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Old 06-27-2012, 12:03 PM   #736
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Originally Posted by bbagnall View Post
We had a fabulous time! I'll go through the excursions by day


Juneau
It was a very short day in Juneau, back on the boat by 2pm. We decided to do whale watching with Harv and Marv. There were so many good reviews online and we had the best experience. They pick you up right at the dock and take you to the boat. Your 4 hour tour starts when you get on the boat, not at the dock. We had Captain Liz and she was great, very friendly and knew where to see the whales! We saw so many whales mostly moms and calves. We also saw Bald Eagles and fur seals. They are supposed to maintain a certain distance from the whales, but we had one come up right by the boat, I could have touched it! After your tour they drop you off at Mendenhall Glacier for 15 minutes. I could have used more time, but guess I'll have to Alaska again.


Any questions, ask away!
We are hoping to do Harv and Marv next year! On their website there are all those disclaimers about stairs. We are traveling with my FIL who is mostly fine on stairs, but not super quick or agile. Will this be an issue? He goes salmon fishing off of Ketchikan every year, so if it is just to get in and out of the boat, he should be fine.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:40 PM   #737
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We are hoping to do Harv and Marv next year! On their website there are all those disclaimers about stairs. We are traveling with my FIL who is mostly fine on stairs, but not super quick or agile. Will this be an issue? He goes salmon fishing off of Ketchikan every year, so if it is just to get in and out of the boat, he should be fine.
There are really not that many stairs. You need to be able to take a step up into the van first. They have a stool. Then at the dock depending on the tide (low vs high) the ramp to the dock may be steep. Ours was a fairly steep walk down and then back up. If the tide is in the walk won't be as steep. After that the boat can be docked in multiple places so that may or may not involve walking. Our boat was directly in front of the walkway so we got lucky. The step into the boat was again a bit high but not horrible. So if your FIL is used to getting into and out of a boat he should be fine.. Enjoy Harv and Marv. We did!
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:26 PM   #738
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Great thanks, I am sure he can handle that!
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:06 PM   #739
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Mommy & me

We are going to sail the Wonder this coming July 2, it's me and my 6 year old daughter. I'm scared of doing this by myself bringing her along but I wanted to visit Alaska for so long and I felt it was the year to do it. I booked the cruise only like a month ago and still haven't made any excursion reservations. I will love if you can tell me about your excursions and how was the weather and everything else I may need to take in consideration. Thank you for anything that you may be able to share.
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:34 PM   #740
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We are going to sail the Wonder this coming July 2, it's me and my 6 year old daughter. I'm scared of doing this by myself bringing her along but I wanted to visit Alaska for so long and I felt it was the year to do it. I booked the cruise only like a month ago and still haven't made any excursion reservations. I will love if you can tell me about your excursions and how was the weather and everything else I may need to take in consideration. Thank you for anything that you may be able to share.
Good for you taking this cruise!!! I am sure you will have an amazing time. There is a ton of stuff for adults only if your daughter is comfortable in the kids club. Unfortunately I can't help you much with excursions as my daughter is 14 but I can tell you what we heard from others on our cruise last week with similar age children.

On the ship have your camera at all times. Characters just walk around outside of their 'normal' meet and greet times. In Tracy Arm there were several characters on the open decks with great photo ops.

I heard the whale watch with science experiments was great. Without knowing your budget for excursions it is hard to make suggestions. There is on the ship a Princess Tea held twice. If your daughter is into princesses go straight to guest services when you board to sign up. Very limited seating for this.

Weather for our cruise was amazing!!! We were not the norm though. We has=d a day in Ketichkan where it was over 80! Most days outside it was comfortable in a long sleeve shirt. At night a light jacket if you were outside was fine. Inside the ship is kept comfortable so a short sleeve shirt works too. I wore flip flops walking around the ship. The pools are heated - at least the adult ones are. A very comfortable 90 for the pool and the jaccuzi was about 101.

Hope this helps a bit
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:34 AM   #741
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Well, I talked myself into the Bear Country excursion in Ketchikan. It's just money, right??

Anyway, couple quick questions - I booked it for a 1:15pm departure. We're in port at 11:15am. If we get off right away and walk around the town, do we have to get back on the ship to meet up for the excursion? I would assume so. Is Ketchikan small enough to wander through some shops in 1-1.5 hours? We've got main dining, so we'll want to be back on the ship by 5:15pm. There is a 2:15pm excursion that lists the end time as 5:15pm. Should I do that one instead? Thanks everyone! So excited for Alaska!!!
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Old 06-28-2012, 08:26 AM   #742
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Alaska Excursions

We recently returned from the June 18th Alaska trip. What a wonderful experience and how lucky we were to experience out of the norm weather!

We enjoyed each of the excursions we took. Happy with our choices. It was my wife, myself, and our three boys, ages 17, 15, and 11. We did the following:

Skagway - Grizzly Falls Ziplining. Awesome experience. Beautiful scenery on trip up to the ziplines. You begin in a small motor coach and then once at camp you switch to a special vehicle that takes you further up into the mountains. Our ziplining guides were fun and so very nice. We had "Danger Dave" and Brendon. So very patient with us, showed us tricks, and encouraged us all the way. We were in a group of six (five of us and one other person) and our two guides. The one guide said my wife did not stop smiling the entire time. A truly great afternoon. Upon our return to the ship we still had sufficient time to go and shop and see more of Skagway.

Juneau - Did the Best of Juneau tour. Catamaran was comfortable and spacious and allowed easy viewing of wildlife. Saw A LOT of whales as well as bald eagles, seals, etc. Also saw a brown bear! Orca Point Lodge was beautiful and the food very good. Felt we had sufficient time at Mendenhall Glacier and enjoyed that portion of the tour as well. The tour did take the entire time in port so we were not able to go and explore anything else.

Ketchikan - Bering Sea Crab Fisherman Tour. This tour we booked on our own and not through Disney Port Adventures. We saved a good amount of money this way. Also, because we didn't need to remain on the ship with the Port Adventures group signed up for this same tour, we left the ship around 7:15 and had time to shop and look around Ketchikan before heading to our tour on our own at 8:30 (very easy walk from ship). Can't say enough about this tour! Fantastic from start to finish. Crew of the Aleutian Ballad are all so very nice and friendly and their stories were heartfelt. You are free to walk about the ship and get close up with all the wonderful sea life they brought on board. When we boarded the vessel they mentioned that we would be feeding bald eagles..little did we realize just how many that would be...that was the most amazing part of the trip....we neared the area where the bald eagles would be and as soon as the Aleutian neared the bald eagles began to arrive from all over and then when they began tossing out fish for the eagles to eat I bet there were well over 50 eagles all next to us...just amazing to see.

Victoria - We did not book any excursions for Victoria. We stayed onboard and had our 5:45 dinner. After dinner we exited the ship and there were free complimentary motor coaches that drove you into Victoria and left you off. We had a good 90 minutes to look around Victoria and shop and then return via the same motor coach and got back to the ship in plenty of time.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:04 AM   #743
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Juneau - Did the Best of Juneau tour. Catamaran was comfortable and spacious and allowed easy viewing of wildlife. Saw A LOT of whales as well as bald eagles, seals, etc. Also saw a brown bear! Orca Point Lodge was beautiful and the food very good. Felt we had sufficient time at Mendenhall Glacier and enjoyed that portion of the tour as well. The tour did take the entire time in port so we were not able to go and explore anything else.
Thanks so much for the review! We're doing this one in September!
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:47 AM   #744
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Well, I talked myself into the Bear Country excursion in Ketchikan. It's just money, right??

Anyway, couple quick questions - I booked it for a 1:15pm departure. We're in port at 11:15am. If we get off right away and walk around the town, do we have to get back on the ship to meet up for the excursion? I would assume so. Is Ketchikan small enough to wander through some shops in 1-1.5 hours? We've got main dining, so we'll want to be back on the ship by 5:15pm. There is a 2:15pm excursion that lists the end time as 5:15pm. Should I do that one instead? Thanks everyone! So excited for Alaska!!!
Yep, you will need to get back on the ship and go to the meeting place listed on your excursion ticket. Jealous of your port times!
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:37 AM   #745
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We recently returned from the June 18th Alaska trip. What a wonderful experience and how lucky we were to experience out of the norm weather!

Ketchikan - Bering Sea Crab Fisherman Tour. This tour we booked on our own and not through Disney Port Adventures. We saved a good amount of money this way. Also, because we didn't need to remain on the ship with the Port Adventures group signed up for this same tour, we left the ship around 7:15 and had time to shop and look around Ketchikan before heading to our tour on our own at 8:30 (very easy walk from ship). Can't say enough about this tour! Fantastic from start to finish. Crew of the Aleutian Ballad are all so very nice and friendly and their stories were heartfelt. You are free to walk about the ship and get close up with all the wonderful sea life they brought on board. When we boarded the vessel they mentioned that we would be feeding bald eagles..little did we realize just how many that would be...that was the most amazing part of the trip....we neared the area where the bald eagles would be and as soon as the Aleutian neared the bald eagles began to arrive from all over and then when they began tossing out fish for the eagles to eat I bet there were well over 50 eagles all next to us...just amazing to see.
We too were on a June 18th sailing to Alaska on the Disney Wonder. Had the best ever weather, it was even over 80 in Ketichkan and we were swealtering!

We did the Bearing Sea tour two years ago and have to say it was one of the best ever we have done. I agree with everything you said above. From the crew to experiencing new things and then the eagles... amazing!! We also booked on our own and it was a simple walk to their boat.
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:36 PM   #746
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Ketchikan - Bering Sea Crab Fisherman Tour. This tour we booked on our own and not through Disney Port Adventures. We saved a good amount of money this way. Also, because we didn't need to remain on the ship with the Port Adventures group signed up for this same tour, we left the ship around 7:15 and had time to shop and look around Ketchikan before heading to our tour on our own at 8:30 (very easy walk from ship). Can't say enough about this tour! Fantastic from start to finish. Crew of the Aleutian Ballad are all so very nice and friendly and their stories were heartfelt. You are free to walk about the ship and get close up with all the wonderful sea life they brought on board. When we boarded the vessel they mentioned that we would be feeding bald eagles..little did we realize just how many that would be...that was the most amazing part of the trip....we neared the area where the bald eagles would be and as soon as the Aleutian neared the bald eagles began to arrive from all over and then when they began tossing out fish for the eagles to eat I bet there were well over 50 eagles all next to us...just amazing to see.
We will be doing this tour on our Aug. 6 sailing. We also booked direct. So glad to read your positive comments. I had no idea about the bald eagles! Did you find many shops open in Ketchikan when you left the ship around 7:15 a.m.? I would like a little time to poke around Ketichikan, and given the short port time there, it seems before the tour is the only option.
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Old 06-28-2012, 02:02 PM   #747
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We found ALL the shops to be open as soon as we were off the ship...I remember walking in the ship to breakfast and looking out the porthole and seeing "open" flags hanging from the shops already at 7 AM. I believe we ate breakfast and were off by 7:15 AM and figured we'd have a good hour to look around and shop before our Sea Crab Fisherman Tour at 8:30.
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:35 AM   #748
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I had posted a longer version of this on the Vancouver thread, but realize that some of the info might also be helpful here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can't think of anything else, but please feel free to ask questions or pick my brain!
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:55 PM   #749
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Sounds amazing! What company did you go with?
We did it through the cruise ship, but the company was Temsco. You can book through them direct.
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Old 07-03-2012, 02:39 AM   #750
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And just to share my experience in Juneau. If you plan on visiting Mendenhall Glacier, go on your own. There is a Blue Bus that will take you up and back at your leisure. We saw a bear fishing in the creek and so many of the people that were watching with us had to leave to catch their bus back, and we got to say as long as we wanted. We did a DCL whale watching in the morning and then went to the Glacier on our own.
Hi! We are doing the Mendenhall Glacier Explorer next week and am wondering if you can explain more why we should visit there on our own? Is it mainly the time limit? DH and I are bringing an 18 mo old, 5 yr old, 8 yr old, 19 yr old and my parents. My Dad just had a knee replaced last month. I'm torn between wanting to have enough time and also not wanting to be out too long. Does the bus offer more options - such as being able to leave earlier for example if it's a super cold/rainy day? That might be a good reason to take a bus or a cab? Thanks!
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