Q – We are looking at a Tauck Tours Program called Grand Alaska. We love Tauck but notice that the program includes a seven-night inside passage cruise on a Princess Ship. Since Princess is not on the Top-Ten Cruise Lines list, we wonder just how luxurious our experience will be and whether or not this should be a game-killer? We certainly have heard of Princess but we were somewhat surprised that Tauck was using them. In the past, we did a Tauck Mediterranean program but they used one of the French Ponant yachts which we absolutely loved. Will this trip be a disappointment because of the ship? We are also worried about the quality of the shore excursions and having to stand in line for everything we want to do like arrange dining in the evening.

A – You have asked a tough question because there are several elements involved here. Princess has some beautiful hardware, their ships are well planned and highly profitable. They tend to have better-then-average entertainment of the typical mega-ship variety. But Princess is not in oiur top ten lines, or the Top Fifteen, for that matter. These are high-octane mass market cruise ships that are not at all inclusive. Many cruisers are attracted by the line’s low entry-level pricing. But will this bother you or impact your vacation in any major negative way? To answer we would need to know your cruising background. If you have sailed with the better luxury lines you will certainly note qualitative differences, sort of the difference between a pizza from Di Matteo in Naples, Italy and a home delivery from Papa John’s.

But be assured that this Tauck itinerary is comprehensive, uses the best available hotels, and you will be in the care of specially-trained Tauck guides on-board with exclusive Tauck sightseeing programs.

Tauck travelers are not used to sharing accommodations with several thousand fellow guests. But the beauty of Alaska, the quality of Tauck land tours, and the options you will have on Princess would suggest this is an option worthy of your consideration. It really boils down to how you will handle the crowds and the constant pressures to have you spend more money aboard ship.

This is an extremely high-demand program and the season only lasts 90- days. The smaller luxury lines just cannot provide the inventory that Tauck requires for multiple departure dates.