ALASKA 2006: SHIP PHOTOS & INFORMATION
- Carnival: Carnival Spirit
- Celebrity: Mercury, Infinity, Summit
- CruiseWest: Spirit of Oceanus
- Holland America: Statendam, Ryndam, Veendam, Volendam, Zaandam, Oosterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam
- Norwegian: Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Wind
- Princess: Sun, Dawn, Coral, Island, Diamond, Sapphire, Regal
- Regent: Seven Seas Mariner
- Royal Caribbean:
Serenade, Vision, Radiance of the Seas
- Silversea Cruises: Silver Shadow
- Comparative Chart of the Alaska fleet
- Links to Cruise Line Web Sites
What to consider when choosing a ship Cruise Ship Itineraries Tipping onboard ship Port of Vancouver Ship Calendar for 2006
Vancouver Sailout Photos Cruising & the Environment Canada Place & Ballantyne Photos Contact Cruise Watch
ABOUT THE CHART:
- The Space Ratio is the GRT (gross registered tonnage) divided by the number of passengers. It gives a rough idea of how spacious the ship is. A good score is 35 or over.
- One registered ton = 100 cubic feet
- + Home Port Seattle
^ Home Port San Francisco
x Inaugural Season in Alaska
|TONNAGE & LENGTH
- mid market
- open dining option
Regal Princess ^
|HOLLAND AMERICA LINE:
premium market - traditional - refined service
mid market - active -
premium market - traditional - sophisticated
|NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE:
mid market -
|Norwegian Sun +
Norwegian Star +
|CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES:
mid market - active - family
|Carnival Spirit||88,500-960ft||April 2001|
|REGENT SEVEN SEAS:
|Seven Seas Mariner||50,000-709ft||March 2001|
|Silver Shadow||28,258-610 ft||Sep 2000|
small ships - eco-adventure
|Spirit of Oceanus||4,200-297ft||37||1991|
CHOOSING A SHIP
Choosing the right ship is important for the cruise experience you want. Things to consider and discuss with your travel agent and study on deck plans are listed below. See Alaska 2006 Ship Photos and Info for more details about each line and ship.
FEATURES TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A SHIP FOR ALASKA SIZE
The trend in cruising over the years, has been towards larger ships with more entertainment options and more space for passengers. If getting around the ship is a concern for you due to mobility issues or if you are travelling with children or seniors, check the deck plan and make sure your cabin is located close to elevators that take you near the public rooms you want to use the most or choose one of the smaller ships.
NUMBER OF PASSENGERS
A bigger ship doesn't necessarily mean a more crowded ship. Today's ships are being built with space in mind. The Passenger Space ratio is an indicator of spaciousness. A score of 35 or higher is very good.
ENCLOSED SWIMMING POOL
An indoor pool is an excellent idea for Alaska sailing where temperatures can be cold. A number of ships have indoor pools or retractable domes (magrodomes) so a pool can be closed in if the weather turns cold and wet. Vision of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Veendam, Ryndam, Statendam, Volendam, Zaandam, Oosterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, Mercury, Infinity, Summit, Carnival Spirit, Diamond Princess, Sapphire Princess, Coral Princess, Island Princess and Norwegian Star all have enclosed swimming areas. Sun and Dawn Princess have a small pool and Jacuzzis in their spa.
OBSERVATION LOUNGE & GLASSED-IN PUBLIC ROOMS
The ships of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are outstanding in these areas. Passengers have a strong connection with the sea aboard these ships because there is so much glass in the public areas. This is also helpful for those who suffer from motion sickness as you never feel closed in or confined on these ships which is something that can contribute to nausea.
Observation lounges are a wonderful place to view sailout, the Inside Passage and Glaciers in Alaska, especially if the weather is inclement. For some passengers though, this feature is unimportant. They would rather be on deck whatever the conditions or on their private balcony. Outstanding observation lounges are found on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Silversea and Norwegian Cruise Line ships.
This is a feature that used to be standard. In the '70s, cruise ship architects started shortening the promenade decks, replacing them with more open deck space and jogging tracks around the top of the ship. This just isn't the same as the teak deck encircling the ship, close to the sea. All Holland America Ships have a full promenade, in keeping with their traditional style. Radiance and Serenade of the Seas have a full promenade that allows you to venture out onto the Helicopter pad on the bow, one of the best deck areas on any ship afloat today.
The Sun and Dawn Princesses' promenade decks wrap around but are closed in at the bow giving you a view of some of the technical equipment. Summit and Infinity are cut off aft.
FORWARD FACING DECK SPACE
A lot of passengers prefer forward facing deck space for any type of scenic viewing. Sun, Sea, Coral, Island, Diamond and Sapphire Princesses, Infinity, Summit, Oosterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, and Radiance and Serenade of the Seas all have good forward facing deck space.
There are many places to eat on today's cruise ships. Apart form the formal dining room, there will be at least one restaurant where buffet breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed. On Vision of the Seas and the Sun and Dawn Princesses these restaurants are magnificent semi-circular dining areas, forward, with great views. (On Radiance and Serenade of the Seas the Windjammer is located aft and is an indoor/outdoor cafe). Summit and Infinity have expansive cafes and grills with great views, aft.
Other places to eat may include a pizzeria, Sports Bar, Bistro, coffee shop and poolside hot dog/hamburger/pizza or buffet area..
Alternative specialty restaurants abound today. Infinity and Summit honor the liners SS United States and Normandie, respectively, in stunning dining rooms that recreate that era of unparalleled cuisine. Radiance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Carnival Spirit and the Princess ships have steakhouses on board. The Holland America fleet now have very elegant specialty restaurants called the Pinnacle Grill which feature Pacific Northwest cuisine and wines.
Most of these restaurants require reservations and a service charge of $8 to $25, is applied to your stateroom account. They are excellent value with their superior cuisine and service - a very special experience during your cruise.
Norwegian Cruise Lines freestyle cruising and Princess Cruises' Personal Choice Dining (not available on Regal Princess) give you the flexibility to dine when you like without being tied to a set dinner time. This appeals to many while traditionalists prefer the ritual of first and second seating
Room service also varies. Sandwich menues are the norm. Pizza and a full breakfast (instead of continental) can be served in your stateroom on Celebrity. Breakfast can be ordered before you retire at night by as it is in a hotel. Aboard Silver Shadow you may order off the menu and have dinner served in your suite.
Dining has become quite a complex affair on today's ships so be sure to discuss the options with your agent when booking
Casinos on the big ships in Alaska are mostly Las Vegas style, some with more glitz than others. The smaller Silver Shadow has a gaming room. Casinos are regulated by the waters in which the ships sails and are therefore subject to Alaskan law regarding when they can be open. Casinos and shops are not open while the ship is in port.
More families are cruising to Alaska and children's and teens programs offering supervised entertainment and educational activities are found on board the major lines. The Princess ships offer the Love Boat Kids programs while Norwegian Cruise Line has Kids Crew. Holland America's kids program is called Club HAL. Although this line was long thought of as a traditional style line, catering to an older clientele, recent improvements to Club HAL have been well received by junior cruisers and their parents. The HAL Alaska fleet have Kids and teen centers. Excellent children and teens facilities are found on Serenade, Radiance and Vision of the Seas and their Adventure Ocean Program is well run. The same program is offered aboard the Celebrity Ships. The Carnival Spirit boasts amazing "family-friendly" children and teens facilities and an excellent program run by on board naturalists throughout the cruise.
Carnival offers kids only shore excursions in Alaska while Princess has a Junior Ranger program running all season. The lines also offer special educational Alaska program for families.
Children's menues and specially priced soft drink packages for the duration of the cruise are usually available.
Group babysitting in the children's area is often available outside the children's program hours. In Cabin babysitting can usually be arranged through the purser's desk on board and is often payable in cash.
Children's policies change often, so be sure to check anything you are concerned about re. travelling with children with your agent when booking.
TIPPING ON BOARD SHIP
There are a number of tipping policies in effect these days. To help you sort them out, here is an overview of tipping aboard the ships sailing to Alaska. Note that generally, children under 13 years of age tip half the amount of the adults and no tips are expected for those under 3 years old.
Automatic Tipping: Tips are automatically added to your shipboard account. The cruise line determines the amount per passenger per day per passenger. This is very popular as it saves time sorting out envelopes at the end of the cruise and working out how much you will give. Should you want to tip more or less than the cruise line suggestion, the amount can be adjusted at the Purser's/Front desk during the cruise. Note that children will be automatically charged the adult rate so be sure to have this adjusted at the front desk if you so choose.
Lines using automatic tipping are: Carnival, Holland America Line, Princess and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Prepaid Tips: Carnival gives you the option to prepay your tips by having them added to your cruise fare at a rate of $9.75 per person per day.
Traditional Tipping: Passengers give cash to their waiter, assistant waiter, cabin steward and any other people they feel deserve something on the last night of the cruise. Envelopes for the tips are placed in your stateroom for this purpose or you can pick them up at the Purser's/Front desk. Lines using this system issue guidelines for the amount that should be given. These days it is around $3.50 for the waiter and steward, $2.00 for assistant waiter per person per day. Other tips may also be suggested for Maitre d' etc.
Lines using traditional tipping are: Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises however, you do have the option of charging tips to your onboard account.
Tips included in the fare: The luxury lines include gratuities in the fare. Regent Seven Seas and Silversea are the lines in this category and Clipper Odyssey fares also includes tips.
Aboard the Cruise West ships, tipping is at the passenger's discretion and no guidelines are published.
Bar and spa tipping: Aboard ships employing traditional or automatic tipping, a 15 percent gratuity is generally added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for the Maitre d', room service, spa, casino and other staff are usually at the passenger's discretion. (You may find the spa staff asking if it is all right to automatically add a 15% tip to the charge.)
CRUISE LINE WEB SITES
CRUISE LINE: SHIPS SERVING ALASKA: American West Steamboat Co.
Sternwheeler Empress of the North round-trip from Juneau.
American Safari Cruises
Motor yachts in Alaska and from Seattle, Safari Quest, Safari Spirit and Safari Escape
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Spirit from Vancouver
Summit, Infinity, Mercury.
Clipper Odyssey - Luxury-adventure, small ship within Alaska & Russian Far East.
A fleet of small vessels in Alaska plus the Spirit of Oceanus between Vancouver and Anchorage.
Holland America Line
Zuiderdam, Zaandam, Volendam, Ryndam, Statendam, Veendam, Westerdam, Oosterdam.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Wind, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Star.
Coral, Island, Sun, Dawn, Diamond, Sapphire, Regal Princess
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Seven Seas Mariner from Vancouver
Royal Caribbean International
Vision, Serenade and Radiance of the Seas.
Silver Shadow returns to Alaska in 2006.
LINKS TO SMALL SHIP AND EXPEDITION COMPANIES:
- Cruise West: Spirit of Alaska (78 passengers) Spirit of Columbia (78 passengers), Spirit of Discovery (84 passengers), Spirit of Endeavour (102 passengers) and Sheltered Seas (70 passengers)
- Clipper Cruise Line: Yorktown Clipper (138 passengers) and Clipper Odyssey (128 passengers)
- Lindblad Expeditions: Sea Lion and Sea Bird (70-passengers)
- Aurora Explorer: A working freighter on the B.C. Coast - 12 passengers. The 2004 season sold out by September 1, 2003 so plan ahead for this trip. There is a waiting list.
- Nautilus Explorer offers scuba diving tours along the B.C. and Alaska coast.
- American Safari Cruises: motor yachts Safari Quest (22 passengers) Safari Spirit (12 passengers) and Safari Escape (12 passengers)
- 26 Glacier Cruise high speed catamaran on Princes William Sound.
©Susan Milne, 2006TOP