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.

Popular Excursions on Alaska Cruises

Alaska has a lot of great sights and experiences to enjoy

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 excursions available when cruising Alaska. Read on for some of the best experiences you can look forward to in Alaska.

Seward

Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier is a popular hiking destination in Seward. Know what to do if you run into a bear!

Exit Glacier is a very popular glacial hike in Seward. It is considered a “drive-up” glacier and has several miles of hiking trails, ultimately leading to the Harding Icefield. The Icefield itself is a bit of a strenuous hike, but there are several paths along Exit Glacier that are viable for hiker’s of any skill.

Alaska SeaLife Center
The Alaska SeaLife Center has a wide variety of fish, seabirds, and marine mammals.

The SeaLife Center in Seward is a combination marine sanctuary and aquarium. It is Alaska’s only permanent marine mammal rehabilitation facility and the entrance fee goes to help their rehabilitation efforts. Admission rates for adults are $25 a person, and you should plan on spending 2-3 hours at the center.

Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier
Nugget Falls is a popular and easy hike at Mendenhall Glacier.

By far the most popular attraction in Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier is a drive-up glacier with a number of great hikes. There are several shuttle buses that run between the cruise port and Mendenhall. You can also get a taxi or a private shuttle if you would prefer. At Mendenhall, you can see Nugget Falls on a very short and paved hike, or take the slightly rougher East and West Glacier Trails. You can also take a tour to the Ice Caves if you want something a bit more unique. To get to the ice caves you have to kayak and then climb to the entrance, but if you have the time and the ability, it is well worth it.

Whale Watching

Juneau is one of the top ports in Alaska for whale watching. You can expect to see a number of humpback whales; in fact, in Alaska most whale watching tours offer a money back guarantee. If you do not see any whales you will get your money back.

Skagway

White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
The White Pass Railway is probably the most popular excursion in Skagway.

By far the most popular excursion in Skagway is the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. The railway makes a 40 mile trip to the White Pass summit, lasting 3 to 3 and a half hours. If you book the excursion directly through the cruise company, you can be picked up by the train right at the port.

Hiking
Yakutania Point is a simple hike that offers some of the best views in Skagway

Skagway has a large number of hikes available very close to the downtown area. There are a large number of shorter hikes available for hikers of all skill levels. Yakutania Point and Lower Reid Falls are two of the top hikes available.

Icy Strait Point/Hoonah

Whale Watching
Whale watching is very popular in Hoonah

If Juneau is the most well known whale watching spot, Icy Strait Point is arguably the best. Point Adolphus is commonly called the best whale watching area in all of North America, and sightings are guaranteed by most, if not all, companies.

Zipline

The zipline in Icy Strait Point is the world’s longest and highest. The ZipRider has a total length of 5,330 feet with a total drop of 1,300 feet and a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour.

Ketchikan

Creek Street
Historic Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska

Creek Street is Ketchikan’s historic red light district, and has a number of shops. It’s well worth a walk, either for the modern shopping, the views, or the history. The slogan of the area is “Where men and salmon come upstream to spawn.”

Snorkeling
The water is cold, but this excursion is HOT! Brag to all your friends you got to snorkel in Alaska.

Snorkeling in Alaska? That’s right. Ketchikan has a great snorkeling excursion complete with thick, cold-water wet suits. It’s cold, but once you’re in the water it’s not super noticeable.

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.

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.

Big Changes Coming to Alaska

Norwegian Bliss – The hull of the ship is decorated by Wyland, an artist known for his marine life murals

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 changes coming to Alaska. Read on for some of the new experiences, ships, and ports coming to Alaska for the 2018 and 2019 cruising season.

Two Big New Ships
Everything’s bigger in Texas Alaska

Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean are sending some of their biggest and newest ships to Alaska. Norwegian Bliss is a brand new ship that was just delivered to Norwegian Cruise Line last month. At 168,000 tons the Bliss is Norwegian’s largest ship, and she is already in Alaska. The Bliss is a great ship for families as well as active travelers. The ship has a massive water park and a two deck high go-kart racing track. In another first for Norwegian, the Bliss has a modern Texas style BBQ restaurant that will feature live country music. That’s music from the second biggest state, playing on cruises in the biggest state, on board Norwegian’s biggest ship. That’s a lot of bigs! For 2018, the Bliss is the largest ship to have ever sailed Alaska cruises from any line, but not for long.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class ship, with the North Star Observation Pod extended

For the 2019 cruise season, Royal Caribbean will take the crown for largest ship in Alaska when Ovation of the Seas arrives in Seattle. Ovation of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class, and is just slightly larger than the Norwegian Bliss. Ovation of the Seas also has some great attractions on board, including the iFly Indoor Skydiving and North Star. The North Star a large glass pod that extends 300 feet above the ship and offers stunning 360 degree views of your surroundings. This pod officially holds the record for “Highest Viewing Deck on a Cruise Ship” and will be a welcome addition to Alaska cruises.

Both Bliss and Ovation can carry over 4,000 passengers on average with almost 5,000 passengers at maximum capacity. This is nearly double the amount of passengers on other ships sailing Alaska, so there can be some crowds in port when these ships are docked.

New Port Stops

We have already discussed how Holland America is the only cruise company docking in Anchorage this season, but there are a few other port changes as well. Several ships will be adding Ketchikan to their list of stops, including the Carnival Splendor which will visit Ketchikan only once in 2018; the final stop on a 14 night round trip cruise from Long Beach, CA.

There are also some smaller ships that will be running Alaska cruises this year. If you are looking for something a little more intimate there is the Windstar Star Legend (208 passengers), Silver Seas Silver Explorer (132 passengers) or American Dream American Constellation (175 passengers)

Windstar’s Star Legend represents Windstar’s return to Alaska after being out of the region for the past 20 years. The all-suite ship is kicking off the all new Signature Expeditions Program. This program takes cruisers closer than ever to Alaska with zodiac and kayak tours of the coastline.

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.

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.

Holland America’s Zaandam Docks in Anchorage

Holland America’s ms Zaandam Cruise Ship

On Monday, May 14 Holland America’s Zaandam became the first ship to dock in Anchorage, Alaska for the 2018 cruise season. The MS Zaandam is currently on a 14 day “Great Alaskan Explorer Cruise” from Seattle, and will be returning to Seattle on May 21st. The other ports that Zaandam stops at on this cruise include Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait (Hoonah), Homer, Kodiak, Sitka, and Victoria, British Columbia.

If you are not familiar with typical Alaska cruise itineraries, this is a very special itinerary, and one that the Zaandam will be repeating 10 times throughout the 2018 cruise season. She is the only commercial cruise ship that will visit Anchorage at all in 2018. This surprises a lot of people; not only because Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, but because often other cruises are advertised as departing from, or ending at, Anchorage. In fact, all other cruises that have stops in the “Anchorage area”, actually dock at one of two other nearby cities. Most cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Azamara, and Holland America, leave from Seward. Princess Cruises, on the other hand, leave from Whittier.

Why Not Anchorage?

There are a few reasons why cruise ships have historically avoided the Port of Anchorage. A main part of the reason was that prior to 2017, the port facilities just weren’t designed with cruise ship passengers in mind. Most of the marine traffic consisted of tankers and cargo ships, and the facilities were designed around those clients. In 2017, however, the city of Anchorage finished upgrades to the port area, and accepted Holland America’s ms Amsterdam for 4 cruises in the 2017 season.

Another reason why Seward is more popular with cruise ships is due to location. While Anchorage is a major city with a lot of sights tourists want to see, it is located quite far up the Cook Inlet. Seward, on the other hand, is located right on the Gulf of Alaska, a much larger and deeper body of water. Whittier is located in Prince William Sound, but is much closer to the Gulf than Anchorage, so cruise ships are able to get on their way much quicker. It is about 200 nautical miles from the Port of Anchorage to the Gulf of Alaska. At average speeds, this distance will take a cruise ship at least 10 hours, and often closer to 14, to transit. The ms Zaandam breaks this up a bit with their stop at Homer after Anchorage; another city in the Cook Inlet but much closer to the Gulf.

Which port is best?

When planning an Alaska cruise, many people want to see Anchorage, so it might seem like Holland America is the best bet. However, it is important to distinguish that while the ms Zaandam is visiting Anchorage, the cruises from Seward or Whittier will require you to fly into (or out of) Anchorage. This means that with the ms Zaandam, you have a full day to explore Anchorage, but with the shorter cruises you can customize exactly how many days you spend in the city between your cruise and your flight. We lived in Alaska for a number of years, and would be more than happy to help you plan your perfect Alaska cruise.

Alaska Week!

Now that the Alaska cruise season is in full swing, we are happy to announce that next week we will be celebrating Alaska Cruise Week. Check back each day next week for a new post about planning an Alaska Cruise.

Tips for Traveling Solo

Don’t let traveling solo slow you down

For those with an adventurous spirit, just the thought of traveling is exhilarating. Imagining what activities you will do, the foods you will eat, the sights you will see, and so on. However, when traveling with others, adjustments need to be made to those plans, and the result? Compromise. With this in mind, adjusting your perfectly imagined trip to suit the needs and desires of fellow travelers can literally take the wind out of your sails.

The alternative? Traveling alone. Envision, for a moment, what it would be like to have complete control over your trip. To be able to set your own schedule; sleep in if you choose to, eat when you want, control your own budget, and be as flexible with your time as you wish. This may seem to be selfish at first, and also a bit frightening if you’ve never considered solo travel, but spending time alone can actually be very healthy. It allows you time for self-reflection, discovering who you are and what goals want to fulfill. Also, by relying on yourself, you can discover your strengths and weaknesses, face your fears, and test your limits. You can choose to spend time alone, engage with others, or even make lifelong friends.

All decisions are yours to make when traveling alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to do all the planning on your own.

Our job as your personal travel agency is to alleviate concerns, answer questions, and help you plan the perfect getaway. While there are many ways to travel, three of our most popular travel options are cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and group vacations. Each of these trips can be customized for those who want to travel by themselves. We will work with you to ensure your preferences are accommodated.

Cruises

Cruise ships are filled with great activities – whether you want to relax alone or socialize

Cruises offer nearly endless options for single travelers, from simply enjoying a good book by the pool to joining in activities with fellow travelers. Most cruise lines assign dining room seating but, depending on your personal preference, we can request a specific table size. You can choose to sit at a larger table with many fellow travelers, or a smaller table with just a few people. If you prefer, you can even forego the main dining room; opting instead for specialty restaurants, room service, or the buffet.

On most sites the cost of cabins is advertised as “per person”, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean the price for a person traveling alone. Cruise companies charge a “single supplement”, which means that a person traveling alone pays the same room price as those traveling with two people. For example, a cruise that is advertised as $999 per person plus $125 per person in taxes would be $2,248 for 2 people. $1,124 per person, multiplied by two people. With the single supplement, that same cruise would still be be $2,123. $1,124 for the first person, plus a $999 single supplement fee.

However, there is one way to avoid this fee. Newer ships have studio cabins available for single travelers, which are smaller than a traditional room and can only sleep one person. These rooms do not charge the single supplement rate, but there are a limited number of them available. It may, in fact, actually be cheaper to book a two-person cabin. Regardless of room size, single travelers will never pay double for taxes, fees, or gratuities. We will research the difference in price and ensure you stay in the perfect cabin.

All-Inclusive Resorts

Make new friends on the Royalton Bavaro Lazy River

There are countless all-inclusive resorts you can select from worldwide. Just like with a cruise, you can choose between spending quality time alone, getting to know new people at the resort, or even a little of both. With your personal trip goals in mind, we will assist you in choosing the perfect resort at the location you want to visit. Our prices include airfare, which is charged per person, and never has a single supplement fee attached. The resorts themselves do charge a single supplement rate, just like the cruise lines. Unlike the cruise rates, however, it is more often less than double.

Group Travel

Join up with a group and take a guided tour of picturesque Iceland

One of the most popular options for single travelers are group led tours. While these tours are available worldwide, some of the most popular are; Australia/New Zealand, China/Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and recently, Iceland. The amount of people on these tours can range from quite small (less than ten people) to very large. When planning a tour for you we will always share the typical group size to ensure that you are happy with your choice.

Some of these tours do charge a single supplement, while others do not. The tours include lodging, and most of the tour companies will assign single travelers a roommate. However, we can help you book a single, private room for an additional fee if you would prefer. With all the above variables in play, we can research all of the options available to assist you in booking the perfect tour.

Cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and group tours all have much to offer those who wish to travel alone. Along with the perks of the trip itself, you may very well gain increased confidence in yourself and learn how to become more independent, all without the fear of being judged by a traveling companion. Also, opening yourself up to new experiences and people, expanding your thinking and views about other cultures and places, all at your own pace, are additional benefits that come from traveling alone. Just because you don’t have a travel partner doesn’t mean you can’t explore the world. Reach out today, and let us help you plan the perfect solo vacation today.

Four New Cruise Ships Launching Spring 2018

You may have heard that millenials are killing off the cruise vacation, but cruises are only growing in popularity. In fact, the estimated number of cruise ship passengers in 2018 is expected to increase by over a million. This large growth is only possible because the cruise lines continue building more and larger ships. A total of 13 new cruise ships will start sailing in 2018 with 2 of them sailing this week.

Jump To:

Carnival Horizon

Skyride Attraction On-Board Carnival Horizon

The Carnival Horizon was the first major new cruise ship to set sail in 2018. She was delivered to Carnival on March 28th and started her inaugural sailing on April 2nd. The Horizon will go on 4 Mediterranean cruises before re-positioning to New York for the summer. On September 22nd she will move to Miami and run 6 and 8 night Caribbean cruises. The Horizon is Carnival Cruise Line’s 26th ship and second largest, behind only her sister ship, the Vista.

Carnival Horizon Quick Facts
  • Inaugural Sailing: April 2, 2018 – 13 Night Europe from Barcelona
  • Decks: 15
  • Passengers: 3,954
  • Gross Tons: 133,500
  • Notable Features: IMAX Theater
    Dr. Seuss Water Park
    SkyRide – Suspended bike above the top deck

If you are ready to book a cabin on board the Carnival Horizon, drop us a note and we’d be happy to start helping you plan.

Cruises to Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii shoreline
There’s no better tropical escape than a cruise to paradise

Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations in the world, and for good reason. We went to Honolulu ourselves in 2016, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our time on the island. It is a tropical island paradise that can compete with any destination in the Caribbean, yet finding a cruise to Hawaii is surprisingly difficult. Part of the reason for this is Hawaii’s distance from the continental United States; over 2,600 miles as the crow flies from Southern California. This comes out to about 2,250 nautical miles, which will take an average cruise ship between 100 and 120 hours to cross. That comes out to 5 full days at sea to get to Hawaii, and another 5 to return to California.

Distance is not the only problem facing cruise companies that want to visit Hawaii. For various legal, financial, and logistical reasons most cruise ships are foreign flagged vessels. This means that they are restricted by the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886. This law bans any vessel that isn’t built in the US and owned by a US based company from transporting passengers between two different US ports. This act also says that a cruise that leaves from and returns to the same US port must visit a foreign port, so even if a ship were to make a round trip cruise from Honolulu, it would have to visit a port outside the United States. The closest such port is Tabuaeran on the Fanning Atoll, a full 4 days away from Honolulu.

Options for Cruises to Hawaii

Despite these difficulties, many cruise lines do offer cruises to Hawaii. If you want to take one of these magical adventures, you have four main options. A world cruise, a re-positioning cruise, a multi-week California to Hawaii cruise, or a 7 night round trip Honolulu cruise on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

World Cruises

The most expensive and lengthy option for a cruise to Hawaii is a world cruise. These cruises are measured in months, not days and range from a 59 nights to 161 nights. The price of these cruises range from $22,000 to $80,000 per person. On these cruises, Hawaii is just another port, but what a way to see the islands.

Oceania 85 day Around the World Cruise Itinerary
Re-positioning Cruises

Some cruises are only able to run part of the year, so cruise lines need to move their ships. Alaska cruises are one of the most popular seasonal cruises and can only sail from May through September. When Alaska gets too cold, the ships relocate, often to Asia or Australia. This path across the Pacific takes them right past Hawaii, so it is a natural stop to break up the long cruise. It takes about 6 or 7 days for a cruise to reach Hawaii from Seattle, Vancouver, or Anchorage, and another 7 or 8 days to reach the South Pacific.

These cruises can be run in one of two ways. The first option is a longer cruise, often at least 21 nights with Hawaii as a mid-point stop. The second option is to split the cruise into two separate cruises. The first cruise would end in Honolulu and the second cruise would begin there. Often at least one of these cruises would island hop to multiple cities in Hawaii.

Round Trip California Cruises to Hawaii

These cruises are offered on Princess, Holland America, Oceania, Crystal, and occasionally Celebrity. There are two main itineraries available; a 15-17 night cruise from California to Hawaii, with a stop in Mexico, or a 28+ night cruise to Hawaii, Tahiti, and the South Pacific. Most of these cruises depart from Los Angeles, while a few leave from San Francisco or San Diego. The shorter cruises stop at Ensenada, Mexico, a city known locally as La Cenicienta del Pacifico, or “The Cinderella of the Pacific”. Ensenada is not a particularly popular destination, but it does have its charms. The city is working hard to improve their offerings, and they have some of the best street food in Mexico.

Ensenada, Mexico. Image Credit: By Isaacmoon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Round Trip Honolulu Cruises

There is one, and only one, cruise line that offers regular round trip cruises from Hawaii. If you want to take a typical 7 night cruise from Honolulu to the other islands, Norwegian is it. In order to get around the regulations of the Passenger Vessel Service Act, NCL had to take several steps. First, they had to create a new company, NCL America, that was headquartered in the United States. Second, they had to have a ship that was US built, US flagged, and manned with US crew. Ultimately this ship became the Pride of America. Construction was finished in 2005, and she has been sailing the Hawaiian Islands for the past 13 years.

NCL Cruise Line, Pride of America, Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Pride of America runs the same itinerary year round, leaving Honolulu every Saturday. The cruise overnights in Kahului, Maui, then visits Hilo and Kona on the Big Island, and finally overnights in Nawiliwili, Kauai. Since there is no competition, these cruises can be a little more expensive than other 7 night sailings. At the lowest end you are looking at about $2,500 for two people in an interior room. A balcony room will start at closer to $5,000 for two people.

The Best Time for a Hawaii Cruise

If you are planning on taking a re-positioning cruise to Hawaii you will be severely limited. These cruises are set based on the Alaska cruising season, so your choices are typically March/April or September/October. These months also have the benefit of being in Hawaii’s low season, so flights and hotels will typically be cheaper. If your cruise is one of the ones that ends or begins in Hawaii, this can be really helpful.

If you are planning on taking the Norwegian cruise, these months can still be a great choice. Since airfare is often cheaper in the shoulder months, the higher cost of the cruise can be offset a bit. The rest of winter can be another great choice to escape to a warm tropical paradise. January through March is Hawaii’s high season, so it may be more expensive and more crowded, but it can be a great respite from the cold.

Christmas is a Wonderful time to visit Hawaii

If you’d like to plan your own adventure to Hawaii, send me a request. I’d be happy to find the perfect Hawaiian cruise for you and your family.

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