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Old September 12th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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Default First time -May or September?

Hello. I am from the Carribbean and have cruised this area twice, but I am planning an Alaska Cruise for 2008. I would like to know which is the better month to travel - May or September, because I don't want to go in the peak season. Also, as a first time cruiser to Alaska, would the best choice be a round trip or a one way cruise? I am considering Princess Cruises. Had an excellent experience with them in the Carribbean. Any cons to this? Passenger ages are 20+, 30+ and 60+. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks!
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Old September 12th, 2007, 09:03 PM
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Hi,
We are booked for our first trip to Alaska June 20th. We will do a round trip out of Seattle on Infinity. I tried to do as much 'homework' as I could before booking, and picked June as it is supposed to be nicer than May weather-wise. Also, July and August are peak and all the prices I checked were more $ for the same trip during those months. My wish is to see hump backs and I think the migration would be better in June than May....but this is just my opinion from what I read on various boards, and the Alaska tourism web. September makes me nervous about missing connections due to hurricane season on the east coast.

We are 55+ age bracket, and happen to love Celebrity but would def. go Princess. They are also a great cruiseline and have friends who won't book anything but Princess.

Safe travels.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 09:39 AM
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Here's a website that gives you some historical information for the weather: http://www.youralaskacruise.com/cruise-weather.html.

We've been twice -- sailing once on 5/19 and once on 6/6. Our weather was much nicer in May, but that may just have been luck. As far as choosing between May and September, I'd recommend May. Historically, it is normally drier than September, but my main reason is because the days are so much longer, giving you more time to see even more of the beautiful Alaskan scenery as you cruise.

As far as whales go, we saw a lot more whales from the cruise ship in May than we did in June. In May, there were still a few stragglers migrating from Hawaii, but by June, they will probably already be relocated. You may still see them from the ship, but we did notice a big difference between our two cruises.

We've only sailed on NCL, so I'm not even going to attempt to answer questions about Princess. Have a great cruise!
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Old September 13th, 2007, 02:22 PM
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I'm considering Princess Cruises because I hear they are specialists in Alaska, but I am open to any suggestions. The only thing that's final is the destination: Alaska. Thanks.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 07:56 PM
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Over in the group cruise section there is talk of a CM Group cruise to Alaska in the works.

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Old September 15th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NonaMary
Hi,
. My wish is to see hump backs and I think the migration would be better in June than May....but this is just my opinion from what I read on various boards, and the Alaska tourism web. September makes me nervous about missing connections due to hurricane season on the east coast.
.
Sorry, you are totally wrong. The migration of humpbacks can be seen until about the third week of May, sailing out of Seattle. Your trip dates will have 2 open ocean sea days.
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Old September 15th, 2007, 12:22 PM
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It also makes a big difference when in May and Sept.. Mid to end of May is excellent, everything fully open. Weather is iffy the first week, last year I sailed that timeframe 6 out of 7 days of rain.

As for Sept. the first week can be a great option. But mid to end of Sept, has the worse potential for weather of the entire cruise season. Be well prepared, average of 3 days of rain, temps 40-50's. Take care in planning tours, dusk by 7 pm and some tours closed. But potential for northern lights.

Another problem area is if you are doing interior Alaska, you are NOT going to get far into Denali Park, unless you are there June 1 or later, so a northbound trip is way better. As for Sept. I would only select an early Sept. northbound trip and getting into Denali Park first, by the shuttle shut down date, which this year is 9-13. Last choice would be a southbound cruise due to the above.
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Old September 15th, 2007, 01:30 PM
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Try to go in May. The best time early to Mid June or mid-to late August.
Most cruises cost the same in late Aug as in Sept . Weather is usually better
in Aug then Sept.

I have lived on the coast (vancouver BC) for more than 30 yrs.
I usually found that july and August have the best weather.

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Old September 19th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Default Sailed first week of Sept.

Returned from southbound cruise on the Pacific Princess 09/05 - 09/12 & it was wonderful. Forecast showed rain everyday, but only had drizzle one morning, which ended by 9:00 ish that morning. But, I think that rain is certainly likely in September. I had prepared for rain. Temps were upper 50's to 60's & 70's one day. I saw whales from the ship & alot of whales up close on a whale watching tour in Juneau. We were also able to get close to a glacier with many Harbor Seals (the area was closed until September to protect the seals).

We loved the Pacific Princess & the itinerary, which included 2 glacier viewing days. Libby Riddles (first woman to win the iditarod) also speaks on the Princess ships & she was very interesting. Other lines may have something just as interesting. The Pacific Princess did have an older passenger group ( we loved it ), but you might look at bigger ships (Princess or other lines) for your age group. Especially if you want more "cruise ship activities". We picked the smaller ship to be closer to the water and such.

I was committed to July or September and one way trips, because I wanted to see the bears at Katmai NP. I chose September due to less crowds and mosquitos. You might think, if there is anything that you really want to try to include. May probably has more snow to be seen. September has some fall colors starting to show. (Ports & ship had alot of sales during the September cruise.)

I think a cruise in Alaska will be wonderful, in any month. Hope you have a great trip.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 03:29 PM
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Hello! My hubby and I just got back from our cruise to Alaska and let me tell you it was FABULOUS!!! i highly recommend Princess for an Alaska trip. More importantly if you are doing the land tour, definately take Princess. They have their own lodges and a their own fleet of motorcoaches. We didn't see a single other cruise line except ours which kinda makes me think that Princess has that market under their thumb. (then again, i could just be guessing)
We choose to go in September because we wanted slightly colder weather (haha) and to see the Salmon at peak running season. Also something we didn't know was that it was mating season for Moose so all the male moose had big full racks to show off to anyone they could find! The first two days it rained but the rest of the trip was beautiful weather. Now, did we just get lucky? I'm not sure but everyday started foggy/cloudy but my noon it had all lifted. Most of our excursions/tours were in the afternoon so we were able to see almost everything we wanted to. Even got to see some glaciers calf (sp?) in Glacier Bay!

I could talk for hours on how great it was, so if you have questions let me know!

Kat
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Old September 19th, 2007, 03:43 PM
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We have sailed southbound twice and once round trip back to back from Vanc. We have been there in late May-early June, late Aug-early Sep, and late July-early Aug. This last trip time had more rain than May or Sep. We enjoyed both May and Sep periods I mention better than peak since it was less crowded.

Not much sense in doing one way unless you are going to do a land trip too such as denali, Seward, or Homer. R/t Vanc is nice if you don't plan extra days.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 03:47 PM
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Default sept trip

almost forgot! September is the end of the season so there were tons of sales going on. hehe. We have a huge family so gift buying was great!
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Old September 23rd, 2007, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: First time -May or September?

Quote:
Originally Posted by caribgirl
Hello. I am from the Carribbean and have cruised this area twice, but I am planning an Alaska Cruise for 2008. I would like to know which is the better month to travel - May or September, because I don't want to go in the peak season. Also, as a first time cruiser to Alaska, would the best choice be a round trip or a one way cruise? I am considering Princess Cruises. Had an excellent experience with them in the Carribbean. Any cons to this? Passenger ages are 20+, 30+ and 60+. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks!
Hi caribgirl,

We have cruised to Alaska in the spring and in the fall. Most of our cruises have been in May. This year we cruised northbound on May 14 on the Island Princess. The weather was very good with temperatures in the high 60's on most days. This was a little warmer than usual. One of the big advantages of going in mid May is that the mountains are usually still covered with snow and are beautiful. As a first time cruiser I would recommend a one way cruise and allow for a few days to a week on the ground in Alaska, if time permits. Another advantage is that usually the best prices of the year are available on the first couple of cruises in the Alaskan season.
We usually rent a car and drive to Kenai or Denali and have always enjoyed the drive. You see so much more on land than you do in the cruise ports or from the ship. The only downside to going early is that the road into Denali is not open all of the way in until sometime around the first of June. Don't get me wrong we enjoy the cruise very much, but the land experience is something not to be missed if you have the time.
Your choice of cruise lines is what I think is the best choice you can make for an Alaskan cruise.
One word of warning is that Alaska can be addicting! We went for a "one-time" cruise to Alaska 12 years ago and have been back to Alaska on a cruise 10 times since.

Hope this helps.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Default Re: First time -May or September?

[quote]
Quote:
Originally Posted by caribgirl
I don't want to go in the peak season. Also, as a first time cruiser to Alaska, would the best choice be a round trip or a one way cruise?
"Peak season" in Alaska is dictated more by weather than by vacation periods. While there is a coincidental aspect to this, using a 'non-peak' period may result in gloomy weather and a less-than-stellar experience.

I recommend a one-way. Most, if not all, one-way cruises leave out of Vancouver. This enables you to enjoy all of the Inside Passage. There are a couple of round trips (HAL) that leave out of Vancouver, too.

Leaving out of Seattle for a round trip will mean that you miss 90% of the inside passage and will find your ship in the open ocean for a good deal of the time.


Quote:
I am considering Princess Cruises. Had an excellent experience with them in the Carribbean.
Princess and HAL have the premier programs for Alaska. I think I heard that Princess has been there longer.

This writer prefers Princess, also. (with HAL a close 2nd)
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Old September 26th, 2007, 03:57 PM
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We chose Diamond Princess out of Vancouver to Whittier/Anchorage the first week in September last year. One way, Vancouter to Whittier/Anchorage.
Had great weather--little bit of rain in Ketchikan (about 45 minutes). The only other rain we had was in Glacier Bay and College Fjord (just misting rain) . We chose this route because we didn't want to spend extra days at sea. Plus, we wanted to see Glacier Bay,College Fjord, and Anchorage. From our balcony we had whale sightings,in Glacier Bay and a large number of Dolphins riding the ships waves just before entering Glacier Bay. They played in the waves for about 15 minutes before leaving our sight.

The whole experience was just amazing.
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Old October 21st, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Default Re: First time -May or September?

Quote:
Originally Posted by caribgirl
Hello. I am from the Carribbean and have cruised this area twice, but I am planning an Alaska Cruise for 2008. I would like to know which is the better month to travel - May or September, because I don't want to go in the peak season. Also, as a first time cruiser to Alaska, would the best choice be a round trip or a one way cruise? I am considering Princess Cruises. Had an excellent experience with them in the Carribbean. Any cons to this? Passenger ages are 20+, 30+ and 60+. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks!
Since you are doing one way, you should consider adding a post cruise in-land excursion. September seems to be late in season if you want to go to Denali park. Late May will have more options. I shared the view about shoulder season as fare is cheaper and you don't have to deal with many kids when school is out
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