1st Alaskan Cruise (7day Sapphire Princess late June): Shore Excursion help!

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#1
9 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
My DH & are are taking our first Alaskan cruise (anniversary present!) and need your recommendations! We are active, mid-50's, but do not want to over schedule. Our ports will include Ketchikan (full day), Juneau (half-day & evening), Skagway (full day), Victoria BC (evening--have already been to Butchart Gardens). We definitely want to see Mendenhall glacier--but how: seaplane, helicopter?? THANKS!
#2
USA
8,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Congrats and welcome to CC. Almost sounds like you are doing it on Princess out of Seattle round trip like me

You should go to the Alaska ports of call here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=55

The most common/popular
Ketchikan: Fishing, wildlife/whale watching, totem poles, Misty Fjord ( this is often float plane )
Juneau: Mendenahall Glacier ( heli ) or just take the bus and hike the base
Skagway: Glacierpoint/Haines, Yukon drive, railroad
Victoria: Historical Victoria

If you want to do seaplane or heli preserve as early as you can either thru your cruise ship or independent. These are limited by helicopters and as you can imagine all these ports get 2-4 ships a day with 4000-10000 people and probably only a few hundred can be accomidated for the flying tours. Because of the low volume expect pretty expensive too

Good luck

Originally posted by Sea Breaze
My DH & are are taking our first Alaskan cruise (anniversary present!) and need your recommendations! We are active, mid-50's, but do not want to over schedule. Our ports will include Ketchikan (full day), Juneau (half-day & evening), Skagway (full day), Victoria BC (evening--have already been to Butchart Gardens). We definitely want to see Mendenhall glacier--but how: seaplane, helicopter?? THANKS!
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Princess: 1999, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015 Disney: 2000 Carnival:2005
#3
SOUTHEAST WA
382 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
Originally posted by Sea Breaze
My DH & are are taking our first Alaskan cruise (anniversary present!) and need your recommendations! We are active, mid-50's, but do not want to over schedule. Our ports will include Ketchikan (full day), Juneau (half-day & evening), Skagway (full day), Victoria BC (evening--have already been to Butchart Gardens). We definitely want to see Mendenhall glacier--but how: seaplane, helicopter?? THANKS!
How exciting, our first cruise was also Alaska for our anniversary!
Ketchikan: We just walked arround, lots to see in the town and it is full of history. This Sept. we will be going again and we are going to do the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show ($35,$19 for kids). My parents went and tell us it is a can't miss.
Juneau: The Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest is a MUST do!!! There is so much to see if you walk the trails including baby bears and their mamas, salmon, otters, eagles and other small animals. Rangers stationed on the trails keep humans and animals safe. There is a visitors center and gift shop that you also do not get to see if you choose the helicopter. The whale quest is also awesome, saw tons of whales and even a baby one, seal and sealions and eagles. Bring your camera!!! ($169,129 kids)
Skagway: This will also be our first time in Skagway. We are looking at the White Pass Scenic Railway! Our in-laws have been on this and bought the video. ($125,69 kids)
Victoria BC: The horse drawn trolley was a good choice in 2007, learned lots of great history and saw lots of great sceanery. This trip, I am looking at the Waterfront Walking Tour cuz we get to feed sealions ($39)

Next you have to decide if you want to book throught the cruise line or an independant local company. I personally like to book through the cruise because I like the "security" that it offers. I know the probability of getting left at the port is considerably less, and I can cancel and change my excursions right on the ship if I need to. Others will say that booking through the cruise line is more expensive and crowded. I have not found this to be the case on my excursions and I am willing to pay a little bit more for my piece of mind. Maybe if I knew someone personally who booked independantly and had a great experience, I would be more willing to try it. So far the only horror stories I have heard of have all involved booking independantly. Thing like getting left behind, not being on the "list" as a paid customer, getting lost, vehicle or equipment breakdowns, rude guides and more. I know this is probably only a very small percentage and not the norm, but again it is just what I have heard. Hope this helps some!
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The kids are grown and it’s time to travel….. Wait, they’re coming with us?
PAST CRUISES:
AMSTERDAM ALASKA AUG 2007, FREEDOM OF THE SEAS EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEPT 2009,SAPPHIRE PRINCESS ALASKA Aug 15th, 2010, WESTERDAM ALASKA JUNE 2012 (25th anniversary), OOSTERDAM ALASKA SEPT 2013, ROTTERDAM PANAMA JANUARY 2017
FUTURE CRUISES: OOSTERDAM ALASKA JULY 2017
#4
9 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Wow-many thanks for your replies! Great info!
Just joined CC this am and see what a GREAT resource it is--especially for 1st timers! (although it technically will be our second cruise--last one was 20 years ago in the Carribean!). I am debating the cruiseline v independent booking for excursions, but kinda am thinking along the same lines as you, FINTUCKYFARMS. My DH & I spent a fun evening last night looking over the Princess offerings--we are getting really excited about our cruise!
==========celebrating our 30th anniversary!==========
#5
USA
8,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Private versus cruise is an often debated topic. I believe the "security" is marketed heavily but the reality of difference is trivial. IMHO the only reason to do cruise ship is you don't have the time and/or not comfortable doing the research yourself.

Between CC recomendations and independent googling you can quickly find many private tour operators that offer the same product and likely are the contractors to the ships as well, almost always cheaper by a lot.

The cruiseline take anywhere from 30-50% of the fee from the providers so going directly can save you some. Take a heli tour, booked thru princess for dog sledding runs 579 but directly from the tour company runs close to 100 less.

In certain cases for the novice no question the premium of going ship sponsored makes sense, but really there is no reputable operator that will not have in his selfish interest make sure the tour gets back to the ship. Nothing like a post about poor operator judgment or transportation causing a missed ship to end a business. Almost every story read/heard about a missed ship is a combo of bad luck AND bad judgemet of the tourer not the provider.

Good luck planning!
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Princess: 1999, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015 Disney: 2000 Carnival:2005