Arrival in Vancouver

June 3, 2016

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and today was the end of our second Alaska cruise. Since this was a one way cruise, we ended our trip in Vancouver, Canada. The first time we took this cruise, we opted to take the Amtrak to Seattle for cheaper flight options. This year, however, we were able to get a better deal out of Vancouver.

The turnaround time for a cruise ship is fairly quick; new passengers can embark as early as 11AM. Because of this, we had to be out of our room by 8AM and we were off the ship fairly soon after. Our flight wasn’t until 4PM, so we decided to visit the Vancouver Lookout for some cityscape views and then to take our brothers out for some yakiniku at one of our favorite restaurants.

From the Canada Place cruise ship dock the Vancouver Lookout is only 5 blocks away so it was a very short walk. Considering we had all our luggage with us this was definitely appreciated. As always, the views from the Lookout where amazing and it was a very enjoyable start to the day.

Once we had finished at the Lookout we grabbed a cab and went to Gyu Kaku. This is a chain yakiniku restaurant (Japanese style Korean BBQ) where you order various cuts of raw meat and grill them yourself. Each table has a gas grill in the middle and it’s a really fun experience to do in a group. Gyu Kaku is a major chain in Japan that has started to spread internationally, and we tend to visit whenever we are in a city that has one.

After enjoying our last lunch together this trip, it was time to catch a cab to the airport. Our second Alaska cruise was just as amazing as the first, and I’m certain it won’t be our last.

Previous DayReturn to Itinerary

Selected Excursions in Vancouver from our partners

Alaska Cruise Take Two


An adventure lasting 12 days from May 22nd, 2016 to June 3rd, 2016.
Total Cost: $6211.17

Typically we try to spread around our vacations a bit and go somewhere new before repeating a vacation, but Alaska is a notable exception. First and foremost, Alaska cruises are absolutely stunning. Secondly, as we were living in Alaska at this time it was a very budget friendly option. Finally, for this trip we had some family members visiting us in Alaska, and we wanted to show them some more of the state.

Alaska is a very remote state, and there aren’t roads between many of the cities. In order to traverse most of Alaska, you are limited to dog sled, bush plane, or cruise ship. When my two brother-in-laws came up to visit us in Anchorage, we knew we wanted to show them around via cruise. Primarily because we love cruises so much, but also because it is much more economical. One way cruises between Canada and Alaska tend to be much cheaper than their round-trip Seattle counterparts. 

In order to keep the price down even more, we opted to do a single cabin for all four of us. All four of us were fully grown adults; ages 27, 27, 21, and 19. If you have ever taken a cruise before, you likely know that the cabins are not super spacious. It can occasionally feel cramped with just two adults, let alone four, but we wanted to see if we could make it work. Ultimately it did work out just fine, but we are also a very close family, and three of the four of us are on the smaller side.

When booking a cruise cabin for more than two people, there are generally two options. The first is to have a room with a pullout sofa bed. If the room is designed to sleep three, the sofa bed will pull out to a twin mattress. If the room sleeps four, the mattress will be a slightly larger double. The other option, and what we went with on this trip, is a pullman bed. These beds are sort of like bunk beds in appearance and pull out from the wall. During the day the room steward folded the bed back into the wall, and remade it while we were at dinner each night.

Example of a Pullman Bed – Courtesy of CruiseCritic user ChristienJ

Pullman beds do have a weight limit and generally are better suited for younger or smaller passengers. We did not have any complaints or issues, but it is definitely not something that every family would handle well. Whether it is better to get two cabins or share one is a decision unique to every family and every trip, and we’d be happy to help you make the best decision when planning your own adventure.

Below you can see our full itinerary along with links to more detailed reviews and pictures of each day. If you are ready to book your own Alaska cruise, contact us today.

DateItinerary
May 25th, 2016Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and Whittier
May 26th, 2016Train to Seward and Exit Glacier
May 27th, 2016Sea Life Center and Boarding the Radiance of the Seas
May 28th, 2016Hubbard Glacier
May 29th, 2016Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls
May 30th, 2016Skagway - Alaskan Hikes
May 31st, 2016Icy Strait Point - Hoonah Whale Watching
June 1st, 2016Ketchikan - Snorkeling... in Alaska?!?
June 2nd, 2016Cruising the Inside Passage
June 3rd, 2016Arrival in Vancouver

Alaska Cruise Tours

Cruise Tours can be a great way to see the sights in Banff National Park

The Alaska Cruising season is in full swing, and here at Adventures With Anthony we are celebrating Alaska Week. Come back everyday this week for a new article about Alaska Cruises, and find out why Alaska is not only our personal favorite cruise destination, but also the most popular cruise destination for our clients.

Today’s post is all about the cruise tour options available on Alaska cruises.

What is a cruise tour?

Simply put, a cruise tour is a land portion added on either the front- or back-end of a cruise. Cruise tours are only available on the one-way Alaska cruises that either start or end in Alaska. If you’re on a cruise that starts in Alaska, your cruise tour will be in the days before the cruise departs. If you’re cruise starts in Vancouver and ends in Alaska then your cruise tour will start when the cruise ends.

These tours are fully guided and you will have a choice of a dew different itineraries, just like with your cruise.

How long are cruise tours?

Most cruise tours add an additional 2 to 5 nights on land, but there are some cruise tours that last much longer. For example, Royal Caribbean has a 19 Night Ultimate Alaska and Canada cruise tour. This option includes a 7 night cruise, 7 night land tour in Alaska, and 5 night land tour in Canada.

Some sample 3 night Alaska cruise tours from Royal Caribbean

Where do cruise tours visit?

Denali National Park is a popular cruise tour option with amazing hikes and views

Most Alaska cruise tours, even the shortest two day options, will visit Denali National Park and Fairbanks in the Alaska interior. They also typically include tours around Seward, where the ship docks, and occasionally downtown Anchorage as well.

There are also cruise tour options on the Canada side of an Alaska cruise. These often include visits to Banff and the Jasper Ice Fields. We got to see both of these sights on our Alaska road trip, and they are definitely worth a visit at least once.

Longer cruise tours will of course visit more cities. Other potential stops on cruise tours include Alyeska, Talkeetna, and Whittier in Alaska or Lake Louise, Calgary, and Vancouver in Canada.

This is the last of our scheduled posts for Alaska Week, but there is still a lot of information available about Alaska cruises. If you are ready to book an Alaska adventure or have questions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to us.

Closed Loop or One Way Alaska Cruises

Seward has some amazing views, but they aren’t available on most Seattle based cruises

The Alaska Cruising season is in full swing, and here at Adventures With Anthony we are celebrating Alaska Week. Come back everyday this week for a new article about Alaska Cruises, and find out why Alaska is not only our personal favorite cruise destination, but also the most popular cruise destination for our clients.

Today’s post is all about the differences between round-trip and one way Alaska cruises. Read on to learn which cruise is right for you.

Why the different types of cruises?

Simply put, cruise lines have to abide by the Passenger Vessel Service Act, sometimes erroneously called the Jones Act. We touched briefly on the PVSA in our post on Hawaii cruises, but essentially the PVSA means that cruise lines have to visit a “distant foreign port” if doing a closed loop cruise. Closed loop is just a fancy term for a round trip cruise; the cruise starts and ends at the same port making a full loop.

Seattle is much closer to Canada than Anchorage is, so ships can easily leave Seattle, visit a port in Canada (often Victoria, British Columbia), and return to Seattle on a 7 night cruise. Cruises departing from Seward (or Whittier) Alaska, on the other hand, cannot. Therefore, these cruises have to either be 14 nights, or a one way cruise that does not start and end in a US port.

What are the differences?

The main difference right off the bat is of course the departure and arrival ports. One way Alaska cruises also often visit more ports than their closed loop counterparts, in part because they don’t have to budget time for the return trip. The two cruises also share many ports of call, but also have a few different stops, and the prices can be quite different on the two cruises as well.

Common Ports

Whale watching is very popular in Hoonah, but Seattle based cruises often miss this port

Both closed loop and one way Alaska cruises often stop at Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway and include a “glacier experience”. Cruises from Seattle often visit Glacier Bay, although some will visit Tracy Arm Fjord, Sawyer Glacier, or Hubbard Glacier. Seattle cruises also typically visit Victoria, British Columbia, often for a very short stop. This stop is pretty much just to meet the PVSA requirements, and it isn’t unheard of for a ship to only be in Victoria for a couple hours.

One way Alaska cruises can often visit Icy Strait Point, also called Hoonah. This native village has arguably the best whale watching of the typical Alaska ports, but is rarely visited by Seattle based cruises. The departure/arrival towns of Seward or Whittier are also not often visited by Seattle cruises.

Different Ships

Like we mentioned yesterday, both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have big ships coming to Alaska. Both of these new ships will be sailing round trip from Seattle. Seattle is just able to handle much larger ships, so this will likely be a trend we see continuing. This is not necessarily a good or a bad thing. We absolutely love sailing Alaska on the Radiance of the Seas, a much smaller ship with a lot of viewing space.

Cruise Tours

We will discuss cruise tours in more detail on Friday, but only the one way Alaska cruises offer a land portion option. These cruise tours add a few extra days onto the Alaska end of your cruise for a guided land tour. The exact tours vary, but often they take time to visit Denali National Park and a few other areas around Alaska that can’t be reached by ship.

Cost

This is always a concern of cruisers, but is the hardest to really pin down. The one way cruises are often quite a bit cheaper than their closed loop cousins, but at the same time airfare is often cheaper for a round trip flight to Seattle. On the one way Alaska cruises, you have to purchase two one way plane tickets since your cruise does not start and end at the same place. Flights to Anchorage are often more expensive than flights to Seattle, and since the port is not actually in Anchorage, you also have to pay for transportation between Anchorage and Seward or Whittier. Our personal favorite method of transportation to the port is the Alaska Railroad, and in my opinion that is well worth any additional cost.

Mirror Lake is one of the highlights of the train ride between Anchorage and Seward

The exact costs of cruise and airfare can vary widely from cruise to cruise, so make sure you reach out to us to figure out what your best bet would be.

Introduction to Alaska Cruises

Welcome to Alaska – The Last Frontier

The Alaska Cruising season is in full swing, and here at Adventures With Anthony we are celebrating Alaska Week. Come back everyday this week for a new article about Alaska Cruises, and find out why Alaska is not only our personal favorite cruise destination, but also the most popular cruise destination for our clients.

Today’s post is a basic introduction to Alaska cruises. Read on for a basic overview of the ships, ports, and experiences that make Alaska cruising so popular.

Types of Alaska Cruises

There are two main types of Alaska Cruises. The first is a closed-loop, or round trip cruise. These cruises depart from and return to Seattle, Washington. They are most often 7 night, although this year Holland America has a special 14 night version.

The second type of cruises are one-way, and travel between Alaska and Canada. The Southbound cruise runs from Alaska, typically Seward or Whittier, to Vancouver, British Columbia. These cruises are most often 7 nights, and have to end in a non-US port due to the Passenger Vessel Service Act. Because they don’t need to take the time for a return trip, these cruises often visit more ports in Alaska than the Seattle cruises.

The one-way cruises also have the benefit of being combinable with cruisetours. These are extended land portions around Alaska that allow you to see more areas of Alaska. Mount Denali, Fairbanks, and Talkeetna are common stops on cruisetours. Keep an eye out later this week; we will have posts dedicated to comparing the two types of Alaska cruises, as well as a post detailing cruisetour options.

The Cruise Lines

Radiance of the Seas in port at Skagway, Alaska

Most major cruiselines sail Alaska itineraries, but there are a few differences. Below are some of the most popular Alaska cruise lines, in alphabetic order.

  • Carnival – Only offers Seattle RT cruises and one Vancouver to Seattle cruise.
  • Celebrity
  • Disney – 5, 7, and 9 Night cruises from Vancouver
  • Holland America – Has the only ship with stops in Anchorage
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess – Departs from Whittier, Alaska instead of Seward
  • Royal Caribbean – Will have the largest ship sailing Alaska in 2019
The Ports

Historic Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska

There are a wide variety of ports availaible on Alaska cruises, but we will list a few of the most common ports below. Later this week we will have a dedicated post detailing the best excursions available in each port.

  • Seward

    The most common start/end port for cruises in Alaska. About 2 hours south of Anchorage, Seward is a beautiful coastal town. Highlights of Seward include the Sealife Center and Exit Glacier.

  • Whittier

    Whittier is where Princess cruises start/end their Alaska cruises. Whittier is about an hour and a half from Anchorage, although there is a one-way tunnel that is only open at set times for traffic. This can add an extra hour to your drive if you have a cruise departing from Whittier. Located in Prince William Sound, there are a number of whale watching and coastal cruises offered in Whittier.

  • Juneau

    Juneau is Alaska’s capital. Mendenhall Glacier is Juneau’s most famous landmark, but Mount Roberts is also a very popular site. There is also the Red Dog Saloon, and excellent whale watching opportunities.

  • Skagway

    Skagway was a crucial town during the Alaska gold rush, and still has many museums showcasing the gold rush. The White Pass Railway is Skagway’s main claim to fame.

  • Ketchikan

    “Where men and salmon come upstream to spawn.” Ketchikan has a famous historic red light district and salmon fisheries. It is also located near the Tongass National Forest.

  • Icy Strait Point/Hoonah

    Technically two distinct entities, Hoonah is a local Native Alaskan village, and Icy Strait Point is the cruise industry’s port area. This island is prime for wildlife viewings, with a large bear population and some of the best whale watching opportunities in Alaska.

These are just a sampling of ports you may stop at on an Alaska cruise. Less common ports can include Homer, Sitka, Haines, and others. Cruises also often sail past either Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, or Tracy Arm Fjord.

Highlights of an Alaska Cruise

A pair of wood bison in Portage, Alaska

There are many things that you can experience on an Alaska cruise that you won’t find on other cruises. Some of the typical highlights of Alaska cruises include:

  • Wildlife – Bears, moose, bison, and whales are all common Alaska wildlife, but you can also see deer, otters, seals, and porpoises. Alaska is a haven for all sorts of land and marine wildlife.
  • Glaciers – Although they are shrinking, Alaska is still home to a number of very impressive glaciers. Go for a hike, a helicopter tour, or a dog sled ride to see these natural beauties before they are all gone.
  • Seafood and Fishing – Alaska has some excellent seafood that you can enjoy fresh while on an Alaska cruise. Alaskan King Crab is a local favorite, as is halibut. If you are a fisher, nothing says Alaska adventure like going out on a halibut fishing charter.
  • Culture and History – From the Native People, to the gold rush, to the modern last frontier, Alaska is filled with unique culture and history to explore.
  • Nature – Alaska has a wide variety of natural sights. Mountains, glaciers, lakes, and even a rainforest. If you are an avid outdoor explorer or hiker, Alaska has nearly every type of terrain available to explore.

Make sure you come back tomorrow for our next entry in Alaska Cruise Week. And if you’re already ready to book your next Alaska adventure, reach out and let us help you plan your new favorite cruise.

Royal Caribbean 2019/2020 Deployment

** UPDATE ** – Royal Caribbean has made some changes to the schedules for Empress, Enchantment, Majesty, and Vision. See the updates here.

Royal Caribbean just announced the first half of their 2019/2020 deployment and there are some BIG changes in store. Today’s announcement includes the deployment for Caribbean, Alaskan, Northeast, and select European cruises. You will be able to book these cruises starting next week, and reserving early often gets the best deal. Royal Caribbean will announce the remaining cruises, including Asia, Australia, and the rest of Europe, next spring. We are very excited with the information that has already been released, and are looking forward to more details.

Caribbean Cruises

The Pitons on Saint Lucia

As their name implies, the majority of Royal Caribbean’s offerings are in the Caribbean. They are sending 13 of their 25 ships to the Caribbean for the summer of 2019 into 2020. The cruises will range from 3 to 8 nights and visit Mexico, the Bahamas, and Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean islands. You will also have a lot of options, with cruises leaving from Galveston, three ports in Florida, Boston, Baltimore, Newark, and San Juan.

Short Caribbean Adventures

If you are new to cruising or are just looking for a short trip, Royal Caribbean has you covered. The Navigator of the Seas and the brand new Symphony of the Seas will both be making 3 and 4 night cruises to the Bahamas from Miami. Also leaving from Florida, the fully reimagined Mariner of the Seas will be making the same cruise from Orlando. For something a little different, you can also take the Enchantment of the Seas from Galveston, Texas. The Enchantment will be making 4 and 5 night trips to Mexico and the Western Caribbean. These shorter itineraries will be available for bookings starting the week of November 20th.

7 Night Caribbean Adventures

A main staple among cruise lines, 7 night cruises are a great way to get the full cruise experience when you don’t have a lot of time. All four of the Oasis Class of ships – Oasis, Allure, Harmony, and Symphony – will be based in Florida. Both Oasis and Symphony will be departing from Miami on alternating Eastern and Western itineraries. The Allure of the Seas will be moving to Fort Lauderdale, and Harmony will go to Port Canaveral/Orlando. They will both also be alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. In addition to the Florida offerings, Liberty of the Seas will be taking 7 night Western Caribbean cruises from Galveston, Texas.

If you want something a little more exotic, the Freedom of the Seas will be departing San Juan, Puerto Rico for the Southern Caribbean. Our own very first cruise was on this itinerary. The Southern itineraries tend to have more ports than their Eastern and Western alternatives. So, if you like visiting as many places as possible, this might be the perfect cruise for you. These will be the first cruises available to be booked, with reservations opening the week of November 13th.

The Streets of Old San Juan

East Coast to Bermuda

There are also a variety of options to visit the Caribbean from the east coast. The Anthem of the Seas will continue sailing from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on 5 night cruises to the Bahamas and 9 night cruises to the Caribbean. Also at Cape Liberty is the Adventure of the Seas, offering 8 night cruises to Bermuda and the Bahamas. In the fall of 2019, the Serenade of the Seas will offer some 7 night cruises to Bermuda from Boston, while the Grandeur of the Seas will alternate 5 and 9 night Bermuda/Bahamas cruises from Baltimore, Maryland. These will all be available starting the week of December 4th.

Canada and New England

Burntcoat Head Park – Nova Scotia

All of the ships from the East Coast above will also be offering summer cruises to New England and Canada. Typically, these ships will alternate itineraries, going to Bermuda one week and Canada the next. Adventure of the Seas out of Cape Liberty will offer both the longest and the shortest of these itineraries to Canada. In the summer Adventure will be taking 5 night cruises to Canada and New England, while in the fall she will offer 10 and 11 night cruises. These longer cruises are one way trips; going from Cape Liberty to Quebec City on one cruise, and then returning on the next. Currently, this is the only itinerary Royal Caribbean is offering that visits Quebec City.

The Anthem of the Seas will also be visiting Canada and New England from Cape Liberty. This is a cruise we have done before, and visits Boston, Bar Harbor, Portland, New Brunswick, and Halifax. This cruise will be 9 nights long and will only be available during the fall months. The Anthem is a Quantum Class ship and has a lot of the big amenities that make Royal Caribbean so much fun to sail. The Serenade of the Seas will be offering a similar, 7 night option. Since the Serenade leaves from Boston it is able to complete the remainder of the itinerary faster than the Anthem. The Serenade is also a slightly smaller ship, and as such may be a better option for some cruisers.

Finally, the Grandeur of the Seas is your only option for sailing to Canada and New England in the summer months. Sailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Grandeur will be making 9 night cruises up the eastern coast. All of these options will become available for bookings starting December 4th.

Europe and the Mediterranean

Mediterranean

There are some big changes in store for European cruises. Royal Caribbean is adding a brand new port, Portofino, Italy, to select European cruise itineraries. This stop is currently scheduled to be added to the 7 night Mediterranean cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas. This will be running only during the fall months, leaving from Barcelona, Spain. During the summer, the Brilliance will be sailing out of Amsterdam on 10 night cruises to the Iberian Peninsula and 12 nights to the Baltics.

Aside from the Brilliance, the Oasis of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will also be sailing from Barcelona. The Oasis will be sailing 7 night Western Mediterranean cruises in the summer before repositioning to Miami. The Vision will be alternating 12 night Mediterranean itineraries, switching between visiting the Greek Isles and Venice.

If you would rather start your trip in Venice, the Rhapsody of the Seas will be leaving from there. The Rhapsody will sail alternating 7 night cruises; one to the Greek Isles and one to Greece and Croatia. The Greece and Croatia route will have brand new ports that Royal Caribbean ships have never visited before. The exact ports which are new to this itinerary have not been identified yet, but should be announced by the beginning of December. Also leaving from Italy will be the Jewel of the Seas. The Jewel will be going on 7 and 9 night cruises to the Greek Isles and Western Mediterranean from Rome.

Scandanavia and Russia

The last ship that is scheduled for summer European sailings is the Serenade of the Seas. The Serenade will spend the summer in Copenhagen before transitioning across the Atlantic for fall in Canada and New England. While in Copenhagen the Serenade will be going on 7 night cruises, alternating between the Norwegian Fjords one week and Russia the next. The first round of European sailings will be available for booking starting December 11th.

Alaska

Alaska is going to have some really exciting changes for 2019. The Radiance of the Seas will return once again to complete the open jaw 7 night cruises through the Inside Passage. The Radiance has been a staple ship in Alaska for several years, and is one of our favorite cruises. We have actually taken the Southbound Alaska cruise on the Radiance twice. This cruise goes from Seward Alaska to Vancouver, Canada and then back the next week, visiting Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and the Hubbard Glacier.

The big change for 2019 is the Ovation of the Seas will be replacing the Explorer of the Seas for Alaska glacier cruises. The Ovation is a Quantum Class ship and is much larger than the typical ships which sail to Alaska. The Ovation also has the North Star Observation platform, which promises some outstanding views of wild Alaska. It will be ported in Seattle, Washington, and will take 7 night, round trip cruises. The current itineraries that the Explorer takes visit Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm Fjord, and Victoria, British Columbia. Royal Caribbean has not yet confirmed if Ovation will be following the same route, just that it will go on Alaska cruises from Seattle. Both Alaska cruises will be available starting December 11th.

North Star Observation Pod

Plan a Cruise

The initial deployment schedule looks very promising, and we are very excited to see what details will come out over the next month. While 2019 and 2020 seem fairly far away, the nature of cruises often means the earlier you can book the better price you will get. Reach out today to find your perfect cruise. Don’t forget, we offer a lowest price guarantee. If a better deal is available after you book until final payment, we will get you the lower price.

Royal Caribbean 2019-2020 Deployment