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Old April 3rd, 2014, 04:32 PM
jbowers06 jbowers06 is offline
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Default Alaska - Balcony in May or an Inside Room in July

DH and I have never been to Alaska and are wanting to go next year... It's on the bucket list and this will probably be our only trip to AK. We love cruising and Alaska is perfect for it so, why not... but AK cruises are VERY high compared to our cheap Caribbean cruises. I'm not sure if we can afford to go at the best time (July) and get a balcony. So, my question is this... what would be better, getting a balcony room in May or getting an inside room in July?

If we have to suffer with an inside room (though who is really suffering on a cruise), how crowded do the top decks get? Will we be able to sit down with a view?

Primarily we are nature people - would love to see glaciers and wildlife (whales & bears of course). Our favorite Caribbean places have all been where we hiked to waterfalls and got off the beaten path.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 04:34 PM
jbowers06 jbowers06 is offline
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I didn't mention but also maybe we want to go salmon fishing. I've been told August is best, but I can't get off work in August or September (end of the Government's fiscal year)
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 04:54 PM
ikirumata ikirumata is offline
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inside cabin in May. Save your money for excursions. The best way to see wildlife is on an excursion. Views from the ship are usually far off. Seriously, if you can afford a balcony, then go for it, but if I had to choose between a balcony and an inside with a couple small boat whale/helicopter/dog sled excursions...its no contest, inside with small boat whale/helicopter/dog sled excursions wins! Around $1000 per person buys a lot of excursions, even in Alaska.

On the Radiance, the decks were never crowded and there were tons of seats with windows for inside viewing. Plus sharing experiences with others on the ship is a wonderful way of meeting people. One of my favorite memories is waking up early in the morning and headed to the front of the ship and watch for wildlife with my camera as we pulled into port. Got to know a few other wildlife photography die-hards

I think King Salmon season starts late May/early June.

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Old April 3rd, 2014, 05:06 PM
iHeartGlaciers iHeartGlaciers is offline
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The balcony was a nice to have, but I went to the public decks and helipad when we cruised Tracy Arm (panoramic view you can't get from your balcony, I suppose unless you're aft!) and as the other poster said, the wildlife and nature you see is close up during the excursions (which can be pricey, but definitely worth it!).

On the Infinity, I don't think you could have sat down when we went through Tracy Arm (while narrated by the onboard naturalist, Brent Nixon) and gotten the best views. There are of course seats near windows inside, but you definitely want to see those amazing views from outside! The best viewing spots were crowded, but worth the effort. I wouldn't have gotten the same views from my balcony room.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 05:17 PM
busydad12 busydad12 is online now
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My DW and I have done the Alaska cruise twice. Once in a ocean view and once in the inside cabin. I prefer and ocean view, you can at least have some natural light and view some things outside. There are plenty of places to view the sea life and views on the cruise ship, so in my opinion a balcony isn't required. If it is a once in a lifetime trip and you can afford a balcony I would do it. If it means you have to skip some excursions, then I would look into a ocean view. The other consideration is weather, May can still be very windy and rainy in Alaska, July is better weather wise, but that is why you pay more. We are from the Seattle are so if you have any questions on the area just ask.

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Old April 3rd, 2014, 06:23 PM
Glaciers Glaciers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbowers06 View Post
I'm not sure if we can afford to go at the best time (July) and get a balcony. So, my question is this... what would be better, getting a balcony room in May or getting an inside room in July?

If we have to suffer with an inside room (though who is really suffering on a cruise), how crowded do the top decks get? Will we be able to sit down with a view?

Primarily we are nature people - would love to see glaciers and wildlife (whales & bears of course). Our favorite Caribbean places have all been where we hiked to waterfalls and got off the beaten path.
Whales can be seen anytime during the cruise season. Bear viewing opportunities are best in July/August as you have more options for viewing during salmon runs. We love to have a balcony but really spend little time there so an inside works better for us. The best viewing is on deck. We’ve always been able to find a spot at the rail.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 08:22 PM
donaldsc donaldsc is offline
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The problem with any balcony cabin where you are taking it to see things instead of just to sit on the balcony and relax is that you can only see what is happening on one side of the ship. If you go on deck, you will see both sides. For AK, seeing is more important than sitting on your balcony and watching half the world go by.

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Old April 3rd, 2014, 09:43 PM
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Do look at prices for shore excursions you may want to do. The "once in a lifetime" ones are very expensive. For example, we did the helicopter to the top of a glacier and got out to walk around. Great,but it was like $250 pp. And that was before I put on weight. Now that I am over 250 pounds, they will charge me for two seats. Agggh! They are now about $350 pp.

Once you figure out what you want to do, you may want to suffer through the inside in May to save as much as possible for the excursions.

Beware fishing. First of all, when I did it the limit was one fish per day! So for your $150 you get to hook up one fish and IT MAY not be salmon. They use wire line so there is no chance of losing the fish. Takes the challenge out of it. You either have to donate your catch to the Captain of the charter boat, pay big bucks to send it home chilled, or exchange for canned Salmon. My biggest complaint was the captain although friendly, wanted us to hurry up and get your fish so he could call it a day. He actually started commenting about my FIL who was "not casting" correctly.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 10:21 PM
Ashland Ashland is offline
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May is our favorite time to cruise to Alaska..and will be doing it for the 3rd time this May. A balcony is our preferred catagory...however this trip we're taking family and had originally booked them in a inside...then prices changed and I moved them to an OV...then recently for the same price I was able to switch them to a FOV...you might have luck to change your catagory too as you never know...so book what you would be happy with and then keep checking.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 10:47 PM
Traveller20074 Traveller20074 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbowers06 View Post
DH and I have never been to Alaska and are wanting to go next year... It's on the bucket list and this will probably be our only trip to AK. We love cruising and Alaska is perfect for it so, why not... but AK cruises are VERY high compared to our cheap Caribbean cruises. I'm not sure if we can afford to go at the best time (July) and get a balcony. So, my question is this... what would be better, getting a balcony room in May or getting an inside room in July?If we have to suffer with an inside room (though who is really suffering on a cruise), how crowded do the top decks get? Will we be able to sit down with a view?

Primarily we are nature people - would love to see glaciers and wildlife (whales & bears of course). Our favorite Caribbean places have all been where we hiked to waterfalls and got off the beaten path.
if you do an inside, and have to be on the decks say during Glacier Bay, it is fairly crowded. I went back to my balcony and watched the Margerie Glacier calve...and, I could hear it hit the water. From the decks, where everyone is talking and trying to get pictures, I couldn't hear a thing lol


I've had a balcony in May in Alaska. It was fine. As far as I can tell, May is a very dry month.
we had sun on the 3 cruises I've been on....Skagway was a bit rainy the last time we were there, but it didn't last long...

found this about July in Juneau..


Clouds

The median cloud cover is 100% (overcast) and does not vary substantially over the course of the month.


Precipitation

The average probability that some form of precipitation will be observed in a given day is 67%, with little variation over the course of the month.


this is May

Clouds

The median cloud cover is 99% (overcast) and does not vary substantially over the course of the month.

Precipitation

The average probability that some form of precipitation will be observed in a given day is 65%, with little variation over the course of the month.

Last edited by Traveller20074; April 3rd, 2014 at 10:52 PM.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 10:57 PM
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In my opinion, this isn't the place to skimp on tours. I'm an advocate to have the savings elsewhere. Without tours you are getting only a 50% trip.

I always am in a cheap inside cabin, makes no difference to me, after 87 cruises.

I never have any problem seeing what I want to see. I spend my time moving about the ship. It isn't a "sitting" itinerary for me. But, there is outside viewing seating- that if you want it, you are going to have camp out early to get it, on the glacier sailing day. Not any issue at any other time.

As already mentioned, wildlife is best viewed with tours. Bear tours are specific for timing. Although Alaska is plentiful with wildlife, few people are willing to invest the considerable amounts of time required to view from the cruise ship. A good pair of wide angle binoculars are "necessary". I do see a lot from the ship, but I have the advantage of knowing specific areas, and don't care about meals, getting up prior to dawn, and seeing no shows in Alaska. There is never a lot of people out, and I frequently am by myself.

I always hear of complaining people, not seeing any wildlife at cruise end.
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Old April 4th, 2014, 10:53 AM
jbowers06 jbowers06 is offline
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Thanks everyone for so many opinions! I really appreciate it. I'm thinking we will do inside in July. I know for sure one of the things we want is to see bears so even though May will be cheaper, we'll go with July. The inside in July is still cheaper than a balcony in May, so we will be sure not to skimp on excursions. I think we will even go with the excursion in Tracy Arm Fjord to get off the boat and get a little closer to everything since we won't have the balcony
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Old April 4th, 2014, 12:42 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbowers06 View Post
Thanks everyone for so many opinions! I really appreciate it. I'm thinking we will do inside in July. I know for sure one of the things we want is to see bears so even though May will be cheaper, we'll go with July. The inside in July is still cheaper than a balcony in May, so we will be sure not to skimp on excursions. I think we will even go with the excursion in Tracy Arm Fjord to get off the boat and get a little closer to everything since we won't have the balcony
For bears, Going in July is prime for Anan, which does require getting permits and booking far in advance. Also look at Pack Creek for their peak times.
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Old April 4th, 2014, 01:23 PM
jbowers06 jbowers06 is offline
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Thanks - I've been reading past posts about bears and it seems that the money we would have spent for a balcony MUST be spent on a trip with Island Wngs to Anan... wow $485 a person!! But, we will only be in Alaska probably once in our lives and we can't skimp on our bear viewing opportunity, right??

Who needs a balcony, anyway... lol
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Old April 4th, 2014, 01:45 PM
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Thanks - I've been reading past posts about bears and it seems that the money we would have spent for a balcony MUST be spent on a trip with Island Wngs to Anan... wow $485 a person!! But, we will only be in Alaska probably once in our lives and we can't skimp on our bear viewing opportunity, right??

Who needs a balcony, anyway... lol
Watch it:} In 1994 on my first cruise to Alaska, full intentions were that was an "only" trip. I had no intention of ever returning. It's now about 40 trips later with it "having" to be included every year.
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Old April 4th, 2014, 05:16 PM
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.......So, my question is this... what would be better, getting a balcony room in May or getting an inside room in July?..
I would take a balcony in May over an inside at any time.

Alaska is where I definitely want a balcony because there is almost always something interesting to be seen right outside your cabin from the moment you open your eyes each morning.

It is not like a Caribbean cruise where most of the time while cruising around between ports all you see is water.

The balcony and the excursions are not mutually exclusive.
Both are important to us.
If we need to economize, we economize somewhere else, like keeping the old car longer and using the money we would have spent on a new car to pay for more cruises.

But everyone has different priorities at different stages of their lives when it comes to how you choose to spend your money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbowers06
..... It's on the bucket list and this will probably be our only trip to AK.
LOL! That is exactly what we said before our first trip to Alaska.
We just keep on going back, again and again.
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Old April 4th, 2014, 08:59 PM
Traveller20074 Traveller20074 is offline
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I would take a balcony in May over an inside at any time.

Alaska is where I definitely want a balcony because there is almost always something interesting to be seen right outside your cabin from the moment you open your eyes each morning.

It is not like a Caribbean cruise where most of the time while cruising around between ports all you see is water.

The balcony and the excursions are not mutually exclusive.
Both are important to us.
If we need to economize, we economize somewhere else, like keeping the old car longer and using the money we would have spent on a new car to pay for more cruises.

But everyone has different priorities at different stages of their lives when it comes to how you choose to spend your money.

LOL! That is exactly what we said before our first trip to Alaska.
We just keep on going back, again and again.

this, this a 1,000 times this lol (and, I'm about to take the same Alaska itinerary again. The 4th time. On the Pearl. I think I love that ship. I could be in a rut though lol

Last edited by Traveller20074; April 4th, 2014 at 09:00 PM.
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Old April 4th, 2014, 09:01 PM
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I actually prefer sailing in May (end of May) over July anytime!

I am also one who went to Alaska in 2002 as I had a free cruise and I thought I would never pay to go to Alaska. I have returned many times and truly prefer Alaska over the Caribbean any day. The beauty is incredible! I wish I could spend my summers there every year (the entire summer!).
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Old April 4th, 2014, 09:41 PM
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The prices just went down on the June 12th 2015 cruise . Balcony's are the way to go I am so excited this will be our first time to Alaska so we will do lots of tours . its more then a year away plenty of time to pay off the tours.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 03:45 AM
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I agree with others who say skimp on the cabin, and go for the tours when in Alaska. But if you do decide to get a balcony, make sure it's on a low deck so that you can actually see the wildlife if you encounter some. I was very disappointed one time to have a balcony so high I that dolphins looked like flying fish waaaayyyyy down there.
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