Alaska in May on Solstice - Best Excursions? Questions...

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#1
4 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Hello

We are taking the solstice in May to alaska. I am wondering what the best excursions are. I've read that the Tracy Arm Fjords is the best excursion for seeing glaciers, but it is not showing up as an option on our cruise. Are there any other opportunities to see glaciers?

Also, is it possible to take two excursions in one day?

I was also wondering if anyone knows how calm the ocean is during May. My husband tends toward sea sickness. I am concerned about taking any excursions that involve a smaller boat.
#2
Leander, TX, USA
344 Posts
Joined May 2004
Float plane to Misty Fjords is well worth it.

Helicopter landing on a glacier is also a “wow”, but comes with a “wow”price tag.

In Juneau you can see the Mendenhall glacier. While not as large as the others, it’s still impressive.

As for rough seas, I don’t think May is any better or worse than other times of the year. Find a motion sickness preventative that works - Dramamine, Bonine, scopolamine patches, sea bands, ginger, etc.
#3
Pa, NJ
19,247 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Originally posted by mkbruce
Float plane to Misty Fjords is well worth it.

Helicopter landing on a glacier is also a “wow”, but comes with a “wow”price tag.

In Juneau you can see the Mendenhall glacier. While not as large as the others, it’s still impressive.

As for rough seas, I don’t think May is any better or worse than other times of the year. Find a motion sickness preventative that works - Dramamine, Bonine, scopolamine patches, sea bands, ginger, etc.
The only difficulty in May is that the ship can't get as close to the glacier as it could in july or august due to ice. The Tracey Arms Fjord excursion is wonderful, there are a couple of recent threads on here about it and people also said they had difficulty finding it but then it appeared.
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Don
#4
Chicago suburbs
5,833 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
First, I would recommend a few things. Join the Roll Call for your cruise. All you need to do is go to the section of the board that says Roll Calls, find the correct date, and then post on that thread. Boom - you have joined the Roll Call. There you can talk to others on your cruise and share excursion ideas. Second, go to the Ports of Call boards and read up on the ports you will be visiting. There is tons of information there.

As to the seas in May - in most of Alaska where you are sailing the seas will be pretty calm - sometimes barely perceptible. But you may get some motion sailing out of Seattle (I believe Solstice still leaves from there?) rounding the bend (don't know the official names for this area), and sometimes on the trip up to Juneau (although that is usually pretty calm also). Particularly for the day leaving Seattle, it might be wise for your husband to take some motion sickness meds as a precaution, before the ship leaves the port (even start the day before if you want). Dramamine II (generic - meclizine) once every 12 hours usually does the trick for me for all but horrendous waters (which you should not encounter). But I am not a doctor, so please check with your doctor as need be. Ginger also helps - just be advised it has blood thinning properties so consider that before taking. Beyond that, the usual advice prevails - keep something in your stomach, don't eat a lot of spicy/greasy foods, limit alcohol, etc.. If you do a search of the boards there is a lot of advice on sea sickness prevention and such.
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#5
Pa, NJ
19,247 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
AS far as doing two excursions in one day, we did the Catmaran in the morning, came back to the ship and ate lunch. After lunch we did another excursion, don't remember which right now but it was not difficult, back on the ship for dinner.

Just to add to Phoenix Dream's comments, your first full day after Seattle and the one of the last day you are in the Pacific Ocean, so anything can happen.
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Don
#6
USA/Lake TahoeNevada
3,075 Posts
Joined May 2010
Originally posted by dkjretired
AS far as doing two excursions in one day, we did the Catmaran in the morning, came back to the ship and ate lunch. After lunch we did another excursion, don't remember which right now but it was not difficult, back on the ship for dinner.

Just to add to Phoenix Dream's comments, your first full day after Seattle and the one of the last day you are in the Pacific Ocean, so anything can happen.

We traveled in May a couple of years ago and found the waters very calm. I would research Alaska on here and look at the ports. Doing your own tours are less costly and IMHO more fun than what Celebrity offers...the private sea plane is wonderful, as is whale watching if you get to see whales...Kayaking is also great with good weather, but in Alaska one never knows...how about White Pass Railroad...very exciting!

Ditto with Phoenixdream
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#7
Hamilton, Ontario (Canada)
1,271 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Not sure if your cruise is actually sailing Tracy Arm or if you will be in nearby Juneau for a day, but if you are not seeing any excursions for TA you might want to contact Allan Marine directly as they do offer smaller boat excursions that go up closer to the Sawyer Glaciers (this would be out of Juneau). It's truly incredible even if you don't get very close to the glaciers. We were fortunate to get within a mile of both glaciers when we went in May 2013. And yes, you can do 2 excursions in one day, just depends on how long you are in port and the timing of the excursions. Enjoy!
#8
Ma
225 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
We did this two years ago and everyone said we were crazy for going so early in the season. Weather was fantastic for the entire cruise, no telling how it will be this year. From pictures, we got much closer in Tracy Arms than later cruises. We were the first trip on the White Pass railroad, and this is one of the reasons we are going back next year. Took van up with just the 4 of us with Dyea Dave tours and train back.

Enjoy your cruise 14. Months till we are back


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#9
Red Sox Country
2,259 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by StinkyOne
Hello

We are taking the solstice in May to alaska. I am wondering what the best excursions are. I've read that the Tracy Arm Fjords is the best excursion for seeing glaciers, but it is not showing up as an option on our cruise. Are there any other opportunities to see glaciers?

Also, is it possible to take two excursions in one day?

I was also wondering if anyone knows how calm the ocean is during May. My husband tends toward sea sickness. I am concerned about taking any excursions that involve a smaller boat.
Is your cruise leaving out of Vancouver or Seattle? The trip out of Vancouver is through the inside passage, which is much calmer than the trip out of Seattle, with a route around Vancouver Island via the Pacific Ocean.
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#10
4 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Thanks for all of your responses! We are leaving out of Vancouver, it is the inside passage. Now that I am looking at the itinerary, it shows that we are going through Tracy Arm in the morning and then docking in Juneau. Does this mean that we will get to see it without going on the excursion?
#11
Red Sox Country
2,259 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
We've cruised out of Vancouver and also out of Seattle. The Vancouver trip was much smoother and IMO the scenery as we left Vancouver was beautiful! You're in for quite a trip!

There is so much to see an do in Alaska that you sometimes have to make tough choices. On both trips we crammed in as much as we could and did squeeze in a couple of double excursions in the same day. We self booked all of our excursions, some the very same as the ship tours, but at less cost. It's very easy to negotiate Alaska via bus, cabs, or pick up from excursion companies.

In Ketchikan we went on a Misty Fjords flight (a bit expensive), as well as the Bering Sea Crab boat tour (enjoyed alot). On our first trip we also took a float plane to a secluded area to see bears, but didn't see any :-( . This was very-very expensive and a big bust for us. Ketchikan is a quaint town and on both trips we spent time meandering about. IMO this is the best port to shop for souvenirs. If you are lucky, you'll hit Ketchikan when the salmon is running. Since much of the town is on stilts, you can readily see the salmon working their way up river.

Your cruise will bring the ship up and back through Tracy Arm. If you look at google maps you'll see that Tracy Arm looks like an inlet that forks in 2 directions. At the end of each prong is a glacier; both referred to as the twin Sawyer Glaciers. Your route will depend on how much ice is blocking the way. The Solstice will be too big to get super close to the glacier face, but you should be able to see it from the distance, as well as lots of icebergs. On our trip through TA we saw beers on the shore and whales in the water.

When we visited Juneau we were able to squeeze in whale watching (vendor across the street from pier), a helicopter trip with a glacier landing (booked through whale watch vendor), plus Mt Roberts tramway (across the street from pier) all in the same day. Fellow passengers said they enjoyed Mendenhall glacier (via local bus), excursions to Taku Lodge (ship tour), and gold mining (touristy but fun), so this will be our plan for the next time we visit.

In Skagway we took the bus up/White Pass train down (purchased tickets online), then walked over to Yakutania Point to see if any seals were basking in the sun (none the day we were there), walked around town, then took a last minute helicopter glacier landing and walk (very expensive but awesome flight/walk).

By the time we reached Victoria we were exhausted, so took the shuttle to downtown to look around and spent a short amount of time in a local pub before heading back to the ship.

We also really enjoyed our time in Seattle. There's also lots to see and do there. Be sure to visit the fish market if you can.
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#12
Red Sox Country
2,259 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Also, be sure to visit the Alaka board. It's chock full of lots of advice and ideas. That's where I got all my info for planning our trips to Alaska.
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#13
California
1,201 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by StinkyOne
Thanks for all of your responses! We are leaving out of Vancouver, it is the inside passage. Now that I am looking at the itinerary, it shows that we are going through Tracy Arm in the morning and then docking in Juneau. Does this mean that we will get to see it without going on the excursion?
We are on Solstce later in May and have booked the Tracy Arm excursion so we will have a better chance of seeing the glacier. We did it previously and the ship turned around in Tracy Arm and headed to Juneau, the guests onboard did not get to see Sawyer glacier.
If you don’t see the excursion listed online, I suggest calling Celebrity or going to the shore excursion desk as soon as you board.
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~ Danna
#14
Gainesville, GA
24 Posts
Joined Feb 2014
We are on the Solstice the end of June. I did see the Tracy Arm excursion on the web, but couldn't book it for 4 of us in two separate cabins. (the website continues to drive me crazy!) I called Celebrity last week and got it booked in less than 5 minutes! We still need to book other tours, and appreciate some of the suggestions above!
#15
21 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
Originally posted by StinkyOne
Thanks for all of your responses! We are leaving out of Vancouver, it is the inside passage. Now that I am looking at the itinerary, it shows that we are going through Tracy Arm in the morning and then docking in Juneau. Does this mean that we will get to see it without going on the excursion?

Are you on the May 11th Sailing? I had the Tracy Arm excursion booked only to have it cancelled on me about 3 weeks ago. I have been back and forth with celebrity and got no where. Only for them to say they are checking on the situation. So they may repost the excursion but who knows... there are a couple of frustrated people over in our roll call.
#16
4 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Originally posted by kdegenaro
Are you on the May 11th Sailing? I had the Tracy Arm excursion booked only to have it cancelled on me about 3 weeks ago. I have been back and forth with celebrity and got no where. Only for them to say they are checking on the situation. So they may repost the excursion but who knows... there are a couple of frustrated people over in our roll call.

Yes, we are on the May 11th sailing! I am going to start stalking the website and call Celebrity as well!
#17
Wheaton, IL USA
2,252 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Lastdance
We traveled in May a couple of years ago and found the waters very calm. I would research Alaska on here and look at the ports. Doing your own tours are less costly and IMHO more fun than what Celebrity offers...the private sea plane is wonderful, as is whale watching if you get to see whales...Kayaking is also great with good weather, but in Alaska one never knows...how about White Pass Railroad...very exciting! Ditto with Phoenixdream
Good idea on booking private tours. On our last trip to Alaska, we took the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman tour and I have to say it was probably the best excursion we have ever done. You can find it online under that name. Check our tripadvisor.com for reviews. It is available in Ketchikan.

By the way, it is run by the group that appears on Deadliest Catch.

Sue
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Cruising since 1993. Celebrity-7. Princess-4, Royal Caribbean-3.
#18
Washington, DC
1,242 Posts
Joined Mar 2015
I got this from my TA last night: "Due to anticipated ice flows in Tracy Arm, if you booked or intended on booking the "Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer" shore excursion, it will no longer be offered on this sailing. As a result, your itinerary has been amended to remove the service call to Tracy Arm." I'm not even on a Celebrity sailing for this trip but my cruise is leaving May 12.