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Some Questions About Alaska?


GranysT

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I'm starting to save for a dream cruise to Alaska, and have some questions.

 

1. Is it better weatherwise to cruise in May or September?

My thinking is that it could still be pretty cold, in May, because winter is just ending around then. Sept might be warmer, as summer is just ending around then. Does this make sense, or is it all just a crap shoot, which ever month I choose?

 

2. I read somewhere, quite awhile ago, that bugs can be a problem at certain times. Which month, May or Sept, will there be the least chance of bug problems?

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For the cruise portion only:

 

1. May can be fairly cold, but is usually one of the least rainiest months. September can also be cold, but the weather alternates between sunny and nice and fall storms with wind and rain (as in rough seas). For the interior, September is usually a nice month.

 

2. Bugs are not a problem unless you get off the beaten tourist track. Lots of mosquitoes at the Glacier Point trip out of Skagway, and remote beaches have little annoying flies. Bugs can be a problem at Wonder Lake in Denali until late July.

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We are scheduled for our cruise in July, so I can't tell you personally what is best, but I can tell you that if you choose Sept., not to choose the last cruise. My brother did that, and he said that you could tell the employees everywhere couldn't wait for them to leave since the employees were already packed and ready to move on to wherever their next job was. Some businesses were alread closed. This was around Sept. 11, 2001 :(which couldn't have been a worst pick for him of course!! so that of course was an added stress, but besides that, he said he would never recommend the last cruise of the season.

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We are scheduled for our cruise in July, so I can't tell you personally what is best, but I can tell you that if you choose Sept., not to choose the last cruise. My brother did that, and he said that you could tell the employees everywhere couldn't wait for them to leave since the employees were already packed and ready to move on to wherever their next job was. Some businesses were alread closed. This was around Sept. 11, 2001 :(which couldn't have been a worst pick for him of course!! so that of course was an added stress, but besides that, he said he would never recommend the last cruise of the season.

 

I quite often go to Skagway to see the last ship of the season - in 2007 the weather was so incredibly ugly that very few people even got off the ship. And "the employees everywhere couldn't wait for them to leave" was very obvious!

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I'm starting to save for a dream cruise to Alaska....

 

Have you checked prices for the upcoming season? There are some amazing bargains! You might not have to save for very long at the prices cruises are going for at the moment. :)

We've always sailed early in the season, mid/late May and early June. Weather has been fabulous for us.

Three negatives for sailing in mid-May, our experience.

1.We had more snow along the way than we'd've liked for our scenic drive on the Klondike Highway as opposed to our early June cruise.

2. Juneau's Mt. Robert's (up the tram) had more snow on the trails.

3. Denali NP doesn't open for tours deeper into the park until June 1st.

We've never sailed in September.

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Some of the tours use seasonal help (summer jobs for college students) and definitely find out how long they operate into Sept. Some are earlier than the last cruise.

 

Also, I would shy away from businesses that pack up and move to the tropics after the season is over. Support the port's local economy and merchants instead.

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Some of the tours use seasonal help (summer jobs for college students) ...

 

MOST of the tour operators use seasonal help from Outside. If you ask them where they live they'll say "Alaska" but if you ask where they live in the winter you'll get a different answer.

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.... Bugs are not a problem unless you get off the beaten tourist track. Lots of mosquitoes at the Glacier Point trip out of Skagway......

 

Hi,

We are doing the Glacier Point trip in June. We are looking at Repel lemon eucalyptus (pump spray) and Natrapel wipes (picaridin). Will either of these do well for the Alaska mosquito? Trying to avoid the potential problems with DEET.

Thanks.

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When I was there, they were the big, slow ones - more annoying than anything else. I didn't have any insect repellent, although they had some available there. I would say whatever you feel comfortable with... You will really only have to protect your face and hands, unless it's a very warm day, as you'll probably be wearing long pants and sleeves.

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.......You will really only have to protect your face and hands, unless it's a very warm day.........

Hi Wolfie,

Thanks for the reply. What is the chance that we'll have a very warm day in mid-June? I hope that it will reach 70 sometime during the week. We'll be leaving Phoenix at 105+.

Bruce

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A typical weather pattern in SE Alaska means a couple of nice, sunny days with highs in the 60's or 70's, a couple of cloudy days with some drizzle, and a couple of rainy days, followed by a couple of cloudy days, and then some more nice days.

 

If the jet stream is just right, you get a year like 2004, when it was in the 80's and sunny for days and days. If it's not right, you get a summer like 2006, when there were maybe a dozen sunny days all summer.

 

May and June tend to be sunnier and dryer than later in the summer, but it's really a crap shoot as to what the weather will be.

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We went in 2005 August/September and it was consistently in the 50s, had rain two of the days but it was a light mist and not overly bothersome. We had no problems with bugs and my DH tends to attract mosquitoes and the like so he was pleasantly surprised.

 

It is an AMAZING trip -- one of our favorites, I would do it again in a heartbeat. We were round trip out of Vancouver, next time I would like to add a cruise tour and head up in to Denali as well that was really our only regret that we didn't do that...

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Thanks for the tips. I'm still not sure to try May or Sept. Guess I need some more research. Yes, I do want to do a combination land tour and cruise.

 

Which route is best, North or South?

Which will let me actually see the most glacier's? Any I particularly shouldn't miss?

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Thanks for the tips. I'm still not sure to try May or Sept. Guess I need some more research. Yes, I do want to do a combination land tour and cruise.

 

Which route is best, North or South?

Which will let me actually see the most glacier's? Any I particularly shouldn't miss?

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Sometimes the lower cruise fares in May aren’t worth it depending where you want to go for a pre-cruise inland trip. Our first trip to Alaska was May 19, 2001 and we were very disappointed when the train pulled out of Anchorage headed towards Denali. The landscape was very dry and the same up in Denali. It isn’t what we expected it to be like in Alaska. Also, like the previous poster we didn’t get to go very far into Denali. We asked many local people when the best time to come up was and they all said the second or third week of June, thus our last 2 trips to Alaska have been in June. Although, the weather in Alaska is very unpredictable we hit relatively good weather in both those other June trips. The first cruise left May 26 and the cruise itself was fine at that time. It was just because we went inland that I felt it was too early.

Maybe, it would be worth it to pay a little more for your cruise to go later (of course, if that fits your work schedule) so you can go farther into the park and see more. Also, we hardly saw any animals in Denali and I thought that was probably because of not getting to go very far into the park.

Other than that, I love cruising southbound. I like doing all of the land portion first cause you change places to stay every night or two and then not unpack for 7 days when you get on the cruise.

 

Also, if you do pick a southbound cruise and it is going to College Fjord, please don’t miss College Fjords if you are sailing through it early. Get up! My husband missed most of it cause he didn’t want to get up at 6:00 a.m. He laid in bed and looked at it through the balcony windows. I wanted to get the whole dramatic effect so I didn’t just want to look off of our balcony so I got dressed and went out on the decks with my camera and looked at everything and it was so awe inspiring. I thought he really missed out by not getting up, but he did what he wanted. I was more excited about the whole Alaska experience and still am than he is. I think I could go every year and not feel bored just because of the awesomeness of the scenery.

I have done that route again taking it independently via a Prince William Sound Tour and because the boat is smaller carrying about 300 people you get much closer to the glaciers, etc. and it is a much more intimate tour than the one through the cruise ship, but you will still enjoy it through the cruise ship being it will be your first time seeing the glaciers in all their glory. We used the "26 Glacier Cruise" and really enjoyed it. You can take it out of Whittier.

Also, prefer going southbound cause there are more daylight hours when you sail through the inside passage between British Columbia and Vancouver Island than there is when you go northbound. I prefer getting all of my inland touring done first and then getting on the ship and settling in for 7 days.

Due to timing issues and wanting to take in the Alaska State Fair on Saturday, Sept. 5, this year we are going to cruise northbound. I feel bad we will miss some of the inside passage experience but at least I have seen it before and there will be a next time, I hope.

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We went in May. Had GREAT weather, lots of daylight.

I think you need to decide on what you want to see. In May, still some snow in areas and can get cool. Heard that Sept, still flowers and summer type weather.

Also heard the locals are more receptive in the EARLIER months and by Sept after thousands and thousands of visitors to their towns, they are ready for the season to end..... :p

Either way, ALaska is spectacular so I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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Thanks so much for the tip about Not taking the final cruise in Sept. 2 of you mentioned that, and it sounds like a good idea to skip that one. One decision less to make. lol

 

 

We had friends who did the last cruise of the season, and it was one of their best cruises. Yes, they said that some businesses had closed for the season but the ones that were open had things priced to sell. Maybe on the cruise the other poster mentioned, there were several crew members were ready to go home or were being reassigned, and unfortunately these were the ones that the brother came in contact with? It is my understanding that the crew is under contract for a period of time (correct me if I am wrong!) and just because the season is over they do not all get off the ship. Just a thought.....

 

Had another thought...ship going in to dry dock?

 

Cheryl

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We went in Sept 2007, and had perfect weather except for one day when we were in Juneau. While visiting Ketchikan it was so sunny we actually wore shorts!! We are going again this year in May and are hoping for great weather again.

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Hey Grany!! What a great cruise we had! We just booked May for next year, #16. We are very excited about it. Thanks everyone for the info here, its really helping with all my questions. What does everyone do for airfare? We leave out Vancover and it ends in Fairbanks.

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