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Old March 19th, 2007, 06:20 PM
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Default Best time of year to sail Alaska?

My wife and I have taken several Carribean cruises before but are wanting to go on an Alaskan cruise this coming fall. Are there better and worse times for us to try and go? We are mostly interested in seeing lots of exotic wildlife as we are both really lovers of animals.

Thanks in advance.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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We are taking our third cruise to Alaska this year in late May. On our previous cruises, one in early May 2004 and the other mid-May 2005, we saw brown bear (grizzlies), black bear, whales, bald eagles, and lots and lots of sea life. Also saw a gray wolf on our drive to Carcross. I've heard that May is usually not the best time to go for wildlife, so we may have been lucky to see so much. This year we will end up in Fairbanks, hopefully we'll see even more wildlife than before. The weather both times was very nice with no rain at all. No matter what time of year you go you will love Alaska..have fun!
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Old March 19th, 2007, 08:35 PM
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Thanks for the reply SoCalgirl.

A few more questions for you:

1)What line did you go on and what did you think abot it?

2) What ports have you been to and what would you suggest as "must haves"?

Thanks.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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May is typically the driest month. It's got the most predictable weather for your tours too. Don't go TOO early, as some operators aren't up and running until late May or June.

On the OTHER end of the spectrum (you did say you were planning a "fall" trip), I don't care much for September cruising. The weather can be very nice, but it's much less predictable. Many of the winter storms can roll in in mid-Sept. and several of the tour operations and excursion vendors shut down at the end of August.

I don't know what you consider to be "exotic" wildlife... May and June will be good months for seeing young animals - spring is calving season. July and August will be more reliable for anything that eats fish. Once the big pink and chum salmon runs come in, everything heads for the beaches to eat!

-Case
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Old March 20th, 2007, 01:54 PM
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Hi Chrisfield,
Both cruises were with Celebrity's Summit on their 14 night from San Diego to Alaska. Our itinerary was San Diego, Catalina Island, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Hubbard Glacier (not neccessarily in that order). Our favorite is Misty Fjord National Monument (out of Ketchikan) where we took a floatplane and cruise excursion. It is an awesome flight with 3000 foot cliffs and waterfalls, tons of sealife and just beautiful scenery. It is where we saw the brown bear on both of our cruises. We had taken the Whitepass train on our first cruise so the second time we rented a car to drive to Carcross and Emerald Lake in the Yukon...that is where we met the wolf. I believe I have some pictures posted in the Photo Gallery--just type in my name (SoCalGal) to find them. This year we are taking the 7 night northbound cruise from Vancouver with a 6 night land package to Fairbanks. I am certainly no expert when it comes to Alaska, just a lover of beautiful scenery and wild animals in their natural surroundings. Alaska to me is a national treasure that we to preserve for generations to come. We really like Celebrity ships. They are spacious, comfortable, with a great Spa and gym, exceptional food and outstanding service. We have also taken the Mille on a 12 night cruise in the Mediterranean, loved that ship as well. We have considered taking other cruiselines, but we're hooked on Celebrity for now. Have a wonderful time!
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Old March 20th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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Thanks for all of the thoughtful replies. They've been very helpful.

I can't wait!!!
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Old March 21st, 2007, 09:32 AM
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With your priority for wildlife, I suggest adding time and doing a one way cruise and including Denali park, via shuttle to at least Fish Creek and Kenai Fjord via boat tour of at least 6 hours on the water.

Socalgal- had exceptional sightings that are NOT typical.

Tours are required for closer extensive viewing of wildlife.

I like mid to late August for wildlife. I don't cruise past the first week of Sept. any longer, just too iffy on weather and dusk by 7pm. Used to be big discounts, that made it worthwhile- no longer.

Here is a photo sample of some wildlife seen on a trip 8-05 http://community.webshots.com/user/budgetqueen
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Old March 21st, 2007, 10:41 AM
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How does a one way cruise work as far as flights? Do you just make two one-way flight reservations? I would imagine that would be exceptionally expensive.
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Old March 21st, 2007, 12:34 PM
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You book open jaw flights, which are the "multi city" option on airline sites. You do not want to book 2 one way flights. But sometimes booking a round trip Seattle, then a one way Seattle/Anchorage on Alaska Air, is a savings. Compare several options.

With a one way cruise, I suggest adding at least another week for interior Alaska touring, take advantage of being all the way there.
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Old March 27th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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Is there a good time of the year that would be best for viewing whales, preferably from the ship?

Besides HAL, are there other cruise lines that do round trip Alaska cruises? We were thinking of introducing my wife's parents to cruising with an Alaskan cruise so airfare prices are a major consideration.
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Old March 28th, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingoftheicedragons
Is there a good time of the year that would be best for viewing whales, preferably from the ship?

Besides HAL, are there other cruise lines that do round trip Alaska cruises? We were thinking of introducing my wife's parents to cruising with an Alaskan cruise so airfare prices are a major consideration.
Whales are migrated fully the Alaska cruise season, except for the early part of May. IF whales are a priority, then you really need to consider a whale watch. The brochures with breeching whales seen from the ship is greatly enhanced.

IF you are willing to spend a significant amount of your sailing time out on the front deck, you can be greatly rewarded. Necessary- proper attire and a good pair of wide angle binoculars- I like 10x50's. I also suggest you get on a ship with a naturalist, Princess, HAL, Carnival, Celebrity (some??). Since they will be able to tell you likely areas.
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Old April 2nd, 2007, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen16
Whales are migrated fully the Alaska cruise season, except for the early part of May. IF whales are a priority, then you really need to consider a whale watch. The brochures with breeching whales seen from the ship is greatly enhanced.

IF you are willing to spend a significant amount of your sailing time out on the front deck, you can be greatly rewarded. Necessary- proper attire and a good pair of wide angle binoculars- I like 10x50's. I also suggest you get on a ship with a naturalist, Princess, HAL, Carnival, Celebrity (some??). Since they will be able to tell you likely areas.

Karen, thanks a lot for many insightful information you shared here. I am geared up for the upcoming Alaska curise in July. Based on the advice of yours and some excellent reviews on another forum (not sure whether I can post the name here), I went ahead and bought a pair of 10x42 SUMMIT waterproof binoculars for my DH from Zen-Ray. After 2 days waiting, they arrived today. The quality is absolutely great, a geat bargain for $159. It is the first time I can see through binoculars without straining my eyes. My DH is delighted too. I ordered them online http://www.zen-ray.com/store . I will report back once we have few more days field experience while playing with them..
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Old April 3rd, 2007, 12:57 PM
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We are partial to Princess and Hal because we feel Glacier Bay is a must. Glacier Bay is just awsome !!!

We have not sailed Carnival or Hal for that matter, because we can never get a balcony on Hal. We feel a balcony is a must on this cruise.

Our cruise was one way from Vancouver to Whittier. We purchased Princess Air and Princess transfers which made for a seamless trip. Princess gets into Whittier early AM and they transfered us to Anchorage. We had a full day in Anchorage and then Princess transfered us to the airport. We had a great day in Anchorage.

Bandrews
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