Whale watching/Mendenhall Glacier

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#1
Orlando, FL
220 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
In Juneau, we are planning to do a whale watching excursion and also explore Mendenhall on our own. We are in port from 8am - 6pm. Any suggestions on whether we should do the whale watching in the morning (9am) and Mendenhall after, or whether we should do Mendenhall first and whale watching excursion at 12:30pm? More whales early vs. late, bigger crowds at Mendenhall early vs. late?
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#3
Syracuse, New York
49,837 Posts
Joined May 2000
The "must", first, is to have a direct transfer between the two. This is with some independents who offer this service.

IF it happens this is all you wish to occupy your time with, then you do have time to do these two separate. Depends on you.

OK, it makes absolutely no difference what time you whale watch. SAME potential no matter what the time.
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#4
Orlando, FL
220 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Just got home from our cruise yesterday. We ended up doing the whale watch in the morning booked through the cruise ship. It was FANTASTIC. Saw humpback whales bubble-net feeding. An awesome experience. Saw one whale breaching, fully out of the water (like something you'd see by a trained whale at Sea World). Same playful whale also was "skyhopping". All in all, an excellent experience and well worth the $$$. After the bus returned us to the cruise terminal, we took a shuttle to Mendenhall for $8.00 per person each way. We decided not to book the combination trip through the cruise ship because we read that people felt rushed at the glacier, and we wanted to go at our own pace and hike some trails if time permitted. That turned out to be an excellent decision. Definitely do the trail to Nugget Falls. It doesn't take long and it takes you right up to that magnificent Fall. I also recommend NOT buying a round trip shuttle ticket. If you do, you need to wait for a shuttle from the same company to take you back to the ship. If you buy a one-way ticket, you can get on whatever shuttle happens to be waiting at the shuttle stop at the time you are ready to return to the ship. You can just pay the driver there the same $8.00 per person.
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#5
New Brunswick, Canada!!!
495 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by skohrs
Just got home from our cruise yesterday. We ended up doing the whale watch in the morning booked through the cruise ship. It was FANTASTIC. Saw humpback whales bubble-net feeding. An awesome experience. Saw one whale breaching, fully out of the water (like something you'd see by a trained whale at Sea World). Same playful whale also was "skyhopping". All in all, an excellent experience and well worth the $$$. After the bus returned us to the cruise terminal, we took a shuttle to Mendenhall for $8.00 per person each way. We decided not to book the combination trip through the cruise ship because we read that people felt rushed at the glacier, and we wanted to go at our own pace and hike some trails if time permitted. That turned out to be an excellent decision. Definitely do the trail to Nugget Falls. It doesn't take long and it takes you right up to that magnificent Fall. I also recommend NOT buying a round trip shuttle ticket. If you do, you need to wait for a shuttle from the same company to take you back to the ship. If you buy a one-way ticket, you can get on whatever shuttle happens to be waiting at the shuttle stop at the time you are ready to return to the ship. You can just pay the driver there the same $8.00 per person.
Sounds like a very good idea! I plan to book through Harv and Marv for the whale watching.
Thanks.
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#6
Orlando, FL
220 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Originally posted by aberthelot
Sounds like a very good idea! I plan to book through Harv and Marv for the whale watching.
Thanks.
We just booked through the cruise line and don't know what company it was through. We would have used Harv and Marv, but we had our twin 11-year-olds with us, and Harv and Marv does not do kids. I'm kind of glad we used the cruise line though because it was a bigger boat. It was a very smooth ride through some very choppy water. Some of the smaller vessels doing the whale watching were really being thrown around and were apparently having some trouble getting back to the docks. All of the whale watching boats seemed to be in the same area following the same whales, so it probably doesn't matter which company you use. The captains of the boats all communicate where the whales are spotted and congregate there.
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Future Cruise: Symphony of the Seas 06/03/2018
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#7
New Brunswick, Canada!!!
495 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by skohrs
We just booked through the cruise line and don't know what company it was through. We would have used Harv and Marv, but we had our twin 11-year-olds with us, and Harv and Marv does not do kids. I'm kind of glad we used the cruise line though because it was a bigger boat. It was a very smooth ride through some very choppy water. Some of the smaller vessels doing the whale watching were really being thrown around and were apparently having some trouble getting back to the docks. All of the whale watching boats seemed to be in the same area following the same whales, so it probably doesn't matter which company you use. The captains of the boats all communicate where the whales are spotted and congregate there.
Good morning,
How many people were on your whale watching tour? I noticed that Harv and Marv's boats were quite small and I think they take groups of six.
Thanks.
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#8
Orlando, FL
220 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Originally posted by aberthelot
Good morning,
How many people were on your whale watching tour? I noticed that Harv and Marv's boats were quite small and I think they take groups of six.
Thanks.
I would guess there were about 60 people on our boat (and it had room for another 60). Never felt crowded, and there was plenty of space for everyone to get a good spot to watch and photograph the whales. The good thing about the big boats is that they have seating indoors downstairs and upstairs so you do not get wet if it is raining, but there is an entire deck up top that is outdoors with no obstructions by windows to get really good photos of the whales. I have read great things about Harv and Marv too.
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Future Cruise: Symphony of the Seas 06/03/2018
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#9
Syracuse, New York
49,837 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by skohrs
We just booked through the cruise line and don't know what company it was through. We would have used Harv and Marv, but we had our twin 11-year-olds with us, and Harv and Marv does not do kids. I'm kind of glad we used the cruise line though because it was a bigger boat. It was a very smooth ride through some very choppy water. Some of the smaller vessels doing the whale watching were really being thrown around and were apparently having some trouble getting back to the docks. All of the whale watching boats seemed to be in the same area following the same whales, so it probably doesn't matter which company you use. The captains of the boats all communicate where the whales are spotted and congregate there.
Allen Marine
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#10
Michigan
151 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
We also did our cruise-sponsored excursion last week for whale watching but we did the combo with the glacier. We had to same great experience with the whale watching, the bubble-net feeding and lots of whale sightings. We had about 40 people on a boat that can fit 160 and it was great to be able to move around and talk to the workers. I have to agree that we were rushed at the glacier though. We walked to the falls but couldn't get all the way, just to the viewing platform, took a few pictures and had to leave to catch our bus. Overall, a great day though.
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#11
Syracuse, New York
49,837 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by RNRcruisers
We also did our cruise-sponsored excursion last week for whale watching but we did the combo with the glacier. We had to same great experience with the whale watching, the bubble-net feeding and lots of whale sightings. We had about 40 people on a boat that can fit 160 and it was great to be able to move around and talk to the workers. I have to agree that we were rushed at the glacier though. We walked to the falls but couldn't get all the way, just to the viewing platform, took a few pictures and had to leave to catch our bus. Overall, a great day though.
If your glacier visit was after the whale watch, people can simply ditch the tour, and simply take a shuttle bus back to the dock, if they wish to have more time.
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#13
Orlando, FL
220 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Originally posted by Nana57
Was the boat very rocky, I do get motion sickness. I'm fine on a Catamaran. Would I need to take medication?
The large boat I was on was a catamaran and was not rocky. The smaller, more individualized whale watching boats seemed to have been thrown about quite a bit on the day we were out there. My wife and kids used MotionEaze (not a medicine) behind their ears just in case, but I don't think it was really needed.
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#14
Syracuse, New York
49,837 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Nana57
Was the boat very rocky, I do get motion sickness. I'm fine on a Catamaran. Would I need to take medication?
Prevention is the key. It doesn't matter what anyone else experienced or did, and no way to predict the future. You have a history, so figure out what "chances" you want to take, or not. This year, I did get the pleasure of a sick passenger on a medium size boat. I'm sure they thought they would be OK, but it didn't work out, did it. These tours are what I consider too costly to fool around with. My opinion only.
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#15
Plano, Texas
1,131 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
On our first trip to Alaska we did a combo tour that included Mendenhall. Did not have enough time to truly enjoy the glacier. On our second time to Juneau we decided to rent a car so that we could spend more time there. It was raining so hard that we didn't feel like trekking down any of the trails.

Hoping that the third time will be the charm! Got a vehicle rented again and hope for good weather to do all the stuff we missed out on the last time.

Most of the tours only give you about 30-40 minutes there.
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#16
Queens, NY
573 Posts
Joined May 2010
The tour I'm thinking of is the Whale Watch, Salmon Bake and then the Mendenhall Glacier. The Glacier is last so we might just take the bus back to the ship. But I think it's over 6 hours. Don't know it we'll have time to see the town. We have a dinner seating at 6 pm.
#17
Syracuse, New York
49,837 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Nana57
The tour I'm thinking of is the Whale Watch, Salmon Bake and then the Mendenhall Glacier. The Glacier is last so we might just take the bus back to the ship. But I think it's over 6 hours. Don't know it we'll have time to see the town. We have a dinner seating at 6 pm.
Are you willing to eat outside, if it is raining, cold? That is the Salmon Bake. Instead I suggest you just book that direct from the dock. Gold Creek runs a continuous shuttle bus. I would than suggest you consider an independent whale watch vendor with a Mendenhall drop off/pick up. You would take the shuttle bus the other direction.

Is dinner important? For some, sure is, everything is planned around the meals. For others, who cares. Overall late seating offers better options if there are late port times. You will have to determine this for yourself.
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#18
FL
258 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
Question re:whale watch. Nervous about small boats. Are we better off just sticking with cruise excursions?
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Avalon35
#19
Syracuse, New York
49,837 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Avalon35
Question re:whale watch. Nervous about small boats. Are we better off just sticking with cruise excursions?
I would think so, taking your post at face value. Why would you subject yourself to something you would be "nervous" about??
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#20
45 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
We have booked with Juneau Whale watch for their whale watch/glacier combo. Their boats look a bit smaller- anybody have any experience with them? My grandfather really wants to go to the salmon bake as well, but I'm not sure it will still be running. The ship is scheduled to dock at 1:00, our tour is booked for 2:30 and says it is for 5 1/2 hours. The Westendam departs at 10:00 pm. If the tour really is that long, that puts us back at port at 8:00 pm. In my mind not enough time to do the salmon bake, even if it is still running. Anybody know if the Westendam does its own salmon bake on the lido that I could talk him into instead?