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Reviewed June 27, 2012

So we never wanted to do a cruise! Always prefer a beach vacation so kept putting of Alaska!!
WOW! We are so glad we changed our minds. We do not like too many people around us well on celebrity cruise lines (smaller ships) you don't feel hemmed in. We did Aquaspa and I would highly recommend paying the extra as you get to eat in the delightful Blu restaurant...soooo worth it!! Now for the vistas, views, mountains, whales, dolphins, scenery it will take your breath away. We did from Vancouver up to Seward. Saving the Hubbard Glacier till last...the whole time I felt I had been magically whisked away to another land...just soooo beautiful that you have to see it for yourself. We snorkeled in Ketchikan...yes snorkeled. We rode bikes and zip lined in Icy strait point and hiked. We did the helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier and landed on it and then walked around. We did the Klondike train ride...again amazing and saw our first bear!! Having dinner and still light at 10.30-11.30 just wonderful. Splurge and get a balcony we loved taking in our own private view. Every day just kept getting better and we could not believe how lucky we were to take in the majesty of this amazing place. Cruising days were so relaxing and watching the mountains go by and seeing the changes outstanding. If you are like us and think 'nah' we will wait...don't, just do it!! It is phenomenal! Alaska we will back!! You made my purr meter very, very happy indeed =^_^=

Date of experience: June 2012
12  Thank TexasTravelingkitty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2012

Were with a tour group so cruise ship was chosen for us. Scenary spectacular but I suffered from travel sickness as we had some choppy water in Pacific so be aware if you are not a good sailor.
It was not as cold as predicted, rather like cool spring in N.Ireland at 10-11 degs.
Glacier bay was all everyone said about it, the glacier was blue and 16miles deep,we were even lucky to see a small piece of the glacier calfing.Unfortunately we did not have the best weather to see it a rain jacket for this trip is a must.

Date of experience: May 2012
5  Thank squinky57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 16, 2012

The cruise was speclacular - we were lucky to have splurged to have a balcony suite and so we could just sit there and enjoy it all and did sit/stand the whole way up the passage and the sun shone all the way The different colours, calmness and mirror like reflections of the water as well as the trees, glaciers and waterfalls really made for the most spectacular photos. There was hardly anything more than a few small boats in the water which were presumably the locals and sometimes you would see in the distance another cruiser but not close enough to spoil any of our photos. The area is just so still, quite and breathtaking. It was also freezing, but hey what else would you expext in Alaska

Date of experience: August 2011
8  Thank Ozziechick45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 22, 2012

We have just returned from this cruise to Alaska on the HAL Zuiderdam for our honeymoon. The scenery was breathtaking, especially in Glacier Bay, and wildlife plentiful as long as you had good binoculars. The distances and scale are vast - covering 2000 nautical miles in a week. The staff were great - extremely helpful and very friendly. Food mostly good - lots of choice - but be careful if you are a strict vegetarian - when they make fresh pasta sauce they tend to use the same pan each time without cleaning, likewise the same utensils. Public areas of the ship are lavish and facilities mostly very good. Wifi was prohibitively expensive in my opinion.

Stopovers were fine - great to stretch legs on dry land - but all 3 - Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan were very touristy and similar to each other. Excursions organised by HAL were, in my opinion, far too expensive, but I know some people rated theirs highly.

The major downside for us was the "spacious stateroom" as they like to call them. Despite paying quite a bit extra for one with a balcony, I could not in all honesty describe it as spacious. We had to move out of the way to let each other pass by the bed to get to the window or the bathroom.The bathroom was very cramped and smelly, although cleaned every day - something to do with wall to wall plastic perhaps? The small sofa was very uncomfortable, and there was only one chair, so meals taken in our room meant one of us had to eat from our lap.
We were perhaps unlucky with our allocation, but our view from the balcony was very limited by the proximity of lifeboats.

You really don't need too much evening wear - unless that's what you want to do of course - as you can dine informally anytime if you choose to do so. One suit, collar and tie/dress will suffice for the 2 formal nights. Take layers as it can be very cold - or conversely surprisingly warm; a waterproof is essential and dont forget gloves and scarves - altho all these can be purchased in any of the ports.

Disembarking was absolute chaos. Although HAL have an efficient system, apparently 6 cruise ships disembarked at the same time in Vancouver, meaning about 12,000 passengers were trying to get to their various destinations, there were no signs, very few staff, and no guidance. We were lucky to find the right place for our pick up in time - or we would have been stranded, as there was only one coach out to Victoria on that day.

Date of experience: May 2012
10  Thank lyndad910
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2012

For the adventurer seeking a road less traveled, Alaska's Prince of Whales Island provides the perfect venue to drop out and get in touch with your wilder nature.

There are two distinct versions of Prince of Whales Island, the one that 99% of visitors from the lower 48 will experience, and the one I am about to describe. For most visitors, Prince of Whales Island is known for its many world-class fishing lodges and resorts which dot both the eastern and western shores. For a few who dare to look behind the curtain and venture into the interior, Prince of Whales Island is a vast wilderness of pristine temperate rain forest waiting to be explored.

If your going to Prince of Whales Island's interior, don't expect to find the services you're accustomed to at home like a Starbucks or McDonald's on every corner. You'll want to bring most of your supplies, as the cost of goods and services on the island are somewhat inflated but more importantly limited. There are over 1,500 miles of road to explore leading to spectacular inlets and bays with views or the surrounding islands.

There are ample opportunities to hook into all five species of salmon as well as steel head (early spring), rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and artic char while you're exploring the diverse regions of the island. The Klawock River offers some great salmon action as does the Thorne. If you want to bring home copious amounts of fish I suggest getting out on the ocean. Saltwater charters are popular from Craig. Coffman Cove, Klawock, Naukati and Thorne Bay also have limited charter services.

The Prince of Wales Island road system is a mixture of paved byways and hard packed dirt. If you're going to explore the miles and miles of logging roads, I'd recommend a four wheel drive vehicle equipped with winch.

There are ample camping options on Prince of Whales Island. As a matter of fact you can camp most anywhere as long as you're not within town limits. The island is all part or Tongass National Forest which is the largest in the United States with over 17 million acres. There are designated campsites located between Craig and El Capitan, but the best spots you will discover on your own. There is a sense of freedom that you just can't find anymore. If I were to sum up the island culture, it would be just to live and let live.

A rich Native American culture thrives on Prince of Wales Island. The two tribes that inhabit the island and its surroundings are the Tlingit, and Haida. The Tlingit are concentrated in Klawock, and the Haida are concentrated in Hydaburg. If you go to Hydaburg, you will see a great collection of totems, but don't expect a warm welcome. In contrast I found my Klawock totem park visit quite memorable. I meet a Tlingit named George from the Raven clan. George invited me to his humble home and we shared music and gifts for over two hours.

Prince of Wales Island is located 600 miles north of Seattle. It is the third largest Island in the US. Alaska Airlines provides service to Ketchikan International Airport. Float or wheel plane service is available to Hollis, Klawock or Craig. The Inter-Island Ferry service is just a three hour ride from Ketchikan to Hollis. Ketchikan 90 minutes from Seattle via Alaska Airlines.

If your heading to SE Alaska contact Alaska's Inside Passage Resorts, a consortium of fishing lodges, small ship cruises and yacht charters. They specializes in Alaskan sportfishing and wilderness adventures. They've been operating since 1994.

Date of experience: August 2011
12  Thank George D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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