Posted October 12th, 2013, 03:49 PM
So I've booked my family on an Alaskan cruise next July - yay! Now I have some questions:
1. I booked an amazing balcony - one of the triple-length balconies. But, I'm wondering if it's really worth it. If I do shore excursions every day, do I really need that big balcony, too? I'd save a lot of money, and be near my sister's family, if I booked one of the obstructed view french door interior cabins. Is it better to do that and spend more on shore excursions, which are so pricey?
2. In reading reviews, people rave about the small boat excursion on the Tracy Arm day. It does sound great, but, is it worth the expense ($183 x 4 of us)? Especially if I keep my big balcony, should I spend even more on this excursion? How fantastic is it? And, if I do a whale watch/Mendenhall excursion from Juneau, would I be seeing a lot of the same stuff I'd see on the small boat excursion in Tracy Arm?
3. It looks like a lot of people like Harv and Marv's whale watch. Is there time to do that and take a bit of a hike at Mendenhall glacier?
4. Looking into float plane tours out of Ketchikan. We are 9 people including my sister's family. Recommendations?
5. Lots of choices in Skagway. Anyone ever try Skagway van tours? They'd be able to accommodate all 9 of us for an all day tour for $720. Or maybe we should just go somewhere and take a hike?
I guess in general I'm trying to get a sense of what I should be spending my money on, what's more worth it than something else. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
If there is ONE tour, I find "necessary" with your itinerary, it is the add on Tracy Arm excursion. This is GROSSLY superior to any viewing from a cruise ship. AND absolutely not, a whale watch will not be any "repeat".
With your preference of booking a whale watch and wanting a "hike" at Mendenhall- you HAVE to combo book with an independent, and watch your time, since it appears you have only a partial day. Shuttle buses back to the dock from Mendenhall end by 7pm or earlier. A cab could be a good option to consider, especially if you have a late departure.
You make several references to costs. Only you can determine what you bottom line is, but your slant seems to be for "skipping" tours in favor of your balcony? Up to you, but you also must realize you have chosen the least scenic itinerary with 2 sea days? People rave about balconies for Alaska determine for yourself, IF the ship is what you are most interested in, or is it going to be Alaska- if your funds are going to be limited?
In July another highlight would be Anan out of Ketchikan, for peak bear watching. Misty fiords is also very worthwhile. There is no other way to see the vastness of Alaska then by air.
The van tours can be good options for Skagway- there are several vendors to chose from. Car rentals are also excellent, and with full cars, a bargain. I had no problem with 5 people in a compact car from Avis.
You could get by with 2 cars, likely.
Final thought, split up your group, and don't drag people on tours, that are of little interest.
Allow individuals their choices. My opinion only.
Happy Alaska travels