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Cruise Escapes by Beverly Bell

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Cruise Escapes’ Travel Information for Alaska Cruises

Time Zone:
Alaska time is an hour behind Pacific time. Therefore, there is a 4 hour difference between our time and Alaska time. If it is Noon in Richmond, it would be 8:00 AM in Alaska.

Daylight and Darkness in Alaska:
Some people have the mistaken idea that the whole state of Alaska goes dark in the winter and has unending sunlight in the summer. Barrow, in the northernmost part of the state, has a two-month period in the winter in which the sun doesn’t rise. South of the Arctic Circle, however, every town has sunshine at least part of the day. During the summer, all of Arctic Alaska gets 24-hour sunlight at least one day at the solstice. (Summer solstice is June 21.) Barrow has continuous daylight for 85 days. South of the Arctic Circle, every town has a night during the summer, even though it may be very brief. During the summer months, visitors to Alaska will experience long dawns and dusks which make the day appear longer than it actually is. At 2:00 AM (two hours after sunset) it would be possible to read a newspaper outdoors in the days around summer solstice.

May 19:55 hours of daylight
June 24:00 hours of daylight
July 21:36 hours of daylight
August 17:41 hours of daylight
September 11:34 hours of daylight


Weather in Alaska:
The best time to visit Alaska is between May and early September. Within that period, late May through June is known for having the best combination of long days, clear skies, and warm afternoons. In the interior around Fairbanks and Denali, the summer temperatures may reach the 80s or 90s. The Inside Passage climate during the summer is usually in the 60s and 70s.
The best word to describe the climate in Alaska is unpredictable. Alaska is known for its “liquid sunshine.” A warm, sunny day can very quickly become a cold, rainy day. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature dishes out to you! The temperature can range from hot, 75 to 80, to quite cool, in the low 40s.

Appropriate Clothing for Alaska:
The key to comfort in Alaska is layering. There are some high-tech fabrics on the market today that are lightweight and work in all types of climates! Take a light-weight jacket (perhaps with a hood and a zip-out lining) or a windbreaker, sweatshirts, tee shirts, turtlenecks, jeans, a light-weight pair of gloves, jogging suits, and maybe even some shorts. A comfortable pair of tennis shoes or other good walking shoes with a rubber sole is a MUST. Because of the changeable weather, it is a good idea to take rain gear- a rain slick or a water-resistant jacket, and a folding umbrella. You may also wish to take a hat or visor.

Cruise Clothes:
During the day, the dress on the ship will be casual- slacks, jeans, sweatshirts, tees, etc. There will be 2 formal nights on the ship. On an Alaska cruise, even the “formal” nights are a little less glitzy than you would find on a Caribbean cruise. You will see some men wearing a tuxedo, but a tux is not necessary. A business suit or a sport coat and tie will be just fine. For the ladies, a cocktail dress or a nice pants outfit will be appropriate. A simple black dress can be dressed up with jewelry or a pretty scarf. If you really don’t want to dress up on your vacation, there are alternative dining spots that will not require formal wear.

On the other nights not designated as “formal”, a pair of khaki pants and an open collar shirt will be appropriate for the men. Ladies may wear slacks, capris, a shirt and blouse, or a dress.

Other Items you may wish to pack:
1) Camera with wide angle and zoom lens
2) Lots of film and extra batteries
3) Binoculars (If you don’t have any, you may want to borrow a pair.)
4) Sunscreen and insect repellent (The big man-eating mosquitoes don't come out
    until July.)
5) Sunglasses
6) Bonine or a patch for people who tend to experience motion sickness

Items which should be carried in your hand luggage:
1) Medications
3) Airline eticket
4) Cruise boarding pass
5) Insurance confirmation number and phone number
6) Jewelry
What to shop for in Alaska:
1) Salmon- fresh or canned
2) Native art handcrafted from whale baleen or ivory as well as wood
3) Ceramic
4) Furs
5) Ulu knife (the state’s top selling souvenir)
6) Reindeer meat- sausage, hot dogs, ground in omelets
7) Knit items made from the under wool of musk