agent they would recommend. Or go to an agency that specializes in cruises (it will usually have the word "Cruise" or "Sea" or "Ahoy" in the title).

As for add-ons in Alaska: I think you'll get more out of those (and spend less) if you do them on your own. You can take the same train the cruise lines do to Denali and stay at the same lodges, but if you do it on your own, you'll have more choices on the hikes and other activities you do in Denali. And the top thing to do there is to take a hike with rangers on the tundra, something that must be signed up for a day in advance, and something that's usually limited to less than 15 people, so cruisers never get to do it. Another option is to drive around the Kenai Peninsula, which is spectacular (but can be pricey; it's where the folks in Anchorage vacation).

The hardest question is how to get away from the touristy stuff. The truth is on most ANY cruise you take (unless you spring for a VERY small ship--as in one that holds 100 people or less), you're going to be going to very small towns with THOUSANDS of other passengers. So it's hard to get away from feeling like a tourist in AK. That being said: it may not matter as much to you when you're there. The scenery is spectacular and there are a lot of really fun adventures you can have. If you'd like to do tours, you'll pay less NOT going with the cruise line. I'd suggest an outfit like CruisingExcursion.com, which places cruisers with local companies for less money (and usually fewer people on the tour).

I hope this helps. We have a book out called "Frommer's EasyGuide to Alaskan Cruises" that you'd likely find very helpful. It will give you more detailed reviews of the boats and different itineraries. You might want to look at it before you speak with an agent, so you can get an idea of what sort of experience you want.

 

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