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Looking for opinions on Alaska Shore Excursions


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Hi Everyone,

 

I'm taking the Radiance of the Sea Northbound cruise on 5/22 this year. I am looking for opinions and answers to questions with regard to the following shore excursions

 

1) Kenai Fjords Cruise and lunch with airport transfer -

- Does anyone know which vendor is used?

- Are restroom facilities on board the boat?

-Are there any opinions from past cruisers?

-Is there a bathroom facility on the bus to Anchorage?

-Does the bus make short stops at scenic view points?

 

2)Juneau Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching

-looking for opinions

-Does anyone know what vendor RCCL uses?

 

3)Spasski River Valley and Wildlife Bear Search in Icy Point Strait

-What are the odds of seeing bears?

 

4) Skagway Dog Sled Camp

-Worth it?

 

Thanks

Phil

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I did the Northbound Radiance trip last summer with my parents and my 10 year old son.

 

We did the whale watching (thru RCI) in Juneau. Did not include the glacier, though. I don't remember who the company was that they used, but it was fabulous. We saw LOTS of whales. As I remember, most, if not all, of the whale watching tours guarantee that you will see a whale or they refund most of the cost. I don't think I've ever read on these boards about someone needing that refund!

 

We did the Spasski River Wildlife Search, too. Unfortunately, we did not see any bears. It was still a beautiful walk, but if bear sightings are really important to you, I wouldn't count on it.

 

We also went to a dog sled camp in Skagway! This was probably my son's favorite excursion. You get to ride in one of the summer 'sleds' that they use to train the dogs. You will also get to pet and hold the puppies, and learn some about the history of sledding and everything involved in the sport today. My parents (in their 70's) really enjoyed it, too.

 

Hope this helps some with your choices. You will LOVE Alaska. It is amazingly beautiful. :)

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If you head over to the Cruise Critic "ports of call" board and click on "Alaska" you will find LOTS of information regarding excursions in Alaska.

 

We were there last Sept and really loved the northbound cruise. In Juneau, we found it more economical to rent a car for the day and see the sites on our own. Mendenhall Glacier was one of them... very pretty to see.

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In Juneau, instead of booking through the ship, consider an independent operator. Last year we whale watched through Cap't Larry's (www.orcaenterprises.com) and they offered the option to be dropped off at Mendenhall Glacier afterwards. We didn't do that but instead went back into Juneau for shopping before taking the shuttles to and from Mendenhall ($7 each way, you purchase tickets at a kiosk in town).

 

There are a few good independent whale watch operators in Juneau.

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I would skip booking with any cruise line. We booked "Harv & Marv's" Whale watching in Juneau, and had THE best Captain ever. We were on a small boat, lots of personal attention and instruction. They picked us up at an arranged place, and dropped us off at Mendenhall Glacier - waited for us and returned us to the ship. I can't say enough good things about them. In Skagway I would highly recommend taking the train up into the Yukon. You can do the dog camps on your own - but not worth it IMO. The train ride is incredible, and once again book on your own. Less crowds, more fun, and lots more info.

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I would skip booking with any cruise line. We booked "Harv & Marv's" Whale watching in Juneau, and had THE best Captain ever. We were on a small boat, lots of personal attention and instruction. They picked us up at an arranged place, and dropped us off at Mendenhall Glacier - waited for us and returned us to the ship. I can't say enough good things about them. In Skagway I would highly recommend taking the train up into the Yukon. You can do the dog camps on your own - but not worth it IMO. The train ride is incredible, and once again book on your own. Less crowds, more fun, and lots more info.

I agree with you about the train ride in Skagway but when we did it there were passengers who booked through their cruise ship and others who booked on their own, so I don't see that one way will necessarily be less crowded than the other.:confused: I believe that those who purchased the tickets on their own had to walk all the way down to the train station to board, while cruise passengers could board cars that were closer to the shps. Not sure the difference was all that great.:)

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I've done whale watching excursions in both Juneau and Icy Straight and by far the best place to see whales was at Icy Straight. We saw tons of humpbacks that were jumping out of the water, slapping their fins and tails on the surface and came within feet of our boat. In Juneau, we saw a few whales but they were far from the boat.

 

If you want to see bears, look into the Taku Glacier Flight excursion in Juneau.. it's a wonderful excursion, with about 50 mins in the air onboard a floatplane, a great fresh caught salmon lunch at the lodge and the opportunity to see black bears that frequent the lodge when they smell the salmon cooking.

 

We booked both thru RCCL and had a great time.

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The White Pass Yukon train ride was awesome...we highly recommend it...I believe that we bought our tickets thru the cruise line and we got a bus ride to the train and we got a bus at Frasier that took the road down stopping at Liarsville (a tent city) and ending up at the Saloon for a tour and a beer...well worth it...then we could shop and go back to the ship by the bus...he came back to the saloon a few times in case anyone wanted a ride back...or you could walk...

 

No matter what you do you will enjoy Alaska...it is incredible!

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We went to the Dog Sled Camp in Skagway a few years ago and had a great time. People were great & informative, ride was fun and the dogs/puppies really were cute!! ;) As for Mendenhall Glacier, we took a bus from right by the dock to the Glacier. There was a set schedule of times for the bus to return to the ship, so you could take as long as you wanted to spend walking around the area. There was an informative Visitor's Center there. Enjoy!

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Hi Everyone,

 

I'm taking the Radiance of the Sea Northbound cruise on 5/22 this year. I am looking for opinions and answers to questions with regard to the following shore excursions

 

1) Kenai Fjords Cruise and lunch with airport transfer -

- Does anyone know which vendor is used?

- Are restroom facilities on board the boat?

-Are there any opinions from past cruisers?

-Is there a bathroom facility on the bus to Anchorage?

-Does the bus make short stops at scenic view points?

 

2)Juneau Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching

-looking for opinions

-Does anyone know what vendor RCCL uses?

 

3)Spasski River Valley and Wildlife Bear Search in Icy Point Strait

-What are the odds of seeing bears?

 

4) Skagway Dog Sled Camp

-Worth it?

 

Thanks

Phil

 

Ship contractors for Kenai Fjords boat tours are usually Alaska Heritage, but the other company there, is just as good. The MAIN point you have to be aware of is how long is this tour, do not consider any boat tour with less than 6 hours on the water. The bus transfer is 3 hours. So it needs to be at least a 9 hour timeframe. These buses that are connected with tours, usually do not make any stops. Yes there is a bathroom on the bus. Sit on the left side facing the driver from Seward. this is a top tour choice, and with you way too short on time, my only recommendation to at least see something of interior Alaska.

 

You may be better off booking independent IF you want more than 45 minutes at Mendenhall, or have any interest in the visitor center, hiking etc. Cobooking with an independent and using a shuttle in the other direction offers you more overall. Ship contractors are Allen Marine- which is an excellent operator, but passenger loads are large.

 

In Hoonah, again, independent is superior. The ship tours, go to a FIXED platform location on a fixed timeframe. So their bear sighting stats are much lower.

 

The Skagway dog sled camp, was OK, when I went years ago and it was $30 independent. :) Would not be of interest to me now at over $100pp. An alternative, better value would be to get a rental car, drive the beautiful Klondike Highway to Caribou Crossing and seeing sled dogs there and the optional cart ride option. Not much overall in costs. Only major car rental is Avis. You may want to make a reservation, if at all of interest. Easy to cancel.

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