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Thread: Alaska

  1. #61

    Default Re: Alaska

    8k?! Impossible! Does the tour only include the cruise or does it also have land tours as well? And how much is the cruise for Princess?

  2. #62

    Default Re: Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by gnohz View Post
    8k?! Impossible! Does the tour only include the cruise or does it also have land tours as well? And how much is the cruise for Princess?
    Quote Originally Posted by Alpc View Post
    Thanks Bro... Will check it out.. been busy lately.

    But today I went to NATAS Fair at Expo, and it seems some companies has not got their pricing in yet, while there are 2 tour groups already had their pricing done and phew... It's getting more ex to go Alaska!!! Just the trip along with a 7 -8 days cruise, depending on which one you go, is around 8K or more!!!! It seems the airlines are increasing their flight prices, and so are the cruise lines!!!

    Interestingly, the ones with all pricing in are using Princess Cruise - One is on Diamond Princess, which is the North/South bound type of cruising (from Vancouver or Seward), the other on Golden Princess which is the Inside Passage with Glacier Bay type of cruising (round trip from Seattle)...

    Anyone has any comment on the 2 different cruise? Which cruise is better?!?!?
    It's possible but not through Singapore agents. I went on an Alaska cruise in Jun 2005 for honeymoon. We had a 7-day cruise and a 7-day land portion. All in was $9K+ per pax. And that was when USD was at high of 1.8. The Singapore agents charge exorbitant prices for cruise. So I book flight + cruise + land tour separately. In fact I just came back from a Scandinavian cruise also done with separate bookings (cruise & flight & hotels) online.

    For Alaska cruise, I recommend the Northbound route. First reason is that Alaska is (at least for me) a once in a lifetime trip. So you want to experience the anticipation of reaching Alaska. If you do a Southbound, you have already flown into Anchorage, then you cruise to Vancouver. Second reason is that the Northbound or southbound cruises stop at 4 ports while the round-trips (from Seattle or Vancouver or some other ports) stop only at 3.

    And if you do book your cruise and flight separately, I recommend flying by China Airlines. Cheap and good. And they fly open jaw Vancouver/Anchorage. So you can fly into Vancover, take a Northbound cruise, and then fly back from Anchorage. You can also stopover at Taipei for a couple of days.

  3. #63

    Default Re: Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by gnohz View Post
    8k?! Impossible! Does the tour only include the cruise or does it also have land tours as well? And how much is the cruise for Princess?
    Basically,
    Inside Passage with Glacier Bay on Golden Princess (NS - 17D, cheaper 7K plus) - air ticket (UA, Delta or EVA), cruise (balcony room), land tour, meals & transfers, seaport tax, airport tax and cruise gratuities. Not included is the cruise optional excursions and land tipping.

    Inside Passage - official site says USD1429, web search say USD1699

    Northbound on Diamond Princess (ASA - 16D, just above 8K) - air ticket (China Airlines), cruise (balcony room), land tour, meals & transfers, seaport tax, airport tax and cruise gratuities. Not included is the cruise optional excursions and land tipping.

    Northbound - Official site say USD1599, web search on cruise deals says USD1499

    bluepanda - Not doing separately because I am not the only person going - I got 7 people doing this. To be the one doing the sourcing and getting the charges done etc is just too much work... So tour package from SG will be the one to go for - if no good they can blame the tour company - not me!!!!

    If it was like going on my own or with 2 - 3 others who are easily going and know how to help in sourcing and getting decision on where to go, would have done everything differently.

  4. #64

    Default Re: Alaska

    Yes, I am still searching - was told that since I am at Alaska, should go fairbanks. So now, what is in land above of Anchorage? Is the trip up to Fairbanks really that good - a must-do?

  5. #65

    Default Re: Alaska

    If I'm not wrong, many people go to fairbanks during the winter to watch auroras
    Above Anchorage is Denali I guess and a little further away from Denali is Fairbanks.

    But it's really exp from what you mentioned earlier. I went for everything free and easy for 1 month (Alaska, Vancouver, Rockies) for around 6k/pax. But I think no choice, tours are like that. They save you the trouble of all the paperwork and the time taken to do research. Somemore there's 7 in your group so a tour makes everything much easier

  6. #66

    Default Re: Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpc View Post
    Yes, I am still searching - was told that since I am at Alaska, should go fairbanks. So now, what is in land above of Anchorage? Is the trip up to Fairbanks really that good - a must-do?
    Let me know if you're going to Fairbanks... I was there, and I can pass you a good contact (if you're planning to stay in a hostel, not hotel). There's not much up in FB... you can visit the FB museum, the North Pole (santa gift shop), and chena hot springs.. FB to chena hot springs is about 2 hrs drive, and over there, there are spots to view auroras, an ice museum, and if you're in season, you'll get to try the dog sleighs and stuff.. be careful when you drive though; I've seen a car slip down the side in an accident after driving over black ice.

    Let me know if you need more info... I was in FB for 4 days of backpacking, so I know a little about the area. It's not a big city, people are certainly very friendly there.

  7. #67

    Default Re: Alaska

    Yup! No other better person to ask than Lolrence

  8. #68

    Default Re: Alaska

    Lolrence, thanks, but I won't be heading there in winter - will be late May from the way it looks. It's just that the more I read, the more I get confused the more things got to figure out. What to do - to take cruisetour with Denali & Fairbanks or just the cruise. Then also some tells me it's better to concentrate all on just Alaska, some wants to go Rockies as well... I don't really have 1 mth to do this - The most I have is 17 full days there, and then add in travel back and forth will come to 20 days.

    I thot it was almost firm to be a 7 day cruise, then 6 days at Rockies... Then someone throw spanner into works where the son's boss got a cruise tour (with HAL) - where they only going to spend 3 days cruise (to Tracy Arm) and then the rest of the 7 days on land... I have heard that Tracy Arm (Sawyer glacier) is already in the retreat and no longer as spectacular as the others, so I am not in favour of that, but that also means that they are thinking about spending some time in Alaska land - which leads to the Denali & Fairbanks. I know I want to see more glaciers, which means Glacier bay and if possible College fjords (and get to see Prince William Sound as well)!

    Then there is this business of "oh, it's still early, there is another NATAs fair coming right at the end of the year, don't need to make decisions so early" (This I believe is not true, I think NATAS is only twice a year, although there might be some smaller ones by the big tour companies)... Not sure why Singaporeans are so oblivious to the fact that they are the minority to the cruise, and the cruise does not always happens daily which means there is limited places, especially if you want certain things like balcony and all that... Always think that there is no issue with booking it late... Sigh...

    I take it back, yes tour company is easier to 7 people, but man to figure which one to go with takes more research as well!!! I mean, do you go with tour group here, or book direct with the cruise company, or get a travel agent to arrange everything, etc... Argh...

    This is why I still prefer to travel on my own!!!! Figure out what I want, find the one that fits the best, book it and done with. Sigh...
    Last edited by Alpc; 19th September 2010 at 10:20 AM.

  9. #69

    Default Re: Alaska

    Yeah, 20 days in total is a little tight. It is still possible though, but a bit rushed. For my case, we spent only 3 days on land and took the cruise down to Vancouver. From there we went to Rockies for 9 days and it was relatively slow paced so we get to see many places. But it was a pity that we couldn't spend more time in Alaska. For the 3 days that we were there, we went only to Seward and Whittier, where we took a cruise around Prince William Sound. To me, Glacier National Park is the most picturesque but we only saw it from the cruise. I think it is possible to go by land but I have no idea how. Of course other places were spectacular as well (it also depends on the weather), the glaciers, wildlife etc. We went in end of June and I think it's the time of the year when rainfall is the least. Not very sure about May though.

    I think if you plan to go to Denali and Fairbanks, it's good to plan for 3-4 days for the travelling time up to Denali and another couple more for Fairbanks. By car, you would probably take 1.5 days to reach Denali from Anchorage. About 400 km in total.

    I recommend the 6 hour cruise at Prince William Sound if you want more glaciers. We got to visit 3 of them and spend some time there to see it calve. As for wildlife, we saw bald-headed eagles, seals, otters, puffins etc etc

  10. #70

    Default Re: Alaska

    Talking about the cruise, you did Southbound right? How do you find it? Some people say not that good as it's more like everything wow, then down to nothing...

    By the way, at Glacier Bay... Er, how close were you to the glacier? I heard that for some ships, because of their size, they cannot go nearer to it... So you did pretty even, although less on the Alaska land part... since Alaska is about 10 days where 7 days are cruise, and 9 days Rockies... What airline you took - CI?

    From the way it goes, I have to see what ship does some customisation.. like shorter cruise to add Alaska land.. But.. I want Prince Willilam Sound.. Wonder how long it takes to get from Anchorage to Whittler or Seward for the 6 hour Prince William Sound tour... Might want to see how to squeeze that in - if not taking the 7 days cruise... Might have to arrange for less Rockies as well at the rate it is going... Do mostly Alaska, and Rockies another time...

  11. #71

    Default Re: Alaska

    Yup I did southbound, and I didn't feel any loss of excitement, since there was still Rockies to look forward to. And, southbound might be good in a way that you know that you have 7 days on the cruise to rest so you can just chiong all the way during the time in Alaska, then go on board, eat, sleep and rest

    As for the distance to the glacier, I would say not as close as I could like to, cos big ships can't get that close. The smaller boats we took for Prince William Sound could get much closer. If I didn't remember wrongly, I had to use my wide angle to get most of the glacier in so it gives you a rough idea Yup we took China Airlines, cheapest, with a stopover in Taipei.

    Anchorage to Seward is around 200km and there're a number of stops along the way eg Potter Marsh, Beluga Point etc to see wildlife, so in the end we took at least 5 hours to get to Seward. From Anchorage to Whittier should be 120km so if you drive non-stop, should be at most 1.5-2 hours. That time, I think many people reached Whittier in the morning for the 6 hour cruise, and then got back in time to check into the big cruise.

    Rockies is another huge area for phototaking. Too many I would say If you want to cut down on Rockies, you could just visit the more famous places eg Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper etc and leave the rest for next time. For Alaska you could plan for more time to go up all the way to Denali for a few days, then go south to Seward, then to Whittier. For a relatively relaxing trip, maybe around 10 days in total?

  12. #72

    Default Re: Alaska

    Well... Changing itinerary again, this time looking to totally cut out Rockies and concentrate only on Alaska. Looking at HAL's 14 days cruisetour which itinerary now include the Arctic Ocean (Prudhoe Bay) and the sign which says "Arctic Circle"...

    May look into extending 1 or 2 days more before flying back... Nothing sure at the moment as need to find out what else is there 14 days + getting there and back only about 16 days... a bit short I think, extend 1 or 2 more days would be better. But, it also got to see the flights...
    Last edited by Alpc; 20th September 2010 at 11:48 PM.

  13. #73

    Default Re: Alaska

    Denali will be worth spending time in. Lots of wildlife.

    As mentioned by others, Denali is just north of Anchorage (about 4hrs train), and Fairbanks is north of Denali (8 more hrs). Fairbanks is somewhat in between Anchorage and Prudhoe Bay. From Fairbanks up north to Prudhoe Bay, there are options of Drive-only or Fly/Drive tours. North of Fairbanks is just pipelines and gravel roads. You'll see a few signs that warn drivers "Next service is 200 miles away".

    Check out this site for more info, even if you're not buying their tours (and a glimpse of the arctic circle signboard):
    http://www.alaskatravel.com/fairbank...fly-drive.html

  14. #74

    Default Re: Alaska

    Yes I think spending all the time in Alaska would be a good choice. Then you can spend more time in Denali, or even along the way where you're bound to have many opportunities to stop over, especially along the Seward Highway. If you're into birding, then make sure to stop at Potter Marsh You can even go for at leat 1 flightsee tour to experience Alaska from above. Keep us updated

  15. #75

    Default Re: Alaska

    Hahahaha... Now another round of meeting... Hiaz. However, this time, all will be there... I have a feeling this group will be spilt, maybe for the better since there seems to be some difference in expectations and what to see... See, it's not good if only 1 person doing research... I am sure I had some white hairs due to stress from this...

    Oh, for anyone who are interested in smaller ship and more personalised lines, Cruise West is no longer in operation... Not that I would take their cruise, but after operations for so long, kind of sad that one cruise line is down (especially for Alaska)...

    Now reading stories on some other boards, sounds like the land trip for cruisetours are pretty hectic, but KS Kong found it relaxed? Yatsunil, need your input here, since you're cruisetour is HAL's... By the way which cruisetour were you on?

    Found one thing is that for Northbound, the land tour is after the cruise... Wonder if I should switch, if the land tour is hectic. Then again, if you are spending a fair bit of time on the bus or train getting from 1 location to the other, how hectic can it get? I guess only issue is you have to get up early... Hmm...

    Man, if having so much issue with which cruise/tour to take for Alaska (12 cruise lines), imagine if you want to do a cruise in Med (22 cruise lines)... That would be like nightmare!!!

  16. #76

    Default Re: Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpc View Post
    Now reading stories on some other boards, sounds like the land trip for cruisetours are pretty hectic, but KS Kong found it relaxed? Yatsunil, need your input here, since you're cruisetour is HAL's... By the way which cruisetour were you on?
    Can't remember the exact cruisetour number but it was NB about 15 days on the Zuiderdam. Hectic? Not really.....quite relaxing although there were some rather early morning starts. Also a couple of long coach/train days. Maybe some people will prefer to do the SB land tour first and then really chill out on board. It also depends on how many and what type of excursions you book - if you fill up your free days to the max then it might be a little packed But HAL always allows for ample time between activities so you won't miss anything.

  17. #77

    Default Re: Alaska

    Ok... Looks like it's finally the last stretch before placing deposit... HAL's tour 21 Arctic Circle trip, and adding a side trip of Kanai Fjord tour... Just realised that the land tour part, all meals are not provided - not even breakfast (Did not read those fine prints at the end of the brochure, they stuck it in there)!!!! So once I get the final quote with everything there... Should be easy, except for the wait. End of May, now only Sept - Still a long way...

    Er, how much should I budget for meals?!?! I know sometimes USD20 could be enough for 3 persons depending on what you order... I remember their meals are pretty large portion - I just need to order appetizer or large gumbo soup and it more than enough for me for that meal. Then again, have not been to Alaska, so not sure what are the pricing like for things like steak, or pancakes or whatever...

  18. #78

    Default Re: Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpc View Post
    Man, if having so much issue with which cruise/tour to take for Alaska (12 cruise lines), imagine if you want to do a cruise in Med (22 cruise lines)... That would be like nightmare!!!
    Besides itinerary, another factor was whether there were self-service coin-operated laundry facilities on board, so that ruled out all Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships, as well as some HAL ones. I was on Carnival Spirit in 2005, but I think Carnival doesnt do Alaska anymore. So left with Princess and the other half of HALs (you have to check which ones have and which dont). Some say that when you are on holiday, you don't want to do laundry, but for me, I didn't want to bring too much luggage, and I didn't want to pay any rip-off prices for laundry. It's absolutely a personal choice, but you would like to know whether you have this option, rather than having to find out that this was in the fine print, don't you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpc View Post
    Er, how much should I budget for meals?!?! I know sometimes USD20 could be enough for 3 persons depending on what you order... I remember their meals are pretty large portion - I just need to order appetizer or large gumbo soup and it more than enough for me for that meal. Then again, have not been to Alaska, so not sure what are the pricing like for things like steak, or pancakes or whatever...
    Alaska is generally more expensive than other states, I was told. I recall having to pay about USD20 per American portion which could serve 1.5 Asians.

  19. #79

    Default Re: Alaska

    Going through the ebrochure, I realised that cruisetour 21 is the most expensive (northbound) for the 11-14 days catagory.

    Yes, I know Zaandam has self-service laundry facilities (3 decks has it, whether it's in working condition is the question). I am also looking to not bringing too many clothes. Heck, I don't have that many clothes as well anyway... Good reminder. Thanks.

    Lolrence, any self-service/cheap laundry facilities in Fairbanks? Might need to spend sometime there doing laundry. :P

  20. #80

    Default Re: Alaska

    I remember around 15-20USD for a good meal. And they serve really large portions. In food courts, a normal rice-vege meal is less than 10 USD and the portion is enough for 1 person.

    I used the washing facilities on Princess too I only brought like 4 cargo, 5 tshirts, 1 winter jacket and long john to last me 4 weeks so the washing machine was a life saver

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