Where Will The Cruise Leave From
For Alaskan cruises, you have a couple of ports to choose from since we narrowed it down to Royal Caribbean, that meant they left from Seattle or Vancouver. I didnt have a huge preference, but when running the numbers, I saw that flights to Seattle were significantly cheaper than Vancouver, at least from the East Coast. On top of that, that would make it a domestic flight which means I could avoid long customs lines at the airport. I really know nothing about Seattle, except thats where the TV show Frasier took place, so I figure itll be fun to explore that the day or two before the cruise.
Book A Ship With Somewhere Warm To Swim
Sure any cruise ship you select is going to have hot tubs for passengers. But we suggest looking for those that have a solarium or other covered spots with pools. Only a few ships have them, but covered pools are a great spot to be able to relax and swim while staying out of the chilly air that can accompany a cruise to Alaska.
Can I Get A Balcony Cabin At A Reasonable Rate
Balcony cabins are in high demand when sailing to Alaska and for good reason. They give you your own personal spot to sit and watch some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world pass by. Sure a balcony cabin isnt absolutely required, but its highly suggested.
Thats why you want to see if you can afford a balcony cabin at a reasonable rate. Already Alaskan cruises are generally more expensive than the more common trips to the Caribbean and Bahamas. Meanwhile, the headline rates you see advertised for trips are for the lowest-cost interior cabins. Its not unusual for balcony rooms to be 50-100% more per person than the interior cabin cost. If youre sailing to Alaska, we suggest making sure you can afford a balcony cabin and not just the interior room.
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Pools On Alaskan Cruises
I am thinking about an Alaskan cruise on Carnival in May of this year, and I’m curious if anybody knows if the pools are heated, or kept at a certain temperature.
Depends on the ships, but in most cases it will only be the hot tubs that are heated, the rest are left at air temp, and are not really swimmable. There will be the few brave souls in the pools, but not many.
Was up to Alaska last May, and most of the time we were in our winter coats in the morning and evening and our sweaters in the afternoon.
Boarding The Cruise Ship In Vancouver
The boarding process is organized and easy. The Vancouver cruise ship terminal can get quite busy, especially on the weekends, so its best to arrive early.
There will be long lines for the embarkation process. Most of the cruise ships that port in Vancouver hold 2,000+ passengers. If two or three ships are departing the same evening, thats a lot of congestion.
Now, long lines doesnt always mean long wait times. The process moves at a good pace. It took us about 60 minutes from start to finish.
Cruise ships usually start boarding 4 or 5 hours before the scheduled departure time, typically around 12:oo PM. We started the check-in process at around 1:00 PM and were drinking a Corona on the ship by 2:00 PM.
Reminder even though you depart from Vancouver, Canada you will enter the United States in Alaska. Depending on where you are from, you may need to have at least 6 months left on your passport before it expires. Learn about passport requirements here.
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Is The Cruise Alcohol Package Worth It
Yes, we believe the alcohol package on the Celebrity Eclipse is worth the additional expense. Obviously, if youre not a big drinker, skip the alcohol package.
Having the alcohol package allowed us to drink what we wanted, when we wanted. It was nice to have unlimited wine included at dinner, too. Instead of ordering single glasses of wine, our sommalier gave us full bottles of wine to enjoy. We preferred this.
What Is The Best Alaska Cruise
We took our time researching the different Alaska cruise options. There are several cruise lines that sail to Alaska from Vancouver, so youve got options.
The other big cruise lines that sail from Vancouver to Alaska are Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Lines.
Prices for Alaska cruises are generally the same, so what you want to research is the actual cruise ship and its amenities, as well as the Alaska ports you want to visit.
Find the right ship and itinerary first, then start looking for deals.
Alaska Cruise Inside Passage
We decided to cruise the Alaska Inside Passage because we wanted an opportunity to see wildlife and the beautiful Alaskan landscapes. Heres the Alaska Inside Passage cruise map.
Inside passage cruises typically stop at Juneau, Ketchikan and either Icy Strait Point, Petersburg or Skagway. Most Alaska cruises will visit either the Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Dawes Glacier and/or Endicott Arm Fjord Glacier.
Another option is to cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage one way.
You would then fly back to Vancouver or Seattle. Or, you can fly up to Anchorage first, spend a few days exploring the region, then cruise south to Vancouver. Heres a map of the one way Alaska Cruises from Anchorage.
You can also take an Alaska cruise from Seattle, Washington or Victoria, British Columbia.
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Why Is Alaska Cruise Demand So High
The North American cruise industry has been on hiatus for more than a year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Hope that it could see a return by this summer is starting to dwindle as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drags its feet on next steps.
Alaska has been hit especially hard, given that 10% of the states jobs are tied to tourism and the fact that it faces more barriers to reopening than other destinations.
Alaskas reputation for bucket-list scenery, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and get away from it all wilderness vibes make it a popular destination under normal circumstances. But pent-up travel demand and barriers preventing many cruise ships from returning have made it even more desirable and exclusive.
Below, weve outlined the hurdles Alaska faces, whats currently being done to overcome them and which cruise lines are still making the rounds in the Last Frontier this year.
All Your Questions About Taking A Child On An Alaska Cruise Answered
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As the third most popular cruise destination, Alaska is on a lot of families’ travel wish lists. I toyed with the idea of bringing my son on one, because the data was so convincing: According to the recent cruise travel trends report by the Cruise Line International Association , the worlds largest cruise trade association, families that cruised with kids under the age of 18 reported a 9 out of 10 satisfaction rate, and travel agents are reporting an increase in requests for adventure travel cruises. But the question remains: Does the reality match the data?
When it came time to pick a ship, I had to decide between big and small. Most of the smaller ships are quite active and while that appeals to me, I knew my son Matthew, who is eight, was more into the bells and whistleshe’d want lots of options for excursions, a good kid’s club, endless ice cream and pizza, and many pools and hot tubs. Bigger ships, simply due to their size, also have the greater chance of having more kids on board, and I knew that would make him happy.
We opted for a seven-day Alaska sailing with Princess Cruises, on the Ruby Princess, making stops in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Princess is known for being family-friendlyand once on-board, it showed in their activities, kid-friendly services, and array of shore excursions. But I didn’t know that before the trip. Like many parents, I had some reservations. Here’s what they wereand how everything turned out.
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Can You Change The Minimum Gratuity Charge
Yes, you can change the minimum charge for gratuities. To change the amount, you need to go to Customer Service / Guest Relations on the ship and request the change.
Its recommended to do this at the beginning of your cruise. Lines will get long during the day, so its best to do this early morning or late at night.
We decided to remove our kids from the daily minimum charge for gratuities. We only paid for two adults, which amounted to $29.00 USD per day in gratuities .
At the end of the cruise, we gave an additional $30 USD to our housekeeper. We handed him cash when we said goodbye on the morning disembarkation.
Where To Stay In Vancouver
There are plenty of hotels in Vancouver to choose from, ranging from upscale five star hotels to backpacker hostels and everything in between.
- Search for Vancouver hotels here.
- If youd like to stay near the cruise ship terminal, we recommend the Pan Pacific Vancouver, Fairmont Waterfront or Fairmont Pacific Rim. They are located within walking distance to the cruise ship.
- If you prefer apartment rentals, get up to $45 CAD off your first night here.
- Most of the popular Vancouver tourist attractions are located in the downtown area. Consider this when selecting where to stay in Vancouver.
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Is The Weather Going To Be A Downer
The weather in Alaska can be unpredictable and if you go early in the season, it can be a bit chilly. But kids being kids, they will still go into the Jacuzzi and the pool . As the old adage goes, theres no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. We were fortunate in that it didnt rain at all on our cruise, but packing in layers alleviates the bad weather dilemma.
Is There A Warm Swimming Area
If youre getting on a cruise ship, you likely have thoughts of swimming pools, sunbathing, and lounging around with a drink in your hand. Things arent quite like that on an Alaskan cruise. Even on warm days it doesnt get that warm on the ship and nights can be downright cold.
Still, you dont want to be on a cruise ship for an entire week and not go swimming. Thats why you want to check if your ship has a warm spot to swim. Of course, every cruise ship will have hot tubs. If thats all you need, then great. But some ships go above and beyond with covered pools. For instance, the Solarium on many Royal Caribbean ships is an adults-only area that has a covered swimming pool. The appeal is that youve got a warm spot to swim on those cool Alaskan days.
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Short And Long Sleeved T
Since the weather can change drastically in the same day, especially during the Alaska cruise seasons summer months, bringing a mix of short and long-sleeved T-shirts will allow you to adapt to the days forecast easily. Those traveling during the shoulder seasons will want to bring a few more long-sleeved tees than short.
How To Pack Light For An Alaska Cruise
The key to keeping your Alaska cruise baggage weight down is to plan a practical capsule wardrobe that enables you to mix and match daytime and evening outfits. Daywear should be all about versatile layers and comfortable separates, while you can streamline your evening wardrobe by switching up accessories, such as jewelry, ties and shawls. Where possible, try to pack lighter base layers, fleeces and long-sleeved t-shirts, and avoid bulky knitwear.
Remember, all of our ships offer a laundry service on board, and we also provide complimentary pool and bathroom towels, so theres no need to bring these from home.
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Do People Swim On An Alaskan Cruise
I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
It really depends on the weather. The pools are all outside, and early June can be chilly. There is also often rain on that itinerary. The pools are heated, but are also the standard very small DCL pools, so when the weather is good for swimming, they are people soup.I’d pack suits, but they may or may not use them.
I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
Will Cruising Allow For Any Spontaneity
Yes, the cruise schedule is set ahead of time, so to some degree the vacation also is set. That doesnt mean there isn’t plenty of room for impromptu fun, though. For many travelers cruising to Alaska, the highlight is Glacier Bay, where the ship gets close to two glaciers. Ships tend to stay an hour at each one so people can see the glacier calving . I knew that the attention span of my son would not last two hours, so we got pizza, ice cream, and hot chocolate , grabbed Uno cards from the ships library, and grabbed a window table. In between Draw 4s and bites of pepperoni pie, we listened to the tell-tale sound of the glacier calving and took in the view. It was one of the highlights of the trip.
There will always be concerns before taking your family anywhere, and I wouldn’t know as much as I do about Alaska with children if I hadn’t decided to go on the trip and bring Matthew along. Our biggest takeaway? The Alaskan excursions and the kids’ camp were incrediblebut the tiny moments, like Uno on the balcony, were just as unforgettable.
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Alaskan Cruises With Kids
Break away from the typical family vacation and expose your kids to new cultures, experiences and landscapes on an Alaskan cruise. Because of its sheer size and remote location, Alaska has tons of incredible sites to see, but it can be hard to see them all on your own. An Alaskan cruise hits many of the highlights in the state, all in one trip and all planned for you. Most of the large cruise ship lines offer cruises to Alaska that are ideal for kids, and several smaller ships also have Alaskan trips for families.
Norwegian Sun Is Cruising Alaska
Cruisers looking to experience some of the most beautiful views available from the sea flock to Alaska. With snowy mountain peaks, stunning glaciers and lush Pacific forests, Alaska’s landscapes are breathtaking, to say the least. And, what better way to experience this than onboard a smaller cruise ship, where you can get more up close and personal to the action?
Norwegian offers over 40 cruise options to Alaska during the May to October Alaska cruise season. You can book an Alaskan cruise itinerary on large ships such as Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore, and Norwegian Joy, or experience a smaller, more intimate ship such as Norwegian Jewel or Norwegian Sun. Norwegian Sun is the ship with the most sailings in Alaska, with 25 choices of longer, immersive itineraries for the 2020 Alaska cruise season.
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Your Phone Might Work On The Ship
One issue with sailing on most cruises is that your phone doesnt work on the ship. If sailing to Alaska, there is at least a chance that youll have your normal cell service. Since Alaska is part of the United States, your cell service provider may also offer service in this area with any additional charges. Check with your provider for a current map, or see our article here.
You Need To Pack Layers
Packing for an Alaskan cruise is not an easy task. Given the fluctuations in temperature, which in our experience was up to 30 degrees in one day, you will need plenty of clothes in varying degrees of warmth. Layers that can be easily packed, and taken on and off during the day, are preferable. We really liked our Columbia 3 in 1 jackets. You will want to also set aside some separate outfits for those afternoons and evenings on the ship. This cruise will really test your true packing abilities dont plan on traveling with just a carry-on for this trip!
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Which Cruise Lines Are Currently Sailing In Alaska
Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, the regions two major players, have been forced to pull out, canceling dozens of sailings. However, a handful of U.S.-flagged ships can still sail in Alaska because the CDCs framework and the PVSA dont apply to them, due to their small size and U.S. registry:
- Alaskan Dream Cruises
Trek Glacier Point Or Mendenhall Glacier
Once youve spotted enough glaciers from afar, youre going to want to get up-close and personal. With Princess Cruises, youll find glacier trek options at both Skagway and Juneau, exploring the surfaces of Glacier Point and Mendenhall Glacier, respectively . Strap on your crampons and get ready to explore one of the most unique environments on the planet, from the icy blue deep crevasses to the otherworldly spires of ice.
INSIDER TIPMany of these excursions involve a plane or helicopter ride taking you to the glaciers. Its a very fun way to arrive, but temperamental Alaskan weather means they dont always go off as planned . To ensure you get your chance to walk on a glacier, either book an excursion that doesnt involve a flight or sign up for a trip later in the day, when its more likely the morning fog has lifted.
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