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Far East and Alaska included tour reviews


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Thank you so much for your reviews so far. We are so very much looking forward to further reviews of the rest of the journey please as we are booked on the reverse journey this August. Kind regards.

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Looking forward to your continued fabulous reviews. I booked my shore excursions this morning for my far east Vancouver to Tokyo trip in August. Will be able to tweak them after reading more reviews. Thank you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry I've been gone so long.  I got a weird virus that they first thought was measles but blood test ruled that out.  Feeling better and the spots are slowly fading. 

On to the USA.

Dutch Harbour

For some reason Viking offered no tours in Dutch Harbour.  There was a shuttle bus.  Not much to see in town, but I talked to a few people that arranged their our tours ahead of time and enjoyed their day.

 

Maybe one reason there were no tours was immigration.  We went through immigration on the ship starting at 6:30 am!  They started calling on deck three first but I think everyone could hear it.  For the US and Canada there was only one pleasant officer and a helper. 

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Kodiak

We just did the included tour.  Let's face it, it was just a shuttle bus.  Viking could have done much better.  The town was lovely and the people were helpful.  We ended up walking across the bridge you can see from the visitor's center and going to a small aquarium.  Along the way there were walking trails.  There was a lot to do in town but Viking should not have called it an excursion.

Grade C-

USKOD01 Kodiak by Foot

Duration: 3.00 Hours

Date: May 18, 2019 08:30 AM, 09:00 AM, 09:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 01:00 PM, 01:30 PM, 02:00 PM

Alaska’s Emerald Isle -- Uncover more than 200 years of history as you discover Kodiak, set between soaring peaks and a glistening bay. One of just seven Kodiak Island communities, it is the economic center and gateway for visitors and goods. Alutiiq natives have called it home for millennia, but Russians arrived here during the 18th century. Explore Kodiak at your leisure, taking a shuttle bus into the heart of the city. Here, you may choose to visit the Baranov Museum (entrance fee applies), the oldest of the four surviving buildings constructed when Alaska was Russian territory. Or call on the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, where you can learn about the whale migration from Baja to the Bering Sea. Alternatively, take a stroll around the Bear Town Market, where everything on display has been handcrafted by local artists. Enjoy free time to shop for the perfect memento before returning to your ship.

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5 hours ago, LunaSeaRetreat said:

Sorry I've been gone so long.  I got a weird virus that they first thought was measles but blood test ruled that out.  Feeling better and the spots are slowly fading. 

On to the USA.

Dutch Harbour

For some reason Viking offered no tours in Dutch Harbour.  There was a shuttle bus.  Not much to see in town, but I talked to a few people that arranged their our tours ahead of time and enjoyed their day.

 

Maybe one reason there were no tours was immigration.  We went through immigration on the ship starting at 6:30 am!  They started calling on deck three first but I think everyone could hear it.  For the US and Canada there was only one pleasant officer and a helper. 

I can see no tours in Dutch Harbor.  Used to be a regular stop for my ship delivering goods to there and the Pribiloff Islands.  The local saloon was the high point.  Interestingly, the airport runway, which is short by most any airport standards, was built for US bombers in WWII.  There are a number of concrete bunkers in the hills around the airport.  Some are "homesteaded".  Not sure I would want to live in one, especially in the Aleutian winters....

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8 hours ago, LunaSeaRetreat said:

Sorry I've been gone so long.  I got a weird virus that they first thought was measles but blood test ruled that out.  Feeling better and the spots are slowly fading. 

On to the USA.

Dutch Harbour

For some reason Viking offered no tours in Dutch Harbour.  There was a shuttle bus.  Not much to see in town, but I talked to a few people that arranged their our tours ahead of time and enjoyed their day.

 

Maybe one reason there were no tours was immigration.  We went through immigration on the ship starting at 6:30 am!  They started calling on deck three first but I think everyone could hear it.  For the US and Canada there was only one pleasant officer and a helper. 

I wouldn't blame Viking or immigration. In September I'm going on Silversea west from Seward , so no immigration in Dutch Harbor, and the only shore excursion offered is the complimentary shuttle bus (probably school bus). There are so many reasons you can't expect each port to be the same: unavailable transportation (usually provided by the town), a powerful taxi lobby, etc. Glad that there were private tour options.

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Seward

 

We took an optional tour in Seward $189 pp.  We had a great time.  We saw all the wildlife mentioned in the summary and the lunch was very good.  The crew was friendly and organized.  It was a large group of people -three or four full buses.  So if you like small group tours this isn't for you.  I can't see how we could have improved on our day for the price.

Grade A

 

USSWD12 Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise

Duration: 6.00 Hours

Date: May 19, 2019 10:00 AM

In Search of Alaska’s Diverse Marine and Terrestrial Wildlife -- Explore the protected waters and rugged coast of Resurrection Bay on board an exclusive Viking-chartered vessel. Nicknamed the “Gateway to the Kenai Fjords,” the bay’s calm waters are home to an abundance of marine and terrestrial wildlife. Board your ship and head out for an opportunity to experience up-close encounters with wildlife as you cruise along massive bird rookeries and past sea lion colonies. Along the way, you will stop to view any passing whale pods or frolicking sea otters. Enjoy a meal of delicious Alaskan salmon and tender prime rib as you admire the alpine glaciers nestled in the surrounding mountain ranges of Chugach and Kenai. Gaze at the blue-tinged ice of Bear Glacier, a 13-mile-long expanse of ice and snow. At the end of your cruise, you will return to the pier and your awaiting ship.

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5 hours ago, LunaSeaRetreat said:

Seward

 

We took an optional tour in Seward $189 pp.  We had a great time.  We saw all the wildlife mentioned in the summary and the lunch was very good.  The crew was friendly and organized.  It was a large group of people -three or four full buses.  So if you like small group tours this isn't for you.  I can't see how we could have improved on our day for the price.

Grade A

 

USSWD12 Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise

Duration: 6.00 Hours

Date: May 19, 2019 10:00 AM

In Search of Alaska’s Diverse Marine and Terrestrial Wildlife -- Explore the protected waters and rugged coast of Resurrection Bay on board an exclusive Viking-chartered vessel. Nicknamed the “Gateway to the Kenai Fjords,” the bay’s calm waters are home to an abundance of marine and terrestrial wildlife. Board your ship and head out for an opportunity to experience up-close encounters with wildlife as you cruise along massive bird rookeries and past sea lion colonies. Along the way, you will stop to view any passing whale pods or frolicking sea otters. Enjoy a meal of delicious Alaskan salmon and tender prime rib as you admire the alpine glaciers nestled in the surrounding mountain ranges of Chugach and Kenai. Gaze at the blue-tinged ice of Bear Glacier, a 13-mile-long expanse of ice and snow. At the end of your cruise, you will return to the pier and your awaiting ship.

 

We met the person who was the host for this trip and she enjoyed it. Our cruise (the one after yours) offered the much longer National Park cruise and which was more expensive and had a much lighter lunch. It was fabulous. We saw so many orcas and humpback whales. At one stage we snapped a photo that had a mixture of 7 black fins and emergent bodies. Loved it. Weather was perfect. 

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Valdez

 

We took the included tour here.  Again it was shuttle bus, however, when you boarded you received 3 tickets to enter the sites mentioned in the description.  I found this reasonable and made it more of an excursion. We visited both museums and received a free ticket for another.  All were interesting.  We didn't view the video.   The town is small but lovely; it is truly surrounded by soaring peaks.  We were told that many of the stores and tour operators were not open yet.  Perhaps when others visit there will be more to do.

Grade B

 

USVDS01 Valdez On Your Own

Duration: 2.50 Hours

Date: May 20, 2019 08:30 AM, 09:00 AM, 09:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 01:00 PM

A Charming Town in a Stunning Setting -- Explore this small fishing town’s rich past at your leisure, following your own interests. From your berth, begin your self-guided exploration by taking a free shuttle bus to any of three stops: the Valdez Museum, the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum or the Town Convention Center or Eagle Hall, where a 30-minute video detailing the history of Valdez will continually play all day. The remote frontier town of Valdez, surrounded by soaring peaks, was named for the Spanish secretary of the navy in 1790. It grew after settlers lured gold seekers here from the Klondike gold rush trail with the promise of riches. The gold was never found, but the town grew nonetheless. Today, this picturesque town thrives on fishing and oil; colorful boats line the harbor alongside the Trans-Alaska Pipeline terminal. As you explore, perhaps you will visit the Whitney Museum, a fascinating collection of native arts and artifacts, or stop by a charming cafe for lunch.

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Icy Strait Point, Alaska

We did the included tour here and I did the ziprider.  

The tour of the town was in an open air tram.  Our weather was sunny and mild but I found the tram uncomfortable.  I can't imagine staying on it in cold rainy weather.  We did learn a lot about the Tlingit community.  I found walking around more pleasant.  The show was a youth performance.   

Grade C+

 

I loved the ziprider.  I've never done anything like it and I'm glad I decided to do it.  The tour on the way up was similar to the tram tour but in a bus.  The views on the way up were good.  The views on the way down were unbelievable. It was all over too quick. (90 seconds)

Grade A

 

 

USIS101 Tribal Dance & Cultural Legends

Duration: 2.00 Hours

Date: May 22, 2019 08:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 01:30 PM

Traditions of the Tlingit -- Experience life in a Tlingit village during this fascinating excursion. The small community of Hoonah is many things to its residents: a lively fishing hamlet, an old logging town and the world’s largest Tlingit community. Its growth began with a booming canning industry, and today it is a tranquil and welcoming seaside haven adorned with native art. Drive with your guide to the Heritage Center Native Theater for a colorful Tribal Dance and Cultural Legends performance that provides both fascinating insight into tribal traditions and a rich glimpse of long-cherished customs. Wearing authentic, vibrant regalia, Huna Tlingit performers will share their history and culture through song, dance and storytelling. Sit back as the legends of their people wash over you. The show culminates in a lively celebration in which you are invited to participate. After an opportunity to take photos of the performers in their regalia, you will return to your ship.

 

 

USIS107 ZipRider Down Hoonah Mountain

Duration: 1.50 Hours

Date: May 22, 2019 09:15 AM, 10:00 AM, 02:30 PM, 03:15 PM

Scenic Mountain Descent at 60 Miles Per Hour -- Enjoy sweeping views of scenic Chichagof Island as you soar 300 feet above the rainforest during a zip-line ride. Travel along the coast and through Hoonah, the largest native Tlingit community in Alaska; stop for photos and learn about the area’s history from your guide en route to the summit of Hoonah Mountain. Located at 1,330 feet above sea level, the ZipRider boasts six cables that allow six riders to race to the bottom simultaneously. Have a seat in your harness, then take off. You will accelerate to 60 miles per hour as the land drops away and you “fly” toward the beach. Enjoy the panoramic views of Port Frederick, the Icy Strait and your ship as you descend. Your exciting ride will end with a gentle touchdown at the water’s edge. After your adrenaline dissipates, you will return to your awaiting ship.

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Welcome back and hope you are feeling better.  We are doing the Alaska cruise June 25 and precruise June 20 so I am following your trip for this part.  Thanks for the excursion info.

 

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Sitka

 

We did the included tour in Sitka.  We enjoyed the walk in the forest to see the totem poles.  The guides were well informed and interesting.  We also enjoyed the on-site museum.  We would have enjoyed having more free  time in the park.

 

We tendered in Sitka which was a good thing.  The other ships that were docked were six miles from downtown.  It was a short tender and everything went smoothly.

Grade A-

 

 

 

USSIT01 Scenic Sitka by Motor Coach

Duration: 1.50 Hours

Date: May 23, 2019 08:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 02:00 PM

A Diverse and Engaging City on the Gulf -- Enjoy Sitka and its stunning setting on the Gulf of Alaska as you discover its fascinating landmarks. Board your motor coach and join a local guide, who will regale you with the legends and lore of this small city first settled by Russians in 1799. See historic Castle Hill, where the territory of Alaska was officially transferred from Russia to the US in 1867, and the cratered peak of looming Mt. Edgecumbe, a nearby dormant volcano. Your panoramic tour will also take you past Sitka Sound, where you can gaze out at the many small, forested islands dotting the water. At Sitka National Historical Park (also known as Totem Park), stroll through the lush Tongass National Forest, viewing its 18 majestic totem poles and the site of the battle between the Tlingit and the Russians. Or, visit the on-site museum to see artifacts and carvings before returning to your awaiting ship.

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16 hours ago, czst17 said:

Welcome back and hope you are feeling better.  We are doing the Alaska cruise June 25 and precruise June 20 so I am following your trip for this part.  Thanks for the excursion info.

 

Thanks, I'm feeling a lot better.  Glad I could be helpful.

Cynthia

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We were docked in Sitka and given all our other tender ports were really pleased we were. There are free shuttle buses that were large and comfortable  and were very frequent. 

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1 hour ago, Stumpy60 said:

Thank you for the reviews, really enjoying them. I was just wondering what the temperature on the Orion is like? Starting to think about what to pack.

Linda

 

Like fine wine, fine dining, etc., the ideal indoor temperature is subjective. If you generally find things too warm or too cold, pack accordingly.

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On 6/12/2019 at 1:28 AM, Peregrina651 said:

 

Like fine wine, fine dining, etc., the ideal indoor temperature is subjective. If you generally find things too warm or too cold, pack accordingly.

How true!  On the same day in the same room, people had on everything from shorts and tees to puffer jackets jeans, and boots.

 

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We did the included tour in Ketchikan.  The town and the Potlatch Park were very crowded. I think there were 4 or 5 ships in that day.  The park and guide were interesting, but we had to wait about 1/2 hour for our bus to come back when it was time to leave. The parking lot was filled by the time we left.  We almost didn't get the city tour because of the wait and the traffic. We had to be back on board by 1:30 so we had no time to walk around town.  Luckily, this was our third time visiting Ketchikan, but the first time without rain. 

Grade B

 

USKET02 Potlatch Totem Park & Ketchikan Highlights

Duration: 2.50 Hours

Date: May 24, 2019 08:30 AM, 09:30 AM, 10:00 AM

Alaska’s Native Legacy -- Discover the coastal community of Ketchikan and learn about the ancient native craft of totem pole carving. Potlatch Totem Park is a modern recreation of a 19th-century native village, located on historic Tlingit fishing grounds on the shores of the Tongass Narrows. Here, you can see numerous houses, totem poles and panels, and hear the legends behind the designs. Visit the carving studio to learn about their ancient technique. After enjoying a light snack at the Alaska Totem Trading Company, you will embark on a scenic city drive through the southeasternmost city in Alaska. Travel past the lively waterfront to the historic downtown area of Ketchikan, where your guide will point out highlights such as City Park, Nathan Jackson’s “Thundering Wings”—a totem statue in the shape of a bald eagle—and the Dolly’s House Museum, located in the famous red-light district, before returning to your ship.

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