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Mediterranean_Honeymooner

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About Mediterranean_Honeymooner

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Alabama
  • Interests
    Travel, reading, scrapbooking
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Princess
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Egypt

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  1. Excursions (part 3) So with Juneau and Skagway decided, that just left Glacier Bay and Ketchikan on our itinerary. There are no excursions for Glacier Bay, so our only plan is go to a forward public deck in the morning to watch the sail in, then back to our balcony room midday. Maybe enjoy some room service while sitting on the balcony watching glaciers. ❤️ Ketchikan was the last and most difficult port for us to decide on. After we decided Juneau and Skagway, we started looking at excursions available for Ketchikan. My parents had done the “Deadliest Catch” crab boat and really loved it, but it just wasn’t calling out to me. I’ve had a couple opportunities to go out in fishing boats where I’ve watched them do dragging and pull up cages, so it just didn’t draw my fancy. The zip lining seemed really fun, but same problem - I’ve been ziplining before several times. And while the scenery is beautiful, it didn’t seem uniquely Alaskan. There are some great bear viewing excursions that I might have been interested in, but we are going too early in the year. We are interested in totem poles, so we want to make it a point to see some, but don’t really want to spend the whole day doing that. Plus I didn’t want to spend $120 for Carnival’s totem pole tour when I could use public transportation to get out there for $10. Everyone says the lumberjack show is really fun, but with it being centrally located, there was no reason to book ship transportation to it. So our working plan became beginning our day with a walking tour of Ketchikan. We found this walking tour - https://www.experienceketchikan.com/support-files/ketchikan_maps_downtown.pdf. It seems really interesting and includes totem poles, so it fits the bill. Then we would finish out the day with shopping and the lumberjack show. And that was our plan for months. Up until last week, actually. I liked our Ketchikan plan, but I didn’t LOVE it. I wasn’t excited about it like I was the other ports. So it just kind of stayed there at the back of my mind. I kept reading trip reports and travel guides and a similar theme kept jumping out...that to get a true taste of Alaska, you should see it by air. So I started looking at options. And when I found flightseeing in Ketchikan over the Misty Fjords, I fell in love. So despite the high cost (at $219 per person, it is the most expensive of our excursions for a 90 minute tour 😱), we went ahead and booked it. We are super excited and now our Ketchikan day looks like this: get off the boat early, sightsee and shop until it’s time for our flightseeing at 10. Then lunch after our tour - I have my eye on Alaskan Fish House from the reviews here on CC. Then on to our walking tour. May still do the lumberjack show if there is time, but I doubt there will be. (But will definitely keep it on the list for if we return to Alaska with the kids.) So our excursion line up is as follows: Seattle - Pikes Place Market, Space Needle on our own Vancouver - private guided tour of Vancouver with transport to the ship through Viator ($151 for 2) Juneau - whale watch, Mendenhall Glacier, and Tracy’s Crab Shack with Juneau Whale Watch ($338 for 2) Skagway - take the earliest train to Fraser with WPYR, then will be met by our tour guide from Dyea Dave for a guided tour up to Carcross and Enerald Lake and back ($358 for 2 - $180 for train, $178 for Dyea Dave) Glacier Bay - scenic viewing Ketchikan - flightseeing tour over Misty Fjords with Carlin Air, walking tour through Ketchikan ($438 for 2) So all told, we are sitting right around $3000 for all transportation, hotel, excursions, and the cruise itself. Now we just have to finish packing. We fly out a week from today!!!
  2. This! We normally don’t/wouldn’t purchase FTTF, but on our last cruise with our 5 and 2 year olds, it was worth it’s weight in gold. We didn’t have to wait in line at embarkation. We were able to go straight to our room and drop all our stuff, get lunch before the lines built, and be back in the room so the kids could nap before half the people had even boarded. Guest services and debarkation were also completely pain free and I love that we didn’t spend any of our vacation waiting in lines with impatient kids.
  3. That is one reason we are so excited about it! Definitely looking forward to an inland tour. Would have loved to take several days before or after they cruise to explore lore of Alaska, but we can’t leave the kids that long, nor do we have that much time off. Thanks for reading along! Thank you! I hope I can give some helpful hints! I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of our tour! We also looked at renting a car, but I really had my heart set on the train, so I’m glad we got it worked out. I’m also very excited to learn about the Iditarod and see the puppies!
  4. I have read good things about Chilkoot as well! I’m very excited about this excursion, and hoping to see some snow caps, especially since we got no snow at home this winter. 😪
  5. Excursions (part 2) After choosing our Juneau excursion, I start focusing on Skagway next. I had read so many great things about the White Pass Railroad that I started looking into it first. The more I read, the more I wanted to take the train to Carcross. But then I hit a snag. We are traveling so early in the year that the train to Carcross isn’t running yet. After some research I found that the train does run to Fraser, but that’s as far as it travels at the beginning of May. I considered taking the train to Fraser and back, but we were really hoping to get further into the Yukon to see Carcross and Emerald Lake. So back to the drawing board. I found an excursion through Carnival where a motor coach would meet the train in Fraser and take you the rest of the way to Emerald Lake and back. This checked off my train/Carcross/Emerald Lake requirements, so it became the front runner. But I wasn’t in love with it. Reviews on the website all said the exact same thing...that the train ride was great, but the bus ride was unbearably long and boring. I kept reading people’s reviews here on CC, and I kept hearing positive things about Dyea Dave Tours. So I read their website and it sounded very interesting. Similar to what Carnival was offering, but instead of people describing the bus portion as tediously boring, people here on CC described Dyea Dave’s guided tours as being exciting. It seemed people felt that the bus portion of Dyea Dave Tours was actually an exciting part of the day instead of just transportation from point A to point B. I was sold, but there were still a couple things to work out. First, I didn’t know if Dyea Dave Tours even operates that early in the season. Second, the Dyea Dave website said the bus tour was first and you would take the train southbound at the end. But there were no southbound trains at the right time to make that work. Fortunately, an email to Dyea Dave cleared up both points. Yes, they were operating and could reverse the tour! So now we are booked on the first northbound train to Fraser, and Dyea Dave Tours will pick us up from there. We will go to Carcross, have lunch, see sled dog puppies, and view Emerald Lake before heading back to Skagway (with plenty of stops along the way for sightseeing and any wildlife spotting). And it was less than the Carnival tour (even with my 10% Carnival card discount)! Two down...one to go!
  6. We took our 5 year old son and just-turned-2 year old daughter on their first cruise last August and it was great. Kids do not have to be potty trained to use Camp Carnival and the counselors were great with the kids. The kids really enjoyed going. Kids do have to be potty trained to use the pools, though, so keep that in mind. For Cozumel, we booked the Isla Pasion by boat (not sure of the exact title). Would highly recommend! Since we took a boat to the island, there was no need to take car seats (one reason I chose that excursion). We did use the child life jackets. They have servers on the island that come around to bring free drinks and ours was great with the kids and brought them Sprite and Shirley Temples. They also have a free lunch buffet on the island. The kids loved swimming in the crystal clear water, playing in the sand, and lounging in the water hammocks. They even have a childcare area on the island where they will babysit for you but we did not utilize that. Never been to Grand Cayman, so no advice on that one. Overall, I highly recommend taking a Carnival Cruise with toddlers. Carnival gets a reputation as a party line, but they are also awesome with kids! From Camp Carnival to WaterWorks to Hasbro to Dr. Seuss breakfast, the kids LOVED our cruise!
  7. We did a guaranteed balcony and got an obstructed balcony. It’s just fine and meets the guarantee, but definitely not the upgrade some people refer to. So you have to decide if you would be happy with the worst balcony on the ship because you just may get it.
  8. What did you think of the floatplane over Misty Fjords? It’s a little pricey so I’m trying to determine if it’s really “worth” it. I know that’s subjective, but what did you think?
  9. Glad to have you along! I’m the same way about information! That’s awesome. I’m glad to have you along. We got the Moda Hotel in Vancouver and Holiday Inn Downtown for Seattle. They will let you see how close the property is to certain attractions. For instance, we were able to see that our Seattle Hotel was 0.3 miles from the Space Needle and 0.7 miles from Pike Place Market before booking. So if you want something close to airport and light rail, you should be able to select that area on the map and then see how far they are away before deciding whether to book.
  10. Glad to have you along! I’m the same way about information! That’s awesome. I’m glad to have you along. We got the Moda Hotel in Vancouver and Holiday Inn Downtown for Seattle. They will let you see how close the property is to certain attractions. For instance, we were able to see that our Seattle Hotel was 0.3 miles from the Space Needle and 0.7 miles from Pike Place Market before booking. So if you want something close to airport and light rail, you should be able to select that area on the map and then see how far they are away before deciding whether to book.
  11. We have always just carried on in their boxes.
  12. Now that #2 has changed, I vote #2. More ports than the others and I have been to St. Maarten and St. Thomas and both were wonderful!
  13. Excursions As I already mentioned, excursions have been the most difficult part of planning for me. There are several reasons for this. The first is trying to stay within a reasonable budget. The second is the limited time available in each port. The third is the desire to see and go EVERYTHING. As you can imagine, the third thing doesn’t really mesh well with the first two. 😂 I subscribe to a similar way of thinking as Anita Latte in that when planning excursions, I don’t think “what would I enjoy?”, but rather “what would regret missing?”. Because the answer to the first question is everything. Really. When I look at a list of excursions, I rarely (if ever) see one that makes me think “oh, that doesn’t look fun”. We have a pretty wide variety of interests, so everything looks enjoyable - from adventure to leisure, from historical tours to foodie hops, from uninhabited wilderness to the buildings of a busy metropolis. So instead, I try to decide what I consider to be absolute musts. Fortunately, for Alaska, we were able to make a very short list of musts. We wanted to see whales and beautiful landscapes, particularly glaciers. The second would be fulfilled by the Glacier Bay day that we consider an itinerary must, so that just left the whales. But that presented some issues too, because when you manage to narrow down to so few “musts”, you get to fill in with “wants” which goes back to LONG list. 🤦‍♀️ Juneau - From my research, this was the port on our itinerary with the best chance of seeing whales. So with that in mind, it was decided that this would be the “whale port”. But whale watching would take up a good part of the day, but not all. So we needed to add something. Dogsledding on a glacier sounded really neat, but took too much time to combine it with whale watching. Plus it was a real budget killer for something that wasn’t a must for us. And finally, it is the activity most likely to be canceled for bad weather and we are already going in shoulder season. So it got ruled out. Mendenhall Glacier became the front runner for “add on” activities. We knew we would be seeing plenty of glaciers in Glacier Bay, but it would be nice to see another. Plus, this one we could do a nature hike and even see Nugget Falls! So the the next step became choosing a tour. I had read lots of good things about Harv and Marv’s so I started looking at them first. The 6 person tour sounded very appealing, as small groups are always a little more personal. But then I had pause because while they did include seeing Mendenhall Glacier, it was basically a peek from quite a ways away. (I know I could get transportation and see the glacier on our own, but for ease I was really looking for a tour that included it all.) And then I started reading that the small boats really didn’t have much for flat deck space to walk to both sides of the boat to see whales. Back to the drawing board. Carnival was offering a great sounding excursion with whale watching and time to explore and hike at Mendenhall. Plus I had that card that gave us 10% off. So that became the new front runner. But then I started reading about people visiting Tracy’s Crab Shack. We love seafood and it seemed like we should definitely try some fresh seafood while in Alaska. I pulled up the menu and DH was excited! So I guess we were adding Tracy’s at the end of our excursion. But then I stumbled across a tour through Juneau Whale Watch that included dinner at Tracy’s. 😁. I have read lots of great reviews of JWW on here, and they offer what I was hoping for with whale watching and plenty of time to hike Mendenhall and see Nugget Falls. What’s better is that their excursion (with the dinner) was less than Carnival’s even with my card discount. So not only are we paying a little less, but now we are getting our $80 crab dinner free! Booked! 🦀 (more to follow)
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