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Old January 12th, 2010, 05:24 PM
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Default Alaska itinerary Questions

I got a question by email I wanted to post here for the Alaska experts to answer:

Iíve been wanting to take an Alaska cruise and I am overwhelmed by the differences between the ports they stop at. What Iíd like is someone to recommend a few and tell me what time of year to go.

What are the highlights of the different Alaska itineraries?

How does someone choose between Alaska itineraries?

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Old January 12th, 2010, 07:53 PM
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The best reply to that question is to ask a question - what are your interests? There is no "best" for everybody - that's why there are lots of choices. To answer blind would take a book, and there are several of those in print.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 02:32 PM
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This person, needs to do a general "homework" first. Head to the library and take out Alaska travel books, especially Alaska By Cruiseship.

There are only 6 Alaska ports on the Inside Passage, pretty easy to find out about each of them, and find out they are not similar. Essentially "4" different sailings, one way northbound, one way southbound, round trip Seattle, round trip Vancouver. Seattle offers the least scenic sailing.

I am a big advocate of adding at least a week with a one way- take advantage of being there.

Round trip Vancouver is an excellent option.

Do your homework, take time and read back on message boards. At some point, most questions are already answered.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 08:06 PM
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I thought it would be best for me to pick the time of year when the temperature and the sunlight were as close to my original climate at home.

Living in NH, the last week in August and the first week of September were ideal for me.

Am I weird or what?

The best advice has already been given. Please, please consider reading some travel books on Alaska.
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Old January 17th, 2010, 11:01 PM
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The best and cheapest times are May , late August & early Sept.
If you want to experiance almost 24 hrs of day light sail a NB or SB
in late June. It's interesting to see sunshine at 11PM .
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Old January 19th, 2010, 12:51 PM
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I hear the best time for sighting whales is July & August. I was in Alaska and we had some fantastic whale sightings - in late August. The weather was beautiful. If you go too early it can get very foggy and you might not even be able to see the shore.

I am not saying this is a concrete fact. The wetaher does what it does - totally unpredictable. I am just relating what happened to me.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 01:24 PM
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We went middle of August, the Inside Passage return Vancouver. The temps were in the 80s the entire week. We did not see any whales. Most of the itineraries include a day in Juneau - make sure you get to the Red Dog Saloon (www.reddogsaloon.com) for an hour or two - it's a hoot. And take the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts if it is a sunny day. You can eat, hike or just mellow at the top and see the entire area, a great view of other ships in port and the planes that never stop taking off or landing from the water. If you are a golfer, you can take a taxi to their golf course, check it out online, we couldn't go because of hip problems but will next time. Not expensive either. We sailed on Celebrity Mercury, ports were Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 03:19 PM
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There's a golf course in Juneau? I heard the closest golf course was in Gustavus and local Juneau residents fly there to play.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 09:28 PM
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Paul,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You View Post
I got a question by email I wanted to post here for the Alaska experts to answer:

Iíve been wanting to take an Alaska cruise and I am overwhelmed by the differences between the ports they stop at. What Iíd like is someone to recommend a few and tell me what time of year to go.

What are the highlights of the different Alaska itineraries?

How does someone choose between Alaska itineraries?
Here's a "nutshell" response that you can pass along, verbatim, to your contact.

Fundamentally, all of the major cruise lines offer three basic itineraries.

>> The "Inside Passage" itinerary operates round trip from either Vancouver or Seattle. These cruises never reach Anchorage, and thus do not offer the option to visit Alaska's interior.

>> The "Northbound Gulf of Alaska" itinerary operates from Vancouver to either Seward or Whittier.

>> The "Southbound Gulf of Alaska" itinerary operates from either Seward or Whittier to Vancouver.

Both itineraries that begin or end in Seward or Whittier offer both seamless transfers to Anchorage and seamless connections to land tours that visit Anchorage, Denali National Park and Mount McKinley, and Fairbanks. Alternatively, you may opt to rent a car or a motor home and tour Anchorage and the interior on your own (but I strongly recommend reserving your lodging or campsites in advance because the nearest alternate facilities tend to be a lot further away than you will want to drive if you encounter "no vacancy" signs where you had planned to stop).

All of these itineraries typically call at three of the four major ports of call (Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, and Skagway) along Alaska's Inside Passage and spend a visit to one of the three major glacier areas (Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, and College Fjord) en route. Some of these cruises add a minor port of call whereas others visit a second glacier area instead. These differences are pretty minor. Rather, the major differentiator is the basic lifestyle that you will find aboard ships of each of the major lines -- some cruise lines still hold true "formal" evenings while others are quite casual. Thus, the best advice is to buy a travel guidebook about cruise lines and cruise ships at your local bookstore and read the descriptions of the various lines and their typical passengers to determine which line best fits your personal style and your tastes. All of the major series of travel guides (Berlitz, Fodor's, Frommer's, etc.) publish such a guide, so you can choose the guide from whichever series you prefer.


I hope that your contact finds this to be helpful.

Norm.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
I hear the best time for sighting whales is July & August. I was in Alaska and we had some fantastic whale sightings - in late August. The weather was beautiful. If you go too early it can get very foggy and you might not even be able to see the shore.

I am not saying this is a concrete fact. .


Sorry you are not accurate. Whales are in Alaska ALL cruise season and certainly can and are frequently seen.

Not sure where you are getting the "foggy" reference either??? This is NOT related to going "early". Fog can and also does happen any time during the cruise season. I've been completely "fogged" out, in Dixon Passage in Sept.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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Well, Karen, I am just going on personal experience based on my own cruises to Alaska and what I have read online. I have no doubt that whales "can" be seen or that fog "can" happen - but I am discussing the odds or likelihood that either one will happen. According to my research, later in the season gives you a slight advantage. I have personally cruised to Alaska 7 times, and the best trip I ever had was the last week of August.
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
I have no doubt that whales "can" be seen or that fog "can" happen - but I am discussing the odds or likelihood that either one will happen. According to my research, later in the season gives you a slight advantage. I have personally cruised to Alaska 7 times, and the best trip I ever had was the last week of August.
I have 26 trips to Alaska.
Sorry, for clarification you are wrong on humpback whales. Your "research" is inaccurate, and you are conveying wrong information- based on your "status" as an editor perhaps.

The humpbacks migrate from Hawaii, Baja, in April, into May, fully migrated by about the third week. TO do only one thing, EAT. It is a stright shot, they do not stop "along the way" nor eat anywhere else. They come to the rich feeding waters of Alaska, and for further verification on the accuracy of my post, there are year round resident Alaska humpbacks around Juneau. There are not "more" in July and August. They migrate back in November.
Juneau and Hoonah humpback whale watching tours have 100% sightings on their tours- all season.


Transient orcas, are pure chance sightings, again the entire cruise ship season. They are constantly on the move over many hundreds of miles in Alaska. There are NO "orca" whale tours out of Alaska, if you noticed??

The resident Vancouver Orca pods- 6 split, 3 northern, 3 southern, have better odds of being seen and whale watches are offered.

I have been on way over a hundred whale watches, and know my facts.

I am hopeful your "understanding" is for facts that will benefit trip planning for those seeking the best information.
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 12:23 PM
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Hi Karen,

Congrats on 26 trips to Alaska. I thought I had been bitten badly by the Alaskan bug with 15 trips but you win the prize!!!

We usually sail in mid May and have seen whales from a distance on every trip. To really see whales up close, unless you are very lucky, you have to take a whale watching tour out of one of the ports.

We enjoy May for our cruises because there is still snow on the mountains and the prices are usually the best of the season. We have never encountered any significant fog on any of our trips, although on any given day there certainly is always the chance of fog throughout the season.

I would recommend a cruise that goes to Glacier Bay National Park. Several of the cruises that go to Glacier Bay also spend a second day cruising in College Fjord.

Debra
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