Cruising solo to Alaska?
June 15, 2009 8:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering splurging and taking an Alaskan cruise next year. I'm a single female in my 40's and will be traveling alone. Please give me some feedback so I can decide if this is the right trip for me!

My main goals for this trip are to RELAX and see wonderful sights--I'm definitely not looking for a party-party-party atmosphere. I've never taken a cruise before--either alone or with others. Has anyone out there gone on a trip like this on their own? Any personal recommendations for a particular cruise line that will have activities available, but one where I won't feel "pushed" to engage with others at all times? (yes, I will be contacting travel agents for recommendations too). Please understand--I'm not anti-social, but I'm looking for some "me-time" and at the same time want to travel to a place I've never been, have always wanted to see, and probably will never experience again. Any thoughts on whether taking a cruise is the right choice for a solo traveller like me?
posted by bookmammal to Travel & Transportation around Alaska (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My parents (moderately active, outdoorsy 50-somethings) did this two years ago and both rave about it as the best trip either of them have ever taken. Their pictures are stunning, and they found the mix of on- and off-boat time was really optimal for both relaxing and getting to see (and hike around in) really outstanding wilderness first-hand. I don't know what company they went with, nor do I recall them mentioning anything in particular about the social vibe but will ask and report back.
posted by dr. boludo at 8:45 PM on June 15, 2009

I haven't been to Alaska, but I'm sure that on an Alaskan cruise, which I think will be a 7 day minimum, you won't have to worry about the whole party-party thing. In fact, you'll probably get exactly what it sounds like you want, judging from your 'more inside'. Also, you'll probably be below the average age, if that matters. I recommend Princess, for what that's worth.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 9:25 PM on June 15, 2009

Me and my husband (late 20s) and my mom (early 60's) went on one of these last year. We took Norwegan out of Seattle. Obviously we weren't on our own- but we didn't go with a big group, and weren't super social with any other people on the boat. On the boat, we relaxed, took pictures, did some people watching, and just read and watched the ocean go by. If I had it to do again, I would probably bring a project with me- there were on the boat activities, but they weren't all to my liking (smoky casino) or at the right time (who wants to get up early for the free yoga when you're on vacation?) Everyone who works on the boat seemed very nice and helpful, and my mom commented that she would feel completely comfortable going on a similar vacation alone.

I will say that the food on the boat wasn't all that good- and yet I ate it almost constantly, because it was free. (They advertise how many different restaurants they have on the boat- but you have to make reservations days ahead and pay to eat at most of the specialty places)By the end of the trip, I was eager to get off the boat to eat anything that tasted different.
posted by Secretariat at 9:46 PM on June 15, 2009

Oh, and while there are many bars on the boat, and organized "parties"- I think you would really have to work hard to find a party-party environment.
posted by Secretariat at 9:48 PM on June 15, 2009

A friend of mine has cruised to Alaska three times, she loves it so much. She's a single woman in her 30s and goes alone. She loves cruises and has been to various places the Caribbean, but the Alaska jaunt is her favorite. I don't know she swung it, but on a few of the cruises she defrayed part of the cost by working as a "babysitter" in the on-ship daycare center a few hours per day. (She's not a party person at all, and somewhat shy, so it sort of surprises me that she loves cruising so much.) Oh, and the photos she brought back from Alaska were breath-taking.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:03 PM on June 15, 2009

You won't be pushed to engage with others on any cruise line, really, with the possible exception of being seated with other people for dinner -- but even that is being phased out to a great extent. But all the party, dancing, drinking, silly game shit that happens on cruises is totally and completely optional, and while you'll hear announcements for it, and get itineraries of the things you could be doing, if you just sit your ass down on a lounge chair somewhere, the only person who'll likely talk to you is the occasional bar waiter asking if you want something to drink.

That's based on having cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian -- on none of them did I ever feel pressured to do anything at any point. If you show up, the activities are there. If you don't show up, then people leave you alone.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:42 PM on June 15, 2009

Cruise West is one of the best lines coming to Alaska. However, they seem to have a lot of programming. You could always plan your own vacation by hopping an Alaska state ferry.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:23 AM on June 16, 2009

just as a thought: if you want a less structured environment, the alaska marine highway system travels many of the same routes (and more) through the same scenery for less money. and you can camp on the deck of the ferry if you are adventurous and cheap.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:23 AM on June 16, 2009

You should consider browsing the forums at CruiseCritic. These people are hardcore cruisers and are pretty good as answering questions like these.
posted by girlmightlive at 5:58 AM on June 16, 2009

We booked with Holland America for our Alaska cruise. We've been on...9? 10? Cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbenan and Holland, and here's why we chose Holland for Alaska.

Holland brings actual park employees from Glacier Bay National Park on board to explain what you are seeing as you go through the Alaskan wilderness. You may not see whales (don't know when you are going), but if you do, they will be the most knowledgeable people out there.

They have blankets, lots of chaise longues, hot tea and hot chocolate out on the wooden decks for those cold sight-seeing days. They have a huge, 360 degree non-smoking windowed observatory so that when it rains (and it will rain when you are in Alaska), you can still enjoy the glaciers without freezing your ass off. Technically, this observatory also serves as a bar, but no one ever pressured us to buy a thing while we were up there.

Activities we enjoyed, but which were purely optional, included trivia matches, putting contests and "bowling." I usually just opted for the trivia, and high tea, which was a treat. I went by myself, so I think a single woman would enjoy it, too: rolling carts full of all kinds of teas, followed by pastry carts with petite-fours. They had an auction at sea, too, which many cruise lines do--I find it enjoyable to sip the free champagne and watch others bid on the (spectacularly over-priced) artwork.

Besides riding a bus to Mendenhall glacier (no need to book a cruise excursion), we visited Seward, Victoria and Ketchikan. Our cruise left from Seattle. I have heard that the Inside Passage North is the preferred route, not sure why.
posted by misha at 9:38 AM on June 16, 2009

My aunt is currently on an Alaska cruise. She sounded psyched before she left. So... Shoot me a MeMail in a week or two, and I'll let you know what she thought.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 1:16 PM on June 16, 2009

I went on a cruise to Alaska on my honeymoon last summer. I LOVED it and I could very much picture it being a perfect place to have some alone time. You aren't pressured to be anywhere or with anyone if you don't want to, and both being on the ship and going on excursions alone sounds pretty good if that's what you want.

My cruise was on the Coral Princess, so that's where my perspective is coming from. Everything was great, and as misha mentioned, Princess also gets rangers and experts to come on board and explain through loudspeakers everything that you're looking at when you're on some of the most interesting parts of the cruise (like Glacier Bay), in fact, on our cruise that left from Vancouver, we had a pretty cool explanation of the port of Vancouver and everywhere the ship passes through for like 45 minutes.

Anyway, I loved my Alaskan cruise honeymoon, but I'm the sort of person that would also love to have a whole week of alone time there. Have a good trip!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:16 PM on June 16, 2009

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