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2 questions about Excursions


Steve in Omaha
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We've only been on 2 cruises, and never to Alaska. For our excursions we want to see glaciers, wildlife and scenery.  We already kayak, so that might be a fun thing to do.  We'd rather stay away from the expense of hiring an airplane or a helicopter. 

 

  1. Is it a mistake or a wise thing to book shore excursions on our own?  Our ports are Skagway, Ketchican and Juneau.
  2. What are the "don't miss this" excursions in those cities?
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The price difference between ship excursions and independent excursions in Alaska is not as much as in the Caribbean, however, you usually get a smaller group and sometimes longer time on the independent excursions.

 

Skagway - the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad or the Yukon Bus Tour with Chilkoot Charters are excellent. 
 

Ketchikan - Deadliest Catch Crab Boat excursion; Kayaking with Southeast Kayaks; Free Walking Tour using the map at the Visitor Center at the pier. 
 

Juneau - Whale Watching Mendenhall Glacier Combo Tour with Juneau Whale Watch; the Mt. Roberts Tram.

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JT gave you some great advice. Train fun and shorter. Yukon more chance to see wildlife with the basic same scenery and longer and more stops. 

Ketch, crab boat great with bald eagles like you will never see again. 

Juneau, Whales and glimpse of glacier from a ways off. On the ride out of town keep watching for bears. Check youtube for each tour. 

I would recommend that you have what you want to do nailed down so you are not wasting valuable port time. 

Here is what to keep eye open for. Not sure when this was filmed. WE KIND OF SAW BEARS | I Work On A Cruise Ship | Royal Caribbean Crew VLOG - YouTube

Start at 9:50. 

sightcrr

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Posted (edited)

That’s how we saw this bear, just driving on the bus. Luckily someone spotted it and the bus driver stopped. (That is the backside of the bear, lol)

97C1FE1C-27A8-4B21-92CE-6B47EAB65FD4.jpeg

Edited by kona_wahine
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Posted (edited)

One thing to consider is how long you have in port and to make sure you are back to the ship in plenty of time before sail away.  In general, private tours usually offer better value, either in smaller group, covering more territory, or longer time spent on tour.  The downside is that Princess generally doesn't wait for late return of private tours, so if something  unexpected happens to slow the tour down you could possibly miss the ship.  This is a consideration for all cruises, but Alaska port times are usually generous enough to cover any setbacks on a private tour.  Another consideration is if your travel insurance covers mishaps on private tours, and I don't know the answer.

Edited by GloriaF
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4 hours ago, GloriaF said:

One thing to consider is how long you have in port and to make sure you are back to the ship in plenty of time before sail away.  In general, private tours usually offer better value, either in smaller group, covering more territory, or longer time spent on tour.  The downside is that Princess generally doesn't wait for late return of private tours, so if something  unexpected happens to slow the tour down you could possibly miss the ship.  This is a consideration for all cruises, but Alaska port times are usually generous enough to cover any setbacks on a private tour.  Another consideration is if your travel insurance covers mishaps on private tours, and I don't know the answer.

 

Couple of thoughts.

 

1) In general private tours are smaller and usually better than ship tours

2) It is bad for business for a tour company to get you back late

3) If you are really worried some tour companies will pay to get you to the next stop if they get you back late.  I suspect that this almost never happens unless there is a major road catastrophe.  There are very few roads in the ports you will stop at and if this occurs the ship tours will also be delayed.

4) Ports in AK are close together.  In the highly unlikely worse case scenario you could find a flight that would get you to the next port.

 

In other words - don't worry about it.

 

DON

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My opinion... tours are worth every penny in Alaska!  You get what you pay for, don't scrimp, GO FOR IT!  How many opportunities are you going to get to fly up to a glacier and walk around on it?  That is what we discussed, we bit the bullet and paid the $400+ pp for it... and OMG we loved it so much it is absolutely our favorite excursion.  Ditto the cruise Tracy Arm small boat excursion.. seemed like it wouldn't be a big deal but kept reading how much people loved it.  YUP, we LOVED it too.  

 

In fact... last week we just booked for Alaska again.  So much to see and do at every port.  Don't miss out because you think its expensive.  Just do it.  You won't regret it.

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2 hours ago, ABQrobin said:

In fact... last week we just booked for Alaska again.  So much to see and do at every port.  Don't miss out because you think its expensive.  Just do it.  You won't regret it.

 

I completely agree.   We recently got back from our first Alaska cruise.  We enjoyed it so much and there was so much we didn't get to do or see.  And believe me, we saw a lot!!   We are seriously considering going again next year on the same ship and same cruise.  

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It is our first time and I feel like I am going to be overwhelming us...2 excursions in Icy Strait and Skagway....trying to leave Juneau open a bit but something tells me I will end up booking something...

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We booked our excursions with private companies. They know they will go out of business if they get cruisers and the ship has left! Think Yelp, Trip Advisor! 
We loved Alaska Shore Excursions Mendenhall canoe trip.

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I'll echo the above - I got coaxed into splurging for a family of 4 on a helicopter because of posts here and I'm SO glad I did. It was a butt ton of money for a couple of hours of my life but it was incredible. 

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We typically book private shore excursions wherever we cruise. Depending on the situation, we may book through the ship.

 

For Juneau, we love booking a small whale watching trip (6-12 passengers) and it is worth it. We have booked with Harv and Marv. As has been mentioned, we also did a combo tour with Mendenhall Glacier. If you like beer, we have also toured the Alaskan Brewery. They have a shuttle which picks up in front of their store.

 

Skagway- If it is available, the White Pass train is lovely (assuming the weather cooperates). The first time, we took the train up and the van back down which I prefer.

One time, we did a zodiak boat tour which was crazy fun.

 

Ketchikan is also a great walking town and we will be doing a "Lighthouse, totems and eagles" tour this September. It is through the ship because Princess booked the local tour company. We could not book directly with the company. I spoke with one of the owners and she explained this to me so we booked through the ship which costs $5.00 more than if we were able to book directly with the company.

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Wanted to do a helicopter trip to the Glazier but they are all booked through the ship we are on the Bliss sailing August 6. Any recommendations through private helicopter tours that would still be able to take two people For a Glazier landing

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We almost always book our own shore excursions.   Have been crujsing for years, never had a single problem.

 

But last week in Ketchikan, the guys chartered a boat and went fishing with the 4 older kids.  Us ladies took the 2 younger kids on a canoe/jeep excursion through the ship, as everything else we looked at privately was booked.   You drove your own 4-5 passenger jeep.  

 

Yikes were we lucky.  One of the jeeps broke down in the middle of a one way old logging road in the rain forest.  There were about 6 jeeps, all of us except our leader were behind the one that broke down.  All the men were out of their jeeps trying to figure out how to fix it.  They decided to tow it to an area that we could get around it, but the wheels were locked...it would not budge.   So we ended up  backing down a very muddy, difficult road till we got to an area that we could do a 3 point turn to go foward.   We were late getting back to the ship, that was waiting for us!

The ship actually notified our very worried husbands that we were fine, but late and they would not go without us. 

So....... a lesson for us!   Make sure that when we book our own excursions, that we have some time  built in for something of this sort. 

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We did a seaplane tour with water landing in Ketchikan which we booked with Island Wings Air. 
it was an amazing trip. It was 2.5 hours & we landed on an inlet where we were able to get out & walk arounD for 30 minutes. Some of the most beautiful scenery ever!  Our pilot Adam made sure we were able to see as much of the area as possible.

we did a seaplane on a previous trip that was less time & not as good.  They land on the water but you only get to walk on the float & then get back in the plane.

Island  Wings Air Service is well worth the money.

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