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Sxmfran

Alaska excursions

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Going to Alaska on the Noordam in April.  Are there other excursions we could book on our own or do we need to book through the ship?  Thank you for your help.

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Almost everything offered through the ship will be offered by other excursion companies, usually for a lot less. The best thing is to decide what things you want to do and then search this forum for possible companies. Some excursions you'll want to book in advance. 

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Sxmfran: If you skim the trip reports organized by year at the top of this forum index you will find a number of excursion ideas which you can book on your own.

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11 hours ago, geoherb said:

Almost everything offered through the ship will be offered by other excursion companies, usually for a lot less. The best thing is to decide what things you want to do and then search this forum for possible companies. Some excursions you'll want to book in advance. 

 

I don't think this generalization is correct with Alaska, but agree that almost everything is available independent that the ship offers, but requires more work, and ship may sell out while independent may still be available. 

 

Ship offers for the cost some convenience, but don't expect their excursion info to be anything useful, they are usually a bunch of foreign ( non native US speakers ) who know little really beside what they've been told.   While if you call the independents they at least know their product/service.   

 

Some things like the train rides or other you get turnkey big bus transportation for a premium and only as a big cruise line can deliver, LOL

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Here are some recommendations from Murray Lundberg on what to do in various ports. 

 

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The only excursions I've ever booked thru the cruise line are things absolutely not offered any other way.  (Like the behind the scenes tour of the ship I took on one cruise...)  It *IS* more work but you can be assured you're getting exactly what you want and are paying for - you can call and speak directly to the tour operator to find out what you want to know - that's something you'll often find impossible to do with the cruise line.  I have saved enough per person on most of our excursions to more than pay for a nice dinner somewhere for each person.  I don't particularly consider a big bus full of other cruisers to be an advantage in Alaska - a small van/bus of 10-20 others give you advantages when it comes to stopping for something like a photo op.  An example is:  We were on a Dyea Dave tour from Skagway to Emerald Lake with just a few others.  At the "Welcome to Yukon" sign there was already two giant bus loads of tourists there lined up to get their picture made by the sign.  How long does that take for 100+ people?  WOW!  We drove past and stopped coming back - we were the only ones there. 

 

Good luck!

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We went on the Celebrity Millennium this past August, and we booked some of our excursions privately and some of them through the cruise line. The ones we booked through the cruise line were not offered privately from what I could find (Glacier Bay NP Flightseeing from Icy Strait Point and Kroschel Wildlife Reserve from Skagway). Both of these trips also covered good distances away from the port, and it made me feel better knowing that the cruise line would absolutely get us back to the ship if anything went wrong. 

 

I booked the Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan directly off their website and saved a lot of money doing so, and I booked a helicopter glacier landing/walkabout in Juneau privately for about half price through a Cyber Monday sale. The lumberjack show was walking distance from the pier, and the helicopter tour was the same operator used by the cruise line and had a guarantee that they would get us back to the ship on their dime if they delayed us. I also booked these two first thing in the morning so that we had buffer time in case anything went wrong. 

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I'll tell ya what RCI did to us. When we boarded in Seward, we found out passes to an excursion in Juneau (day 3) had the time changed from 3:30pm to 10:15am. I had to go to guest services and cancel due to a conflict with another excursion that morning. No warning. They just dropped it on us. We ended up booking all of our excursions through the private companies directly. A much more close and personal experience. Found a couple that would only book through the cruise line like Adventure Bound.

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Thank you.  We just had the same thing happen to us twice on a 28 day Baltic Viking Cruise. They even changed our final port for disembarkation the day before.  Talk about a mess!

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4 hours ago, masterdrago said:

I'll tell ya what RCI did to us. When we boarded in Seward, we found out passes to an excursion in Juneau (day 3) had the time changed from 3:30pm to 10:15am. I had to go to guest services and cancel due to a conflict with another excursion that morning. No warning. They just dropped it on us. We ended up booking all of our excursions through the private companies directly. A much more close and personal experience. Found a couple that would only book through the cruise line like Adventure Bound.

 

That is interesting, I booked Adventure bound twice on Royal direct from AB. once for May this year and by mistake I got August this year when I was trying to do May next year. They don't open next years bookings until Jan 2nd as they don't know the exact tax and fees.

 

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We were there in May and I don't have the email from them anymore but I had contacted them in September or October last year. I may be confusing them with another vendor as one would not book us direct and the other one had a boarding time 30 minutes b4 the Radiance docked in Juneau.

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1 hour ago, masterdrago said:

We were there in May and I don't have the email from them anymore but I had contacted them in September or October last year. I may be confusing them with another vendor as one would not book us direct and the other one had a boarding time 30 minutes b4 the Radiance docked in Juneau.

This is their contact info

 

https://www.adventureboundalaska.com/rates-reservations/

Reservations

For further information, please call (907) 463-2509 or 1-800-228-3875 or e-mail us at info@adventureboundalaska.com

 

Meeting Location: Please plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to departure time. Tour departs from The Adventure Bound Alaska office located at 76 Egan Dr. Juneau, AK 99801.

Cancellation Policy: Groups of 10 or less 7 days cancellation policy, groups of 11 or more, 14 days cancellation policy.

Questions? If you have any questions or need to make changes to your activity, call (907) 463-2509 or send an email to adventureboundalaska1@gmail.com.

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Thanks. I found the emails. Turns out it was not Adventure Bound but Allen Marine that told me they only book through the cruise lines per an email from them. They pointed us to True Alaskan Tours with which they are affiliated. Sorry I confused anyone.

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19 hours ago, masterdrago said:

I'll tell ya what RCI did to us. When we boarded in Seward, we found out passes to an excursion in Juneau (day 3) had the time changed from 3:30pm to 10:15am. I had to go to guest services and cancel due to a conflict with another excursion that morning. No warning. They just dropped it on us. We ended up booking all of our excursions through the private companies directly. A much more close and personal experience. Found a couple that would only book through the cruise line like Adventure Bound.

Can you tell me the names of the private excursion companies you used?  We will be going on RT Seattle next May.  TIA.

 

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1 hour ago, mom4mom said:

Can you tell me the names of the private excursion companies you used?  We will be going on RT Seattle next May.  TIA.

 

If you're talking about Juneau, we ended up using Harv & Marv's for whale watch.

For our 16 day trip, the list is long:

In Icy Strait, we used Glacier Winds for whale watching.

In Skagway, we used Dyea Dave for the van excursion to Emerald Lake and back to Fraser, then WPYR Railway to Skagway.

In Ketchikan we did flightseeing with Island Wings.

In Seward, we did a 4 hour Orca Watch with Major Marine.

In Whittier, we used Lazy Otter Charters for a full day in Prince William Sound.

In Denali, we did the Transit bus to mile 53, a 4 hour evening jeep tour out the Denali Highway with Denali Highway Jeep Excursions and a 4 hr 4x4 ATV adventure with Black Diamond Tour Co. and late evening dinner at their cabin.

In Talkeetna, we did a flight around Denali w/landing at base camp with Talkeetna Air Taxi.

 

I've got a long list when we go back to Alaska:

Up close with bears, Glacier calving, Whales bubble net feeding, Autumn colors and all the way to the end of the park road in Denali to Wonder Lake. I want to also watch for aurora. Might take a two week land tour at end of August/September to fill that list.

 

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On 11/6/2019 at 8:59 PM, AuroraRose said:

We went on the Celebrity Millennium this past August, and we booked some of our excursions privately and some of them through the cruise line. The ones we booked through the cruise line were not offered privately from what I could find (Glacier Bay NP Flightseeing from Icy Strait Point and Kroschel Wildlife Reserve from Skagway). Both of these trips also covered good distances away from the port, and it made me feel better knowing that the cruise line would absolutely get us back to the ship if anything went wrong. 

 

I booked the Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan directly off their website and saved a lot of money doing so, and I booked a helicopter glacier landing/walkabout in Juneau privately for about half price through a Cyber Monday sale. The lumberjack show was walking distance from the pier, and the helicopter tour was the same operator used by the cruise line and had a guarantee that they would get us back to the ship on their dime if they delayed us. I also booked these two first thing in the morning so that we had buffer time in case anything went wrong. 

What company did you book the helicopter glacier landing/walkabout?  Cyber Monday is not far off.

Thanks in advance.

Gail

 

 

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3 hours ago, gwcruzer said:

What company did you book the helicopter glacier landing/walkabout?  Cyber Monday is not far off.

Thanks in advance.

Gail

 

 

I booked it through TripAdvisor/Viator (can't remember which; and they are affiliated companies). TripAdvisor/Viator did a 10% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday last year that I was able to take advantage of. The helicopter company itself is Coastal Helicopters. Here is a link to the tour I booked: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g31020-d11763517-Juneau_Shore_Excursion_Helicopter_Tour_and_Guided_Icefield_Walk-Juneau_Alaska.html

 

Even without the additional 10% off the tour price is still about $100 cheaper per person than booking the same tour through the cruise line. 

 

We did run into a small snafu with this company though; their instructions were emailed to me to meet the van in front of the Red Dog Saloon, and my husband and I were there at the time we were supposed to be, and we didn't see their van. A couple walked down the road and asked us if we were waiting for Coastal Helicopters, as they told us the company was at the pier by the ship calling out our names. Finally we met up with the van and then everything went smoothly from there! 

 

Edit to add: Picture from our Tour! He is holding a cup and I am holding a water bottle; both of which are full of pure glacial water we got on the glacier! 

IMG_20190806_105441257_HDR.thumb.jpg.33aa13e87d7753a62ca2dabe3a9628d3.jpg

Edited by AuroraRose

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1 hour ago, AuroraRose said:

 

I booked it through TripAdvisor/Viator (can't remember which; and they are affiliated companies). TripAdvisor/Viator did a 10% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday last year that I was able to take advantage of. The helicopter company itself is Coastal Helicopters. Here is a link to the tour I booked: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g31020-d11763517-Juneau_Shore_Excursion_Helicopter_Tour_and_Guided_Icefield_Walk-Juneau_Alaska.html

 

Even without the additional 10% off the tour price is still about $100 cheaper per person than booking the same tour through the cruise line. 

 

We did run into a small snafu with this company though; their instructions were emailed to me to meet the van in front of the Red Dog Saloon, and my husband and I were there at the time we were supposed to be, and we didn't see their van. A couple walked down the road and asked us if we were waiting for Coastal Helicopters, as they told us the company was at the pier by the ship calling out our names. Finally we met up with the van and then everything went smoothly from there! 

 

Edit to add: Picture from our Tour! He is holding a cup and I am holding a water bottle; both of which are full of pure glacial water we got on the glacier! 

IMG_20190806_105441257_HDR.thumb.jpg.33aa13e87d7753a62ca2dabe3a9628d3.jpg

Thank you so very much.  I have used Viator many times in the past.  I will look into this excursion.😊

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I booked most of our excursions  for June 2019 independently.  In Alaska, it's not really that the prices are less, but I book local because I want a personal experience with a small group.  

 

I booked a Misty Fjords flight in Ketchikan with Island Wings, a rental car to tour Juneau on our own along with a whale watch with Jayleen's Alaska, the Bennett Scenic Journey through Chilkoot Charters in Skagway, and a Denali flightour in Talkeetna with K2 Aviation.  I highly recommend all of the tours we chose.  You can find detailed reviews in my trip review.  I'm still working on the land part but all my cruise excursions are there.  All the recent trip reviews are a great way to find ideas for excursions - that's how I came up with ours!

 

 

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A word of caution however. Some of the independent tours fill up quickly.  For example, I booked our Island Wings Tour from Ketchikan for bear watching at Traitors Cove probably 8 months in advance.  At least at that time (4 years ago) Michele, the pilot/owner only flew groups of 6 twice a day to this attraction.

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In case any of you are going mid-September like I am, Jayleen's is shutting down for the 2020 season on September 17 (of course I wanted September 20).  So I went with Harv and Marv who appear to be running until October.  

 

 

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