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Old 05-18-2011, 11:29 AM   #1
ClaireinTN
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Alaska Excursions--post your reviews here!

I know there is a lot of information about the Alaska cruises scattered about various threads. I think those of us on later cruises would really like to hear from returning Alaska cruisers 1. which excursions they took, and 2. what did they think of them.

Thanks!
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:52 AM   #2
disneypoor
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I'd also really love to read some excursion reviews. I just posted a thread asking about a specific excursion we are booked on, but I'd love to read about all of them. Thanks for posting this! Can't wait to read what people have already experienced! We sail in a little over two weeks!

Susan
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Upcoming Trips: 03/15 Disney Wonder out of Miami, 07/15 Maui
Trip Reports: 06/06 Wonder, 03/07 Eastern, 06/11 Alaskan Cruise
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Old 05-18-2011, 01:46 PM   #3
Lilbunnyk
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Just off The Wonder May 10-17 sailings.
Skagway: Gacier discovery by helicopter- 5 out of 5 stars! I loved this excursion. It was awesome to see a glacier from the sky and then land on it and see it up close. The helicopter seated 5 passengers and the pilot explained everything to us. He was also our guide on the glacier but he said that in the summer he just drops off and picks up passengers and that there are guides that stay on the glacier. We flew over The Wonder on the way back which was fun!
Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest: 3 out of 5 stars. We went whale watching first. Thought the boat was too crowded with 110 passengers. It was a double decker boat and plenty of room for everyone but I am used to whale watching in smaller boats and with less people. There was a naturalist on board that pointed out the wildlife and we were all provided with binoculars which was nice. We weren't allowed closer than 150 yards to the whales so it was not easy to see them, especially for kids. We did see killer whales and humpback whales. This would probably be cool for a first time whale watcher but I have been many times and a lot closer to whales so it was not that exciting for me to see them so far away. Next we took a bus to Mendenhall glacier, we had 45 minutes and then had to be back to the bus. This was not enough time. The trail to the glacier is about 40 minutes round trip so you could not do the trail and see the visitor's center. I decided to do the trail. Halfway along the trail I encountered a black bear and three cubs on the trail. They did not even care about us and went about there business. I got some pictures but had to hurry up because of the time. Overall I had a good time but wish the whale watching boat was smaller and we had more time at the glacier.
Ketchikan: Rainforest nature walk, raptor center and totem poles. 3 out of 5 stars. We took a bus to a rainforest and were met by a naturalist which was a high school student but knew everything she talked about. Our group was about 6 people which was nice. The rainforest trail is about 1/4 mile and the walk is very easy and slow paced. We learned about all the plant life as we walked. We did see some bald eagles fishing which was cool. After the walk we went to the raptor center which is at the end of the trail and is just one building with a bald eagle and an owl inside. Then we went to another building to watch a man making a totem pole. I enjoyed myself but would have liked to do a more rugged hike and was expecting more birds at the raptor center.
I hope this review helps! Let mek ow if you have any specific questions.
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Old 05-18-2011, 02:09 PM   #4
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Thank you for your reviews of your excursions! I'm leaning towards changing one of ours to a Glacier Discovery by Helicopter for Juneau. I just read that the excursion we are currently booked for while in Juneau was canceled last week due to low water levels and ice. Since we sail in just a little over two weeks, I'm afraid if I stick with our current excursion, we'll get on the ship, find out it's canceled, and then have nothing left to choose from that would interest our family. I'm sure the helicopter glacier experience would be similar in Juneau. I'm guessing you'd definitely recommend that?

Thanks again for your reviews!

Susan
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09/93 Honeymoon at WDW, 03/01 First time to WDW with kids,
06/02 WDW, 11/03 First trip to Disneyland, 05/05 BIG family trip
to WDW POR, 06/06 First cruise on the Wonder/WDW ASM,
11/06 Disneyland, 03/07 7 Night Eastern, 09/07 3 Nights on the
Wonder, 03/08 Cruise to the Hawaiian Islands, 11/08 DD on the Magic,
11/09 3 Nights on the Wonder and WDW, 07/10 Family Vacation to WDW,
02/11 3 Nights on the Dream, 06/11 Alaskan Cruise on the Wonder,
03/12 One Week in Maui, 07/26/12 Bay Lake Tower 1st DVC Stay,
03/16/13 5 Night DCL Western,
07/13 Villas at Grand California, 03/14 5 Night DCL Miami,
05/14 Bay Lake Tower, 08/15 1st trip to Aulani

Upcoming Trips: 03/15 Disney Wonder out of Miami, 07/15 Maui
Trip Reports: 06/06 Wonder, 03/07 Eastern, 06/11 Alaskan Cruise
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Old 05-18-2011, 02:13 PM   #5
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Great thread! Subbing because we set sail Tuesday and are doing two excursions I haven't seen anyone post about: The Liarsville Salmon Bake with Gold Panning and the one and only snorkeling adventure. If anyone did those, would love to hear about them. Otherwise I'll be posting when we get back.
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Old 05-18-2011, 02:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diannah View Post
Great thread! Subbing because we set sail Tuesday and are doing two excursions I haven't seen anyone post about: The Liarsville Salmon Bake with Gold Panning and the one and only snorkeling adventure. If anyone did those, would love to hear about them. Otherwise I'll be posting when we get back.
Please review them when you return. We are signed up for the snorkeling as well, and I haven't seen anything about it here on the boards!
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:49 PM   #7
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Please review them when you return. We are signed up for the snorkeling as well, and I haven't seen anything about it here on the boards!
Will do! Have a student who did it several years ago and LOVED it! Had nothing but great things to say about it. So DH and DD are excited. (I can't do it for medical reasons.
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:42 PM   #8
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We were on the first Alaskan (May 3-10). Here are my reviews from another thread:

Skagway: Yukon exploration with White Pass RR and dog sledding through Chilkoot Charters...this was FANTASTIC! Our favorite experience by far

Juneau: Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier...also loved this. Saw humpbacks up pretty close, sea lions, porpoises and bald eagles. They served drinks and snacks (salmon, crackers, chocolate) and had a restroom onboard. They also had a naturalist onboard to talk about the whales and we learned a lot. The boat is enclosed, but you can go out the back or front when they find the whales. Glacier was gorgeous and you could walk pretty close, nice trails and visitors center but only 1 hour there and it goes by quickly. I would probably not do the whale watching again simply b/c we saw so many from our verandah, though the tour was great. The 9:30 whale watchers didn't see whales and got their money back. We also did Historic Gold Panning Adventure that afternoon, since we were back at the ship in time to do another tour. Very fun. They took us to Gold Creek, where Juneau himself struck gold, and let us pan. This is really great for kids, especially in the 7-11 range. Get your feet wet and find some riches! The kids in our tour loved it. They do make sure everyone "finds" gold by giving you your first pan from their stock of sand. You get flakes and they will put them in a vial for you.

Ketchikan: My DD and I did the Potlatch Park with youth activity tour. We really liked this. You visit the totem park with a guide and he did a great job of telling some kid-friendly stories about the totems (like how one is their version of Hansel and Gretel). It didn't last too long and let the kids get up close with the totems. Then we met the carver at Potlatch Park and got to see her studio. After a quick visit to the clan house and some questions from the kids, DCL youth counselors magically appeared to help the kids paint feather-scales for the totem that is being erected. We then explored the town a bit and went to the DCL Lumberjack Show (I just bought tickets for this on the lumberjack show website...you don't have to book through DCL...it isn't literally "exclusive," though I suspect it will fill up later in the season). This was wonderful! You should definitely do it. Kids loved it. Loved. Lots of participation for the 7+ set. My parents did a trolley tour of the town and said it sucked. They also visited Saxman village and said that without a guide, it was a waste of time b/c they didn't know what they were looking at.

Interesting that the next cruise's Whale Watching adventure had loads more people. Ours was probably 35 on the boat and it was a small, fast boat, not a double-decker. We also had longer at the Glacier.
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:57 PM   #10
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Excursions..

Skagway: White Pass was pretty amazing.

Juneau: Glacier Helicopter. Don't care where you do this, but this is a must. Fantastic.

Ketchikan: We actually just walked around. It was nice, and relaxing. Went to see the totem pole heritage site, the fish and eagle hatchery, had some coffee, hung out with some locals...very relaxing. Not to mention, the day happened to be maybe the most beautiful of the whole trip.
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:35 PM   #11
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Can you provide any details of the helicopter safety and such?

I'm a little nervouse to take the trip. We have never been in a helicopter before.
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:52 PM   #12
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Can you provide any details of the helicopter safety and such?

I'm a little nervouse to take the trip. We have never been in a helicopter before.
They show you a safety video before you get into the helicopter and we had to wear life jacket vests but I felt safer on the helicopter then when I fly in airplanes. I was sitting right next to the pilot and we all had head sets on so he talked to us the whole time. He does up to 11 trips per day! The flight itself was very smooth.
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:56 PM   #13
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Subbing.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:09 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Lilbunnyk View Post
Just off The Wonder May 10-17 sailings.
Skagway: Gacier discovery by helicopter- 5 out of 5 stars! I loved this excursion. It was awesome to see a glacier from the sky and then land on it and see it up close. The helicopter seated 5 passengers and the pilot explained everything to us. He was also our guide on the glacier but he said that in the summer he just drops off and picks up passengers and that there are guides that stay on the glacier. We flew over The Wonder on the way back which was fun!
Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest: 3 out of 5 stars. We went whale watching first. Thought the boat was too crowded with 110 passengers. It was a double decker boat and plenty of room for everyone but I am used to whale watching in smaller boats and with less people. There was a naturalist on board that pointed out the wildlife and we were all provided with binoculars which was nice. We weren't allowed closer than 150 yards to the whales so it was not easy to see them, especially for kids. We did see killer whales and humpback whales. This would probably be cool for a first time whale watcher but I have been many times and a lot closer to whales so it was not that exciting for me to see them so far away. Next we took a bus to Mendenhall glacier, we had 45 minutes and then had to be back to the bus. This was not enough time. The trail to the glacier is about 40 minutes round trip so you could not do the trail and see the visitor's center. I decided to do the trail. Halfway along the trail I encountered a black bear and three cubs on the trail. They did not even care about us and went about there business. I got some pictures but had to hurry up because of the time. Overall I had a good time but wish the whale watching boat was smaller and we had more time at the glacier.
Ketchikan: Rainforest nature walk, raptor center and totem poles. 3 out of 5 stars. We took a bus to a rainforest and were met by a naturalist which was a high school student but knew everything she talked about. Our group was about 6 people which was nice. The rainforest trail is about 1/4 mile and the walk is very easy and slow paced. We learned about all the plant life as we walked. We did see some bald eagles fishing which was cool. After the walk we went to the raptor center which is at the end of the trail and is just one building with a bald eagle and an owl inside. Then we went to another building to watch a man making a totem pole. I enjoyed myself but would have liked to do a more rugged hike and was expecting more birds at the raptor center.
I hope this review helps! Let mek ow if you have any specific questions.
We were on the same cruise, and did the same whale watch/Mendenhall Glacier as you did - and I think we met you! We met some people in the elevator going up to the visitor's center, and saw a bear on someone's camera! LOL! I would also not do that whale watch again - it was too crowded, and it was so early that there weren't a lot of whales out, unfortunately.

We did the Mammoth Waterfalls Zip Line tour in Skagway, and it was great (well, scary for me, great for dh, dd15 and dd11!) I can't say enough nice things about the guides there. I did 5 out of the 11 lines, and then the belayed me to the ground. The boys did them all, and had a great time! 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

In Ketchikan we did the Duck Tour, which was just o.k. (our duck boat broke down, which didn't help them be "cheerful.") They did bring another right out, and the driver of the second one was much better. I'd give that a 3 out of 5 stars. We also did the Lumberjack show in Ketchikan - which was a lot of fun. For the price, I'd give it a 5 out of 5. The kids loved it!
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:48 PM   #15
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I am looking for reviews of the Musher for a Day in Juneau excursion.
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