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Old 07-03-2012, 02:53 AM   #751
kmegibow
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Hi again - I searched the thread and haven't seen any reviews of "The Klondike Experience" in Skagway. Anyone done this one?

Note, my husband and I are brining our 18 mo, 5 yr, 8 yr olds as well as my parents and 19 yr old sister. I've had to choose my excursions pretty carefully! I'd love to know what this activity is really like. Thanks!
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:55 AM   #752
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I had posted a longer version of this on the Vancouver thread, but realize that some of the info might also be helpful here:

Returned from a 20-day CruiseTour with Holland America (7-day cruise and 12 days on land up into the Yukon) on June 7th. [I know Disney does not offer this, but I cannot recommend this type of trip highly enough. You will go places you could not go on your own (or would want to drive on your own I should say) and see things that are phenomenal.]

Anyway, here's a synopsis of what we did and learned. Loved going in May -- lots of ice and snow still left and we did not experience any temps above mid-70's in any city or port and very little rain!

AMTRAK: We flew into Seattle for one night and took Amtrak the next morning to Vancouver. I cannot say enough about this terrific ride. We did not buy business class, but were in line at the station by 6:30 a.m. for our 7:40 departure and got three seats together on the recommended left side (water views) with no problem. I will definitely say get there early though. We arrived at 6 a.m. when baggage check in opened and there was a line. As soon as we got our bags checked, we got in line at the booth that assigns seats, which opened a little before 7 a.m.

In Ketchikan we had opted to do a day on our own, but when we departed the ship (another non-rainy day for us), we saw an opportunity for a shuttle tour that was discounted by $10/pp and we were glad we took it. We were taken out to the totem poles, to a village and along the waterways where we stopped to watch harbor seals. It was a 4-hour tour and we had a great time with our local driver Justin. This town has some of my favorite shops. But we were told by our tour guide (a local resident) that all the shops along the waterfront are owned by the cruise lines and they give nothing back to the town in revenue. ALL the help is outside seasonal workers and they do not hire the local towns folk. So we shopped only at stores that were locally owned.

Favorite port: Skagway. We did the full day excursion with Chilkoot Tours that started with the incredible/extraordinary/phenomenal ride on the White Pass Yukon Express (http://www.chilkootcharters.com/yukonrail.htm). We had the most beautiful day and could see for miles. The train ride is just so relaxing and full of views of wildlife, rivers, lakes, snowcapped mountains, etc. When we arrived at the end of the line, our bus driver met us (Terrell from Texas -- you were the best) and we continued on to Caribou Crossing Trading Post for our lunch and a visit with husky puppies! Now granted, the place looks like a western front for a movie, but it was fun and the food was delicious: BBQ chicken, baked potato, rolls, cole slaw and homemade donuts. Sodas were extra, but iced tea, coffee and tea included. We stayed there about 90 minutes because they also have a wildlife museum and a petting zoo (all included). Then we went on to Emerald Lake and Carcross and Lake Bennett. I loved this choice vs. the ship's excursion because Terrell would stop anywhere you wanted, pull over for pictures or animal sightings, and was so personable and knowledgeable. There were only about 18 of us and it was great fun. We left at 8 a.m. and returned at about 4 p.m. He made several stops dropped people off wherever they wanted in town, or taking them back to the ship. Worth every single penny. With this type of excursion, you do go up into the Yukon by bus. The train no longer goes that far.

Upon return we bought tickets ($5/pp) at the Red Onion Saloon for a tour and it was great fun -- lots of original wallpaper, dresses, etc. Then we walked back to the ship (a truly nice walk along a paved pathway) while Eagles flew overhead.

Juneau: Only excursion we booked through the ship (for the cruise portion) was Best of Juneau. What a terrific excursion. I must start out by saying that I have read voluminous reviews of this excursion with a lot of people complaining about there not being enough time at Mendenhall Glacier. I couldn't understand that statement as we felt an hour was more than enough time. Granted, we knew we were not going to walk to the waterfall, but there was an incredible waterfall fully visible from the land's edge next to the glacier! We spent about 40 minutes out at the glacier, walking around the viewing platforms and on the beach. We had 15 minutes to shop inside which was more than enough time. We felt very satisfied.

Then we went on the whale watching vessel which was a surprise to all of us as we didn't expect it to be so big and comfy. It sets more than 400 and has huge windows on both floors and we were very satisfied even sitting in the middle row because you are constantly getting up and down. We spent a good 3 hours onboard plus another hour at the Orca Lodge for lunch. Now let me tell you, this lunch was awesome. It was a beautiful pavilion with views all around of the water and the beach. They had chicken skewers, salmon, rice, potato salad, rolls and brownies. Lemonade, ice and hot tea and coffee were included. Sodas and alcohol were extra.

Vancouver: We stayed at the Pan Pacific Vancouver for our pre-cruise nights. We had opted for the harbor/mountain view and it was so so worth it. We watched seaplanes taking off and landing and our room was literally right above where the ships dock. So we could look down onto the pool decks of the ships as they docked and got ready for their next departure. The hotel is gorgeous, the rooms were large and very well decorated. We did not eat in any of their restaurants as they were pricey, but there is a food mall underneath the hotel that can be reached by inside escalator.

What was so convenient about this hotel is that the entrance to the cruise terminal is a ride down in their elevator to the basement! We called a porter to come and get our luggage and he told us you will see it in your stateroom. We then took the elevator and got off and there it was -- no having to go outside or call a cab or anything. They had reps all along the way directing us to the HAL check in.

While in Vancouver we bought the Big Pink Bus tickets (they are merged with the Big Red Bus). The station stop was right outside the Pan Pacific main door! We always tried to get the pink bus though as they had a live narrator whereas the red buses were pre-recorded narrations that never seemed to be on the right area when we passed. The combo ticket for two days was so reasonable. The first day we just rode the bus the full route, and then got off at Granville Island. We then got back on and took it to Chinatown where we did the gardens and then had dinner at Hon's on the recommendation of our driver. The next day we took it to Stanley Park and then inside the park took the (included) park tour on a different bus. Very convenient. When done, they dropped us off at the bus stop and we waited for the red or pink bus. On the way back to town, we jumped off at Gastown and did a little touring there and watched the steam clock, then went up into the tower there (similar to the Seattle Needle type of thing). There were some terrific restaurants across the plaza from the hotel that we ate in (one Italian, one Irish) and they were very good and reasonable.

I can also highly recommend the Fairmont Airport Vancouver Hotel. We were put up there by HAL on the last night of our land tour. What a gorgeous hotel. Our room had a view of the mountains and runway. Totally sound proof (never heard one plane coming in or taking off). And the hotel entrance goes right down into the airport with a short distance to the food court. We really liked that the food court at this airport was BEFORE security. We had lunch (chinese) and dinner (burgers) there. If we ever fly into Vancouver, I would definitely stay here again.

In Seattle we stayed at the Inn at the Market pre-cruise -- literally at the top of the hill of the Pike Place Market. It was a townhouse (all they had available for three) and was beautiful. The beds were comfortable and the views of the city and Pike Place were great. Very convenient for the area and we were able to finish the market that day before leaving the next morning. The people there were very helpful and kind. No complaints about this place either.

Post-cruise in Seattle we stayed at the Silver Cloud Inn at Lake Union. We found this hotel to be one of our top favorites for all that was included with such a reasonable per night price. Our room was a lake view and on the top floor so that you could see the seaplanes taking off and the boats and yachts coming and going. They also provide a free extensive continental breakfast that includes hot items like scrambled eggs, sausage, waffles and ham, plus toast, bagels, cereals, yogurts, etc. They also provide a free (although we tipped the driver each time) shuttle to and from three drop off points in town -- the Needle, Pioneer Square and Pike Place. All you had to do was call them when you were ready to be picked up. They ran from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. We were also within walking distance of the boat harbor and ate at Duke's on the water for lunch one day.

They also have an indoor pool and jacuzzi, and a business center where you can go on the computers to print out documents and boarding passes -- also free. And FREE INTERNET. That was a huge plus for us. Of all the hotels we stayed at, this would be a no-brainer one if we go back to Seattle. The thoughtful layout, convenience, decor, ambiance and outgoing staff were wonderful.

Can't think of anything else, but please feel free to ask questions or pick my brain!
THANK YOU! You are a font of wisdom and I really appreciate that you took the time to post.
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:04 PM   #753
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Hi! We are doing the Mendenhall Glacier Explorer next week and am wondering if you can explain more why we should visit there on our own? Is it mainly the time limit? DH and I are bringing an 18 mo old, 5 yr old, 8 yr old, 19 yr old and my parents. My Dad just had a knee replaced last month. I'm torn between wanting to have enough time and also not wanting to be out too long. Does the bus offer more options - such as being able to leave earlier for example if it's a super cold/rainy day? That might be a good reason to take a bus or a cab? Thanks!
Hi, Yes I would say mainly for the time limit. The Blue Bus runs approx. every 30 min. They pick you up at the cruise port and drop you off at the parking lot for the visitor center. I liked the freedom to be able to stay as long or as little as I wanted. And if part of your group wants to leave and say, your DH and the older kids want to stay, they know that they can catch a later bus if you went back with the little ones and your parents. And when you first board they will tell you when the last bus back will be. The driver was very helpful and knowledgeable.

We were just heading to catch the bus back when we spotted the bear by the creek/walking trails and were able to stay as long as we wanted, with no worries about missing "our" bus. I did hear so many people that were watching the bear with us saying how they wished they could stay longer but that it was time to catch "their" tour bus.

This is a video of the bear we saw. He/She was fishing in the creek and finally caught a meal. (click on pic and it will take you to video)


And a couple of pictures


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Old 07-03-2012, 01:06 PM   #754
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and a quick add, I have heard that if you take the "city" bus service, you don't get dropped off as close as if you take the "Blue Bus"
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Old 07-03-2012, 02:15 PM   #755
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What time of year were you there to see the bears? Endlessly torn between keeping my June cruise next year or paying extra to move it back some...
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Old 07-03-2012, 02:26 PM   #756
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What time of year were you there to see the bears? Endlessly torn between keeping my June cruise next year or paying extra to move it back some...
We sailed Aug 23rd.
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Old 07-03-2012, 02:35 PM   #757
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We sailed Aug 23rd.
That's great to hear! We're going the first week in September. I imagine the bears will still be there!
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:43 PM   #758
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That's great to hear! We're going the first week in September. I imagine the bears will still be there!
I have heard that the wildlife is more active in the end of summer months, I guess getting fattened up for the upcoming winter. We did a wildlife bear vewing in ketchican and saw 20+ bear on that excursion.

We had a long list on our wildlife wish list and I think we saw everything plus some we didn't even expect to see, except the Sea Otter, which was at the very top of my list.
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:24 AM   #759
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We originally had July booked and moved it back to May this year. As noted above, we saw tons of wildlife (including grizzly and black bear and orcas) and enjoyed the cooler temps and no mosquitoes. I am a winter girl at heart, so I absolutely loved the ice and snow.

We are thinking of booking another cruise (only) next year (not a cruisetour) and are thinking of going in September. (This one goes to Sitka and Victoria). From everything I've read here, sounds like there's a chance we'll see even more bear and possibly the salmon running (?).

BTW, just another shout out to all who take time in their day to keep these informative threads so up-to-date. Our first trip to Alaska was made TONS easier because of all the info I gathered here.
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:47 AM   #760
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We are thinking of booking another cruise (only) next year (not a cruisetour) and are thinking of going in September. (This one goes to Sitka and Victoria). From everything I've read here, sounds like there's a chance we'll see even more bear and possibly the salmon running (?).
DH and I are going on the September 3rd cruise this year. I'll give a shout out afterward to let you know if that is the case for us.

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BTW, just another shout out to all who take time in their day to keep these informative threads so up-to-date. Our first trip to Alaska was made TONS easier because of all the info I gathered here.
ITA! This has been the BEST resource bar none. Where else can you get firsthand knowledge shared with you and custom answers to your questions? This board ROCKS!
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:10 PM   #761
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Just back!

Just got back from the June 25 - July 2 Wonder cruise to Alaska.
Had a GREAT time, but if I could change one thing, it would be longer port times, especially for Victoria and Ketchikan. Also, because the ship leaves so early, many of the excursions met at 7:30 am!

Tracy Arm: Although Disney says they have photographers on Decks 4, 9 and 10, we only saw them on Deck 10. We were waiting around all day on Deck 9, and only caught one when he was coming down from Deck 10.
We entered Tracy Arm around 1 pm, arrived at the Sawyer Glacier around 3 pm, and turned around and left around 4:30 pm.

Skagway: If you go to the City Tour, White Pass Railroad and Yukon Suspension Bridge tour, BRING MOSQUITO REPELLANT!!! The suspension bridge stop was thick with them and they are deadly! DS got bit so badly his entire hand was swollen for a couple of days.
The City Tour is a bit of a mismoner, since the "city" is only about 4 blocks. The bus then takes you up into Fraser, BC, making a few stops for scenic views and to build a tower of rocks that guided the native people (I forgot the name of this). Then it stops at the Suspension Bridge, where the gift shop has great maple syrup cream cookies!!! We took the White Pass Railroad train back into Skagway - it was beautiful, but we were so tired from getting up so early, DD fell asleep on the train!
Our main gripe is that the train drops you off in town, and the directions back to the ship are not very clear. We ended up on the other side of the harbor, and had to backtrack to get back.

Juneau: We did the Whale Quest and Mendenhall Glacier tour. They provide binoculars on the boat for the whale quest, and we saw lots of humpbacks and seals and bald eagles. They give out homemade donut holes and samples of smoked salmon, and you can buy other consessions. The boat was comfortable and covered, since it rained all day on us. As for the glacie, you don't really walk out onto the glacier; you really only have time to go to the visitors center there.

Ketchikan: We did the Saxman Native Village and Lumberjack Show. Both are excellent. Learned a lot about the Tlingit culture and totem poles. The show was entertaining. Just wished we had longer in port - had to leave by 12:30.
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:17 PM   #762
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Skagway: If you go to the City Tour, White Pass Railroad and Yukon Suspension Bridge tour, BRING MOSQUITO REPELLANT!!! The suspension bridge stop was thick with them and they are deadly! DS got bit so badly his entire hand was swollen for a couple of days.
Another reason why I REALLY liked going in May
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Oct. 2009 -- Disney Magic -- 7-night Caribbean
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:22 PM   #763
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Just back from the July 2-9 cruise. We are DW, DH, DD 10 and DD6. Here's my review:

Skagway-We did the zipline in the the morning. DD6 stayed on the ship as she is not heavy enough (must be 60lbs). Took a shuttle for about a 30 minute ride, then transferred to the Unimog to go up the hill. They have restrooms (real, not outhouses) where the shuttle drops you. The area is really beautiful and you zip over streams and beautiful scenery. We all had a great time.

In the afternoon the whole family did the Temsco Helicopter and Dog Sled Adventure. I booked this directly with Temsco and their location couldn't have been more convenient. It's right where the Wonder docks in Skagaway, it's literally across the parking lot. Temsco provides boots or boots to go over your tennis shoes. They weigh you when you check in (they don't broadcast it) and assign you a seat in the helicopter based on weight. The helicopter ride was amazing. What a great way to see Alaska. We landed at the dog camp where they offered hats, gloves and sunglasses to use while on the glacier. We met our team and musher. We all had a chance to drive (even the 6 year old) and had a wonderful time. It all went by too quickly. I think this was our favorite adventure of our whole trip.

Juneau- Enchanted Taku Lodge by Float Plane This was another wonderful adventure. We boarded a shuttle at the ship and drove about 5 minutes to the end of the pier to board out plane. They ask for your weight and write it on your ticket. Planes hold 10 people and they try to keep families together. I don't think they had to split up families on our trip but we had 50 people (the maximum) on the excursion so it may have happened. Great ice field and glacier viewing on the ride to the Lodge, recorded narration during the flight. My DD 10 was in the copilot seat and loved it. When you land you're right across the lake from the Hole in the Wall glacier so any glacier photos you missed at Tracy Arm you can take on this trip. We had a while to look around before lunch. Lunch was great, great salmon, baked apples, baked beans, cole slaw, bread and really good biscuits, iced tea and lemonade. If you don't like salmon they have chicken and mac & cheese also. They use glacier ice in their drinks. You can purchase wine and beer. My DD 10 was not thrilled with the animal heads and pelts in the lodge. There was a roaring fire which was nice. They also have a gift shop. After lunch we went on a guided walk through the forest which was beautiful. Mesquitos were thick and hungry. They had bug spray there for you but we still were bitten quite a bit. When you arrived back at the lodge there were two bears cleaning up the BBQ and we watched them for awhile. Then we headed back to Juneau. Another wonderful day.

Ketchikan - Rainforest Canoe Trip and Nature Walk We had pouring rain in Ketchikan and it poured most of the time we were on our adventure. We boarded a bus at the port and went for about a 30 minute drive to the lake. We were provided with ponchos which we put over our raincoats to help keep our pants dry. The canoe holds about 20 people. It was so incredibly beautiful on the lake. The different shades of green were amazing. Our guide was very nice and knowledgeable. We paddled around the lake and then landed at a camp. We went on the very short nature walk and saw more amazing forest (it was somewhat different from what we'd seen the day before). We went back to the camp and had hot chocolate, coffee, smoked salmon, really good clam chowder, gold fish and rolls with raspberry jam.... really just a snack and warm up for us. Then we paddled back to where we started and took the bus back to the port. We arrived back at about 11:30 so we had an hour to hit a souvenir shop before heading back to the Wonder.

Victoria - We got off the ship and took the shuttle to the downtown area. Walked around a bit. I wish we'd gone to the Butchart Gardens but we were worried that DD 6 would have a melt down that late at night.

It was a great trip! I think the short port times are really okay with younger children. It was enough off the ship time for them.

Last edited by 2PrincesseInTow; 07-10-2012 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:42 PM   #764
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We were on the same cruise as 2PrincesseInTow! Here is our excrusion experiences. I think I can echo that I wish we had more time in port.

Skagway. We did the White Pass Railway and Liarsville. I booked one of the early adventures, so that we would have time to spend exploring afterwards. We met in the morning on the ship and then were transported by bus to the White Pass Railway which is probably just a 15 minute walk from the ship. We were assigned a railway car. One tip if you are riding up to Canada, sit on the left side (face the direct of the train will be traveling and sit on the left). The views were great and the nariation was good. DH and DMIL spend majority of the time riding the rails outside on the platform between cars.




I believe the trip took about 1 1/2 hour up to the border with Canada. You will need passports for this trip and will be inspected at the border. Then you are met back at the border, by your bus driver, who drives you back down to Skagway with several stops along the way to get out and take pictures. The nariation on the bus was also very good. Prior to getting to Skagway we stopped at Liarsville, which was an old camp that has been set up to be like it was during the gold rush. You are escorted into a small area and given cider and cookies (store bought as we saw them opening the box of them). Then they put on a small little show that gives a bit of history and some corney jokes. Then you are given some information on how to pan for gold and then set loose to pan for gold. You are guarenteed to get some flakes because they purchased them ahead of time. Honestly our family could have done without the Liarsville stop and we all thought it was hokey. DD10 was excited to pan for gold, but really wasn't interested in their little skit they did. After about an hour, you reboard the bus and head back to Skagway. You can be dropped back at the ship or in town. Weather was great this whole trip

Juneau We also did the Enchanted Taku Lodge by Float Plane and probably during the same time as 2PrincesseInTow, as her desription was pretty similar, though I don't remember seeing them. I will include pictures. They had 2 meet times, early and then ours was at 9:45. I wish we could have been on the earlier one as the Adventures by Disney team was on that one and they had more time aftewards to explore Junaeu. Another idea might be to meet your excursion in town, so you have time to explore a bit of Juneau.
This excursion the highlight of our trip. Just fantastic and I would want to do it again and will recommend this exerience. The hosts at Taku Lodge really know how to treat the guests. Also the weather was fantastic!
Views from the flight over to Taku



Taku Lodge

Hole in the wall Glacier which you can see from the Lodge:

One of the bears that enjoyed the BBQ

Our 10 seater float plane



Ketichan It was pouring and we had scheduled the early show of the Disney Enhanced Great Alaskan Lumberjack show. 8am show. You are seated under cover and heated grandstands so no worries about getting wet during the show. I know a lot of folks like this, but we honestly didn't enjoy it as much. I think they really trying to add a lot of humor to this and engaged the kids in the audience and we really wanted to see more of the action between the lumberjacks. It lasted about an hour we were happy when it was over.
Some of the action that we were hoping for more of:

We had 3 hours to explore Ketichan, which like most ports now is full of Jewelry stores (I don't get it??)

Victoria We took the Short City Tour and Butchart Garden tour. Really there isn't much to do, but we felt you could not go to Victoria and not explore the garden. Our bus driver was very interesting, Bob pointed out all the building that had recently been coverted into condos and then talked about the political climate in Victoria. He did state at the beginning of the tour, that this was going to be his verison of the City tour. We arrived at Butchart Garden before 7:45pm and had until 9:45pm to explore. It was a rush with 2 master garderners in our group, they really wanted to spend more time and have better light. By about 9:30 it started to get dark and made it difficult to see the gardens so we got back on the bus. We got back to the ship right at 10:30pm It was such a rushed night, because we had to have our luggage out before 10:30, so we packed before and had everything out before we left on the excruision.
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Last edited by lucky1; 07-20-2012 at 09:32 AM. Reason: Fixed some Typos
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:52 PM   #765
staxia
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Originally Posted by 2PrincesseInTow View Post
Just back from the July 2-9 cruise. We are DW, DH, DD 10 and DD6. Here's my review:

Skagway-

In the afternoon the whole family did the Temsco Helicopter and Dog Sled Adventure. I booked this directly with Temsco and their location couldn't have been more convenient. It's right where the Wonder docks in Skagaway, it's literally across the parking lot. Temsco provides boots or boots to go over your tennis shoes. They weigh you when you check in (they don't broadcast it) and assign you a seat in the helicopter based on weight. The helicopter ride was amazing. What a great way to see Alaska. We landed at the dog camp where they offered hats, gloves and sunglasses to use while on the glacier. We met our team and musher. We all had a chance to drive (even the 6 year old) and had a wonderful time. It all went by too quickly. I think this was our favorite adventure of our whole trip.
I was there the week before, on the June 25th sailing. We also booked independently through Temsco in Skagway, too.. HOWEVER... Don't count on being at the dock that shares a parking lot with Temsco.. We thought it might, but when we got there, we were in for a big surprise!! lol. The Wonder docked all the way on the furthest away dock, by the rock wall with the graffiti.. Super close to the White Pass Railroad, but definitely NOT close to Temsco! We walked over there (20 minutes) but they had a shuttle to bring us back. They would have picked us up too, but I didn't notice the offer until the night before, and by then it was too late. LOL.. Worst case scenario is the walk we had, which was like walking from the front of Epcot, to the back of World Showcase and back around to the front again.

That being said.. don't let that walking distance keep you from flying with them. It was EXCEPTIONAL!! We loved our musher and the ride.. She gave us TONS of information about the dogs, the culture, the races.. everything.. both from when we first got there, and then she talked the entire way around... it was awesome, b/c I was videoing and so in addition to the awesome views, there's narration about it, too.. which is cool!!

If you book a helicopter/dogsled excursion there, through the ship, it's with Temsco, too... But it's cheaper if you do it on your own.. Plus, you get more options on times, and like we did, book the dogsled for the AM and then the White Pass and Yukon railroad for the afternoon. The view from the office is even pretty gosh darn amazing.. The staff at Temsco had nothing but great things to say about Disney as well.. even if we didn't book through the ship, they appreciate how organized Disney is about everything. :D
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