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How late can we cruise Alaska this year?


drsullivan
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My wife and I were supposed to be on the Holland America Westerdam today. Both of us ended up testing positive for Covid, so we weren’t able to board the ship and had to cancel the cruise. We were in Yellowstone last week and we experienced some symptoms, got tested, and were able to cancel the cruise prior to going to Seattle. We flew home yesterday to Nashville and are recovering well with minimal symptoms.

 

That said, we have been looking forward to this for the last three years… We are wondering if we should try to make another go at it this summer. How late is too late to take the cruise and still enjoy it? What time do things start to shut down in Alaska because it gets too cold? My schedule is pretty flexible so I can take a week off if I need to. we aren’t obligated to Holland America either… We will get credit which we can use on another cruise with them at a later date. From what I understand, they are overwhelmed and understaffed in that department right now and my future cruise credit might take 4 to 6 weeks. Any other recommendations for cruise lines? Ships? We are both 60… I’m an avid photographer and nature lover… We have booked and been refunded all of our own excursions… Not really into nightlife, we don’t drink, and definitely not into the party scene. 

Rick

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2 hours ago, drsullivan said:

My wife and I were supposed to be on the Holland America Westerdam today. Both of us ended up testing positive for Covid, so we weren’t able to board the ship and had to cancel the cruise. We were in Yellowstone last week and we experienced some symptoms, got tested, and were able to cancel the cruise prior to going to Seattle. We flew home yesterday to Nashville and are recovering well with minimal symptoms.

 

That said, we have been looking forward to this for the last three years… We are wondering if we should try to make another go at it this summer. How late is too late to take the cruise and still enjoy it? What time do things start to shut down in Alaska because it gets too cold? My schedule is pretty flexible so I can take a week off if I need to. we aren’t obligated to Holland America either… We will get credit which we can use on another cruise with them at a later date. From what I understand, they are overwhelmed and understaffed in that department right now and my future cruise credit might take 4 to 6 weeks. Any other recommendations for cruise lines? Ships? We are both 60… I’m an avid photographer and nature lover… We have booked and been refunded all of our own excursions… Not really into nightlife, we don’t drink, and definitely not into the party scene. 

Rick

My experience would be not past the second week of September. Everything begins to shut down for the season. Our first cruise was Sept 2nd and there were end of season sales in all the cities. Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Bring layer type clothing, hat and gloves. We had a great time on the Sept cruise, even with the days of rain and drizzle we had. You will be awed with the photo ops you will get.  

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My specific answer to your question is that things sort of slow down in Sept.  You have shorter days.  Shops start shutting down towards the end of Sept.  It gets rainier.  It gets cooler.   Check out this climate site for Juneau -

 

https://weatherspark.com/y/145123/Average-Weather-at-Juneau-International-Airport-Alaska-United-States-Year-Round

 

Personally I would not do a cruise very far into September.  

 

I am going to throw out 5 completely way out suggestions assuming that you can get out of your cruise obligations.  My suggestions are based on trips that I have done that will give you more photo opportunities and nature opportunities than you would ever get on HAL or any other big cruise ship.   These would be trips of a lifetime in a way that a cruise on HAL could never be.

 

1) Take a small ship cruise to AK instead of doing AK on a big cruise ship.  I have done 2 AK cruises on ships that held less than 200 people.  In fact I just got off this cruise - 

 

https://www.aqvoyages.com/expedition-cruises/alaska-british-columbia/sitka-to-vancouver/?v=ov&d=2022-08-08

 

The ship is small but great.  They support photographers.  They even have enough good quality binoculars and spotting scopes on board for everyone.  You get lots of rides on zodiacs that get you really close to glaciers.  They are also sort of flexible in that if they are here and there is something really interesting over there they will go to where the action is.  You also get to cruise on the inside passage back to Vancouver.  None of the big ships fully do the inside passage.  There are other small ships that do AK but this is one of the longer ones.

 

2) Forget cruising and spend a week taking pictures of Bald Eagles in Haines AK.  I went with these guys -

 

https://www.shetzers.com/bald-eagle-photography-workshop-and-tour/

 

There are other people who run similar trips.  The river at Haines is the last free flowing stream with salmon before every river freezes up and every eagle within 100 miles know it.  Imagine a tree w 30 eagles on it.  Imagine an ice floe with 2 or 4 eagles fighting over a salmon.

 

3) Forget cruising and go to Fairbanks in February.  You get 2 things.  First of all if you luck out or plan properly you get the chance to see aurora.  You may have seen pictures of aurora but they pale in comparison to the real thing.  If you go in February you also get to see the World Ice Art C championships 

 

https://www.icealaska.org/

 

You can not imagine what sort of fantastic sculptures they can do with ice.  The negative of this option is you will be cold.  Really cold.  Really really cold.  Cold that has never been experienced In Tennessee ever.  I spend almost 2 weeks on that trip and spent 4 or 5 days shoot aurora pictures.

 

4) Forget AK and head south.  Head really south and do Antarctica.  Even better find a cruise that combines Antarctica and South Georgia Island.  You will see lots of penguins and other wildlife in Antarctica.  On South Georgia you will be on beaches with 300,000 next pairs of penguins AND elephant seals AND fur seals.  You will be able to be within 2 or 3 feet of the penguins.  You will have baby elephant seals come right up to you.  

 

5) Do a cruise to the Galapagos Island.  There are lots of good Galapagos cruises.  Nature and snorkeling opportunities galore as the animals have no fear of people.

 

I have been to AK many times and I love AK.  I just don't like AK on big ships so the only time I do AK on big ships is when we take our grandkids on their coming-of-age AK trip w/o their parents.  I have one more grandkid who gets that trip and then no more big ship cruises in AK.

 

My point on this long post is that there are much better ways of doing AK that don't involve big cruise ships and there are also ways of doing AK without do it by ship at all.  Think outside the box.

 

If you want to chat off line just tell me.

 

DON

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14 hours ago, donaldsc said:

3) Forget cruising and go to Fairbanks in February.  You get 2 things.  First of all if you luck out or plan properly you get the chance to see aurora.  You may have seen pictures of aurora but they pale in comparison to the real thing.  If you go in February you also get to see the World Ice Art C championships 

 

https://www.icealaska.org/

 

You can not imagine what sort of fantastic sculptures they can do with ice.  The negative of this option is you will be cold.  Really cold.  Really really cold.  Cold that has never been experienced In Tennessee ever.  I spend almost 2 weeks on that trip and spent 4 or 5 days shoot aurora pictures.

 

I have not had the experience that this gentleman has had nor have I visited Fairbanks, yet.  But, I have spent Christmas in Alaska and drove North as far as Talkeetna (saw the mountain on a beautifully clear, cold day), and have driven out onto a frozen lake in a state park where ice fishing was taking place.  The scenery is a winter wonderland and beautiful.  Cold?  How about minus 16 degrees with wind in Anchorage.  Fairbanks would likely be colder.  When we were out of the Jeep on the frozen lake, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, a cashmere cardigan sweater, a windbreaker, and a parka with a hood over my cap.  My Nephew said:  Uncle rka, you look like you are cold.  And, I was!  But, it was a great experience and I am glad that I could do it.  

 

I agree with Don.  Think outside of the box!  

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