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Old 07-08-2013, 08:49 PM   #1051
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Originally Posted by Jimbob22 View Post
Not impressed with the whale watching. The boat is not allowed to get close to the whales, so it just goes out, parks a while, and you see a whale or two from very far away. The boat does get hot and stuffy, so I went out on top for a bit.
Did you take Disney's excursion for the whale watching or did you book your own trip privately?
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:13 PM   #1052
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We booked a whale watching excursion in Juneau with Orca Adventures. Everyone from Carol in the office to Kelly(?) the naturalist on board and Captain Larry were fantastic. It is a smaller excursion than booking with DCL. Max of 24 on the boats and we had 13ppl on ours. Open viewing on top as well as at the rear of the boat and indoor seating if weather is poor or passengers want to sit to view. We saw tons of whales and Capt Larry has an innate sense of knowing where the whales are and where they're going. You can't approach them but they can come to you and we had one humpback go right under the boat. Also saw eagles, seals, sea lions as well. We rebooked the cruise for next year and will rebook with Orca again. Highly recommend.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:14 PM   #1053
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We booked a whale watching excursion in Juneau with Orca Adventures. Everyone from Carol in the office to Kelly(?) the naturalist on board and Captain Larry were fantastic. It is a smaller excursion than booking with DCL. Max of 24 on the boats and we had 13ppl on ours. Open viewing on top as well as at the rear of the boat and indoor seating if weather is poor or passengers want to sit to view. We saw tons of whales and Capt Larry has an innate sense of knowing where the whales are and where they're going. You can't approach them but they can come to you and we had one humpback go right under the boat. Also saw eagles, seals, sea lions as well. We rebooked the cruise for next year and will rebook with Orca again. Highly recommend.
It's Orca Enterprises. Ugh. Sorry. That's what I get posting while also watching TV....
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:54 AM   #1054
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Originally Posted by ghoulishgirl View Post
Did you take Disney's excursion for the whale watching or did you book your own trip privately?
We booked through Disney, each excursion seemed to combine 2 or 3 activities (trainride+trail camp, Mendenhall+whalewatching, cannery+saxman+boat ride). It was all professionally done (with exception of the short drop-off at Saxman totem park in Ketchican), but the boating company clearly said that they're not allowed to go within a hundred yards of the whales. Not sure if it has to do with the size of the boat (which might scare them off it it went any closer), or if it's just for the good of the whales.

The boats themselves were nice (comfy seating, restrooms, basic drinks, binoculars provided, the naturalists that narrate are good), but it was all just a bit too far away and non-action-based for me (but I'm not an avid photographer, a few others were into photography, those that are really into photography tend to like the whale-watching quite a bit).

But that's just my take. Keep your eyes open from the Wonder and you can spot the same whales. We booked through Disney b/c we knew that the ship won't leave without you, but I think that you could safely find some specific things you want to do and be back at the ship in time.

Since coming home, I've read about a 'Deer Mountain trail' in Ketchican that would have made for a nice hike. But it was kind of wet and slightly drizzly out, not sure if my running shoes would have been good for this.

Last edited by Jimbob22; 07-09-2013 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 07-09-2013, 05:56 PM   #1055
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Hedd4DW thank you for your response.

We are going to book helicopter for Skagway.
You have me thinking that maybe we should skip the Rum Runner Whale Watch so that in case we have to rebook the helicopter for Juneau we have more flexibility. Do you think your Harv and Marv tour was the highlight of your trip and we should not miss the whale watching in Juneau even if it means that we don't get to the Mendenhall glacier? I am worried about the drive to the glacier ( I know it is not that far, but I hear the shuttles only run once an hour from the Mendenhall glacier vistor center back to the ship) and we have a pretty short day in Juneau.

In Ketchikan we are doing a float plane at 3pm and was hoping to see the Saxam Totem pole before that.

Thank you!!
That's a hard one, but I would not have given up the whale watching to go to Mendenhall glacier visitor center. No matter which glacier you see on the helicopter or float plane, you still got to see a glacier from a great view point, probably closer and better than you would see from Mendenhall visitor center. We saw a couple of whales from the ship, but they were far off and we got much better info from the whale watching tour.
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Old 07-09-2013, 07:20 PM   #1056
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Just got off the 7/1 - 7/8 trip and here's what we did all booked through DCL.

Skagway - Musher's camp - We had several elementary and middle school girls and parents/grandparents and all enjoyed the trip. The "mushers" were great answered all the questions, introduced us to the dogs and took pictures of us with the dogs. The puppies at the end were adorable and melted everyone's hearts. Big thumbs up from everyone who was on this excursion. One warning, there is a small bus ride which is curvy and bumpy, several kids were slightly car sick by the time it was over, so be prepared!

Juneau - Rainforest Trail and Whale watching. This started with a morning hike of the rainforest which was nice but not spectacular. The whale watching however was phenomenal. We got very close to humpback whales (mom and baby), sea lions and orcas (highly unusual). The guides were very informative and friendly. Everyone loved this trip as well and I got some outstanding shots of the whales.

Ketchikan - Potlatch Totem Park and Lumberjack show. This one was big thumbs down from all of us. I felt like we were really taken advantage of on this one. Potlatch Park was nothing but a few totem poles and a couple of quick stories until we were ushered into the gift shop. Very disappointed in this. The lumberjack show was amusing, but once again, not spectacular.

If there are any question - just ask!
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:13 AM   #1057
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Originally Posted by hiclarke View Post
Just got off the 7/1 - 7/8 trip and here's what we did all booked through DCL.

Skagway - Musher's camp - We had several elementary and middle school girls and parents/grandparents and all enjoyed the trip. The "mushers" were great answered all the questions, introduced us to the dogs and took pictures of us with the dogs. The puppies at the end were adorable and melted everyone's hearts. Big thumbs up from everyone who was on this excursion. One warning, there is a small bus ride which is curvy and bumpy, several kids were slightly car sick by the time it was over, so be prepared!

Juneau - Rainforest Trail and Whale watching. This started with a morning hike of the rainforest which was nice but not spectacular. The whale watching however was phenomenal. We got very close to humpback whales (mom and baby), sea lions and orcas (highly unusual). The guides were very informative and friendly. Everyone loved this trip as well and I got some outstanding shots of the whales.

Ketchikan - Potlatch Totem Park and Lumberjack show. This one was big thumbs down from all of us. I felt like we were really taken advantage of on this one. Potlatch Park was nothing but a few totem poles and a couple of quick stories until we were ushered into the gift shop. Very disappointed in this. The lumberjack show was amusing, but once again, not spectacular.

If there are any question - just ask!
Do u have navigators? I'm curious abt 4th of July
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:31 AM   #1058
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Do u have navigators? I'm curious abt 4th of July
I don't have any handy. However, there really wasn't much going on for the 4th on the ship. They had a very brief presentation with the characters in the atrium between dinners and a special menu which primarily consisted of ribs and fried chicken, and that was pretty much it.
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:44 AM   #1059
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I don't have any handy. However, there really wasn't much going on for the 4th on the ship. They had a very brief presentation with the characters in the atrium between dinners and a special menu which primarily consisted of ribs and fried chicken, and that was pretty much it.
Aha. Ok thank u!
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:36 PM   #1060
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I was also on the July 1-8 trip.

The 4th of July on the ship was cute. As the PP said, there wasn't a ton happening, but there was a celebration with the characters in Patriotic outfits and a special menu in the dining room. We sang the national anthem along with one of the Walt Disney Theater performers. (There are fruity red, white, and blue drinks in addition to the "American Comfort food" themed menu at dinner, too. You could also choose any items from the regular dining room menu that night if you preferred those items.)

Additionally, we spent this day in Skagway, and the town contacted the ship with a list of activities it had going on for the 4th. We of course missed their fireworks celebration (funny, how the town can have fireworks but DCL can't! because it happened after we left port, but they did have a parade, a rubber ducky race down the creek, a railway spike-diving competition, and a few other things. We were provided with a schedule in our stateroom.

Here's what we did excursion-wise. We booked everything on our own and were thrilled with all of it.

Skagway - Yukon Bus and Rail Tour with Chilkoot Chaters: Definitely a good choice, although this was a long day. The entire excursion took 8 hours (so we missed most of the 4th of July festivities), and included many, many stops - more than what was advertised when we booked the tour. Our driver had lots of information to give us and was a bit of an odd duck, but got us where we needed to go on time and was happy to take photos. The scenery on the way up was just gorgeous - highlights included Bridal Veil falls near Skagway, the Alaska/Canada border, Carcross Desert, and a number of lakes, including Emerald Lake. The stop at Caribou Crossing for lunch was more than adequate, and I felt like we had plenty of time to check everything out. Yes, it's a bit of a tourist trap...but basically every excursion that went anywhere near that area stops there. It is what it is, and the food was certainly decent. The White Pass Railway on the way back was also just stunning. Overall, this excursion was worth every cent.

Juneau - Did a day "on our own":

-Started by taking the "blue bus" shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier for $8 pp each way. There are a dozen vendors right at the Mt. Roberts Tramway (where the shuttle form the port drops you off downtown) selling tickets. Go with whoever sounds friendliest. We spent about two hours at the glacier, strolling around at our leisure. DO NOT MISS the walk to Nugget Falls - it is just beautiful. We didn't find it necessary to pay the $3 fee to enter the Visitor Center, as we were able to get a map of all the surrounding trails just inside the door. Pro Tip: Since we left early in the morning and were ready to return to town around 10:00 AM, we asked the first shuttle driver we saw if she would take us (she was not with the "blue bus" company). Since her shuttle back wasn't full, she very kindly obliged. We tipped her a couple of bucks, and would definitely recommend going this route to save a bit of time.

-Strolled around downtown for a bit. Saw the Red Dog Saloon, walked into a few ships, found the Governor's Mansion, and visited the Alaska State Museum for about an hour. All worthwhile and inexpensive.

-Splurged on lunch at Tracy's King Crab Shack - probably the best meal of our whole trip. We got the combo meal, which consists of a cup of crab bisque, four small crabcakes, and one HUGE king crab leg, and then we added a 1/2 dungeoness crab to that. This was more than enough food for my husband and I. Well, WELL worth the cost - just trust me. We left around 12:30 and the line weaved its way pretty much back out to the street. Just go; you won't be sorry.

-Finished up the afternoon with a tour and tasting at the Alaskan Brewing Company, also a terrific value. $15 will buy you a shuttle to and from the brewery from their retail store downtown, plus a tour and tasting. The tasting is a super value - you start with samples of their four most popular beers, and from there it's ALL YOU CAN DRINK until it's time for the shuttle to leave. Needless to say, the shuttle ride back tot he port was considerably livelier than the shuttle ride up, and everyone was really happy about it. We wound up purchasing a six-pack of the Alaskan White for consumption back on the ship, which was very tasty. (Pro Tip: DCL is selling Alaskan Amber, White, and Summer beers on the ship - they have all three in bottles, and Alaskan Summer on tap. Six-packs in the ports are readily available and cheaper if you decide you really like this beer and want to drink a lot of it )

Finished up the port day with a message and mini-facial back on the ship, as it was my birthday and I love me a good port day special at the spa.

Ketchikan - Misty Fjords Floatplane with Island Wings:
The absolute highlight of the trip...and we had a blast in all three ports. We spent the morning strolling about town and visiting the Totem Heritage Center (worth the couple of bucks for admission - I saw totem poles everywhere in Vancouver and Alaska, but learned the most about them here). Creek Street is quite nice and very picturesque, and KetchiCandies (located right behind the big "Welcome to Ketchikan" sign) had some yummy sweets. We returned to the ship for a quick lunch, and then went back out to meet our excursion at 2:15.

We were shuttled only a mile or two down the road to Island Wings' dock. Michelle, the pilot, and Shona (who runs the shuttle and does the accounting) were very friendly. The rest of this excursion is mostly indescribable, and to even attempt to give you a sense for how beautiful the scenery was would be an insult to how amazing this trip is. The whole thing lasts about 2 1/2 hours, including a 45-minute stop on a lake within the fjords. Michelle is an able pilot, and the entire experience was so surreal that I found myself tearing up towards the end of it. Just go. Do this. You will not regret it. Best money we spent on the entire vacation. I am happy to share photos from Facebook...but they do not do the experience justice

Happy to answer questions if anyone has 'em!
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Old 07-11-2013, 07:12 AM   #1061
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Originally Posted by Mackie Mouse View Post
I was also on the July 1-8 trip.

The 4th of July on the ship was cute. As the PP said, there wasn't a ton happening, but there was a celebration with the characters in Patriotic outfits and a special menu in the dining room. We sang the national anthem along with one of the Walt Disney Theater performers. (There are fruity red, white, and blue drinks in addition to the "American Comfort food" themed menu at dinner, too. You could also choose any items from the regular dining room menu that night if you preferred those items.)

Additionally, we spent this day in Skagway, and the town contacted the ship with a list of activities it had going on for the 4th. We of course missed their fireworks celebration (funny, how the town can have fireworks but DCL can't! because it happened after we left port, but they did have a parade, a rubber ducky race down the creek, a railway spike-diving competition, and a few other things. We were provided with a schedule in our stateroom.

Here's what we did excursion-wise. We booked everything on our own and were thrilled with all of it.

Skagway - Yukon Bus and Rail Tour with Chilkoot Chaters: Definitely a good choice, although this was a long day. The entire excursion took 8 hours (so we missed most of the 4th of July festivities), and included many, many stops - more than what was advertised when we booked the tour. Our driver had lots of information to give us and was a bit of an odd duck, but got us where we needed to go on time and was happy to take photos. The scenery on the way up was just gorgeous - highlights included Bridal Veil falls near Skagway, the Alaska/Canada border, Carcross Desert, and a number of lakes, including Emerald Lake. The stop at Caribou Crossing for lunch was more than adequate, and I felt like we had plenty of time to check everything out. Yes, it's a bit of a tourist trap...but basically every excursion that went anywhere near that area stops there. It is what it is, and the food was certainly decent. The White Pass Railway on the way back was also just stunning. Overall, this excursion was worth every cent.

Juneau - Did a day "on our own":
-Started by taking the "blue bus" shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier for $8 pp each way. There are a dozen vendors right at the Mt. Roberts Tramway (where the shuttle form the port drops you off downtown) selling tickets. Go with whoever sounds friendliest. We spent about two hours at the glacier, strolling around at our leisure. DO NOT MISS the walk to Nugget Falls - it is just beautiful. We didn't find it necessary to pay the $3 fee to enter the Visitor Center, as we were able to get a map of all the surrounding trails just inside the door. Pro Tip: Since we left early in the morning and were ready to return to town around 10:00 AM, we asked the first shuttle driver we saw if she would take us (she was not with the "blue bus" company). Since her shuttle back wasn't full, she very kindly obliged. We tipped her a couple of bucks, and would definitely recommend going this route to save a bit of time.

-Strolled around downtown for a bit. Saw the Red Dog Saloon, walked into a few ships, found the Governor's Mansion, and visited the Alaska State Museum for about an hour. All worthwhile and inexpensive.

-Splurged on lunch at Tracy's King Crab Shack - probably the best meal of our whole trip. We got the combo meal, which consists of a cup of crab bisque, four small crabcakes, and one HUGE king crab leg, and then we added a 1/2 dungeoness crab to that. This was more than enough food for my husband and I. Well, WELL worth the cost - just trust me. We left around 12:30 and the line weaved its way pretty much back out to the street. Just go; you won't be sorry.

-Finished up the afternoon with a tour and tasting at the Alaskan Brewing Company, also a terrific value. $15 will buy you a shuttle to and from the brewery from their retail store downtown, plus a tour and tasting. The tasting is a super value - you start with samples of their four most popular beers, and from there it's ALL YOU CAN DRINK until it's time for the shuttle to leave. Needless to say, the shuttle ride back tot he port was considerably livelier than the shuttle ride up, and everyone was really happy about it. We wound up purchasing a six-pack of the Alaskan White for consumption back on the ship, which was very tasty. (Pro Tip: DCL is selling Alaskan Amber, White, and Summer beers on the ship - they have all three in bottles, and Alaskan Summer on tap. Six-packs in the ports are readily available and cheaper if you decide you really like this beer and want to drink a lot of it )

Finished up the port day with a message and mini-facial back on the ship, as it was my birthday and I love me a good port day special at the spa.

Ketchikan - Misty Fjords Floatplane with Island Wings:
The absolute highlight of the trip...and we had a blast in all three ports. We spent the morning strolling about town and visiting the Totem Heritage Center (worth the couple of bucks for admission - I saw totem poles everywhere in Vancouver and Alaska, but learned the most about them here). Creek Street is quite nice and very picturesque, and KetchiCandies (located right behind the big "Welcome to Ketchikan" sign) had some yummy sweets. We returned to the ship for a quick lunch, and then went back out to meet our excursion at 2:15.

We were shuttled only a mile or two down the road to Island Wings' dock. Michelle, the pilot, and Shona (who runs the shuttle and does the accounting) were very friendly. The rest of this excursion is mostly indescribable, and to even attempt to give you a sense for how beautiful the scenery was would be an insult to how amazing this trip is. The whole thing lasts about 2 1/2 hours, including a 45-minute stop on a lake within the fjords. Michelle is an able pilot, and the entire experience was so surreal that I found myself tearing up towards the end of it. Just go. Do this. You will not regret it. Best money we spent on the entire vacation. I am happy to share photos from Facebook...but they do not do the experience justice

Happy to answer questions if anyone has 'em!
I have a strange question- we are also doing Island Wings to Misty Fjords. Can I get away with wearing sneakers on this excursion? I am trying to pack smart. We are doing the best of Skagway that includes White Pass. We are also doing Enchanted Taku lodge. Then just planning on walking around the ports on our own during down time. I don't think I will need boots for these things. I would like a second opinion. Thanks Vicki
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:25 AM   #1062
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I have a strange question- we are also doing Island Wings to Misty Fjords. Can I get away with wearing sneakers on this excursion? I am trying to pack smart. We are doing the best of Skagway that includes White Pass. We are also doing Enchanted Taku lodge. Then just planning on walking around the ports on our own during down time. I don't think I will need boots for these things. I would like a second opinion. Thanks Vicki
Not a strange question at all! We were worried about the same thing, and it sounds like we have similar things planned in terms of activity level. DH and I didn't feel like investing in hiking shoes just for this trip, so we only brought sneakers, which were more than adequate. (In fact, I really should have just worn comfy sandals or Toms for just walking around Juneau :P). I did buy some waterproof shoe spray (this stuff: http://www.moosejaw.com/moosejaw/sho...8_10000001_-1_) and it worked like a dream.

You are going to LOVE your excursion with Michelle. Make sure your camera battery is fully charged and has tons of memory left on the card, because I took about 150 photos during that two hours. Happy to share photos (they're uploaded to Facebook) through a PM if you want a preview
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Old 07-11-2013, 04:30 PM   #1063
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Originally Posted by Mackie Mouse View Post

Not a strange question at all! We were worried about the same thing, and it sounds like we have similar things planned in terms of activity level. DH and I didn't feel like investing in hiking shoes just for this trip, so we only brought sneakers, which were more than adequate. (In fact, I really should have just worn comfy sandals or Toms for just walking around Juneau :P). I did buy some waterproof shoe spray (this stuff: http://www.moosejaw.com/moosejaw/sho...8_10000001_-1_) and it worked like a dream.

You are going to LOVE your excursion with Michelle. Make sure your camera battery is fully charged and has tons of memory left on the card, because I took about 150 photos during that two hours. Happy to share photos (they're uploaded to Facebook) through a PM if you want a preview
Does the fabric spray work on Toms? They're all I generally wear and packing shoes is going to be an issue.
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Old 07-11-2013, 04:37 PM   #1064
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Does the fabric spray work on Toms? They're all I generally wear and packing shoes is going to be an issue.
I have no idea! I only used it on my sneakers because TOMS are the least weather-resistant shoes I can imagine and I've learned not to wear them if there's any chance of them getting wet or muddy. Even if the waterproofing spray works decently well on them, they will get extremely muddy and be pretty much destroyed on your average hiking trail. I totally mutilated a pair by wearing them in a corn maze around Halloween once. TOMS are the most comfortable shoes I own, and they are great for city walking, but I'd definitely at least bring a pair of sneakers if you have them.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:38 AM   #1065
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Originally Posted by Mackie Mouse View Post

Not a strange question at all! We were worried about the same thing, and it sounds like we have similar things planned in terms of activity level. DH and I didn't feel like investing in hiking shoes just for this trip, so we only brought sneakers, which were more than adequate. (In fact, I really should have just worn comfy sandals or Toms for just walking around Juneau :P). I did buy some waterproof shoe spray (this stuff: http://www.moosejaw.com/moosejaw/sho...8_10000001_-1_) and it worked like a dream.

You are going to LOVE your excursion with Michelle. Make sure your camera battery is fully charged and has tons of memory left on the card, because I took about 150 photos during that two hours. Happy to share photos (they're uploaded to Facebook) through a PM if you want a preview
Thanks
I might take old sneaks and just toss them at the end. It might give me room for a souvenir. I am looking forward to our excursion. Michelle was actually booked for that day. Island wings booked us with their friend Randy. I am sure it will be just as good. Michelle has her reputation to uphold. I am not worried at all.
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