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Alaska in July

runnersmomrunnersmom 2140 replies36 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,176 Senior Member
We've just booked a last minute small ship cruise from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, BC. Has anyone done this kind of trip and do you have any advice for me! Weather, packing, excursions?
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Replies to: Alaska in July

  • Snowball CitySnowball City 1716 replies51 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,767 Senior Member
    If you have some time to spare in Seward, go visit the Alaska SeaLife Center. They do a great job rehabilitating marine mammals and have very nice displays that explain the local ecosystem. It has a scientific arm too that does a fair amount of research on wild populations.
    https://www.alaskasealife.org
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  • JHSJHS 18300 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 18,370 Senior Member
    We did the opposite route about 13 years ago, on a relatively small ship (but not really small), the Seven Seas Mariner, with my parents and siblings. Our teenage kids refused to come, and we missed them the whole time. We loved it.

    Weather: Temperatures ranged from high 50s to high 70s. We definitely needed windbreakers (but not more) early in the morning and late in the evening, but polo shirts or Ts in between.

    Other packing: The ship we were on did not require fancy clothes ever, although I think you needed shoes and long pants to eat in the main dining room. (There were other places to eat which were perfectly fine and where that was not necessary.) So we really didn't need to bring a lot of clothes. Maybe we did anyway, though.

    Off the ship: The thing we loved most was actually the local museums and small historical park in Sitka, that cost nothing to see. There is a collection of stunning photographs of life on Sitka from the end of the 19th Century by E.W. Merrill, who really deserves to be counted in the first rank of early photographers. Plus lots of ethnographic material from the various native tribes to the Russians and then the Americans.

    The most sensational thing we did was a helicopter ride up onto the Mendenhall glaciar and hike around there. We loved that, too. I was glad I didn't have to pay for it myself, but I would have. We also like kayaking along the coast. We could have done without a horse ride just across the border into the Yukon.

    The ship we were on had anthropologists on board talking about the various non-European cultures along the Alaskan coast. They were great, and really interesting.

    In general, the views were so sensational, I was happy to spend 3-4 hours a day doing nothing but looking.
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  • toledotoledo 4756 replies289 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,045 Senior Member
    We cruised last July. Check projected temperatures just before leaving. Our cruise was unusually warm. Highlights included booking our own train to Denali and staying up there for 2 nights and a whale watching/Mendenhall Glacier tour in Juneau, We were booked for a float plane trip in Ketchikan, but couldn't take off due to overcast conditions. After the latest accidents, I'd pass on float planes. The railroad trip in Skagway is beautiful. If you haven't been to Vancouver before, a night or two there is nice. Have fun!
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  • cgpm59cgpm59 567 replies52 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 619 Member
    You need to check out "the other CC" ... Cruise Critic dot com. Tons of info on there, specifically for Alaska, your ports, your ship, etc.
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  • wis75wis75 13892 replies62 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,954 Senior Member
    edited June 14
    We did a Holland America cruise from/to Seattle two years ago. A learning experience more than recreational- which is why we chose a less party type ship. You go on an Alaskan cruise to see the sites, not for the theme park ship experience. You do not need to spend money on all tours. We often walked to a site on our own. Look at various cruising Alaska websites for a lot of info. No need to get fancy, dress for the weather- cold, rain...

    Do pay attention to warnings. When there is a sign at the end of the raptor rehab center row of cages that warns about bears heed it- you don't go off wandering trials.

    Bring binoculars, more than just your cell phone for a camera. Remember you can usually get free wifi on land and Alaska is a part of the US so your cell phone plan works like in the lower 48. I wouldn't bother paying for some extras such as onboard cell phone/internet services. Check beverage plans- discovered one could take soda in one's carryon (an extra onboard). Be wary of that bottled water charge in your room.

    The Cruise Critic is a must visit website. Also do not be shy in asking your cruise company questions and looking at FAQs for various cruise lines and sites.

    We have visited Vancouver in the past- driving from Seattle. An excellent city and environs. Cruises often use Vancouver or Victoria BC as stops so they are international and foreign flagged ships can do the American ports. Remember to check with your credit card company so they are aware you will be in Canada if you plan to use it- foreign transaction fees et al depending on your card company. It can be hard sometimes to remember Alaska is the same as being in any other US state and the BC cities so close are in a different country.
    edited June 14
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  • JustaMomJustaMom 2652 replies94 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,746 Senior Member
    edited June 14
    I'm envious. Alaska was one of my favorite trips ever.

    Suggestions...
    Splurge on those excursions you can't find anywhere else. We splurged on a helicopter flight that landed on 2 glaciers. We glacier hiked and found glacier lakes. Expensive? Yes. Once in a lifetime? Definitely. We also splurged on a float-plane trip that landed on a tiny (tiny!) "island" and watched bears salmon fish, saw eagles nesting and more.

    Our weather experience was we needed layers...we peeled off as the day warmed up, and re-layered as the day cooled down. I brought an ear cover (if my ears get cold I'm cold all over), and I mostly wore it while on deck of the ship and mornings off the ship. A full-zip sweatshirt with a windbreaker was fine for me. We had a couple of rainy mornings, which are chilling.

    Sleep is for when you're home. With so much daylight we hardly slept because we didn't want to miss a thing. We watched sunsets and sunrises back to back, we even watched a full moon set in the "middle of the night" (amazing!).

    Eat all the local food. Oh my goodness, the fish, and even the beef (and I don't eat beef!) was incredible.

    I took a point-and-shoot Canon camera (sure shot) and 100% of my photos are out of this world.

    Binoculars are a good choice. Don't rely on the ones on the ship.

    I agree about reading Cruise Critic - a wealth of information.

    Have fun!
    edited June 14
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  • 123txmom123txmom 99 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    We're doing inside passage out of Seattle this August. Like others mentioned check out Cruise Critic dot com. Also, there are Facebook groups dedicated to Alaskan cruises if you're interested to joining. Book your excursions as soon as you can. We're doing the helicopter ride to Mendenhall glacier and whale watching in Juneau, train ride in Skagway and float plane in Ketchikan. We were a little worried about the float plane excursion but the company we're using has a excellent reputation and owner has been around for over 10 years. Most cruise lines will let you carry on a case of water or soda as checked luggage if you don't want to buy their soda package. Bring a refillable water bottle or coffee mug which you can refill on ship to take on excursion or back to your room.
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  • JustaMomJustaMom 2652 replies94 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,746 Senior Member
    @123txmom Oh I forgot about the Skagway train to the Canadian border! Not very expensive and a great journey.
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  • runnersmomrunnersmom 2140 replies36 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,176 Senior Member
    We're on a Windstar 200 passenger ship and non-alcoholic beverages are included, so no need to bring water or soda. Thanks for the helpful suggestions re: what to see, especially since I booked this 3 weeks out! I've started booking the excursions we want but given some recent incidents I think we'll be skipping any kind of aviation except that necessary to get to Anchorage and home from Vancouver ;) We're going to kayak in the fjords and hike most everywhere it's available. I'm interested in exploring Sitka, too, so thanks @JHS. I'm most focused on what to pack since we'll be in Vancouver for 3 days post-cruise and I suspect it will be warmer there. Good to hear that mid-jury can be warmer and a sweatshirt and raincoat will suffice. From everyone's comments here I think we're going to really have an incredible experience.
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  • My3KiddosMy3Kiddos 444 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 469 Member
    What ports are you visiting? That might help get some more specific recommendations.

    I loved our Alaska cruise. I want to go back and do it again some day. The coldest days were where we were parked in front of a glacier. (And I wanted to stay outside for every minute of it!) Otherwise layers were completely necessary. Invest in good waterproof hiking boots/shoes if you plan to hike at all. I got a windproof fleece jacket at REI and wore it all the time.

    We rented cars in ports and explored on our own. Drove into Canada from Skagway. Saw a ton of bears. It was just amazing. Binoculars and a camera with a good zoom were musts for me. We splurged on a private whale watching excursion in Juneau and it was worth it. (Bring dramamine if you aren't good with little boats)
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  • runnersmomrunnersmom 2140 replies36 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,176 Senior Member
    We fly into Anchorage and sail from Seward. Ports include Juneau, Haines, Inian Island, Icy Strait Point, Wrangell, Sitka, Ketchikan, Port Rupert, BC and disembark in Vancouver.
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 15448 replies98 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15,546 Senior Member
    edited June 26
    We went on an Alaskan cruise in July 12 years ago. It was wonderful (not too cold - honest - but then, I am from the midwest)! Pack layers, with a good rainproof jacket. Go to Cruise Critic and you will get amazing advice. We got tips on Cruise Critic for booking things to do when the ship was in port. We did sea kayaking in Ketchikan (they have all the gear you'll need), a helicopter ride/touch down on Mendenhall Glacier, rented a vehicle and drove into the Yukon Territory among other fun things ... all thanks to the great advice I got on Cruise Critic.
    edited June 26
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  • artloversplusartloversplus 8462 replies244 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,706 Senior Member
    I don't understand why cruise ships have to stop at Port Rupert, there is nothing to see.
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  • dragonmomdragonmom 5849 replies154 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,003 Senior Member
    My H’s family has been on three Alaska cruises together so far. One of my favorite land excursions was Port Rupert. We paddled in big canoes to an island across the way. Guides pulled up crab pots as we went. While we explored the primeval environment of the island and learned about history, the guides boiled the crabs. Most guests had a bite of crab and burger, corn and salad. Those of us us who knew better pigged out on crab. It was a worthwhile shore excursion in Port Rupert
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76523 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,188 Senior Member
    I don't understand why cruise ships have to stop at Port Rupert

    If all of the cruise ship's other stops are in the US, a stop in a non-US country may be required to allow a non-US-flagged cruise ship to run that route.

    This is the reason that many Hawaii cruise ships include a trip to Kiribati.
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  • wis75wis75 13892 replies62 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,954 Senior Member
    Ditto the non-US port. Required to have a foreign port per US law. That law caused many problems for Puerto Rico in getting aid after the hurricanes because those foreign flagged ships that could have provided supplies were forbidden to do so. The reason for Victoria, BC and Vancouver, BC being on the Alaskan cruise itineraries.
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  • runnersmomrunnersmom 2140 replies36 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,176 Senior Member
    Thanks, everyone. We leave a week from today and we're very excited to see a new part of both my countries. I grew up on the Canadian border in Niagara Falls, NY so both Alaska and BC qualify for me on that count! We're kayaking, hiking, taking zodiacs and looking forward to beautiful scenery and wildlife, no matter the weather. All your suggestions and advice are much appreciated.
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  • MoonKnightMoonKnight 377 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 386 Member
    @runnersmom Your trip sounds amazing! Stay safe and have lots of fun!
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