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gonefishin11

Cruise to Alaska

26 posts in this topic

I posted this in the Alaska forum but figured I would throw it here also because there is more traffic.

My future wife and I are taking a cruise to Alaska for our honeymoon next June (her idea). Which cruiseline(s) have you used and what did you think of them? It would probably be a 7 or 10 day trip from Seattle or Vancouver but we wouldn't be opposed to flying to Alaska and boarding there also. As far as fishing goes, I am planning on using one or more of the stops to do a cruise sponsored salmon and/or halibut charter.

Any ideas or experiences you would like to share would be greatly appreciated!

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We went on holland cruise lines last summer to alaska and had a wonderful time. we had heard holland america was the best but they were a little more money. We will not hesitate next time, it will be holland america.

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Funny this should come up - my wife just suggested that for our 25th anniversary she wants to take an Alaskan Cruise. I told that that "I always thought we would do something together to celebrate it" laugh.giflaugh.giflaugh.gif

My thoughts are much more oriented toward much more tropical environs.

Daze Off

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Holland America is super nice. I have absolutely no complaints, except there wasnt bars close enough to our room so we didnt use our pop cards as much. Go to the great Alaskan lumberjack show in ketchican, also a great place to buy fish, and something like 43 jewelry places...........

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Just did an Alaska cruise for our honeymoon last June. We went with Royal Carribean and it was nice. Few suggestions:

1. If possible go out of Seattle, when we went the flights were twice as expensive to go to Vancouver and the cruise itineraries were virtually the same.

2. If it is at all within reach of your budget - Get a balcony room! Alaska is the one cruise where the scenery is non-stop (unlike a Carribean cruise where you spend half the time looking at endless water. Especially being on your honeymoon it was a huge benefit to be able to have breakfast in your room or hang out on the balcony at night and be able to take in the scenery without having to go up on the deck with everyone else.

3. For fishing (or any shore excursions for that matter) you're much better off finding your own companies outside of booking through the cruise line. The prices will be much more reasonable and most of them will offer cancelation refunds if your ship is late or detoured. Just be sure to double check before booking. I saved a list of fishing guides/charters that cater to cruise passengers, if you want it or have any other questions just pop me an e-mail ericheagle@yahoo.com

It is an awesome place to have your honeymoon, in my opinion it was much more memorable that doing a mexico/tropical kind of thing -especially if you're interested in the outdoors.

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My wife and I took a Holland America cruise to Alaska in the last half of May this year for our 25th anniversary. As already mentioned they are a bit more expensive than others, but I would have no reservations about using them again. Nearly everything was wonderful.

We took a 13 day cruise where we flew into Fairbanks (in the middle of the state) and then took a train down to Denahli Nat'l Park and then took a train again down to Anchorage, before boarding the ship in Seward for the last week of the cruise.

A few pointers:

1 - If you are going to do an extended cruise (land and sea); do the land part first. The land portion is much more hectic as you are in multiple hotels as you travel so you are constantly packing and unpacking. Do the ocean part last where it is much more relaxing.

2 - If you can afford it, get a balcony room on the ship so that you can watch the scenery. So book early.

3 - Go as early in the year as possible. We started our trip on May 17th, which is the 2nd or 3rd day of the tourism season in Alaska. When going thru Denahli the vegetation was not all leafed out so it was much easier to see/find the wildlife. Plus the Misquitoes and bugs were non-existent. I've been told that they can get pretty intense during mid-summer. (If you want to go Salmon fishing try to go in early June, as we were a bit early.) Also its cheaper to go early or late in the season.

4 - Bring a good set of binoculars. I was amazed by how many people didn't have binoculars with on the cruise. When you are looking at Dahl Sheep and Mountain Goats on the side of a mountain all you are going to see is a white spot if you don't have binoculars.

5 - We booked our side trips thru Holland America before we left. Yes, you might pay a bit more, but then you don't have to worry about getting back to the ship before it deports. If you book your own side trip and you are late getting back, the ship may not wait for you. This is mostly a 'peace of mind' suggestion.

6 - And schedule as many side trips as you can. The cost of the side trips will still only be a fraction of the cost of the entire trip. And who knows if or when you will be able to go again.

7 - Go!!!!! If you have even the slightest interest in experiencing Alaska I cannot imagine how you could be disappointed. Everyone should go to Alaska at least once in their life.

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My wife and I went on an Alaskan cruise about 8 years ago. A few suggestions:

1) As someone else mentioned, if you're doing the land tour and then the sea cruise, do the land portion first. On the boat they treat you like a king and I think it would be hard to go from that to the bus riding.

2) Plan on spending at least another 10-20% on the side excursions. It was a surprise to us that every port you pulled into they were trying to sell you a side excursion. The one we went on was a helicopter flight to a glacier. The glacier was like being on a big snowbank but the copter ride over the mountains to get there was great!!! If I went back, I'd take the one they offered that was a plane ride to the artic circle and back.

3) We had a balcony - it was nice! smile.gif

4) Plan your free time. The first day we flew into Anchorage and with the time change we had all day to kill. We walked around Anchorage but I wish we would have done more. Same with every port you pull into, you have free time.

5) Skip the meal package on the land portion. We just paid our own and ate when we were hungry. The ones that had the meal plan felt obligated to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes it was too much, especially with all the sitting you do. Lots of times we just grabbed and apple and went for a walk.

Do it if you have the chance. We had fun. As an ex-Navy guy I was real leery about going back on a boat for 6 days but it was fun. I'm trying to talk my wife into another cruise, maybe to the Panama canal.

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Oh, and Ginger pills are one of the best things to bring, bring at least 1 bottle, THEY WORK MIRACLES. The first night and the next day out of seattle were horrible, but the pills 2 minutes after taking them helped tremendously! On the way back we saw the Victoria harbor master almost fall into the ocean while getting into the canadian coast guard boat. The boat was totally angled that night because of a constant wind.

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Now for the fishing part...My wife just got back from a Holland America cruise last weekend. She and I have been to the Kenai peninsula to fish 4 times, but she was with girlfriends this time so they didn't fish. She highly recommends Holland as well. But my brother went last year and we talked a lot before about where/whether to fish. He ended up booking both side trips offered by the cruise line (I don't know which one offhand) and doing poorly. We talked about that possibilty before he left; problem is, your land times don't coincide with peak or even customary fishing times. The cruise ships do try (I think?) to set up good side trips, but theres a reason most charters don't leave the dock at 9 am. For most side trips timing isn't so critical, you can take train rides or visit saloons anytime of day, but for fishing...I wouldn't say i wouldn't try, but I wouldn't count on doing great guns. For sure investigate your ports/choices and go online and e-mail a few charters from the likely places and ask about daytime bites...maybe you can get some insight. Halibut trips for sure should be OK, but again, if you go on a half day trip and the tide change is wrong, you won't do well. If you make a choice in advance you can check tide tables and try to schedule a day for favorable tides. Likewise, you can schedule your whole cruise for favorable times/dates, depending on what you want to catch. Again, you can do most side excursions most anytime between May and Sept; may as well time it to hit good fishing times. Best of luck, the cruise should be very cool, good luck with the fishing.

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Another thing to consider with the half day (4 hour)trips is that it may not be feasable to go after some species. I was up in Alaska in June working on a charter boat out of Sitka. I know that, at least there, a halibut run was out of the question unless you had at least a 3/4 day run booked (which is 6 hours). All of our half day runs were primarily chasing salmon.

In talking to some of the clients, most of whom came off the cruise ships, they said that the next time they go to Alaska (and want to get some extended fishing time in) they were going to skip the cruise part, fly into Alaska and privately chater a boat for a few trips. Just a thought.

That said, it is amazing up there and I can not think of a better way to see Alaska than on a cruise ship.

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Alaska is a "one of a kind" place. My wife and I went several years ago on carnival line, I think. Some of the things we would do differently:

1.We would fly into anchorage and take our own excursions from there. We were on a HUGE ship and you don't see much wildlife from there- need to be on a smaller boat to get closer. My wife got some kind of motion sickness on the last day that affected her for a month in a car, so we would base things on land.

2. Our neighbor's family rented an RV and drove where they wanted, stayed where they wanted. The big cruise ships stop in the same places usually and there were 3-4 in the port at the same time. Think "tourist trap" busy... 2000-3000 people per ship times 3 in a little town of 1000.... We would like to see more out of the mainsteam places.

3.The cruises have the prices reasonable, but they will try to sell you stuff as add on's...be prepared for that.

4.We didn't take the overland train to Denali...probably should have done that...next time. grin.gif

5. Take PLENTY of memory for your camera... you will take many more pics than you think

6.Take winter coats, clothes...it will be cold near any glaciers and wet/foggy also

If you want to be pampered/ served/ all your needs met, a cruise ship will do that...you can eat 24/7 if you want. If you like to fend for yourself more ,a land-based trip will serve you nicely. Gotta decide what type you want, and go for it. laugh.gif

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Steve and barry's sweatshirts were awesome for glacier bay, warm, and it kept the very light sprinkles out.

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I've been up there the last two summers. The first time was with the wife on 12 day vacation. Everybody said we should try a cruise. Myself , I hate to be a somedbody elses schedule. So we got a MILEPOST magazine and made all of our own reservations. I like the idea of seeing something and being able to stop and spend as much time as I wanted to there. Plus being around a thousand or so people for a couple of days is not my idea of a vacation. There were a lot of times we would stop at rest areas make a sandwich and look at the views. I don't think there's a rest area in Alaska that isn't a breath taking view. The first trip we took was absolutely perfect weather. We went on a full day combo trip out of Seward. We caught our limit (wife and myself) of halibut and salmon. Plus I took a half day salmon only trip by myself. We were lucky enough to see McKinley for two and a half days. I was told nine out of ten days you can't see it. My second trip was last summer, six of us went. We spent two full days on the ocean plus a guide trip on the Kenai for salmon and trout. Definately worth it. I'm going this year again, by myself. I already have four full day trips planned. I told the captain I booked with out of Homer that I wanted to catch at least one halibut over 100 lbs. He said we should be able to in two days. As you can read, I'm hooked on it. A guy sitting around the campfire at the lake last weekend, said" Alaska has a way of reaching out and grabbing you" he's right. Make sure you go, you won't regret a minute.

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Three years ago we went on the Alaskan Cruise. We used Princess Cruise lines and traveled on the Coral Princess. This ship had just been built and it was the maiden voyage. Fantastic, it caters more to the adults than children, so you don't have a lot of young children and playtime going on every day. It was great. I would advise flying to Anchorage and take the inside passage to Vancouver. Its a much shorter flight home than cruising from Vancouver to Anchorage and then a 5 hour flight. Even though they treat you like a king after 7 days on the water, a five hour flight plus the wait time in Anchorage makes for a long long day. Be sure to take advantage of the port calls, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchakan are truly interesting. Fishing, guided glacier tours etc are all available in each port. Sign up for these land excursions early, they will have all of your tickets in your State Room and absolutley no hassle once you dock. If you don't enjoy and Alaskan Cruise theres not much left for you in this world. LOL.......I'm retiring next year and we are going back. Have a great time. Bill

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I just got back last week on a Princess Cruise. We did Vancouver to Whittier (Anchorage).

Awesome time. Princess, like Holland is a bit pricier, but worth it. Lobster, crab legs, halibut, and that was just one night. Yes I had all 3, just skipped the salad!

Get a balcony, you won't regret it.

I went salmon fishing in Ketchican. We were only in port there for 1/2 a day, so couldn't go halibut fishing. From the research I did, Homer, and Seward is the place for halibut. Alot of places will "take you" halibut fishing from other ports, but it amounts to a nice boat ride.

Let me know if y ou have any other questions. The captain I booked out of Ketchican was awesome, his name was Ken. Google charters in Ketchican and you can find him. Great guy, cheaper than going through the cruise. Don't let the cruise line scare you into booking through them.

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Two years ago my father, son, and I took a Carnival cruise to Alaska. We flew to Fairbanks and took a train to the coast, stopping at Denali. Flying around Denali in a small plane was the hightlight of our trip. As many have mentioned, a balcony adds a lot to the experience.

The ship stopped at Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan, and I went fishing in Ketchikan. There were about 20 of us from the ship that went out in small boats, about 4 to a boat. One person caught a halibut, about 25 pounds. The rest of us caught different varieties of "Rockfish." This type of fishing was not very sporting. You are fishing at about 150 feet deep with a half pound sinker for fish that are not all that big (typically 1 to 6 pounds). The pressure differential gets to the fish pretty quickly, and it is like pulling up a boot. Of course, they cannot be released and the limit is only three.

The mistake I made was not bringing any fishing equipment. There will be small windows when you can fish if you have some equipment. We went in late July and early August. The larger salmon (chinooks) had finished, but the pink salmon were in full spawn. A medium weight spinning rod and some spoons would have added a lot to my trip.

Alaska is truly a trip of a lifetime. Surprisingly, we did not see all that much wildlife, but the scenery is unforgetable. If you take a digital camera, make sure it can recycle quickly. I was glad mine was a film camera as there would have been lots of missed pictures waiting for the digital to "warm up."

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I've been on 2 cruises to AK (Holland & Princess) in the last 3 years. My wife (used to work for mesaba) and her friends have taken tons of trips up to Anchorage and fished for Halibut out of Homer which is the "Halibut Capital of the World" or something like that.

My personal recommendations mostly reflect what has been posted previously.

1. Spend extra days in AK after the cruise, that's where you can drive around and see more wildlife less people. MUCH better fishing opportunities too, since you don't have time limits, and the Halibut fishing is superior around the Kenai Peninsula.

[i'm only through one point, and now i want to plan my own trip!!]

2. An Alaskan cruise is a GREAT way to see southeast Alaska, as MANY if not MOST of the cities are not accessible by road. As was mentioned the 'world traveler' wife and friends had not been to many (if any) of these cities we visited on our cruise(s).

3. With research and planning, you can plan most of you're own excursions. The key being common sense. If you want to take an all-day, helicopter and ice-climbing trip that leaves the minute you dock and returns a half hour before you are scheduled to leave port, don't do it on your own. If there are ANY delays in your return, you are responsible for getting yourself back on the boat, whereas if you're delayed on a cruise sponsored excursion, they will hold the boat for you.

Excursions I've planned:

-Scenic Train trip out of Skagway.

-Renting a car for the remainder of the day in Skagway and driving into Canada, a ghost town and a hike up a creek.

-1/4 day Flight-Seeing (leaving earlier in the day) in Ketchikan.

-Walking to the Totem Park in Ketchikan and taking a $1.50 (or so) tram/bus back.

-Buying our own bus tickets to Mendenhal Glacier (including our own stops at the Alaskan Brewery and a Fish Hatchery) in Juneau.

-Hiking up Mt. Roberts on our own and "hitchhiking" down on the Tram for free in Juneau.

(This tidbit was given to us by an tramway CSR at the bottom. If I remember correctly, since 99% of the tourists pay for the ride up (round trip), they don't bother to check tix on the way down)

Excursions I've booked thru the cruise lines:

-ALL-day trip to ancient ruins in Belize (off topic I know but a GREAT example: we were the FIRST tender off in the am and LAST on in the pm, with NO wasted time at the bus terminals or ferry terminals).

-3/4 day glacial lake kayak trip in Haines

-1/2 day bike-n-hike trip in Sitka (good call since rain/weather delayed the tenders and delayed the trip but with no problem)

* Another note about excursions, the kayak and bike trips were reasonably priced in comparison to what I could find on my own so I just went the easy, more secure route and booked through the cruise line.

If you have any other ?s drop me a line...

EDIT: regarding the cruise brand, I'd say the newest ship some/most of the time makes more of a difference than the brand.

Also, cruising the inside passage was wonderful in the foggy mornings, with the cool air, breakfast outside was no problem for us hearty 'sotans!

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They spy on you, LOL.

So, We played poker in our room every night, with 4 5 6 or 7 of usin our small room. I went to get food at 1 AM( mindnight buffet!) We had Walkie talkies and were comunicating what they in the room wanted. The guy at the front of the line(higher up official) was like "playing cards are we, you must be the loser! hahaha" Im like what the HELL!!! how do they know?

The next night a cleaner(not even ours) comes in at 11 PM and asks if he can see our ice. Something fishy(hehe) was going on there. I bet it was our waiter behind it, he loved joking with us because we were the only younger group hes gotten in over a year. Nice guy, very fun cruise.

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All above are very good suggestions. Only thing I can add is: Holland America has smaller ships than most of the others. We had I think 1500 on our ship instead of the 2000-3000 like the others have. The smaller ships can go into places that others can't. Glacier Bay, etc, we stopped right in front of calving glaciers with no other ships in sight cause they were too big to get in there. It was also less hectic at ports, we often could dock on the pier where most of the others had to anchor out and shuttle with ferries.

Check out the fishing in Sitka. Some of the best catch rates in all AK! We were in port here long enough for a 3/4 day fishing charter and did great! Plan on having your catch sent home. All charter facilities can handle this for you.

Spend the money, you'll never be sory!

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Thanks to everyone for all the information and suggestions!

Do you recommend booking way in advance? Should I wait until the time draws nearer? Again, it will be next June. What is the optimal time to book one of these?

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We booked through and agent and were very pleased. The cost may have been a bit more but they took care of everything for us. All the questions you may have, which excursions to book, everything!

Email me and I will give you their info. I believe they had a special if booked before Jan 1.

vlettering1@qwest.net

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Its up to you, the cruise sponsored excursions will/can fill up. On your own its up to you, never hurts to have the reservation.

That said, since we were flying by the seat of our pants (stand-by, last minute employee deals, etc.), we wouldn't know were going on the cruise more than 4-8 weeks out and never had a problem.

Oh one more thing: regarding dinner times (if you have first and second seatings) always go later since you don't want to miss lobster night because you were on shore still during the early dinner.

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After reading this forum, i had gone to holland website to get information for future use, as i would love to take either a cruise or a land vacation in alaska sometime before i die.

In looking at their website, you can get the entire layout of the ship, the different decks, the room sizes and the exact locations of each room number...ex the one next to the pool or the one next to the BAR... So booking early would guarantee your exact room preference.

Thats my input on this.

Hopefully i will get there sometime in the next decade... grin.gif

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getting a deck will pay for its self. Holland america will do anything for you.

PS dont drink the pop at the room, it charges money.(We were the only room without a sign, go figure....)

PSS The Ocean bar gave the most pop for the pop cards, Except it was on the opposite side of the ship. Also try going to least populated area, they are bored and give you free drinks. Finally, their fruit punch is the best on earth, literally.

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Unfortunately the big bass weren't around, nor any bass for that matter. Only caught 4 small bass. Kids caught about a dozen or so sunnies from the dock at the resort, some of which were decent size. We didn't even bother with bearskin. There's no way we would be able to launch our boats in that wind. We went to Loon Lake instead. In the limited time we were there, we caught about 30 tiny bass. My 9 year old daughter also caught her first rock bass. I tried for lakers, and marked a lot of them, but didn't catch any.    So since we didn't fish West Bearskin as planned, we penciled it in for Friday. Knowing the weather was going to be bad, we picked Poplar Lake as our backup. I drove up to Mayhew Lake to start, because I wanted to check out the launch. I was able to get my boat down the launch, but it was a real tight fit. Nice little lake. We saw a mommy moose with 2 babies laying right on the shoreline. I got sick of trolling, so I decided to cast cranks along the drop offs of the one small stretch of shoreline that was out of the wind (relatively speaking). Hooked into a big fish! Got excited because I thought I finally had a lake trout! It was a northern!  never thought I'd be disappointed in catching a 5.5 pound pike, but that's what I was. Didn't bother going to Bearskin, as I knew the wind was too bad again. Went to Poplar, which is a lake I do not like! As is typical, the fishing was no good! He weather was bi polar! It would be bright and sunny, then rain for 20 minutes. Did that the whole rest of the day! Only caught 1 little pike and  1 little bass. Got excited for a minute, as whitefish started surfacing around my boat in the evening. I was hoping I could catch 1 or 2, but nope!    Saturday we were supposed to fish Two Island for a few hours before going home. But it was pouring rain. We didn't even bother driving around to different boat launches. So the trip ended on a sour note, but we still had lots of fun, seen a moose, had our donuts (I highly recommend the bacon maple longjohn by the way), and went to Sven & Ole's. I was going to go camping in Ely in July, but I think we'll come back to Grand Marais instead, and try to make up for what we missed out on due to the weather. IMG_6122.MOV