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Since I am very wordy in describing our trip, I had to split the port review portion into a different thread to stay under the size limit. Sorry that they are all so long.
Ports Review from Veendam
Sitka – We went on the Tongass Forest Hike with the ship. It was a 3 hour hike. There were 13 people and three guides. There were a number of bird watchers in the group so the guides stopped every 5 minutes to view the local birds. We are not bird watchers; we are hikers so this part was tough for us. After about 1-˝ hours, the group split into intense bird watching and intense hiking. We loved this part of the hike. Back in town, we walked down to the National Park (just walk along the shore line, it leads right to it). We walked through the woods on the main trial and up to the Raptor Center. We enjoyed the Raptor Center very much, I would recommend this. In this port, there is tendering.
Juneau – We went whale watching with Captain Larry in the morning. The folks at Captain Larry were very nice and the ladies in the office worked hard to get everyone situated. The trip was good, saw lots of wildlife. I liked how all the boats talked to one another to let everyone know where the whales were. While I enjoyed the trip, I was disappointed that there was not more commentary on where we were and what we were seeing. If you were outside, the microphone did work out there. The assistant on board was the one who did most of the talking. Captain Larry did not talk too much and it was a shame because the few times that he talked, he was interesting. Maybe we were spoiled by the Kenai Fjord tour first.
Orca dropped us at the airport for our dog sledding ride with Coastal (I would suggest bringing a snack as there was no where to eat between). We loved the dog sledding. They took us via helicopter to an area high up on the Mendenhall Glacier and we went on a 2 mile sled ride. This was one of our favorite trips of the two weeks. Everyone got a turn to “mush”. It was very sunny so bring along sunglasses as well as gloves and a hat. After our ride, we got to meet each of the dogs who pulled our sled. One the way back to the airport, we flew along the glacier – quite beautiful. There was only 6 people on the trip so it was very personal.
Back in town, we went to McDonalds (my son was craving it), then shopping. When he went back to the ship, I stopped with some friends in the Red Dog Saloon. It was very entertaining and worth the stop if you have time.
Ketchikan – Here we did the Misty Fjord Floatplane with Southeast Aviation. I really enjoyed this trip – very nice scenery, the pilot (Jim) had good commentary. My son said it was all right. He felt like some of the best stuff was hard to see depending on the side you were on (he also prefers a bit more activity). We landed on the lake took some pictures and then we were off again. It was cool to take off on such a small lake. After the trip, we went to the Heritage Center where they house some of the very old totem poles. We both liked this museum and out back there were two men carving a new totem. We enjoyed watching them work. On the way back to town, we followed part of the walking tour. We enjoyed seeing Creek Street.
If you have a questions, let me know and I will try to answer them.
We had such a good time and in many ways have members of this board to thank for all the great infomation we received that helped with planning.
Mary - Thanks so much for taking the time to post this wonderful review.
I am sailing on the Veendam next month, and this ship isn't discussed much.
It sounds like you have a lovely time. In Ketchikan I am doing the Misty Fjord floatplane with Island Wings, Juneau, whale watching with Capt Larry and in Skagway, a Yukon Discovery Tour with Frontier Excursions. As well as other things on my own between the tours . Just curious...did you meet any solo travelers?
I met so many nice people and did not think to ask if they were traveling solo. There was one very nice woman from England who was on our land tour/cruise. She told me that she was traveling alone. Funny story about her - At the Captain Cook hotel, they turned down the beds. She said that she had a queen (or king) bed and that both sides were turned down. She laughed that she waited all night to see if someone would be joining her, but no one ever came!!
I hope that you have a great cruise. Alaska was so wonderful.