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Royal Caribbean Cruise to Alaska

Hi All - planning a trip of a Cruise to Alaska for May, June or July 2020.
Looking for feedback / recommendations ( we have cruised before but never to Alaska)

Plan is to leave out of Seattle - but questioning what itinerary to do.
One option is a stop @ Glacier Bay.
The other option is a stop @ Endicott Arm @ Dawes Glacier.

From experience can anyone share the best option?
Glacier Bay stop has availability for a cruise starting on May 22.
Endicott Arm is available all of June - July.

TIA.

Posted by
11677 posts

Hi Michelle, I suggest you go to the Alaska forum on TripAdvisor for excellent advice on Alaska cruises, all aspects.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28923-i349-Alaska.html

Look in particular at posts by Maple_Marshmallow, who is very helpful.

I have noticed that the experts strongly advise doing a one-way cruise out of Vancouver for the best experience. The cruises out of Seattle are all round-trip, and they only use the scenic Inside Passage northbound. On the return, they travel in the open water west of Vancouver Isllamd so you do not see much.

The one-way cruises also have the advantage of. more ports on the way and then a chance to see more of Alaska with a land portion. Rent a car and do this part independently. Include Denali National Park if you have time. We will be returning for our fifth visit to Denali soon. We love that place.

I can also recommend a nice wilderness lodge in Kenai Fjords National Park. This is convenient if you don’t have much extra time post-cruise, since most of the one-way cruises end at Seward.

Posted by
2305 posts

We’ve cruised several times to Alaska. I’d give the Glacier Bay scenery a slight notch over Endicott Arm but all is weather dependent-if it’s raining hard (common) you’ll be watching from behind glass. Our favorite ship to Alaska was the Celebrity Solstice last year. While RT Seattle does mean one way on the Inland Passage it sure is convenient. For one, you can spend a day or two in Seattle before the cruise which is fun. And, the Port of Seattle is very efficient. We got our boarding passes delivered to or cabin the night before disembarkation.

Posted by
1839 posts

It has been many decades since our cruise along Alaska (on a huge, mass-market ship), but the highlights we remember were
1) 100s (the on-board naturalist estimated 300) humpback whale late one evening. Another time during the day one breached right in front of the ship. It was literally Whale City. Our cruise left July 26, so that MIGHT give you a sense of when whale might be more plentiful. But that said, a relative of ours went about the same time another year and nada. If seeing whale is important, you might just Google to find out when they are in greater numbers in the Alaska area (since you are considering late spring vs. summer dates).
2) If your ship offers a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier to participate in dog sledding, do it!! Fabulous.
3) Another shore excursion we did was taking a float plane to a remote area and then Salmon fly fishing, with some bear spotting as a bonus. I learned the skill of setting a hook on that trip.

From everything I see on the news, glacier melt has happened in Alaska, as in other areas throughout the world. So, I really cannot offer much advice on what areas are prettiest now (decades later).

We recall seeing LOTS of eagles.

If we were to go to Alaska again, we would choose a smaller ship than our last Alaskan cruise, just because we have come to prefer smaller ships.

Have a wonderful time. Beautiful area.

Posted by
326 posts

Bigger is not always better. IMHO, a short cruise to Alaska and the Inside Passage (definitely including Glacier Bay) is best enjoyed on a smaller ship than Royal Caribbean. The Alaska ports are very small, there are usually 3-4 ships at each port stop - so 4,000+ passengers from one ship disembarking for a day of sightseeing or adventures is not my idea of fun.

There are seven cruise lines with National Parks permits to visit Glacier Bay - with NP staff on board providing commentary. I would choose one of the smaller ships and an itinerary to my liking.

Posted by
4116 posts

We also cruise on Royal Caribbean and love it.
We did Alaska on NCL because they did Glacier Bay. Don't miss Glacier Bay. You spend several hours there. We also did the Hubbard Glacier.

I suggest taking a cruise that starts in Vancouver and ends in Seward or the reverse. Try to take in Denali on a land tour if possible.
Not sure if May is too early?

Posted by
60 posts

Have you checked at cruisecritic.com? Their discussion board has destination specific and cruise line specific boards, similar to this one.

Posted by
661 posts

I have only done one Alaska Cruise, and it was the itinerary that included Endicott Arm. But I get to AK fairly often for work (72 days this year) and have seen a lot of the interior between Anchorage, Valdez, and Circle. The cruise, which was in July, was disappointing to a lot of the folks on the ship because it rained most of the time. Knowing a bit about the weather my family was prepared and we had a good time.

If I had to do it again I'd fly into Anchorage and take the one way trip south. First because I could take some time to see more of Alaska, and second because it would end in Vancouver, a city I enjoy visiting. I'd plan on two weeks, with two days spent taking the local ferry from Whittier to Valdez and back. You'll see more wildlife and glaciers on those two days than on the entire trip down the Inland Passage.

I'll offer the following suggestions:

Be prepared for rain. If it doesn't happen, great; but it usually rains, and people up in this part of the world don't stop going outside when it does.

Get up early. The time of year you're looking at it's daylight 20+ hours a day. I can guarantee if you're on deck at 5am you'll be almost alone and you'll see the wildlife everyone else will miss.

If you're planning on taking pictures get a really good telephoto lens. 300mm minimum. A cell phone will not do justice to your memories.

Pay attention to the ship schedule. You can't do much if they dock in Victoria (which they have to do by international law) at 7pm. It's not worth standing in line to get off (and back on) for that.

Be patient. It takes a really long time to get on, and off, one of the cruise ships. You'll spend an hour snaking the line off and another standing on the dock waiting to get back on. Plan accordingly.

Unless there's something you just can't do otherwise, don't use the planned adventures. They are expensive, and you can often do better on your own. However, you're going to be competing with 10,000+ other tourists for the same attractions at every stop.

Take the train ride up the pass out of Skagway. Pack a lunch. It's the best thing to do there (by a huge margin) and incredible scenery.

If there's an itinerary that goes to Sitka, seriously consider it.

Take a good book, make friends with the staff, and sit back and enjoy. It's a long slow ride.

Last, it's illegal to maim unsupervised (or poorly trained) children (or their parents). Throwing them overboard is also frowned on. If you have issues with these types it's best to look for an all adult cruise.