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Best Alaska northbound excursions on Princess

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First time to Alaska. Late August 2020. Plus four night land tour. What do you think are the better excursions. We are an active couple but won’t spend $299 and above each for anything. Appreciate your experiences.

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If it had been possible, we would have loved to book Tracy Arm with Adventure Bound.  (not 'active' but should be amazing sightseeing from a smaller vessel)

Not sure if this is available off your ship at the entry to Tracy Arm, or from Juneau, if you dock early and for long enough.

This is supposed to be really. great.

I am not sure, but you might be able to book directly with them if the timing is possible and Princess does not offer this.  Especially from Juneau.

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We did excursions in all ports and the White Pass train in Skagway is a must in my opinion. We did a nature tour including whale watching in Juneau which while good didn't compare to other whale watching trips I had done. If you've never done a similar tour then I'd say do it but the whales were well in the distance on the tour we did. We have been on some where the whales came right up to the boat. However, those that had never done a whale watching tour got a real buzz out of it.

Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan are all great ports to just walk around. The cable car in Juneau is worth doing.

Edited by leck57

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The Alaska Port of Call board is an excellent source of information.  We researched there and were thrilled with our excursion choices.

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/33-alaska/

 

As mentioned above, the Skagway train is very popular.  However, we did a private tour which had the option of doing the train one way, with the benefit of seeing other stops via small tour shuttle.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60877-d1556687-Reviews-Chilkoot_Charters_Tours-Skagway_Alaska.html

 

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We did the NB out of Vancouver July 2020.  Our first port was ICY STRAIT POINT, where we booked Hoonah Whale tours. Amazing, small boat tour. They only book upto 6 persons per tour. Find them by googling or through trip Advisor. We saw 3 pods of Orcas, dozens of humpback whales, sea otters and eagles, not to mention great views. At Skagway we rented a car and drove up the klondike hwy to Whitehorse Yukon, Yukon, Canada. Mant beautiful stops along the highway including g Whitepass, Carcross desert, Yukon suspension bridge, emerald lake, Tutushi lake, Spirit lodge for lunch etc. We took our time and still had 3hrs to spend in Skagway upon our return. Book early. Only options are Avis or a jeep company. Route is easy.

Juneau our tour was canceled due to fog. Ended up going up Mount Robert's Tram and hired a pedal rickshaw. The tour on the pedal rickshaw was very informative, stops at many historical buildings and points of interest. Didn't do Mendenhall glacier as we had 2 scenic cruising days to see glaciers.  Once at Whittier we rented a car to drive to Anchorage.  This was awesome. Our stops included: Portage lake and Portage Glacier, Mount Alyeska and Tram, Beluga Point, Bryson trail, Potters Marsh, Bird Point, etc. 

We had a good lunch at Mount Alyeska and wonderful, tasty, cheap dinner at Moose Tooth Pub and Pizzeria in Anchorage. The ULU factory in Anchorage was a must do for us. We bought many great souvenirs for ourselves and others. Love our ULU knife.

 

Ask away and enjoy your trip.

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Should have mentioned the Alaskan Wildlife Center between Whittier and Anchorage. It was so educational  and a great walk through to see native wildlife . It is not a zoo but a wildlife refuge for injured or orphaned animals. If you book with a transfer bus, most just drive through. We took our time, many photo ops and enjoyed viewing dozens of species.

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The better excursions are the ones that you are most interested in. The ones that interest me may have no or little interest to you. Having said that, I agree with one of the posters above who said that the better excursions are independent ones. Independent operators have smaller groups, longer tours, and often are less expensive though in Alaska tour prices generally are more expensive than other areas of the world. And no, independent operators do not miss the ship departure time. Cruise lines like to scare passengers into booking excursions through the ship using this excuse. But if you look at the Alaska form you will see that no one has ever missed the ship in Alaska by booking independent excursions.

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Thanks so much!  Never dawned on me to rent a car.  Have done that in Hawaii.  We had an amazing whale watching trip in Hawaii that cannot be beat, however, we have never seen orcas.
 

also, thought because we were on train ride from Whittier to Denali we wouldn’t book another. Again though, if it’s so much better!
 

any ideas for Denali or my McKinley ?  I guess we’re booked on the bus tour that came with our package for a few hours.
 

we arrive in Anchorage at 6 PM and leave the next day but not until 8 PM so we have a day in Anchorage any ideas for that?

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So you have a Princess cruisetour? How many nights do you have there? Most Princess tours into Denali include the Natural History Tour which is inferior. The Tundra Wilderness Tour is much better and goes more than twice as far into the park. But some tours don't have time for the longer tour. Even better is to cancel the included tour and book a transit shuttle to Eielson. Way cheaper and goes further. You have to take a Princess shuttle to/from the bus depot but it is a much better experience.

 

For Anchorage the Native Heritage Center is interesting. Or Anchorage Museum. Or Pubic Lands Information Center. Or rent bicycles and bike on the coastal trail. Lots of options.

 

Edited by frugaltravel

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Fully agree on taking the Tundra Wilderness tour. Goes way further into the park and you get to see many areas that change as you go thru the park. Also better chance to see more wildlife including grizzlies, Mountain sheep and caribou.  Takes about 9-10 hours.

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20 hours ago, Bubbs33 said:

The ULU factory in Anchorage was a must do for us. We bought many great souvenirs for ourselves and others. Love our ULU knife.

 

Very practical huge side benefit of Ulus: 

 

If your arm ever needs to be in a cast, 

with an Ulu and a Subway salad bowl (those round salad plastic salad mixing bowls like they use at Subway and are sold on Amazon)

you can still make your own dinner

 

just toss your veggies into the Subway Salad bowl, grab the Ulu with your good hand, and go all Jason on the veggies.

 

et Voila.  veggie salad lunch. 

That + deli  turkey meat mixed in + yogurt dressing and I had a delicious lunch even with 1 arm in a cast.

 

Ulu vs Broccoli.  Ulu wins...

(I eventually did get one of those rubber Subway Salad bowls.  Much more stable than the bowl shown, and the curve is prefect for an Ulu.

2019 11 06 ulu vs broccoli.jpg

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Just remember to not pack your Ulu knife in your carry on.  It and maybe you may not make the flight.  My sister tried to bring three home in her carry on.  The results were predictable.  I even warned them notto do this before they leftto go on the cruise.  Ooops.

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In Anchorage the Native Heritage museum is a MUST DO.  It provides interaction with Alaskan people, learn their history from them, and enjoy the outdoor village.  This is not a boring building with stuff on the walls to look at.

 

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I booked the tundra tour.   What is the best time to depart.  I picked nine but they said they leave as early as five

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On 11/5/2019 at 3:20 PM, Wishing on a star said:

If it had been possible, we would have loved to book Tracy Arm with Adventure Bound.  (not 'active' but should be amazing sightseeing from a smaller vessel)

Not sure if this is available off your ship at the entry to Tracy Arm, or from Juneau, if you dock early and for long enough.

This is supposed to be really. great.

I am not sure, but you might be able to book directly with them if the timing is possible and Princess does not offer this.  Especially from Juneau.

AdventureBound is privately booked and RT out of Juneau. 

 

Another vendor runs the Tracey Arm off of the ship - Allen Marine. These usually are not on NB trips.

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1 hour ago, Networker said:

I booked the tundra tour.   What is the best time to depart.  I picked nine but they said they leave as early as five

Did you book the tundra Wilderness tour independently or is it part of your cruise tour? If you booked it independently I strongly suggest you cancel it and book a Transit shuttle bus instead. Same road, same Wildlife sighting possibilities. But much much cheaper. Plus with the transit shuttle bus you can choose a specific departure time. With the tundra Wilderness tour you do not know your exact departure time until about one to two days before departure.

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