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HAL Alaska - July 2008 - Shore Excursions: Booking ahead online vs. booking on-board


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We are first-time cruisers heading to Alaska in July and would really appreciate input from all of you experienced cruisers out there, regarding shore excursions. :confused: Beyond the obvious advantage of not having to stand in line, what are the advantages, if any, to:

1) booking online in advance

2) booking on-board ship


3) finding excursions in the port of call?

Also, in your opinion, which is the best whale watching excursion?


Thanks in advance,


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If there is an excursion that you MUST do, or your trip will be incomplete, book it in advance. You will have to pay at time of booking. If you wait until you board, it will be added to your shipboard account.

They do hold a certain number of spots for those who wait to book (not everyone does the computer thing!) so you should still be able to get what you want, but if you know you want to do that particular thing, why wait?

If you book through the ship, you won't have to "find" your excursion group--they will tell you exactly where to meet--all the guesswork on your part is taken out of it!

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If you book beforehand, you'll be expected to pay at time of purchase, so that will be one less thing on your shipboard account. If the excursion is canceled (happened to me in Alaska), you'll get a credit on your account.


You don't have to stand in line if you book onboard. You just fill out the order form and put it in the shorex box. The tickets will be delivered to your cabin.


As far as finding shorex in the ports of call, how familiar are you with the ports? Can your tour operator or guide assure you that you'll be back on time? The ship WILL leave without you.


For first timers, booking thru the ship can be well worth it. In some instances, the cruise ships get priority on excursions. That happened to me in Skagway with the Yukon & White Pass RR. The 2 ships in port that day had pre-sold all the tickets, so there were none left for those who thought they could buy them at the RR ticket office.



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