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  #1  
Old March 11th, 2013, 06:11 PM
Avon_Princess Avon_Princess is offline
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Default Tracy Arm Fjord excursion - NCL Pearl - Aug 2013

We will start our Alaskan cruise on the NCL Pearl on August 25th, 2013.

We are interested in the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer Cruise. It's a seven hour excursion and we want to be sure that it will be money well spent. Most of the reviews we have read indicate it is a great excursion, but we have also read that some of the sights are viewable from the Pearl. Is this excursion worth our time and money?

Our itinerary also includes Glacier Bay. This will probably be the only time we cruise to Alaska so we want to get the most out of it!

Thanks for any advice!
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Old March 11th, 2013, 07:02 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by Avon_Princess View Post
We will start our Alaskan cruise on the NCL Pearl on August 25th, 2013.

We are interested in the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer Cruise. It's a seven hour excursion and we want to be sure that it will be money well spent. Most of the reviews we have read indicate it is a great excursion, but we have also read that some of the sights are viewable from the Pearl. Is this excursion worth our time and money?

Our itinerary also includes Glacier Bay. This will probably be the only time we cruise to Alaska so we want to get the most out of it!

Thanks for any advice!
This is a scenic boat ride, good possibilty for some wildlife. Nobody can tell you, what it's worth will be for you.

There is a BIG difference in sailing a cruiseship, and a boat tour. Your ship will be transiting the route between Tracy Arm and Juneau. With your late port time- it would be of significant benefit in terms of scenery and potential humpbacks viewing, to be out forward viewing, hours prior to arrival.

One reason to take a Tracy Arm tour is for close up glacier viewing. the Sawyers are fairly active. But with Glacier Bay- you will be seeing at least 4 glaciers.

This choice means, you have no opportunity to see or do anything in Juneau outside of the downtown area.

What were your reasons for selecting this? Anything else you wish to see or do? Only you can decide.
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  #3  
Old March 11th, 2013, 08:29 PM
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bonvoyagie bonvoyagie is offline
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On the Pearl you will not see any of Tracy Arm - you will see the tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay instead. The Jewel is the ship that transits Tracy Arm.

As for the small boat tour it is great - you will experience both glaciers up close as well as seeing the Fjord from water level instead of 12 or 13 decks above it. You will also sail around the other cruise ships (including the Jewel).

You will give up seeing any of Juneau including any whale watching and viewing of Mendenhall Glacier or taking a Hellicopter ride etc.

Only you can decide if you want to give up these other activities for a closer look at Tracy Arm.

Frankly, if this were my first AK cruise, I would opt for whale watching over the Tracy Arm Explorer as you will get close to the glaciers in glacier bay. Now if I were on the Jewel and would not see Glacier Bay, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Last edited by bonvoyagie; March 11th, 2013 at 08:31 PM.
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Old March 11th, 2013, 09:23 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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On the Pearl you will not see any of Tracy Arm - you will see the tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay instead. The Jewel is the ship that transits Tracy Arm.

As for the small boat tour it is great - you will experience both glaciers up close as well as seeing the Fjord from water level instead of 12 or 13 decks above it. You will also sail around the other cruise ships (including the Jewel).

You will give up seeing any of Juneau including any whale watching and viewing of Mendenhall Glacier or taking a Hellicopter ride etc.

Only you can decide if you want to give up these other activities for a closer look at Tracy Arm.

Frankly, if this were my first AK cruise, I would opt for whale watching over the Tracy Arm Explorer as you will get close to the glaciers in glacier bay. Now if I were on the Jewel and would not see Glacier Bay, I would do it in a heartbeat.
The poster is specifically asking about an add on NCL shore excursion that does go to Tracy Arm.

My questions for the poster to ask themselves - hopefully will further direct them to a decision. There is little comparism to their Glacier Bay sailing and this tour. This may be a perfect tour for them.

People get bogged down with- claiming their tours are the "best", and frankly- they usually haven't taken enough varied tours in a single port. The reports will list the number of times etc. All well and great > They are going with what they favor.
Myself included. I repeat my favorites over and over. As I always say- there are few tours running that aren't excellent for particular priorites to enjoy.

I will go out there and - state- even with 10 Alaska visits, you are lucky to experience 10% (and not a lot of people on this board have those numbers).

It's one BIG touring area.
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Old March 11th, 2013, 10:50 PM
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The poster is specifically asking about an add on NCL shore excursion that does go to Tracy Arm.

My questions for the poster to ask themselves - hopefully will further direct them to a decision. There is little comparism to their Glacier Bay sailing and this tour. This may be a perfect tour for them.

People get bogged down with- claiming their tours are the "best", and frankly- they usually haven't taken enough varied tours in a single port. The reports will list the number of times etc. All well and great > They are going with what they favor. Myself included. I repeat my favorites over and over. As I always say- there are few tours running that aren't excellent for particular priorites to enjoy.

I will go out there and - state- even with 10 Alaska visits, you are lucky to experience 10% (and not a lot of people on this board have those numbers).

It's one BIG touring area.
I know the OP was looking at a specific NCL tour - I did the same cruise and tour last summer. The OP also reported hearing that you could see things from the ship - I reported that that was the Jewel not the Pearl. In fact if I were sailing on the Jewel I would take this tour at the drop of a hat - because you only transit in the small boat one direction and then transfer to the Jewel up by the glacier - but you know that - you have done it - I have seen your photos from the Sun.

I am not sure where you are coming from - reading your first post I though we were on the same page by pointing out that they would be missing other things in Juneau and that the decision was theirs to make.

I agree that AK is too big to claim one has seen it all.
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  #6  
Old March 12th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Technically everything you could/would see from the excursion you will see from the boat.

The notable difference you are on a much smaller vessel, get to view things from much closer and at waterline viewing. The excursion boat will sail close to waterfalls, iceflows, and if there is wildlife can get much closer.

It is true its a looong trip, likely miss a meal depending on exact date in the fjord.

IMHO if you are doing Glacier Bay this is another different but worthwhile excursion. In my party of 11 I was the only one that did it, I felt sorry everyone else traded sleep and a good meal for a much different experience.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 12:02 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Technically everything you could/would see from the excursion you will see from the boat.

The notable difference you are on a much smaller vessel, get to view things from much closer and at waterline viewing. The excursion boat will sail close to waterfalls, iceflows, and if there is wildlife can get much closer.

It is true its a looong trip, likely miss a meal depending on exact date in the fjord.

IMHO if you are doing Glacier Bay this is another different but worthwhile excursion. In my party of 11 I was the only one that did it, I felt sorry everyone else traded sleep and a good meal for a much different experience.
NCL Pearl and NCL Jewel itineries may be getting mixed. The Jewel does transit Tracy Arm- with the add on NCL Tracy Arm tour, doing the same route.

NCL Pearl, that goes to Glacier Bay, now has the option for a NCL tour to Tracy Arm. This tour is a compromise over the add on tour for the Jewel. With only 7 hours, it is at least 2 hours shorter, than a usual round trip Juneau- Tracy Arm. This means, way less time looking for/at wildlife. Less time at the glacier.
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  #8  
Old March 12th, 2013, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Budget Queen View Post

NCL Pearl, that goes to Glacier Bay, now has the option for a NCL tour to Tracy Arm. This tour is a compromise over the add on tour for the Jewel. With only 7 hours, it is at least 2 hours shorter, than a usual round trip Juneau- Tracy Arm. This means, way less time looking for/at wildlife. Less time at the glacier.
I am not sure how much of a compromise it is. We followed the Jewel into the Fjord and were about 1/2 hr behind the small boat excursion for it. We caught up to the other boat and watched them transfer back to the Jewel while we sat in front of the south glacier. After that we went to the other glacier and hung around awhile before heading back to Juneau. We sat around long enough to see it calve several times. On the way out we never saw another boat or ship. Now the small boat that does the Pearl excursion (RT Juneau) is smaller and faster than the boat that does the Jewel excursion. However we only went all out between the inlet and Juneau on the return trip. BTW we were on the lookout for whales on the first leg between Juneau and the inlet but there were none to be seen. BTW they do feed you a box lunch - and the buffett is still open on the Pearl when you get back - as is the Blue Lagoon.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 08:46 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by bonvoyagie View Post
I am not sure how much of a compromise it is. We followed the Jewel into the Fjord and were about 1/2 hr behind the small boat excursion for it. We caught up to the other boat and watched them transfer back to the Jewel while we sat in front of the south glacier. After that we went to the other glacier and hung around awhile before heading back to Juneau. We sat around long enough to see it calve several times. On the way out we never saw another boat or ship. Now the small boat that does the Pearl excursion (RT Juneau) is smaller and faster than the boat that does the Jewel excursion. However we only went all out between the inlet and Juneau on the return trip. BTW we were on the lookout for whales on the first leg between Juneau and the inlet but there were none to be seen. BTW they do feed you a box lunch - and the buffett is still open on the Pearl when you get back - as is the Blue Lagoon.
the transit is loaded with humpbacks. You didn't see them because, your boat was probably moving along, not allowing any expansive searching-from both sides. Think about your cruiseship- which sails much slower- far more successful seeing whales.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 02:10 PM
cruisewiththekids cruisewiththekids is offline
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I will be on the Pearl late May and am considering doing this tour. Our port time is 2:00 to 10:00. The tour would be from 2:15 to 9:15, taking up the entire port time in Juneau. I assume at that time of year it is still light at 9:15?

I have been to Juneau before and done a whale watch and Mendenhall, so I don't feel I'd be missing out on other things.

I have already been to Endicott Arm, because my last cruise couldn't make it into Tracy Arm. So if they aren't going to make Tracy Arm, I probably would decide against the tour. I don't know how far in advance they're able to say whether they will make it in or not.

Can the boat ride be rough? I'm wondering if I should be prepared for seasickness.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 06:33 PM
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I will be on the Pearl late May and am considering doing this tour. Our port time is 2:00 to 10:00. The tour would be from 2:15 to 9:15, taking up the entire port time in Juneau. I assume at that time of year it is still light at 9:15?

I have been to Juneau before and done a whale watch and Mendenhall, so I don't feel I'd be missing out on other things.

I have already been to Endicott Arm, because my last cruise couldn't make it into Tracy Arm. So if they aren't going to make Tracy Arm, I probably would decide against the tour. I don't know how far in advance they're able to say whether they will make it in or not.

Can the boat ride be rough? I'm wondering if I should be prepared for seasickness.
I would not count on it being available in late May - depends a lot on the ice - it may also visit Endicott Arm.

As for the waters, they can be calm or with swells of 4-6' - which can get a wee bit rough - you are usually inside during the transit to the Fjord.

As for timing - last June (late) we were told before we left the ship that the tour might not make it to the glaciers, when we got to the pier they repeated that along with the rough water warning - by the time we were loaded and underway the storm had passed, the water was smooth and we made it to both glaciers.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 08:33 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by cruisewiththekids View Post
I will be on the Pearl late May and am considering doing this tour. Our port time is 2:00 to 10:00. The tour would be from 2:15 to 9:15, taking up the entire port time in Juneau. I assume at that time of year it is still light at 9:15?

I have been to Juneau before and done a whale watch and Mendenhall, so I don't feel I'd be missing out on other things.

I have already been to Endicott Arm, because my last cruise couldn't make it into Tracy Arm. So if they aren't going to make Tracy Arm, I probably would decide against the tour. I don't know how far in advance they're able to say whether they will make it in or not.

Can the boat ride be rough? I'm wondering if I should be prepared for seasickness.
Actually late May this boat tour, likely would be going to Tracy Arm. It does not have the constraints of a cruiseship, where the passengers expect to see a glacier, ONLY reason they divert, to Endicott. But, you wouldn't know of any changes up to right up before you leave. So you would be going, unless you are willing to loose the money.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 08:34 PM
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Last edited by Budget Queen; April 14th, 2013 at 08:36 PM.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 02:35 PM
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We are thinking of taking the same excursion from the Pearl on June 4 from Juneau. I expect what was said about late May will be the same for early June?

We live in Boston and have see hump backs breaching there. I believe seeing a glacier up close will be more exciting for us. Especially like in the video below. The boat had to make an emergency backup as can be seen by the diesel smoke. Most likely the trip will not be as exciting as this video but you never know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-9foDzGKwg

We are interested in any additional comments and recommendations. We were also thinking on taking the sea plane flight over several glaciers instead. We were also thinking about the helicopter on to a glacier but felt it will be too expensive.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 05:05 PM
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Have a backup plan in case it gets cancelled. We were booked on it round trip out of Juneau on Sept 3rd and it was cancelled due to weather.
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Old May 11th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeySoft View Post
We are thinking of taking the same excursion from the Pearl on June 4 from Juneau. I expect what was said about late May will be the same for early June?

We live in Boston and have see hump backs breaching there. I believe seeing a glacier up close will be more exciting for us. Especially like in the video below. The boat had to make an emergency backup as can be seen by the diesel smoke. Most likely the trip will not be as exciting as this video but you never know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-9foDzGKwg

We are interested in any additional comments and recommendations. We were also thinking on taking the sea plane flight over several glaciers instead. We were also thinking about the helicopter on to a glacier but felt it will be too expensive.
You would get a look at at least 4 glaciers in Glacier Bay. It's all about choices. The boat tours, rarely detour, unless ship contracted, then they have to. Being this is a round trip Juneau, you have only a slim chance of a cancelation. However, it is good advice to have back up plans for everything. Time is short, and too valuable to waste.
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