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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

Topic: Cruise

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May 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Alaska cruise: Do I still hate cruising? Let’s go out for a beer

Homeward bound: Tatoosh Island, with lighthouse, and Cape Flattery pass to starboard as Star Princess returns to Washington waters. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Homeward bound: Tatoosh Island, with lighthouse, and Cape Flattery pass to starboard as Star Princess returns to Washington waters. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

So, do I still hate cruising?

If I were sitting with you in a favorite watering hole over beers, the answer might be easier, though probably not shorter. (Some people tend toward glib in the influence of alcohol; I tend to wax philosophical.)

I might do that anyway, but for the record I’m drinking coffee as I write this. Decaf, even.

Also for the record: One cruise does not an expert make. And all my real-life experience with cruise ships has been gained in one week aboard one vessel run by one cruise line, namely Princess.

Cutting to the chase:

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Comments | More in Brian hates cruising, Cruises, Trip reports | Topics: Alaska cruise, Cruise, cruise critique

May 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Alaska cruise: Right people in the right jobs, but a kitschy captain’s party

One thing I like about this voyage: some of the people they’ve brought to their party.

–In a place such as Alaska, where nature is the star, it’s to the cruise line’s credit that they have an on-board naturalist of the caliber of Michael Modzelewski.

Michael Modlesweski, naturalist aboard Star Princess, introduces one of his friends during a slide show. (Photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Michael Modzelewski, naturalist aboard Star Princess, introduces one of his friends during a slide show. (Photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

He grew up in Cleveland, got an Indiana University journalism degree, and ended up living on his own on a wild Alaskan island. An author of several books and an Oprah Winfrey repeat guest (I won’t hold that against him), he’s called “the John Muir of our times” by author Amy Tan.

The Muir comparison seems a stretch, but he’s given a couple well-attended on-board slide-show lectures on Alaska’s natural wonders, tribal customs and wildlife, doing a good job of turning cruise passengers’ thoughts away from the casino and outside to the bears, eagles and glaciers. He’s as much motivational speaker as nature lover, and he likes to quote Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing every day that

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Comments | Topics: Alaska cruise, Cruise, cruise director

February 5, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Catch the wave with some Alaska cruise discounts

This is the time of year when cruise lines unleash some early-booking discounts, and Princess Cruises put some Alaska “cruisetours” on sale Tuesday for May and June sailings.

You can’t just saunter down to the dock in Seattle and board the ship; these deals are for “Denali on sale” cruise/land vacations between  Vancouver,  B.C., and Anchorage. The Princess deals include a seven-day cruise  and land vacation on Alaska, and includes two of the most popular sights – Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park.

The Star Princess cruise ship approaches Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge at dawn. (Photo by Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

Some sample fares (per person, based on double occupancy):

10-night Fairbanks/Vancouver On Your Own cruisetour: starting at $989 interior (was $1,370).

11-night Anchorage/Vancouver On Your Own cruisetour: $1,149 interior (was $1,587),

You could, of course, take one of the many cruises out of Seattle to Alaska; the Port of Seattle cruise website has a schedule of all the sailings. Most Seattle-Alaska cruises are

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Comments | More in Cruises, Tips & deals | Topics: Alaska, B.C., Cruise