This will be the first time my husband & I cruise on NCL (we've cruised numerous times on other cruise lines). I'm a bit nervous as I haven't read a lot of favorable things about cruising NCL/Pearl. We planned the trip last minute; we own a time-share & were going to lose our "points" if we didn't book something. For this reason, we are also in an inside cabin for the first time (mid-ship, deck 10).
We are cruising the 7 day Glacier Bay on the Pearl; sailing May 11, 2008. Does anyone out there know what to expect from the weather in Alaska? We live in Phoenix & are used to temperatures well over 100 degrees. I just want to make sure I pack accordingly. So far, I've purchased a coat, raincoat & some closed-toed shoes to bring with me!
Any feedback regarding the Pearl/Alaska weather would be much appreciated!!!
The key to keeping warm in Alaska is layering. It sounds like you're on the right track with your coat and raincoat. Make sure to take some sweaters or sweatshirts, along with a couple long-sleeved T-shirts that you can take off or put on as the weather conditions warranty. If you can find any, I'd also recommend a pair of silk thermals -- I usually have more trouble with my legs getting cold than I do my top, but if you can't locate them, pack some tight or pantyhose to give you an extra layer there.
We did this same itinerary last year, leaving on May 20, and had a great time. Rain in Seattle both coming and going, and rain in Ketchikan. Beautiful weather in Juneau and Skagway, and overcast in Glacier Bay. The only day we needed any sort of "heavy" coat at all was in Glacier Bay, as the temperatures were quite a bit colder there. No surprises with all the ice in the area. I haven't checked to see what the weather has been doing this year in your ports, but I know from another cruise message board that Anchorage (much futher up than you'll be going) had a major snowstorm this week!
We LOVED the Pearl, but we're big fans of NCL's freestyle cruising. No dressing up required, and no assigned dinner times or tablesmates suits our style perfectly. We were in an inside cabin on deck 8, but spent most of our waking hours either on the promenade deck (Deck 7) where they have very comfortable loungers and blankets, or in one of the inside areas where we could watch out.
[color=blue]Thank you for the information, I appreciate it! Did you do any shore excursions & if so, how were they? We have decided on every port except Skagway; I'm torn between a couple of them. I'm trying to keep our total cost under $1000 for shore excursions for the two of us; although some of the more expensive ones look really fun!!! I guess I just want to be able to justify the cost.
I'm looking forward to cruising NCL/Pearl. The "Freestyle" cruising has always appealed to my husband & I. We are definitely going to try some of the different restaurants & pay the additional charge. It seems "formal nights" on some of the other cruise lines we've been on are a joke. There's nothing like being stuck at a table with a loud drunk guy in a dirty tank-top & sweat pants for 7 days! At least we have the opportunity to eat when we want, wear what we want & dine with whomever we want
Unless the coat is light weight you may not need it, but will it be cold? Yes, probably very cold. We did Alaska in late May and it was cold and rainy most of the time. As Ute-Fan said, layers is the way to go. Now, as for bad reviews on NCL and the Pearl, I don't know where you are reading the bad reviews? You can always find some, regardless of the ship or the line, but many would rather cruise NCL than any other line and the Pearl is close to brand new with very favorable reviews most of the time.
Because of freestyle and a few other things, NCL is a little different from many lines, but this is not a bad thing, just different. I think those who write negative reviews were not prepared for the particular experience, or are inclined to nit pick. There will always be those out there as well.
We have cruised all mass marketed lines, each has a nitch and cons as well as pros, but for us, NCL comes the closest to fitting our life style.
My recommendation for Skagway, do a private tour on a van. I am sure there are many companies that do this, I can't remember the name of the one we used, but it was one of the best tours we have done (that is saying a lot cause we have done a lot) Check the roll call section on CruiseMates and as much as I hate to suggest another website, try the rollcall or ports a call site on CruiseCritic as well. You will get lots of great ideas.
Now, as for the inside cabin, well, this might be the one thing that be a little different for you. We have only done inside once and I do not think we would again. Actually I am trying to talk DH is doing the Spirit in November and opting for inside, he just looks at me and wonders what drug I am on. this doesn't mean your cruise will be spoiled, it just means you may have to take a deep breath and remember you used your Time Share points.
It sounds like you're definitely going with the right attitude for freestyle! I'm fairly new to cruising, with only 5 completed cruises -- all on NCL -- and part of the reason we didn't start until recently is because I hated the idea of assigned tablemates. I was afraid of ending up with someone like you described. The nicest thing about freestyle for us is that you can either choose to dine alone, or with others if you meet people with common interests on the ship. We tend to meet "friends" from a roll-call group from another board, and seldom eat with the same people twice on a cruise.
As far as excursions, I don't do small planes, so that eliminated the most costly excursions for us. In Juneau we went whale watching with Harv & Marv, one of the independent vendors. In Ketchikcan we did the cruise to Misty Fjords (through NCL), and in Skagway we did the longest train ride where you go by bus one way to Carcross and clear back on the train the other way. As early as you'll be there, I doubt that one would be going yet. Our cruise on the Pearl was our 2nd to Alaska, and we've also done a Mendenhall Glacier/City tour in Juneau, a tour to both Saxman Village and Totem Bight with Sourdough Tours in Ketchikan, and rented a car and drivent to Emerald Lake in Skagway.