I had cruised to Alaska in September of 2011 with Norwegian Cruise Line. The ship departed from Seattle up through the inside passage to Skagway (the furthest point), Juneau, a quick sight of the Sawyer Glacier Bay, Juneau, then finally arriving into Vancouver. On this trip I had traveled with my parents who are in their early 40’s and my grandparents who are in their early to mid-sixties. We all are in agreeance that cruising just isn’t our travel style.
– I woke up to dolphins weaving in and out of the waves of our boat.
– There was a casino including slot, blackjack and poker tournaments.
-The Italian restaurant was delicious as was the morning buffet when the chef’s made fresh pancakes and omelettes to your liking.
-The food was “all-inclusive”.
-There were plenty of interesting activities offered in each port location – whale watching, kayaking, glacier hikes, nature hikes, helicopter rides, etc.
-Skagway is a charming town! Ketchikan had delicious seafood shacks. I saw a lot of marine life in Juneau and the Sawyer Glacier was awesome.
|Ketchikan’s Red Onion Saloon Brothel Tour
Layers of wall paper shown, 1 layer for each new girl.
In one room there were 14 different layers of wall paper.
It was a saloon for 4 years.
-Mountain views are majestic, even without snow.
-Hot tubs were functional when stopped at a port.
-I told the media representative that I was a food and travel blogger which got me free Champagne from the captain and free entree into the captain’s gala.
– Not many activities on our particular boat which is why we gambled for most of the days.
– Much of the food was mediocre at best, especially the dinner buffet.
– There is a cover charge for every single restaurant which can add up when you budgeted for an all-inclusive cruise. Usually, the cover charge prices can cost up to $25 US per person and as low as $5 US, depending on the amount of service and quality of cuisine your are hoping for (notice the verb hope).
– You port for such a short time that it is not enough time to see the city. Juneau is where we decided to take in a whale watching tour. Unfortunately, this took up three hours and we only had four hours of port time (must be on board 30 minutes prior to departure).
I remember seeing a large amount of cruisers roam around Venice, Italy for a couple of hours before heading back on board and it made me sad that they did not really get to experience the city and all her guises of morning, afternoon and night.
|No time to see Titian’s work in the Doge’s Palace!|
– The waves were 20+ feet high during full days of travel (total of 2 days). My mom and grandparents were down and out for two days. This was unfortunate and apparently the waves had not reached this hight during their four month cruising duration until this last cruise (winters are too cold for cruising tourists and cease cruises to Alaska during this time).
– In each town there are the same jewelry and tourist shops selling the same things. When I did finally find a more unique shop I bought some mugs with First Nations designs on them. I took a peak underneath the mug to see where the work was manufactured and it turns out it was from Vancouver, BC! My own province…
– To get a balcony I paid $1300 CAN per person! This amount could have done a fly n’ stay in New York during that week.
– There was additional room charges that amount to $900 US for all alcohol, restaurant cover charges and the whale watching tour. (Luckily, I won close to $1000 US at the casino!)
– Liquor is not included in the all-inclusive cruise.
– Tours are expensive! For our whale watching tour booked through the cruise line it costed us $150 US per person, not including tax. The most expensive tour that the cruise line offered was $1200 US for a fishing tour. Helicopter tours averaged around $300 US per person.
I like to wander, explore the location I am visiting and cruising just doesn’t allow you to get very far before having to return to your ship. I also don’t think it is fair to call it “all-inclusive” when most of the time you need to pay for cover charges and alcoholic drinks. For this reason I would suggest a resort vacation that offers a true all-inclusive experience, but of course, there aren’t any sunny beaches in Alaska in which case I’d say take your chances on a bigger, better boat.
|Alaska’s oldest lighthouse|
I must say that you have listed down the details very clearly. I was worried as I am planning to go on a cruise trip for the first time. Your post has helped me a lot and I will keep these points in mind.
I’m not a cruise person either, but it can be a lot of fun. I took this cruise ship from Cartagena to Lisbon, all-inclusive, 14 days crossing the Atlantic.. it was quite an experience. I don’t think I would do it again, but it was fun and I met a lot of interesting people, mainly digital nomads.
It most certainly isn't!
You also have to be sure that there is good food on board, none of which is fresh local food! So in order to get that you need to eat off the boat anyways so it'll end up costing more than what people think.
Thanks for commenting!
Count me in on the no-cruise travelers. I just can't fathom being stuck on a big boat and no fishing line trailing out the back. And you are so right on the short port times – not good at all!