Barb Vegas writes:
I have learned that with a good travel agent or even with doing your homework, you can and will find better air fares than the cruise lines offer. Benefits include your choice of flights and time of arrivals & departures. Also if sailing out of Vancouver, you can get a flight to Vancouver when the cruise lines can't. They book in volume and have to settle for a jumbo jet to Seattle. If you book it, there are 20 & 30 seat planes going to Vancouver. This avoids the hassle at Seattle of meeting the cruise reps, fighting baggage and moving to a line to board busses for that LONG RIDE to the Vancouver port where you have to fight all over again to get on the ship. Also the walk to the port is longer by bus since the bus doesn't stop there. A taxi is nicer,more relaxing and helps to prepare for a much more relaxed and enjoyable time on board.
My view is to take short trips at the ports you visit. Remember that you have a very limited time in each port, so try to get an overview of the best sights and then, if you booked your own airline flights, you can extend your stay and visit as many sights as you wish after the cruise is over.
Ken Ostick from Calgary writes:
My wife and I have taken a cruise from Vancouver to Seward and back. We also live in Western Canada and know the climate. The best time to go is as close to the 20th of June as possible to get the longest daylight hours. Always include some rain wear and a few good wool sweaters. 65 degs F can be a warm day, and the closer you get to a glacier the colder it gets if the sun is not visible.
All of the ports of call are similar to each other (i.e. small fishing towns) but some have local history (e.g. Sitka). Valdez is an oil terminal and a dump. Unless your land tour is organised by the ship I would suggest a land tour after the cruise, and to avoid all of the black fly inland from the Alaska coast and the Yukon, try British Columbia. Vancouver and the Islands are superb.
For the U.S. readers your dollar will go a lot further in B.C.
There are so many ships in Alaska in the summer that cruisers out number the residents by a large margin at most of the stops.
Raymond B. Good writes:
We won a cruise to Alaska on the Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam. The weather was sunny and in the 50-70s all week (July) except for our day cruising Glacier Bay. That day was bone chilling, but gloves, a hat, a lot of layers, and a Gore-Tex windbreaker, made it possible to spend a lot of time on deck to enjoy the views, which were spectacular. The ship also had barrels of red plaid blankets to use on deck, and passed out hot apple cider.
Dont waste time shopping unless you are too sick to get around. There are wonderful sights to see in each port. We saved a lot of money by buying tours right off the ship in Ketchikan and Juneau at kiosks. In Sitka we were able to walk everywhere for free. Wish we could go again!
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please