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  1. Gold Creek is the only one I know about too but I don't know EVERYTHING! 😜 This picture I took at basically the entrance to the place. I'm probably just a few steps from where someone would get off of the shuttle bus. We drove our car and had to walk a little further. The actual buffet is in the picture just to the left of the hanging "Salmon Bake" sign. This picture is sort of a side view of the same area in the previous picture. The unloading point from the shuttle is at the left side of the picture. The entire place is fairly level and covered in a packed crushed stone - easy walking. I doubt you will have any trouble at all. The people who work there were all very nice and helpful. There is a small building with a gift shop inside too. Enjoy your time there!
  2. Are you talking about the Gold Creek Salmon Bake? If so, it's about 50 feet...
  3. If you go there just park in front of the small center building (the times I've been there it's been closed...I have no idea what is inside...) and then follow the signs. You basically go around the building to the right and follow the signs. It's, at the most, 1/2 mile each way to where I took my pictures. You can walk further if you want. I found a map online easily. Just do a search for "Eagle River Nature Center Map". The trail to the wooden platforms is slightly down to the river but nothing serious.
  4. There are Ubers in Ketchikan. I would think there sould be availability to get you from Creek Street over to the ship docks. It's a short ride but I would expect it to be $8-$10. A small price for your mom's comfort! FYI, if you're needing to buy inexpensive gifts to take home, Ketchikan is a great place to do it. There's quite a few shops right near the docks and one big store (Tongass Trading) that has about everything. Good luck!
  5. I've suggested this place several times and still think it's a great and an easy place not too far from Anchorage: Eagle River Nature Center. Eagle River is about 15 minutes north of Anchorage on the Glen Highway. East of Eagle River on Eagle River Road is the nature center - about 10-15 minutes at the end of the highway. There are some very easy trails that will take you out to the Eagle River (maybe a 10 minute walk) and there are several wooden viewing platforms. If you were only going there and back to Anchorage the entire trip could be under two hours, depending on how much time you spend making pictures. I've been there a few times but found it by accident while driving at random the first time. I've seen moose prints in the water but never seen one right there - a moose in a pic there could be pretty spectacular. If you need anything at Walmart there is a super-center right on your way there! (Ha Ha) Good luck! Enjoy your trip! Along the way on Eagle River Road - the nature center is far off in the distance. From one of the viewing platforms. Viewing platform. This past winter - it's nice there any time.
  6. If you want to be able to explore some a car would be your best bet. You should be able to get something for less than $100. Fairbanks is spread out and, unless you're right downtown, not an easy walk to get places. One of my favorite things to do is have lunch at the Hilltop Truckstop on the Steese highway north of town maybe 15-20 minutes. Along the way is a small park like area with a section of the Alaska pipeline running through it. There are some displays and information plaques there. Out east of town about 10-15 minutes is North Pole, Alaska where there is a giant Christmas store called Santa Claus House - Santa is there every day.
  7. Not what the OP was looking for but if anyone else is going on a cruise tour that starts or ends at Fairbanks, there is a giant Christmas store a few miles out of town to the east at North Pole, Alaska. It's called "Santa Claus House", open year-round and Santa is there every day. It's a very nice store.
  8. You will not be able to see "everything" on one cruise and one land tour. Unless you plan on a several week trip. You should do a little research and decide what's important to you and your family. Then you can decide which cruise-tour best fits the bill. I think you are cutting yourself short on the land portion by not wanting to drive yourself. Alaska is very simple to navigate because there are only a few highways. You can do your own land tour so much cheaper than paying a cruise line. Plus you'll be free to stop wherever you want along the way to your main stops. The large groups whiz past everything in a large bus... At a place like Denali (where most land tours visit) you can take a guided tour that particular day or two. While on the actual cruise you can make your own arrangements for the port excursions and save a significant amount of money - especially with 4-5 people. Good luck!
  9. I've rented a car in Juneau for two cruises. Once from Avis and once from Juneau Car Rental. Parking at Mendenhall is free. If someone in the group has an Access Pass they can bring up to three other people into the park for free. What the rental car will do for you is give you more time at your actual destinations than a shuttle will. Our first cruise we were going to take a Coastal Copters glacier flight that left from the Juneau airport. We also wanted to visit Mendenhall. If we shuttled to both we would have been backtracking to the docks and wasting time because the airport is not too far from Mendenhall. Driving in the Juneau area is not difficult at all. Our last visit we went to Mendenhall again but also drove out to St. Therese and Eagle Beach plus stopped at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake for dinner. We also side trip to Douglas Island. The rental car means freedom to me. Good luck!
  10. No, he thought it out in a way that worked for him. Everyone is different. I spent about $12,000 on my 1st Alaskan cruise and I didn't want to come back disappointed and wishing I had done better research.
  11. I like your planning! I pondered it all in a similar fashion when I was planning our first Alaskan cruise about 4 years ago - our first cruise ever too. One thing you said that I wanted to comment on is how you felt Victoria seemed like a wasted stop. I'm sure in your research you found out why most of the cruises stop there - because of the laws. But there could be an ulterior motive. At least Norwegian has one. They have figured out a way to make lemonade out of what might be a lemon stop. Trash. Ha Ha Our first cruise was a 10-day on NCL Pearl that we completely enjoyed. Our stop in Victoria was from noon until midnight so we have plenty of time to do *something*. (We took a cab to the gardens as soon as we were off the ship. Then a cab back to the ship for a free dinner on board then back to town on the shuttle bus to shop. It worked well for us.) On a 2nd cruise two years later our time there was only from 6 PM until midnight - hardly enough time to do very much. We had poutine at a friend of mine's little restaurant on the far side of town away from the other tourists! 😋 Anyway, back to the trash. Our last full day onboard on the 2nd cruisse (our Victoria day) I took a paid tour of the ship as an "excursion" - it was pretty cool. We saw quite a bit of the mysterious behind the scenes places. There was a large space full of bales of compressed garbage. Guess where all that garbage is unloaded. Victoria. The space it takes up is the same space where the luggage is staged at for departure in Seattle. That same space is where all the luggage is placed until it's distributed to the new passengers. So for one day each week it's luggage storage - the other six days it's garbage storage space. Who would have guessed? Enjoy your trip!
  12. The first time we only went to the visitor center and took some pics from the nearby little beach - maybe we were there 90 minutes. This past year we did the above plus walked to Nugget Falls and back with maybe 30 minutes there at the falls - total, about 2 hours.
  13. I've done the Dyea Dave tour to Emerald Lake twice. Fantastic! We were picked up at the dock around 8:00-8:30 AM, stopped to pick up our train tickets at the White Pass office (you have to make your own train reservations separate from Dyea Dave - very simple) and were on our way by around 9:00 AM. You *MUST* have you passport with you for this trip! We stopped for lunch both times at Carcross, Yukon then continued on to Emerald Lake - only another 15-20 minutes past Carcross. When we got back to Fraser to catch the train it was somewhere around 2:00 PM. I'm sure we were back to Skagway around 4:30 PM. We were docked from about 7 AM to 7:30 PM so there is *PLENTY* of time to look around town once you're back from the trip. All along the way the Dyea Dave driver (if it's not Dave himself) will give a very good narration of what you're seeing and stop as often as most anyone would want for pictures. Their buses are small (about a dozen or so passengers) so it's easy to get what you want without being in a huge herd - you'll see quite a few large buses with 50-60 passengers whiz by regularly. The small Dyea Dave groups are much more flexible - our first trip, when we got to the "Welcome to the Yukon" sign (pretty nice and scenic) there was two buses stopped with most of the passengers lined up waiting their turn for a picture with the sign. Dave drove on by and said we could stop on the way back - we did and there was only a few of us so the stop only took a few minutes. Dave called me personally during the winter prior to our first trip with him to answer a couple questions I had - much better than emailing. He suggest taking the bus portion first and riding the train back from Fraser. His reasoning is that often it's foggy/overcast in the mornings on the Skagway side of the mountains - the bus will be up and over the mountains into nice weather quickly. By the time you ride the train back from Fraser the fog will have burned off. Our first trip that was exactly the case -- but once across the mountains we had picture perfect weather both trips and the train ride is very spectacular. Good luck! On the way across the mountains in the morning our first trip - just a little foggy. Ha Ha Almost 2 years & 2 Days later... Much nicer weather that morning... We were the only ones at the Yukon sign on the ride back... One of my favorite pictures ever! On the big bus tours you most likely won't get opportunities like this. Our 2nd trip with Dyea Dave. I'll do Dyea Dave again!
  14. The earlier, the better. I'm pretty sure I reserved a car this last time about a YEAR ahead. You're better safe than sorry - they could sell out! After all, most of the time there are at least 3 ships in port - several thousand potential renters!
  15. I've rented twice at Juneau (once from Avis and this past year from Juneau Car Rental at AJ Dock). Even though it was an older car I feel like the better choice was Juneau Car Rental - cheaper, very handy and a local vendor. The Avis people left us waiting for about 45 minutes [wasted] while going for gas in one of their cars... Why wasn't this taken care of prior to our arriving at 1 PM??? This last time in Juneau we did almost an identical visit to DISNEYOCHEM above. We also had dinner at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. The salmon bake has a shuttle bus from the dock area but we just stopped in our car - there isn't much parking but most everyone comes on their shuttle so it doesn't matter. We stopped at the salmon bake to make sure we could come on our own - the manager was very friendly and we paid then so when we came back later all we had to do was eat. (The manager suggested doing that in case we arrived when a shuttle load had just arrived... She also suggested we walk on out to their creek and waterfalls because the light was great at that time of the day. Nice people there!) On our previous car rental visit we did Mendenhall plus stopped at the airport for our Coastal Helicopters trip to walk on a glacier - they also have a shuttle but you'll be wasting a lot of time you could spend doing something else. If one is comfortable arranging your own itinerary I think renting a car at Juneau is a very efficient way of maximizing your time - otherwise you'll spend a lot of time on shuttles that could be spent doing something much better. Good luck!
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