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PittsburghNative

Alaska on a budget: Favorite tour companies you have used

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I’m trying to save some money by doing most of my excursions through a vendor. I’m visiting Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Sitka, ISP and Victoria.

 

Im already set for Skagway, as I booked directly through Temsco for a heli/dogsledding tour.

 

Any recommendations of companies you have dealt with? I also don’t know if I should explore on my own both Ketchikan and ISP. I will say I’m not interested in flight seeing, fishing, and whale watching.

 

Any advice will be much appreciated!

Edited by PittsburghNative

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Every port is covered, with the recommended vendors, just down the board. Not sure how we can tell you whether or not you should DIY or private tour in any ports...that would depend on what you want to do. We DIY a lot in ports, its usually even less expensive than private tours. All it takes is some research. 

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19 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

Every port is covered, with the recommended vendors, just down the board. Not sure how we can tell you whether or not you should DIY or private tour in any ports...that would depend on what you want to do. We DIY a lot in ports, its usually even less expensive than private tours. All it takes is some research. 

 

I was researching different third party vendors and several come up at each port...it’s hard to choose between vendors when you know nothing about them.

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We are not allowed to name a vendor unless we have used them, so any comments here are considered recommendations. TripAdvisor is another great place to get recommendations.

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In Juneau I've used Juneau Car Rental and Avis to do my own excursions for the day.  First time was Avis and this past May I used Juneau.  I didn't really have a problem with either except the lady at the Avis office was not there (gone to get gas in a car....I was told) so we had to waste about 30-45 minutes waiting on her to get back.  (Why she would go right when she knew we were going to arrive???)  Juneau Car Rental was right near where we docked at AJ so we walked a couple hundred yards and the car was immediately ready.  If you book well in advance you can get a good deal - probably less than $75 for the day plus refilling the gas tank.  We went to Mendenhall Glacier both trips (free parking - minimal entry fee) and out to St. Therese Shrine.  We enjoyed our day.


In Ketchikan we rented a car from First City Car Rental which was EXCELLENT.  Their rep met us at the dock with the car parked nearby.  About 5 minutes of signing docs on an iPad and we were on our way - less than $100 for the day plus refilling the gas tank.  We returned the car to the parking lot near our berth and locked the keys inside.  We were able to ride north from the center of town to Totem Bight and then all the way to the end of the road to Settler's Cove.  Settler's Cove is sort of a state park with picnic areas, walking trails, waterfalls, etc.  Very nice!  We also drove south out of town to a blacksmith shop I knew about from previous visit.

 

Renting a car for the day in either town is a very economical way of seeing the place at your own pace.  I don't like being herded onto a bus with 50 other tourists and like the freedom of stopping wherever we want.  Do a little research on what there is to see and you'll not be driving at random.  It's almost impossible to get lost as there is only one main highway.

 

We also rented a car for the day in Sitka - I looked back at your ports...  There's a bus that will take you to the main sites but, as I said, I like  freedom.  I think the car in Sitka was right around $100 too.  We grabbed a cab the second we got off the ship at the Old Sitka Dock and picked our car up at the airport - reversing the process at the end of the day.  We drove to The Fortress of the Bear, the Alaska Raptor Center then parked near downtown (free parking) to walk around and shop plus see a few of the historic sites (St. Michael's Cathedral and the Russian Bishop's House) and eat lunch.  The post office is on the way to or from The Fortress of the Bear & Raptor Center if you need stamps or to mail something.

 

Good luck!

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I'm a big fan of DIY and Ketchikan's a great place to do it.  You can explore Creek Street, see the fish ladder (awesome if there's a salmon run going on ), go to a couple of cool museums, explore steep streets made of stairs, take a local bus out to Totem Bight park and stroll among Totem Poles along the water, or my favorite...do the Deer Mountain hike.  Plus, the locals are strangely friendly, considering how many cruise invaders they get every day.  Find one to talk to about life in Ketchikan.

 

More information about Ketchikan on my blog:  

https://www.melindabrasher.com/2014/09/ketchikan-alaska.html

https://www.melindabrasher.com/2017/02/salmon-in-ketchikan-alaska.html

https://www.melindabrasher.com/2017/02/deer-mountain-trail-ketchikan-alaska.html

 

Icy Strait Point has a nice beach, tiny nature walk, and small interesting fishing museum, but if you're interested in more than that, it's harder to do it yourself.

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You have time to do this and I highly recommend it for Juneau:

 

https://www.adventureboundalaska.com  For the price and being an all day excursion - it is a bargain. Also one of the best tours in Alaska IMO.

Edited by Coral

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We used http://www.juneauwhalewatch.com in Juneau for our whale watching excursion and Mendenhall Glacier Tour.  We thought it was excellent and much cheaper than some of the other whale watching excursions although we can't do an honest comparison having done only this tour.

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6 hours ago, Herfnerd said:

We used http://www.juneauwhalewatch.com in Juneau for our whale watching excursion and Mendenhall Glacier Tour.  We thought it was excellent and much cheaper than some of the other whale watching excursions although we can't do an honest comparison having done only this tour.

I have booked my excursions in May from the same company. Glad to hear more positive feedbacks. It is also the cheapest that I found particularly after the 15% off discount.

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Those that have booked through Juneau whale watch, how much time did you have at Mendenhall Glacier? Would we have time to do a few of the walks?

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On 1/22/2019 at 8:35 PM, js4rq said:

Those that have booked through Juneau whale watch, how much time did you have at Mendenhall Glacier? Would we have time to do a few of the walks?

I checked out the link posted for juneau whale watch, and it looks like you have enough time to do a 1.5 hr round-trip hike if desired...my question for those who've used this company and this particular combo tour is how convenient it is to the port where you get off the ship...do you need your own transportation to the take-off point for the glacier tour and/or whale watching experience?

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On 1/14/2019 at 4:20 PM, CruiserBruce said:

We are not allowed to name a vendor unless we have used them, so any comments here are considered recommendations. TripAdvisor is another great place to get recommendations.

Cruiser Bruce, I completely understand that we are not allowed to "recommend" an excursion we have not taken. I find I'm always pushing the edge of the envelope here on cc. I want to make sure I'm clear on something. If I mention the name of a vendor in a post concerning our itinerary, is that keeping under the radar? Sorry to ask this on this thread but when I try to message you directly, a box says I can only send zero messages per day!

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39 minutes ago, masterdrago said:

Cruiser Bruce, I completely understand that we are not allowed to "recommend" an excursion we have not taken. I find I'm always pushing the edge of the envelope here on cc. I want to make sure I'm clear on something. If I mention the name of a vendor in a post concerning our itinerary, is that keeping under the radar? Sorry to ask this on this thread but when I try to message you directly, a box says I can only send zero messages per day!

 

There is no private messaging feature on Cruise Critic.

 

You can ask about a vendor...people do that regularly. "Has anybody used Joe Smith Tours?" You can say you are going to use "Joe Smith Tours". But I think the line is when you sound like you are recommending "Joe Smith Tours", when you haven't used them yet. I see people saying how great a vendor was to book, how low their prices are, how good their customer service was, etc, yet hey haven't used them yet. I would fell pretty bad if I did all that, then the tour was horrible.

 

The comment you quote was intended to mean if you see "Joe Smith Tours" discussed by a poster, it should be viewed as a recommendation (or a critique) because the poster has used them 

 

 

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Thanks. So if I say I booked with company xyz and the emails and phone conversations have been outstanding and rewarding might be taken as a recommendation by some? Even though I mentioned that the excursion is booked May '19? I appreciate your feedback Cruiser Bruce.

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On 1/22/2019 at 8:14 AM, Coral said:

You have time to do this and I highly recommend it for Juneau:

 

https://www.adventureboundalaska.com  For the price and being an all day excursion - it is a bargain. Also one of the best tours in Alaska IMO.

 

We have this excursion booked for our day in Juneau. It looks like an amazing tour, and we're really looking forward to it. It's good to see a great recommendation!

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On 1/22/2019 at 9:35 PM, js4rq said:

Those that have booked through Juneau whale watch, how much time did you have at Mendenhall Glacier? Would we have time to do a few of the walks?

 

When we originally booked for our early September 2017 cruise, we were told that we would visit Mendenhall first to spend as much time (within reason) at the park and then take a bus to Auke Bay for the whale watch.  I believe the entire tour was to last something like 4 hours.  When we arrived (1:30pm tour), plans had changed and we went on the whale watch first, spent more time than we were supposed to on the water (no complaints as we saw a lot of whales!) and then was bussed to Mendenhall.  We could spend as much time as we wanted there but the last JWW tour bus back into town was at 6pm - after that and we would have to take a cab.

 

We were able to hike to Nugget Falls and spent quite a bit of time there.  Orginally was planning on staying later but wife got hungry so we grabbed the last JWW bus back and had dinner at Tracy's.  I think we spent an hour and a half at the park

 

But I guess it all depends on which portion of the excursion you take first.......

 

 

21765628_10212364518460589_6634876966759714923_o.jpg

21587073_10212364524580742_4701855503120443868_o.jpg

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2 hours ago, lr657 said:

 

We have this excursion booked for our day in Juneau. It looks like an amazing tour, and we're really looking forward to it. It's good to see a great recommendation!

You will not be disappointed.

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3 hours ago, Herfnerd said:

 

When we originally booked for our early September 2017 cruise, we were told that we would visit Mendenhall first to spend as much time (within reason) at the park and then take a bus to Auke Bay for the whale watch.  I believe the entire tour was to last something like 4 hours.  When we arrived (1:30pm tour), plans had changed and we went on the whale watch first, spent more time than we were supposed to on the water (no complaints as we saw a lot of whales!) and then was bussed to Mendenhall.  We could spend as much time as we wanted there but the last JWW tour bus back into town was at 6pm - after that and we would have to take a cab.

 

We were able to hike to Nugget Falls and spent quite a bit of time there.  Orginally was planning on staying later but wife got hungry so we grabbed the last JWW bus back and had dinner at Tracy's.  I think we spent an hour and a half at the park

 

But I guess it all depends on which portion of the excursion you take first.......

 

 

21765628_10212364518460589_6634876966759714923_o.jpg

21587073_10212364524580742_4701855503120443868_o.jpg

That is a great help. The photos are stunning.

 

Thanks for the feedback! 

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4 hours ago, PittsburghNative said:

 

Does this tour visit the Mendenhall Glacier?

No - Tracy Arm and Sawyer glacier(s). I think you have time in port to do this excursion. 

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1 minute ago, Coral said:

No - Tracy Arm and Sawyer glacier(s). I think you have time in port to do this excursion. 

 

I don’t think I mind doing this instead. It looks so beautiful!

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3 minutes ago, PittsburghNative said:

 

I don’t think I mind doing this instead. It looks so beautiful!

It is pretty cool. Make sure you call to book and tell them what ship you are on. 

 

They allow you to take food on board which is difficult to get before excursion - though they will make sandwiches for you to buy and they are reasonable. They also have chips and drinks to buy. 

 

How early in May are you going?

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2 hours ago, Coral said:

It is pretty cool. Make sure you call to book and tell them what ship you are on. 

 

They allow you to take food on board which is difficult to get before excursion - though they will make sandwiches for you to buy and they are reasonable. They also have chips and drinks to buy. 

 

How early in May are you going?

 

I’ll be in Juneau 5/15

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On 1/22/2019 at 6:14 AM, Coral said:

You have time to do this and I highly recommend it for Juneau:

 

https://www.adventureboundalaska.com  For the price and being an all day excursion - it is a bargain. Also one of the best tours in Alaska IMO.

 

On 1/25/2019 at 8:56 AM, lr657 said:

 

We have this excursion booked for our day in Juneau. It looks like an amazing tour, and we're really looking forward to it. It's good to see a great recommendation!

We have this excursion booked for May 19, this year.  We are really looking forward to it.  I am also glad to see recommendations.  

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