Holland or Princess for Alaska?

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by Shanti, Jan 13, 2018.

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Holland America or Princess for Alaska?

  1. Holland's ms Nieuw Amsterdam

    8 vote(s)
    47.1%
  2. Golden, Star or Coral Princess

    9 vote(s)
    52.9%
  1. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    We had reservations paid in full for the Wonder but I finally cancelled them in favor of another line, as we can't afford a full balcony on a June DCL cruise to Alaska, and after having our first balcony on our Dream cruise last month, I realized how much I'll want one in Alaska.

    We'll be able to cruise Glacier Bay with a balcony cabin on either Holland or Princess, and the cost would be similar for either, outside of transportation. We'll cruise in early June, as that's when fits our schedule. We already have round trip airfare to Vancouver booked via WestJet, but we'll reschedule that by paying a nominal fee. We have no interest in adding a land portion before or after the cruise.

    Travelers are me (mom) and my 13 year-old son. We both want to see the natural wonders, have good food & service on the cruise, and appreciate an attractive ship. Don't require lots of "kid" activities, but the fewer areas/restaurants restricted to 18 & over, the better, as it's a mom & son cruise. Here are the choices:


    Holland America's ms Nieuw Amsterdam
    • Round trip out of Vancouver (cheapest airfare)
    • Glacier Bay
    • Inside passage
    • Tracy Arm
    • Juneau, Skagway & Ketchikan

    Golden, Star or Coral Princess
    • One way between Vancouver and Anchorage (pricer flights, but doable if it's worth it)
    • Glacier Bay
    • Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord (depends on which one-way route I choose)
    • Juneau, Skagway & Ketchikan
     
  2. Meriweather

    Meriweather Being a Nana is my superpower

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    Holland was much better....Glacier Bay is beautiful. Better food and more things to do.
    We were on the Golden Princess, not at all impressed with it.....Princess is not one of our favorite lines. We only go on them for itineraries
     
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  4. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    What do you specifically dislike about Princess? What activities do they offer on Holland? Thanks!
     
  5. Chrissy-Mickey

    Chrissy-Mickey Mouseketeer

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    Following! My family is currently making a similar choice: can't afford Disney during the summer, but want to go to Alaska... do we go with Princess, Holland America, or Norwegian?

    @Shanti: You did not include Norwegian in one of your options. May I ask why (previous experiences, not working out with your schedule, or...?)
     
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  6. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS veteran

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    Either Holland America or Princess would work for me. Between the two choices, I'd do HAL. Mostly because, both Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm are well worth the trip. Not many itineraries do both. Are both cruises 7 night ones?

    Both HAL and Princess have been "doing" Alaska the longest of all cruise lines. They are actually under the same parent company (Carnival) and have good options.

    We've done HAL twice to Alaska, and while we've not done Princess to Alaska, we've been on Princess for other cruises.
     
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  7. Simba's Mom

    Simba's Mom <font color=green>everything went to "H*** in a ha

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    I'd be curious to know also. DS spent 3 summers as music manager on 2 of the 3 Princess ships mentioned above. He loved the scenery, especially in Glacier Bay, and the only complaints he heard were about things Princess couldn't control, like the weather.
     
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  8. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    Yes, HAL and Princess both offer choices that fit our schedule better. They also both offer Glacier Bay and another glacier day- either Tracy Arm or Hubbard Glacier, whereas NCL only offers Glacier Bay for the dates I'm looking at. We've never cruised on any line but Disney.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  9. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    Yes, they're each 7-night cruises. How do the lines compare in terms of food, cabins and service?

    There's a lot less detail online about them than I can find about Disney cruises...
     
  10. Pens Fan

    Pens Fan DIS Veteran

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    Have you looked at the NCL Jewel which runs one way trips between Vancouver and Seward? The southbound trips go to Tracy Arm and Hubbard Glacier, but the northbound trips go to both Glacier Bay and Hubbard. We sailed the northbound itinerary on the NCL Sun last summer and it was terrific. Glacier Bay was just spectacular, but Hubbard is equally impressive. That massive wall of ice is something to behold! I don't know if the northbound version fits into your schedule, but if it does check it out.

    I haven't been on HAL or Princess, so can't give you any advice on them, but I will say that the HAL ships we saw were just beautiful - at least from the outside. On NCL, we had a nice mix of passengers. There were lots of families with kids, lots of couples and lots of seniors as well. Food was terrific - better than Disney - and I don't recall any of the restaurants having an age restriction. A lot of them have an upcharge (though there is plenty of free food to be had!), but if you book a balcony you will be able to choose at least 2 "free" perks (nothing is ever really free :P). One of the choices is a 3 night specialty dining package for the first two passengers (you can add additional passengers for an extra cost).

    Whatever you decide, enjoy Alaska. I really don't think you can go wrong whatever cruise line you choose. It's Alaska, and it's just magnificent!!
     
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  11. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS veteran

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    Foodwise, I prefer HAL. Princess food is basically Italian based items. HAL seems to have more variety.

    The staterooms are basically the same, smaller than what you'll find on DCL, but similar between both HAL and Princess.

    Service - I've found the service on both to be great.

    One other thing - decor - on HAL it's a bit more understated (darker and more wood) Princess is lighter and glitzy.

    The best show I've ever seen on a cruise ship was on HAL - Encore. Sadly, it's no longer done. :( But the shows on both lines are pretty much along the Vegas revue style show. Lots of songs, dancers, and flashy costumes. Not bad, but not great.
     
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  12. Meriweather

    Meriweather Being a Nana is my superpower

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    Well, Princess didn't have many activities we were interested in. But that could be us......too many of the cruise lines do spa based presentations that just want to sell you products.
    I have only been on 2.....Alaska and Norway/Iceland. Second was for itinerary.....and price. Food was not too good. Our Alaska cruise was with 11 people. DD (adult) had a hard tie finding anything to eat. It was sad.
    Entertainment was sad. Dancers and singers were not all that great. We skipped several shows. Didn't like our tablemates on the long Norway one, so stopped going to dinner (and we always go to dinner in the MDR).

    Holland was our first cruise....so it was special anyway. But they had a theater with popcorn. And talks (informative) with some of the entertainers (magician was really good). Food was better.
    Only been on 2 cruises with them also. The other they had upgraded the ships and culinary rooms for discussions and food prep and tasting.
    Entertainment was better.
     
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  13. jdb in AZ

    jdb in AZ It could end up curdled

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    I would go with Holland because it includes Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm. It's been several years since we sailed Holland and our travel agent said their food has gone downhill. Hopefully it's improved since then.

    We do like Princess, tho they do have some strange food on the buffet (which you aren't required to sample.) But squid ball soup? Eggplant pizza? I don't think so. We used to love their fresh fruit tarts but they've switched to putting the tart topping on shortbread cookies. Not the same. They do have shrimp salad at the International Cafe available most any time, and it's quite good, along with their French pastries.

    The best show we've seen on Princess was guest lecturer Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod. The next day the ship had Alaskan sled dog puppies in the atrium for the guests to play with.

    We're platinum with Princess, mainly due to their itineraries. Overall I like their food better than DCL.
     
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  14. dcassetta

    dcassetta DIS Veteran

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    Sailed with HAL to Alaska last summer on the Eurodam, sister ship to the Nieuw Amsterdam. Loved it! Sailed Princess about 10 years ago on a ship that's no longer in their fleet.

    As my Princess information may be outdated, I'll focus on HAL.

    I thought the dining was very good, especially in the Tamarind specialty restaurant, which I think was an up charge of $25 per person, but did not require an additional tip on top of that. They have a buffet available for all three meals, plus excellent quick service pizza and burgers. I saw young people and all of the restaurants, so I do not think that there is an age requirement for the specialties. We did not try room service.

    Really like the amenities available on board, especially the explores lounge which is a glassed in area on the top deck at the front of the ship with lots of lounge chairs and beautiful windows. It's the place where Disney has their gym. It's the one mistake I think Disney made in their planning. In addition to the lounge area, there's puzzles books limited use computers, and a nice coffee bar. It's also where the Rangers and cultural representatives were stationed during our visit to glacier Bay. There's a wide variety of music available, from chamber Orchestra, to jazz and blues band, to a dueling pianos area for pop hits. I thought all three were excellent. One of the things that may be very appealing to your son is the Holland America now has a relationship with the BBC earth, and we went to several shows in activities that were aligned with that, they were all terrific. The evening show called Frozen Planet featured the chamber musicians and amazing film footage. It's not to be missed. I believe there were also some BBC programs in the youth clubs, but we did not travel with children so I'm not sure about that.

    The cabins were smaller than those on Disney, but comfortable beds, stateroom host service was excellent.

    As you start to think about excursions, I would probably recommend booking on your own and most ports. We found we saved money and got better experiences that way, rather than booking through the ship. Went whale watching in Juneau with Captain Alan on the Scania there were four guests total, and he never takes more than eight. Excellent, excellent trip! www.whalewatchingjuneau.com. In Ketchikan we booked the deadliest catch crab tour, which was also a whole Lot of fun. Our cruise went to Sitka instead of Skagway, so I don't have a recommendation there currently, but when we went 10 years ago we rented a car in Skagway and drove up to Canada.
     
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  15. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    Is Tracy Arm really more of a draw than Hubbard Glacier? Posters keep saying they'd choose HAL for Tracy Arm, but I was under the impression that Hubbard Glacier was more magnificent. Thoughts?
     
  16. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    I don't see that itinerary available from NCL this summer, but Princess has one that I'm considering.
     
  17. Pens Fan

    Pens Fan DIS Veteran

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    For some reason, NCL's website doesn't include the Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier detail when you look at search results. Buy if you click on the Details tab, you can see exactly where it goes. This is the same basic itinerary we did on the Sun last summer. The Sun is moving to Cuba this summer and the Jewel is taking her place. Take a look at this:

    https://www.ncl.com/cruises/7-day-a...294953377&itineraryCode=JEWEL7VANKTNJNUSGYSWD
     
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  18. Pens Fan

    Pens Fan DIS Veteran

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    We've been to both (actually to Tracy Arm twice) and honestly if you've haven't seen either of them I wouldn't let that be the deciding factor as to which cruise to take. They are completely different experiences and both are wonderful. For Hubbard it's all about the glacier. It's enormous and just beautiful. My husband actually preferred Hubbard to Glacier Bay (though I disagree with that). Sawyer Glacier - at the end of Tracy Arm - is lovely, but it's nowhere near as impressive as Hubbard. But the cruise down Tracy Arm is just incredible and lasts for several hours. To me Tracy Arm is more about the journey to the glacier, rather than the glacier itself.

    You won't regret a cruise that goes to any of these magical places.
     
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  19. aprincessatlast

    aprincessatlast DIS Veteran

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    We loved the Princess Golden. It has been 4 years but kids loved it as much as we did. We are huge DCL fans but Princes food is top notch and services were fantastic. The ship reminded me a bit of DCL in aesthetics so that made me happy. The rooms were not as nice and rather plain but the main areas were on par with DCL. Kids loved the pools (yes we went swimming daily on our Alaska July sailing) and the inside pool is a bonus. Restaurants and buffet area was very nice. Views on the back of the ship in the hot tub was a nice touch. Nice family vibe on our sailing as they were people of all ages.
     
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  20. xlxo

    xlxo DIS Veteran

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    Thoughts....
    • skip NCL... especially if don't do glacier bay. Although the new mega Bliss experience from Seattle is tempting.
    • looking at that HAL itinerary.... I notice it offers Tracy Arm in the morning and Juneau in the afternoon. This means there's an optional Tracy Arm excursion. This will be the most popular excursion and first excursion to sell out as it offers a time saving mid-ocean transfer. Some people will only book a HAL Alaskan cruise if they can get space on that excursion
    • I bounce between Princess and HAL for my California cruises.... my experiences below may be one-offs
      • HAL has smaller mid-sized ships and crowd management (ie MDR) is bettered handled than Princess where it feels like long lines everywhere.
      • Princess large ships appear to have more quad cabins for families. If you like the outdoor theatre, it may be ideal for kids.
    • HAL offers 7 day Vancouver round trips... Princess is mainly one-ways to/from Vancouver.
    • June may still be ice congested in Tracy Arm. Cruise lines use the more friendly Endicott Arm as a backup plan.
     
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  21. TinkerbellLuvr7

    TinkerbellLuvr7 Tinkerbellluvr7

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    I read the first post about Golden Princess Alaska scared me! because my family and I are booked on that ship this June. We have only done DCL in verandahs (my brother + SIL have done DCL and RCCL) and we will be doing Princess in 3 inside rooms so it will be a change!

    We chose Princess over HAL as we read HAL is geared more towards the older adult crowd even though the ships look lovey. Bro, SIL and I are in our early 30s/late 20s. Friends of mine did HAL Alaska with their 3 kids last year (12, 10, and 7) and said it was lacking for kids. DCL was double the price, even for an inside room on Princess and did not go to Glacier Bay which was a selling feature for my family. I'll give Princess a try and see how it is!
     
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