Sailing to Alaska, one of the biggest potential mistakes travelers can make is to book a balcony stateroom and think doing so insures a grand time in the Land Of The Midnight Sun. That preferred location does have advantages but not as many as one might think. After a recent sailing, realization of that fact came flooding back to me, prompting this post and some good reasons not to choose a balcony. In the same breath, some suggestions for choosing a cabin location specific to Alaska cruising.
1. Round-Trip Seattle, Consider Which Side Of The Ship - Sailing with Holland America Line on an interesting 7-day Alaska itinerary, we began in Seattle. From there we sailed due North, along the west coast, making two dramatically different scenes on either side of the ship. The left side saw mostly ocean, making the port side a good choice for those who liked to feel they had left their land-based cares and woes behind right up front. Travelers who wanted to see more along the way chose the right side. That starboard location gave nearly continuous viewing of the west coast as we sailed
2. The Sun Is Really Not An Issue - Depending how early or late in the Alaska season you sail, the presence of the sun early or late in the morning is rarely annoying. On other itineraries, cruise travelers choose to a side of the ship most likely to be facing away from the sun at its low (hottest) point on the horizon. This is really not an issue as the temperature will be chilly at sea, regardless of when we sail. Our July sailing was technically one of the warmest times of the year to sail but temperatures were never annoying.
3. Glacier Viewing? Get Out Of Your Cabin - Regardless of which side of the ship or location forward or aft, the best place to be for glacier viewing is on deck or in a forward facing observation area. On Holland America Line that might mean the deck 11 Crow’s Nest observation lounge or the Open Bow event that happens on deck 5 forward. Bonus on Holland America Line: delicious Split Pea soup is served to warm chilled cruise travelers.
4. Forward Or Aft? Think About Where You’re Apt To Spend Your Time – On Holland America Line ships, aft is a good location for those who like to pop up to the lido deck for a cup of coffee or quick viewing of whatever wonder happens to be passing at any given time. For those who want to focus on scenic cruising and the Open Bow access that happens along the way, realize this: that happens all day long. You will want to come and go so deck five locations, on that same deck, is a good choice.
Regardless of cabin location, Alaska cruising offers a bunch of photo opportunities that become really addictive, really fast. Choose a cabin location accordingly and you’ll have fabulous memories to recall and share later.
Chris Owen shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations on ChrisCruises.com.