We went on the first trip in May which would probably be comparable since May and September are the "bookends" of the Alaska cruise season. It was very cold. Everyone, including the crew, bundled up in warm jackets and many also wrapped up in blankets. Even in port, there was a constant cold wind, which was especially bad on the public decks. Our balcony helped block some of the wind, so we were much more comfortable there. The highest temp we had was mid-forties, but it felt much colder because of the wind. It was especially cold at the glaciers. Be sure to take something with a hood. Having a hood to raise helped much more than simply wearing a hat. (I tried it both ways.) You'll love Alaska! Have a great cruise!
We took the WHite Pass Van tour only because we like to get out and walk around a little. Talked to some folks who really enjoyed the White Pass Train. It was a little cool in mid August so would expect it can only get colder from there. Regardless, you will enjoy the cruise and Skagway. In fact, the train comes right down on the pier.
We went Sept. 8 last year & the weather was a little cool but only had sprinkles the day we were at Skagway. Some days we only wore sweatshirts, but had no t-shirt weather. Expect chilly days, but maybe you'll be fortunate to get a few sunny days also. Have a fun cruise! We did the train ride. If it's a nice day, you get some great views. But it is a bit long.
I forgot the second part of you question. We did the White Pass Train and loved it. Take the afternoon train if you can, so the fog ond overcast of the morning has a chance to burn off. The scenery is really breathtaking.
We were on the Summit Denali discovery cruise/tour from 8/3-15. In Sakgway we did the White Pass Scenic Railway on 8/11. It was hot in the train car, so I spent a lot of time on the platforms on either end of our car--good place for photos. I really liked this excursion. The scenery is breathtaking. We were blessed with almost perfect weather the whole trip. A bit of rain as the glass-domed train pulled into Denali, but it was almost dinnertime, so it didn't interfere with anything. in Sitka it was cloudy, but warm enough that we didn't need our sweatshirts and started to sprinkle just as we were lining up for the tender back to the ship, so that didn't interfere either. On the land tour we had blue sky and sunshine every day and especially in Talkeetna where you get the best view of Mt. Mckinley. Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan were sunny and warm.
Actually, we hardly ever needed our sweatshirts and never even touched our windbreakers. You will be amazed at the flowers in Alaska. They have a 73 day growing season, but the 16-24 hrs. of sunlight make up for that and the flowers are spectacular.
There was a freak snowstorm and resultant floods in Denali and other areas, including Skagway ,in July and the train had to be evacuated. In Sept. I would be worried about snow. Just make sure you check the weather report.
My husband and I cruised to Alaska the first time in very late September. We were the last boat up there, and had every port entirely to ourselves. But that was in the old days....1985. We did a 10-day round-trip from San Francisco on the Royal Princess when she was brand new. In our sailaway pictures, I am wearing a gauze summer dress, to give you an idea how warm it was. We had very good weather most of the way, with a little drizzle in Ketchikan. We visited Glacier Bay, and both agree that it was more thrilling then than it was on our recent cruise this year. Nevertheless, we enjoyed this summer's Alaska cruise on the Veendam more than the very sleepy one with Princess years ago. Maybe we were too young the first time to enjoy the longer sailing. Now it would be ideal to sail 10 days from San Francisco on a newer ship.
This year we were blessed with shirt-sleeve weather nearly throughout our entire southbound sailing the first week in August. But the most important thing to us was the ease with which we could lounge around on deck, with chairs everywhere, including wonderfully comfy ones on the Promenade deck, something Princess does not have.
And nowadays Princess has many more children on board and larger ships. We prefer smaller ships and far fewer children, so HAL met our needs much better, overall.
Nevertheless, Princess ships are very pretty, many are new and super-clean, and we like much of what Princess has to offer, and since there are a lot of activities to do inside with Princess if the weather should turn foul, that might be a good line to sail later in the season.
We haven't been to Skagway yet. Enjoy your cruise!
As to the original question- late Sept weather is iffy at best, expect temps 40-50's, ave. 3 days of rain and a big difference than May sailings, dusk by 7pm. So it is important to look closely at port times and to plan touring carefully. In the past, my second yearly Alaska trip has taken advantage of the give away late sailing prices. Look for and expect discounts.
We just got back on the 20th. It was in the 50's with wintry winds (according to the locals).
We did the dogsledding thru port promotions. Yes it is on gravel, but the glacier ones have been cancelled since Sept 1. It was great!! Good city tour on the way, then you get to play with the pups and interact with the dogs.
Second thing we did (if you're a gardener or tea person) was to go to Jewell Gardens. Absolutely gorgeous.. You have flowers and trainsets like the lower 48 surrounded by snow capped mountains. They have an afternoon tea service and great baked goods. They are out of the main shopping area, so you may want to visit their website and book ahead (they picked us up).
My parents took the bus tour, said it was ok. Table mates took the train and weren't very impressed. You got great views one direction, but look at the mountain face the other way.