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Old 08-21-2012, 12:02 PM   #811
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Originally Posted by pudinhd View Post
Our cruise just ended today...

We booked a 6-passenger boat to whale watch with Harv & Marv in Juneau. It was excellent! So many whales and Captain Liz was fabulous!

We also did the Bear Country & Wildlife Expedition through DCL in Ketchikan. Wow!! Lots of bears including cubs! At one point we were about 5 feet from a mama bear and her 2 cubs. The guide was great and very specific about what we were to do while remaining calm!!

So sad to be going home! Many thanks to everyone for their helpful posts!
Oh I'm so glad to hear you had a great expierence with the Bear Country & Wildlife Expedition. We did this last year and OMG so loved it. Who was your guide? We had Matt and he was great. Funny and knowledgable. Do they still do small groups?
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:00 PM   #812
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We are big Disney Fans and have been to WDW at least 25 times and DW 1 time. Just returned from the Aug. 13-20 Alaskan Cruise. This was our families first cruise and done with a 9 month old and 9 year old and had a great time, Disney is wonderful, its like putting WDW in a ship. With the 9mo we were limited to what excursions we could attend as a family and booked them all through Disney easy as could be. I will say being mid August we did not have any mesquito issues and the salmon run was wonderful as was the weather with no rain and mild temperatures for being in Alaska.

In Skagway we did the White Pass Rail up/back and it was so beautiful and took around 3 hours for the entire trip. NO PASSPORT needed, we had them just in case but the train attendant said no passport was needed since we were not getting off the train in Canada. We came back walked around town and went to the National Park building in the center of town and my 9yo became a junior ranger and recieved a badge, really cool and free. Afterward we did the Mushers Camp. I had my doubts after reading a post from the beginning of this thread but they have made big changes from what I read and what I experienced. We drove up Lynn Canal which was beautiful and saw at least 4 eagles on the way. Walked to base camp across a creek which was full of Salmon, I mean FULL it was fun to watch. Then went to the UniMog and rode up the mountain, met our Musher, had picture time with the sled dog team, rode around the track several times and a very good pace. Rode back down for a talk on the equipment and puppy time, my 9 year old boy luved it and I was even given a puppy, loades of fun even if your not a dog person and the staff was nice.

Juneau--we did the whale watching excursion and mendenhall glacier tour. The boat held some 150 people but is large enough that I never felt crowded and they had great smoked salmon and crackers, hot chocolate for everyone. We rode out and were sitting there when several pods of whales came around the boat we counted some 20 whales total. This boat was fast and the driver took us back towards Skagway several miles and saw Eagle Glacier and many many towering mountains, then onto an Island Filled with Sea Lions then to another island with Seal, it was a great trip and narrated the entire time, the driver stopped along the way as we saw 2 eagles at the waters edge. Then onto Mendenhal Glacier, very beautiful and worth the visit.

Ketchikan--we did the Axe Man show and Native Village. Both were great, the axe man show had me laughing and my son participated and won a wooden axe. The native village with the totem poles was very informative, as my wife is part cherokee she participated in the dance and had a great time.

We would have luved to do some different excursions but again were limited by our 9mo but were very happy and satifisfied in what we did experience. You might want to check your excursion times expecially in Juneau and Ketchikan as afterward we felt extremely rushed. We never got to go into town to visit the shops in Juneau as when the excursions were over it was all aboard time and ketchikan the driver was nice enough to drop us a couple blocks from the ship so we could walk back and stop in a store or two before boarding but again only had 30 minutes or so. I wished disney had of taken some time from skagway as we were there 12 hours and put it towards Juneau and Ketchikan. Also get up early on port days to see the sunrise and get some great photos pulling into dock. I saw people with 10K lenses at Tracy Arm but it was only me and another guy taking early morning shots going into ports with our pocket cameras and I have some excellent photos. Well have fun Disney does it right and the staff is friendly. Hope this helps.

Last edited by Jefferson1964; 08-21-2012 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:21 PM   #813
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Originally Posted by tink1963 View Post
Oh I'm so glad to hear you had a great expierence with the Bear Country & Wildlife Expedition. We did this last year and OMG so loved it. Who was your guide? We had Matt and he was great. Funny and knowledgable. Do they still do small groups?
Our guide was Jon H. He has only been with the company since May, but he was fabulous! Our group was 12 people and everyone was nice! We would definitely do this again!
Too Many Trips to Disneyland to Count, 1999 WDW Honeymoon, 2005 Mexican Riviera Disney Cruise, 2008 Mexican Riviera Disney Cruise, 2008 WDW Vacation, 2009 Backstage Magic ABD, 2011 Disney Cruise to Neverland, 2011 Mexican Riviera Disney Cruise, 2012 Alaskan Disney Cruise, 2013 Repo LA to Vancouver Disney Cruise, 2014 Western Caribbean Disney Cruise, 2014 Backstage Magic ABD
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:29 PM   #814
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Originally Posted by twopeasonepod View Post
Must say that the Inn at the Market is a WONDERFUL place to stay pre- or post-cruise! We did the townhouse suite (upstairs master bedroom with bath). Was fabulous. Only complaint is that the bathroom is upstairs, but that was fine.
Originally Posted by RedSox68 View Post
We stayed one night at the Inn at the Market before we headed to Vancouver for the cruise in May. I wish we could have stayed more. The townhouse suite was amazing and we had a view of Puget sound and the Market Place. PLUS they have a lounge area on the roof with wonderful shares and terrific views.
Another recommendation for the INN AT THE MARKET from us. I'd stayed there before in a regular room, but the suites were fabulous for our family of four. We had an amazing view and wish we had more than one night as well. It's literally half a block from the market and couldn't be in a better location. I do agree about the second bathroom--would have made it perfect. But we managed

We were on the August 6-13th cruise and had a fabulous time. We also didn't have any problem with bugs. Our weather was patchy, but nothing horrible. The coldest/wettest was Tracy Arm, but that somehow seemed appropriate and didn't bother us. The rain was more of on occasional drizzle.

Skagway: A little drizzly in the am as I recall, but clear later. We did a Disney Excursion: Yukon Jeep Klondike Adventure. Very fun, and it was great being in our own jeep, but there was quite a bit of driving involved. We went to Carcross, making a number of stops along the way, including my favorite at the tourist center and a local coffee shop (which was fabulous). We then took a dirt road and did some very fun off-roading before stopping by a lake to have a snack of pepper jack cheese, crackers, and reindeer sausage. The latter was very good, even when DH told our DD12 that she was eating Rudolph (funny guy, LOL). Beautiful scenery. 7 our of 10.

Juneau: Cloudy but dry. We did another Disney Excursion: Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter. As just about everyone else has said about these port adventures, this was the highlight of the trip. I was very nervous (up all night nervous) about the helicopter, but it turned out to be my favorite part of the experience. You can't understand until you are in there how amazing it feels to fly above the glacier, and then, on the way back, over the mountains. Definite once in a lifetime experience. The dog sledding camp was amazing as well. We had plenty of time meeting the dogs, taking our sled ride, and then playing with the puppies. 10 out of 10.

ASIDE: Before we signed up for this excursion we tried to find out what the difference was between this one and the other one that is priced about the same--other than they go to different glaciers. My friend and her family did the other one on the same day, and they didn't have puppies. Not sure if this is always true, but it was for us.

Ketchikan: Cloudy and may have had moments of drizzle but nothing significant. We did the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman Tour on our own. Note that as others have said this is exactly the same excursion done by Disney, but costs much less on your own (especially if you have a tween). I'm usually boat-leaving-without-me paranoid and stick to Disney adventures, but this is literally the same boat (there is only one) that everyone else is on. If they hold it for the Disney folks, they will hold it for you. It's also easily walked from the ship. We had a great time on this excursion, and as fans of the show, it couldn't be missed. One of the coolest parts was when they take you to the island to feed the bald eagles. 8 out of 10.

Victoria: Clear weather. We did the Ale and Brewery Tour through Disney and left the kids on the boat. Had a fabulous time. Loved this excursion & the adult time. We stopped at three bars for about an hour and sampled three mini pints of beer at each, as well as different bar food. I can't remember the names of all the bars, but I think the last one (and most memorable) was Spinikers. It was, I believe, the first microbrew in Victoria. On the way back to the ship we drove through town and got to see the parliament building and the Empress hotel--bonus! 8 out of 10.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:33 PM   #815
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Originally Posted by pudinhd

Our guide was Jon H. He has only been with the company since May, but he was fabulous! Our group was 12 people and everyone was nice! We would definitely do this again!
Awesome! We are sailing this time next year and plan on doing it again. Our group was 10 total, including our guide.

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Old 08-22-2012, 01:00 AM   #816
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We were on the 8/6/12 sailing, and since I used this thread heavily as a resource prior to our cruise, I wanted to circle back and post about our excursions.

First, just want to echo the positive comments about the Inn at the Market for folks still trying to figure out where to stay in Seattle (maybe no one at this point, but the info might still be helpful for future reference). We also stayed in one of the one bedroom townhouses and really enjoyed our stay. We were there for 3 nights pre-cruise. Loved the location, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I do agree that having a second bathroom downstairs would have been nice, but I just made sure that I got to sleep upstairs!

Also a couple of Seattle "excursion" reviews. Based on information I read in a trip report ("No Orcas, No Bears, No Fly, But Why," which I highly recommend), we bought combo tickets to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit and the Space Needle. The exhibit is right at Seattle center. We LOVED this exhibit. The glasswork was so amazing and colorful and large-scale! The tickets include free re-admission at night, so we went back in the evening and it was equally spectacular at night, especially with the Space Needle lit up in the background. (The glass chandeliers in the Wonder and Magic atriums are Chihuly glass.) We also rode the Ducks in Seattle which was fun. Our driver was really into it, which added greatly to the experience.

Now, on to Alaska.

In Skagway, we did the Yukon Expedition. This involved a bus ride from the port through the town of Skagway and up into the Yukon Territory. The bus ride was about two hours, but it did not feel nearly that long, and we stopped several times for photo ops. We arrived at Caribou Crossing a little early, so our driver took us beyond Caribou Crossing so we could see Emerald Lake. I was amazed at how many lakes and rivers there are in the Yukon territory, and so many of them are that pretty milky green glacier water color that we became familiar with on Tracy Arm day. Caribou Crossing is definitely a town constructed for tourists, but oddly fun. We were served a BBQ chicken lunch there that was better than decent. They also had homemade donuts that were tasty (and I am not a donut lover). After lunch, we had time to check out the wildlife museum, which is a small museum full of taxidermied animals. Again, my reaction is that this was strangely fun. They have a woolly mammoth and polar and grizzly bears. Also a bison, and I was amazed at how huge it was. We also had the opportunity to visit some husky puppies in Caribou Crossing. From there we made a short stop in Carcross which is a less touristy Yukon town. Then it was down to Fraser, BC to catch the White Pass Railway back down to Skagway. I highly recommend the White Pass Railway. We saw stunning views, and the narration was interesting and informative. All of the DISers who advise to sit on the right side of the train if you are taking it down are spot-on. So glad we followed their advice. Overall, I would give this excursion an 8.5 out of 10. I think taking the train both directions might have gotten a little long.

Juneau: We did the Dog Sled Adventure by Helicopter. This was a fabulous excursion. The helicopter ride up to the Norris glacier was stunning. My DS 8 absolutely loved the helicopter. So did my DH who was not at all convinced he wanted to go on this excursion. The scenery is just breathtaking. We flew over the Wonder which looked like a toy down below and then over the Norris and Taku glaciers (and one more whose name I can't remember). Then we landed on the Norris glacier and were off on the dog sled. So much fun. I only got to drive once because my kids loved driving so much, but I got such a kick out of just sitting in the sled as it got pulled along. The driving was definitely fun too! As CaliforniaGirl09 mentioned in her post, this excursion did not offer the opportunity to visit with puppies, which would have been fun. However, this excursion is the only one of the 3 dog-sledding excursions that DCL offers in Juneau that has a child's rate, for which both DD and DS qualified. That ended up saving us around $400, so I didn't mind not getting to meet the puppies! Plus we had gotten to see puppies the day before in Caribou Crossing. I give this excursion a 10 out of 10.

Ketchikan: We did the Bering Sea Crab tour on our own to save a little money because, to echo CaliforniaGirl09, it is the exact same boat the DCL excursion uses. This was a really fun excursion, with the opportunity to hold crabs and other creatures and interact with the crew from The Deadliest Catch. They also brought up an octopus, which was really neat. They take the boat into native Alaskan territory, where they are allowed to toss fish to the bald eagles. It was awesome to see the eagles come swooping in to dive for the fish. I give this excursion a 7 out of 10. I do recommend it, but I think it would be ideal to combine with another excursion in Ketchikan for anyone doing the cruises out of Vancouver in 2013 who might have more time in port. I would have loved to combine this with the Great American Lumberjack show or the totem park or some bear viewing. I just felt like we didn't get to see much of Ketchikan with the short port day and this excursion that used up all of our port time.

In Victoria, we did the Butchart Gardens and Short City Drive. I also give this one a 7 out of 10, but only because 2/3 of the time in the gardens was when it was pretty dark. Luckily, we got to the Sunken Garden while it was still pretty light outside and got do that part pretty thoroughly before we really lost the light. The gardens are very beautiful and impressive. I just expected them to be a little more lit up at night. On the bus ride to the gardens, we drove through Victoria and past the Empress Hotel. On the way back, we got to see the parliament building all lit up with something like 30,000 bulbs. Almost like Small World in Disneyland! My DD wants to go back to Victoria because she thinks it looks like a place with lots of things to see.

Happy to answer any questions about our excursions.

MAGIC June 20-27, 2009 (Eastern Caribbean) MAGIC June 18-29, 2011 (Med) WONDER August 6-13, 2012 (Alaska) MAGIC September 7-12, 2012 (Canada) FANTASY April 13-20, 2013 (Western Caribbean) ABD Scotland: A Brave Adventure August 4-12, 2013 WONDER May 19-24, 2014 (San Diego to Vancouver) ABD Austria, Germany & Czech Republic July 5-13, 2014 DREAM November 24-28, 2014 (Bahamas) WONDER May 15-17, 2015 (San Diego) B2B with WONDER May 17-20, 2015 (Ensenada) MAGIC June 29-July 10, 2015 (North Norwegian Fjords and Iceland) B2B with MAGIC July 10-22, 2015 (Baltics) with ABD add-on
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:56 PM   #817
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Just returned monday....still suffering jet lag lol

THought I would check in with my experiences.

Skagway- we Did the helicopter/dog sledding excursion. We booked independently with Temesco because Disney was sold out. The confirmation email they sent us came with a map to walk to their office from the pier. They said it would be a 20 minute walk. However when we got off the ship we saw we were docked RIGHT next door. We only had to walk 5 minutes! This was an expensive excursion and I only agreed to do it cuz it was the only thing DH picked to do. I am so glad I did it. It was wonderful. I was a lil scared of helicopter ride but it was fine. I was already taking Bonine for sea sickness so I didnt get air sick at all and I get sick in cars, airplanes, etc. but this whole trip I did fine. We took about a 20 minute helicopter ride up to the glacier. We flew in and out of trees, valleys and over the glacier. It was a clear perfect day. Actually the whole week including 2 days in Seattle we had NO rain. I say it was thanks to me cuz I went out and bought a rain coat, rain hat and new umbrella just for this trip, lol. Anyway we landed right on glacier a lil south of the dog camp. They said we need to travel rest of way in the snow cat due to fog up higher. We traveled about 10 minutes and then you could hear the barking. The dogs were obviously so excited and all wanted to be picked to be harnessed to the sled. One dog didnt get picked and started barking and growling and then turned his dog house over in protest, lol. We split into groups of four. The sleds were actually 2 sleds hooked together. I was the the first driver on the last sled. DH sat in front of me with the other couple in front sled with a guide as their driver. I needed to lean to steer and use the brake when told and of course hold on, but the guide issued commands and leaded the dogs they way she wanted them to go. Then we stopped and changed drivers. We did this so that everyone could drive. DH went last cuz guide said that was most challenging part. We turned a sharp corner and got going really fast. I am glad to say DH did a great job!! He says the whole thing was life changing for him. I dont think it was quite that for me but it was worth the money that I had worried about and I would do it again. After we all drove we got to spend a lil time with the puppies. They were so cute, but these were not house pets, all these dogs smelled really bad, lol. But they were all healthy looking and very happy and excited to see people and run. I was a little worried about the conditions we would see but they all had there own lil house and a lil area all to themselves. Anyway then we boarded the snow cat back down glacier to helicopter for a 15 minute flight back to office. The took a picture of us while we were mushing. It was $20. We bought it and it cant wait to get it matted and hung up to display.

Juneau- Mendenhall Glacier and Whale watching though Disney. I really wanted to book Harv and Marv so we would have a smaller boat with just out group of 8 but the rest of my group was to nervous to book independently so we went with Disney excursion. as I will explain is was wonderful. We went on bus to Mendenhall Glacier first. We first went on hike to the waterfall. We took some pictures there and walked all around falls and back up to visitor center. We then had about 20 minutes in visitor center. Enough time for a guick look and a little souvenir shopping. They offered a film but we didnt have time. I dont think you would be able to hike to falls and see movie. You would need to pick which one you wanted. Then we boarded bus for pier. Our boat was a two deck boat. About 200 people I would say. Our weather was beautiful. Again sunshine and warm weather. There is a covered cabin with seats that you can sit in, however we stayed on upper outer deck by rail so we would have a good spot once we stopped. The ride was winding and lil cold. Had coat and gloves on during ride but could remove once we stopped. We came upon a group of about 4 boats and we stopped. There were about 6 humpback whales all around us. And I noticed the little boat of harv and marv immediately and they were indeed close to the whales. We stayed there anchored for 30 minutes. During that time two whales swam right up to beside our boat and were very close. We say many whales surfice and blow air. And saw many tails. You could hear them when they blew air out of blow hole and dh took film with camera and you can hear it on there as well. It was really cool. This was the highlight of my trip and what had been looking forward to!! After whales we rode around to where there were sea lions and then harbor seals. We say many bald eagles. I have to mention during Tracey Arm day from the deck of wonder we saw 2 Orca. I saw them surface all the way, stick nose in air and then dive. We never say a whale breech which we knew was rare, however I hear the whale trip before us say one. We left about 9am. So maybe earlier is better? But it was absolutely magical and I loved seeing all the wildlife. I was worried about being on a bigger ship but we had to problem. Many people staid inside the whole time so there was not problem on the top deck. We stood by rail and when the whales were on other side we were able to cross to that side and were on 2nd row of people and could see well. If I did it again I would take a smaller independent trip. They seemed to be able to follow the whales closer and stay closer. We got lucky with a whale coming to us but they could actually go to them.

Ketchikan- Bear Creek Zipline. Ok here is my disclaimer. I am scared of heights! I had been zip lining with a friend in St Lucia. DH really wanted to try it and guilted me into doing it. "If you can go with your friend, you can go with me!" So I agreed to do it. We were traveling with a group of 8. We were the only two that were going to zipline until the 16 year old we were with found out we were going and she changed her excursion to go with us. We took bus ride out to course. It was a course of 7 ziplines of ever increasing length and speed. A suspension bridge, a 40 foot repel and 250 ft slide. Alright I gave you my disclaimer. I hated iT!!! Yes the whole thing. However DH and 16 year old and everyone else loved it. The guides found out I was scared and teased me mercifully. Jumping on bridge, telling me one of the lanyards was the ejection lanyard so whatever I do dont touch it, etc. ha ha ha. It was all in good fun though. Two of the ziplines I stopped short. You then have to grab line, turn around and hand over hand pull your self to platform. Thank god it was only about 5 feet short cuz that was hard work. Of course I am the only one that did that. They said it was because I wasnt leaning back enough and curling my legs up enough. I tried but never got it just right. I was just glad I wasnt plummeting to my death, lol. The suspension bridge was in middle of zipping. It took me a lil longer to cross then others. Cuz like I said when they decided to tease me and shake bridge I just held on closed my eyes and didnt move (or breath) until they were done. The last line was really long and fast!! Then was the repel. Everyone before just jumped off and did it. I told myself that I could do and I would whimp out. But when It was my turn and It was time for me to jump of edge I couldnt do it. The guides were really sweet. They suggested I just sit on edge and the scoot off edge. That is what i had to do. At first I felt silly and not brave but then I decided I knew I was going to hate it,but I did it all anyway so I was a lil proud when I thought of it that way. Then came the 250 foot slide. You sit in a burlap sack and slide down. You were gloves and there is a rail that you can run your hands across or push down on to slow yourself down. Well that is what they said anyway. I was not able to slow myself down at all and you went really fast. I admit a squealed a lil bit but that was the only time I screamed all day!! SO yeah for me, lol.

Before we left I was concerned what clothes I should be wearing. I get really cold all the time so I was worried. On whale watching I had on long sleeve tee, fleece, coat, mittens, hat scarf. When we were actually stopped I took off my coat and mittens. Ziplining I wore long johns, pants, tee shirt coat. This was a really warm day so I left coat in office and and perfectly warm. Actually the times I got a lil scared I was too warm, lol. For the dog sledding. I wore long johns, tee shirt, fleece, coat, gloves, hat, ear warmer, scarf, 2 pairs of socks and boots then the outer glacier boots they gave you. Kept it all one and was just right. DH removed his coat as he got to warm. But like I said we had no rain and sunshine all week. Everyone kept saying how unusual that was and how lucky we got. Any other questions I can answer I will be glad to.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:07 PM   #818
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Does anyone know if you can get the bear country and wildlife expedition and Menenhall Glacier and Whale Quest excurisions independantly from Disney? I was wanting to see if I could find them cheaper somewhere else.

Cruises sailed: 12/08 Magic - Western, 09/10 Wonder - DVC Member, 10/11 Dream - Bahamas, 05/13 Fantasy - Western, 03/14 -RC Brilliance of the Seas - STEELERS cruise! 10/14 - Wonder Double Dip
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:28 PM   #819
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Originally Posted by STLDisney_Freak View Post
Does anyone know if you can get the bear country and wildlife expedition and Menenhall Glacier and Whale Quest excurisions independantly from Disney? I was wanting to see if I could find them cheaper somewhere else.
This was my post from last year, but it may help:
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:38 PM   #820
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I am going on an alaskan cruise on septermber 16th (in 8 days!!!) on Celebrity cruis lines.

The excursions that I have planned are:

Sitka: I wanted to go see the Raptor center but I was not willing to pay $44/person to the cruise line as I found out I could basically walk there and it was free to see the raptor center. the other thing I want to do is Hike the Herring cove trail, for this I would take a taxi there and hike it as the cruise charges $97/person to do this excursion with a guide. I would much rather pay a local to take me there, I hike it and then get back again. My ship will be at port from 8-5 which is a long time.

Skagway: I wanted to do the White pass trail as I was recommended this by everyone I have spoken to. I have wanted to do some kind of biking activity so I joined them together and got a white pass train and klondike boat tour. plus doing some walking around town.

Juneau: I already have 2 things planned with a possible of a 3rd; which are Alaskan Canopy expedition at 11:30am and a tour of the alaskan Brewery and bottling company at 3:40pm. I also wanted to go see the mendenhall glacier but not sure if I will be able to go see it and be back in time for the 11:30am zipline adventure. Anyone have any advice? I have heard of many ways to get to the glacier but they all will take some time. I know my ship docks at 7am but the glacier area itself does not open until 8am so I think if I take a taxi there I can do some hiking around and then back to the pier for the zipline expedition.

Icy strait point: I read online that this is THE BEST place to do whale watching, I booked this with a local guide that runs a 27ft catamaran and was $150/person instead of the $274/person that the cruise line was charging for whale watching.

Ketchikan: I will be sea kayaking tatoosh island.

I used tripadvisor to help choose all of the excursions I am doing.

does anyone have any recommendations on going to see the mendenhall glacier early in the morning hiking around a bit and making it back to the pier in time before 11:30am to do my zipline adventure? or should I just miss out on seeing the mendenhall galcier?
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:51 PM   #821
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Skagway: Grizzly Falls Ziplining

Just got back from our week on the Wonder, and we did two excursions:

Skagway - Grizzly Falls Ziplining with Alaska Excursions

We met at 9:45am in the Walt Disney Theater and were lead to a comfy small tour bus. Our driver was Keeley, and she gave us a little tour of Skagway (it's not a long tour ) including driving past the back-alley warehouse where she and some of the other seasonal guides live (what a life!), the community health center (they have no doctors), and other local lore and info.

At base camp, which is also the base camp for one of the musher's camp excursions, we got suited up with our harnesses. This is a photo of some of the family of 5 that was on the same tour with us:

This was when I was pretty sure I was going to throw up with stress. As someone who is afraid of heights, this excursion was a bucket-list line item I wanted to knock out, and I was soooo nervous. Here at base camp is the last restrooms you will see, and simultaneously having a nervous stomach and nausea, I was trying to breathe and relax and try not to freak out. Once you are locked into your harness, you can't exactly make a hasty retreat to the little girl's room--something I was keenly aware of...

Luckily, we were soon ushered off to the Unimog, which is a growling powerhouse of a hill climber, with twice as many gears as a regular vehicle. The roads are steep gravely pathways carved through the mountainside.

There are 11 ziplines, 2 of which are "practice lines"--lower to the ground, not too fast--and two suspension bridges. We started on the second line with a father and his 13 year old daughter, and the family of 5 began on the first line, effectively pacing our group one after the other so we wouldn't hold each other up but would end not too far apart at the end.

Our guides were Jay and Matt and they were great. Fun-loving guys in their late 20's/early 30's with a great sense of humor. The company has names for each of the lines, with a little story about why the name was chosen. For instance, "This one is called the Big Kahuna. It's the longest and fastest--you will get about 30 seconds of line time."

To add even further interest, they would issue little challenges on each line. "For this one, try to turn yourself upside down," or, "This one is the trust fall--throw your arms wide and fall backward off the platform without grabbing the harness. You get higher points for falling from the top rung of the platform ladder." They would give us tips on how to succeed at each challenge, then Matt would demonstrate the challenge and then wait on the other platform to play catcher. Jay stayed behind with us to lock us in and help us launch, then follow behind. They had the system down smooth, quick, and made us feel very safe.

I stepped up to go first on the very first line, to pull off the bandage as quickly as possible. Sick to my stomach, I stepped off the platform. Those first few lines I was gripping for dear life and not wanting to look down. By the trust fall challenge, I was falling from the top rung full out; and by the time we got to the toughest challenge, I was launching into a graceful front flip off a very high platform!

Here are some pics:

My hubby and I are not small people, though we were within the required weight range. The harnesses fit comfortably and we felt safe and supported throughout.

We felt exhilarated and accomplished at the end, and enjoyed a bottled water and a granola bar in the sunshine next to a firepit (not necessary on the very sunny and warm day we had, but surely welcome for those on more typical cold, rainy days). We hung out for about 20 minutes chatting and taking photos while we waited for the family behind us to finish up, then we loaded into the 'Mog for the ride back down.

We were running ahead of schedule and the road is one-lane in most places. So while waiting for another Unimog to head up the hill, our driver took us to a platform overlooking the valley. He told us more local lore, pointing out interested details of the landscape, and taking photos.

Back at camp we had a short period of time to look in their shop (all dog musher merchandise, none for the zipliners!), and they let us visit the puppy pens for a little while, too, even though we hadn't paid for any dog musher camp stuff.

Keeley drove us back down to town, dropping off those of us who wanted to stay in town near a recommended restaurant and drove the rest of the people back to the dock. We had plenty of time left in the day, so we grabbed lunch and soaked up the rare sun (we even got a little burned!)

We would highly recommend this excursion to anyone. Don't let fear hold you back! All ages and fitness levels participated in it and had a grand time. The guides are friendly and skilled, and we had a great time. We agreed this was the favorite thing we did our entire trip.

BOARDWALK: Sept 11-Sept 18 2004
POLYNESIAN: Aug 30-Sept 10 2007
BOARDWALK: Nov 28-Dec 8 2008
-- Disneyland: Countless times, Good Neighbor Hotels

Last edited by Clotho; 09-05-2012 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:10 PM   #822
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We returned from our amazing Disney Wonder to Alaska vacation last Monday, and I'm ready to post about our incredible excursions. First, I have to say that the Wonder is in excellent condition, the cast members are outstanding, we love the smaller size of the ship and this was just the most incredible vacation. I hesitated to spend this much on both the cruise itself (family of five, category 4A, midship with a wonderful verandah) and the Disney excursions, but it was worth literally every penny. I should also mention that it was sunny in every single port and the temperatures were always comfortable, so I know that's not always the case and we felt extremely fortunate.

We have three boys, ages 5, 12 and 13. So we were looking for port adventures that were active, would allow my husband and I to see a variety of new and interesting sights, and accomodate our youngest. We also wanted to keep costs reasonable, and aren't crazy about anything having to do with small planes or helicopters. I couldn't be happier with our choices - turns out they were perfect for us.

Skagway - Takshanuk 4x4 Adventure. Wow - so fun and amazingly beautiful. We had plenty of time to walk around Skagway in the morning before our port adventure, and that was really enjoyable for about an hour or so. Stopped in a few shops and a little museum that was set up like an 1800s bar (boys loved that!) It was uncrowded, the weather was beautiful and the walk along the wooden planks in Skagway was really pleasant.

On to the excursion: After meeting in the Walt Disney Theater at 11:15am, we boarded a bus that took us around the harbor in Skagway to the catamaran. Our catamaran took three different port adventure groups over to the town of Haines. It was an amazingly beautiful ride over to Haines and our guide on the catamaran (Steve, I think) was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic - we learned a lot.

When we arrived in Haines, I could not believe the amazing scene behind us - mountains, water, just incredible. We boarded another bus to the base camp. This is where we met Ronnie. Now Ronnie has a certain kind of charm and he's entertaining - he's definitely working hard to make sure we all have a great time! At the bottom of the mountain, we board our Kawasaki Mule 4x4 vehicles. My husband and I took turns driving and our three boys rode in the elevated seat above. We started up the mountain and it was steep! Not fast, but bumpy, very fun and incredibly scenic. Stopped at the lodge for cookies, hot chocolate, lemonade and hot cider. The cookies were really good - I wasn't expecting much and was very surprised. The view from the lodge is just beautiful. We continued up the mountain, making one stop on the way and one stop at the top. Again, it's difficult to describe the amazing views of mountains, water, trees, etc. And on a sunny day - just wow.

The way back down the mountain was even more fun. Some of the 4x4s let the one ahead get a little farther so that they could speed up a bit. (OK, my husband was one of those - our boys loved it.) The meal at the lodge is every bit as good as others say. We loved the halibut and the chicken - difficult to decide which was better. And the lodge itself was very clean, and the staff was friendly and well-organized.

Then we headed back down the rest of the way, hopped in the bus, took a short tour of Haines (thanks, Ronnie!) and boarded our catamaran back to Skagway. We could either walk back to the ship or take the bus - we usually walk, but were a little tired after seven hours, so we opted for the bus!

We returned to the ship around 6:15 or so, and we had previously arranged to switch to late seating in the MDR for just that night. I'm so glad we did that, and many thanks to tips on the Dis! We were not hungry after the full meal at the lodge anyway, and the 8:15 dining time was ideal after this excursion. We also had the chance to relax on our verandah with some snacks that we retrieved from Cove Cafe and a couple glasses of wine while our boys watched a movie (pixar, of course) in the room - perfect!

Juneau - Sled Dog Discovery and Musher Camp. There are a number of different sled dog port adventures, and we were very happy with this one - it was a good value and very fun for our boys! It was an early start at 7:30am, but we were happy with our early start. After meeting in the Walt Disney Theater, we boarded a bus to the musher camp. The drive was only 30 minutes or so and we passed through Juneau on the way. When we arrived, as promised, the sleds were ready and the dogs were very excited to see us! We boarded the sleds and took a quick lap or two around the rainforest trail. Very fun and bit chilly (so important to bundle up - we did!) The musher took photos of the dogs and of us in the sled. At the end of the ride (we knew it would be short, so we were not disappointed by the length) we met each of the dogs.

The rest of the tour was wonderfully low key. It was just our family and one other family (our youngest son became a big fan of their oldest and they sat together on the bus back to the ship!) We met another musher and Froto, a dog who had run over 5,000 miles the previous summer (or year, can't remember which.) We learned about the gear the mushers used, walked over the suspension bridge, got hot chocolate (or cider) back on the other side and went into a covered (still outdoor) area to learn more about mushing. Now, I'm not a fan of animals or dogs and I thought this was really interesting. I know others have reported that it was too much information, but we were so interested in our guide (Emily) and her stories that we asked tons of questions. I don't think she was able to complete her whole spiel because we were asking so many questions. Then we met the puppies - fun for everyone. They don't have names yet, so the kids can invent names for them.

On the way back, the bus driver stopped at an overlook so that we could see the Mendenhall Glacier. Glad we got to see it, and glad we did not spend our entire time in Juneau there. We had a wonderful time on our Tracy Arm day, but I think our boys were good with the glaciers by that time and ready for a different kind of adventure. The driver offered to drop us off in Juneau, which meant we would need to catch the shuttle back to the ship. We walked around a bit, stopped in a toy store, book store and candy store, and then headed back to the ship. I didn't expect to have time to look around in Juneau and I know we didn't see much, but I appreciated that 45 minutes or so.

Ketchikan - Rainforest Canoe and Nature Trail. This was definitely my favorite port adventure. We met in the Walt Disney Theater at 7:45am - so another early morning. Again, I'm so glad we booked early excursions because that gave us time to see the towns quickly before our departure. We boarded a bus and our very lively and talkative tour guide gave us tons of information about Ketchikan history (her nickname was tick tock, I think.) She had quite a lot to say, but we found her interesting and entertaining. The bus took us out to Lake Harriet Hunt, and it's just incredible. Just a trailer with canoe equipment, some portable bathrooms (VERY clean for portable bathrooms) and our guides. Our guide, Ben, was the best guide of the entire cruise. We got our paddles and life jackets and headed out to the canoes. I think there were 13 or 14 people per canoe - we could paddle or not paddle, but our family (including our 5-year-old) opted to paddle the entire time. Ben taught us a ton about the area while we paddled and took questions throughout. Our kids loved the part where we all yelled in unison to see how it would echo. And it did - we were the only ones on the lake - never saw anyone else! I think we paddled for about an hour, and then stopped at the camp, where we left the canoe for a short nature walk. Again, really interesting and absolutely beautiful. I had read complaints regarding the snack at the end of the walk, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's a snack, just as advertised. It included something for everyone in a clean, beautiful setting, and we really enjoyed it. The bread was yummy with the raspberry jam, our youngest loved the goldfish crackers, the clam chowder was tasty (and I don't even like clams) and the hot chocolate was quite good. We paddled back to our starting point, boarded the bus back to Ketchikan and had time to tour Ketchikan quickly before getting back on the ship. Another wonderful day.

Victoria - On Our Own. We had early dining, and got off the ship around 7pm. We boarded the Disney-provided complimentary bus to downtown Victoria. We really enjoyed our walk around downtown Victoria, strolled through a festival of some sort and watched a very entertaining street performer. We stopped in a few shops and made our way back to the shuttle around 9:20pm or so. There was a bit of a wait for the shuttle, but no problem. I know many complained about the itinerary and the timing of this stop, but we loved it. It was just the right amount of time for our boys. (In fact, we felt that way about all the port times - perfect amount of time in port for us, and then nice for our boys to get back to the ship for either a swim or other activities.) On our last day, we enjoyed our time on the ship, and we were able to get out and see something new in the evening. It was a good distraction from the "final farewells" and "see ya real soons" for everyone! And I packed up nearly everything in the afternoon, so no rush when we returned to our room.

In the final analysis, our boys ranked the dog sled #1, the rainforest canoe #2 and the Takshanuk 4x4 #3, but they wanted to be clear that they absolutely loved them all and it was nearly impossible to rank them. So they felt like giving the 4x4 a #3 doesn't really reflect how much they enjoyed it. My husband and I ranked the rainforest canoe #1, Takshanuk 4x4 #2 and dog sled #3 - all with the same disclaimer that our boys give!

I'm really glad we booked everything through Disney. I know we could have saved money by booking independently, but I loved how all the port adventures were so well-organized, and I didn't have to worry about getting back to the ship on time.

I hope that helps - thanks to all who have contributed to this thread and helped us to make our decisions!
Disneyland (x many), Polynesisan (x many), Beach Club (x many), Boardwalk (x3), Yacht Club, Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge (x2), Animal Kingdom Lodge (x2), Port Orleans French Quarter, Dolphin, Coronado Springs (x3), Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans-Riverside, All Star Sports, All Star Music, Art of Animation, 2011 Disney Dream, 2012 Disney Wonder to Alaska, 2012 MNSSHP, 2013 Disneyland 10K, 2014 Princess Half Marathon, 2015 WDW Marathon

March/April 2015: WL/Poly

Last edited by pixarmom; 09-08-2012 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 05:22 PM   #823
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,578

Originally Posted by pixarmom View Post
I'm really glad we booked everything through Disney. I know we could have saved money by booking independently, but I loved how all the port adventures were so well-organized, and I didn't have to worry about getting back to the ship on time.

I hope that helps - thanks to all who have contributed to this thread and helped us to make our decisions!
Great reviews! Really enjoyed reading. Man, there were so many great excursions, it was hard to choose. I could see doing Alaska again to get to try some other stuff and see even more of the beautiful area. Though the weather we had was so incomparable, I fear a return trip would disappoint!

Oh and not directed at you, but in general for other people reading: from what I heard from our excursion operators, most of the excursions are not actually cheaper if you book straight through them. Looks like they set their rates and then the cruise lines take their cut of it, rather than tacking on an extra fee. We tried to save some money by booking ahead with the tour companies, and the price was the same so we just went through Disney. With short port times, it is a safer bet anyway, so the boat won't leave withoutcha!

BOARDWALK: Sept 11-Sept 18 2004
POLYNESIAN: Aug 30-Sept 10 2007
BOARDWALK: Nov 28-Dec 8 2008
-- Disneyland: Countless times, Good Neighbor Hotels

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Old 09-25-2012, 08:05 PM   #824
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I'm wondering if anyone has gone on the Bear Country & Wildlife Expedition lately? We are interested in reviews of this port adventure for our Alaska trip next year. TIA!
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:16 PM   #825
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Anniston, AL
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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.
We did the Best of Skagway, which included the Liarsville Salmon bake and gold panning. It was OK. It was raining and cold. We ate outside. The food was good, the show was nice. We did not pan for gold because we were running late and had another stop before going back to the boat. On our next cruise to Alaska in 2014, we will not do the "Best of" and just pick one thing that we really want to see.
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