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Whale-watching in Icy Strait Point - NCL vs Independent tour. Pros/Cons?


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Trying to decide on a whale-watching excursion in ISP next week. I've read some great recommendations for independent tour operators, but I also just noticed that the NCL excursion is right at about the same price point. In the past, we've always used independent operators for tours as we felt we got a much better value. In this case, we do have some Excursion credit dollars to play with, so I'm considering the NCL tour. But of course I don't want to book it if it's known for being shoddy, using an inferior tour operator, etc.


There are so many knowledgeable people on this Forum; if anyone can share their input/experience with the NCL tour, I'd really appreciate it!

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We went with independent, and were on a smaller boat (about 14 people) and that was nice.  You arent fighting for space at the rail to get a good view.   I recall all excursions docked real close to the ship so there shouldnt be an issue with getting to the ship on time, etc.     All of those boat captains talk to each other which is good so you may end up following the same whales as the ship excursion.   We had just a fantastic whale watching experience at ISP.   Have fun.  

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The main advantage to independent vs ship excursions in Alaska tends to be the size of the boat / bus being used on the tour rather than much of a cost saving, as is common in the Caribbean. If you have onboard credit you need to spend  or lose, you are probably better to book the ship excursion. Otherwise check out Glacier Winds or Hoonah Adventures. I have used both and would gladly use either again.

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I'm sailing on Norwegian and I went independent.   The price was the same.  What swayed me was that I was able to do a B2B tour with the same excursion company and combine a bear wildlife viewing with whale watching.    Only this operator offered the two tours back-to-back, and if it were not so, we never would have been able to fit the two tours into the time window we are in port.

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We used only independent operators on our recent cruise. Each one spoke about about how using independents benefitted the community more than those booked through the cruise lines. 

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12 hours ago, Giskard said:

Tetleytea - what tour company did you use to do the B2B tours. That sounds like something we might be interested in

Icy Strait Whale Adventures

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/6/2022 at 7:10 PM, Gia2cats said:

We did a 6 person independent tour 4 years ago and doing it again in 2 weeks.  Just loved the small boat and personalized service. 

Which tour company did you use for this?  TYIA.

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