Alaska Excursions--post your reviews here!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by ClaireinTN, May 18, 2011.

  1. lilbug13

    lilbug13 Mouseketeer

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    We are just off the June 18th sailing and did the Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest in Juneau. It was FANTASTIC. Great crew, smooth ride, and amazing viewing. We saw many humpbacks, bald eagles, seals, and yes, ORCA! Here's a few pics from my iphone...

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  3. ucancallmetink

    ucancallmetink Mouseketeer

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    You're welcome! As for dinner, we had main dining, too, and the late return time did cause some problems. We were scheduled to return at 5:45 but it was a little after six by the time we returned. We debated back and forth but ended up just going straight to the dining room in our jeans :scared1: Our serving team had just one table besides ours, and they didn't show up that night so our servers were actually at the door of Parrot Cay, waiting to greet us. They didn't seem to mind that we showed up late and we did apologize profusely. We debated because we weren't terribly hungry, but on the other hand, we don't do fast food AT ALL and we knew that if we didn't eat in the dining room we'd be hard pressed to find something edible later.

    What we learned later was that if you know ahead of time that you are going to be returning late from an excursion, you can request a one-time seating during late dining. You probably won't get your regular serving team, but it is an option.
     
  4. jenf22

    jenf22 DIS Veteran

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    I posted this on the main board and didn't get what I was looking for, so I thought I'd try here. We're off to Alaska in September. I desperately want to see bears, but am torn between these two excursions:

    Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Raptor Center and Totems
    or
    Bear Country and Wildlife Expedition

    So here's the dilemma... The first one talks of the possibility of seeing bears and is $209 for the three of us. The second one is EXACTLY the same as the first one except for an extra 30 minutes in the rainforest and access to 5 suspension bridges and 7 platforms for bear viewing. Oh yeah, and it's $513 for the three of us. Is that extra 30 minutes plus platforms worth the $300 difference? I've read the couple of reviews in this thread about the Bear Country one. Some Dis people seemed to really like it, but it has pretty bad reviews on other sites. Has anyone done the first excursion? The cheaper one? Yes, I know there are better excursions for bear viewing... but they are all float planes and ~$400 per person (so close to $1200 for the three of us - not an option right now with a 5 year old. Maybe when he's older).

    Thanks all!
     
  5. Skylarr29

    Skylarr29 <font color=blue>Oh Darn it, I was 'forced' to buy

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    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUser...ka_Rainforest_Sanctuary-Ketchikan_Alaska.html
     
  6. pixarmom

    pixarmom DIS Veteran

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    This is really helpful information, particularly because we feel the same way regarding fast food/counter service. We might consider requesting late dining for just that night. Thanks again!!!
     
  7. jenf22

    jenf22 DIS Veteran

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    Yeah, I actually searched the web before posting here. I always do. If you actually read the Trip Advisor reviews, they are for every excursion in the Rainforest Sanctuary. The good reviews are for the zip lining, the bad reviews for the Bear Country. Then there are some reviews regarding a Zodiac, which is not mentioned in any of the Disney excursions. These reviews are very mixed and hard to tell what excursion the reviewer booked. I was just looking for someone who could review them recently from a Disney ship.
     
  8. Skylarr29

    Skylarr29 <font color=blue>Oh Darn it, I was 'forced' to buy

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    Have you tried cruise critic Alaska section? I would search and ask there as it is specifically for Alaska. I don't recall having read any recent reviews of it. I think I have read one from someone on DCL but I don't think it was good either.
     
  9. comet1

    comet1 Earning My Ears

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    Has anybody done the White Pass Scenic Railway Featuring Exclusive Youth Activity? Thoughts?
     
  10. bbagnall

    bbagnall Mouseketeer

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    We had a fabulous time! I'll go through the excursions by day

    Skagway
    1) Helicopter and dog sledding. This was the most fabulous experience of my life. We did an 8am tour and the weather was gray and cloudy but we were able to go anyway, I was so nervous about them canceling our tour, but on we went! The helicopter gets you amazingly close to the glaciers, our pilot was really knowledgeable about the area. The best part was the dog sledding. Your helicopter lands and all you hear is dogs barking ready to go. Our guide pretty much just let us ask questions and then we did the riding. We took turns driving the sled and riding, they take pictures of you while on the sled. When it was all finished you get to hold super cute 3 week old puppies! I know I'm not describing it right, this is a once in a lifetime experience. It was pricey, but worth it. Those dogs are amazing, all they want to do is pull that sled! We were there for a good hour. By the way for people worried about their weight, they ask you in your group and if you are close to the 250 mark they make you weigh at the headquarters, you are by yourself.

    2) White Pass Railway and Suspension Bridge. What can top dogsledding? Probably nothing, but the train was a completely different experience. A tour bus takes you from the ship to the train depot then you get on a specific car number (its based on your cruise line). You travel through the most beautiful scenery and hear the story about the gold rush. Normally I'm not one for history and stories and all that stuff, but it was very fascinating. It was amazing to see how far these men had travelled and what they went through. The train stopped at the border and we got off (we hurried up and got our passports stamped) then you get back on the tour bus. The bus continues the story and takes you up into Canada to the suspension bridge. We stopped and got off and took a look around, there was some historical stuff about the gold rush, a makeshift cabin, some pictures, a map. Crossing the suspension bridge was neat, you look down and see those rapids and it puts your world in perspective. There were snacks and a giftshop so you could purchase cookies (yum!) and souvenirs. Then we got back on the bus to head back to the ship, we actually saw a bear off the side of the road and our driver stopped so we could take pictures.

    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.

    Ketchikan
    Even shorter day at Ketchikan, back on the boat by 12:30pm. We did a fishing tour with Ken from Northern Lights fishing charters. He picked us up at the dock then went to the boat. The boat was enclosed with a restroom and it had all the down riggers and things. While we were heading to our fishing spot we filled out the fishing license paperwork. There were some strong winds and rain, but we still caught fish, a King Salmon! We sent it to be processed and it was shipped back home (you can select your day and if you want it to be smoked or not). We all said we would go fishing again, had a great time.

    Any questions, ask away!
     
  11. jenf22

    jenf22 DIS Veteran

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    I feel like I've searched everywhere! ;) But I've only asked here. I'm trying to not get too obsessed with this cruise. So far, it's not working :rotfl: I'm honestly thinking of working some overtime to cover the difference in price, and just going for it. I figure if it's overtime, it's "bonus" money and doesn't count :lmao:
     
  12. DK542

    DK542 Earning My Ears

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    Just returned from June 18 sailing. We did the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Raptor Center and Totems. It was a little lame except that we DID SEE BEARS. We were very close to a mama and her two cubs. We sat there watching them eat grass from a raised boardwalk for a good 15 minutes with plenty of photo taking opportunities. But the groups ahead of us and behind us probably did not get the same experience. The suspension bridges were there but not yet opened. We saw lots of real bear skat on our walk through the rain forest.
    Several of our excursions seemed "new". I'm not sure if they are being created just for the Disney cruises since they are low adventure for families with small kids who can't or don't want to do expensive high adventure excursions.
    That's quite a price difference for the added suspension bridges but i would guess it would give you more chances to see bears since most of our walk was on flat ground and they are not going to just walk right up to you. When we saw them was when we were on a raised boardwalk.
    Let me know if you have any more questions.
     
  13. jenf22

    jenf22 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks so much! I figured someone had to have done this! We're going in September and I've heard the salmon run is almost over then. Maybe that means fewer bears? I'm ok with a little lame if the price is right ;) My husband thinks the $300 price difference is insane. I'm on the fence. If the $300 is the difference between seeing bears and not, then I'd be more than happy to pay it.

    What other excursions did you do? Did you guys have a good time?
     
  14. 2PrincesseInTow

    2PrincesseInTow Mouseketeer

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    Sounds amazing! What company did you go with?
     
  15. Skylarr29

    Skylarr29 <font color=blue>Oh Darn it, I was 'forced' to buy

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    That's my logic as well! :rotfl:
     
  16. DK542

    DK542 Earning My Ears

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    We also did the Yukon Suspension Bridge & Klondike Explorer in Skagway. It was good. We rode in a coach bus for about 40 minutes to get to the Suspension Bridge. Again, this attraction was brand new. Our bus driver was pretty good, had lots of good info. He was young and funny. The scenery on the drive was amazing. I felt like I was in prehistoric times because it was just so vast and desolate. We did see a bear on the side of the road but no other wildlife. The bridge and visitor's center was fine. There was a gift shop and a snack shop where you could buy drinks and a few snacks. They gave out samples of some yummy maple cookies that we ended up buying.

    We were scheduled for an afternoon Glacier Discovery by Helicopter but due to 50 mph winds on the glacier, it was cancelled. We were terribly disappointed but at the same time I did NOT want to fly in that wind. It was crazy...people could hardly walk in it.

    In Juneau we did the Sled Dog Discovery & Musher's Camp. Again, they indicated that this was only their 2nd year in operation. Our entire group of 9 loved it. We had 2 sets of grandparents, plus my dh and I, and our kids ages 10.5, 8, and 4. You do need to love dogs though. If you are indifferent about dogs, you might not get as much out of it.

    See above for my description of the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Raptor Center, & Totems in Ketchikan.

    Feel free to ask me any questions about more details.
     
  17. AZMermaid

    AZMermaid DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  18. Disney Hot Mama

    Disney Hot Mama DIS Veteran<br><font color=coral>Onion haters unit

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    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! :cool1:
     
  19. AZMermaid

    AZMermaid DIS Veteran

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    Great thanks, I am sure he can handle that!
     
  20. ag73

    ag73 Earning My Ears

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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. :goodvibes:confused3;):)
     
  21. Disney Hot Mama

    Disney Hot Mama DIS Veteran<br><font color=coral>Onion haters unit

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    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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