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Old 06-07-2011, 10:13 PM   #211
msnoble
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Question

Wondering if anyone who is back from the first several Alaska cruises has tried the Bear Creek Zipline excursion in Ketchikan? We have booked it through DCL, and are excited about it but would love to hear a review from a recent cruise.

Thanks!
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:21 PM   #212
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I posted this in another thread about what inexpensive thingsd can you do in port---and a moderator asked me to add it here as well. I heard and I obeyed, lol.

We just got back from the 5/24. We booked all our excursions through the ship as I was okay with the little extra. Hubby has a physical disability and we appreciated the shorter walks plus the guarantee of a quick credit if anything was cancelled.
Here are my ideas:

Skagway- we took the combined Train and Trail camp
Train up and Liarsville (without the meal) on the way back. Much cheaper than doing it separately as a combo. It can also be booked with different options privately as well.

The views were outstanding. Liarsville was just fun. I found gold!!!

Were dropped off at the ship. Went and had a quick lunch onboard.
Then we headed into town to go to the Gold Rush National Historic Park. There are several buildings. Ask where the activity packs are and go there first. (National parks are free- just please also look at their gift shops, they get much of there funding from there)

They are loaning (renting for free) an activity bag with walking tour and a nice set of binoculars in it. If you follow the map guide you see the museum, film, several historic buildings, the graveyard, take a nature trail etc. Customize it with what you want to do/or not do. You make a ranger's day when you check it out.

They have a movie and even had a nice evening program that sounded interesting but we were tuckered out by then. My feet rebelled from all the walking so we got back early. (plus son wanted to watch the new Pirates movie!)

Juneau- Our excursion was cancelled (Helicopter/dog sled) so we had to think on our feet. Son was on the teen excursion so we waited to find out if his excursion would cancel or not so he could join us. It was also cancelled. Safety of low cloud cover/fog- we knew that going in so it was okay. (For us this was due to an unexpected check arriving in the mail that was a few dollars more than it would have cost, Yippee!!)

Son opted to stay on ship after all and the rest of us wandered the town. (Take the shuttle in) We spotted eagles perched on the top of the library. I am pretty sure they will be there daily as they were watching Tracy's Crab Shack for end of day when they hoped for leftovers.

We had planned to go to Mendenhall after Tracy's bisque, but decided to walk around and explore the town instead. Really neat streets that are stairs. Walked the shore line and got some fantastic shots of the ship across the harbor. Picked up a souvenir for the neighbor/house and dog sitter that would not let us pay her.

Had fun talking to the owners of the Glacial Smoothies. They sell soap made with glacial soap, not drinks, lol.

Ketchikan- We wandered the town. (There is a shuttle, but you have to wait about 10 minutes- so we missed it to town, caught it on the way back)

Hubby bought me an anniversary gift and I got him one. (Mine was to replace my stolen engagement ring - his was an Ulu Knife in a store near the lumberjack show- at half the price of the one he had seen in Juneau! So we spent about half the helicopter money after all.)

Kids had fun redeeming the free coupons fromthe shopping talks and taking photos/video of the town while they were shopping with parents. (Yeah, we took a 17 yr old and a 9 yr old to a jewelry store. My dd9 is very proud of her necklace that was free, she wore it to dinner that night!)

Walking Creek Street- really neat little area to photograph.

We did the lumberjack show. Honestly-- My kids had this as their number one thing to do in Ketchikan. I think I was going in expecting a really hokey show and thought I would be "doing it for the kids". I was very happily wrong!!!!

It was a nice display of things a lumberjack would do with a nice team competition for rooting for your team. Went a little hoarse from cheering. I found the staff to be really nice as well. My unopened pop had been knocked off the seat and they happily exchanged it for another one.

They had shuttles back to the ship from the lumberjack show, but we had to go pick up my ring. Then we realized son did not have a souvenir so he found a really cool Deadliest Catch t-shirt.
The shuttle bus stop was right outside that store so we rode that back. Nice driver and my feet hurt.

I recommend that if your walking shoes are more than 6 months old and you live in them like I do that you replace them about 3 weeks before you go. Between the shoes and the swelling, my ankles were huge by Ketchikan. I am told the swelling is normal--from the salt in the food as we use no salt at home. (I never tasted the salt)

We would love to have had more time to just wander the town so we were kind of glad the helicopter was cancelled.

NW
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Old 06-08-2011, 01:44 AM   #213
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Skagway::
Chilkoot- White Pass RR up the mountain, bus ride down the mountain, with dog cart ride add-on.
***This was a great excursion. The white pass RR is wonderful. Going up the mountain it is best to be on the left side; unfortunately our driver announced that info and others beat us to it; but it was still a great ride on the right hand side. I spent a lot of time on the outside of the car taking pics and video. The scenery is beautiful and the kids loved riding the train in general. The bus ride back down was nice as well; we made several stops. Unfortunately some of the stops like the welcome to the Yukon sign had numerous other buses stopped their as well causing a line to take your pic; but several other places we were the only ones; so it balanced out I guess. The bus was comfortable and the driver was very friendly and knowledgable. We seen a few mountain goats, two bears, and an eagle on the bus ride. It was great using a small company (small bus) because we were able to stop, turn around, and get right up CLOSE to the bears on the road side; other large bus tours slowed down to look at the bears but were too large to turn around or get close. The provided BBQ lunch was good (not awesome, but good/fine) The kids loved the playing with the dogs and riding the dog cart.
Juneau::
Harv and Marv Whale Watching (and Mendenhall Glacier
)
Our captain (and assistant captain) were both very friendly and knowledgable. We began seeing whales right off the bat and were able to capture a lot of whale activity. We also seen 3 or 4 bald eagles and lots of sea lions. This was a great tour despite the rain we had that day. Thankfully we had a private tour in their 12 passenger boat and it was very roomy to sit inside; they had large windows that could be opened for picture taking. The cabin was well heated also. We did go out on deck a good bit; but do to the light rain and cold it was very nice that we had the option to sit inside the cabin a good bit and still be able to enjoy the tour. We were originally going to be dropped off at the mendenhall glacier and take a shuttle back; but due to the weather we opted for the 15 minute drop off. This glacier is HUGE and the view where they drop you is wonderful; it was more magnificent than the south glacier we seen in Tracy Arm IMHO. Even though we only had 15 min, we had plenty of time to get in several great photos from several different vantage points.
Ketchikan::
Island Wings- Misty Fjord Flightseeing (and glacier flight seeing
)
We booked misty fjord flightseeing with an add on glacier flight seeing. unfortunately due to weather or something we were unable to get out to the glaciers and only did the misty fjord part. (we were refunded the glacier portion). This was the cream of the crop excursion! Going out I rode in the co-pilot seat and it was a great experience. I got lots of great pics and video. Our water landing where we got out allowed for some awesome scenery. We seen some bald eagles; but not much else in the way of wildlife; but the scenery was amazing. I would highly recommend this tour. The flight was very smooth; both landing and flying...
Shopping::We did very little shopping. Skagway was the easiest to get around; I purchases t-shirts at the t shirt factory store (the one farthest from port) and got the kids shirts for $6 and adults for $10.
Juneau- we did zero shopping.
Ketchikan- we only went in one store and it is the one immediate off the dock; they had several things, but we only got batteries and some AK magnets. This store also had a mail drop off so that I could send off some post cards.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:06 AM   #214
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Originally Posted by buddywesley View Post
So after reading the reviews of the so-so Salmon bake and the large whale watching boat (thinking we can see whales off the ship just as good?) We are thinking of switching to either the Juneau City and Mendenhall Glacier Tour OR the Mendenhall Glacier and Rainforest Garden Adventure instead. Figured we'd eat at Tracy's Crab shack too (instead of the so so Salmon )
Does anyone have anything good/bad to say about either of these tours?
THANKS
I wouldn't give up whale watching completely as you won't see whales close up from the cruise ship. You really need to be in a smaller boat (even a 150 passenger boat) to get a better look.

We chose the whale watching/Mendenhall glacier option. On a smaller boat.
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:11 AM   #215
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Anyone...

Anyone been on the:

Skagway: Takshanuk 4x4 Mountain Trail?
Juneau: Taku Lodge Flight and Feast?
Ketchikan: Canoe and Rainforest Adventure?

Also- How did you all come up with the tips for your excursion guides? Do you do it based on price? Per person? Per family? Thanks!
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:23 AM   #216
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Anyone been on the:

Ketchikan: Canoe and Rainforest Adventure?
Curious about this one too. Currently have Rainforest Island Adventure booked (looks similar but in a raft instead of a canoe) but trying to figure out the best one for a 5 yr old.
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:38 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by NurseNash View Post
Anyone been on the:

Skagway: Takshanuk 4x4 Mountain Trail?
Juneau: Taku Lodge Flight and Feast?
Ketchikan: Canoe and Rainforest Adventure?

Also- How did you all come up with the tips for your excursion guides? Do you do it based on price? Per person? Per family? Thanks!
I researched before hand about what was an appropriate tip and got a lot of mixed answers... a few people even said it was inappropriate to tip a captain (whale watching) or a pilot (flight seeing); but not many people gave me an actual monetary guideline.... so, I'll share what I gave... some may think it was not enough, some too much, some may think I should not have tipped "professionals" (as in captains/pilots) but for our white pass/bus excursion I tipped $5 each; for a total of $35 for the 7 of us. I tipped the exact same amount for our whale watching excursion. For flight seeing only two of us went; and I tipped $10 each for a total of $20. For whale watching, I also tipped our driver (that took us to and from and shared info along the way)- I think I tipped her $10, but can't remember exactly.... There was an assistant captain as well, and I did not offer him a tip- I figure either they shared the tip- but he really mainly acted as the captain's assistant more than anything else and I didn't feel necessary to offer him an additional tip.... I hope that helps....
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:38 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by msnoble View Post
Wondering if anyone who is back from the first several Alaska cruises has tried the Bear Creek Zipline excursion in Ketchikan? We have booked it through DCL, and are excited about it but would love to hear a review from a recent cruise.

Thanks!
We are doing the same one and would also love to get some feedback.

Thanks
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:27 PM   #219
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I researched before hand about what was an appropriate tip and got a lot of mixed answers... a few people even said it was inappropriate to tip a captain (whale watching) or a pilot (flight seeing); but not many people gave me an actual monetary guideline.... so, I'll share what I gave... some may think it was not enough, some too much, some may think I should not have tipped "professionals" (as in captains/pilots) but for our white pass/bus excursion I tipped $5 each; for a total of $35 for the 7 of us. I tipped the exact same amount for our whale watching excursion. For flight seeing only two of us went; and I tipped $10 each for a total of $20. For whale watching, I also tipped our driver (that took us to and from and shared info along the way)- I think I tipped her $10, but can't remember exactly.... There was an assistant captain as well, and I did not offer him a tip- I figure either they shared the tip- but he really mainly acted as the captain's assistant more than anything else and I didn't feel necessary to offer him an additional tip.... I hope that helps....
Thanks for the tip on tipping! We are also doing a tour with Harv and Marv and your info was very helpful!
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:10 AM   #220
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Originally Posted by Inkmahm View Post
I wouldn't give up whale watching completely as you won't see whales close up from the cruise ship. You really need to be in a smaller boat (even a 150 passenger boat) to get a better look.

We chose the whale watching/Mendenhall glacier option. On a smaller boat.
thanks! I think we will keep the Whale watch after all and just skip the Salmon Bake...we are thinking of switching from Best of Juneau to the Glacier and Whale Quest...
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:08 AM   #221
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thanks! I think we will keep the Whale watch after all and just skip the Salmon Bake...we are thinking of switching from Best of Juneau to the Glacier and Whale Quest...
I don't think you have that option as you will have the salmon bake on an island in the middle of the excursion.
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:29 AM   #222
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I don't think you have that option as you will have the salmon bake on an island in the middle of the excursion.
that is why we might change from "Best of" to just the Glacier Whale Quest Excursion Dont need the Salmon part...
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:30 PM   #223
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We just returned as well and this is what we did.

Skagway: Whitepass rail and biking down. I haven't seen this reviewed yet and was a bit worried. We had a wonderful time. The bike down is fast for those who don't ride a lot. We did have one person opt not to continue down. I felt safe the whole time and I hadn't ridden a bike in years. The bikes have special breaks so all is good.

Juneau: Harv and Marv whale watching. AMAZING! We got really lucky to see so many amazing whales. We were off to go to another, yes another, humpback and an Orca surfaced about 10 feet from our boat. It happened another time as well. We weren't even looking for these at the time. There were only the three of us from our family so we moved all around our small boat to see things.

Ketchikan: Kayaking with Southeast Kayaking. Another great excursion. A sea lion got surprised by my sons kayak and jumped way out of the water right next to him. Another of those wonderful things that happens so fast there is no way to record it.

What I really noticed on the excursions is that the tour guides do everything in their power to not invade the lives of the animals. Every time we had an encounter it was total at random and when it occurred paddling stopped or engines were turned off to give the animals there space.
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:48 PM   #224
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We just returned as well and this is what we did.

Skagway: Whitepass rail and biking down. I haven't seen this reviewed yet and was a bit worried. We had a wonderful time. The bike down is fast for those who don't ride a lot. We did have one person opt not to continue down. I felt safe the whole time and I hadn't ridden a bike in years. The bikes have special breaks so all is good.
Thanks for the info. We are booked on this---well sorta-- the train one was full so we booked the van up and bikes down. Really wanted the rail but oh well.
Neither of us have ridden in years either but I think we should be ok. My concern is my camera around my neck. It is heavy and expensive but I want to be able to take pictures too. Are there times they stop for photo ops? Just wondering if a small backpack would work for the camera. My regular camera backpack is just too big for a bike ride. If they don't stop for pictures did people straggle behind taking them anyway?
again, thanks for the info
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Old 06-09-2011, 04:35 PM   #225
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From my research into picking my own whale watching excursion, I think that the trips with the smallest boat size are Alaska Whales & Rainforest Trails + Alaska Whales & Science Adventure (through the Gastineau Guiding Company). The next smallest are the Exclusive Whale Encounter excursions (through Dolphin Jet Boat Tours). The rest are with Allen Marine, with the largest boats.

Personally I picked the Alaska Whales & Rainforest Trails for the small size of the boat and the cool open window concept of their boats. Hope I chose wisely!

Aby
We did the Alaska Whales & Rainforest Trails and loved it. the rainforest walk was through some very cool forested area. The whale watching boat had no more than 16 people on it I am sure and the windows were lifted up to view whales and sea lions. My wife and I thought it was hands down our best excursion.

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