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Excursion Recommendations Please


kstetser
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First cruise to Alaska next August. Our interests are primarily WHALES, Nature/Hiking and food. Would be interested in excursion and dining recommendations for Icy Straight Point, Juneau and Ketchikan. We also have a Hubbard Glacier Day.
2 active adults and a 16 year old - we prefer to do excursions on our own rather than through the cruise line. We are sailing Celebrity Eclipse. Renting a car and doing our own thing is totally an option.
Thank you!
Kathi
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For whales bring your binoculars and if willing you can be successful seeing them from a cruise ship.   The areas to book tours are out of Hoonah and Juneau.   With a priority going out of both is a benefit.    
 

Nature and hiking is your entire trip. 🤩.   Multiple options. And a very broad question.      I suggest determining your tour arrangements first. Eg whale watching.   Then being more specific with the locations  of your open time.   What meal options?     Every port has hiking guides.  Wide ranges.   That needs to be reality based for level.   

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My husband and I (a couple in our late 20's) sailed Celebrity to Alaska in August 2019. 

 

Icy Strait Point/Hoonah is a nature lover's paradise! You can walk into the town of Hoonah from Icy Strait Point, admiring the scenery as you go. We also did a flightseeing excursion over Glacier Bay National Park from Icy Strait Point since the ship visited Hubbard Glacier instead. 

 

In Juneau, we booked a helicopter glacier landing excursion (which was one of the highlights of our trip!). We also took the tram up Mt. Roberts and there were numerous hiking trails at the top up there. And I wasn't feeling well after that so we decided to forgo Mendenhall Glacier, but according to my research there are numerous hiking trails (including a hike to a waterfall!) there too. 

 

In Ketchikan we really enjoyed the lumberjack show and booked an axe throwing session after the show, which was a lot of fun. After that we walked around Creek Street. We didn't end up buying anything in the shops but we really enjoyed just walking around and taking everything in. We enjoyed reading the historical marker signs on the buildings and watching salmon swim upstream. I think there are some trails into the woods from Creek Street as well. 

 

The ship itself visits Hubbard Glacier (it's not a port in the traditional sense), but last summer was the first time an excursion was offered, where you could book a small boat tour to get a little closer to the glacier. We decided to just stay on the ship and not pay the extra $500 per person to do that, and we lucked out with fantastic weather that day. The boat didn't seem to get much closer than the ship did honestly!

 

I have a bunch of pictures and more details in my trip report

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12 hours ago, Italy52 said:

Definitely agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

On 6/11/2020 at 2:49 PM, AlanF65 said:

Glacier Wind in ISP for whales, very pro customer and professional. Small boats.

https://www.g-wind.com/

 

 

AlanF65  &  Italy52 ... got another suggestion for ISP?

Glacier Wind won't be open for tours when our ship stops there (April 30th).

The date wasn't available on the site's calendar, so I emailed & was told it's too early for a good chance to see whales, so they won't go and disappoint customers.

That's nice, actually, but I'm looking for a Plan B now  :-}

TIA!

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9 hours ago, MidwesternCruiser2 said:

 

 

AlanF65  &  Italy52 ... got another suggestion for ISP?

Glacier Wind won't be open for tours when our ship stops there (April 30th).

The date wasn't available on the site's calendar, so I emailed & was told it's too early for a good chance to see whales, so they won't go and disappoint customers.

That's nice, actually, but I'm looking for a Plan B now  :-}

TIA!

Sorry to hear that it won't work out for you with Glacier Wind. I have never been to ISP before the middle of May so I really don't have any experience with April.  By Plan B, are you looking for another whale watching company or just something else to do?  Have you checked your cruise line's list of excursions for ideas?  If not, that would be a good place to start and then come back to this board and ask for opinions on specific outings.

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13 hours ago, MidwesternCruiser2 said:

 

 

AlanF65  &  Italy52 ... got another suggestion for ISP?

Glacier Wind won't be open for tours when our ship stops there (April 30th).

The date wasn't available on the site's calendar, so I emailed & was told it's too early for a good chance to see whales, so they won't go and disappoint customers.

That's nice, actually, but I'm looking for a Plan B now  :-}

TIA!

There are humpbacks in Alaska in April,  some actually don't migrate.   You could try another vendor?    Even by the remote change no humpbacks are seen,  there would be a lot of other wildlife possible that would be spotted,  as well as it is an extremely scenic area to experience.     I always am flying in Alaska-  which could be another great option.    

 

But finally-  just my opinion-  I have sailed and been to Alaska in the timeframe-  along with just about every other week of the season.   It's far from ideal and I've only grabbed it, when given away and was never my only trip of that year.     IF you aren't going to be a frequent visitor,  or your claiming this is a "bucket List"  then consider a superior option.    

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5 hours ago, Italy52 said:

Sorry to hear that it won't work out for you with Glacier Wind. I have never been to ISP before the middle of May so I really don't have any experience with April.  By Plan B, are you looking for another whale watching company or just something else to do?  Have you checked your cruise line's list of excursions for ideas?  If not, that would be a good place to start and then come back to this board and ask for opinions on specific outings.

 

This may work out after all...or at least could.  They offered to start a waiting list of sorts, so that if they see whales prior to our arrival, we can book just before reaching port.  Incredibly flexible and I hope it works out!
If not, I'd be happy to hear other ISP tour suggestions you might have.  Last visit there, we did the wildlife hike...was wonderful!

Thanks!

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1 hour ago, Budget Queen said:

There are humpbacks in Alaska in April,  some actually don't migrate.   You could try another vendor?    Even by the remote change no humpbacks are seen,  there would be a lot of other wildlife possible that would be spotted,  as well as it is an extremely scenic area to experience.     I always am flying in Alaska-  which could be another great option.    

 

But finally-  just my opinion-  I have sailed and been to Alaska in the timeframe-  along with just about every other week of the season.   It's far from ideal and I've only grabbed it, when given away and was never my only trip of that year.     IF you aren't going to be a frequent visitor,  or your claiming this is a "bucket List"  then consider a superior option.    

I'm sure the ship will offer tours too, but it's too far out for that right now.

The ISP wildlife hike I did previously was great and I know I'll find something.

This is my first April cruise, though I've been there at least a part of each month they're welcoming visitors and I can't say I've ever had bad weather.  A little haze once, mist a couple times and some light rain, but nothing that dampens my enjoyment there.
I am a frequent visitor...did my "in case I never go back" trip a few years ago...so no need for a bucket list.

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12 minutes ago, MidwesternCruiser2 said:

I'm sure the ship will offer tours too, but it's too far out for that right now.

The ISP wildlife hike I did previously was great and I know I'll find something.

This is my first April cruise, though I've been there at least a part of each month they're welcoming visitors and I can't say I've ever had bad weather.  A little haze once, mist a couple times and some light rain, but nothing that dampens my enjoyment there.
I am a frequent visitor...did my "in case I never go back" trip a few years ago...so no need for a bucket list.

You've had  atypical luck with weather.    I've experienced a huge range, with foul.      My suggestion was general.    You didn't post details until now. 

 

   Where/who with,  did you do a "wildlife hike'?    Have you enjoyed the eagles next?    I had the wonderful view last year,  of the parent relay.  🙂   Also, had an extended view of a Juvenile consuming a chick.   

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19 minutes ago, Budget Queen said:

You've had  atypical luck with weather.    I've experienced a huge range, with foul.      My suggestion was general.    You didn't post details until now. 

 

   Where/who with,  did you do a "wildlife hike'?    Have you enjoyed the eagles next?    I had the wonderful view last year,  of the parent relay.  🙂   Also, had an extended view of a Juvenile consuming a chick.   

 

Didn't really follow this post for ideas...1st post was a reply to the OP's inquiry & said I could give a lot of suggestions (i.e., I'd been there a few times).  I saw the two favorable Glacier Winds posts, so I checked it out, then asked for a follow up suggestion when it wasn't available (although, as I said, it might work out).

The wildlife hike was through the ship.  Took a bus through town then did a walk through the rainforest.  A couple pics attached.  Would not enjoy the scene you described though.
Many, who have only visited Alaska once or twice, have told me I've been lucky with the weather.  As my husband used to say "it's better to be lucky than good."

ISP bear.png

ISP eagle.png

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58 minutes ago, MidwesternCruiser2 said:

 

This may work out after all...or at least could.  They offered to start a waiting list of sorts, so that if they see whales prior to our arrival, we can book just before reaching port.  Incredibly flexible and I hope it works out!
If not, I'd be happy to hear other ISP tour suggestions you might have.  Last visit there, we did the wildlife hike...was wonderful!

Thanks!

Hope it works out with Glacier Wind.  We won't be seeing them until 5/21/21.  I wish I could be of more help with ISP excursions.  When we go there, we always go whale watching.  After that, we walk back into town.  We have seen some wonderful sights along the way:  a big bald eagles nest, a local wood carver who was working on commissioned piece, and whales along the shoreline. 

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7 hours ago, Italy52 said:

Hope it works out with Glacier Wind.  We won't be seeing them until 5/21/21.  I wish I could be of more help with ISP excursions.  When we go there, we always go whale watching.  After that, we walk back into town.  We have seen some wonderful sights along the way:  a big bald eagles nest, a local wood carver who was working on commissioned piece, and whales along the shoreline. 

 

I hope it does too, but one way or another, I'll enjoy being there.  I may wind up staying with Sitka for a marine wildlife tour -- or doing that in both places, if Glacier Wind goes out.

Can you tell me more about the local woodcarver?  Permanent shop or street market?  Used to collect carved eagles, but haven't gotten one in awhile.
This will be my earliest trip to Alaska and I'm really looking forward to it!  I like seeing spring there.

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9 hours ago, MidwesternCruiser2 said:

 

I hope it does too, but one way or another, I'll enjoy being there.  I may wind up staying with Sitka for a marine wildlife tour -- or doing that in both places, if Glacier Wind goes out.

Can you tell me more about the local woodcarver?  Permanent shop or street market?  Used to collect carved eagles, but haven't gotten one in awhile.
This will be my earliest trip to Alaska and I'm really looking forward to it!  I like seeing spring there.

The carver was working on a large canoe and that was the only piece being done; there was no place to buy items like a shop.  However, there are some shops not too far from the ship that do have local items.  Below is a link that includes information about ISP.  I always love going to this place as it is so peaceful and not commercialized like other ports.

 

https://icystraitpoint.com/

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10 hours ago, Italy52 said:

The carver was working on a large canoe and that was the only piece being done; there was no place to buy items like a shop.  However, there are some shops not too far from the ship that do have local items.  Below is a link that includes information about ISP.  I always love going to this place as it is so peaceful and not commercialized like other ports.

 

https://icystraitpoint.com/

 

I wondered if I'd just missed this the last visit.  I'm still exploring what 'to do' and will wait until my brother decides if he's going or not (don't want to book and then find he & his wife can't join me).

Have used this site a little already, but thanks for the share.  I liked ISP too and am thrilled to be going back.

Am hoping to stay on a smaller boat for whale watching than they offer.  And, who knows, maybe I'll like one of the ship's tours :-}

Thanks again!

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On 6/14/2020 at 12:39 AM, MidwesternCruiser2 said:

 

I hope it does too, but one way or another, I'll enjoy being there.  I may wind up staying with Sitka for a marine wildlife tour -- or doing that in both places, if Glacier Wind goes out.

Can you tell me more about the local woodcarver?  Permanent shop or street market?  Used to collect carved eagles, but haven't gotten one in awhile.
This will be my earliest trip to Alaska and I'm really looking forward to it!  I like seeing spring there.

The Hoonah Culture Center,  has a carving shed.    Simply stop by and take a look if anything going on?    I also greatly like a generic bear trip-  independent with the priority of random where you go.    I pretty much always walk at least one way to/from whale watching.   Gives a "unique" look at life there.   I always enjoy my conversations with the same people every year.   Consider a look at the "grocery" store-  and what they have stocked.    I been humbled by some of my visits there and Skagway.  🙂    

 

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