Monday, July 8, 2024

What To Know About Alaska Cruises

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Celebrity Eclipse Amenities On The Cruise Ship

Alaska Cruise Tips. 6 Need To Knows Before You Go

The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship has a lot of amenities and activities to keep guests entertained while at sea. The ship has multiple outdoor pools, an adult only pool, hot tubs, spa, fitness center, arcade and games room, teen club, kids club, outdoor basketball court, several bars and lounges, grand theatre, retail shops, casino and a grass lawn on the rooftop observation deck.

Experience Denali National Park

Due to its location quite north of the coast, a visit to Alaskas most popular attraction, Denali National Park, isnt included in your standard cruise itinerary. But a once-in-a-lifetime trip still warrants a visit to one of the countrys most awe-inspiring National Parks, so if you can, schedule your flight a little earlier or later than your cruise departure/arrival and check out the park on your own. Princess Cruises also offers a two-week cruise tour itinerary, where one week of your trip is spent traveling by motorcoach to Denali State and National Parks . Additional excursions and outdoor adventures are offered each day to make sure you make the most of the parks unique desert tundra.

Wait Until Port To Pick Up Anything You Forgot

Its inevitable that youll think of something that you forgot to pack while on the ship. Its just the way things are. If this happens to you, wed suggest waiting until you get into port to pick up whatever you needs. Cruise ships sell staples everything from candy bars to cough medicine but there is an insane markup on the prices. Youll save money and have a wider selection if you wait until the ship ports. There will be a small store or two where you can pick up sundries.

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Here Are A Few Alaska Whale Watching Tours:

Travel tip bring a pair of binoculars with you . We contemplated purchasing binoculars at the cruise ship terminal in Vancouver but decided not to. In hindsight, we should have bought the binoculars. Our neighbour let us borrow her binoculars and we were able to clearly see the humpbacks breaching. It was amazing.

This humpback whale surfaced right beside the cruise ship. It was incredible!

A humpback whale waves goodbye as it descends under water. See more photos here.

Packing For An Alaska Cruise

All You Need to Know About Alaska Cruises »

First things first, before you even start thinking about what items to pack you probably are wondering if you can take a suitcase, or if you should have a soft bag for a cruise. Cruise cabins are not huge, but they are well designed to maximise the space and provide large wardrobes, plenty of drawers and usually space to store your hard shell suitcases.

On our recent cruise with Carnival we had two large suitcases and we had plenty of space to hang up all of our clothes and store the cases in the wardrobe. However, if you prefer travelling with a soft bag this will also ensure you can tuck it away in a wardrobe too.

In terms of clothing for an Alaska Cruise, definitely bring warm items and most importantly a windbreaker jacket. Even when the sun is shining and warm , the wind on the upper decks can be chilly. One of the best parts of an Alaskan cruise is that there is usually a beautiful landscape to enjoy as you sail so you will want to be on deck for most of it.

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Bring some hats, gloves, good walking shoes or boots, and other warm weather gear for your day trips. A rain jacket and umbrella is also advised as Alaska weather can often be overcast and rainy so be prepared for that.

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Do I Have To Take A Cruise To Visit Alaska

While it may seem like most people who visit Alaska do so by cruise ship, the answer to this question is no! There are plenty of ways to experience the Great Land without setting sail, and theres so much to see and do that you could spend two months exclusively on land and not feel like youre missing a thing.

That said, cruising is one of the best ways to see Alaska because there are so many incredible parts of the state that are difficult or impossible to access by car. Taking a cruise allows you to experience places like Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan that would otherwise take a lot of time, effort, and expense to visit, and to do it all in a week or less.

Many people balk at the idea of taking an Alaskan cruise because they are not generally cruise people. Maybe the idea of being confined to a ship with hundreds to thousands of other people doesnt really appeal to them, maybe theyre not big drinkers or gamblers, maybe theyre not interested in getting dressed up for dinner. While these objections are valid, I would also argue that Alaska cruises feel different from other cruises and are, in many ways, the anti-cruisers cruise. Theyre much more casual, much more adventurous, and often have a lot of first-time cruisers onboard, which gives them a feel that is unique, comfortable, and accessible.

Best For Couples And Big Celebrations

Look to the luxury cruise lines if youre a couple and enjoy spacious suites, gourmet food, pampering and the opportunity to meet other like-minded cruisers. The personalized service and all-inclusive nature of luxury voyages may also be attractive to anyone celebrating a milestone, such as an anniversary, big birthday or retirement. Look at Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Scenic, Seabourn, Silversea , Windstar Cruises and Viking Ocean.

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Disney Alaska Cruise Overview

A Disney Alaska cruise is similarly just about as enchanted as it sounds, with diversion, food, and lodges made only for families and fun. Take a 5-to 9-night summer cruise with Disney, most of which leave from Vancouver. Visit Skagway, Juneau, and Icy Strait Point, which is home to the worlds biggest Tlingit town.

With fjords, icy masses, cascades, and whale sightings right external your window, youll be encircled by normal wonder the whole excursion. While Disney is equipped at families, with exercises going from port encounters to dance clubs and a loosening up salon and spa for solitary tourists and those without youngsters.

Spend The Extra Money On The Excursions

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Excursions arent normally included with your cruise fare. Youll need to pay extra to experience them. We highly recommend spending the extra money. Excursions in Alaska are experiences you simply cant find anywhere else in the world. And while they may be pricey, the memories youll have from them will last a lifetime. If theres one time to splurge extra, its on an Alaskan cruise.

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Riding The Rails Could Be Exciting Or Not

The Alaska Railroad — which traverses the long distance between Anchorage and Talkeetna, and on to Denali — is a can’t-miss experience, but be sure you know what you’re getting.

You’ll pass some beautiful scenery, most notably Hurricane Gulch Bridge, where the train crosses a 918-foot bridge poised some 296 feet above a creek. Unfortunately, the viewing platform can be crowded with other travelers blocking views and viewfinders. You’ll see crazy, colorful homestead cabins in the middle of nowhere, in addition to a stunning natural palette.

Cruise lines tend to hype the rail portion: double-decker, glass-domed cars with 360-degree views, outdoor viewing platforms, a dining room with regional specialties. Instead, you could spend four hours at a stretch with carry-on bags squashed at your feet watching a bunch of trees go by, hoping that one of them was a moose.

Train hosts provide commentary about Alaska and the railroad’s route, which can be enriching . And depending on your ticket, a spiked coffee to sip while you listen might be included.

Cruise Hack #: Free Onboard Credits

Many cruises offer onboard credits for free to military veterans, senior citizens, and disabled people. For us, Julies Dad is a veteran and as a result he got a $100 onboard credit to use as he pleased!

He could use his onboard credit to buy drinks, souvenirs on board, snacks, he could use it really anywhere except the casino. You could even use it to book excursions through the cruise line, though we dont recommend that

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Pack Extra Camera Batteries And Sd Cards

I know I keep saying to always have your camera with you but please trust me when I say you will take more pictures than you think you will. We have come back from Alaska Cruises with over 10,000 photos. I am a little heavy with the shutter taking pics but still.

Having extra camera batteries and SD Cards will make sure you can get that epic shot.

Day 7 Victoria British Columbia

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From Ketchikan, we traveled 587 miles to Victoria, British Columbia. Most of this day we spent at sea on the Holland America Line Alaskan Cruise. We arrived in Victoria close to 6 pm.

Keith and booked a shore excursion thru the ship that was a walking tour of Victoria. The walking tour was a big group, approximately 40 people. In retrospect, we would not do this again. We know that we like smaller groups or private tours, and at the docks, there were both for hire.

The problems with a big group are taking photos and hearing the guide. Our guide should have been miked but was not. For example, we came upon this enormous Chartuse Rhododendron shrub in full bloom. But there were so many people clamoring to take pictures of it that only a few people actually got a good picture without other people from the tour. The tour did not stop at this shrub, so unless you were the first or second person to see it you were not getting a good shot. As a side note, we did learn that Victoria has a very mild climate, so gardens bloom year-round.

The Rhododendron shrub

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Visit A Sled Dog Camp

Another popular shore excursion, Skagway and are home to some of the states most prestigious young learners: sled dog puppies. Come meet the dogs training to be future Iditarod champions and try out mushing yourself . And then of course meet and cuddle with the puppies, and try your hardest not to sneak them back on the ship with you.

Pack And Dress In Layers For Your Alaskan Cruise

Typically when I go on a cruise, I pack a handful of bathing suits, some cover-ups, flip flops, and a couple of dress-up outfits for the cruise itself. For an Alaskan cruise, you have to pack everything from swim suits to formal dresses to rain coats and even hats and gloves.

Just because Alaskan cruises cruise in the warmer months of the year doesnt mean its going to be warm in Alaska or on the boat itself in the middle of the ocean. You could have a beautiful sunny day where you can walk around in jeans and a t-shirt and then other days you could be bundled up in a hoodie, rain gear, and a scarf. Alaskan weather is finicky so pack enough options that you can wear something comfortable no matter what the weather is like.

If you forget a rain coat or dont want to pack one, you can actually get a nice quality one in Alaska on one of your in port days for super cheap. Both my husband and I ended up buying ones on our cruise to Alaska that we still use today.

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Prebook Your Juneau Excursions

Juneau is one place you do not want to be left behind. With no roads leading to the next port, if you miss the ship in Juneau, you will either need to charter a boat or a private plane to catch up to your cruise. However, if you book Juneau Alaska cruise excursions with the ship, they guarantee to get you back. You can find a similar worry-free guarantee on some Viator shore excursions to Juneau.

The Specialty Restaurants On The Celebrity Eclipse:

5 things to do on an Alaskan cruise!
  • Le Petit Chef At Qsine experience the fusion of entertainment and French cuisine.
  • Sushi on Five modern luxury take on traditional Japanese fare.
  • Tuscan Gille Italian ristorante and enoteca with a contemporary twist.
  • Murano Classic French dishes with a contemporary twist.
  • Blu inventive cuisine with an extensive list of sustainable and biodynamic wines.

We received one complimentary specialty dining experience.

Im not sure if this is the standard, though. We were offered this specialty dining experience for the last night on the ship.

We may have been offered this specialty dinner because our parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary . Or, it may have been because the specialty restaurants had available seating that was unsold and they wanted to fill the room.

Im not sure why, but it was a nice gesture and we enjoyed the experience. It was a fun change of pace from the main dining restaurant.

Note we did not work with Celebrity Cruises, so this complimentary specialty dinner had nothing to do with our travel blog .

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Laundry Facilities Are Onboard

There are laundry facilities available on the ship and in some of the lodges. They are typically self serve machines, and the typical rates are $3 per load for wash and $3 for dryer. You can purchase laundry soap on board or bring your own. On the ship, they use tokens which you can purchase from your cruise card/medallion out of your onboard credits.

Should I Book An Outside Cabin Or Balcony

Thats a never-ending debate among veteran cruisers, but if theres any destination that seems tailor-made for balcony staterooms, its Alaska. A significant portion of the time spent cruising in Alaskan waters is incredibly scenic. Book on the starboard side of the ship for northbound itineraries, and on the port side of the ship for southbound itineraries.

Another benefit to balcony staterooms is that travelers can step outside to gauge the weather when dressing for their day. Alaskan weather patterns can be deceptiveviewed through a window, a crisp sunny day can appear warmer than it really is, or a stiff breeze requiring a windbreaker may not be readily apparent.

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Which Cruise Line Is Best For Alaska

Nearly every major cruise line sails to Alaska, so you have your pick of price points and onboard personalities.

Among the big-ship lines, Holland America and Princess are known as the Alaska experts. These lines typically base the most ships in this region every summer, and offer the largest selection of cruises and cruise tours. They schedule Alaska-specific special events onboard, such as Princess Puppies in the Piazza and Klondike Festival, and even have their own train cars and hotel properties in Denali and Fairbanks.

However, if other lines, such as Royal Caribbean or Norwegian, suit your familys needs and budget better, you will still have a wonderful cruise vacation in Alaska. You might find that these lines offer more competitive pricing, your preferred onboard activities, or more robust kids programming, making them the best Alaska cruise choice for you.

Travelers looking for luxury should consider upscale lines such as Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Silversea. These cruise lines offer more intimate ships, inclusive fares, and attentive service, but wont have as many onboard attractions or as expansive kids facilities or activities as the bigger ships.

Choose expedition cruise lines, such as UnCruise Adventures, American Cruise Line, or Alaskan Dream Cruises, for intimate, adventure-focused ships that sail off the beaten path.

Food Photos From Moonlight Sonata Restaurant

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We took photos of most of the dishes served in the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant.

As you can see, the restaurant offers a variety of appetizers, entrees and desserts. We were impressed by the selection and quality of the food on the cruise ship. It exceeded our expectations.

Unfortunately, we did not take a photo of the menu each day, so I dont have the formal names and ingredients of each of these dishes. Ill let the photos do the talking.

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Hooray for dairy free ice cream! The ship provides a decent amount of dairy free options for Connor.

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Pack A Backup Cell Phone Charger

We end up using our phones so much that we are always worried about the battery dying. The last thing you want is to see a whale or bear and realize your phone battery is dead.

I always carry a backup phone charger with me just in case. I wish we would have known this Alaska Cruise Tip on our first cruise! My phone was dead half the cruise.

Consider A Land Tour Before Or After Your Cruise

Cruises to Alaska primarily visit the states southeast region. Many of Alaskas most iconic landmarks, such as Denali National Park, are located further inland and inaccessible by a cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean recognizes that many passengers want to visit Alaskas inland destinations. Thus, they offer Alaska Cruise Tours.

Alaska Cruise Tours are a combination of a one way cruise and a land tour of Alaska. Both pre and post-cruise tours are available, meaning that you can decide to fly one-way to Alaska, do a land tour, and take a cruise back to Seattle or Vancouver, or do it the other way around. Land tours range from an extra 2-5 nights on land in addition to your time on a cruise ship.

Land tours offer a mix of guided tours and independent exploring. All accommodation and transportation is organized by Royal Caribbean, making your time on land worry free. Activities and excursions on a land tour may include boarding the Wilderness Express scenic train ride to Denali, cruising the Chena River in Fairbanks, and enjoying a scenic ride on the Turnagain Arm Drive near Seward.

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