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Old 05-28-2011, 03:44 PM   #121
Breyean
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltadinah View Post
I also would like to hear something about the Mendenhall - Rainforest Garden
Excursion.
Hi. We did the glacier hike on the 5/3 cruise.

As point of reference, I had just run the Vancouver Marathon the Sunday before; my wife had done the 1/2 marathon. Another couple in our group had done a trail 1/2 marathon outside San Francisco on the layover on the repositioning cruise. We all showed up in old running shoes, expecting well maintained trails, which is what I believe the brochure said. None of us were experienced hikers, but there were people in our group who were.

It starts off very easy. You walk along beautiful trails with big trees, plenty of shade, water rushing in streams in a few places. The guides maintain a brisk pace, stopping now and then to let people catch up while they point out facts about the forest and stuff.

Soon, however, it became almost like mountain climbing. There was one area where they had steel cables up on the sides to keep you falling off the mountain and to use to haul yourself up. Other areas had to be climbed on all fours, especially for my wife and the other woman runner, since they are short and couldn't get their legs from one rock to another w/o using their hands to crawl up.

The hardest was at the very top. Now, we did not know this, but maybe we missed it in the literature. The end of the hike is no where near the actual glacier. You end up with a great view of it, but you're not close to it at all. And getting to that point required climbing the rocks on all fours.

BUT WAIT! There's more!

Getting down was pretty bad. At the summit, the guides went down first so they could basically catch people as they slid down those rocks we had just climbed up. Remember, these rocks are wet from snow runoff.

I made it down the first part so well they let me go ahead on my own, as did the other running couple. They were a little ahead of me when the wife fell, rolled into her husband and the both sort of slid down the rocks. His knee was a little banged up but they were basically OK.

Just then, I saw a nice flat rock to make my next descent, but didn't notice it was wet and slippery. My old running shoes went right out from under me, I went down on my back, cut my shoulder, both elbows and a lot of my right hand as I grabbed for a tree or something, because I wasn't go straight down the "path", I was heading off the side of the mountain.

Point is, I think you need to be in good shape. I think you need real hiking boots. You have to realize after all this you only get a picture of the glacier from a distance. Funny part was when we finished back at the parking lot, if you look out across the water you can see the glacier just fine.

Oh, and things were so dicey on that first descent the guides took us back along another trail which is longer, w/o rocks or tow ropes, but which they said isn't always available due to runoff later in the year.

We had a good time. But I think they sell this adventure as being easier than it really is.
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:00 PM   #122
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Thanks so much for this review. I canceled the hike yesterday (for our August cruise) but was still thinking about it this morning. Your review makes me realize I made the right choice as I know this would be too much for my 10 y.o. DD and my mom as well as myself.

Now I am hoping to hear reviews of the Mendenhall Glacier and Rainforest Garden explorer. Anyone???
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:55 PM   #123
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Originally Posted by GrumpyBelle View Post
Thanks so much for this review. I canceled the hike yesterday (for our August cruise) but was still thinking about it this morning. Your review makes me realize I made the right choice as I know this would be too much for my 10 y.o. DD and my mom as well as myself.

Now I am hoping to hear reviews of the Mendenhall Glacier and Rainforest Garden explorer. Anyone???
Yes, that was smart, I think. It was quite a long day. Fun, and the guides were very good, but it was tough.

Can't help you with the other excursion. If you're thinking of doing the snorkeling the next day, let me know. My wife and I were 2 of the 5 people to do it from our cruise. It was actually a blast!
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Old 05-28-2011, 06:16 PM   #124
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Originally Posted by Breyean View Post
Yes, that was smart, I think. It was quite a long day. Fun, and the guides were very good, but it was tough.

Can't help you with the other excursion. If you're thinking of doing the snorkeling the next day, let me know. My wife and I were 2 of the 5 people to do it from our cruise. It was actually a blast!
Please tell about the snorkeling -- we're signed up for it in Ketchikan and haven't been able to find anyone who could review it!
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Old 05-29-2011, 12:32 PM   #125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Breyean View Post
Hi. We did the glacier hike on the 5/3 cruise.

As point of reference, I had just run the Vancouver Marathon the Sunday before; my wife had done the 1/2 marathon. Another couple in our group had done a trail 1/2 marathon outside San Francisco on the layover on the repositioning cruise. We all showed up in old running shoes, expecting well maintained trails, which is what I believe the brochure said. None of us were experienced hikers, but there were people in our group who were.

It starts off very easy. You walk along beautiful trails with big trees, plenty of shade, water rushing in streams in a few places. The guides maintain a brisk pace, stopping now and then to let people catch up while they point out facts about the forest and stuff.

Soon, however, it became almost like mountain climbing. There was one area where they had steel cables up on the sides to keep you falling off the mountain and to use to haul yourself up. Other areas had to be climbed on all fours, especially for my wife and the other woman runner, since they are short and couldn't get their legs from one rock to another w/o using their hands to crawl up.

The hardest was at the very top. Now, we did not know this, but maybe we missed it in the literature. The end of the hike is no where near the actual glacier. You end up with a great view of it, but you're not close to it at all. And getting to that point required climbing the rocks on all fours.

BUT WAIT! There's more!

Getting down was pretty bad. At the summit, the guides went down first so they could basically catch people as they slid down those rocks we had just climbed up. Remember, these rocks are wet from snow runoff.

I made it down the first part so well they let me go ahead on my own, as did the other running couple. They were a little ahead of me when the wife fell, rolled into her husband and the both sort of slid down the rocks. His knee was a little banged up but they were basically OK.

Just then, I saw a nice flat rock to make my next descent, but didn't notice it was wet and slippery. My old running shoes went right out from under me, I went down on my back, cut my shoulder, both elbows and a lot of my right hand as I grabbed for a tree or something, because I wasn't go straight down the "path", I was heading off the side of the mountain.

Point is, I think you need to be in good shape. I think you need real hiking boots. You have to realize after all this you only get a picture of the glacier from a distance. Funny part was when we finished back at the parking lot, if you look out across the water you can see the glacier just fine.

Oh, and things were so dicey on that first descent the guides took us back along another trail which is longer, w/o rocks or tow ropes, but which they said isn't always available due to runoff later in the year.

We had a good time. But I think they sell this adventure as being easier than it really is.
thank you so much for your review! Our family likes to hike, but we're casual day hikers (3-4 miles at easy/moderate level). We signed up for this hike, but after reading your review and finding the guide's website where the hike is listed as "strenuous", we've since cancelled. It's too much for us, particularly for my 10 year old. We're planning on going to the glacier visitor center on our own ($8 shuttle bus). It looks like there are some easier trails around the visitor center which are more at our level. thanks again for the information.
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Old 05-29-2011, 01:11 PM   #126
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Thank you to everyone who posted their experiences! I've read reviews on other websites about some of these excursions, but I tend to trust a DIS review more than others!

In Skagway, my two daughters and I booked the dogsledding/train excursion with Chilkoot Tours. Thank you for all of the positive reviews--it is a little bit pricey but sounds worth it! I'm also excited about going to Emerald Lake--Disney tours didn't go that far.

Hubby and MIL are booked on the steam train ride. I enjoyed reading the experiences about the trip. I have been on soooooooooo many steam train rides with hubby (did I mention he is a train buff?) that I didn't want to waste my time in Alaska chugging-chugging-chugging for hours on end! My hubby will not be upset at all by any delays. And yes, the steam train ride (for him) is the only reason why we are going to Alaska!

Anyone go on the Whalewatching/Science Adventure? We're booked on that trip for Juneau. DH and I are scientists--hoping that it will be informative for our girls.

Bought the Lumberjack Exclusive tickets from the website. I too did not like have to pay full freight for my 12 year old. Earlier that day, we are booked for the Zipline Tour, Bear, I think.

We'll be leaving Vancouver on June 14th! Yippee Skippee!

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Old 05-29-2011, 01:44 PM   #127
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Please tell about the snorkeling -- we're signed up for it in Ketchikan and haven't been able to find anyone who could review it!
We were on the 5/3 cruise, so the water temperature was probably a little colder than it is later in the year.

There were 5 from DCL - one certified scuba guy and a father/son couple. There was also a young couple from another ship in port that day. ONLY 2 PEOPLE from that entire ship.

The 7 of us took a short bus ride (an old school bus) from the dock to the dive shop. Along the way, an instructor showed us what gear we would be wearing and how to get it on. This is no easy thing. We had really thick wetsuits, a hood that covered our foreheads, thick gloves and booties. The only place exposed, literally, was the inch or so between the mask and the hood and the inch or so from our lips to the bottom of the hood.

At the dive shop they got us the appropriate sizes of suits, booties, etc. We then split up into the two dressing rooms, which are only curtained off sections on the shop - not fancy by any means, no showers or anything like that. Even with just the 5 of us guys changing in the men's area it was a little tight. The guides were nice and helped us into our suits, which I needed since I have a bum shoulder and getting into these things are a lot harder than I expected. You leave your valuables in the shop, which they lock. We brought our camera back to the bus and left that on the guide's truck while in the water. They had underwater cameras for sale, but no one bought or had one, and that was probably for the best.

We then waddled down to the bus again, and took a short drive to the dive area. It was low tide when we did it, so it was a somewhat exciting walk along a rocky area to get to the water. We put on our fins (again, the guides were great and did most of the hard stuff for us since our flexibility was severely limited by the suits, which are REALLY tight to help keep us warm.

In the water, the guide told us we were lucky - the water temperature had gone up the couple of days before we arrived to a balmy 47 degrees. They explained where we could go, about the currents and stuff, and we headed out.

We had 5 guides for the 7 of us. So they were able to really take time to explain the sea life around us and what the waters in the area hold. But we saw no fish. Maybe it was still too cold for them. We, however, never felt that cold once the water in our suits warmed up.

They also offered weight belts for those who wanted to drive free diving. These are necessary because the wetsuits are so buoyant it's almost impossible to dive without the extra weight. I had one, and dove a few times. Unfortunately, the water toward the surface was pretty murky and you had to get down quite a bit for it to clear.

The guides did a lot of diving and brought stuff up for us took look at and pass around while they explained what they were.

We spent an hour in the water, and no one was too cold that they HAD to get out. We took a few pictures of us in our suits (not flattering) and got back on the bus. Now we knew why they used an old school bus with vinyl seats - we sat there all wet on the way back to the shop.

Getting the suits off was tougher than getting them on. The guides didn't help as much with this part. They did ask we tell others the water was colder, there were icebergs we had to swim around. I think they were embarrassed it had been so warm so early.

A drink of water, back on the bus (they had us sit in the back when were wet and then in the front after we changed so we had dry seats - wonder how that works if they have more people?) and back to ship. We grabbed a shower and lunch, then headed back out for shopping, which was an excursion in its own right!

So, we LOVED it. We've snorkeled in warmer waters before, but this was truly unique. I wish it HAD been colder, but it was a lot of fun. Even my wife, who was VERY apprehensive of the cold water, had a great time.

I highly recommend it if just for the novelty aspect - you might not see schools of brightly colored fish, but you CAN say "I went snorkeling in Alaska". Your friends will be impressed, believe me.
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:19 PM   #128
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To DH and I, all this meant was extra time to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and champagne. We had booked the excursion through DCL so we were not concerned about the ship leaving without us if we got back after all-aboard (which turned out not to be an issue), but some others were very scared the ship would leave.

We had a great time! I would absolutely recommend this tour.
Dreams - was there any food on this trip (or anyplace to purchase food)? If so, what was available? DH & I are both diabetic and wondering if we need to pack snacks. Thanks
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Old 05-29-2011, 04:48 PM   #129
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Breyean -- thanks so much for the detailed review -- it really helps!
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:01 AM   #130
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Thanks for all of the reviews! We sail on the 14th.

We are doing the Steam Train / Liarsville in Skagway. It was good to read the review about that - how long of a stop is there when you get off the train and get on the bus? Are there "facilities" at the place you trade transportation?

We're doing the Mendenhall Glacier and Guided Walk in Juneau - first time on a helicopter for all of us. Wondering if anyone who has been to the Glacier would post what they wore - we are trying to figure out packing

Ketchikan we're doing on our own - none of the excursions jazzed us, so we'll enjoy the afternoon in port just hanging out and doing some shopping.

We're also doing a whale watching with Harv and MArv's in Juneau - Tripadvisor and our TA gave glowing recommendations. Anyone?
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:23 AM   #131
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Any input on the following:
Skagway: Laughton Glacier Wilderness Hike and Rail Adventure

Juneau: Whale Watching, Salmon Bake and Mendenhall Glacier - Adult Only Departure (Shoreside Concierge said the boat was only 18 people)

Ketchikan: Misty Fjords Boat and Floatplane Adventure

We have a group of five adults, we are hoping we don't get split up.

Thank you!
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:32 AM   #132
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Breyean that you for your review. Lots of super info!!!!
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:57 PM   #133
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Breyean that you for your review. Lots of super info!!!!
You are all welcome.

I hope whatever you all do you have a great time.
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Old 05-30-2011, 02:51 PM   #134
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We finally made some decisions for our upcoming Alaska cruise next week. Here is what we're doing:

Skagway: Yukon Suspension Bridge, City, and White Pass Railway

Juneau: Alpine Zipline and Glacier Adventure

Ketchikan: Misty Fjords and Wilderness Explorer

Can anyone give me any advice or reviews for these excursions? I've read some things about the White Pass Railway and understand it is great! Anyone done the ziplining in Juneau? Would love to hear about that! TIA!

Susan
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:26 PM   #135
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Dreams - was there any food on this trip (or anyplace to purchase food)? If so, what was available? DH & I are both diabetic and wondering if we need to pack snacks. Thanks
There's no food available for purchase on board the train, but you're certainly welcome to bring food with you ON the train. I would be sure to bring snacks if you think there's any chance of being caught in a bind without food.

Quote:
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We are doing the Steam Train / Liarsville in Skagway. It was good to read the review about that - how long of a stop is there when you get off the train and get on the bus? Are there "facilities" at the place you trade transportation?
If you're doing the Liarsville/train combination tour, you won't be on the steam train; you'll be on a train pulled by a vintage diesel engine. Still quite a spectacular trip and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. The stop at the end of the train portion in Fraser isn't a detination stop, it's just where the rails and the highway meet for you to transfer to your motor coach. Fraser isn't a city or anything and it doesn't have any amenities other than gorgeous views of the lake and some restrooms. You're just there long enough to get off the train and board your bus. No food kiosks, coffee carts, etc. So again, if you think you'll need/want snacks, it's always a good idea to pack a few in your bag.
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