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Pro/Con May Alaska Cruise

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22 hours ago, Sunny AZ Girl said:

We also plan to go to the Bear Fortress in Sitka.  Since they are in captivity (rescued orphaned cubs who would have otherwise been euthanized) it is pretty much a guarantee, although I guess that would be considered cheating for bear sightings, LOL!:classic_biggrin:

 

I've been to the Fortress of the Bear and thought it was very cool.  Some people think they are in old sewer ponds but they aren't - it's the remains of an old Pulp Mill and the "tanks" are old tile clarifiers - not for sewage. :classic_biggrin:  Sitka is one of my favorite places - if you can, rent a car and see it at  your own pace instead of being rushed around on a bus with 50-60 other people.  When we were at the Fortress of the Bear we beat the crowd.  While we were there a couple buses pulled up and about 100 people got off.  After about 30 minutes they were gone again.  We had plenty of time to talk to the fellow (Les) who runs the place and learn more than a quick stop will let you have.

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I would like to go in May sometime to see more snow on the mountain tops.

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20 hours ago, SuperCrewBear said:

 

I've been to the Fortress of the Bear and thought it was very cool.  Some people think they are in old sewer ponds but they aren't - it's the remains of an old Pulp Mill and the "tanks" are old tile clarifiers - not for sewage. :classic_biggrin:  Sitka is one of my favorite places - if you can, rent a car and see it at  your own pace instead of being rushed around on a bus with 50-60 other people.  When we were at the Fortress of the Bear we beat the crowd.  While we were there a couple buses pulled up and about 100 people got off.  After about 30 minutes they were gone again.  We had plenty of time to talk to the fellow (Les) who runs the place and learn more than a quick stop will let you have.

As I had not previously heard of the Fortress of the Bear, I went to their website http://www.fortressofthebear.org/the-bears.  Quite interesting!

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FYI, first ships in Alaska this year (I'm assuming Ketchikan is first port for all ships cited below and show their first date there)

     Ruby P     5/3

     Norwegian Pearl, HAL Westerdam     5/4

     Emerald P     5/5

     HAL Volendam, Island P     5/7

     HAL Zaandam     5/9

 

I'm amazed!  And eager to hear from CC folks on these early cruises!!

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Please disregard my post above with first dates ships are in Alaska; I've found out my source (cruisett.com) was not always accurate vis a vis what princess.com says, for example.  The Ruby arrives in Ketchikan on 4/27  and the Star arrives there on 5/1 per princess.com.

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2 hours ago, PittsburghNative said:

What’s the temps like mid-May? I’ll be on my cruise from 5/9 - 5/19. I’m assuming mid-50s for a high?

Unfortunately, similar to many other places, the temps in the Pacific NW/Alaska can vary significantly.

 

In Vancouver, our average temperatures in May are low 60's. but last May we experienced many days in the high 70's/low 80's. In Alaska, I would plan for temperatures between mid 40's and mid-60's, with mid 50's being closer to the average. Remember to factor in wind chill if on the open decks.

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2 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

Unfortunately, similar to many other places, the temps in the Pacific NW/Alaska can vary significantly.

 

In Vancouver, our average temperatures in May are low 60's. but last May we experienced many days in the high 70's/low 80's. In Alaska, I would plan for temperatures between mid 40's and mid-60's, with mid 50's being closer to the average. Remember to factor in wind chill if on the open decks.

 

Thanks for the info!

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4 hours ago, PittsburghNative said:

What’s the temps like mid-May? I’ll be on my cruise from 5/9 - 5/19. I’m assuming mid-50s for a high?

We have the most extreme weather this year with many new records in both direction. Anything temperature is possible in the norm plus/minus 30 range.

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On ‎3‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 9:01 AM, Tourist1292 said:

Our cruise is one day after yours but we will be at Vancouver before you. After this winter in the mid west, May temperature there would not be an issue to us at all.

We will be on the Coral Princess also on May 8.  We are across the river from you, a couple hours away, and totally agree that with this winter Alaska in May will be wonderful :)  I have family near Vancouver and it is more often then not our summer-time weather there in May. 

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Posted (edited)

We were in Alaska last year in late May/early June (on Uncruise, so not many real ports.  We were in different areas among the islands between Sitka and Juneau, with a visit to Glacier Bay.)  It has been my only visit to Alaska.  Weather was cool (40s to 50s) and fairly wet.  The first few days of our cruise, it rained frequently.  The last few, the sun was out and it was beautiful (but still cool.)  From what we were told, the climate in this area of Alaska is unpredictable-more so than other areas of AK.  Part of the climate will be dependent what ports the cruise visits. (Sitka is in a temperate rain forest. Rainfall amounts are higher than in other areas.)  We saw several bears and in general, a lot of wildlife. 

 

Also recommend the Fortress of the Bears in Sitka. Great opportunity to see and learn about black and brown bears, plus amazing photo opportunities for bears and eagles (although, from what we were told, the eagles are dependent on the time you are there.)  

If I were to return to AK (which is highly unlikely-it's beautiful but too cool for me) I'd plan on having cool, wet weather regardless of the time of year. Hopefully, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Edited by LMADAMS91

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Posted (edited)

We haven’t been yet, but we are going the first week of May and this is what I’ve discovered in my research....

 

Cons:  Weather is much colder, less likely to see salmon runs and bears, Emerald Lake may still be frozen so you miss out on the beautiful colors of it, the White Pass Yukon Railroad doesn’t run the whole route that early in the season (just to Fraser), some tours and sites are not operating yet

 

Pros:  Less ships at the ports that early in season/fewer tourists in port, slightly increased chance of seeing Northern Lights and orcas, get to see beautiful snow on the mountaintops, fewer bugs on land tours, fewer kids on ships, less rain, PRICE!

Edited by Mediterranean_Honeymooner

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5 hours ago, Mediterranean_Honeymooner said:

Pros:  Less ships at the ports that early in season/fewer tourists in port, slightly increased chance of seeing Northern Lights and orcas, get to see beautiful snow on the mountaintops, fewer bugs on land tours, fewer kids on ships, less rain, PRICE!

I don't think you will see Northern Lights in May.

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8 minutes ago, Coral said:

I don't think you will see Northern Lights in May.

 

Agreed.  It’s very unlikely.  But there have been reports of it, and it is more likely in shoulder season due to shorter days/increased darkness.

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Just now, Mediterranean_Honeymooner said:

 

Agreed.  It’s very unlikely.  But there have been reports of it, and it is more likely in shoulder season due to shorter days/increased darkness.

May has very long days.

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My friend did see it is late August during his cruise last year. It was only visible on the camera though.

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Coral said:

May has very long days.

 

Compared to June through August,  early May has days that are shorter. I’m just going by what I’ve read in other people’s trip reports and articles I’ve read (like this one: https://traveltips.usatoday.com/alaska-cruises-see-northern-lights-17540.html).  I know the chances are very slim, and I am by no means expecting to see them.  I just said there was a “slightly increased” chance of seeing them since that’s what I’ve read. 🤷‍♀️

Edited by Mediterranean_Honeymooner

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We are on that May 9th Celebrity Cruise out of Vancouver as well. I am glad to hear that we shouldnt really miss much early in the season. No one mentioned whales in this thread. We have a Whale watching tour planned in Icy Strait. Will the whales be there by mid May?

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12 minutes ago, clskinsfan said:

We are on that May 9th Celebrity Cruise out of Vancouver as well. I am glad to hear that we shouldnt really miss much early in the season. No one mentioned whales in this thread. We have a Whale watching tour planned in Icy Strait. Will the whales be there by mid May?

I also booked a whale watching excursion at Juneau on 5/13. I certain hope there will be whales too.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/14/2019 at 4:40 PM, clskinsfan said:

We are on that May 9th Celebrity Cruise out of Vancouver as well. I am glad to hear that we shouldnt really miss much early in the season. No one mentioned whales in this thread. We have a Whale watching tour planned in Icy Strait. Will the whales be there by mid May?

 It is whale migration season in May and June.  So, spend as much time on deck while cruising and you may have a couple surprise visitors near the ship.Two years ago we were in Juneau on Mother day for a whale watch excursion. 4 hrs on the water...not one humpback whale....but we  had a surprise as we were

heading back to the marina.... a pod of Orcas! 

Edited by Magellan321
spell check

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On 3/14/2019 at 3:54 PM, Tourist1292 said:

I also booked a whale watching excursion at Juneau on 5/13. I certain hope there will be whales too.

I have had pretty luck during that time with Orcas.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/7/2019 at 12:46 PM, BarbinMich said:

FYI, first ships in Alaska this year (I'm assuming Ketchikan is first port for all ships cited below and show their first date there)

     Ruby P     5/3

     Norwegian Pearl, HAL Westerdam     5/4

     Emerald P     5/5

     HAL Volendam, Island P     5/7

     HAL Zaandam     5/9

 

I'm amazed!  And eager to hear from CC folks on these early cruises!!

 

You can add another one.  Carnival Legend May 6.  Juneau is the first port and Ketchikan the last before Victoria.

Edited by peymas
Addition

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I would really like to take the bear watch excursion in Icy Strait, but one hates to spend all of that money and no bears.  I guess that is the chance we will have to take.

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12 hours ago, peymas said:

 

You can add another one.  Carnival Legend May 6.  Juneau is the first port and Ketchikan the last before Victoria.

My bad; was looking at 2018 schedule :classic_sad:

Ketchikan first ships of the 2019 season:

     5/1   Star Princess

     5/4   Carnival Legend (although you indicate 5/6)

     5/6   Island Princess

     5/9   HAL Eurodam & Nieuw Statendam

     5/10 HAL Maasdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam; Norwegian Bliss  (could be 9,000+ pax that, but ships probably stagger their port times)

 

On 5/31 6 ships will visit Ketchikan with potentially 14,000 pax.  That appears to be the largest # of daily pax for the whole season--maybe ships don't sail full that early.

 

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31 minutes ago, BarbinMich said:

My bad; was looking at 2018 schedule :classic_sad:

Ketchikan first ships of the 2019 season:

     5/1   Star Princess

     5/4   Carnival Legend (although you indicate 5/6)

     5/6   Island Princess

     5/9   HAL Eurodam & Nieuw Statendam

     5/10 HAL Maasdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam; Norwegian Bliss  (could be 9,000+ pax that, but ships probably stagger their port times)

 

On 5/31 6 ships will visit Ketchikan with potentially 14,000 pax.  That appears to be the largest # of daily pax for the whole season--maybe ships don't sail full that early.

 

I just meant the cruise leaves May 6. Not in Ketchikan until May 12.

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