NCL Pearl Alaska -what are the 3 best things

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#1
141 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Our first time on NCL Pearl coming up Sept 2013 to Alaska - Would like to hear from past cruisers what your 3 favorite dining experiences and your 3 favorite entertainment experiences were on the Pearl?

Any 'not to be missed excursions' in Juneau, Skagway, or Ketchikan?

Can't wait for the day in Glacier Bay - my plan is to bundle up with hat and gloves; a giant cup of hot chocolate and hang out on the deck/balcony til my toes freeze!!

Just interested in happy experiences or opinions you are willing to share...
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#2
4,822 Posts
Joined May 2009
Tracy's Crab Shack in Juneau. It's a walk up on the dock right downtown type of place. King crab legs, crab bisque, crab cakes. Pricey (Alaskan King Crab is expensive) , but about half the price of the other restaurants for the same stuff. The locals eat at Tracy's. Also in Juneau, a tour out to Mendenhall glacier is nice. It has a very good nature center and glacier educational exhibit, and you can walk out towards the glacier.

In Ketchikan, the "Ducks" driving tour around town and down into the water is fun and interesting. Also, the guides try to out do each other in corny humor. You can just buy a ticket in town. Both these tours are pretty inexpensive...as tours go.
#3
Oklahoma City, OK
11,264 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
We always do whale watching in Juneau with either Harv & Marv or Alaska Galore. They have small boats (12 passengers max) and it's like being out on a friend's boat. If you do an early whale watch, you have time to hit Tracy's Crab Shack and maybe time for the tram.

Skagway is for the White Pass Railroad. We book with Chilkoot tours instead of the ship and do the Yukon tour (7 hours, half on train, half motor coach).

I agree with the Duck tour in Ketchikan. Fun way to see the town from land and sea. Very affordable and a great excursion with kids. Of course, we've done all these with our son and he liked them all.
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Celebrity Galaxy 11/04
Grand Princess 2/06
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Vegas, baby! 11/08
NCL Spirit 1/09, where everybody knew my name (which was strange and a little fun at the same time)
NCL Pearl 3/10
HAL Oosterdam 5/2011, back to Alaska we went!
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NCL Star 12/2012 - more firsts!
NCL Jewel 12/2013 - Christmas on the water
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#4
880 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
We rented a car in Juneau (from Rent-A-Wreck) and drove ourselves out to Mendenhall Glacier, then stopped at the Alaskan Brewing Company on the way back.

In Skagway, we opted for the Golden Glass Blowing Experience, where we made our own glass Christmas ornaments.

In Ketchikan, we booked the Crab Boat tour on the Aleutian Ballad & ended up sailing with Captain Derrick Ray from "The Deadliest Catch."

On board, we really enjoyed "Oh What A Night." The Second City Comedy troupe was funny, but I probably wouldn't go see it again.

When you sail Glacier Bay, you'll get a drink menu (see attachment) the night before, from which you can order some adult warm-up beverages that will be delivered to your room. DW had the Grizzly Bear & I had the Alaskan Snow Plow... both were very good. We ordered several more from the bar after that.

You'll definitely need to bundle up as you get closer & closer to Marjorie Glacier!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Glacier Bay Drink Specials.pdf (557.8 KB, 44 views)
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#5
central indiana
863 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
In Juneau, we did the Glacier Gardens (rainforest with flowers and waterfalls) and Mendenhall glacier.

Agree with the train trip in Skagway ( stood on the platform outside and took pictures)and walking around the town.

In Ketchikan, we enjoyed walking back to the Creek Street area and would liked to have done the horse trolley (ran out of time).

We loved Sharkbait and the Oh What A Night group as far as entertainment on the Pearl.

Our 1st cruise ever, we ate in the Summer Palace on embarkation day (tip learned here on CC) instead of going to the buffet. The food was pretty good but it just allowed us time to let everything "soak in" that we were really on a cruise.
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#6
Western Washington
4,515 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Any 'not to be missed excursions' in Juneau, Skagway, or Ketchikan?
Ketchikan - we did a jet boat tour to Mysty Fjords National Monument and although it was expensive it was spectacular. Towering cliffs and waterfalls everywhere. Then we returned via floatplane which was quite an experience as well. http://www.visit-ketchikan.com/Thing...styFjords.aspx

Juneau - When our helicopter glacier tour got scubbed due to weather we hopped a city bus and went out to Glacier Gardens on our own. Very interesting and spectacular flower displays and rainforest trails. A low cost touring option.
http://www.glaciergardens.com/
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#7
141 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Wow! You fellow CC'ers are super helpful..
You just made it harder to narrow down

For sure whale watching, Mendenhall, Tracy's Crab shack, Duck tour, White Pass Rail, and time permitting: Glass blowing, glacier gardens, horse trolley,etc..
While the aerial excursions sound great -- too faint of heart for that..

And many thanks for tips on Harv n Marv/Chilkoot tour..MDR lunch day of embarkment, adult beverage fortification for Glacier Bay, and the shows on board - will definitely catch Oh what a night, Sharkbait , and 2nd city.

Many sincere thanks to all!
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#8
Palatine, Illinois
68 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
OMG you will love Alaska ... search for my lengthy review but we saw more whales in Juneau than we've seen in Hawaii many times (Whale Watch Tour), Skagway, River Rafting, was wonderful & our guide (Steve) was extremely informative - this was safe, beautiful and full of history --- lunch was super & tons of laughs! A bus, boat, bus to raft site ... lots of great scenery & stories to fill the day. Do not miss the Bering Sea Tour ... someone else mentioned also ... you'll walk off the Pearl & onto their boat & sit right in the front row for a spectacular show with more sea life & eagles than you can imagine! Victoria ... the Horse Drawn Trolley was great to learn about the city & the painted houses... we sign up the last moment & were very glad we did.

We were also glad in June to have brought LLBean rain jackets with hoods, earmuffs & gloves ... also to have quick dry rain pants & quick dry sox, Capri pants & quick dry long undies. We didn't need them every day but on those chilly river days -- it was wonderful to be able to be warm. Go to the Red Onion for a beer & onion rings (OMG) wonderful. We mailed postcards to our granddaughter from every port --- she loved it. From Victoria -- for ease, we mailed from the ship (they had Canadian stamps).

We loved Cagney's and Moderno (Brazilian steakhouse style & go hungry), for a special occasion - try Le Bistro (French) and we often ate at the main dining room for dinner (Indigo).

We were often participating in tours for lunch but we tried the buffet which had everything anyone could want --- however, for any meal there -- I would try very early for a great window seat for best viewing.

We cruise the Greek Islands in a few weeks on the Jade and cannot wait to experience another NCL ship ... and another exciting location. Happy Sails...
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#9
Haiti
382 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
For Skaway dining, I would add the Skagway Brewing Company. Do not let Google maps fool you, you do not need a ferry to get there, but it is the last establishment on the main street, so a few minutes' walk. We had a WONDERFUL lunch there (bunch of foodies and everyone was happy!).

In Victoria, we had a kind of pricey but delicious dinner at a seafood place called Pescatores, right across the street from the Fairmont Hotel. We were dressed very casually after our bus tour and that was fine.

For activities, Glacier Bay is a don't-miss-a-moment event. We did the helicopter/ dogsled tour to Mendenhall Glacier, and that was absolutely the highlight of our trip. It was VERY expensive, but we felt that it was worth it. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan is inexpensive and short, and we really enjoyed it in all its hokeyness. DS 10 really enjoyed all of these things, if you're traveling with kids.

Entertainment-wise, we really enjoyed Second City (as always) and Jeff Hobson was wonderful discovery. DS loved both of those, and surprisingly really enjoyed the Frankie Valley tribute band, as well.

Have a great trip, Alaska is amazing!
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#10
Palatine, Illinois
68 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
We spent the entire day on deck in sweaters... not freezing but drinking spiked coffee! I splurged and purchased my NCL coffee mug that day... and have used it every day since...

PS - we also did not pack sweatshirts for the cruise! The first day on the Pearl, we went to the gift shop & purchased two beautiful sweatshirts 'on sale' --- we wore them every day we toured!
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#11
Boise, Idaho
214 Posts
Joined Nov 2010
Others have answered, but I'll throw in my 2 cents as well.

Dining - we really didn't eat on shore, but I love the sushi and noodle bar, Cagneys, and La Cucina on the ship.

Entertainment - Oh What a Night is pretty fun and good music, IMO. I think they also had a broadway mish mash show, but I can't remember what it was called. I loved that as well. And we even did an afternoon of bingo which I thought was pretty fun.

Excursions - whale watching in Juneau is a must. We booked through NCL and loved it, but Harv and Marv get rave reviews as well. Loved the White Pass train ride in Skagway. Didn't book anything in Ketchikan, but walked around town a bit and watched the eagles from our balcony. Did another whale watching in Victoria, but the orcas were hiding that day. I loved the trip just for being out on the water, but others probably wouldn't enjoy it as much without the whales.

And your plan for Glacier Bay Day is perfect. We had multiple layers of clothes and blankets and huddled up with hot adult beverages watching the scenery go by. Saw whales and seals and amazing glaciers. Absolutely loved it, despite the chill.
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#12
thunder bay ontario canada
117 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Hubby is treating me to our first cruise and its my milestone birthday... We are booked on the Jewel..

We have booked all our excursions already...

Ketchikan - I'm kayaking and hubby is snorkeling, then we do the duck tour
Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier River Float and have to make to the yarn store
Skagway - Glass blowing and scenic railway
Victoria - horse-drawn trolley

so so so excited!
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#13
1,387 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
For Skagway dining, I recommend Northern Lights for pizza. Best pizza I enjoyed for two weeks (when I sailed Princess). It's only about a half block off the main drag.
#14
Texas
295 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
Our Alaskan cruise in the Pearl was so awesome, we flew back to Anchorage this summer to tour the interior. One of the best excursions my husband and I have ever done was the Bering Sea Crab Boat in Ketchikan. I guess it helps if you are a fan of the show Deadliest Catch - but we had a blast - Captain Derrick was on the boat when we went to. The Captain does a great job explaining how fishing in Alaska works. We saw how they launch and pull the pots and TONS of bald Eagles.

I that've to think about what we did in the other ports when someone asks (White Pass RR and Mendenhall Glacier/tram)

You're going to have a blast! The weather was in the 60's all week - now this summer when we were there, it was 90 in Fairbanks - so you just never know.
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#15
Oklahoma City, OK
11,264 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Many independent whale watching companies do a stop at Mendenhall. When we were with Harv & Marv, they did and then took us back to town (2006). We went with Alaska Galore in 2011 and they didn't stop AT Mendenhall, but did stop at a place that had a faraway view of it. I have a strong lens so I got it almost as if we were there, but most didn't. Check with the tour companies.
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Carmen

Celebrity Galaxy 11/04
Grand Princess 2/06
Carnival Conquest 10/06
Celebrity Mercury to Alaska 9/07 very cool - literally!
Vegas, baby! 11/08
NCL Spirit 1/09, where everybody knew my name (which was strange and a little fun at the same time)
NCL Pearl 3/10
HAL Oosterdam 5/2011, back to Alaska we went!
RCCL Mariner OTS 3/2012 - another 1st!
NCL Star 12/2012 - more firsts!
NCL Jewel 12/2013 - Christmas on the water
NCL Jewel 11/2014 - and a few more firsts!
NCL Sun 5/2015 - North to Alaska, this time into Denali!
NCL Dawn 11/2015
NCL Dawn 11/2016. I'm really getting used to not cooking on Thanksgiving!
NCL Pearl 11/2017


Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
#16
141 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Thank you again for so many positive and helpful responses - it's obvious you guys have enjoyed your cruise experiences and your willingness to share is much appreciated.

I may need to take a 2nd Alaskan cruise!

Happy future sailings to all!
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#17
Lakewood, Washington
6,405 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by geogran
Thank you again for so many positive and helpful responses - it's obvious you guys have enjoyed your cruise experiences and your willingness to share is much appreciated.

I may need to take a 2nd Alaskan cruise!

Happy future sailings to all!
For sure, geogran! Once will not be enough! We will be taking our 9th cruise to Alaska next month!
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Jewel to Alaska 5/31/2014 (H4 14512)
Pearl to Alaska 9/15/2013 (S4 14006)
Pride of America, Hawaii 9/10/2011 (SB 12502)
Pearl to Alaska 5/30/2010 (A3 14006)
Star to Alaska 5/30/2009 (AB 11030)
Pearl to Alaska 5/25/2008 (AA 9004)
Pearl to Alaska 6/17/2007 (A2 15500)
Star to Alaska 5/28/2006 (AE 8170)
Star to Alaska 6/05/2005 (AF 11556)
Spirit to Alaska 7/03/2004 (BD 9032)
Sky to Alaska 9/13/2003 (BD 9215)
#18
4,822 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by geogran
Thank you again for so many positive and helpful responses - it's obvious you guys have enjoyed your cruise experiences and your willingness to share is much appreciated.

I may need to take a 2nd Alaskan cruise!

Happy future sailings to all!
Yes you do...and yes you will. We've done two and looking at number three. And, here's another thing that makes each cruise possibly so different...weather. Our first one was sunny and 75 - 80 every day. Best weather they had in five years. I almost felt like I got cheated, not seeing Alaska weather as I had expected. Next cruise cloudy, drizzly, 45 - 55 every day. You just don't know what you'll get.
#19
pittsburgh
349 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Just got back from an awesome cruise on the Pearl last week. Here is my view point...

Juneau- We did the Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake booked threw the ship. It was nice, and we did the LONG walk to Nugget Falls. I would have liked to spend more time here and less time at the Salmon fish hatchery or skip the fish hatchery all together. But, I guess it was informative to hear about the different kinds of salmon and how much Alaska depends on the Salmon for the lively hood. That being said, I still could have skipped it The scenery at the Glacier was beautiful and would have preferred the time spent there. The Salmon bake was OK. The food was good, my DH loved it.

Skagway- We took the 3.5 hr White Pass Train tour. It was very nice and again the scenery was beautiful. My only complaint here was the rude people hogging the outside viewing area where you would stand to take pictures. Some people just wouldn't move and take turns. I mean they didn't move the WHOLE trip!
Then we went on what both my DH and I agree was the highlight of our trip..
the GRIZZLY FALLS ZIPLINE! It was AWESOME in every way. The guides Ross and Jeff were fun and energetic. The Ziplines were thrilling and scary at the same time. It is def a MUST DO in Skagway!

Ketchikan- We took the Deadliest Catch tour. It was just ok to me..they pulled up their pots and let us hold crabs. IDK..it was just very..yawn

Victoria BC- We just took the shuttle and leisurely walked around the nice & pretty town taking in the sights.

We had perfect weather for our whole trip. Blue Sky's and warm, almost 80 degree's several days. It couldn't have worked out better.
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