Brand new to the site and trying to digest all the info already out here, but have a few questions in the meantime.
We're trying to put together a relatively last minute trip to Alaska for September.
1. Anyone sailed in September before? What are the disadvantages (besides shorter daylight hours and potentially cooler weather) of sailing this late in the season?
2. Being September and past the summer months, will there be much less snow on the mountains surrounding Glacier Bay, College Fjord, etc?
3. If we do a Northbound or Southbound rather than Round Trip - are there any flight deals between Vancouver and Anchorage that cruise lines offer or is the $345 one-way I'm seeing probably the best we'll find?
4. Off the top of your head - what's the best tour/excursion you went on on your cruise? There's so many that sound wonderful - it's always nice to hear what others recommend.
5. We have several cruises to choose from. Do any of you consider any of the following glacier cruise days significantly less impressive than others? - Glacier Bay, College Fjord, Tracey Arm, Sawyer Glacier, Hubbard Glacier?
6. Has anyone been on a cruise that stopped at Icy Straight Point? This is one of the possibilities and I can't find much info on that stop.
Thanks in advance for indulging all of my questions! http://cruise-chat.com/groupee_commo...icon_smile.gif
You mentioned pretty much the only disadvantages (shorter/cooler). Other than that not much difference.
All of the glacier sites you mentioned are great
Best excursions we took are Railroad in Skagway, whale watching in Juneau.
Hard to find any decent discounter fares to alaska. Generally a pricey destination.
Hi wwide, and welcome to Cruise Chat.
September is a good time to go to Alaska. The weather will likely not be significantly colder than August, but the prices in September are lower. The towns in which you stop will be less crowded, as population often increases several fold in summer as folks from the lower 48 drive up to Alaska and stay all summer.
Going northbound or southbound (the more popular direction) is great especially if you're combining the cruise with a land tour before or after your cruise. If not, the cruises that go round trip from Vancouver or Seattle are still hitting the major ports without the need to fly to or from Anchorage/Seward etc.
Excursions are often hard to recommend without knowing your preferences, activity level and budget. Flightseeing is amazing but expensive. Doing one of the dogsledding adventures is totally unique but very expensive. For general sightseeing for a first time visitor, the Skagway and whale watching tours that were mentioned are terrific. Last time I was in Alaska, we did kayaking in Juneau, climbed the Chilcoot Trail in Skagway and hiked a rainforest in Ketchikan. You're right that the excursions all sound terrific, because they are!
I agree with waterart, too, that seeing any of the glaciers is an awesome experience. Don't spend too much time wondering which glacier, because it's always possible that conditions during your particular cruise can keep the ship from going to one, or allow the ship to get much closer than usual to another.
I assume you've seen information like this on Icy Strait Point. Perhaps someone who has been there can give you more information. If you put Icy Strait into the "Find" function near the top of this window, you'll see several previous message threads with information about that stop.
I agree with all Sandy said and want to add you should leave lots of room in your suitcase. In September all the stores are discounting heavily to get rid of their inventory.
Icy Strait Point is a nice relaxing day. Great for those that enjoy nature and being outdoors.
You are in for such a treat in going to Alaska. We have cruised in early July and late August and I can't imagine that September will be a lot different than late August. As everyone has probably mentioned, the White Pass Railway in Skagway should not be missed. If you're looking for an economical way to spend sometime in Juneau, you can take a bus to the Mendenhall glaciar for about $5.00 each way (just outside the cruise terminal) and spend a lot of time inside (seeing a movie for a few bucks more) and hiking trail - absolutely free -- we saw a mother bear feeding her twin cubs salmon from the river right in the park last August.
We found Ketchikan to be the best for souvenirs as far as selection and prices. Since it was our first port, we didn't take advantage the first time, but certainly did the second time.
If you're in Vancouver before your cruise, I'd also recommend the Whistler Mountaineer that takes you up to the Whistler Mountain where some events for the 2010 Olympics will take place. You can spend the night or return the same day.
You're in for a real treat -- lucky you.
Thanks everyone for your replies - they're all so helpful!
Krafts - yes, we are in for a treat. Alaska has been on our "to do" list for sometime, but for one reason or another we've never made it. This year, we're not letting anything stop us. http://cruise-chat.com/groupee_commo...icon_smile.gif
White Pass is definitely on our plans for Skagway.
Juneau is the destination where it seems like there are far too many options to choose from. It'll be hard to make a final choice on what to do there - but, as we've been telling each other, it just means we'll have to go back again!
Now, we just have to choose which cruise to take.
Anyone have any pros/cons from personal experience for Princess, Holland America, Carnival, Norwegian or Celebrity?
We like the Freestyle idea of Norwegian and that it's very casual. We're both casual by nature and, especially on vacation, we like to limit dress-up occasions. The only problem is the Norwegian itinerary seems to have shorter stays in port - leaving mid-day on all of them which is a bit of a turn off.
We don't really care what the average age of travelers on the ship is and we're not into casinos and shows, etc. So, the things that matter to us are: comfortable beds, decent/clean room, good food, casual atmosphere, etc.
All the cruise lines have been refurbishing their bedding to the fine linens, and pillow top mattresses etc. I think the food is good on all the lines. I've never had what I would call a bad meal. Alaska tends to be a more casual cruise, but you will still see all types of dress on all lines. So, I would look at the cruise that has the most appealing itinerary and fits into your budget.
Welcome to cruise-chat!
We were on a Princess land/cruise tour last month. In Juneau we booked an excursion on the ship for the float plane that took us to Taku Glacier Lodge. It was pricey, but worth every penny. To fly over the glaciers, land on the water, visit Taku Lodge (which is a national historic site), etc. was awesome. Plus the grilled salmon, cooked over an open fire, was delicious.
Friends of ours took a helicopter ride to a glacier. I can't remember if that was in Skagway or Juneau. But the helicopter landed on the glacier, they got to walk around on it, and they got some gorgeous pictures. It was their favorite excursion.
You don't have to spend this much money to enjoy these cities. We did because my husband was intrigued with the float planes and wanted to experience it. He loved it!
I am going on the land portion of the Alaska trip the end of August and then cruising on the 30th and first week of September. We are on the Princess Sapphire. If you happen to chose her (which I think is a FINE selection http://bestsmileys.com/happy/7.gif) please let me know - maybe we will see each other on deck.
Due to money reasons (two daughters getting married within 4 months!) we are limiting our excursions to Skagway - Yukon train/bus tour, Juneau - Mildenhall kayack trip and in Ketchikan we are going to go zip lining. I wish I could do the float plane or dog sledding but it will have to wait until none of the girls decide to get married.
Have fun - let us know what you decide to do.
Good answers here so far. I'll fill in a few details if it helps any...
#1) Shorter daylight, potentially cooler, and MUCH potential for windy weather. More small boat excursions are cancelled in September than all the other cruise-season months combined. If you're sport fishing, whale watching, etc. you could be in for a cancelled excursion or some choppy/rough weather. Our fall storms usually begin rolling in during September. Then again, September can be gorgeous too... none of us locals have much control over the weather! ;-)
#2) The areas near the glaciers have their snow most of the summer, and I usually begin seeing the first NEW snow of the season in Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay in September.
#5) Just a note that "Tracy Arm" and "Sawyer Glacier" are the same area to cruise. I'm always a fan of the small-boat excursions into Tracy Arm - Adventure Bound, Alaskan Marine Adventures, etc. - instead of the large ship cruising the teeny fjord, but either way, you'll love it!
Hope this helps some!
Happy Alaska Travels.
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