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Old 12-29-2012, 04:43 PM   #1
mouselike-harrier
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Alaska port adventures question

I know this is early, but we are going on an Alaskan cruise in July. In an effort to save money, is there any port that you wouldn't bother to take an excursion? Thanks for your opinions.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:51 PM   #2
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Can't remember the port but the furthest one north that has the train excursion. They have a free guided walking tour at the state park boiling downtown. It was nice. Town is too small to do a paid excursion
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:58 PM   #3
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Ketchikan is easy on your own. You can take the blue line bus to the Totem Bite State Park and do a self guided tour (they have guide sheets free at the visitor's center.) They also have guides doing tours if you happen to hit the time right. The bus is $1 per person each way. Also, there is a Wal-mart with a free shuttle bus. We got off the blue line bus at the Walmart on the way back to town, got what we needed, and shuttled back to the terminal area. Easy to do, and the shuttle leaves every 10 minutes or so. Town is a cute little place to walk around. Very friendly. The people in the visitor's center are helpful.

We used a company called Shore Trips to do our excursions. I think it is a really hard url like shoretrips.com. The cost was at least a 30% savings over booking thru the cruise line! We also had a smaller boat for whale watching and a private trip in Skagway.
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:22 PM   #4
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I agree that the White Pass & Yukon train in Skagway can be done on your own much cheaper than through the ship. The only difference is, depending on where the ship docks, if you book through the ship, you can just walk across the dock and board the train. If you book it on your own, you need to walk like 5 minutes into town to catch the train. Not a big deal at all. And it's a wonderful trip.

You can also get to the Visitor's Center at the Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau quite easily via public transportation.

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Old 12-29-2012, 05:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for your opinions. Will look into all these options.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:01 PM   #6
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You can also get to the Visitor's Center at the Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau quite easily via public transportation.

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Yep..Juneau is easy to see the glacier and bears and fish on your own..if you go to the national park site it will give you walking tours that are free in each port.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:15 PM   #7
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Subbing, we are also going in July.....
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:30 PM   #8
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We cruised to Alaska in 2011. I would recommend taking the ship's excursion in Skagway if you plan to do the train which I highly recommend! It was an excellent trip, lots of information, and beautiful scenery. Yes, you can do this on your own but depending on how many ships are in port, you may have a long wait at the train depot. The train loads passengers from the ship excursions first, then if space is available, walk up passengers. We talked to a family who decided to do the train on their own to save money but never got to do the trip. By the time they could board the train, they would not have had enough time to make it back to the ship for departure. We did Mendenhall glacier in Juneau in the morning and whale watching in the afternoon. We loved both of them and did them through the ship's excursions. I know I could have saved money if we had done these things on our own, but we have found the convenience of booking through the ship well worth the money. We don't have to worry about transportation to and from the excursion, missing the ship due to traffic or car troubles, or making our own arrangements. Each to their own. We did not do an excursion in Ketchikan. We walked into town to shop. It is a lovely little town. Alaska is a wonderful cruise.
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:52 PM   #9
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We did Alaska this past summer on another cruise line, and booked everything on our own. In Ketchikan, we did the $1 bus ($.50 for kids) each way to Totem Bight State Park and Potlatch State Park (right next door.) This took us about 2 hours total, and we had plenty of time to explore the town, and more importantly shop (this was the best shopping port.) We did not do the Lumberjack show, as we stayed in Vancouver a few days prior to the cruise and saw the lumberjack show at Grouse Mountain.

In Juneau, we rented a car as there were four of us, and it was cheaper that taking the bus to Mendenhall Glacier round trip. It was also a godsend, as my DD had her wisdom teeth out two weeks before we left, and woke up infected on this morning. We were able to drive to Walmart on the way to the glacier to pick up antibiotics (another women that I met there said it was a $20 taxi ride each way to Walmart.) It was a very easy drive to the glacier, and we stopped at other places along the way, including Eagle Beach and the Shrine of St. Teresa. We rented from Rent-a-Wreck for $57 dollars for the day. They have since changed hands, but I'm not sure of the new name.

In Skagway, I booked the WP&YRR through Chilcoot charters. They met us at the dock and drove us to the train. We took the train up and the van back, stopping anywhere we wanted, as well as regular stops along the way. There were only 6 people on our van, and the driver took pictures of all 4 of us at every stop (I am never usually in pictures.) We did the 3 1/2 hour tour which was plenty. We then had time to walk around town in the afternoon.

The only thing we did not do was whale watching in Juneau. The day we were there turned out to be a fantastic day, and everyone who went saw bubble feeding that day. I couldn't convince my kids to book this in advance, so we'll have to save that for another visit. I feel like we really got a good taste of each port with the activities that we did.

Oh, another highlight--the glaciers. Bring warm clothing and plan to stay outside. also take advantage of the naturalist talks--they were great.

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Old 12-30-2012, 08:31 AM   #10
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These are all great, keep them coming!
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
We did Alaska this past summer on another cruise line, and booked everything on our own. In Ketchikan, we did the $1 bus ($.50 for kids) each way to Totem Bight State Park and Potlatch State Park (right next door.) This took us about 2 hours total, and we had plenty of time to explore the town, and more importantly shop (this was the best shopping port.) We did not do the Lumberjack show, as we stayed in Vancouver a few days prior to the cruise and saw the lumberjack show at Grouse Mountain.

In Juneau, we rented a car as there were four of us, and it was cheaper that taking the bus to Mendenhall Glacier round trip. It was also a godsend, as my DD had her wisdom teeth out two weeks before we left, and woke up infected on this morning. We were able to drive to Walmart on the way to the glacier to pick up antibiotics (another women that I met there said it was a $20 taxi ride each way to Walmart.) It was a very easy drive to the glacier, and we stopped at other places along the way, including Eagle Beach and the Shrine of St. Teresa. We rented from Rent-a-Wreck for $57 dollars for the day. They have since changed hands, but I'm not sure of the new name.

In Skagway, I booked the WP&YRR through Chilcoot charters. They met us at the dock and drove us to the train. We took the train up and the van back, stopping anywhere we wanted, as well as regular stops along the way. There were only 6 people on our van, and the driver took pictures of all 4 of us at every stop (I am never usually in pictures.) We did the 3 1/2 hour tour which was plenty. We then had time to walk around town in the afternoon.

The only thing we did not do was whale watching in Juneau. The day we were there turned out to be a fantastic day, and everyone who went saw bubble feeding that day. I couldn't convince my kids to book this in advance, so we'll have to save that for another visit. I feel like we really got a good taste of each port with the activities that we did.

Oh, another highlight--the glaciers. Bring warm clothing and plan to stay outside. also take advantage of the naturalist talks--they were great.

Lauri
You can spend a lot of money on excursions in Alaska - especially if they involve flying. You can also get away with minimal spending, if you're willing to use your feet, public transportation, or a rental car.

I second the recommendation for the rail/bus trip in Skagway with Chilkoot Charters; www.chilkootcharters.com. I have also rented a car in Juneau. Ketchikan has a very walkable downtown area. I have yet to visit Totem Bite by bus, because I was there on a Sunday when the bus wasn't running.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:40 PM   #12
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These are so helpful...any recommendations for an excursion for 17 family members together (7yrs- 75yrs) we want to all book something together but don't want to waste $$$ since they are so expensive.

P.s anyone know how to change your banner?
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:44 PM   #13
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These are so helpful...any recommendations for an excursion for 17 family members together (7yrs- 75yrs) we want to all book something together but don't want to waste $$$ since they are so expensive.

P.s anyone know how to change your banner?

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Old 02-12-2013, 10:49 PM   #14
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For a group of 17, I might recommend the Bering Sea crab boat excursion from the Deadliest Catch. It is out of Ketchikan and not free, but utterly fascinating!
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