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Old 07-08-2011, 11:33 AM   #346
ILuvJimny
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Our Excursions

Skagway - We rented a SUV and driver (Private charter for $100 an hour. We booked 3 hours.) through M & M Tours (broker for Frontier Excursions) since there were 6 of us. Brooke, our driver/guide was amazing. We stopped frequently for pictures and she had great commentary and information the whole way to the Yukon and back. We were ahead of many bus tours and could stop just as long as we wanted to get pictures. Brooke also stopped at the cemetary so we could see and hear more about the local hero and villian. Great fun! We highly recommend this excursion if you are wanting a great experience but want to save a little money. I believe this is the same tour you would get if booking per person, but booking it by the hour for 6 or 7 people saved us 50%!

Juneau - We rented a 6 passenger limo there through Juneau Limo. We only did 2 hours and it was $110 per hour. It was fun to experience the sites in first class style. We first toured downtown Juneau and then stopped to pan for gold. Judy, our driver/guide had pans to use and even vials to hold the 'color' we found. We could have hung around doing that for much longer but wanted to also see Mendenhall Glacier. We also went across the Douglas Bridge because we had a little time left and were able to get nice pictures of the Ship. Unfortunately, DH left the camera in the rental car in Seattle on the way home, which they haven't recovered so we may never see those and the many other pictures he took.

Ketchikan - It was very rainy and we were going to do the walking tour but ended up just shopping and then rode the provided bus to see the Disney Exclusive Lumberjack show. Great fun, though our team lost. Had a fun driver on the way back to the ship. KitKat was from Texas and had great stories to tell all the short return trip. I don't know who she does tours for, but she would be a riot to experience for more than the few minutes we had her.

Side note - we did collect the 9 Alaskan coin set for my father. It was a nightmare to have to hit 9 stores and endure their high pressure sales pitches; but I did it!
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:58 AM   #347
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Skagway: White Pass RR and Liarsville. Booked through DCL. Had an early departure so we'd have plenty of time in Skagway in the afternoon since we were in port til 7:30. We have done a lot of excursions over the years and came away from this one commenting on how well done it was. We were put on a bus right outside the ship to drive us two minutes to the train station - but actually it was good because it made sure we were all situated and our bus driver would be meeting us in Fraser, BC, for the ride back. When we got to the train station, she made sure which train car we were to be on and helped get us situated. The train ride was great - it was a beautiful day. The ride is narrated so if you want to hear about what you're seeing, you have to stay inside the car, but the best picture taking is from the platforms outside the cars that you're allowed to go on after a certain point. DH stood outside for most of the 90 minutes while the boys and I stayed inside to hear what was what. We didn't see any wildlife although there was a report of a bear near the tracks... we did see some eagles but that was about it. We were met at Fraser by Sarah our bus driver who drove us to Liarsville, making a few photo stops along the way - she even took our pictures for us at the Welcome to Alaska sign. Liarsville was a bit confusing about what it was we were supposed to do - but there is a general store and a lot of milling around to start with and then the show starts which is corny but my DH and boys laughed a lot, and then we "panned" for gold which was just a flake or two that they put in the pan for you. It was cheesy but we don't mind cheese Then we went back to Skagway and our driver pointed out various shops and places of interest. She stopped back at the train station for anyone who wanted to stay in town for shopping and then took the rest of us back to the ship. The ship was berthed in the middle so it was about a five minute walk from the ship to the train station, just for perspective.
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Old 07-14-2011, 02:50 AM   #348
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:33 PM   #349
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Sold out excursions?

Alaska cruisers - a question? Did any of you have trouble booking excursions on the Wonder or in the towns when you arrived? Just curious if a lot of excursions are sold out or if you can book practically anything onboard. The only excursion I haven't booked is the Duck Tour in Ketchikan. I was going to buy the tickets when we got off the ship but I can buy them online if I need to. Thanks in advance for any tips.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:53 PM   #350
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We were on the June 21, 2011 sailing.

Skagway: Round-trip White Pass & Yukon RR. The views are spectacular. The left side of the train (as you depart Skagway) has the best views; the right side is against the mountain most of the time. You are required to be in your seat until the train is outside the city limits, and then you can go outside on the platforms. The windows are large, but I prefererred the platforms because I like to take pictures and I was having a problem with glare. I loved being out on the platform. The trip is narrated, but you can only hear it on the platform if you are standing near the door if it's propped open. You are not permitted to cross to another car. There are restrooms in each car. At the summit you switch the seat backs so that you are facing the opposite direction for the ride back down. If I were to do it all over again, I'd take a road tour up and the train down. The road is on the opposite side of the canyon as the train, so you would have a different view than the train; I thought the views from the train were even more breathtaking going down than they were going up. We saw a bear by the side of the tracks, eagles, and my daughter snapped a picture of mountain goats waaaaaaay on the other side of the canyon.

Juneau: Glacier view kayaking. We were on the early excursion. We took a ride on a school bus through Juneau, across the bridge to North Douglas Island and up the highway to the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge. There's a boat ramp and parking area which you can see on google maps if you look. Search Juneau, then zoom in on the north side of Douglas Island and look for Smugglers Cove. That's where we paddled to. We got suited up in waterproof overalls, knee high boots and a life vest. We brought rain jackets, but I think they were provided if you wanted one. DD brought her own pair of waterproof pants, and was likely more comfortable (and much more stylish) than the rest of us in our bright yellow and orange overalls, but we stayed dry. The kayaks are 2-person, and the person in the rear mans the rudder pedals, which are tiny and took a little getting used to (from someone who doesn't kayak), but once I got the hang of it, it was fine. My foot slipped off a time or two, and getting it back in position was a bit of a production with that many clothes on. They passed around a can of bug spray and we used it. We had a bunch of irritating, persistant bugs swarming our faces on the day we went. We left most of them behind when we left the shore. There were about 30 or so people on this excursion, which were split into groups of 3-4 kayaks per group plus a guide. They kept families together. They told us that bringing a camera was fine, but I had problems keeping it dry as I paddled. I unzipped the life vest enough to shove the camera inside (it was hanging around my neck), and took it out every so often to snap photos. That worked much better. A lens cloth in a plastic bag would have been very useful. A waterproof camera would have been even better. Our guide talked to us about the area, the history, and the wildlife as we paddled across to an island where we hoped to see seals and sea lions. It was very peaceful paddling across the cove on an overcast, cool day. We saw a pair of eagles in the trees from quite a ways out. Their white heads were very visible from a distance, but they blended in to the trees as we got closer. Got some great shots though. A sea lion poked its head up briefly, and disappeared. That was all the wildlife we saw that day. Other groups' experiences may have been different as we all went to different places, but I didn't complare note with anyone. The clouds descended from the mountains, and it was misty as we paddled back. Mendenhall glacier was shrouded in fog at the end. Note that you are miles from the glacier, but it is a beautiful view. The served slices of reindeer sausage and crackers and a salmon dip which was delicious, and gave us water bottles filled with punch afterwards. I met someone on our tour who lives five miles from me - small world!

Ketchikan: We booked a non-Disney tour with Alaska Seaplane Tours. They picked us up on the pier and transported us to their facility. There were eagles swooping for fish on the docks. We boarded the plane and took off for Misty Fjords National Monument. It was a misty, overcast, cool day in Ketchikan, and it pretty much stayed that way for the whole flight - but the scenery we flew over - OH! So beautiful! We landed on an idyllic mountain lake surrounded by mountains on three sides (of glacial origin), and waterfalls everywhere. Another plane left right after we arrived. I didn't even notice it until it powered up. We floated in the middle of the lake, got out on the pontoons to take in the scenery and to take pictures. We enjoyed our time in this beautiful, peaceful place. (We didn't go ashore. I don't know if that was the company policy or if it was just our pilot. He did provide narration for us, but I don't think our headphones had microphones. We were perfectly happy to just look and listen.) We took off and took in more scenery, more granite snow-covered mountains with brilliant green trees blanketing the slopes. There was not a road or a building in sight until we were almost back to town. We flew alongside the port as we came in for a landing and I got some great aerial shots of the Wonder. LOVED this excursion!

Interesting story - our van driver told us that one of the operators in town had several excursions contracted through Disney. One of his boat operators transporting passengers for another cruise line did not mention an issue with the seats on the boat (apparently if you lean back too far they break), and of course someone did break a seat. The seat was repaired and the same thing happened again shortly afterwards. When this happened again on a Disney excursion, the operator lost all of his contracts with Disney immediately. If you ever wondered about Disney's claim of having stringent standards - claim validated.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:58 AM   #351
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We got off the ship 7/12, and did 2 excursions: Liarsville with Disney Characters in Skagway and Sled Dog Discovery and Musher's Camp in Juneau.

For Liarsville, we started off in the bus through town for about 15 minutes. The driver was good about telling us about the town as we drove. We got to the camp, and everyone was dressed in 1800s era clothing. They really played the part. They had a band playing, and offered us cookies and lemonade, which was good. Then they put on their puppet show for the kids. After that, we broke off into groups to do a "scavenger hunt". (I would have enjoyed this if it was a true scavenger hunt, but we were brought to each location by a guide, so even my kids got bored, whereas I think they would have liked it if we had to search the small camp ourselves for the few items on the list.) Then we did panning for gold in troughs with the dirt and gold already placed in the pans. This was ok, but I didn't realize that their gold was imported from Canada! I guess I didn't do enough research on it, but I really thought we would be panning for gold in a place that actually had it! Chip, Dale and Donald came out at this point, and Dale came over to my DS7to look in his pan and take a couple of pictures with him. Donald was over by a waterfall taking pics, which we took advantage of. When we were done we went to the fire, where they were roasting marshmallows. After we had our marshmallows we went into the store, and then over to the Salmon Bake. The food was ok, but we're picky. The kids did like the mac and cheese, and I liked the chicken. I'm pretty sure the cole slaw had salmon in it, which stinks because I love cole slaw, but I'm allergic to fish! Bummer! After lunch we got back on the bus to go to the ship. I'm glad we did the excursion, but I wouldn't do it again. As people have said, it's cheesy...which isn't a BAD thing, but next time I'd do a more authentic one, like the one in Juneau where you pan in a stream.

In Juneau we did the Sled Dog and Musher's Camp. It was awesome!! As soon as we got to the camp, we saw all kinds of dogs harnessed up to a rope, which was hooked up to something that kind of looked like a golf cart. Each cart had 16 dogs. We climbed into the cart straight away, and strapped in for the ride of our lives! I didn't realize how fast the dogs would pull us, or how many turns there would be along the way. It felt like we were on a roller coaster! DD5 LOVED it, keeping her hands up the entire way...while I held on tightly! It was amazing! We were all a little bummed when the ride ended! After our ride we got to meet the dogs, most of which were friendly. Tika was a dog at the back of the line, so everytime we stopped, she'd climb into our cart to say hi to the kids. They loved her! We had a guide who took us to the suspension bridge (which had nothing to do with sled dogs, but was nice anyway), and then told us about the equipment the dogs use and how they eat and such. We moved along to another place, where our guide talked a bit about the history of dog sledding. We all just wanted to get to the end of our trip...because then we could play with the PUPPIES!! There were 8 puppies who were 2 weeks old, but they only took out 4. They were SOOOO cute and cuddly! It ALMOST made me want to get a puppy, but I remembered that they wouldn't be that small when I got one, and they grow up! Everyone in our group was really good about sharing the puppies, so I think we got a chance to hold all 4 of them. After that, we grabbed some hot chocolate and got back on the bus, with a warm heart and a camera full of memories! This I would ABSOLUTELY do again, and HIGHLY recommend for people who can handle the roller coaster ride.

I hope these reviews help! Have fun on whichever excursions you choose!

~Tami
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:25 PM   #352
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Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours

We were on the Wonder for the July 5-12 Sailing. I took a chance and hired Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours run by Dave and Kat Freeman. Kat was our driver for the day. She was prompt, courteous and boy did she know her town and its history. Kat gave us a “wonder”ful tour. We requested to see Potlatch Park, Totem Bight, the rainforest and the possibility of eagle and bear viewing. Kat did a fabulous job at fulfilling our request! First Kat showed us some sights in town. She took us to some of the beaten path places to get some great photos of our Disney Ship, floatplanes and some lesser know totem poles. Then she drove us to a state park. There she gave us the opportunity to walk a trail. She picked us up at the other end, so there was no walking around aimlessly. Kat pointed out the local canneries and the now defunct lumber and pulp mill. At Potlatch Park Kat introduced us to the owner Pat Moore. Pat spent some time talking to us about his antique car collection. I had to pry my husband away from Pat and his stories. Next Kat gave us a narrative tour of the Potlatch Park and its totem poles. It was great to hear the story behind each pole. We then did a self guided tour at Totem Bight. Finally Kat drove us to the local creek for some hopeful bear viewing. On our trip to the creek Kat pointed out an Eagles nest and some Eagles. When we arrived at the creek it seemed as if on command a momma bear and her cub walked out of the forest! There were Eagles flying overhead, it was truly a sight to see. We honestly could not have asked for a better experience.

I would definitely recommend Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours for a fabulous day in Ketchikan. Dave and Kat were happy to customize our 3 hour tour and return us to town promptly for the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. After the show we were left with some free time to explore Creek Street and the rest of the town and its shops.

Thanks Kat!
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:32 PM   #353
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This is such a great wealth of information! We just booked the Alaskan cruise for next June. I am taking some serious notes! Thanks everyone!
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:42 PM   #354
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Originally Posted by Scoobydoo76 View Post
We were on the Wonder for the July 5-12 Sailing. I took a chance and hired Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours run by Dave and Kat Freeman. Kat was our driver for the day. She was prompt, courteous and boy did she know her town and its history. Kat gave us a “wonder”ful tour. We requested to see Potlatch Park, Totem Bight, the rainforest and the possibility of eagle and bear viewing. Kat did a fabulous job at fulfilling our request! First Kat showed us some sights in town. She took us to some of the beaten path places to get some great photos of our Disney Ship, floatplanes and some lesser know totem poles. Then she drove us to a state park. There she gave us the opportunity to walk a trail. She picked us up at the other end, so there was no walking around aimlessly. Kat pointed out the local canneries and the now defunct lumber and pulp mill. At Potlatch Park Kat introduced us to the owner Pat Moore. Pat spent some time talking to us about his antique car collection. I had to pry my husband away from Pat and his stories. Next Kat gave us a narrative tour of the Potlatch Park and its totem poles. It was great to hear the story behind each pole. We then did a self guided tour at Totem Bight. Finally Kat drove us to the local creek for some hopeful bear viewing. On our trip to the creek Kat pointed out an Eagles nest and some Eagles. When we arrived at the creek it seemed as if on command a momma bear and her cub walked out of the forest! There were Eagles flying overhead, it was truly a sight to see. We honestly could not have asked for a better experience.

I would definitely recommend Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours for a fabulous day in Ketchikan. Dave and Kat were happy to customize our 3 hour tour and return us to town promptly for the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. After the show we were left with some free time to explore Creek Street and the rest of the town and its shops.

Thanks Kat!
Could you tell me how much this was? And do you think they could accomodate a fold up wheelchair? Thanks!
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:23 PM   #355
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Could you tell me how much this was? And do you think they could accomodate a fold up wheelchair? Thanks!
I think that they can probably accomodate a fold up wheelchair. It was a taxi cab/van. Please check out their web site at http://www.ketchikantaxicabtours.com/

We paid $222 for 3 hours for 4 people. Plus the $149 for the Lumber Jack Show. That comes out to be about $92 per person. We couldn't see all the sights with Disney that we saw. There wasn't an excursion that covered all of them let alone pay such a low price.
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Old 07-16-2011, 09:13 AM   #356
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I think that they can probably accomodate a fold up wheelchair. It was a taxi cab/van. Please check out their web site at http://www.ketchikantaxicabtours.com/

We paid $222 for 3 hours for 4 people. Plus the $149 for the Lumber Jack Show. That comes out to be about $92 per person. We couldn't see all the sights with Disney that we saw. There wasn't an excursion that covered all of them let alone pay such a low price.
Thanks for the info! I will definitely check this out!
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Old 07-17-2011, 12:25 PM   #357
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July 5-12

I should start out by saying that the July 5 cruise stole all the great weather! We did not really have any rain, not in the four days in Vancouver before the cruise or during the seven days of the cruise. Miraculous, I think.

Tracy Arm -- we were spoiled by the great weather. Spent the day as a family on our verandah (we had a suite, so lots of space). Ran up to deck 9/10 once in a while to check, but didn't see much different, but got some photos when the ship was facing the glacier directly. The ship turned favoring our side and so we had additional great view. Note that I wasn't expecting that, the prior cruises said it turned the opposite way. It changes each cruise depending on the ice flows and wildlife. The captain even angled in VERY close to a waterfall on our way out! Showing off for the new captain coming on board, I think!

Skagway -- We were one of the few to do the Laughton Glacier Hike. There were seven brave souls from DCL, teamed up with 12 others from Carnival Spirit. It was a fabulous excursion! We started out by taking the White Pass Railway so got the benefit of that scenery (definitely sit on the left as you face forward, but note that the windows are very large and you can see from both sides). The guides used a couple of seats, put a board down, and had us make sandwiches for lunch. We each received a lumbar pack to carry the water they gave us and the sandwiches we made. The excursion was very active, we walked over eight miles, including a long portion over rock beds and ice. But we ate lunch at the foot of a glacier! The scenery was fabulous. There was not a lot of incline strenuous activity, it was more picking out your footing over the rocks, which was hard on my knees coming back when it was more sloping downward. I am not in great shape, I am a casual exerciser, and I made it with no problem. The guides were fantastic, there were three of them for 19 people and offered several times that one could stay back if anyone did not want to continue forward. They offered to carry any layers we wanted to shed, or to provide additional jackets, hats, mittens, etc. They were Packer Expeditions...look for them at your port stops since they did a fantastic job and had the same customer service attitude that DCL has. We then took the train back into town and had time to stop for crab and shopping. DS19, DH and I would do this again, but DD22 said that her idea of an excursion is a lot less exercise.

Juneau -- we did the adult only departure for Whale Watching, Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon Bake. I could have done without the salmon bake, they moved it to the beginning of the tour and I didn't really feel like a salmon bake and buffet at 11:30 in the morning. Plus I would have liked to use the time on the other two parts of the excursion, which were great.
I don't even know where to begin on the Whale Watching...there were 19 adults and the boats only hold 18, so they split us up onto two boats. So there were 9 of us with the captain and naturalist on our boat. We monitored a mother and calf for a while, then took off to join other boats watching a pod of 12 humpbacks. They were doing "bubble feedimg". We were told that normally whales are solitary feeders, but a limited number (they said 120 in the world) do bubble feeding. It's a learned behavior where the whales blow bubbles in a circle and rise up together, forcing the prey in the middle to go to the surface. Once at the surface, the whales feed. Even if they exaggerated the uniqueness, it was phenomenal to watch, even the captain seemed excited.
We then went to Mendenhall Glacier. Since it was only about 45 minutes, we used the time to hike to Nugget Falls and take some great photos and see the glacier. It would have been more exciting if it were the first glacier we had seen, but we saw Tracy Arm Sawyer Glacier the day before.

Ketchikan -- we did the boat and float plane. Most of the time was spent on the boat. It was OK, but not as exciting as our prior excursions. There was only about 25 minutes on the float plane, which was a great experience!
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:20 PM   #358
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Bear country & Wildlife expedition

We have booked this excursion for Ketchikan. I know that it is seasonal and we are on the Aug 23rd sailing. I don't know which sailing this is first offered on, so hoping someone from an up coming cruise is doing this and will post a review.
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:37 PM   #359
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Tracy Arm -- we were spoiled by the great weather. Spent the day as a family on our verandah (we had a suite, so lots of space). Ran up to deck 9/10 once in a while to check, but didn't see much different, but got some photos when the ship was facing the glacier directly. The ship turned favoring our side and so we had additional great view. Note that I wasn't expecting that, the prior cruises said it turned the opposite way. It changes each cruise depending on the ice flows and wildlife. The captain even angled in VERY close to a waterfall on our way out! Showing off for the new captain coming on board, I think!
Was your verandah on the port or starboard side of the ship?

I hadn't heard about a new captain coming aboard. Did you catch his name?
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Old 07-17-2011, 03:10 PM   #360
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The captain even angled in VERY close to a waterfall on our way out! Showing off for the new captain coming on board, I think!
The Captain also did this on our june 28th sailing and I believe I read he did it before that too. I dont think it was to show off to anyone But is was pretty cool.
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