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  #21  
Old January 20th, 2014, 12:14 PM
Eileen G Eileen G is offline
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Ketchikan is a great port to walk around. There are two very informative walking tours that you can get the maps for at the visitor's center right off the cruise ship. The downtown area tour goes to Creek Street and the totem poles while the west end tour has wonderful views from Water Street and lots of eagles that hang around the canneries. Here is a link to the maps.

http://www.historicketchikan.org/sub...b_walktour.php
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  #22  
Old January 20th, 2014, 05:49 PM
tee_harbor tee_harbor is offline
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Originally Posted by kathy884 View Post
Tracy Arm Fjord -- Thought this was a place to splurge and do one of the boat tours to get up close -- about $180 pp
Is this through your vessel or out of Juneau? There's an independent tour of Juneau which is about that price and will usually see whales on the way, if not in Tracy Arm.

I disagree with the other poster who said to stay on your ship and not spring for the smaller boat. You will not get as close and it's truly worth it. The ice floes at the face of the glacier are covered with harbor seals and it's not the same to look at them through binoculars.

Quote:
Skagway -- to save dollars, thought here I'd rent a car, get Murray's guide and do a scenic driving trip with stops, My parents will probably come on the cruise too, so there might be five of us (so we'd split the rental car cost too.)
This will be cheaper than a tour and very much worthwhile.

J
Quote:
uneau -- Looking at doing whale watching here, mostly because DS really enjoys whale watching and we haven't done any of this in the last four years or so (about $200 a pop here, so another splurge). In reality, for me and DH we've been on five different whale watching trips over the years, so I'd be more than happy to skip, but I think this is a must for DS with his love of marine mammals and desire to do whale watching.
If your parents are along, may I suggest they go with your son and you and your husband do something less expensive like go to the glacier and hike? I realize it's the mentality to have everyone move together as one closely knit herd, but why waste the money if you're not going to utterly enjoy it? I just love going out on the water, and do so every chance I get, so that's something to consider. There's shoreline and islands everywhere. It's not like in CA or Mexico, where there's nothing but ocean and whales.

And I agree with others. $200 is much too high, wherever you're getting that price. If it's the ship's, go independent.

Alaska's one of the most beautiful places on earth. And that's free.
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  #23  
Old January 20th, 2014, 06:50 PM
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Sorry, wrong thread.
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  #24  
Old January 22nd, 2014, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Eileen G View Post
Ketchikan is a great port to walk around. There are two very informative walking tours that you can get the maps for at the visitor's center right off the cruise ship. The downtown area tour goes to Creek Street and the totem poles while the west end tour has wonderful views from Water Street and lots of eagles that hang around the canneries. Here is a link to the maps.

http://www.historicketchikan.org/sub...b_walktour.php
Thank you for the link to the walking tour map! Looks like the perfect thing for us! I appreciate it.
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  #25  
Old January 29th, 2014, 12:50 AM
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Wasn't sure where to post this so put it both here and on the Alaska ports of call forum. Thought I might get responses from others who have done the Miracle in Alaska here.

I usually think of HAL or Princess when I think of an Alaskan cruise. We have always thought it would be kind of fun to take one of these, but have never done it, mostly due to cost (pricier than our normal vacation budget) and time (we can only take a week and a few days off of work (no time or budget for one of the land / cruise packages) and it seems like Alaska is so special that doing both together would be if you could the way to go.) I've always thought it would be nicer to cruise out of somewhere other than Seattle too, even though that's more expensive, as you would see more of Alaska.

DH, though, has some freebie Carnival balcony passes for two that we could use to take the Miracle, so that would be a big savings as we'd just pay for a third person (taking DS 18 too) and taxes on ours. For this particular cruise too we would fly in and out of Seattle (not my preference, but really inexpensive for us), as we'd have enough freebie miles on Southwest to cover air for all three of us too. Air to Vancouver or Fairbanks is pricey and a long trip vs. a free direct flight to Seattle. // Thinking never having seen any of the glaciers we'd enjoy the Tracy Arm Fjord too and be quite impressed, even though it's not what people think of as the most spectacular. // Do you think it would be worth it to do this cruise or would you suggest saving Alaska for another time if / when we had more vacation time and a bigger budget and could do a different itinerary on a different line?? Note: We do like Carnival -- have taken them in the Caribbean a few times and up to Canada from New York -- think of them as a good cruising value.

If it seems worthwhile to do the cruise the next big budget item is excursions. Excursions seem to be very pricey on these Alaskan cruises. We in our budget only have about $500 per person for these, really meaning two expensive excursions and things on our own. Here is what I was thinking. I welcome other suggestions if you think there would be other options that would make more sense and give us more bang for our buck.

Tracy Arm Fjord -- Thought this was a place to splurge and do one of the boat tours to get up close -- about $180 pp

Skagway -- to save dollars, thought here I'd rent a car, get Murray's guide and do a scenic driving trip with stops, My parents will probably come on the cruise too, so there might be five of us (so we'd split the rental car cost too.)

Juneau -- Looking at doing whale watching here, mostly because DS really enjoys whale watching and we haven't done any of this in the last four years or so (about $200 a pop here, so another splurge). In reality, for me and DH we've been on five different whale watching trips over the years, so I'd be more than happy to skip, but I think this is a must for DS with his love of marine mammals and desire to do whale watching.

Ketchikan -- Heard this is a nice place for walking around, so due to budget just planning on that here.

Victoria -- Have been here on vacation before for a full week, so am pretty familiar with this port (easy enough to play it my ear here with no expensive tour.) // I wouldn't pick this for a port on an Alaskan cruise, but I do love Victoria.

I welcome your suggestions. // Main questions: Given big price savings worth it to do Carnival or better to wait till we have a bigger budget and do a different itinerary and different line in your opinion?? // Given a limited excursion budget of about $500 pp what would you suggest? DH and I don't have any particular excursions in mind (open to anything). DS is the only one with a special request for whale watching and would be open to anything after that.
My advise - go now! With all ur discounts, plus the fact your parents and your child could go would make that trip amazing! Hubby and I wanted to go to Alaska with our son and my parents. We waited too long and for the last few years, my mother has been too frail to go. Right after I booked my up coming May cruise on the Miracle plus my airfare, my dad decided he may go to Alaska by himself. It makes me sad and I am trying to convince him to join us.

You have the option to go now - and both your child and parents could go. It could be the last time that the chance comes up. It would be priceless!


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  #26  
Old January 29th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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We did Carnival last summer round trip to Alaska specifically because we had Southwest points, they have good entertainment options for kids (ours were 10 and 14 at the time), and it was affordable (we were able to do two cabins). This was our third Alaskan cruise and we felt pretty comfortable with the ports so we did most of the days as cheap as possible so we could have one big splurge excursion.


Tracy's Arm - It's very pretty, but I have to agree with other posters that it's not worth paying to leave the ship. No won't know until that day how the ice is flowing and you might not even get that much closer to the glacier than the ship does. The naturalist does a pretty decent job (not as good as the one we had on Princess two summers prior, but pretty good). Find a great spot on deck and rotate between there and your balcony for the best viewing (there is a covered deck low near the water that offers great viewing as you sail in and out).

Juneau - We were able to do a half day whale watch for 4 and then go to Medenhall. It was worth every penny and it was our big splurge. If you want to see whales up close this is the place. With the number in your party the cost per person shouldn't be too bad and will be within your budge. Other option in Juneau is to rent a car for the day and drive to the glacier and the gardens then out to eagle's beach (end of the road), back to Juneau and over to the island for an incredible view of the glaciers. You can eat on your own or pick up food on the way out of the city to use for a picnic along the way.

Skagway - the two times we've been here with our kids we've rented a car and it's been an awesome choice for us. The drive over the summit is like no other. The change in landscape and weather - is just wow! This past summer we stopped in Carcross and got ice cream (our kids marveled at how it wasn't melting and it was July), then drove to Whitehorse and had lunch. We went to the hydroelectric dam on the way back, saw Emerald lake, Carcross Dessert and stopped to have our pics taken at the Yukon sign and Alaska sign - plus several other places we felt like getting out. It was fun and while our 14 yo napped most of the way the rest of enjoyed the views. We even saw a bear and a lynx by the road on our way back. If you have time the ranger walk/talk in Skagway is pretty good and would be worth your time.

Ketchikan - Walking around and shopping are great options for this port. It's not a big city. Don't recommend the Duck Tours here - it was pitful and boring. The Lumberjack show was entertaining. Previously we opted to have our expensive excursion here and kayaked with Southeast Kayaks. It was September and cold - but it was very, very fun and they took excellent care of us and kept the kids (then 5 and 8) totally entertained while we paddled.

You can spends thousands of dollars to do Alaska but you don't have to. Make the trip what you want it to be. There are lots of other great ideas on this thread and on the boards for cheap to free ideas. I think it's all about spending money to see what is most important to you. Don't be afraid to it cheap, because honestly when I think about cruising Alaska what makes me want to go back is being able to sit and watch the beauty as we sail.

I wanted to add that if you are able to do this trip then you should. I am really amazed at how much Medenhall and other glaciers have receded since our first visit. This is a trip and adventure like no other. Going on a cruise as a family allows you to be together and apart and all have a fabulous time. Don't miss out on this adventure. I'm really glad that I've been able to take my kids to Alaska (twice) and I know that they will one day (hopefully) go back with their families and talk about all the fun we had.
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  #27  
Old January 31st, 2014, 01:37 AM
shealea shealea is offline
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I've sailed to Alaska 3 times, all three on Norwegian Cruise Line.

We did a whale watching excursion on our first time. I would say it is worth the money, especially for your son. We had a wonderful show from the whales. We also saw other wildlife.....sea lions on buoys, etc. It really was worth the money, dh and I thought. We did a tour combo that brought us to Mendendall Glacier and then down to our boat for our whale watching. We loved it!

We have done a few things that cost little to nothing, that we considered excellent! In Ketchikan you can take the city bus...$2 roundtrip....to Totem Bright State Park. The State Park is outstanding, and it is free. The bus ride took a bit of time, maybe 1/2 hour?????..Can't remember exactly.

You can walk through the park, viewing the totem poles along the way. There is an Indian long house you can go inside and view. My cousin and I followed a large group around. We can be a bit dumb.....lol. We followed this group around for the longest time, listening to the wonderful guide tell all sorts of interesting facts about the totem poles. Then we FINALLY realized we had joined a paying tour that had stopped in at the park. So, we actually got a nice tour for free. But, there are signs along the way giving explanations, and I think a little guide book. Also, it's on a nice little beach with great views across the water. Enjoyed that.

Ketchikan is great to explore by walking around. There's Creek Street that is a charming street with a wooden boardwalk that is set along the creek. We've always been in August, and it's awesome to watch the big groups of salmon going upstream to spawn. We have seen many sea otter hanging out there, and it's a good time to watch them.

We've walked up the trails and side streets up along Creek Street for quite a ways. It's a nice walk and very beautiful along the street.

In Skagway, there is a tram that takes you way up the mountain/hillside. Up on top you can see all over the bay, including your cruise ship. It's really cheap. Maybe a couple of bucks per person???? Well, well worth it. There is the Mt. Roberts tram in Juneau, but it's I think about $20 per person. It does have a learning center thing on top, which is nice. But, I like the really cheap one just fine in Skagway.

In Juneau, we walked along past where the buses let you off....past where the Mt. Roberts Tram departs......and there is a beautiful park like area. When the weather is good, it's so relaxing to walk along, sit for a bit, people watch, etc. We really enjoyed that. Kids may not, though!!! lol!

I hope I've been able to help some.
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  #28  
Old January 31st, 2014, 01:52 PM
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Shealea, thanks for the info about Ketchikan - it sounds a lot like what I'm planning if hubby agrees. His favorite words are generally "Yes, dear". lol
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  #29  
Old February 5th, 2014, 05:59 PM
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Wow! What a great thread with a LOT of very helpful information!!
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  #30  
Old February 5th, 2014, 11:32 PM
Northern Aurora Northern Aurora is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shealea View Post
I've sailed to Alaska 3 times, all three on Norwegian Cruise Line.

.......


In Skagway, there is a tram that takes you way up the mountain/hillside. Up on top you can see all over the bay, including your cruise ship. It's really cheap. Maybe a couple of bucks per person???? Well, well worth it. There is the Mt. Roberts tram in Juneau, but it's I think about $20 per person. It does have a learning center thing on top, which is nice. But, I like the really cheap one just fine in Skagway.


I hope I've been able to help some.
Just a point of clarification: I was in Skagway in September 2013, and am not aware of any tram that "takes you way up the mountain/hillside." Actually, I am not aware of any tram at all. I think this poster is thinking of the Cape Fox Lodge funicular in Ketchikan which doesn't take you to a really high point, but the views are very nice. And the Mt. Roberts tramway in Juneau is not about $20 per person, but more like $32 per adult (kids pricing is cheaper).
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  #31  
Old February 6th, 2014, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Northern Aurora View Post
Just a point of clarification: I was in Skagway in September 2013, and am not aware of any tram that "takes you way up the mountain/hillside." Actually, I am not aware of any tram at all. I think this poster is thinking of the Cape Fox Lodge funicular in Ketchikan which doesn't take you to a really high point, but the views are very nice. And the Mt. Roberts tramway in Juneau is not about $20 per person, but more like $32 per adult (kids pricing is cheaper).
Thanks for clearing that up. I was sure wondering about the tram in Skagway. I have been twice and don't remember any tram. I do remember the short funicular in Ketchikan.
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  #32  
Old February 8th, 2014, 10:31 PM
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Here are a couple ideas for you.
I like to rent a car in Juneau. You can go see Mendenhall(look in the trees for bears all along the footpath by the parking lot), drive all around explore, and find some of the best halibut fish and chips at the Sandbar and grill.

In Skagway...take a tour with Dyea Dave....tell him you want to go find bears. http://www.******************/

the museum in Ketchikan is cool. As is the fish hatchery and raptors. Look for eagles there.....They are everywhere watching you... Look for golf balls in the trees.
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  #33  
Old February 8th, 2014, 11:24 PM
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I too think you already answered your own questions. I am sailing on Carnival this year, and found the line very enjoyable on my several past cruises with them.

I am also one, who has NEVER waited or put off any touring I wanted to do. I live for today, which has a significant meaning to me, over many years. I've found most people aren't in that mode for many reasons. I just have been very fortunate.
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  #34  
Old February 9th, 2014, 12:07 AM
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If you have any interest in totem poles, in Ketchikan you can ride the public bus out to Totem Bight and Potlatch Park for only a dollar, half-price for seniors, and free admission to the parks.

Totem Bight State Historical Park

Potlatch Totem Park in Ketchikan Alaska


For Juneau, taking the bus out to Mendenhall Glacier is an inexpensive excursion for one or two people, but with your entire family it would be worthwhile to rent a car instead, which would let you see a lot more and make better use of your time there.

If your parents have Golden Age or Senior Passes, be sure to bring them along as they will provide free admission to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for all of you.

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  #35  
Old March 12th, 2014, 09:46 PM
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Princess' ships should sail into Tracy's arm. Not sure if you still need to book extra excursion
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  #36  
Old March 13th, 2014, 10:31 AM
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Princess' ships should sail into Tracy's arm. Not sure if you still need to book extra excursion
Princess sails into Tracy Arm but the cruise ships stop far from the face of the glacier. I'd say I've been here 8+ times on multiple lines and have never gotten farther in than the island where the channel splits to the North and South Sawyer glaciers. Also have never seen Princess offer the small boat option.

I've done the small boat Adventure Bound excursion from Juneau 4-5 times and continue to repeat every time I'm in port. With 50+ cruises all over the world I rank this in my top 3 or so favorite excursions anywhere (hard to beat Penguins in Falkland Islands) Once you have been "up close" and personal with the Glaciers its hard to just view from the distance the cruise ships achieve. First time viewers on the ship will be impressed but its like watching a baseball game from the upper deck vs front row behind the dugout. Same game but totally different experience.
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2010 March Star Princess South America Brazil / Aug Royal Princess Alaska
Dec Sapphire Princess Mexico
2011 May Sapphire Princess Pacific Coastal / Aug Diamond Princess Alaska
NB/SB (B2B)
2012 Feb Grand Princess S Caribbean / June Sea Princess Alaska
Nov Island Princess Panama Canal
2013 Jan Pacific Princess E Caribbean / May Island Princess NB/SB (B2B)
Grand Princess Mexico Sea Cortez
2014 Jan Grand Princess Hawaii
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