Just to add my two cents' worth. We have cruised Alaska twice. Once in July and once in August. We found a lot more wildlife in August. Because of the salmon running, there were more bears to be seen as well.
Regarding the balcony, this past August we saw a lot of whales from our balcony and two groups of dolphins. The balcony was priceless and it was rarely too cold to be on it. (We're pretty hardy Canadians
It is always hard to say what Alaska weather will be like. It's hit or miss. Which actually is weather anywhere. I just went to Alaska Aug 10-17th. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was sunny mid to high 70's the whole time, and not a drop of rain. Beautiful.
We were lucky and were upgraded to a balcony when we had booked an inside. We went on the 2nd ship up the coast in May, so it was cool, but we bundled up and enjoyed the balcony. The narration in Glacier Bay was broadcast over one of the TV channels so we turned it up and heard everything. But most of the passengers on this cruise found the balconies too cold for their taste. Later in the season it would be well worth it.
Between inside and OV to Alaska there is typically not a huge difference in cost. Be aware that many lines starting prices for the OV however is fully obstructed. Princess first 5 categories on most ships affords no view at all, they are fully obstructed, cirectly behind the life boats. On HAL beware of Cat H, it's behind the beams and sheet metal on the Lower Promenade deck (they hold up the deck above). Also any cabin on Lower promenade will have foot traffic outside your window. Celeb, RCCL and Carnival design their ships a little differently and hang lifeboats on activity decks and don't have OV cabins on the promenade deck.
By the time you upgrade to an unobstructed view (and non-porthole) cabins on some ships you're close to balcony pricing. Be sure you know a lot about the ship and cabin you book before deciding.
We did Alaska departing the 17th of Aug. 2006 on the Carnvial Spirit. We elected to do a balcony and loved every minute of it. Our weather was fantastic, we never used the heavy clothing we had packed. Sweatshirts were more than enough. Only had rain one day in Sitka and it never lasted very long. We spent a lot of time on the balcony watching the whales, eagles, sea lions and beautiful scenery. The sunsets were just beautiful. While in the ports and on tours saw lots of wildlfe. Salmon were running and it was a sight that is hard to explain. Seemed like millions of them in the streams. What ever cabin you take Alaska is just an unbelivable sight. I was the one person in our group of 50 that really didn't want to go to Alaska, I'm a beach person, but we are planning to go again in a year or so.
Hi, we went on this cruise on June 8 of this year on the Diamond and had a balcony and we would never cruise agsin without a balcony. Also the weather was great, no rain and warm. The warm clothes we took did not get taken out of our suitcase. I would hate a inside cabin.