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Old 07-14-2013, 06:24 AM   #1066
KelseyLaPerle
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Questions about Taku Lodge Float Plane Adventure.....


I've read that they restrict what we can bring with us - no hats, camera must be around neck, etc.

Are we allowed to bring a backpack? Can we take pictures from inside the plane? Our cruise leaves next week - would anyone guess as to what the weather may be like both in the plane and outside at the lodge? If we're not allowed a backpack, I don't want to overdress and be too hot/cold having no place to store extra layers. Is there a safe spot for us to leave things we want to bring off the ship but are not allowed on the excursion?

Thanks a million!

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Old 07-17-2013, 08:57 PM   #1067
momto2redheadgirls
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Just got off the ship on Monday and we did the following:

Skagway -- We booked directly thru Chilkoot Tours for the White Pass and Yukon Rail and Bus excursion. They picked us up about 50 feet from the gangway and delivered us to the train station where the driver (Mike???? - drawing a blank right now on his name, he was good though) got us the last train car. That car was just for Chilkoot people and we had about 15-18 people in our car and Disney had the next car up and it was PACKED. Once the train gets going you can go out on the platforms to stand and get pics. We got some absolutely awesome shots from the back platform that I am not sure the Disney people got. Once in Frazier, BC we transferred to the small bus and made our way back stopping and getting out to get pics. Our driver was awesome and told us stories and lore all the way back. Definately would recommend this one!

Juneau -- We did the Disney Alpine Zipline and Mendenhall Glacier Tour. It was good also. Lots of time in the van. We went to the Glacier park first and it was about 20 minutes to make it to the Glacier and then we had about an hour there. There is a Visitor Center that has great views of everything and explains all about the forming of glaciers and other neat things. There is also a small store with books and stuffed animals and other things. There is a point that you can walk out to and get some wonderful pics of the glacier and waterfall. There was a Park Ranger stationed at the point and he was great for answering questions and all. There is also a path to get to the base of the waterfalls, we did not go because it was a mile there and another mile back and we would have had to practically run to make it back by the time we saw everything else. It would have been neat, but cutting it close to do it all in an hour -- or maybe we are just slow . After we left there it took about 40 minutes to get to the zipline course. Once we got to Alaska Zipline Adventures, we met our guides - Sarah and Greg. They walked us thru getting geared up (they provided jackets because of the tree sap and possibility of rain and helmets)and info on how to do it, then it was time to hit the course. It consisted of 7 lines and a suspension bridge. It was great! There were 8 of us on our excursion, from about 10 yrs old to about 50 yrs old and everyone had a blast. We even learned some botany along the way. They told us about the trees, climate, and different interesting things about the plants along the way. Once finished with the lines, we got to try our hand at ax throwing. That was interesting, and WAY harder than it looked! Then we got to de-robe from the gear and make some smores and watch a video of the pics they took along the way. We took our own camera with us and got some good pics. We were offered water and granola bars in the lodge to snack on and then there was coke products for purchase as well as a zipdrive with all the pics on it the guides took for $29.99. A little steep in my opinion, but some in our party took advantage of that since they didn't have their own cameras with them. It was an amazing adventure and I would do it again. Looking forward to doing another cruise in the future in the Carribean so my daughter can go and do ziplining because I know she would love it too!

In Ketchikan, we just walked around, did some shopping and got back on the ship. I hope this helps anyone!
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:59 PM   #1068
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We also returned Monday and had a wonderful time. I chose most of my excursions after reading reviews here, so I wanted to return the favor.

We had two excursions in Skagway:

1)Glacier Adventure by Helicopter: This was amazing. I chose to do this in Skagway because I knew that excursions in the air are the most likely to be cancelled. I wanted to plan it for the first port day so we could reschedule for Juneau if the weather didn't cooperate. I know that some of the flightseeing excursions in Juneau were cancelled the day we were there (Taku Lodge specifically), so I am glad I did it this way. Also, the views from the helicopter in Skagway were unbelievable and were a major highlight of our cruise. My husband and I felt that the helicopter ride was better than the glacier walk, but the kids really enjoyed that part. All in all, this excursion was one of the most memorable parts of our cruise. We booked this independently through M&M Tours in Skagway for $299 each. This is the child price with Disney, so we saved $210. M&M met us at the end of the gangway and walked us over to the helicopter pads (we really didn't need a guide--we were docked right next to the helicopters). You can also book directly with Temsco. I couldn't find their phone number when I was trying to book, but I noticed last week that they now have it on their website.

2) Sled Dog and Musher's Camp: We booked this directly with Alaska Excursions to save money. They also met us at the end of the gangway. This is the same company that Disney uses, so it's the same tour for less. This was my daughter's favorite excursion. My husband, son, and I enjoyed it, but not as much as some of the others. A guide picks you up and drives you 20-25 minutes to Dyea. Our guide was great and gave us lots of info about Skagway during the ride. We arrived at the base camp and boarded a unimog vehicle that took us up the mountain. The dogs heard us coming and went crazy. They were ready to run! Our family of four was in our own vehicle with a musher. Almost all the dogs had been in the Iditarod. The ones that hadn't were working towards that. We got to make two laps around a track, which was quite fun. I wish this part could have been longer. On the way back down the mountain, we stopped at a scenic overlook, and then went back to base camp. We got to listen to a musher talk about training the dogs and the Iditarod, and then we had time to play with the puppies. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience--we learned and had fun!

We also had two separate adventures in Juneau:

1) Whale Watching: We wanted to book this with Harv and Marv, but because we had two kids under thirteen, we went with Alaska Galore (recommended by Harv and Marv and share shuttle buses with them). There were two families of four on our boat, as well as an employee that was there with some friends (off the clock). We also had a captain and a guide. Snacks and drinks were offered, and we headed into Auke Bay. Our captain warned us that they hadn't been seeing the number of whales normal for this time of year. We ended up seeing 2 moms and their 2 babies (humpbacks), and one of the babies breached and swam VERY close to our boat. Even though we didn't see a large number, our experience was very good, and this was our second favorite excursion overall. (Interesting note: I heard today that there are more whales than normal in Glacier Bay--perhaps they have gone further north because of the higher than normal temps in Alaska this summer???)

2) Mendenhall Glacier: We bought tickets for the blue bus shuttle at one of the wooden kiosks in Juneau. (There are two shuttle services--a blue bus and a white bus.) We paid for a round trip on the blue bus, but we would not do this next time. Pay for one way at the kiosk. For the way back, you can hop on the first bus to come, rather than waiting for a specific bus. However, you MUST pay cash for the return trip ($8 per person). We hiked to Nugget Falls and on one other trail. We were hoping to see bears, but we did not. The salmon had not started running, but it was almost time. I am sure those who go in the next week or so will have more luck with this. We enjoyed a couple of hours at the glacier, but didn't consider this a must-do after seeing Tracy Arm and walking on the glacier in Skagway. (If we hadn't had the other experiences, this would have ranked higher.)

Ketchikan:

Bearing Sea Crab Fisherman Tour: I read about this on Trip Advisor, but it was sold out through the company's website and through Disney. However, I was able to get tickets through ShoreTrips. We printed our own vouchers and walked ourselves to the boat (it is at the same dock as the Wonder). The boat has been outfitted for tourists to come along. Thankfully, they had heaters and coats because it was much colder out on the water than I expected!!! I also recommend sitting on the lower deck because there are walls that block some of the wind. We watched them catch crabs, prawn, and many other sea creatures, and we were able to touch them all. We also watched them feed many eagles--this was amazing! The fishermen shared lots of stories. My daughter could have done without some of the stories (she fell asleep on the way back to Ketchikan), but the rest of us thought it was all very interesting, and I was very glad we did this excursion. It was completely different from our other experiences, but gave us a taste for a lifestyle that is completely foreign to our own.

I am planning to share many more details and pictures in my trip report. I just started it today, so feel free to read along if you are interested in these excursions!

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3142621
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:24 PM   #1069
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Skagway- Dog Mushers Camp- loved it! My favorite excursion of the trip. I went alone as the rest of my group aren't dog people, and still had a fantastic time. Wish it was longer though, felt a little rushed. Had great weather, which was a huge plus!

Juneau- Best of... had a great time also. Saw lots of whales, sea lions, porpoises and seals. Had a great salmon lunch at Orca Point Lodge and got to walk the beach and see the 'touch tank' with lots of sea creatures. Staff could not have been nicer and we had a fantastic nature guide. Also got to spend an hour at the Mendenhall Glacier which was amazing. Not rushed at all and we got to walk the beach there as well. Also had an awesome bus driver.

Ketchikan- Misty Fjords and Wilderness Explorer. DO NOT GO ON THIS. It was a total waste of money!!! It was a two hour boat ride out to the fjords on a speed boat in ROUGH waters. We couldn't even stand up during 3/4 of the ride in. There was no looking for whales, etc. We finally got out there and saw some waterfalls (we saw better ones in Tracy Arm) and some volcano rock thing that we sat at for two minutes. Then saw an Eagles nest and some Eagles. We were stopped in the fjords for about 30 minutes, then back for the two hour drive back. Again, it was speeding through rough waters. Got some soup (it wasn't enough to be a lunch, it was maybe a half cup, but it was great). The staff was great, but the trip was a waste of money. Plus it got back an hour after the schedule said, so we didn't have much time in Ketchikan before we had to get back for dinner. We complained to DCL, but they didn't seem to care much, just said they will pass our comments along.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:17 PM   #1070
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Was on the July 8th cruise.

Skagway Ocean Raft Adventure

This was a great excursion and greatly undersold by Disney. It is especially good if you have teens and tweens. They pick you up at the dock and drive 5 minutes to a place (visitor's center?) for those that need to use the bathroom. Then you are driven for 2 minutes to the dock area. You get off the van and into an old bus. There are bins to stow all your gear, except for cameras, and they hand you the "gumby" suits. Think Deadliest Catch overall. Gloves, goggles, and a head mask hat are all given to you on the boat, so there is no need to bring anything. The boat is outfitted in true Navy fashion; you sit on padded horses with a bar to hold onto, which is quite comfortable believe it or not! The guides are wonderful and when not narrating and showing you the Canal, the boat is able to go 40 mph and they do circles and wide turns for the kids. We saw eagles, harbor seals, seal otters, and whales. We actually saw three adolescent whales swimming and finning together. Would highly recommend.

Juneau Juneau City and Mendenhall Glacier tour

This is a budget friendly excursion that I would recommend. We were picked up by a motor coach, there was only 17 of us because we had the first tour?, and driven through the city with a narration. Our driver was excellent. Once at the Mendenhall Glacier park, we were given almost 1 hour and 15 minutes to walk the trails and visit the center. We were able to comfortably walk the gold nugget trail which takes you to a waterfall that is very close to the glacier. Lots of picture opportunities and excellent visitor center. Once we were picken up, the guide took us to the Macauley salmon hatchery. I have a thing about live fish up close and personal and did not expect to enjoy this, but to tell you the truth it was fascinating and educational. They also have a small aquarium and gift shop. After this, all of us elected to be dropped off in town rather than the boat. We ate at the Red Dog Saloon, walked and shopped, and took the free shuttle back to the boat. My kids also said they were dreading this excursion, but they ended up enjoying themselves.

Ketchikan
Due to budget constraints, we did not do an excursion but walked around town. It was kind of a relief not to have to be somewhere and do what we want. We also enjoyed the nearly empty ship.
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Old 07-22-2013, 11:45 AM   #1071
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We ate at the Red Dog Saloon, walked and shopped, and took the free shuttle back to the boat.
Is the free shuttle for all guests? Where is the pickup and drop off? I think I read somewhere else it is quite a long walk back to the ship?
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Old 07-22-2013, 11:47 AM   #1072
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Is the free shuttle for all guests? Where is the pickup and drop off? I think I read somewhere else it is quite a long walk back to the ship?
Yes, it's free. Pick up and drop off are at the end of the gangway and right at the entrance to Juneau from the dock. Can't miss it. Just ask someone which bus. They are large charter buses.
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Old 07-22-2013, 12:33 PM   #1073
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The bus drops you off by the roberts tramway in the middle of town.
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:27 PM   #1074
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Just back from the July 15th cruise - here are our excursions and thoughts:

Skagway: White Pass Rail & Bus Excursion to Carcross,Yukon through Chillkoot Charters

DH who loves photography loved the White Pass rail ride up to Fraser, BC. DD and I stayed in the coach and listened to the commentary. The scenery is amazing, almost unbelievably beautiful. Once on the bus we stopped at a few scenic places for more photos, lunch and dog cart rides for those who had booked them (we did not) and then back to Skagway on the bus. This was a LONG day for our 7 year old DD...she slept the whole way back on the bus and was not very impressed with the scenery. We suspected this booking it, but were hoping for more wildlife. Due to the warm weather in Alaska, the guide said that wildlife was scarce since it has moved farther back into the forest to stay cool. Would do the train again...but maybe only for 1/2 a day with a child in tow.


Juneau: Whales and Glacier Photo Safari via DCL (but run by Gastineau Guiding)
This was absolutely amazing - loved it and very family friendly. Short, easy hike through the rainforest to a few glacier viewpoints (not close to the glacier, but still beautiful) then back on the bus for a quick snack and to the harbour for whale watching. We were out in the boat for around 2 - 2.5 hours - saw seals, whales (humpbacks) and sea lions and eagles. The guide was great and so the was the captain. Since the excursion was about photography the guide also spent some time explaining how to take a good photograph and helping people with their digital camera learn how to use some new settings vs. having it continuously on AUTO. The total time was 5 hours - DD loved it all.

Ketchikan: we just walked the town and have a chowder lunch at Annabelle's as recommended by our server in Palo. Lunch was great and it was nice to have a quiet day (plus the pool and hot tub on the boat was deserted so DD enjoyedf having the Goofy pool to herself for almost an hour).
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:49 PM   #1075
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Originally Posted by Meekins View Post
Just back from the July 15th cruise - here are our excursions and thoughts:

Skagway: White Pass Rail & Bus Excursion to Carcross,Yukon through Chillkoot Charters

DH who loves photography loved the White Pass rail ride up to Fraser, BC. DD and I stayed in the coach and listened to the commentary. The scenery is amazing, almost unbelievably beautiful. Once on the bus we stopped at a few scenic places for more photos, lunch and dog cart rides for those who had booked them (we did not) and then back to Skagway on the bus. This was a LONG day for our 7 year old DD...she slept the whole way back on the bus and was not very impressed with the scenery. We suspected this booking it, but were hoping for more wildlife. Due to the warm weather in Alaska, the guide said that wildlife was scarce since it has moved farther back into the forest to stay cool. Would do the train again...but maybe only for 1/2 a day with a child in tow.


Juneau: Whales and Glacier Photo Safari via DCL (but run by Gastineau Guiding)
This was absolutely amazing - loved it and very family friendly. Short, easy hike through the rainforest to a few glacier viewpoints (not close to the glacier, but still beautiful) then back on the bus for a quick snack and to the harbour for whale watching. We were out in the boat for around 2 - 2.5 hours - saw seals, whales (humpbacks) and sea lions and eagles. The guide was great and so the was the captain. Since the excursion was about photography the guide also spent some time explaining how to take a good photograph and helping people with their digital camera learn how to use some new settings vs. having it continuously on AUTO. The total time was 5 hours - DD loved it all.

Ketchikan: we just walked the town and have a chowder lunch at Annabelle's as recommended by our server in Palo. Lunch was great and it was nice to have a quiet day (plus the pool and hot tub on the boat was deserted so DD enjoyedf having the Goofy pool to herself for almost an hour).
Thank you so much for your review of the Whales and Glacier Photo Safari Meekins! We are signed up to do this excursion - I love photography and although I'm not a beginner I'm sure I can still learn a few things. My hubby isn't a photographer though - but I'm sure he'll still enjoy the views.

I also picked this excursion over some of the other whale watching tours with Gastineau Guiding because of the extra small tour size - how many people were on your tour? Did you have lots of room and was it easy to see the whales and wildlife without crowding? Do you think the tour was good even for those with no interest in photography?

Thanks again!

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Old 07-25-2013, 11:17 AM   #1076
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We also had two separate adventures in Juneau:

1) Whale Watching: We wanted to book this with Harv and Marv, but because we had two kids under thirteen, we went with Alaska Galore (recommended by Harv and Marv and share shuttle buses with them). There were two families of four on our boat, as well as an employee that was there with some friends (off the clock). We also had a captain and a guide. Snacks and drinks were offered, and we headed into Auke Bay. Our captain warned us that they hadn't been seeing the number of whales normal for this time of year. We ended up seeing 2 moms and their 2 babies (humpbacks), and one of the babies breached and swam VERY close to our boat. Even though we didn't see a large number, our experience was very good, and this was our second favorite excursion overall. (Interesting note: I heard today that there are more whales than normal in Glacier Bay--perhaps they have gone further north because of the higher than normal temps in Alaska this summer???)

2) Mendenhall Glacier: We bought tickets for the blue bus shuttle at one of the wooden kiosks in Juneau. (There are two shuttle services--a blue bus and a white bus.) We paid for a round trip on the blue bus, but we would not do this next time. Pay for one way at the kiosk. For the way back, you can hop on the first bus to come, rather than waiting for a specific bus. However, you MUST pay cash for the return trip ($8 per person). We hiked to Nugget Falls and on one other trail. We were hoping to see bears, but we did not. The salmon had not started running, but it was almost time. I am sure those who go in the next week or so will have more luck with this. We enjoyed a couple of hours at the glacier, but didn't consider this a must-do after seeing Tracy Arm and walking on the glacier in Skagway. (If we hadn't had the other experiences, this would have ranked higher.)
How did the timing work on this? We also want to do both of these things in Juneau but we want a little more time at the glacier than the DCL excursion provide (we want to do the walk to the waterfall, etc).

I have read a few reports that say the independant companies will drop you off at the glacier after the whale watching. That is what we are hoping to do and then just take one of the buses back.

But I'm worried about time. How early can we book a whale watching trip? What time do you get to the glacier, etc?

So I would love to hear some accounts from those that have done both and how much time you had for each. Thanks
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:33 PM   #1077
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Hi there!
Did you ever booked with this compagny?
http://www.discoverskagway.com/our_tours.php?tour_id=1
Thank you so much!
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:08 PM   #1078
Meekins
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Thank you so much for your review of the Whales and Glacier Photo Safari Meekins! We are signed up to do this excursion - I love photography and although I'm not a beginner I'm sure I can still learn a few things. My hubby isn't a photographer though - but I'm sure he'll still enjoy the views.

I also picked this excursion over some of the other whale watching tours with Gastineau Guiding because of the extra small tour size - how many people were on your tour? Did you have lots of room and was it easy to see the whales and wildlife without crowding? Do you think the tour was good even for those with no interest in photography?

Thanks again!

Aby
Hi Aby,

Our tour had 14 in it and based on the size of the bus and the boat I would guess that this tour accomodates no more than 15 - 17. It was very easy to see the whales/seals/sea lions from the boat. The boat has a small upfront open air area that maybe 4 or 5 people can fit into at one time, but better than this, all of the big glass windows on the sides of the boat open completely up (latch into the ceiling)...so that you have unobstructed views from both sides of the boat. With our group, I did not ever find that people were wrestling for a better position. My husband who is a photography nut sat in the front of the boat for the entire whale watching portion, but most of us were happy to kneel in our seats and watch out the open windows. Most people went up to the front section at various times...you just walked up when it did not look full.

I found the photography part of the tour not extensive...I really picked it because (a) it promised a small group size (b) the reviews on Gastineau Guiding on TripAdvisor were all good and (c) I figured in the tour was photography based they would take us to places with good photo ops I think anyone would like this tour - the rainforest was great to see and hike through, the glacier (even from a distance) is amazing and then you really can't top the whale/sea life part. I hope you enjoy it and that your whale watching experience is a great as ours was. Our tour guide was Brian and I think he does all the photography tours - super nice guy. I lost our daughter's camera while on this tour and Brian emailed a couple of days ago to say that he had found it and was mailing it to us Enjoy your cruise!!

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Old 07-25-2013, 10:01 PM   #1079
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Thank you Meekins! I'm sooooo excited

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Old 07-25-2013, 10:26 PM   #1080
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We were on the July 15 sailing with my FIL and two toddlers and did-

Skagway- White Pass Railway with Street Car Tour, we got in the street car and took a 20 minute tour around Skagway. This was interesting and quick. My 2 year old loved the "school bus" although it wasn't really. But, it is yellow! Then we boarded a passenger bus for about an hour or so ride up the mountain. We stopped a few times at scenic points. The guide was really knowledgable without being too in your face. He was good! I won't say much about the scenery, it's been covered already- but great stuff! We got a car with the 28 people on the tour (more than half being a large family, we were on two busses and streetcars earlier, it never felt crowded). We filled about 2/3 of the train car which was nice to have some extra room. This was a fun tour and good for our group. Both kids slept at some point! I was worried that I was unable to buy a seat for my almost 3 year old, (I called and tried as well). It would have been a nightmare if he had to be on my lap, but there was plenty of room for him to sit, so this was fine!

Juneau- Whale watching with Harv and Marv- just as good as everyone says! The highlight was we found a group of 5-6 whales including a mother and calf. We were the first boat there and they swam really close to us. The calf played on the surface for a good 5 minutes. Our captain (Russell) said it was pretty rare to see that many whales together. We also saw sea lions, seals (briefly) and a few eagles.

Ketchikan- Wilderness Explorer and Crab Feast. We really wanted to do the Deadliest Catch tour but my kids were too young and I didn't feel right leaving them on the boat (which, after the AMAZING time they had in the nursery, I would have had no qualms leaving them, but hard to know that beforehand!) We took a bus to George Inlet Lodge and got on a boat which took us to a spt where they had dropped a few crab pots. We were expecting big pots like on TV, but they were more like personal pots. They picked a few kids to pull up the pots. The guide pulled out the crab, talked about them with us and passed the crab around for everyone to hold and see. Those suckers are strong!! We then went back (stopped a few times for notable sights) and had a great crab dinner. My kids were pretty antsy at dinner and didn't really eat the crab, but we enjoyed it. The best part was on the way back, we saw a Mama bear and her cub in a creek! This was a decent tour, but probably our least favorite- mostly due to trying to keep the kids contained at dinner. I would recommend it, but not if you have kids under 5ish.

I hope that helps someone!
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