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arewethereyet615

Alaskan Cruising Newby seeking any and all “dos” and “don’s”

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Hi years since my sailing.  But still recall a few items.

May can be iffy.  When I sailed, the weather was clear, cool in the evenings, no rain.

I would pack for layers.  Cool evenings and days, rain and t shirts or light long sleeves.  Jeans and leggings with wearing more than one day on each.

Alaska is expensive so it might be sticker shock wanted to buy a six pack of soda or food in ports.

Excursions,esp the ones with flights or whale sailing can be expensive.  Check out the port of call and read which ones others did and reviews.  Since you are going early in the season, some tours may not be available pending your sailing date.

If you do a flight tour, they will weight you and charge double if over a certain weight.

You can do cheaper options on tours.  In Sagway (sp) I picked up a map and did a walking tour around town and it was enjoyable.  Also in Juneau picked up a local tour in port to the Mendenhall Glacier and return to town.

If you want to do the train in Sagway, need passport.  

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Our Alaska cruise last summer was awesome and unique.  It's so different, I can't compare it to a Caribbean cruise.  We got a ton of useful information on this site under the "Alaska" thread in the Ports of Call section: reviews and directions to hiking paths, different excursions, what order to book excursions, public transportation guides, what to pack, which ports are best for what wildlife, etc.  It's a fun winter's worth of reading.  

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Love Alaska. Pack layers. Whales sometimes haven’t migrated there that early. Enjoy

 

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We've cruised to Alaska in April twice now.  We saw whales, bear, mountain goats, sea otters and a whole lot of eagles. Whale watching tour in Juneau is a must! If you do only one excursion, imo that's the one to take.

 

Skagway is nice for walking.  We haven't done the train, but that might be on our to-do list.  What I've read is you have to have a passport for the train ride since it goes into Canada.  Birth certificate won't do. Others here will set me straight if I'm wrong.

 

It's poured both times we were in Ketchikan and our umbrellas came in handy. The town has great shopping and nice places to stop for lunch.

 

If your itinerary includes Glacier Bay, you're in for a treat.  If it includes Sawyer glacier, I suggest the excursion where you board a smaller boat straight from the ship and motor up to the glacier.  Much better views. We had ponchos and these were great for glacier viewing in the rain.

 

I'd go to Alaska every year, but I don't want it to ever feel like the visits are getting old.

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I'd spend considerable time on the CC Alaska board.  We learned a lot last year prior to our trip. As others have said, pack in layers and prepare for the possibility of rain.  That said, May is often a relatively dry month.  Excursions are expensive as noted.  Enjoy.

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Dress in layers - including gloves and earmuffs as well as a water resistant windbreaker jacket.

 

Take a small set of binoculers to have in your cabin or out on deck for wildlife and nature viewing.

 

Clip clothespins to keep the curtains closed when you go to bed.  We went in early July and it never really did get dark at night.

 

Our best excursion was out of Haines/Skagway for a raft trip down the river of the eagle preserve.

 

If you go to Denali take the long tour back into the park to see more - here's the link to the Park's page on the tours  https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/the-denali-tour-experience/tundra-wilderness-tour/

 

I took over 2000 pictures - be sure you have some way to charge your camera and maybe an extra memory card.

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We loved Alaska, but the ship's interior is packed, not many people sitting by the pool. The excursions are so different than the Caribbean. We wished we stopped every day. If you are stopping in Canada, you will need a passport to get off the ship.

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Book an aft cabin....180 degree view....gorgeous water with chunks of tiny icebergs...great view docking ....doesnt get great til way padt your bedtime....we were assigned the cabin from the waiting list...such good fortune and now my entire extrnded family only books afts...enjoy!!

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Don't feel like you need to book an expensive excursion in order to enjoy the ports.  Research.  If a flight excursion is what your heart is set on - then it may be the best choice.  But I enjoyed the low key do it yourself activities far more than the helicopter ride I  took.  Read the boards for ideas and also check out tripadvisor.  

 

If you are there past very early spring, bring & wear your bug spray.   I went on a first of the season cruise in May, the yukon was frozen & the temps were cooler.  But the next Alaska cruise I took in June had temperatures in the 80s in all ports.  

 

Be prepared for a tight table situation in the buffet on particularly scenic cruise days.  The day we spent at Glacier Bay, people camped out at tables in  the buffet near the windows and kept their tables pretty much all day.  Not eating, just playing cards or enjoying  the view.    Had to bring our food to a table & chair on a lower deck in the hall to eat - I'm glad we had trays (I might have saved some from room service, can't remember).    We also could have just taken the  food back to the cabin or simply used room service.  

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The scenery is spectacular.  Tough out ANY weather conditions and enjoy as much of it as possible outside on the uppermost decks.  In fact, picking ships that leave their decks uncluttered is best for this type of cruise.  You won't be using the water park up there anyway.

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We cruised on NCL for Alaska in August but I can give you some general tips.

 

Juneau: first thing we went up to Mendenhall glacier on our own and hiked down to the falls, very easy hike. It was beautiful. Definitely do this. We also saw bears on the side of the road and salmon jumping here. Took the white bus back to port area for shopping a bit. We then did the small boat excursion in the afternoon with NCL to the Sawyer glacier up close. That was really cool, I would suggest this if Carnival has something similar.

 

In Skagway (I think) we took an independent Yukon tour up to the Emerald Lake and stopped in many places. Saw eagles, bears, cubs, it was wonderful. And the lake was so pretty.

 

Ketchiken we did a little hiking then shopping, watching the salmon jumping in the river. This was a neat area for shopping and hiking.

 

I assume May will be much cooler and bring rain gear and layers. We lucked out and had NO rain the whole time we were there. The cruise director kept saying how lucky we were and that never happens.

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11 minutes ago, KarimaJ said:

We cruised on NCL for Alaska in August but I can give you some general tips.

 

Juneau: first thing we went up to Mendenhall glacier on our own and hiked down to the falls, very easy hike. It was beautiful. Definitely do this. We also saw bears on the side of the road and salmon jumping here. Took the white bus back to port area for shopping a bit. We then did the small boat excursion in the afternoon with NCL to the Sawyer glacier up close. That was really cool, I would suggest this if Carnival has something similar.

 

In Skagway (I think) we took an independent Yukon tour up to the Emerald Lake and stopped in many places. Saw eagles, bears, cubs, it was wonderful. And the lake was so pretty.

 

Ketchiken we did a little hiking then shopping, watching the salmon jumping in the river. This was a neat area for shopping and hiking.

 

I assume May will be much cooler and bring rain gear and layers. We lucked out and had NO rain the whole time we were there. The cruise director kept saying how lucky we were and that never happens.

 

 

How were the bugs in August?  In late May we had NONE.  A real blessing.

 

And Emerald Lake is wonderful.  Assume you did a similar excursion itinerary with the suspension bridge, the Yukon lunch stopover including the dog sledding, etc.  Loved it.

 

PASSPORTS NOT OPTIONAL PEOPLE.  You can't go to Canada without a Passport. 

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Actually, at least from what I've read - rain is more likely in late shoulder season than early.  So while May may have some rain,  it may not be as bad as late August / September.  Just cold.  I went to Emerald Lake both in early May and mid June - it was frozen pretty much solid in May.  You could only see a thin thin line of green at the edge of the lake.  Many feet of snow at the sides of the highway.  

And it was so great watching the excitment of the crew!  At Glacier Bay the crew were running out in their work clothes to the outside decks to see the glacier - this was the first cruise of the season and many from parts of the world where you don't get snow.  

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How were the bugs in August?  In late May we had NONE.  A real blessing.

 

And Emerald Lake is wonderful.  Assume you did a similar excursion itinerary with the suspension bridge, the Yukon lunch stopover including the dog sledding, etc.  Loved it.

 

PASSPORTS NOT OPTIONAL PEOPLE.  You can't go to Canada without a Passport. 

 

Bugs were not an issue. I heard that they really don’t get mosquitos there probably because it stays so cold a lot of the year. 

We didn’t do the dogsledding just stopped at a bunch of places up to the Emerald Lake. Sounds like it might be frozen in May though from what others said.

Any of the excursions requiring planes or helicopters are crazy expensive. We splurged on the small boat tour (~250pp) but stayed cheaper on the rest. The planes were even more money like $400pp. We see bears and whales here in New England so we didn’t do those excursions. 

We loved Alaska and would go again. So much to do, I would recommend going to the Alaska board, tons of info on there.

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There's a dog sledding live exhibit in Denali National Park.  It's free and you even get to interact with and pet the dogs.  Rangers actually use the dogs and sleds to get around the park in the winter.

 

They show you how it's done with a wheeled sled.  When the ranger went into the area where the dogs are housed with their own individual dog houses the dogs got really excited - and the ones who didn't get picked were sad.

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Bugs were not an issue. I heard that they really don’t get mosquitos there probably because it stays so cold a lot of the year. 

We didn’t do the dogsledding just stopped at a bunch of places up to the Emerald Lake. Sounds like it might be frozen in May though from what others said.

Any of the excursions requiring planes or helicopters are crazy expensive. We splurged on the small boat tour (~250pp) but stayed cheaper on the rest. The planes were even more money like $400pp. We see bears and whales here in New England so we didn’t do those excursions. 

We loved Alaska and would go again. So much to do, I would recommend going to the Alaska board, tons of info on there.

Nope, not frozen and no snow on the ground in the area when we were there about Memorial Day. Beautiful sunny day.  Lake was gorgeous.

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2 hours ago, KarimaJ said:

 

... I would recommend going to the Alaska board, tons of info on there.

So, isn't this thread on the Alaska board?  Or is there another Alaska board somewhere I don't know about?

 

Steve

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Alaska was our first cruise in 2002. And not a day goes by that we don't talk about it.

i wished we'd gotten a balcony.

Do take plenty of rain gear and a hat/gloves/scarves. We ended up buying them on the ship and they were expensive.

 

2 of the best excursions of my whole life were whale watching and the White Pass and the Yukon in Skagway. Mu husband loves train and that's the only way i could get him to cruise. Of course he fell in love with cruising then and we haven't been able to get enough since!

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39 minutes ago, calberry said:

So, isn't this thread on the Alaska board?  Or is there another Alaska board somewhere I don't know about?

 

Steve

 

It was on the Carnival Cruiseline board but it looks like it got moved here to the Alaska board.

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4 minutes ago, KarimaJ said:

 

It was on the Carnival Cruiseline board but it looks like it got moved here to the Alaska board.

Gotcha!

 

Thanks,

 

Steve

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I haven't cruised in May, but every month has its advantages. I'm so excited for you, going for the first time.  Be sure to spend plenty of time on deck enjoying the scenery and watching for animals.  

 

Here are some of my favorite things to do in port:

https://cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/10-inexpensive-things-to-do-in-alaskan-ports/

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Have spent 35 days cruising Alaska during May.  Light rain one just one day in Ketchican.  Most of the time the temps were mid 70’s to low 90’s.  

 

The first time I went, i figured it would be a once in a lifetime trip.  Spent lots of money for helicopter landing on the glacier, misty fjord boat and float plane and the railroad to canada with a bus back to port.  Expensive, but well spent for something you may never do again.

 

as fir mendehall glacier, easy bus ride from town, runs like every 30 minutes or so.

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