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Booking cruise excursions: ship or independent?


canadarocks

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We've got full shore days at Ketchakin, Juneau, Sitka, and Haines :D

 

I bought a book that says that independent tour operators only save you about 10% compared to ship excursions..... is this true? (I booked all of our Western Caribbean tours independently and saved much more than that!:cool:)

 

Is it safer and truly not that different price-wise to book through the ship (Holland America's Ryndam) or is independent the way to go?

 

And as if that's not enough to ask........ which excursions are must-do's for two 50ish adults who ADORE wildlife?

 

I'm thinking: bears in Ketchakin, whales in Juneau, otters in Sitka...... can you tell I'm a little excited!;)

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It is overall, correct, don't expect a lot of savings booking independent. What you do get is smaller groups, more personal tours, sometimes longer.

 

With a wildlife priority, going independent in all your choices, is very beneficial and the only way I go. :)

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I agree that we didn't necessairily save lots of $$$ by booking independently but we did enjoy the smaller groupings and very personalized service. We booked all our tours independently the first time we sailed Alaska and will do so again this time. Many folks feel much more comfortable knowing the cruiseline is in charge and also responsible. We had done extensive research and felt we were best served going out on our own. Do what you feel most comfortable with.

 

K.

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There are some excursions that can only be booked through the ship - like the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari in Skagway & Haines. I usually book with independent vendors when possible, but will occasionally book some through the ship. For example - our ship is in Victoria, BC from 7 p.m. until midnight, and I want to go to the Butchart Gardens. Rather than deal with taxis or a private company, I booked my tour through Princess. With such a short time in port, I'd rather not worry about getting off the ship with 2600 other passengers at the same time and looking around for the shuttle bus that will take me to the private tour bus.

 

For a great wildlife tour in Sitka, I highly recommend the 4-hour wildlife cruise with Capt. Davey: http://www.puffinsandwhales.com

 

By the way - we were on the HAL ship that did the same itinerary last year, and it is a very nice one. The Ryndam has excellent outside viewing areas, especially on the bow of the ship and the front of several higher decks.

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For our excursions I am booking independently as two of the ones I wanted (bear viewing out of Juneau and horseback riding in the Yukon out of Skagway) were not even offered on our cruise. The third I am looking into doing independently as well but have booked through the ship for now just to have a spot in case I do not hear back from the vendor. If I go through the vendor then I can cancel the one through the ship. (Wildlife and adventure are our top priorities as well.)

 

Do whatever fits your needs and priorities. As well as your comfort level. I have booked our independent excursions for early in port so that we have plenty of time to get back to town and wander around and not worry about being back to late for re-boarding.

 

Happy planning!

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