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which value shore excursions on budget $800 2 adults+1child on 7 day Alaska? (Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, Victoria)


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which value shore excursions do you recommend?

Tentative budget is $800 2 adults+1child on 7 day Alaska? (Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, Victoria)

Carnival Splendor 7 day Alaska cruise. July 26-Aug 2nd

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We enjoy taking the shuttle bus  from Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier with a hike to Nugget Falls.

In Ketchikan the Loggers Show is fun and the town is very walkable.

 

 

 

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My honest opinion is you can do well without spending a ton on excursions in Alaska.

 

I agree with Number12 on the bus in Juneau. I think that was 40-45pp. You can explore Mendenhall at your own pace. The big negative I saw on all the official tours was they didn’t have enough time at the glacier. That’s why I went with the bus.

 

Probably too late for you but I’m going to be publishing an ISP port guide on my blog in a couple weeks. I think you can have a good time without leaving the port. In the port you can see eagles, whales, ride the transporter, walk on the beach, see a tribal show, shop, and visit the cannery museum. And all of that can be done free. Then if you want to spend some money you can eat, drink, take a tram to the top of the mountain, a 1300 foot zip line to the bottom of the mountain. For just $5pp you can get round trip transportation to town. I had two fabulous meals right there in the port area. I think it’s an underrated port.

 

Ketchikan I did lighthouse eagles and totems. Which was good. But I wish I had more time in town. I wish I didn’t have to rush my meal. The lumberjack show was right next to the fish house so if that’s something that interests you, it might be a good option. Definitely convenient to the ship.

 

Victoria. I don’t know if I’d get off the ship again. We didn’t have much time. Almost everything in town was closed. There was one bar you could go to and they had the limited food menu at that time of night. The bus was $13pp and I was only in town for an hour. I don’t think it was worth it. There was some speculation that the bus is where many of us caught covid. 
 

I did get some nice pictures of splendor and ncl sun with the sun setting behind them. So if I were doing it again I would get off and just walk along the water front and get some pictures, then walk back.

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40 minutes ago, Saint Greg said:

My honest opinion is you can do well without spending a ton on excursions in Alaska.

 

I agree with Number12 on the bus in Juneau. I think that was 40-45pp. You can explore Mendenhall at your own pace. The big negative I saw on all the official tours was they didn’t have enough time at the glacier. That’s why I went with the bus.

 

Probably too late for you but I’m going to be publishing an ISP port guide on my blog in a couple weeks. I think you can have a good time without leaving the port. In the port you can see eagles, whales, ride the transporter, walk on the beach, see a tribal show, shop, and visit the cannery museum. And all of that can be done free. Then if you want to spend some money you can eat, drink, take a tram to the top of the mountain, a 1300 foot zip line to the bottom of the mountain. For just $5pp you can get round trip transportation to town. I had two fabulous meals right there in the port area. I think it’s an underrated port.

 

Ketchikan I did lighthouse eagles and totems. Which was good. But I wish I had more time in town. I wish I didn’t have to rush my meal. The lumberjack show was right next to the fish house so if that’s something that interests you, it might be a good option. Definitely convenient to the ship.

 

Victoria. I don’t know if I’d get off the ship again. We didn’t have much time. Almost everything in town was closed. There was one bar you could go to and they had the limited food menu at that time of night. The bus was $13pp and I was only in town for an hour. I don’t think it was worth it. There was some speculation that the bus is where many of us caught covid. 
 

I did get some nice pictures of splendor and ncl sun with the sun setting behind them. So if I were doing it again I would get off and just walk along the water front and get some pictures, then walk back.

Great info, Saint Greg, THANKS!  But what do you mean "if I were doing it again"?  You KNOW you wanna go back to Alaska like everyone does who goes the first time!  😃

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Juneau - you can do the Mt Robert’s tram and the bus to the Mendenhall Glacier is a good idea. 

Ketchican- I recall a bus to the Totem Park. Various totem poles are on display and I think there are guides there to explain the stories that are told by the totem pole carvings. The lumber jack show may be interesting for your child.

Victoria- I would pass that up and think of it as a sea day. 

Icy StraitPoint- I think there is a few paths to walk and a sort of tram ride there as well.

You could Google each port and check the highlights of each that you may want to experience.

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We are planning on hiking in Juneau and Ketchikan if that interest you.  I would rather see Alaskan than doing tourist "traps"

 

Juneau - we are either going to take the bus mentioned above and do some hiking around Mendenhall or hike right off the ship at  Perseverance Trail.

 

Ketchikan - we are going to hike Deer Mt Trail

 

We spent part of our excursion budget doing the boat excursion to see the glaciers closer.

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In Ketchikan there are two good options for you, depending on how long you have in port.

First, if you have time take the bus to the Totem Bight state park.  Do some research on it first, information here on CC, to determine how to get there by city bus.

Second, if time is somewhat limited, I would walk the 3-4 blocks to the creek to see the salmon running and follow it up to the creek fish ladder (kids will love this).  Can also do more exploring in the area and also in downtown.  Again, research further on CC.

 

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There are many things you can do for free or low cost in Alaska.  Since you have a reasonable budget of $ 800, I would suggest reviewing the available excursions on YouTube or other sites to find one that your family really wants to do and “splurge” on that and do low cost options in the other ports. The memories from Alaska will last a lifetime. 

I sailed on Splendor in May, which was my third cruise to Alaska. Here are some things I have done in the past, both free and more expensive excursions, that I enjoyed:

 

Juneau - Check the Mendenhall Glacier tour bus with Juneau Whale Watch. They have return buses every half hour so you can spend as much time as you want at the glacier. Definitely hike to Nugget Falls and possibly some of the other trails, if you enjoy hiking. 
 

If you want to splurge, take the Whale Watch / Mendenhall Glacier combo tour with them. 
 

https://www.juneauwhalewatch.com/
 

Icy Strait Point - As others pointed out you can do many things here for free or low cost - hiking, ride the free tram between the two port areas, see wildlife and amazing scenery, tour the restored cannery, walk or take the shuttle into Hoonah to see a traditional Alaska town, etc. 

 

If you want to splurge, do a whale watching tour with Glacier Winds or Hoonah Travel Adventures. 
 

https://www.g-wind.com/
 

https://hoonahtraveladventures.com/

 

Ketchikan - Very easy to do on your own. Pick up a free walking tour map at the Visitor Center. You can also take a public bus to see totem poles. 
 

If you want to splurge, the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour is excellent. Kayaking with Southeast Sea Kayaks is another good option. 
 

https://alaskacrabtour.com/

 

https://kayakketchikan.com/

 

Victoria - This is primarily a stop just to meet the required foreign port visit on your itinerary and is usually 8:00 pm to Midnight on the Splendor. I would not book an excursion or probably even get off the ship unless you just want to walk around some so you can pick up a souvenir and say you have been to Canada. 
 

Seattle - I’m not sure if you are staying a night or two in Seattle before or after your cruise. If you are, definitely go to Pike Place Market. 
 

If you want to splurge, take the Snoqualmie Falls & Seattle City Tour with Shutter Tours: 

 

https://www.shuttertours.com/snoqualmie-falls-tour.php
 

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You might also consider in Ketchikan doing the Bering Sea Crab tour. Check directly on their website vs booking with your ship. We have usually gotten a better deal booking directly but not for our Sept cruise it was cheaper booking through our cruiseline. Just an amazing excursion !!!

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We always do a whale watch trip in Juneau although if that’s not a priority, Juneau is an excellent place to rent a car for value exploring.  In the past, renting a car has been cheaper than purchasing 3 R/T tickets to the glacier. Mendenhall Glacier, Shrine of Saint Therese, Eagle Beach, Douglas Island, just a lot of good, free stuff. If you are hikers, the West Glacier Trail with its views from above Mendenhall Glacier are amazing.

 

Ketchikan has the $2 city bus that goes to both Totem Bight and Saxman as well as numerous places around town. As mentioned, the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour has always been popular. We’re glad we did it….once.

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Just returned from this itinerary. 

 

With the exception of Icy Strait Point, the times in port are VERY short.

 

If you like to wander around in the port locations, I would pay close attention to the excursion times.

 

That being said if we were to do it again, we would likely book an excursion on the ISP day.

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The free totem pole museum in Ketchikan is very good and contains authentic totem poles (among other cool things).  I’ve read here on CC that the totem pole excursion offered by ships doesn’t contain authentic poles. I walked to it from the dock.  There is also a fish ladder on the stream that runs through town.

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Since you may actually want to venture out in Victoria...  just walk off the ship and there will be a company there (yellow jackets if I recall) and a line of people waiting... they are selling a transfer to downtown and back for $13 per person.  They take cash or credit cards.   It's a double decker bus.  They drop you off in the middle of downtown where lots of people are eating or walking and they pick you back up at the same location.  They say the buses run every 10-15 minutes.  You might enjoy a walk around or down the street to see the Parliament Building and the Empress Hotel.  

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

 We came back from the cruise - none of us tested Covid-19 positive during the pandemic - but we all came back sick with Covid-19.! We had worn our masks scrupulously throughout the cruise 😞 I guess interior cabins recycle a lot of the air. 

 

Quite frankly, if you are going on the cruise to really see Alaska, then it is better to not cruise, but instead fly to Anchorage and stay in Alaska for a week, driving around. The reason is, too little time is spent at the ports like Juneau.

 

1) Icy strait point is a waste of time. It is a tourist trap. Perhaps Carnival is paid to dock there until 7 pm, when at Juneau it left at 2:30 pm!

 

2) At Juneau, we did the whale watching tour ($500) from Juneau Whale Watch. We did see a whale breach - just a big fish jumping out of the water. but I would rather have skipped it and spent time at the Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier is hypnotic because of the blue ice. We had less than an hour there and had to hurry back  before the ship left. In fact some of the crew took the bus and were almost stranded when the return bus came back late! We also did not get time to do the Mt Roberts tram, but here is a tip a local told us. If it is a foggy day, it is not worth it - you will just see fog, and not the scenery.

 

3) At Ketchikan, we went to the free fish ladder where my child caught a salmon which we released. We had packed a collapsible rod and children under 16 can fish without a license.

We saw the lumberjack show.

 

4) The ship did not dock at Victoria because of strong winds.

 

There were some unforgettable and forgettable things - the Alaska mountains "floating" over the ocean. I used to sit with my laptop in the Lido deck to get some technical learning done and once, I saw 3 black fins pop up quite near us. It was foggy so few noticed. It looked like a pod, a family of Orca - killer whales.

The crew worked very hard to please us.

It was sad to see so much food waste. There seemed a clash of cultures. It was almost colonial. The Indian and Filipino crew whose families back home did not eat and waste food like this, and we, the Western passengers who were throwing out mounds of perfectly good uneaten food.

A Filipino waitress told me when I remarked it was sad to see her loading someone's plate of uneaten short ribs into her trash cart - she said that wished she could pack the leftovers for her family and send it home.

 

@Ferry_Watcherthanks as always!

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15 hours ago, likejudo said:

 We came back from the cruise - none of us tested Covid-19 positive during the pandemic - but we all came back sick with Covid-19.! We had worn our masks scrupulously throughout the cruise 😞 I guess interior cabins recycle a lot of the air. 

 

Quite frankly, if you are going on the cruise to really see Alaska, then it is better to not cruise, but instead fly to Anchorage and stay in Alaska for a week, driving around. The reason is, too little time is spent at the ports like Juneau.

 

1) Icy strait point is a waste of time. It is a tourist trap. Perhaps Carnival is paid to dock there until 7 pm, when at Juneau it left at 2:30 pm!

 

2) At Juneau, we did the whale watching tour ($500) from Juneau Whale Watch. We did see a whale breach - just a big fish jumping out of the water. but I would rather have skipped it and spent time at the Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier is hypnotic because of the blue ice. We had less than an hour there and had to hurry back  before the ship left. In fact some of the crew took the bus and were almost stranded when the return bus came back late! We also did not get time to do the Mt Roberts tram, but here is a tip a local told us. If it is a foggy day, it is not worth it - you will just see fog, and not the scenery.

 

3) At Ketchikan, we went to the free fish ladder where my child caught a salmon which we released. We had packed a collapsible rod and children under 16 can fish without a license.

We saw the lumberjack show.

 

4) The ship did not dock at Victoria because of strong winds.

 

There were some unforgettable and forgettable things - the Alaska mountains "floating" over the ocean. I used to sit with my laptop in the Lido deck to get some technical learning done and once, I saw 3 black fins pop up quite near us. It was foggy so few noticed. It looked like a pod, a family of Orca - killer whales.

The crew worked very hard to please us.

It was sad to see so much food waste. There seemed a clash of cultures. It was almost colonial. The Indian and Filipino crew whose families back home did not eat and waste food like this, and we, the Western passengers who were throwing out mounds of perfectly good uneaten food.

A Filipino waitress told me when I remarked it was sad to see her loading someone's plate of uneaten short ribs into her trash cart - she said that wished she could pack the leftovers for her family and send it home.

 

@Ferry_Watcherthanks as always!

 

It sounds like you chose the wrong cruiseline. I'm assuming since you were on Carnival, you did a round trip out of Seattle. IMO, there's a reason Carnival is the cheapest cruiseline and round trips have significantly shorter port times. We were docked in Juneau from 9 am to 9 pm, giving us plenty of time to do absolutely everything we wanted to do, plus we still had extra time for browsing the shops and getting something to eat. But, it makes me wonder, if you think watching a whale breach is just a fish jumping out of the water, how much you could enjoy Alaska anyway?

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On 9/1/2022 at 10:34 AM, Mountaineer0313 said:

 

, if you think watching a whale breach is just a fish jumping out of the water, how much you could enjoy Alaska anyway?

Because it seemed like a circus performance. With all of us paying tourists getting a ringside seat.

On the other hand, I will never forget this unspectacular experience,

"once, (the ship was sailing fast and it was sunset) I saw 3 black fins pop up quite near us. It was foggy so few noticed. It looked like a pod, a family of Orca - killer whales.". I felt a kinship between my family and theirs.

Which cruise line did you take?

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8 minutes ago, likejudo said:

Because it seemed like a circus performance.

On the other hand, I will never forget this unspectacular experience,

"once, (the ship was sailing fast and it was sunset) I saw 3 black fins pop up quite near us. It was foggy so few noticed. It looked like a pod, a family of Orca - killer whales.". I felt a kinship between my family and theirs.

Which cruise line did you take?

Wow…..I’ve never heard the spectacular event of a breaching whale called a circus act.  Not sure what you expected but not everyone is lucky enough to see a breaching whale.  
 

I agree that seeing unexpected wildlife on a cruise is pretty special.  One of my favorite memories is seeing a pod of whales swimming along side of the ship while in a hot tub.

 

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On 9/4/2022 at 2:37 PM, likejudo said:

Because it seemed like a circus performance. With all of us paying tourists getting a ringside seat.

On the other hand, I will never forget this unspectacular experience,

"once, (the ship was sailing fast and it was sunset) I saw 3 black fins pop up quite near us. It was foggy so few noticed. It looked like a pod, a family of Orca - killer whales.". I felt a kinship between my family and theirs.

Which cruise line did you take?


a circus performance would be seeing it at Sea World. You aren’t guaranteed to see whales from the ship. You almost always are from a whale watching vessel. 
We sailed Radiance on Royal Caribbean last time, I’m currently on Celebrity Millennium, a few hours at from Hubbard Glacier right now. 

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On 8/31/2022 at 4:37 PM, likejudo said:

 We came back from the cruise - none of us tested Covid-19 positive during the pandemic - but we all came back sick with Covid-19.! We had worn our masks scrupulously throughout the cruise 😞 I guess interior cabins recycle a lot of the air. 

 

Quite frankly, if you are going on the cruise to really see Alaska, then it is better to not cruise, but instead fly to Anchorage and stay in Alaska for a week, driving around. The reason is, too little time is spent at the ports like Juneau.

 

This is one of the few things in your post that I agree with.  A good land tour in AK is usually better than a cruise tour except that cruise tours can get you into places that you can't drive around or easily get into.  I always suggest that people doing AK should consider the limited area DIY option but lots and lots of people on CC obviously love AK cruising so the cruise companies must be doing something right.  With regard to your comment about port times - you should have noted the port times before you booked the cruise so this should not have been a surprise.  Port times on almost any cruise are awful.

 

On 8/31/2022 at 4:37 PM, likejudo said:

 

1) Icy strait point is a waste of time. It is a tourist trap. Perhaps Carnival is paid to dock there until 7 pm, when at Juneau it left at 2:30 pm!

 

Disagree on your Icy Strait comment.  It is the best that you can get to from a cruise that gives you an idea of what small town AK is like.  Unlike destinations such as Skagway the town of Hoonah was there before the ships arrived and will still be there if the ships stopped coming.  

 

2) At Juneau, we did the whale watching tour ($500) from Juneau Whale Watch. We did see a whale breach - just a big fish jumping out of the water. but I would rather have skipped it and spent time at the Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier is hypnotic because of the blue ice. We had less than an hour there and had to hurry back  before the ship left. In fact some of the crew took the bus and were almost stranded when the return bus came back late! We also did not get time to do the Mt Roberts tram, but here is a tip a local told us. If it is a foggy day, it is not worth it - you will just see fog, and not the scenery.

 

I find your comment about a whale breaching astounding.  There are people who have gone tp AK many times and have taken many whale tours and have never seen a whale breaching and would die to see a whale breaching including me.  When we did our last AK cruise w our granddaughter's one of them was looking in the right direction and got to see a whale breaching. The rest of us were not looking in the right direction and didn't see it.  Not sure what would have made you happy.  Maybe whales doing tricks like the dolphins at sea world?

On 8/31/2022 at 4:37 PM, likejudo said:

 

3) At Ketchikan, we went to the free fish ladder where my child caught a salmon which we released. We had packed a collapsible rod and children under 16 can fish without a license.

We saw the lumberjack show.

 

4) The ship did not dock at Victoria because of strong winds.

 

It is a ship.  Docking or visiting any port is never guaranteed.  There was a recent post on CC from a person who did an Antarctica cruise where he was expecting to have 10 landings.  He only got 3 because of weather.  Stuff happens.  A friend of ours has taken a South American cruise 4 or 4 times and has never gotten into the Falklands because of weather.  Again - stuff happens.

On 8/31/2022 at 4:37 PM, likejudo said:

 

There were some unforgettable and forgettable things - the Alaska mountains "floating" over the ocean. I used to sit with my laptop in the Lido deck to get some technical learning done and once, I saw 3 black fins pop up quite near us. It was foggy so few noticed. It looked like a pod, a family of Orca - killer whales.

The crew worked very hard to please us.

It was sad to see so much food waste. There seemed a clash of cultures. It was almost colonial. The Indian and Filipino crew whose families back home did not eat and waste food like this, and we, the Western passengers who were throwing out mounds of perfectly good uneaten food.

 

I agree but that happens everywhere and not just on cruise ships.  I live in Las Vegas which is the home of all-you-can-eat buffets.  Lots of stuff gets wasted.  Whenever we go to a restaurant where we can't eat the whole meal we take the uneaten food home in a doggie bag.  Lots of time we see people leaving the restaurant with lots of good food left on their plates.  

On 8/31/2022 at 4:37 PM, likejudo said:

A Filipino waitress told me when I remarked it was sad to see her loading someone's plate of uneaten short ribs into her trash cart - she said that wished she could pack the leftovers for her family and send it home.

 

@Ferry_Watcherthanks as always!

 

You need to do your research before you pick a cruise and also to define your priorities.  We cruise to get to see interesting places and to see interesting things.  Some people cruise just to be on a ship.  There is nothing wrong with being in the second group but you sound like that is your group.

 

DON

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