I'M TAKING MY 73 YR. OLD MOTHER ON AN CRUISE TO ALASKA THIS SUMMER.I'D APPRECIATE FEEDBACK FROM ANYONE WHO IS AN EXPERIENCED CRUISER IN ALASKA. 1ST QUESTION...WHICH IS MORE SCENIC...NORTHBOUND OR SOUTHBOUND AND WHICH SIDE OF THE SHIP SHOULD I BOOK OUR BALCONY ROOM ON? WHICH IS THE BEST MONTH TO GO, WHAT ARE THE AVG. TEMPS DURING THAT MONTH. CAN WE GO WHALE WATCHING? I'M LOOKING FOR A TRIP W/MINIMAL WALKING FOR MY MOM AND WHAT IS THE BEST CRUISE LINES AND BEST SHIP? I'M WILLING TO SPEND UP TO $2,500.00 PER PERSON. ALSO, WHAT ARE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS AND WILL WE BE ABLE TO SEE THEM? THANKS IN ADVANCE!!! JILL
Jill, I think you & your mom will enjoy Alaska. There are so many more variables than just the questions you have, and to get the most from your trip, I suggest you visit a travel agent, preferably one who specializes in cruises and/or Alaska. (At the risk of advertising, I can offer my services, especially as I am in the Chicago area - if you are interested, let me know.) I can think of several cruise lines that would meet your needs, and I'm glad to hear you are planning on a balcony cabin - I always strongly suggest them for Alaska clients!
If you go during the cruise season (May through September) you are not likely to see the Northern Lights (otherwise known as the aurora borealis), which are spectacular light displays in space caused by solar particles interacting with the earth's magnetic field. They are usually more visible in the colder months, though we did see them over interior Alaska during a colder than normal September.
Temperatures can vary a lot. Toward the early or later parts of the cruise season, they will of course usually be cooler. In general, expect anything from 45 to 65 degrees for high temperatures, with a possibility of some 70's in midsummer. The climate there is moderated by the ocean currents, so the Alaskan coast doesn't get the extreme cold we can in the winter (especially at night). Also expect clouds & rain for at least part of your time there - look at sunshine as a bonus. Take layers, with a windbreaker and a raincoat/slicker as essential gear.
Jill, if viewing the shoreline from your cabin is a priority, be sure to check a route map before deciding on your cruise. I'm sailing Crystal Harmony from San Francisco this summer, and as you can tell from the map, the northbound route appears to favor a starboard cabin, while the southbound route spends more time in open sea. I've also heard that on cruises which hug the coast in both directions, the scenery gets more dramatic as you head north and goes the other way heading south. Of course, you don't have to stay in your cabin when you're passing a point of interest.
You are going to love it. It is truely unbelievable. Hubby and I went in June on 2002, Did the 14 day land and cruise. It was our 25th Anniversary gift to ourselves. The land portion was wonderful. We did the Ocean Princess. You need to look into Princess they are the premo Alaska cruise line. Princess properties are wonderful. Even though now, we wish we would have given it all up, and spent the extra money on a balcony cabin. The land portion you have to remember is only free for the lodging, food is very expensive in Alaska. Had my fav file full of info about Alaska but got rid of it for our up coming Girl trip to the Eastern Caribbean in Dec. I have grandchildren and a hungry husband.Just let me know later. Will answer all your questions. Bye Kat
We are going northbound July 19 on the Coral Princess with my 75 yr old mother. She is actually the experienced Alaska cruiser in our group. She loves it and so is sharing the experience with us! Northbound is what I chose because I want to see Alaska unfold gradually as we go. She has done the more sedate excursions such as Whale watching in Juneau, the White pass railroad in Skagway, etc. One thing I have learned is that she likes the excursions offered by the cruiseline more than booking independantly ,feeling she has more security in scheduling, etc. That's not the most economical way to go, but hey, I won't complain.
All the decisions depend on your budget. I am sure any cruise will be great for you. Just include her in the planning of your excursions. Have fun planning!
There is a great book called Alaska by Cruise Ship by Anne Vipond. All of her books are great. She has several others: Panama Canal by Cruise Ship; Mediterranean by Cruise Ship and I believe there is another one on the Caribbean.
You will love it! We went in August, 2002. (Northbound) Be ready for any type of weather ~layered clothing. College fjord was sunny, blue skies. Fantastic! Then Juneau was cloudy and a little rainy but pleasant! You will love the Yukon White Pass train trip in Skagway and the Mendenhall glacier and Glacier Rainforest gardens tour. Have fun!
We took my mother in her 80's when we did our HAL cruise. She did everything and had a blast - helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier, catamaran and float plane in the Misty Fjords, and a couple of other catamaran tours. Go for it!
HAL Ryndam - Alaska - 6/01
NCL Dawn - E. Caribbean - 4/03