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Old April 9th, 2006, 05:00 PM
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Default What do you think???

We're scheduled on the Infinity and will cruise the Alaskan Inside Passage May 20th.

We know this is really really early in the season...but the itinerary seemed to great to pass up. For starters: A stop in Vancouver, then Icy Strait Point, then on to: Hubbard Glacier, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

On our return, we stop at Victoria Island, where we plan to visit the Butchart & Butterfly Gardens.

My questions to all you experienced Alaskan cruisers is:

Has anyone else cruised this early in the season?

What can we expect from the weather?

One more: What did you see/do at Icy Strait Point???

This is my sister's 30th wedding anniversary...we want to do something really special. So any suggestions regarding excursions APPRECIATED!

(We're heard that the Infinity is very nice...so we expect to have a good time on the ship)
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Old April 9th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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Temps may be a little cool, but thats to be expected when cruising to Alaska. Its never stopped us from any of our outdoor activities.
We usually sail to AK in Earl;y July or late June. We have done Sept a few times but all the shops and attractions were closing for the season then.


Enjoy your cruise to one of America's truly great destinations.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 12:07 AM
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Fieldmouse - you will be going to the city of Victoria - on Vancouver Island. Victoria is a really beautiful city, lots of history. Be sure to bring your camera.

Congrats on choosing a visit to Butchart Gardens - it is absolutely wonderful and you are going at a really good time. That`s primo gardening weather here in Beautiful British Columbia.

we haven`t been to Alaska yet but we are looking into the Infinity for next summer!

Have a great cruise!

TTFN Jennifer
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Old April 10th, 2006, 01:01 AM
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Fieldmouse,

Has anyone else cruised this early in the season?

What can we expect from the weather?


Expect the weather to be on the cool side (50's and 60's) in the inside passage and colder still around glaciers, where you will want a winter jacket if you go out on deck. Ketchikan and Juneau are notoriously rainy (but then, they are in a temperate rain forest...). You probably will find warmer weather at Skagway.

One more: What did you see/do at Icy Strait Point???

Hoonah ("Icy Strait Point") does not have a lot of attractions. The cannery tour is quite interesting.

This is my sister's 30th wedding anniversary...we want to do something really special. So any suggestions regarding excursions APPRECIATED!

If you visit Ketchikan, try to take in some of the indigenous culture of the Tlingit.

In Juneau, there's a free tour of the state capital. In the same area of the city, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary have some very interesting artwork.

Skagway has two "must see" attractions for first-time visitors -- the "Days of '98 Revue Starring Soapy Smith" at the Eagles' Hall (usually included in at least one or two of the ship's excursions) and the ride to Summit Lake on the White Pass & Yukon Route, a narrow gauge railroad built to haul prospectors and their supplies from the port of Skagway to White Horse, Yukon Territory, during the "days of '98" (Yukon gold rush).

(We're heard that the Infinity is very nice...so we expect to have a good time on the ship)

"Very nice" is a gross understatement. This ship is absolutely magnificent!

Norm.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 02:14 PM
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We thought that Alaska might be on the cool side ( Duh!)...but we did have a pause because have heard from others who went ...I guess in June or July, it was supriseingly warm. But we'll bring clothes to layer as wisely suggested!

Also appreciated the comments on various excursion. It's nice to hear others comments and suggestions, especially since most excursions in Alaska are NOT cheap! You can get a little overwhelmed not wanting to miss something and then wondering if its worth the cost.

Thanks again Norm, Jennifer and Cookie for taking the time to respond.
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Old April 10th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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Filedmouse,

We thought that Alaska might be on the cool side ( Duh!)...but we did have a pause because have heard from others who went ...I guess in June or July, it was supriseingly warm. But we'll bring clothes to layer as wisely suggested!

The valleys in the interior tend to be quite warm, especially in the summer, because they get a LOT of sunshine (over twenty hours per day in Fairbainks!) and a significant chinook effect. You won't get there on an "Inside Passage" cruise, though....

I very seriously recommend bringing winter clothing if you plan to go anywhere near glaciers. The temperature of ice water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius, and the the calving action of the glaciers ensures that the bays that have glaciers are full of it. It tends to have a rather chilling effect on the air above those bays, too. If you do any of the helicopter expeditions that land on glaciers, the air in those areas also will be pretty cold thanks to the ice.

Also appreciated the comments on various excursion. It's nice to hear others comments and suggestions, especially since most excursions in Alaska are NOT cheap! You can get a little overwhelmed not wanting to miss something and then wondering if its worth the cost.

There is so much to see and to do in Alaska's ports of call that it will be utterly impossible to see and to do everything in a day no matter what you do. As a result, most of Alaska's ports of call offer more choices and more variety of shore excursions than any other ports of call anywhere in the world. You can spend as much or as little as you like and still take excursions that are fun, interesting, and educational. In Juneau, for example, the helicopter ride that lands on a glacier where you meet a musher with a team of dogs and a sled is unique and adventurous, but so is the boat tour of Mendenhaul Glacier or a whale watch or a nature hike and "zip line" trip through the rain forest -- and the latter are a lot less expensive. A self-guided walking tour of the city, with a guided tour of the state capital and a visit to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and the cathedral might not be quite as adventurous, but it might be even more interesting and it's completely free -- and you won't encounter these unique elements of Juneau on the helicopter glacier tour. If you like seafood, you might also want to go to a salmon bake -- and I understand that Juneau offers one of the best. Note that all of these attractions are shore excursions in Juneau, so there's no way to do all of them. Ketchikan and Skagway are every bit as rich, and Sitka is nearly so.

The bottom line is that you are going to miss something no matter what you do, so the best advice do whatever fits your budget and your interest this time and then book another visit next year to do more.

Thanks again Norm, Jennifer and Cookie for taking the time to respond.

You're welcome. I hope that I'm being more of an asset than the first 3/5 of one....

Norm.
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Old April 11th, 2006, 11:10 PM
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Norm:

I made a copy of your post so that we (the four of us) could go over your suggestions together.

Everyone may want to do something a little different of course...that's part of traveling with a group. (even if it is my sister and her husband!) But it's also good to know that we CAN'T possibly do everything anyway, but we can still have a great time by chosing to do a little something special in each port, even if it is a self-guided tour.

We've picked up some Alaskan Tour books from Boarders.. what a State! Big seems a slight understatement. We are looking forward to visiting even more now.

Thanks again for the PRACTICAL advice. Good advice or practical tips from more experienced travelers are worth their weight in gold...This is what makes these threads work over the long run!

Thank you again Norm!!!
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Old April 12th, 2006, 01:51 AM
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Fieldmouse,

Everyone may want to do something a little different of course...that's part of traveling with a group. (even if it is my sister and her husband!)

I agree completely. In fact, I often enjoy comparing notes with tablemates who chose different activities over dinner!

But it's also good to know that we CAN'T possibly do everything anyway, but we can still have a great time by chosing to do a little something special in each port, even if it is a self-guided tour.

Yes, touring on your own is no problem because all of the ports of call are quite walkable and the historic downtown districts are right next to the cruise ship piers except in Skagway, where the start of the historic downtown is about two blocks from the end of the pier. In fact, I suggested a possible self-guided tour in Juneau (the capital, St. Nicholas Church, and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary) I should add that Juneau's Mt. Roberts Tramway is right next to the cruise ship pier, so it's also quite easy to do that on your own, too.'

I should also note that it's quite easy to do two tours in most of the ports of call, with lunch aboard the ship between them. Most of the tours offer both morning and afternoon sections.

That said, there are a couple activities that are best done on tours from the ship.

>> In Ketchikan, the Tlingit totem park and cultural center of Saxman Village is a few miles from the pier. The tour includes transportation, so it probably is less expensive than going by taxi on your own. You'll have plenty of time to explore the historic downtown, including its saloon, either before or after the tour.

>> In Skagway, the Eagles' Hall (which hosts the "Days of '98 Revue Starring Soapy Smith) is at the opposite end of town from the pier, which is a couple blocks from town. It's a relatively long walk and, again, the ship's excursion will include transportation and the guide will explain the town's history and point out other significant sites en route. The shore excursion also may include some other attractions.

>> Also in Skagway, it's best to book the ride to Summit Lake on the White Pass & Yukon Route through the ship, especially if you do it in the afternoon, for a couple reasons. The first is that the ship's excursion leaves from the pier (they literally back the train onto a track on the pier). The second is that the railroad often operates several "sections" (independent trains) due to the number of passengers, so passengers leaving from the station could be on a section that returns after the ship leaves port. If the ship's train is late returning for any reason, the ship waits for it.

We've picked up some Alaskan Tour books from Boarders.. what a State! Big seems a slight understatement. We are looking forward to visiting even more now.

You're right about "big" being an understatement. My travel agent has a big map of Alaska superimposed on the forty-eight contiguous states, to the same scale, on the wall. The main part of the state extends from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, the Aleutian Islands exend into the Pacific, and the Inside Passage extends into the Atlantic. Indeed, Alaskans often silence obnoxious Texans by threatening to cut Alaska in half so Texas will become the third largest state. You won't see much of it in a week, but it will whet your appetite for more!

Thanks again for the PRACTICAL advice. Good advice or practical tips from more experienced travelers are worth their weight in gold...This is what makes these threads work over the long run!

You're very welcome!

I should also mention significant shopping opportunities. There are various local crafts, both indigenous and pioneer, throughout the state. Russian articles, including the popular nesting dolls, are readily available in areas where there was a significant Russian presence, including Juneau and Sitka, before the United States acquired the territory. If you like coffee, check out Raven's Brew -- an Alaskan brand. You'll also find very unusual jellies and jams (flavors like Spruce Tip and Fireweed, for example) in many of the souvenir shops.

Have a fabulous cruise!

Norm.
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