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Alaska Tour Companies; which ones shine?


CL2 Mermaid

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We are going on a first cruise to Alaska in mid May. The Mr. always insists on ship arranged tours (he gets nervous about things going wrong). Friends we are traveling with (very experienced cruisers-but not to Alaska) say book independent tours along with them, less costly and more interesting tours.

So dipping a toe in the tour water, won't you all please let me know about your experience with tours, good and negative and recommend particular operators in Sitka, Skagway, Juneau, Icy Straight, Ketchikan and Victoria.

Thanks so much and happy sailing

Bo

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If your cruise is next month, you could have problems finding availability with some of the more popular independent tour operators. Here are the companies we used and liked:

 

Sitka - wildlife tour with Capt. Davey: http://www.puffinsandwhales.com

Skagway - rail/bus excursion to the Yukon with Chilkoot Charters: http://www.skagwaysbesttour.com/

Juneau - the company we used for whale watching isn't doing that any more, but many people rave about Harv & Marv: http://www.harvandmarvs.com

Ketchikan - Misty Fjords float plane with Island Wings: http://www.islandwings.com

Icy Strait Point - haven't been there yet

Victoria - because of our short port time, we are doing a ship's excursion to the Butchart Gardens

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You need to decide the TOURS first, then find the vendors. I suggest you look over a shore excursion list and narrow down your interests, then repost.

 

Actually, I am going next month and have a range of times for my two flights, that are still open. So it certainly doesn't mean everything is booked up.

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Everyone has their preference. Our 1st trip to Alaska we only did ship excursions. This time we are using Chilkoot in Skagway but are using Princess for the other two ports as we liked the tours. Decide what you want to do, review the ship excursions for some ideas and go from there.

DJ127

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Independent tour operators I used last summer were Chilkoot in Skagway and Ketchikan Taxicab Tours. Both tours were great, no problems at all. A smaller group and more personal service. Both tours picked us up at the dock and returned us where we requested. We took early tours so we had time to explore the towns on our own.

http://www.ketchikantaxicabtours.com/

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A few days ago I looked at their website, but couldn't find prices. So you have to contact for the prices?

 

Thought I would share the prices I got from Chilkoot. I have choosen to use them next month.

 

There 8 hr is our 7 1/2 hr tour, doing smaller groups and having smaller buses gives us a more VIP type tour,,it even gives us enough time to include Emerald lake. They no longer do Emerald lake. It saves them 8 miles x 30 buses x $4.38 a gallon.

 

I just noticed your e-mail! my wife is Business Manager for the Skagway School District, Loves her job working with children. Grades 1 thru 12

all in one Building.

BUS & RAIL EXCURSIONS

We currently have 4 combination bus and rail excursions.

1) White Pass Summit Rail & Bus Excursion

Duration: 3.5 Hours

Departure: 7:30AM & 12:00PM (Train first)

Departure: 8:30AM & 1:00PM (Bus first)

Cost: $122.00 Adult $78.00 Child (12 & Under)

Itinerary: Skagway/White Pass Summit/Fraser & return to Skagway by bus

2) Yukon Rail & Bus Excursion

Duration: 7.5 Hours

Departure: 7:30AM

Cost: $175.00 Adult $120.00 Child (12 & Under)

Lunch: Caribou Crossing Trading Post/Yukon Wildlife Museum/Husky Puppy Camp/Lunch Included

Itinerary: Skagway/White Pass Summit/Fraser by train - 1 3/4 hours on train to Fraser, Fraser to Carcross & Emerald Lake and return to Skagway by bus

3) Yukon Rail & Bus Excursion With 15-Minute Dogsled Ride

Same as #2 above plus dogsled ride included in this package

Cost: $206.00 Adults $153.00 Child (12 & Under)

4) Skagway/Carcross Rail & Bus Excursion (May 22 – September 2, 2009)

Duration: 9 Hours

Departure: 7:30AM

Cost: $228 Adult $152 Child (12 & Under) (Plus 5% sales tax)

Lunch: Lake Bennett Train Depot dining hall/Parks Canada Interpretive Displays/Lunch Included

Itinerary: 2 1/2 hours on train to White Pass Summit, Fraser & Lake Bennett – 1 1/2 hours for lunch and layover at Lake Bennett – 2 hours by train to Carcross – Carcross to Emerald Lake and return to Skagway by bus

(This excursion operates in the reverse order on Wednesday and Sunday.)

Courtesy transportation is provided to and from all cruise ship docks in Skagway.

Please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions. Reservations may be made by visiting our web site at www.chilkootcharters.com and completing our online reservation form. Once we receive a reservation request, we will respond with an email confirmation that includes meeting and pickup instructions.

Regards,

Larry Pierce

CHILKOOT CHARTERS & TOURS

Skagway, Alaska

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Thought I would share the prices I got from Chilkoot. I have choosen to use them next month.

 

There 8 hr is our 7 1/2 hr tour, doing smaller groups and having smaller buses gives us a more VIP type tour,,it even gives us enough time to include Emerald lake. They no longer do Emerald lake. It saves them 8 miles x 30 buses x $4.38 a gallon.

 

I just noticed your e-mail! my wife is Business Manager for the Skagway School District, Loves her job working with children. Grades 1 thru 12

all in one Building.

BUS & RAIL EXCURSIONS

We currently have 4 combination bus and rail excursions.

1) White Pass Summit Rail & Bus Excursion

Duration: 3.5 Hours

Departure: 7:30AM & 12:00PM (Train first)

Departure: 8:30AM & 1:00PM (Bus first)

Cost: $122.00 Adult $78.00 Child (12 & Under)

Itinerary: Skagway/White Pass Summit/Fraser & return to Skagway by bus

2) Yukon Rail & Bus Excursion

Duration: 7.5 Hours

Departure: 7:30AM

Cost: $175.00 Adult $120.00 Child (12 & Under)

Lunch: Caribou Crossing Trading Post/Yukon Wildlife Museum/Husky Puppy Camp/Lunch Included

Itinerary: Skagway/White Pass Summit/Fraser by train - 1 3/4 hours on train to Fraser, Fraser to Carcross & Emerald Lake and return to Skagway by bus

3) Yukon Rail & Bus Excursion With 15-Minute Dogsled Ride

Same as #2 above plus dogsled ride included in this package

Cost: $206.00 Adults $153.00 Child (12 & Under)

4) Skagway/Carcross Rail & Bus Excursion (May 22 – September 2, 2009)

Duration: 9 Hours

Departure: 7:30AM

Cost: $228 Adult $152 Child (12 & Under) (Plus 5% sales tax)

Lunch: Lake Bennett Train Depot dining hall/Parks Canada Interpretive Displays/Lunch Included

Itinerary: 2 1/2 hours on train to White Pass Summit, Fraser & Lake Bennett – 1 1/2 hours for lunch and layover at Lake Bennett – 2 hours by train to Carcross – Carcross to Emerald Lake and return to Skagway by bus

(This excursion operates in the reverse order on Wednesday and Sunday.)

Courtesy transportation is provided to and from all cruise ship docks in Skagway.

Please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions. Reservations may be made by visiting our web site at www.chilkootcharters.com and completing our online reservation form. Once we receive a reservation request, we will respond with an email confirmation that includes meeting and pickup instructions.

Regards,

Larry Pierce

CHILKOOT CHARTERS & TOURS

Skagway, Alaska

 

Thanks for the great info.

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Another vote for Chilkoot. You can either call or email them to get prices and any other Q&A, they are very nice and a pleasure to deal with. And they definitely go to Emerald Lake (that other post didn't differentiate clearly who stopped the Emerald Lake visit, but it is not Chilkoot, they still go there).

 

For a low-key personalized tour in Ketchikan, you might want to consider Lois with Classic Tours. http://www.classictours.com/ She is a long-time resident and takes you around town in one of her 2 '55 Chevys (red or blue). She is a nice lady and we had a great time with her on the Totems & Eagles tour. We wanted something laid-back that day (it was our second AK cruise and my mom can't do flightseeing or small boats) and we really enjoyed our time with Lois. Afterwards, we walked around town on our own and just enjoyed our final port before heading home.

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We are going on a first cruise to Alaska in mid May. The Mr. always insists on ship arranged tours (he gets nervous about things going wrong). Friends we are traveling with (very experienced cruisers-but not to Alaska) say book independent tours along with them, less costly and more interesting tours.

So dipping a toe in the tour water, won't you all please let me know about your experience with tours, good and negative and recommend particular operators in Sitka, Skagway, Juneau, Icy Straight, Ketchikan and Victoria.

Thanks so much and happy sailing

Bo

 

Do you mean mid May, like next month? I would suspect most of the private operators would be booked by now. We are going to Alaska in 3 weeks. We booked all private tours (except taking ship excursion in Sitka) thanks to all the recommendations we got on this website. We booked a few months ago and I tried a few private operators due to last minute decision making for Sitka last week and there are no spots left.

As far as private tours we have always had only positlve experiences. No waiting for a busload of cruise passengers to get on and off, more personal attention and information. We did this in most ports on a Mediterranean cruise we took a few years ago and they were first rate.

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