Alaska Excursions--post your reviews here!

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

  1. CruznLexi

    CruznLexi DIS Veteran

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    This was my 3rd time to Alaska and my first Alaskan cruise on DCL. The cruise was awesome and any one on the fence about going should do it! Having been to the the ports before I only did 1 shore excursion and that was in Ketchikan. In Skagway you can walk right to town or take the shuttle which is $2 each way or $5 all day it is not that far but for those with mobility issues it is a great idea. Skagway and every port have the Tanzanite and Diamonds International store but Skagway has the most uniquely Alaskan gifts. There is a wonderful Christmas store towards the end of the street. There are only 2 streets. Lots of hand made items I collect the stacking dolls and bought one here. I had wanted to do horse back riding with the cruise line but I did not pre book it and waited too late. I really did not want to go riding in the rain. It was beautiful that day. I asked on the ship and it was sold out before getting on the ship and they only take 10 riders. At the beginning of the street there was the Alaskan t shirt store. Think Walmart and dollar store. Great prices though. If you buy an Ulu knife you will get it back when you get to Vancouver. Juneau we had our own shuttle for the cruise line that was free. It drops close to Mt Roberts Tramway. The Tram cost $29 for all day. I had wanted to do it but did not. We just shipped here and had some cokes at the Red Dog. Ketchikan we shopped In the morning. We dock late so make sure you have breakfast if you have a late tour. Again lots of jewelry stores. The Christmas shop here has a real Santa for picture but most of the things were made in China and Taiwan. No offense to them but I want made in Alaska. I did buy a crab for my Camilla bracelet which was very reasonable. As you walk towards the back go towards Creek street and you have more unique store with some hand made items. We ran back to the ship before the Bearing Sea Fisherman tour. I booked this thorough the company which saved me $30 per person the Disney cost I rink was $189. If you are a fan of Deadliest Catch do the tour. The ship was the Aleutian Ballad which was featured on season 2. It is currently on Netflix now. They talk about the ship and the TV show at times. It was colder than I thought it would be they do have heaters but I would suggest wearing warm clothes. They do have big jackets for you to wear if you are cold. They do a great job for those that are in wheel chairs or are handicapped. You will get to see lots of eagles, crabs, star fish and even a octopus and a shark. Great photo ops to with you holding a crab too. The best tour.
     
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  3. pequele

    pequele Some people think they are cool because they can h

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    I am so excited to hear about this tour. My 5 yo has picked this out for our trip next year so I hope they offer it...yup he picked taking pictures over sled dogs! He is excited about "getting a camera!". I have a feeling we will have a camera full of pics of the floor before we even leave the dock!


    I saw someone else post about the Annette Island tour and was glad to see that as well. My son also picked out this one instead of lumberjacks because he gets to make a drum! Anyone else go on this trip? I hope they offer it again next year. I am not very adventursome when it comes to booking something not with DCL, it makes me too nervous! It worries me more that it will only be myself and my 5 yo on the trip!

    BTW I saw an old post for excursion times back in 2011 or something like that. Does anyone have info on times for these above 2 trips and also Liarsville for this year? I figure 2013 will be closer to 2014 info than 2011 haha.

    Thanks
     
  4. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Sorry for the delayed response! I was out-of-town yesterday and not able to respond. Our excursion time was 8:00. We met our guide at 7:50 at the end of the gangway. We were back to the ship about 11:30, ate lunch and went to catch a bus to the glacier. We took a 1:00 bus and were at the glacier from 1:30 to 3:30. We felt this was more than enough time. You can easily walk to Nugget Falls and back in an hour, with time to enjoy the view at the end of the trail.

    If we had been dropped off by our whale watching guide, we would have been at the glacier by 11:30ish, which would have allowed loads of time. We didn't do this because we knew our kids would need to eat lunch (or we wouldn't have enjoyed the glacier much!). I would recommend packing some granola bars or something if you plan to go straight to the glacier. Even if your excursion didn't start until 9, if they take you to the glacier, you will still have plenty of time.

    Remember you need cash to ride one of the buses back--$8 per person. They pick up on the hour and half hour.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions or I need to clarify.

    P.S. There is a path next to the parking lot with raised platforms for bear viewing. No bears when we were there, but it was a nice path to explore. We did the Nugget Fails trail and this path in less than an hour and a half. We did not see the exhibits or film in the visitor's center. Also, you can find highly recommended whale watching excursions on trip advisor. Several great companies to choose from.
     
  5. MKRuns 26

    MKRuns 26 Mouseketeer

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    Great thread! Thanks everyone for their reviews of the port adventures, they have helped me plan for my 9/2 sailing.

    One question that I haven’t found much info on, has anyone been on one of the bike cycling excursions? I am an avid cyclist and would love to ride in Alaska at one of the POC.
     
  6. SeattleSuz

    SeattleSuz DIS Veteran

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    Skagway has a really nice hike not too far away from the downtown area, as does Juneau. Does DCL go into Haines or is that dock too small??

    I used to work for a small ship cruiseline where the core product was Alaska, so I am somewhat familiar with some of these ports, and things to do there, other than shop or go on super expensive excursions...
     
  7. jetskigrl

    jetskigrl No mumbojumbo here

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    Thank you so much!!! That was exactly what I was wondering about. My Mom will be with us and while she would have no problem walking the distance to Nugget Falls, I didn't want to have to hurry her. Sounds like we will have no problem doing both things :thumbsup2

    I had read that there was no food allowed at the glacier so we will be sure to keep that in mind and have some prepackaged snacks for us to eat before we get there.

    Oh, I did think of one question. Was there a lot of people waiting for the buses for the ride back around that time (3:30)? One thing I am worried about is being able to catch a bus back when we need to.

    Thank you again :)
     
  8. lynnemcb

    lynnemcb Mouseketeer

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    Hi we were on the 1july Alaska cruise and did various excursions. In Skagway did Chilkoot tours excursion with dog sledding and Yukon railway. We had bus up to the yukon. Stopped at Carcross a small village and then went to the dog sledding and had lunch. On the way back took the train down to Skagway. Tour was about 7 1/2 hours. Was great and tour guide was very interesting. Kids loved petting the puppies and the 15 minute dog sled.

    In Juneau went on whale watching tour with Alaska Galore because again we have kids. Very informative shuttle driver and then on small boat -4 of us and 2 others. Was excellent. Spent a good bit of the watching a mother and baby whale breaching. So close up. Then we got shuttle to drop us at Medenhall Glacier for 5 dollars each and spent some time in visitor centre. After being so close to swayer glacier in Tracey arm this was a short visit. We caught a taxi back for 35 dollars and as shuttle back would have been 8 dollars each this was great.

    In Ketchikan we took the only disney excursion. Eh and DD went snorkelling -they both felt this was the best excursion they were on. Had really warm wetsuits. Me and DS went on dune buggy excursion up the mountains. This was very good also. Would recommend both excursions and not any cheaper to book direct than through disney.

    In Alaska saw whales, seals, sea lions, eagles and two bears -mother and baby on Skagway day. All in all a great cruise and I think whatever excursion you pick will be good. However some of the helicopter tours were cancelled last minute and we know that by time this happened in some cases there was no other excursions with spaces left. That would be my only concern if you were planning on the helicopter rides
     
  9. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    We took the 3:30 bus, and there was no problem. There were two buses at 3:30 (white and blue), so there was plenty of room. The 3:30 bus gets you back in plenty of time, but I would have preferred the 3:00 bus just to be on the safe side and because we were ready to return by 3:00. The problem for us was that we bought round-trip tickets for the blue bus. The blue bus took people to the glacier at the top of the hour and took people back to Juneau at the half hour. There must have been two white buses because they picked up in both places on the hour and half hour. You won't have this problem because you are paying cash for one way, so you can just get on the first bus that comes when you are ready to head back. If you do decide on the 3:30 bus, there should be plenty of room. (The driver did tell us that the buses are more full on the days when other excursions--like flightseeing--are cancelled due to weather. If that happens to be the case when you are there, you might plan to try for an earlier bus, but he said they can cram a lot of people on those buses!)
     
  10. Meekins

    Meekins Earning My Ears

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    I can only comment on the timing for the Whales and Glaciers Photo Safari - which was from ~ 10:30 (or we had to be in the lounge at 10:30 and then led down to the bus) and we were back to the boat slightly before 4pm. I thought the timing was good with the exception of the fact that because Juneau is such a short time in port and the stores I wanted did not open until 10am. We took the free shuttle into Juneau just before 8 and walked around for an hour - anything touristy was open of course, but I wanted glacier silt soap (did not open until 10am) and of course crab for lunch (but it was too early for them to be open and ready to serve lunch). Overall though - seeing the glacier and the whales/wildlife made up for the lack of time to tour Juneau for shopping...there is always next trip :thumbsup2
     
  11. jetskigrl

    jetskigrl No mumbojumbo here

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    Oh good - that sets my mind at ease. Sounds like they plan for the amount of people that will need to get back at that time. :thumbsup2

    I have been following along on your trip report also. It is all making me so excited for Alaska next year. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make it through the next year of waiting to go :rotfl2:
     
  12. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Thanks for reading my TR. One of the nice things about booking last minute was I didn't have to wait!

    Also, keep in mind that not all the ships leave at the same time, so not everyone utilizing the bus service from the glacier is a Disney passenger, and they don't have to have the 3:30 bus.
     
  13. chris31997

    chris31997 Disney Kid at Heart

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    What did they like about the snorkeling excursion? Got some fish who just might enjoy it.
     
  14. EeyoreIsMyName

    EeyoreIsMyName DIS Veteran

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    2013 PORT ADVENTURES
    SKAGWAY-MUSHER'S CAMP & SLED DOG EXPERIENCE
    We had the 10:45 am MUSHER'S CAMP & SLED DOG EXPERIENCE port adventure. We met in Studio Sea and were escorted to the van. Our driver was Jerry and he did a great job of explaining the local history of Skagway and pointing out buildings and businesses of interest. Unfortunately, his microphone was not operable which made it difficult for anyone not sitting in the first couple of seats to hear anything he said on the journey. Once we arrived at the camp, we crossed the stream full of spawning pink salmon to the modern bathrooms that were installed fairly recently (no more porta potties). We were loaded into a Unimog for the ride up the mountain. This road is full of switchbacks and some bumps, but suprisingly the ride was pretty comfortable. Christine met us and we were taken to the summer dog sled vehicle which looks a lot like a converted golf cart. The dogs were barking and jumping and basically ready to go if we would only get on so they could run!!!!! The sleds hold 6 individuals so we were paired with another family of 3 for the ride. I was able to take some pictures from the dog sled before we started off. We stopped about halfway around the mile track and Christine took pictures of us in the vehicle and from the front of the vehicle so you could see all the dogs. She also took one from her vantage point behind the vehicle where she stands when the sled is running. When we arrived back at the starting point, we were given time to pet and interact with the dogs and take pictures. We were loaded back into the Unimog and went part way down the mountain to a scenic overlook. I took some pictures here (the Disney Wonder was in the background--way in the bakground!) but you could see the mountains and water as well. We arrived back at base camp where the dog musher delivers his talk. We were told we could use the bathrooms, which we did, but when we came back out the musher had disappeared and by the time we located him, he was most of the way through his talk. I did think they could definitely do a better job of keeping groups together when we passed from Jerry to the musher at this point. Since we got to hold older and then 2 week old puppies right after this, I just brushed off the fact that I had missed this portion of the experience. The puppies were adorable and we got lots of pictures with each of us holding the puppies. The experience was well worth the price and we were all very pleased with this port adventure. Jerry dropped us off in town (note that this excursion does not return you to the ship dock). We stopped at a couple of shops in town and then returned to the ship.


    KETCHIKAN-RAINFOREST WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, RAPTOR CENTER & TOTEMS
    We had scheduled the 11:15 am Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Raptor Center & Totems port adventure. We met in the Walt Disney Theatre and were escorted to the buses. The guide took us through Ketchikan to the Rainforest Sanctuary. We unloaded and were offered ponchos in case of rain and instructed to leave all edible food products (including gum and breath mints) in the bins. These items would be returned to us at the end of the excursion. Our guide was Adam. He was the youngest guide at the sanctuary and he wants to work in the Forest Service when he finishes college. We began our hour rainforest hike. Adam stopped multiple times along the way to show us trees, plants, flowers and berries. He also asked many times if anyone had any questions which was nice. He answered any questions that were asked and he was very professional and knowledgeable. This was a nicely paced walk that was accommodating to any individuals with disabilities or handicaps (as long as you are ambulatory and can walk without assistance). We saw Sitka spruce, red cedar, blueberries, salmonberries, recent bear tracks, bear trails, bear scat (look it up if you dont know what it is), former bear caves in tree roots, and a muskeg.

    When we completed the rainforest walk, we came out on a covered walkway along the stream and estuary. An eagle flew in and landed on the railing of the walkway and we could see pink salmon running in the stream. Adam heard a mention on his radio that a bear had been spotted in the rainforest near the estuary. I saw the black bear emerge from the rainforest. It was a young cub of about 1 ½-2 years old. He bounded across the stream and headed into the undergrowth of the wall on the far side of the stream. I kept a lookout in that vicinity and in about 6-8 minutes he came out of the undergrowth again.

    Since everyone had a picture, we proceeded to the former sawmill on the property. They had much of the original equipment still there as the sawmill closed in 1999 (I believe). You could see large samples of Sitka spruce, yellow cedar and red cedar cross cuts. They have estimated that the Sitka spruce sample was about 500 years old.

    We went into the Raptor Center next where a guide had a Great Horned Owl to show us. I was able to get close up pictures of the owl with no eyes open, one eye open and both eyes open. They also have a bald eagle there so I took pictures of her as well. Both birds had wing injuries and cannot be released into the wild so they take care of them at the sanctuary.

    Our next stop was to visit the 5 caribou. These reindeer were rescued from a sausage factory in Russia (yes, folks, if you see reindeer sausage on the menu, it is not a euphemism for something else&it IS reindeer sausage!-yuck!). We were given lettuce to feed to them and the guide there told us about them and answered questions.

    The last stop on the tour was the carving shed of Wayne Newsom master totem pole carver. He was working on a large salmon sculpture that will be displayed along the walkway by the stream/estuary. Wayne said he will make a carving of all 5 types of salmon in his spare time between carving totem poles. He has carved all of the totem poles in front of the sanctuary. I took some time to photograph them. Wayne said his tallest totem pole is 43 high! His totem poles are all over the country. When he finishes carving one, his wife paints them. Wayne is a Tsimpshian from a Native community in Metlakatla on Annette Island.

    After the tour is completed, you can sample some snacks in the gift shop and get a drink (included with your tour), use the bathrooms or shop. I was able to locate a stuffed husky dog here and took some pictures of the large taxidermy bear in their display case. We all felt this port excursion was well worth the price as we got to see a lot of things we were interested in..and a bear! We were taken by a different guide by bus back to the ship dock.

    We walked across the street to Christmas in Ketchikan. We had visited this store two years ago and wanted to pick up a hand painted Alaska Christmas ornament. We found one with the glacier reflected in the water and the Northern Lights in the sky we absolutely LOVED. I also found another stuffed husky dog that needed to go home with us (if I keep this up, Ill have a sled dog team!).


    2011 PORT ADVENTURES-
    SKAGWAY-KLONDIKE GOLD DREDGE & WHITE PASS RAILWAY
    We did the Klondike Gold Dredge and White Pass Railway. You ride the train up and a van back down on this trip. You will need your passport since the train disembarks at Fraser, British Columbia. My parents listened to the narration inside the train car while I stood outside on the apron taking pictures. Dont miss the shots of the train going over the trestle bridge or into the tunnel. My tip is to get into a car near the back so you get better shots of the train (a longer line of train cars) as it curves around these bends. I did feel a little like I had missed out by not hearing the narration, but the photos were worth it. Another tip is to sit on the left side of the train car for best viewing.

    The van driver stopped at the Welcome to Alaska sign on the way back down and took pictures of us in front of it. He did a great job of narration on the way down also. We stopped at the Klondike Gold Dredge where we watched a gold panning exhibition and heard historical facts from a "colorful character" of the Gold Rush time period. then, we were taken to the gold panning area. They give you a pan loaded with dirt. Every pan is guaranteed to have gold in it. When we finished, our gold was placed into film canisters. We took it into the Gold Shack where they weighed it. You can also have it made into a necklace. They have gold nuggets and lots of gold jewelry for sale here. You return to town to shop (and then make your own way to the pier) or return directly to the pier.

    We recommend this excursion and would do it again. We did do some shopping in Skagway at William & Anthony, the Skaguay News, and Tanzanite International. William & Anthony is a clothing store mostly, but we found some cute moose & bear neck pillows (for airplane usuage) and Dad got a heavy Alaska sweatshirt. It is his favorite sweatshirt to this day.

    JUNEAU-MENDENHALL GLACIER EXPLORER
    Our port excursion was to Mendenhall Glacier. It was late leaving the ship which cut out time short at the glacier. This is the only time that has ever happened to us with DCL excursions. We had a nice narrated bus ride to the glacier. It was mid-July so we passed some rivers with salmon spawning. The visitors center has a good movie about glaciers and how they are formed-very interesting and wonderful photography. The rangers usually have a piece of glacial ice in the visitors center that you can touch and photograph. We talked to one ranger for awhile. I walked down a trail to Lake Mendenhall and took pictures. A large chunk of glacial ice was on the bank of the lake so I touched it and photographed it also. The salmon viewing platform was a good location to photograph salmon and bears. The bears were there fishing.

    Again, we would recommend this port adventure and we would do it again. We did some shopping in Juneau at Tanzanite International and Caribou Crossings.

    KETCHIKAN-GREAT ALASKAN LUMBERJACK SHOW
    We had tickets for the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show port adventure. I dont remember meeting up on ship for this excursion. I remember shopping in Ketchikan and then just walking into the Lumberjack Show. They divide the audience into two sections. Our section was the Dawson Creek side. You get to see a variety of lumberjack events-chain saw, carving little chairs from chain saw, axe throwing, two person crosscut saw, underhand chop, pole climb, log roll, boom run, springboard chop). You can get some excellent photographs here as well (as long as the child in front of you stays in their seat!). We enjoyed this port adventure and would do it again if the opportunity arose.

    We did some shopping in Ketchikan at Tongass Trading, Tongass Trading's Inside Passage, Christmas in Alaska, the Salmon Landing Market (lots of stores are in here), and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Store gift shop.

    You can read my full trip report here http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3150787

    :eeyore:





     
  15. erk711

    erk711 Mouseketeer

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    I just booked this one and have a couple of questions. The current description has the Zipline first and then the glacier. Is it possible this changed? Also, is there room for me to have a bigger camera on the Zipline or should I stick with a point & shot or my iPhone?
     
  16. momto2redheadgirls

    momto2redheadgirls Earning My Ears

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    Our guide informed us once we got in the van that we were doing it in reverse order from what the description onboard stated. I really don't know why unless it was the amount of people at the zipline place??? We had a Canon Rebel DSLR camera with a neck strap and had no problem with it. We just made sure we always had the strap around our neck. They are ok with whatever you have, they just give the disclaimer that you need to hold on to it or zip it in the pocket. Hope that helps!
     
  17. Never to old

    Never to old DIS Veteran

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    I wanted to post about our excursions. Prior to sailing we spent 3 days in Vancouver.

    1st day we did Capilano Suspension bridge and Grouse mountain. Both were wonderful. We caught the lumber jack show at Grouse mountain as it was included in our admission and skipped the one in Alaska. We spoke to people who did the one in Alaska and it seemed simiar to the one we did. My tip is take the first bus out in the am to Capilano. Then go to their guest services to get exact change for bus fare to Grouse mountain. Currently 2.75 per person. Bus stop is just a few feet up the road from Capilano. Make sure you take sunscreen for Grouse mountain. If you will be up there at dusk, take bug spray. Last free bus back to Canada place is 5:30. Don't wait til the end, it is first come first serve. The 5:00 bus was filled and we had to wait for the last one.

    2n day- Stanley park- this is a wonderful park. It has a minature train, aquarium, 3 beaches, and a large swimming pool. There is additonal fees for these things. I don't think that they charged for the beach. We spent the entire day at the park. There is also food places within the park and a lovely sea wall to walk around. You can also rent bikes and ride around the park. I think you rent them elsewhere.

    3rd day- We walked around the city of Vancouver and also went to the Fly over Canada attraction. That was really good.

    If you are staying at the Pan Pacific or Waterfront Fairmont there is a food court underneath. Highly recommed eating breakfast at the Pita Express. He uses fresh eggs and no microwave. You get omlet, hashbrown, toast, fruit and juice. Cost for 2 people was 22.98 this included tax. Cost for breakfast at the Pan is 30.00 per person.

    Alaska

    Skagway- We did the best of Skagway tour- The white pass train was great. If you start at the top and go down the summit sit on the right side of the train. If you are going up the summit on the train, sit on the left side. There was 32 people on our bus. We were assigned 2 train cars. There was only 12 people on our car. Most everyone went to the second car. So you might want to hang back and see where everyone goes before jumping on one. I was able to move from side to side and go out on the platforms without difficulty. There are 2 platforms one at the front and one at the end of the car. Most everyone went on the front one. Complmentary water in the back of the train car. After the train we were taken to Liarsville. We were served lunch, which was okay. The show was hokey, we found 5 flecks of gold. I do mean flecks. Lots of bugs there including flies. Next we went to the Red Onion salon. We were offered complimentary beer, wine, lemonade and water. It is a very small museum. It was okay. The only part of this excursion that I recommend is the White Pass train.

    Juneau- Enchanted Taku lodge- I give this excursion 10 stars. We took a floatplane to the lodge. Flight was cool. You have time to walk around the grounds before and after the meal. We saw bears. The food was great. They provided a short hike with a guide after lunch. They also provided bug spray if you wanted it. It was buggy there, but we didn't use it. I missed the story about the lodge. There were 2 bears licking the salmon oil off of the sand, i went to watch them. My husband said the story was very good.

    Forgot to mention that before this tour we did the Mount Robert tram on our own. Just aheads up the tickets cost 2.00 more at the place than on the ship. I didn't buy them on the ship because I didn't know what we were going to do. I didn't feel like taking the bus back to the ship to buy tickets. Disney did provide a complimentary bus from the dock to the town and back to the ship.

    Ketichan- We walked around the city ourselves. We saw creek street and the fish trying to swim up stream. Noted it would be a very easy walk from the ship to the lumberjack show. Our excursion this day was with a private company called Island wings of Ketichan. We took a float plane to Misty Fjords. There was a public dock there that we were able to get out and spend about 15 minutes on it before other planes arrived. This trip was good unfortunately after our Taku lodge experience, it just didn't blow me away. The company is very good and easy to work with. I would fly with them again. However, I would want to go on there bear trip instead of the Misty Fjords.


    Just an observation- I think the characters stuck to deck 4 during Tracy Arms. We did not see any on deck 10. Also people were reserving viewing spots early. We were able to get a spot along the rail, but we did not have a great back drop for pictures. There was this pole or part of the ship in it. Just keep that in mind if you were hoping for good pictures. On our trip the left side of the ship saw the glacier first, then the ship was turned and the right side saw the glacier next.

    I hope that you find this information helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.
     
  18. erk711

    erk711 Mouseketeer

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    Sure does. Thanks for the info!
     
  19. wachnicki

    wachnicki Mouseketeer

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    This thread was a huge help to me so I wanted to share our experiences.

    Skagway: we did the Train ride up/bus ride down with the 15 minute dogcart ride. Booked through Chilikoot and saved some money. The train ride was amazing! I spent most of the ride out on the platform and the views were incredible!! Only thing is you cannot hear the narration out there so we had to rely on someone to come out and tell us what was coming up. The food for lunch was yummy and our guide for the bus tour down was very informative. He was more than willing to take family pictures for us. He also met us at the dogcart ride to take a group picture. The dogcart ride was very dusty but fun. We simply couldn't afford to ride the dogcart on a glacier so this was a nice alternative

    Juneau: We had the the Taku lodge via flotplane booked independently to save some money and they called as we were getting off the ship to say it was cancelled due to the fog. :(. DH and DD17 were scheduled to take a helicopter and hike on a glacier thru Disney a little later in the day and they loaded up, drove out to the airfield, got all decked out in their garb..........and then their excursion was cancelled as well. I did think that Juneau was the prettiest port. We did some shopping instead. If we had known the helicopter was going to be cancelled we would have all gone out to Mendehall glacier, but my younger DD wanted to swim so I took her back to the ship. We did run into a couple who took the bus out there and they saw bears....said it was the best $16 they spent on the cruise!

    Ketchikan: Originally we were going to just wander around on our own, but since our Juneau excursions were cancelled we managed to book the Bear Creek Ziplining excursion last minute. Tons of fun!!! Our guides were great, and I felt like it was very safe. Only time I let out a squeal was when were had to rappel down at the end.

    On our Tracy Arm day the captain was unable to turn the ship around due to all the sea lions, so he had to back out. Because of that the front of the ship was PACKED with all the people squeezing their way in to get a picture of the sea lions......I just wanted the glacier picture! Crazy. That the the only bad part of the day. We hung out on deck 10 and saw Chip and Dale and Koda. Although we followed the chipmunks for a few minutes we weren't able to get a picture with them. Later we saw Goofy on the way to dinner out on deck 4 in his flight suit and although he didn't have a photographer with him I was able to get a great shot of him and DD.
     
  20. MooseRiver

    MooseRiver Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1
    Hi all, I got a lot of our excursion plans from this board, and so much of our experience is covered in earlier threads - thanks for the help - but I wanted to add a few thoughts:

    Skagway - Yukon Experience booked directly through Chilkoot Charters- Overall 7.5 - Finding Chilkoot and transferring to the train was as easy as could be. The train ride up was a "9.5". The views were terrific and the guide narration was very good. We didn't like that they walked through looking for tips toward the end. During the transfer to the Chilkoot bus (about 20 of us) at Frasier, I looked out and said to my wife, "Hey, that looks like Bill O'Reilly over there", two buses over. She dismissed it, but when our driver got back on, he said "did everyone see Bill O'Reilly over there"?

    The bus ride up to the Yukon was very nice, probably a little boring for kids. We stopped at Caribou Crossing, and found it to be a tourist trap, basically. The chicken meal was good. But other than that, there was a gift shop, museum of taxidermy, ice cream shop, "petting zoo" with goats, pigs, etc. and the sled dogs.

    This is where we had some problems. There was no one watching the 10 day old puppies being held by children. A younger dog wandered into the mom's pen, and got beat up pretty bad by the mom, yelping for some time. It was clear in the aftermath that the employees didn't know what they were supposed to be doing. The other younger dogs that were not tied down were running around the pen. I tried to pet one young dog, and he "attacked" my gift shop bag (there was no food in it). I had to pull it out of his mouth. Overall, the treatment and oversight of the dogs was questionable. My wife does rescue volunteer work, and she was appalled. I downplayed it as how sled dogs are cared for up North, but I have to agree that Caribou Crossing could have done better. PS - the goats up on the side of the mountain are fake.

    Our bus driver, an Irish gentleman, told great stories and was very knowledgeable. The stories were just that though, stories. Hard to believe that his same best friend from Arizona comes in on a cruise "the following week to visit". But his stories were very interesting and well told and he earned his post-tour tip.

    Juneau - Taku Glacier Lodge - Overall - 10 We booked direct, and we would do this one again in a heartbeat. Everything was terrific, and really very enjoyable. My wife was very hesitant about small plane flying, and she really enjoyed the flight and the time at the lodge. We happened to sit with the mother of the lodge owner, and so we got a little more history on the lodge and the family who owns and runs the place. All in all, the best excursion of the trip, and the weather was perfect.

    We spent the rest of our time in Juneau shopping and having a drink at the Red Dog. A very nice little city. We had some time at the end and did decide to walk back to the ship, based on the signs that pointed along the water back to the other piers. Mistake - half way back, the walkway was gated, and we had to swing way out back to the road. Turned out to be a long walk, and we should have taken the shuttle as we did on the way into town.

    Ketchikan We did the Adventure Carts here, through Disney. Overall Rating - 6. It was fun, and the young guides were nice and knowledgeable. But it was expensive ($209 per person). It didn't feel like something we needed to go to Alaska to do. Could have done it at home. Very dusty and dirty, so if you are doing other things after, save time to go back to the ship to clean up, or bring a change of clothes with you.

    After the carts, we walked around Ketchikan. Our waiter recommended the Fish and Chips at Alaska Fish House (right near the ship next to the lumberjack show) and he was right - best we've ever had, and the Salmon Chowder was excellent too. Saw Creek Street and the fish ladder, with tons of Salmon, then went to meet our guide for Island Wings Misty Fjords Flight Plane Adventure. We booked this directly (5-7 with a 7:30 ship departure, but they assured us they've never missed a ship). Overall - 9. Michelle, the pilot was terrific, and the flight was great. Just a little bit of a let down after the Taku Lodge flight the day before. The flight was longer though, and Michelle went out of her way to find mountain goats and show us everything. We spent about 20 minutes on shore at remote Manzoni Lake.

    Overall, a great cruise this week. The weather was nearly perfect, including our Tracy Arm day. Doug, the naturalist, was giddy about how good the weather was and how close we were able to get to the glacier. Very much looking forward to another Alaska cruise in a couple of years. The excursions were expensive, but much different than a Caribbean cruise, and well worth it.
     
  21. doriemg

    doriemg Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Messages:
    143
    Our cruise was awesome. We had such a good time that we're already planning our next cruise although it probably won't be until 2015. We ended up getting an extra excursion that we didn't have to pay for. I think it was the evening that we were sailing away from Juneau. Right at dusk, there was about 13 whales off the side of the boat and we were able to watch them surfacing and blowing water out their blow holes and then diving back under. It was incredibly beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing. And we didn't even have to book a whale watching excursion to see this.

    Skagway We booked the Bennett Scenic Journey through Chillkoot Charters. It was fantastic. The weather was perfect and the guide kept telling us how lucky we were and that normally the weather wasn't this good. The train trip up was full of unbelieveably beautiful scenery and they did a great job of narrating all the important details along the way. We stopped in Bennett for lunch which consisted of stew, coleslaw, bread, and pie plus coffee, tea, and water. The stew and the bread was delicious. The coleslaw was just so-so. Pie was also delicious. Bennett is so pretty. Lake Bennett is the most unusual color of milky aqua green. Even though its a ghost town, there's still one resident there. Edna. She runs a little store around the back of the old church and sells her handmade goods. Got back on the train and continued on to Carcross and met our guide, Tim, up there for the bus ride back down to Skagway. Tim was born and bred Alaskan and did a great job of telling us all about the different stops and threw in his own stories about the different areas.

    Once we got back to Skagway we did a little shopping in town and then walked back to the ship. Not sure if it's always this way or not but it was so incredibly windy when we were walking back to the ship. It was almost as if they were trying to push us back to town to do more shopping.

    Juneau We had booked the Pilots Choice Helicopter tour and glacier landing for the morning. It was cancelled due to the weather. That didn't deter us though. We took the shuttle into town and was able to book the ERA Glacier adventure by Helicopter for 1:40pm. It was the highlight of our trip. Unbelievable. Everyone at ERA was just wonderful. We were picked up at the dock and driven to ERA's facility just outside of town. There we were given life vests and boots and loaded into our helicopter. Our pilot Reiner (sorry if I misspelled your name) was great and very knowledgeable about the area. We took a ride over the Juneau Icefield and then landed on Taku Glacier. That was one of the most incredible things I've ever done. The glacier is incredibly beautiful and gives you the feeling of the being the only people on earth. You're surrounded by unreal landscape. The ice reminded me of being on the moon. The crevasses were spectacular and the blue ice and blue pools of water were beyond belief. Ironically, one of the great things about our trip was when it came time to take off again, the helicopter had a mechanical problem. Reiner called the base and they dispatched another helicopter to pick us up and we ended up getting another 15 minutes on that spectacular glacier. We all agreed that the helicopter issue was actually a great thing and so unique. Just another story about to tell about our glacier landing. Our pictures came out great and really do it justice. All in all, this was the absolute highlight of our trip and the excursion of a lifetime. ERA was great and next time we're in town we're going back to them again. We just hope we can request the Glacier Adventure by Helicopter with Helicopter Mechanical Issue. :)

    Once we got back to town we took the Mt. Robert Tramway up to the top and looked around. It was well worth the trip. We got some incredible views and got to see a bear. Also saw a bald eagle up there who was unfortunately shot through the beak and as a result crashed and shattered it's wing. It can never be released back into the wild but they take good care of her up there. Be warned, she doesn't like flash photography so be sure to turn off your flash on your camera before you take a picture of her.

    Ketchikan It rained and rained and rained some more and just when we thought we couldn't take it any more...it rained again. Luckily, Disney was giving out free ponchos as you left the ship. Our floatplane tour with Island Wings was cancelled due to weather but once again, we weren't going to let that deter us. We walked over to the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau and were able to book a floatplane tour with Misty Fjords Air. The flight was great and the scenery was incredible. We landed on a dock in a remote area and were able to get out of the plane for about 10 minutes and walk around. We'd do it again in a heartbeat and we all loved the trip but it wasn't enough to outshine our glacier adventure in Juneau.

    When we got back to Ketchikan we did some shopping...in the rain. I picked up my Ulu knives. I was actually a little disappointed in some of the shops in all 3 ports. They were actually selling Ulu knives that were made in China. I refused to buy those and made sure the knife sets I bought were actually made in Alaska. So if that's important to you, be sure to check and make sure it says "Made in Alaska".

    So other than Skagway, our excursions were not exactly as planned but in retrospect, we wouldn't have had it any other way. It all worked out so well in the end. Alaska is a spectacular place and has to be seen to be believed. I honestly don't think you can go wrong with any excursion you take in this awesome, wonderful, beautiful land. To all who have a cruise coming up - Relax and enjoy!
     

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