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Discussion Starter #1
So our 50th is coming up in Aug. Thinking of trying our first cruise. Initial thoughts are the Virgin Islands or Alaska, but that's high hurricane season, so focusing more on Alaska. See typical daytime highs of 62° which is almost winter for Central Texans - not good. :laugh: So for those who have been there, done that, can you share some thoughts?
 

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So our 50th is coming up in Aug. Thinking of trying our first cruise. Initial thoughts are the Virgin Islands or Alaska, but that's high hurricane season, so focusing more on Alaska. See typical daytime highs of 62° which is almost winter for Central Texans - not good. :laugh: So for those who have been there, done that, can you share some thoughts?
I haven’t done it but lived in Kodiak Alaska for 8 yrs. Heard all about it though. People have absolutely loved it. August is the best time to go cause everything is nice and green and weather is pretty good! You won’t be disappointed


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We did the inside passage from Canada to Alaska. Very cool. Go from the US/Canada up. The food for the return trip is frozen for the trip from Alaska back to US/Canada. Saves the cruise lines money.

The inside passage is like traveling on a wide, deep river, never much for waves and you can almost always see land. I think we were actually out to sea 1 night. We went the 3rd week of August. We loved it. I could go on and on.
 

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The first one I'm looking at is an Inside Passage & Glacier Bay from Norwegian. Looks like it goes to sea first then back to the south. One of the 2 ships/routes goes to Skagway where there's a train excursion. As a RR engineer's granddaughter and as a former RR crew dispatcher (summer college job), sounds appealing. :good2:

How was the temp? Seriously, I'm a real wimp at cold. :laugh:
 

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I worked as an engineer on a small cruise boat that did south east Alaska and the inside passage. The company was called Lindblad Expeditions, they are associated with National Geographic now.

I can say without a doubt go cruise Alaska it is breathtaking.

Late July thru mid August is the warmest time there. The air temps can get fairly warm. On a cruise the water you are in will always be cold which will always give the air on the ship a cool feel.

Cruising season starts in late May and you can still get days with snow. Season ends in early September when the trees turn and snow is coming soon.
 

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just watched a piece on cruise ships on my tv tonight on the news(nbc nightly news) seems some lady had a stroke as soon as they left Florida, so the captain dropped her and husband off in the Bahamas. from their they had to pay $15,000 for a ride on a helicoptor back to Florida.

so now there suing the cruise line for not having enough dr stuff on board to take care of a stroke victim.

so the cruise lines are saying to get urselve checked out good before ya leave.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
just watched a piece on cruise ships on my tv tonight on the news(nbc nightly news) seems some lady had a stroke as soon as they left Florida, so the captain dropped her and husband off in the Bahamas. from their they had to pay $15,000 for a ride on a helicoptor back to Florida.

so now there suing the cruise line for not having enough dr stuff on board to take care of a stroke victim.

so the cruise lines are saying to get urselve checked out good before ya leave.
Feel for them $$$-wise, but a cruise ship is NOT a floating hospital. As for the checkup, strokes are not normally predictable AFAIK, and if you live your life worrying about about what MIGHT happen, you're not going to have much of a life.
 

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The temperatures when we went were primarily in the upper 60s. I put a light jacket on when we were in the College Fjords watching the glaciers calf. It was about 50 there. I laughed at the people wearing the old style Air Force parkas, the greenish- gray one with the fur around the edge of the hood.:laugh: It wasn't that cold.
 

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just watched a piece on cruise ships on my tv tonight on the news(nbc nightly news) seems some lady had a stroke as soon as they left Florida, so the captain dropped her and husband off in the Bahamas. from their they had to pay $15,000 for a ride on a helicoptor back to Florida.

so now there suing the cruise line for not having enough dr stuff on board to take care of a stroke victim.

so the cruise lines are saying to get urselve checked out good before ya leave.
Their case will be thrown out.

Two words, folks: Trip Insurance

Anyone that has EVER been on a cruise knows that anything you run into that isn't "included" is expensive. Period. Get trip insurance that will cover things like "medical evacuation" (which is exactly what that helicopter ride was).

Also - If you are NOT a drinker or a gambler, consider a Disney Alaska cruise. Yes, they're more expensive, but Disney's focus is 100% on Guest Experience / Customer Service. AND, they include all of the standard drinks in their cruise fare (some latte type drinks and stuff aren't included) while others include coffee and maybe water ONLY.

Cruising in "high hurricane season" has a VERY unlikely risk of an actual storm interrupting or even canceling your trip (again, see trip insurance). The REAL chance of impact to you is possibly missing a port of call or some motion sickness if you're susceptible. I was on one of the larger Disney boats in 2014 and seas were a little rougher than normal. Some of the others had their stomachs upset a bit while it didn't really seem to affect me. The REAL problem on that cruise was that we were unable to dock at Disney's private island (Castaway Cay).

For those that aren't Disney fans... It's still a great cruise. It's not a floating theme park or even close. It's Disney's touch on a cruise, and again .... They're all about Guest Experience. Sure, you'll see the major characters and such, and yes - there are children. But there are also plenty of areas on the boat that are adults only.
 

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ddbuda - My late father and still living mother took their Alaska cruise on or about their 50th wedding anniversary in the early 2000's. For them, it ranked right up with some of their great lifetime trips together.

I love being on the sea, but have never done a cruise. My wife went with some friend in 2008 in the Gulf of Mexico out of New Orleans. Building tropical weather cut their cruise short, but the excursion folk still managed to steer her towards some "tax-free" diamond ear studs.

Alcohol seems to be a big profit item for cruise lines, so be forwarned and plan accordingly (pro tip: Vodka with a couple of drops of blue food coloring looks a lot like blue mouthwash! Gold Tequila or bourbon/scotch looks a lot like gold Listerine. Just saying...)

If you go, enjoy your trip. Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. 50 is extremely rare when most first marraiges struggle to survive five years.

Brian

QUOTE=dianedebuda;3233490]So our 50th is coming up in Aug. Thinking of trying our first cruise. Initial thoughts are the Virgin Islands or Alaska, but that's high hurricane season, so focusing more on Alaska. See typical daytime highs of 62° which is almost winter for Central Texans - not good. :laugh: So for those who have been there, done that, can you share some thoughts?[/QUOTE]
 

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Yes, the temps can be cool on the trip, especially around the glaciers. But, who the heck doesn't want to get out of Texas in the summer (or anytime for those of us with a Sooner background). While the scenery from the ship is cool, the Alaskan experience is all about the excursions. Out of Juneau, we took a helicopter to top of a glacier and rode on a dog sled!!!!! (Pricey at $600 each, but so worth it.) Steam train along the trail of 89 (I believe) out of Skagway, also exceptional!!! Do not get off in Canada, Victoria or whatever it was, just required by law if you depart from US. On that, highly recommend a couple of days pre-trip in Seattle and departing from there.

As for the doomsayer above, also highly recommend a MedJet, or similar, membership. We have kids who travel internationally frequently. Medjet will come and get you anywhere in the world and bring you home, free with membership at $300ish a year, dead or alive. No joke, try getting a dead body back to the US, $$$$$$.
 

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ddbuda - My late father and still living mother took their Alaska cruise on or about their 50th wedding anniversary in the early 2000's. For them, it ranked right up with some of their great lifetime trips together.

I love being on the sea, but have never done a cruise. My wife went with some friend in 2008 in the Gulf of Mexico out of New Orleans. Building tropical weather cut their cruise short, but the excursion folk still managed to steer her towards some "tax-free" diamond ear studs.

Alcohol seems to be a big profit item for cruise lines, so be forwarned and plan accordingly (pro tip: Vodka with a couple of drops of blue food coloring looks a lot like blue mouthwash! Gold Tequila or bourbon/scotch looks a lot like gold Listerine. Just saying...)

If you go, enjoy your trip. Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. 50 is extremely rare when most first marraiges struggle to survive five years.

Brian

QUOTE=dianedebuda;3233490]So our 50th is coming up in Aug. Thinking of trying our first cruise. Initial thoughts are the Virgin Islands or Alaska, but that's high hurricane season, so focusing more on Alaska. See typical daytime highs of 62° which is almost winter for Central Texans - not good. :laugh: So for those who have been there, done that, can you share some thoughts?
[/QUOTE]

While Spirits are generally prohibited to bring on board a cruise ship, check to see what they would allow for Wine or Beer. Additionally, you can often bring additional quantities on board from a port of call. For example: Two bottles of wine (per person) when you board, and two bottles per person at each port of call... That's a LOT of wine on that cruise! Lol.

If you bring our own wine and bring it to dinner, expect to pay the equivalent of two glasses of wine as a corking fee at the table, though. Bring your own and have a glass in your stateroom either before dinner, or afterward. And order dessert by Room Service after dinner if you want to have the wine with dessert afterward.

There are countless 'hacks' for stepping up the enjoyment of a cruise. ;)
 

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I can't comment on the cruise angle but I can on the weather.
I did a week float trip in August to fish for Trout a couple of years back.
Flew into Katmi Nat. Park in a float plane. They dropped us off on the river and we floated down river and fished for a week.
Now I fish for Trout in WI from the time the ice goes out in the spring till the rivers ice up in the late fall so I'm accustomed to cold weather.
The whole week I was there it was on the cool side, temps in the 50's and windy. I caught myself think more than once it be real nice to be here in August when its warm out. Only to realize that it is August!!

Fishing was good and the bear watching was great. Saw approx 2-3 dozen bears per day and you had to scare them off to keep a safe distance.
I'd go to Alaska for another fishing trip al tho at a different time for a different type of fishing.

alaska trip aug 2014 001.JPG

alaska trip aug 2014 012.JPG

ALASKA BEARS 2014-3 233.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The temperatures when we went were primarily in the upper 60s. I put a light jacket on when we were in the College Fjords watching the glaciers calf. It was about 50 there. I laughed at the people wearing the old style Air Force parkas, the greenish- gray one with the fur around the edge of the hood.:laugh: It wasn't that cold.
Probably be me. :laugh: Seriously, if I'm doing something, that temp's ok, but just standing/sitting...

Anyone that has EVER been on a cruise knows that anything you run into that isn't "included" is expensive. Period. Get trip insurance that will cover things like "medical evacuation" (which is exactly what that helicopter ride was).
Advice noted. :good2: Reading reviews and finding out about the "nickle and diming" - 'cept those aren't exactly "nickles" and "dimes". :laugh:

Also - If you are NOT a drinker or a gambler, consider a Disney Alaska cruise. Yes, they're more expensive, but Disney's focus is 100% on Guest Experience / Customer Service. AND, they include all of the standard drinks in their cruise fare (some latte type drinks and stuff aren't included) while others include coffee and maybe water ONLY.
My drinking is mostly wine with dinner and have had a couple of sweet mixed drinks that I like, but that's about it for booze; hubby same except he'll have a beer once in awhile. BUT, I live on Diet Coke... and would like to try some stuff. Son went on a cruise with all drinks included and felt it was worthwhile - and he drinks far less than we do. By the end of his cruise, he had all of his tablemates drinking milk as the preferred beverage. :laugh: As for gambling, l spent a whole $2 on a slot machine when at Monte Carlo in the 70s. :lol:

Cruising in "high hurricane season" has a VERY unlikely risk of an actual storm interrupting or even canceling your trip (again, see trip insurance).
Tell that to my daughter. 2 Disney cruises in the last few years; 2 hurricane interruptions. :laugh: If the "cruise" experience is to our liking, we'd probably do a Carribean cruise - just not during hurricane season. Our vacations used to be pretty independent & active, but it's been years since we've been on one now, and there's mobility issues these days. So cruise seems like a alternative to check out. I'm not a Disney character fan and suspect I'd get really annoyed real fast. But I'm sure they really make a solid visitor package, so I'll keep an open mind.

My late father and still living mother took their Alaska cruise on or about their 50th wedding anniversary in the early 2000's. For them, it ranked right up with some of their great lifetime trips together.
Pretty much what I've heard too. Hate cold weather, but love visiting mountains & scenery. Cruise seems like a good match to see a snippet of Alaska.

My wife went with some friend in 2008 in the Gulf of Mexico out of New Orleans. Building tropical weather cut their cruise short, but the excursion folk still managed to steer her towards some "tax-free" diamond ear studs.
I'm not much into shopping, so guess they'll have a tough time with me. :laugh:

Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. 50 is extremely rare when most first marraiges struggle to survive five years.
Seems like we have a LOT of 40-, 50-year anniversaries here on GTT. Obviously a group of people who know that marriage needs learned skills like tolerance, consideration and how to listen. :good2:

Yes, the temps can be cool on the trip, especially around the glaciers. But, who the heck doesn't want to get out of Texas in the summer
That thought has crossed my mind...

Out of Juneau, we took a helicopter to top of a glacier and rode on a dog sled!!!!! (Pricey at $600 each, but so worth it.) Steam train along the trail of 89 (I believe) out of Skagway, also exceptional!!! Do not get off in Canada, Victoria or whatever it was, just required by law if you depart from US.
Sound like great excursions. Train would be planned.

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Which cruise lines have y'all used that you've liked? And booking agencies? Big/small ships? Inside/outside rooms? Doubt we'd stay in cabin much unless we're not feeling well.

Reading through a ton a reviews about the NCL Bliss (just happens to be the first, not a choice selection) and finding a feeling that elevator use is extremely crowded. Could be a real problem for hubby since he can't do stairs. Shows (important to us) seem to be Jersey Boys (highly rated) and Havana (mixed). Observation deck seating seems to be hard to get. Are there other places to sit where it's warm & protected (if raining or windy) to watch outside? Food gets mixed reviews - a tiny bit of a surprise since I thought FOOD was a cruise highlight. Seems every activity has to be booked well in advance. Tough for a first timer...
 

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We were on the Carnival Spirit. If I remember from the last time I looked NCL Bliss is a very large ship. Would definitely go with a smaller number of passengers in your position, even a few hundred makes a big difference. We had a balcony suite on the rear of the ship and loved it, never went to the observation deck. Book directly with the cruise line if possible. I also booked our excursions directly with the providers, not thru the cruise line. Cruise Critic and others have all the advise you could ask for and more.....
 

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We went on Princess. I thought the food was great. I'm a very picky eater. They don't tell you but, you don't have to order off the menu.

There were plenty of places inside to be able to see out. I don't recall them being overly heated if they were actually had heat at all.
 

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My drinking is mostly wine with dinner and have had a couple of sweet mixed drinks that I like, but that's about it for booze; hubby same except he'll have a beer once in awhile. BUT, I live on Diet Coke... and would like to try some stuff. Son went on a cruise with all drinks included and felt it was worthwhile - and he drinks far less than we do. By the end of his cruise, he had all of his tablemates drinking milk as the preferred beverage. :laugh: As for gambling, l spent a whole $2 on a slot machine when at Monte Carlo in the 70s. :lol:
Disney includes 'most' drinks that aren't alcoholic in the price. I'm not aware of any other cruise lines that do. So, drinking a LOT of soda would mean that a drink package would be extremely valuable on almost any cruise line... EXCEPT Disney (I honestly don't even remember if they offer one).

Alcoholic drinks and some of the latte or other coffee-type drinks that aren't regular coffee are not included - you'll have to pay for those. They will allow you to bring your own bottle of wine to dinner, but there's a $25 corkage fee that you pay. This is actually pretty common with any restaurants that allow you to bring your own alcohol. While the $25 is on the high side, it's per table, per meal as opposed to a per person fee. So, if you were at a table of four and everyone had some of the wine, you would pay only one fee (I believe per bottle, c

I know that Disney allows two 750ml bottles of wine OR a six-pack of 12oz containers of beer per person when boarding. You just have to have them in your carry-on bags and not in baggage that the cruise is handling for you. No gambling on Disney boats.

Tell that to my daughter. 2 Disney cruises in the last few years; 2 hurricane interruptions. :laugh: If the "cruise" experience is to our liking, we'd probably do a Carribean cruise - just not during hurricane season. Our vacations used to be pretty independent & active, but it's been years since we've been on one now, and there's mobility issues these days. So cruise seems like a alternative to check out. I'm not a Disney character fan and suspect I'd get really annoyed real fast. But I'm sure they really make a solid visitor package, so I'll keep an open mind.
That stinks. As I mentioned, travel insurance. If the cruise is interrupted, you get cash back for anything that isn't reimbursed.

The characters are not "everywhere" on the ships. In fact, they tell you every day where the characters will be and when (for photos and such). Not interested? Be somewhere else on the boat at that time. Also, I don't believe the characters are ever in the Adults Only areas of the boat - hang out there and you'll never run into them. Disney has a pretty unique spin on dining, too...

Which cruise lines have y'all used that you've liked? And booking agencies? Big/small ships? Inside/outside rooms? Doubt we'd stay in cabin much unless we're not feeling well.

Reading through a ton a reviews about the NCL Bliss (just happens to be the first, not a choice selection) and finding a feeling that elevator use is extremely crowded. Could be a real problem for hubby since he can't do stairs. Shows (important to us) seem to be Jersey Boys (highly rated) and Havana (mixed). Observation deck seating seems to be hard to get. Are there other places to sit where it's warm & protected (if raining or windy) to watch outside? Food gets mixed reviews - a tiny bit of a surprise since I thought FOOD was a cruise highlight. Seems every activity has to be booked well in advance. Tough for a first timer...
So far, I have been on two of the Disney ships and am lining up a third trip. The very first time was booked through an agent, but everything since has been booked direct. Disney doesn't offer any kind of discounts, nor do they provide any on-board credits (directly or through agencies). So, the best you'll potentially get would be an onboard credit that the agency pays for directly or...

Book through Costco Travel if you're a member. Get a membership (AND their credit card) if you're not a member. Booking through them will get you a Costco Cash Card (you get this AFTER the cruise), prices no higher than booking anywhere else, and paying with their credit card will net you a good chunk of cash back. Basically, any cruise totaling $3,000 or more will provide enough cash back to cover the cost of your Executive Membership upgrade ($120 versus $60 per year).

The Costco Travel agents are super helpful, too. And, like Disney, they focus on Customer Experience and want you to be happy with your purchase.

As far as the kind of room... You have to evaluate how much time you're likely to actually spend -in- the room. If you will genuinely never be there except to sleep (honestly, most cruise passengers could fit this description), then don't spend money on a room with a verandah. If you're like me, though, you will schedule a Room Service delivery of coffee for 7:00AM or so as your "wake up call" just to sit out on the verandah before you go to breakfast.

Some cruises will offer a category guarantee at a good savings... You could book one of those to get a verandah stateroom without actually paying the full price for it. There are a lot of restrictions (no refunds, no rescheduling, can't pick your room, etc.), but the savings is significant.
 

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Took my wife on two back-to-back alaska cruises for her 50th. (Vancouver BC to Seward, Seward to Vancouver BC).
We used Celebrity. Fantastic experience.
Plenty of elevator space, Celebrity caters to an older crowd than many, including those with mobility issues, and my wife was just a few years short of needing a knee replacement,
so she used the elevators. I used the stairs anytime I could as I needed to keep exercising to compensate for the food....
Shore excursions were fantastic, and Celebrity stops at Icy Strait Point, which is a fantastic experience.
Celebrity has their all-you-can-drink packages tiered, based on what you want to drink - I went with the soda pacakge and drank gallons of diet coke,
I think I had and paid for 2 glasses of wine all trip - The difference in price between the soda and full alcohol package was $18/day, more than enough to pay for 2 glasses
of wine the entire trip.... My wife got the next package up("Premium non-alcoholic") because it included all the fancy coffee drinks. I think she bought 4 glasses of wine all trip.
Don't discount the verandas - there's nothing like sitting on your private veranda and watching alaska drift by, but they are more expensive. I've been told the inner rooms
can be slightly claustrophobic. (NO windows at all)
Alternatively, there are beautiful lounges on the upper decks looking out the front (or a huge, but uncovered, bar at the rear) that were rarely occupied - I'd take a book
and go sit there and look out.

Temperature can be anything it feels like. We went in mid/late June, and packed based on 'normal' weather for that time of year(low-mid 60 degree highs) - long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, etc.
What we needed were short sleeve shirts and sunscreen - temperature broke 80 most days, 60 degree overnight lows.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
NCL Bliss is a very large ship. Would definitely go with a smaller number of passengers in your position, even a few hundred makes a big difference. We had a balcony suite on the rear of the ship and loved it, never went to the observation deck. Book directly with the cruise line if possible. I also booked our excursions directly with the providers, not thru the cruise line. Cruise Critic and others have all the advise you could ask for and more.....
Thought initially that a large ship would offer more show options... doesn't look to be the case. Balcony room: assuming from earlier posts that this would be too cold to just sit there for me. I'm such a wuss w.r.t. cold. :laugh: Cruise Critic is where I've started at, but GTT is where I figure I'll get the best advice for someone who just lives in jeans and tees - and wants to cruise that way too. :laugh:
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Book through Costco Travel if you're a member. Get a membership (AND their credit card) if you're not a member. Booking through them will get you a Costco Cash Card (you get this AFTER the cruise), prices no higher than booking anywhere else, and paying with their credit card will net you a good chunk of cash back. Basically, any cruise totaling $3,000 or more will provide enough cash back to cover the cost of your Executive Membership upgrade ($120 versus $60 per year).

The Costco Travel agents are super helpful, too. And, like Disney, they focus on Customer Experience and want you to be happy with your purchase.
May need to think about Costco. Walked through the store once, but didn't see anything that I'd want to buy that didn't have an equivalent at Sam's. :dunno: But, my dad is needing a hearing aid, and there's been some good posts here on GTT about those at Costco.

Would be really weird for me to use a Travel Agent. Use to work for an airline subsidiary and wrote software FOR travel agents. :laugh: Sure wish I had those flight benefits these days. :laugh:
 
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