DVCruise
Contributor Level: Captain

Hello Alaska - Hello Canada - Help!

So I'm debating a cruise headed north in May or June. Last year I did the Pacific Coast to Vancouver and rented a car to go across Canada - best scenery ever! I also did the Inside Passage to Alaska.

What do you Alaskans or Canadians recommend if I want to combine a sea /land trip to your neck of the woods...

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7 Answers

ItaVero
Contributor Level: Captain

Tis the season! Vancouver BC is the gateway to Whistler. If you've never been - it's worth the drive (the road is MUCH better after their Winter Olympics). Or there's a ferry - and there's a train...

Kennicott
Contributor Level: Captain

 

So much depends upon how much time you have for your trip, you didn't mention that.  But you are doing right----research and ask questions. Check out the itinerary, ports and vessels and match them with what interests you the most. I'm assuming you have two weeks. If not, forget the land portion.

 

I'm assuming you are coming on up to central Alaska and doing the land portion there. I'm also assuming you know about "Cruise Tours". I'm a fan of cruise tours but a lot of folk are not, they rather do the land portion on their own. Either way is great, but I suggest, before you book and decide, you get a copy of "The Milepost", fun to read and to study, most importantly it will give you a good idea of what you may prefer and not prefer during your visit to Alaska and Canada. Particularly with respect to the land portion but also the ports of call as well.

 

As far as the sea portion, most major cruise lines offer excellent cruises to Alaska, NCL also being one of the largest players although none have the land based holdings, priority rights in Glacier Bay, or number of ships that the HAG has.

 

The two cruise lines with the longest history in Alaska are HAL and Princess. Both have made considerable investments up here in the way of excursion transportation (buses and dome railroad coaches) and hotel chains (Westmark Hotels for HAL and 5 wilderness lodges for Princess). Both lines now operate under the Holland America Group of Carnival Corp which includes the combined land holdings of both.

 

If you disregard the land portion of your visit due to time limitations, this may help:  About 65% of cruisers to Alaska only do the Southeast (Panhandle) portion of the State. Assuming you are on a typical 7 day (round robin) cruise you probably won’t be crossing the Gulf of Alaska and traveling further north to South Central Alaska or going on into the interior on a land tour, but most likely doing a cruise of Southeast Alaska, originating and ending in either Vancouver or Seattle. Almost all of these cruises do the "Alaska Inside Passage".

 

My personal preference for these round robins is to get on a cruise that voyages through the "Canadian Inside Passage" as well as the "Alaska Inside Passage". Meaning, they travel to the east of Vancouver Island as opposed to the west of the island, west of the island places the vessel out into the North Pacific where scenic voyaging is limited to non-existent, rougher water there too, sometimes. Vancouver is the best port for this. (Note: this is also important even when you are going to cross the Gulf of Alaska and terminate or originate in Central Alaska, cruising east of Vancouver Island is a must on at least one segment).

 

Beware when the line or your agent simply says you are going to be in the "Inside Passage". Being life long Alaskans we have taken only one cruise to Alaska, which was on Regent, a two weeker, originating in San Francisco and ending in Vancouver, around the end of May and first of June. Hot weather even, 72 F, for Alaska that is. We sailed as far north as Valdez in Prince William Sound and hit every obligatory port in Southeast. Excellent cruise; the only downer was, both north and south, we skipped the Canadian Inside Passage and traveled to the west of Vancouver Island. Some Canadians on board weren't very happy in that they had been led to believe they would be cruising on the east side of Vancouver Island.

 

Feel free to ask me any questions. If I don't know the answer I'll make one up.    

 

 

DVCruise
Contributor Level: Captain

I was hoping you would respond Kennicott ... thanks for the info ... 

Bubba54
Contributor Level: Captain

There is no way i could add anything Kennicott, except that we took the cruise land tour with Holland. We had a great time. 

glomarrone
Contributor Level: Admiral

Same here, Kennicott's reply was quite thorough.. 

BonMike
Contributor Level: Captain

We live about a 4 hr drive east of Vancouver, in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. We are surrounded by mountains, yet have a gorgeous lake, miles of vineyards, wineries and orchards. It's so beautiful you really should come to see Kelowna and the valley.

DVCruise
Contributor Level: Captain

Have been reading "The Milepost" online and just ordered the hardback copy - what a great resource ... thanks again Kennicott!  

I think we missed the area you refer to Bonmike when we traveled east from Vancouver last year towards Lake Louise and Banff. We went north too early I think but that will definitely be on my list.

Thinking I'll do the coastal cruise up from LA, then roadtrip in Canada, then Alaska cruise and roadtrip there. Would be nice to get out of the desert for the 115 degree summer ... Still researching and planning!

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