Advice first time cruising to Alaska

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#1
5 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Planning on taking mom for her 80th b-day on an Alaskan cruise have a few questions (really a million but will just start with the basics)

Checked average weather would rather deal with a little chill than rain, so I am thinking a May cruise, summer months are little more expensive and does seem really that much warmer. May or September?

Are balcony rooms a must or an ocean view just as good. Realistically I don't expect to touch an ice berg but sitting on a balcony freezing sounds like it would be fun (ok different). Ocean View or balcony?

What are must sees
Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, British Columbia

Tracy Arm Fjord or Glacier Bay?

TIA
#2
quad cities illinois
5,512 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
What a wonderful B-day present for you mom. May and Sept are wonderful months to go to Alaska in my opinion. The prices are cheaper and the kids are still in school. And there are less ships in the ports!!! In late May the waterfalls are gorgeous. I have been to both Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay. I would go back to Glacier Bay in a heart beat. On the way you to the Bay you see lush fjords on both sides of the ship before you get there. It is very beautiful. It was always easier and cheaper for me to leave from Seattle. My personal choice is the NCL Pearl. It is a lovely Ship and I always had fabulous food. You can go to any of the ship sites and just check out what they have to offer and see there deck plans. I know your mother is going to have a wonder time. Have a great cruise.
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DUSTY



norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 05/11-coworker
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 06/10-family cruise
carnival fantasy-western caribbean 9/09-solo
norwegian pearl-alaska glacier bay 05/09-solo
carnival victory-new england/canada 9/07-solo
carnival spirit-glacier bay 5/05-with a friend
carnival spirit-glacier bay 09/03

#3
Middle of the Sahara Desert
11,891 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Weather in Alaska is very unpredictable. It can go from sun to rain to snow and back to sun in the space 30 minutes. Be prepared to wear layers for the clothing.May , June (my preference , late Auagust and early September. The end of September can get wet , windy and rainy very quickly. This is the normal start of the Pacific Northwest/Alaska storm season.
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#4
quad cities illinois
5,512 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by Kamloops50
Weather in Alaska is very unpredictable. It can go from sun to rain to snow and back to sun in the space 30 minutes. Be prepared to wear layers for the clothing.May , June (my preference , late Auagust and early September. The end of September can get wet , windy and rainy very quickly. This is the normal start of the Pacific Northwest/Alaska storm season.
In the middle/later part of May and Sept I would wear a long sleeved top with a sweat shirt over it and jeans with tennis shoes. In my over the body bag I had a cheap rain poncho ( that you can buy cheap at the Dollar Stores ) that I could use if it rained. My ports were always Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. '' I was super lucky '' and only had a very short shower once in Ketchikan and the hood on my sweat shirt was all I needed for that. I am from the Mid West so even on the deck in Glacier Bay a very lightweight nylon cover up that went over my sweat shirt was all I needed to keep me warm. I had gloves with the fingers tips cut out so I could take pictures to keep my hands warm. Other passengers wore heavier sweaters and coats on the cruise. It depends on how cold you get and where you are from. But that is all I needed, I am used to the cold weather and everybody is different. Like I say over and over, try not to over pack. If you need a tee shirt you can pick them up pretty cheap in all the ports.
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DUSTY



norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 05/11-coworker
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 06/10-family cruise
carnival fantasy-western caribbean 9/09-solo
norwegian pearl-alaska glacier bay 05/09-solo
carnival victory-new england/canada 9/07-solo
carnival spirit-glacier bay 5/05-with a friend
carnival spirit-glacier bay 09/03

#5
Syracuse, New York
50,516 Posts
Joined May 2000
Rain is a given in Alaska, but between May and September, and it a priority to avoid- select May..

"must do" is not a good reference for YOUR Alaska touring. There are hundreds of tours to consider, few that aren't worthwhile. I'd suggest you looking over a shore excursion list, and find out what is of interest to YOU. Really matter little what someone, raves about. With a small list, it's then easy to get further details and recommendations that will fine tune your selections and offer you great choices for your priorities. It's a spectacular destination that is raved about. Determining your cabin selection is an individual process. Rave reviews about each of balcony and ocean views- with some "must" claims, that sometimes are strongly opinioned.

I'm delighted in using deck space for my priority viewing and delight in cheap price dumped inside cabins. So clearly something for everyone. Be sure to get your mother's input.
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Happy Alaska travels

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#6
West Webster, NY
4,857 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by 3G_cruisers
Planning on taking mom for her 80th b-day on an Alaskan cruise have a few questions (really a million but will just start with the basics)

Checked average weather would rather deal with a little chill than rain, so I am thinking a May cruise, summer months are little more expensive and does seem really that much warmer. May or September? I know it can vary greatly but we cruised this year June 9th - 16th. The temps were mid 50's to mid 60's.

Are balcony rooms a must or an ocean view just as good. Realistically I don't expect to touch an ice berg but sitting on a balcony freezing sounds like it would be fun (ok different). Ocean View or balcony? We debated this for a while before we booked. All of our research told us a balcony is a must on an Alaskan cruise. I don't think we spent a total of 15 minutes on our balcony. If there was something worth seeing, we wanted to be on the upper, open decks so we could roam around to see everything. I'm sure many people will disagree with me but in my opinion a balcony cabin is not a necessity on an Alaskan cruise.

What are must sees What are your interests? That will help us guide you toward a must see.
Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, British Columbia

Tracy Arm Fjord or Glacier Bay?

TIA
Beware! We planned this to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. There is so much to see and do In Alaska. Our trip turned out to be a first-in-a-lifetime. We WILL return.
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Ken


#7
New Mexico
4,662 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
To save your mother from running all over the ship to see everything, a balcony would be a nice gesture for her. An aft balcony will let you see so much more than a side balcony.

Deck five aft balconies on all of the Holland America Line Vista-class ships, except Noordam, are fully covered which will allow you to be out of the rain and wind. This means you can have dinner on your balcony while others on the ship may not.

Hope this helps in your planning.
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Photo Reviews -OR--Menus, On Locations, and More

Oosterdam - Alaska - May 2008 (7 days)
Westerdam - Alaska - May 2009 (7 days)
Westerdam - Caribbean (Eastern & Southern) - Feb 2010 (14 days)
Nieuw Amsterdam - Caribbean (Western) - Nov 2010 (7 days)
Oosterdam - Mexican Riviera - April 2011 (7 days)
Zuiderdam - Alaska - Sep 2011 (B2B 14 days)
Noordam - Caribbean Seafarer - Mar 2012 (11 days)
Nieuw Amsterdam - Caribbean (Western) - Nov 2012 (7 days)
Westerdam - Caribbean (Southern) - Dec 2012 (7 days)
Zuiderdam - Alaska - May 2013 (B2B 14 days)
Zuiderdam - Panama Canal Sunfarer- Nov 2013 (10 days)
Westerdam - Alaska - Jul 2014 (B2B 4 days)
Nieuw Amsterdam - Dec 2014 Caribbean - (East-West 14 days)
Noordam - Pacific Coastal - May 2015 (5 days)
Noordam - Alaska - May 2015 (B2B 14 days)

Oosterdam - Southern Caribbean - Nov 2015
(11 days)
Nieuw Amsterdam - Pacific Coastal - Apr 2016 (5 days)
Nieuw Amsterdam - Alaska Inside Passage - April 2016 (B2B 14 days)
Zuiderdam - Panama Canal - Nov 2016 (10 days)
Noordam - Alaska - Jun 2017 (Northbound includes Denali) (12 days)
Veendam - Caribbean - Dec 2017 (14 days)
Zaandam - Alaska - May 2017 (14 days)

Nieuw Statendam - Caribbean - Jan 2019 (14 days)





#8
5 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Originally posted by Budget Queen
Rain is a given in Alaska, but between May and September, and it a priority to avoid- select May..

"must do" is not a good reference for YOUR Alaska touring. There are hundreds of tours to consider, few that aren't worthwhile. I'd suggest you looking over a shore excursion list, and find out what is of interest to YOU. Really matter little what someone, raves about. With a small list, it's then easy to get further details and recommendations that will fine tune your selections and offer you great choices for your priorities. It's a spectacular destination that is raved about. Determining your cabin selection is an individual process. Rave reviews about each of balcony and ocean views- with some "must" claims, that sometimes are strongly opinioned.

I'm delighted in using deck space for my priority viewing and delight in cheap price dumped inside cabins. So clearly something for everyone. Be sure to get your mother's input.
Mom is very flexible she is a follower so whatever we decide she will be fine with as long at the TV is working she might not even venture outside until we dock.

I know she would love the train in Skagway not sure if we should book through the ship tours or book directly mornings tend to be a little rough by afternoon mom is ready to go. At 80 just glad she is ready to go.
#9
quad cities illinois
5,512 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
I also want to add a tip. I don't know if this applies to Holland or not, but sometimes if they call with a ' great deal on a upgraded '' cabin, it might not be that great of a deal. The cabin might be under the theater, pool, disco's or other heavily traffic area's of the ship. It is good to have a layout of the ship in front of you in case you get a call for a upgrade. Some are a bargain and some are not.
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DUSTY



norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 05/11-coworker
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 06/10-family cruise
carnival fantasy-western caribbean 9/09-solo
norwegian pearl-alaska glacier bay 05/09-solo
carnival victory-new england/canada 9/07-solo
carnival spirit-glacier bay 5/05-with a friend
carnival spirit-glacier bay 09/03

#10
Burlington, Vermont
973 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
Originally posted by dustyroad
I also want to add a tip. I don't know if this applies to Holland or not, but sometimes if they call with a ' great deal on a upgraded '' cabin, it might not be that great of a deal. The cabin might be under the theater, pool, disco's or other heavily traffic area's of the ship. It is good to have a layout of the ship in front of you in case you get a call for a upgrade. Some are a bargain and some are not.
I will second this. I made a horrible mistake on my very first cruise and didn't listen to the advice of some seasoned cruisers who knew better. I booked a cabin directly under an outdoors cafe. Turns out the floors are cleaned and the chairs are stacked and cleaned every night making all sorts of racket overhead all night long. We didn't get much sleep that cruise. Since then, I have discovered a wonderful website called Cruisedeckplans.com. You are able to drop and drag the ship decks over each other so you can see what is above and below the cabin you are looking at. It has saved me many times.
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#11
DFW
1,051 Posts
Joined Sep 2014
We loved our covered balcony on our cruise. We were out there at all hours. For Glacier Bay we went out on the open decks but for sailaway from port, sea days, etc., we still managed to enjoy our balcony alot. Is it a must? No, but nice to have. I do think having a covered balcony versus an uncovered one made all the difference though.

I also like Cruise Advice dot org for researching cabins.

Have a wonderful cruise with your mom!
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February 2016 RCL Liberty of the Seas: Western Caribbean Review Pictures
June 2017 Coral Princess: NB Voyage of the Glaciers Alaska Review Pictures
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#12
Middle of the Sahara Desert
11,891 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Don't try and do everything that is available. Just relax and watch the scenery and ocean go by. We took my 90 year old father to Alaska. He had a ball wandering the ship by himself.


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#13
RI
629 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
We have cruised Alaska the second week of June and the weather has been cool with rain most days.

We just sailed August 4-11th, and the weather was sunny and warm the entire cruise. We actually didn't wear one warm piece of clothing that we packed.

As far as cabin selection, we prefer a balcony.

Karen
#14
Ohio
217 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
We had a budget in mind when booking our Alaska cruise cabin. That budget allowed for an ocean view room. About a month before the cruise, we found a sale on balconies and upgraded, still within our budget. I used the balcony every day, but I use our balconies every day on EVERY cruise. Coffee, a bathrobe, a great book and early morning quiet on the balcony are the definition of vacation for me.
My husband and son did not use it once in Alaska (neither likes coffee OR quiet!) When we were cruising near the glaciers or Inside Passage, we always were up at the top of the ship, outdoors, for 360 views. So, in my experience, if it's something you enjoy when you cruise, go for it! If it doesn't matter to you in the Caribbean/ Mediterranean/ etc, then it probably won't in Alaska either.


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#15
quad cities illinois
5,512 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
I don't know if it has been mentioned or not but there is also a channel on the tv that will show the front of the ship ( and maybe the back ) so you can see what is going on outside. It is a great touch to see the weather or just to see sunlight and what is going on around the sides of the ship on the screen.
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DUSTY



norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 05/11-coworker
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 06/10-family cruise
carnival fantasy-western caribbean 9/09-solo
norwegian pearl-alaska glacier bay 05/09-solo
carnival victory-new england/canada 9/07-solo
carnival spirit-glacier bay 5/05-with a friend
carnival spirit-glacier bay 09/03

#16
Nottingham, UK
170 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
After suffering 7 months of intense excitement for my Alaska cruise to tick round I'd say to go as soon as you can. On a serious note though, none of us knows what the future holds and we should grab life with both hands and get on with things whilst we are fit and well enough to enjoy it.

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Forums mobile app
#17
5 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Thanks everyone for your help we booked a May 15 cruise balcony cabin with Carnival, mom will be inside watching the glaciers on TV while the three of us sit on the balcony see it up close. Of course knowing mom she will be reporting in what we are seeing.

Plan on getting some dollar store ponchos to keep with us hopefully it won't rain that much.

Ok the easy part is done booking, now just need to pay for it
#18
quad cities illinois
5,512 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
We were very happy to help.. You'r mom will be able to set inside on a chair and be able to see outside and not miss a thing and stay cozy warm. Or she could set outside at times and put a blanket on her from the room also to stay warm. So you won't miss anything you can order room service when you are seeing the Glaciers. She will love this cruise as will you. Have a great time.
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DUSTY



norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 05/11-coworker
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 06/10-family cruise
carnival fantasy-western caribbean 9/09-solo
norwegian pearl-alaska glacier bay 05/09-solo
carnival victory-new england/canada 9/07-solo
carnival spirit-glacier bay 5/05-with a friend
carnival spirit-glacier bay 09/03

#19
Charlotte, NC
2,783 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
We just returned from our Alaska cruise on the Eurodam - absolutely loved Glacier Bay and while I was leery about booking a Verandah room, was glad we did! It will be much colder in May, I'm sure though.

Not sure about the rains in May, but definitely would not rely on a dollar store rain poncho in September. Saw a few people with them in port and they might as well have not bothered........
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9/2012 - Carnival Victory
5/2012 - Carnival Elation
6/2011 - Carnival Fascination
#20
quad cities illinois
5,512 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
As I said in earlier posts I was very lucky with weather with my cruises in May and Sept. I only had a light shower in Ketchikan once that did not last long at all. I would wear a tee with a long sleeved shirt over it with a hooded sweatshirt for warmth. Then I had a light weight nylon zippered rain jacket with a lightweight webbing inside of it folded up inside of my back pack if I would have needed it. I am from the Mid West so the cold did not bother me as much as others from the warmer states. I did see a lot of cheaper ponchos being used during my small shower so you are right that during a heavier shower they probably would not be a good choice. Don't forget to have gloves/heavy socks handy and something for your moms neck to keep her extra warm while on the balcony /deck. The shops in port always have things on sale that are easy to pick up if you need something. And at the Alaskan Shirt Store in each port there used to be a lighted board with a ship name and cabin # that would be a for a prize winner. Don't forget to check for that. Please don't get caught up in the cheap gimmick of the giveaway at the jewelry shop in the ports if they still do that. IMO it is junk and it is a waste of time to spend in the ports. You will want to see the great things that the ports have to offer besides a sales pitch for a piece of cheap of a bangle. Happy cruising.
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DUSTY



norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 05/11-coworker
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 06/10-family cruise
carnival fantasy-western caribbean 9/09-solo
norwegian pearl-alaska glacier bay 05/09-solo
carnival victory-new england/canada 9/07-solo
carnival spirit-glacier bay 5/05-with a friend
carnival spirit-glacier bay 09/03