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surferboyandcathy

Alaska Excursions on NCL Bliss

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Sailing on Bliss in June

How long does it take to get off the ship in Juneau, Skagway & Ketchican if I want to go on privately booked excursions ?

NCL suggest allowing 2 hours between docking and starting excursions. Then 2 hours between end of excursion and being back on ship

I realise that it is a big boat BUT...That's 4 hours lost at port !  Not much time left to squeeze in any sightseeing. Most of the excursions I am looking at start about 1 hour from docking time.

Has anybody done these ports and can tell me how long it actually takes

Thank you

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This past Sept at each port we were off in 10 min. Last boarding is 30 minutes before the ship is scheduled to leave. Our private excursions were all wonderful. Out of 30+ cruises, the Bliss was in our top 3. Enjoy!!

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You can be ashore about the advertised arrival time. There are no delays. Tour operators know exactly when a ship is arriving. 

 

NCL requires  you you to be on board 30 minutes before departure. So, you have the full time from the advertised arrival time to 30 minutes before departure time to do an excursion. The 2 hours refers to your initial embarkation from Seattle. 

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2 hours ago, gbcruise said:

This past Sept at each port we were off in 10 min. Last boarding is 30 minutes before the ship is scheduled to leave. Our private excursions were all wonderful. Out of 30+ cruises, the Bliss was in our top 3. Enjoy!!

Thanks gbcruise & BirdTravels

I worry about stuff :classic_unsure:  (Cathy worries more)

I was booking excursions with Alaska Shore Tours and gave them the ships arrival/departure times and the times they gave me were approx. 1 hour from scheduled arrival time. I figured they knew what would work, but being a worrier- I rang NCL and was told the 2 hour information. I think this is a fixed time they give for every port on every cruise to allow for any late arrivals etc

 

I am now going to take a deep breath... RELAX... and book my tours :classic_biggrin:

 

ta

surferboy

 

ps  we would be grateful of any tips you are happy to share. 1st time to Alaska. we have done Hawaii, Mediteranean, Pacific Island cruises previously

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32 minutes ago, surferboyandcathy said:

Thanks gbcruise & BirdTravels

I worry about stuff :classic_unsure:  (Cathy worries more)

I was booking excursions with Alaska Shore Tours and gave them the ships arrival/departure times and the times they gave me were approx. 1 hour from scheduled arrival time. I figured they knew what would work, but being a worrier- I rang NCL and was told the 2 hour information. I think this is a fixed time they give for every port on every cruise to allow for any late arrivals etc

 

I am now going to take a deep breath... RELAX... and book my tours :classic_biggrin:

 

ta

surferboy

 

ps  we would be grateful of any tips you are happy to share. 1st time to Alaska. we have done Hawaii, Mediteranean, Pacific Island cruises previously

Tell Cathy that there is nothing to worry about. 

 

Alaska is is one of our favorite cruise destinations. We sail their as often as possible. We spend ours on our balcony watching for whales, dolphin and sea lions (which are plentiful as you move between the ports at night - not as much in open sea). 

 

The follwoing link is to our live post from last year’s maiden voyage of the Bliss to Alaska. 

 

It it is a long way from home, so I would show up in Seattle a few days early to get synced with American time. 

 

Edited by BirdTravels

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10 hours ago, gbcruise said:

This past Sept at each port we were off in 10 min. Last boarding is 30 minutes before the ship is scheduled to leave. Our private excursions were all wonderful. Out of 30+ cruises, the Bliss was in our top 3. Enjoy!!

Care to share which excursions you did? 

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The May 19 Bliss sailing still only has 2 excursions listed for Ketchikan.  Are the other Bliss sailings this year also missing most Ketchikan excursions?  If I look at the Shore Excursions section of the public website it lists many more options, but not when logged in.

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we only have 1 for June 9th sailing

and I didn't want to spend the day on a boat watching people catch crabs

so I was organizing my own excursion on a Misty Fjord seaplane flight

 

but then I started worrying about this 2 hours to get off the boat information from NCL :classic_unsure:

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I have not been on a ship as large as the Bliss - if it follows the same schedule as the Pearl used to, Juneau will be a massive exodus as it is the first port after being onboard for almost 2 days and arriving in the PM people are anxious to get sightseeing. NCL usually queues their own excursions several places onboard - those folks are the first off. This is where it is nice to be in a suite and being able to go to the head of the line. In Skagway you will be spending all day and there is not as much push to get off the ship - it is also early in the morning too.

 

In Skagway you can walk the town in about an hour - we did our tour with Chilkoot and took the train to Carcross with a bus return (the tour is limited to 25 people - when we did it there was 5 of us) We had a whole car on the train to ourselves -while the cruise ship PAX were crammed into two cars.

 

In Ketchikan we simply walked around and did most of our souvenir  shopping (Tongass Trading Co)

 

For more great ideas visit www.cruiseportinsider.com

 

 

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Regarding these shore excursions - do most book thru the cruise line, or use a third party?  We are also doing the Alaska bliss this summer.

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I always book independently from the cruise line.  In Skagway, we rent a car and drive into the Yukon territory, The views are stunning and many interesting things there to see.  Google Murray's guide to the South Yukon Highway for a description of what you can see by car.

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Thank you for the helpful links. Definitely want to do the train into the Yukon for our cruise on Bliss this August.  

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On 2/1/2019 at 3:06 AM, surferboyandcathy said:

Sailing on Bliss in June

How long does it take to get off the ship in Juneau, Skagway & Ketchican if I want to go on privately booked excursions ?

NCL suggest allowing 2 hours between docking and starting excursions. Then 2 hours between end of excursion and being back on ship

I realise that it is a big boat BUT...That's 4 hours lost at port !  Not much time left to squeeze in any sightseeing. Most of the excursions I am looking at start about 1 hour from docking time.

Has anybody done these ports and can tell me how long it actually takes

Thank you

Was on the Bliss last summer in Alaska and getting off the ship was not an issue at all.  The process runs smoothly.

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We hadn't cruised for ages so we stuck to ship excursions and weren't disappointed, and I think with the $50 credit and my 10% gold discount it wasn't that much more expensive.  We did Bliss September 2018.

 

Ketchikan - adventure karts, I thought meh but hubby loved it, plus we walked around town a lot, saw the salmon stream and shops, which was nice

 

Juneau - Mendenhall glacier photo safari & whale watching am, Tracy arm excursion pm (separate ones).  Both were excellent.  The scenery going to the whale watching was spectacular, the Mendenhall was cool and good photo tips.  Tracy arm was well worth doing, but it was FREEEEEZZZZZZING!  Warm clothes a must!  Again, spectacular scenery and nothing beats getting up close with a glacier.

 

Skagway - Scenic highway bus tour, glad we did that rather than the train.  It was a small bus, about 18 pax more or less, and a guide who talked all about the gold rush and tied in the areas we were to their history.  About $100 cheaper than the train and I don't think we missed anything.  Walked around town afterwards once again.

 

We didn't do anything in Victoria, I took advantage of the in-port spa services discount (be aware it's just on the "signature" services which are the most expensive, and they add back a 15% autograt)

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On 2/1/2019 at 7:28 AM, BirdTravels said:

Tell Cathy that there is nothing to worry about. 

 

Alaska is is one of our favorite cruise destinations. We sail their as often as possible. We spend ours on our balcony watching for whales, dolphin and sea lions (which are plentiful as you move between the ports at night - not as much in open sea). 

 

The follwoing link is to our live post from last year’s maiden voyage of the Bliss to Alaska. 

 

It it is a long way from home, so I would show up in Seattle a few days early to get synced with American time. 

 

i also would like to sit on my balcony and look out. was your room port or starboard side? tx.

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Thanks everybody for your advice.

With NCL advising to allow 2 hours to get off at port and Cathy worried that we have to sit on the boat until ALL the NCL organized excursions were off the boat first, I didn't want to organize private excursions then miss them.

We have sailed with NCL before but always booked the NCL excursions (so we know how long you can be sitting in that theatre waiting for your excursion to be called !)

On our Meditereanean cruise most of the experienced Cruise Critic Roll Call members were organizing private tours but we were to scared to join in (we might get stuck and miss the boat). This time I am being brave. To be able to be more flexible and to save money I am going to organize my tours .

I guess I will be safe with

Juneau Dock 2.30pm Excursion starts 3.30pm (Whales & Glacier tour)

Skagway Dock 7.00am Excursion starts 8.00am (Yukon tour by bus)

Ketchican Dock 6.00am Excursion starts 7.30am (Misty Fjord seaplane flight)

 

Doing organized tours because we drive on the other side of the road in Australia so we don't want to hire a car and we like meeting people from different places while on coaches etc

 

Ta

Surferboy & Cathy

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You will love your trip, sounds like some good choices.  The trip into the Yukon is great, we saw the world's smallest dessert, a miniature locomotive that they used in mining, and Emerald Lake.  This year we will take our granddaughter to see those things and add in the suspension bridge close to Carcross.

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On 2/5/2019 at 8:06 AM, ZsaZsa2019 said:

Regarding these shore excursions - do most book thru the cruise line, or use a third party?  We are also doing the Alaska bliss this summer.

 

We are going to Alaska (first time) on the Bliss, May 19.  Just finished booking excursions through Alaska Shore Excursions.  We almost unfailingly, no matter where we are, book private / independent tours.  My wife and I usually get truly private tours, but they were hard to find in Alaska, so we're doing mostly small groups.  

 

To the OP, I don't think I've ever had to wait more than 30 minutes past the scheduled arrival time to get off the ship.  So I usually assume that if the ship is scheduled to arrive at 7am, I will be off by 7:30 am.  The times can vary, but in my experience, folks are able to get off pretty much right at the scheduled time. The cruise lines won't promise anything (because "stuff" happens)...but in our many excursions, the timing has always been pretty spot on.  They DO want you back on the ship 30 minutes before announced departure time.  We stick to that pretty strictly...as in, ON the ship with at least 30 minutes to spare.  

 

We're sure excited about Alaska!!

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here is what we booked for our excursions for august on the bliss:

JUNEAU:

4:10 – 7:30    D/E     3 ½ hrs       Taku Glacier Adventure by Air, Water & Ice   BOOKED NCL

3:00 – 6:30   Glacier Tour booked w/ncl 

SKAGWAY:

2 hrs   8:45-11:15 BOOKED  ALL OF US   THRU Ocean Raft Adventure   

WHITE PASS RAILWAY & SUSPENSION BRIDGE 12:30 – 5

KETCHIKAN:

http://www.fishketchikan.com/rates 7:30-11:30 booked   Captain Jerry says “I guarantee we catch fish”  

7:00  - 9:30     2 ½ HRS  $169 BackcountryZodiac Expedition  i drive the zodiac boat  

 

here is a unique way to get around town:  

 ALASKA PEDICAB JUNEAU  Need a Lift?  Starting at just $5/person Downtown Tours Only $90 for 2 people  907-782-4396

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On 2/5/2019 at 1:54 PM, Joeghartman said:

Thank you for the helpful links. Definitely want to do the train into the Yukon for our cruise on Bliss this August.  

when are you goin in august?  we're goin 8/4

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27 minutes ago, surferboyandcathy said:

Love that linked post of your Bliss Alaska cruise BirdTravels :classic_smile:
 

Thank you. It was a little early in the season for us, but we wanted to be on the inaugural cruise. 

 

We tried to book the inaugural Joy this year, but NCL cancelled the cruise and we are not able to book the following week. So the Joy will have to wait for another day. We try to live post when we are on board. 

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On 2/5/2019 at 7:48 PM, 1threadshort said:

i also would like to sit on my balcony and look out. was your room port or starboard side? tx.

We were on the starboard side, Deck 15 near the forward elevator lobby. It was a PERFECT location because it was a 30 second walk into the Observation Lounge where snacks and light meals were served throughout the day and a bar. Early in the morning, you could walk into the lounge and get a cup of coffee and watch the ship pull into port. In the afternoon, scones with cream and jelly with tea. In the evening, just a place to be your [large] living room. 

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