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Old 04-30-2014, 09:55 AM   #1246
Sorcerer Mom
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Klondike Bicycle Tour

Does anyone have any reviews on the Klondike Bicycle Tour? It says you need to be comfortable with hand brakes and going downhill 15-25 mph, which I think I'd be okay with. I'm a casual bike rider and just want to be sure I wouldn't be getting in over my head here. Thanks in advance for any feedback!
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Old 05-12-2014, 12:06 PM   #1247
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Looking for reviews on Best of Juneau - how many people are on the whale watching catamaran?

Also anyone do the Back Country Canoe and Jeep adventure in Ketchikan?
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Old 05-12-2014, 01:06 PM   #1248
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I am glad I found this thread! We are going to Alaska on the Wonder on the 6/22/15 sailing. I am so excited, and can't wait to begin planning excursions. I think we are going to try to do as many as we can independently so all the tips on this thread are going to be so helpful. Thanks everyone!
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Old 05-12-2014, 02:24 PM   #1249
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Booking through Disney versus Independently

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Originally Posted by LJC1861 View Post
I am glad I found this thread! We are going to Alaska on the Wonder on the 6/22/15 sailing. I am so excited, and can't wait to begin planning excursions. I think we are going to try to do as many as we can independently so all the tips on this thread are going to be so helpful. Thanks everyone!
We found that many, many of the excursions ran over their time. On more than one occasion we were dashing for the ship, with them hastily pulling out as soon as possible. But, they held the ship for us because we were on a Disney run excursion. Otherwise, we would have very possibly missed the ship and had to get ourselves to the next port. Due to that experience we usually choose to book with the Disney excursions, depending on the location and time of excursion. Thatis our thoughts on the matter, for what it is worth. Enjoy!

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Old 05-12-2014, 03:08 PM   #1250
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We found that many, many of the excursions ran over their time. On more than one occasion we were dashing for the ship, with them hastily pulling out as soon as possible. But, they held the ship for us because we were on a Disney run excursion. Otherwise, we would have very possibly missed the ship and had to get ourselves to the next port. Due to that experience we will choose to always book with the Disney excursions. That our thoughts on the matter, for what it is worth. Enjoy!

Thanks for the input, I will take it into consideration. I would hate to be left behind.

Linda
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:21 PM   #1251
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Originally Posted by buffalorun View Post
We found that many, many of the excursions ran over their time. On more than one occasion we were dashing for the ship, with them hastily pulling out as soon as possible. But, they held the ship for us because we were on a Disney run excursion. Otherwise, we would have very possibly missed the ship and had to get ourselves to the next port. Due to that experience we will choose to always book with the Disney excursions.
I book all of our excursions independently, most companies will guarantee to get you back to the port or they will pay to get you to the next port. Just ask them when you're thinking about booking.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:38 PM   #1252
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I wouldn't like to be left behind for any reason!!! I will be booking thru Disney for sure...
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:41 PM   #1253
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I wouldn't like to be left behind for any reason!!! I will be booking thru Disney for sure...
We rarely book through Disney and have never come close to being left behind. The independent tour operators are used to working with ship passengers and their tours are usually scheduled to get you back in plenty of time. Plus, booking independently can save you a lot of money.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:31 AM   #1254
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We rarely book through Disney and have never come close to being left behind. The independent tour operators are used to working with ship passengers and their tours are usually scheduled to get you back in plenty of time. Plus, booking independently can save you a lot of money.
Yep, the cruise ships are their livelihood and they aren't going to chance having their reputations ruined by causing people to miss their ships. Especially in Alaska I have noticed that most independent companies advertise they will guarantee that you will be back in time or they will pay to get you back to the ship (to the next port).

Disney will run later excursions because they know where their groups are and can keep an eye on those running late. Example, in Cabo, we were heading back to the ship about 1 and 1/2 hours before departure time and we passed a DCL excursion heading over to the Dolphin facility. If you booked independently, you would never do an excursion that late. As it was, that group ended up being over 1/2 hour late and of course they held the ship for them since they know they were on their way back.

If you want to go with an independent tour company, just make sure the end-time of the excursion leaves you plenty of wiggle-room. I have independent tours booked at all three ports for our upcoming Alaska cruise, and all of them end 3-4 hours before departure time.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:42 AM   #1255
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Independent vs Disney

In agreement with all the posts. There are times and reasons when to and when not to book independently. We take excursions that tend to be affected by weather more than others. For instance, if you fly Misty Fjords with a boat trip back - the building weather or seas can make for a very long trip back as the boat pounds the chop. Been there, done that. Other times it is a dreamy trip. Not being the last trip of the day minimizes those considerations. The most important thing we do is to enjoy the adventure and breathe in the scenery and experience. ENJOY!
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:44 PM   #1256
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Skagway: Booking through Disney, we did the White Pass railway to the Canadian Border (very pretty), bus back (meh) to Yukon Gold Rush dredge and panning experience (tourist trap!) and walked around the town a bit for some shopping and had lunch in town.

Juneau: booked independently through Alaska Galore tours and did the Whales, Bears and Glaciers tour. It was awesome and the highlight of the entire trip. Highly highly recommended. We were the first off the ship and were back an hour before departure time. Had a personal tour guide with us all day. First went in small plane to Chicagof Island to meet a native tour guide and go see bears. DisneyNature had just wrapped up filming "Bears" and we recognized a couple of sites. Back in plane to fly over 5 glaciers, narrated by pilot with headphones. She really got down in some valleys then swooped up and over. It was literally awesome! Then went on small boat for whale watching. About 12 people total. Up close and personal. Lots of humpbacks putting on a show. Felt sorry for folks on the large boats. Some dolphins raced the boat back across the bay. It was a lot of fun.

Ketchikan: walked around in the morning, up Creek St to the salmon ladder, took the funicular to the lodge, saw Totem center and hatchery. Booked independently with Southeast Sea Kayaks. Met guide at the visitor center and walked to pier. They took us to Orca Cove where we met our kayaking guide who took us (family of 4) on a 2 hour paddle. Saw sea stars and eagles but no orcas. It was quiet and beautiful, very peaceful. Delicious smoked salmon lunch afterwards. Back to ship in plenty of time. They knew the ship schedules better than we did, so no worries.

Don't worry about booking independently of Disney. I felt we had better, more personalized service, much smaller group, well, it was just us most of the time, and we were well taken care of. It was nice to meet locals, not just summer hires for the cruise line.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:10 PM   #1257
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We also found that the independent tour companies made sure you were back to the dock in plenty of time before all aboard times.

We got dropped off in town after one of our excursions for a bit of shopping and were still back on the ship with 2 hours to go before sailing away.

The only tours that seemed to return later on our sailing were the Disney operated ones but I don't think any of them were late enough to hold the ship up.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:26 PM   #1258
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We booked for the Liarsville character experience with salmon bake. Then I realized it was from 8:45-11:45. Do they eat at like 10:30? I'm a bit confused.
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Old 05-14-2014, 07:40 AM   #1259
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buffalorun View Post
We found that many, many of the excursions ran over their time. On more than one occasion we were dashing for the ship, with them hastily pulling out as soon as possible. But, they held the ship for us because we were on a Disney run excursion. Otherwise, we would have very possibly missed the ship and had to get ourselves to the next port. Due to that experience we usually choose to book with the Disney excursions, depending on the location and time of excursion. Thatis our thoughts on the matter, for what it is worth. Enjoy!
No offense, but, I'm not sure I believe you. I doubt excursion operators want to deal with the problem of having their customers miss the ship.
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Old 05-14-2014, 10:17 AM   #1260
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No offense, but, I'm not sure I believe you. I doubt excursion operators want to deal with the problem of having their customers miss the ship.
In buffalorun's case, it was indicated that they were DCL excursions. DCL will run excursions that end very close to departure time. They can do it because they have a CM with the group and/or a primary contact person from the tour company. So they can stay in contact to ensure that the group makes it back in time (or they will hold the ship for a little bit if they are on the way back).

But with independent tour companies that guarantee to get you back in time, you are right. They will not let you book something that has a chance of getting back late (because DCL won't hold the ship in that case and they don't want to be responsible for you missing the ship).

I found that the independent companies in Alaska all know more about the Wonder's schedule than I do. They told me what time we would be docking, and in one case, at what berth, LOL.
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