Alaska Excursions--post your reviews here!

minniebeth

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 3, 2006
Bumping this thread up to see if anyone who has cruised Alaska in the 2016 season might be interested in posting their excursion reviews/thoughts.... :sail:
:flower3:
 

colbybug

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 31, 2005
The following is just a copy from a quickie trip report I did upon returning August 1st 2016. Maybe it will be useful to someone else researching possible excursions. I know I gathered a lot of great information from the DISboards!

So for the excursions...we booked the smaller boat excursion from the ship that went to Endicott Arm at noon. We thought the "Tracy Arm BBQ" was quite bleh and nothing special. It was kind of misty so they just threw everything into the regular Beach Blanket Buffet. The excursion itself was totally worth the money. We were so close that we could hear all the popping and creaking sounds the glacier was making right before it would calve. It was quite active and several large portions fell off as we watched!!

In Skagway we took a helicopter tour with Temsco to the glacier and did the dog mushing/sledding. Simply amazing! Felt really lucky as our guides said that they had not flown for the past 10 days due to the weather and in fact had cancelled all of our days flight up until 12:30 pm (ours was at 2:30). They said that they have about 250 dogs at the camp. We got to play with three puppies that were about 10 weeks old and super cute! It all went by too fast!

In Juneau, we went with Harv & Marv's to find the whales...which we did! Humpbacks as large as a school bus! Saw two that breeched for us a few times even! Then we took the blue bus to Mendenhall Glacier. It was spectacular! The only disappointment was that the trail to Nugget Falls was closed that day due to flooding. Darn it!

In Ketchikan, we were lucky enough to score permits with Carlin Air and go see the bears at Anan Creek in the Tongass National Park. The scenery was out of this world!!! We were picked up at the port by Carlin Air and then flew in a float plane about 1/2 an hour to where the bears are. They only allow 60 permits a day so it isn't overrun with tourists. Apparently they are sold out a year or more in advance but we were lucky because someone cancelled and we were able to take their reservation. There were probably about 12-15 black bears, some baby cubs too, all trying to catch the salmon that were running! There were lots of salmon too! They have a blind set up as well as a viewing deck and I swear I could've reached over and patted one of them on the head - they were that close!!! One of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. We could have stayed there all day!
 

ArmyWife7

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 17, 2011
I was on the July 25, 2016 Cruise.

Tracy Arm Excursion
I know I'm in the minority with my opinion, but I did not feel it was worth the price. It was myself, husband, and two daughters (ages 7 & 9). We did the noon excursion. First, I felt like I could not enjoy the activities on the ship. The BBQ started at 11:30 (had to be moved inside due to weather) and it would be over by time we got back on the ship. Then Minnie Mouse outside in her Alaska gear began at 11:45. This was the only time Minnie would be outside that day. Even though Minnie appears inside several times in her Alaska gear, it was important to me to get a picture with her outside with the view. I chose Minnie over the BBQ and hate that I had to choose. Once I got our picture with Minnie, I had to RUSH to our meeting place for the excursion. It was raining and cold (cold to me as I'm from the South). We'd go inside the catamaran for a while to stay dry then go outside when we felt there was a good picture worth braving the drizzling rain. When we got back on ship and went up to deck 10, the view was pretty much the same as the catamaran. I saw it calf a few times from both the catamaran and the ship and it wasn't much difference to me - at least not a $700 difference. My girls didn't get bored on the excursion, but they had a friend from the ship with them and the 3 of them played together during the excursion. I don't feel they appreciated what they were seeing. Overall, it was a nice excursion and would be worth it if the ship can't get as close as the catamaran. But for our cruise, I would have been just as happy to have stayed on the ship and had more activities available to me and the girls. The last night when we met the Captain of the ship, he asked my girls what they had enjoyed the most. One of the girls said seeing the glacier. He said, "I was so excited to get so close to it this week. I can't normally get that close." I wanted to tell him, "Yeah, you shouldn't get that close because there were people who paid extra to get closer." LOL

Skagway
This was my biggest disappointment of the cruise. I had booked the helicopter/dog sledding excursion and was most looking forward to it. Well, as the previous poster said, the weather was foggy/raining that morning and all morning excursions were cancelled and the afternoon excursions were all full. We found ourselves aimlessly walking around Skagway. We stayed busy for about an hour going into the visitor's center and shops, but quickly figured out that it wouldn't keep us busy for the entire day. We walked back to M&M Tours (right on edge of town as you are entering from the ship) and asked for their advice. They recommended Dolly's Wildlife Adventure. It was regular $55 per person and was on special for $45 per person. We took the last 4 seats on the bus and were glad we did. She is quite the entertainer. She took us to Dyea, which was a major town during the Gold Rush and is now a ghost town. We also stopped by the Chilkoot Trail, which was one of two trails taken by the miners. She made several picture stops along the way and gave a lot of historical information about the gold rush and current everyday life in Skagway.

Juneau
We booked a private whale watching tour with Harv & Marv with some others on our cruise. This was an excellent excursion that I highly recommend. We saw lots of whales bubble net feeding and breeching. They also took us to see some seals. The captain was very friendly and answered lots of questions about everyday life in Alaska. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the animals in Alaska. We went on an early excursion and had time to go to Mendenhall Glacier afterwards.

Ketchikan
We booked privately the Deadliest Catch Crab Fisherman's Tour. The guys were extremely entertaining! They also took us to see seals. Then took us to see bald eagles. They threw fish out in the water for the bald eagles so they would get close to the boat. We probably had about 10 of them swarming us to catch the fish. It was amazing! Then they demonstrated how they catch crabs and discussed the show a little bit. They gave us a lot of picture opportunities with both themselves and the fish/crabs/prawns/octopus they brought onto the boat.
 
  • VWISHFUL

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2016
    Keep meaning to add a trip review, but in the last month, we sold a house, bought a house and went on the cruise. We were signing papers all the way up to the moment we set off to the airport!

    Day 1: The night before we boarded I realized that in all the chaos with the house sale/purchase I had totally forgotten to bring the Disney docs and tags that were sent to the house and they were still back in LA. When I went to print them at the hotel printer, I found that the link to the docs had been removed from the site - presumably to stop people from changing things last minute. So thats something to note - print online docs earlier! After spending a night fretting I got up early and went down to the terminal to talk to the Disney folks about my options, but they were really chill and told me that everything would be sorted out when it was time to check in and to just let the baggage handlers know that I didn't have the tags and they'd print me new ones there and then. In the end, the family members in adjoining cabins had spares, so we just used theres and picked our bags up from their rooms. Still, it was nice to go down to the seawall alone so early in the morning and see the ship. The ship horn even blew a little song which really got my excitement levels up!

    Checkin seems efficient enough, but does take long enough to make the kids grouchy - by the time we got to the photo area, the kids weren't feeling all too co-operative. We found this area to be pretty chaotic too and a bit of a bottleneck with all the shots that the photographers took. I think I'd be tempted to skip this part on future cruises.

    The ship was way nicer than I expected. Reading previous reviews had me thinking that the Wonder would be a creaky rust bucket but it was just lovely - very elegant and luxurious. As a disclaimer - it was my first time on a cruise ship - so maybe that had something to do with it, but the quality of all the materials was much nicer than any hotel I've ever been in. And so clean! I was amazed at how pristine the entire ship was.

    We headed immediately to Parrot Cay for lunch which also became our breakfast spot for the trip. We did try a couple of meals at Beach Blanket, but we found the arrangement at PC to be much more comfortable. One of the favorite options in our group for lunch/snack actually turned out to be the chicken strips/tenders up on the deck - I think they were from Pluto's Dog House - but they were surprisingly very good.

    I'm not really into dance parties, so the sail away party wasn't my cup of tea and unfortunately perhaps influenced me into not seeing some of the night shows - which was probably a shame, since the one I did see was amazing. My kid did take advantage of the hot Vancouver weather to try out the water slide, which he loved!

    Dinner that night was at Tritons and we got to meet our excellent servers for the cruise. My body was trying to decide if it was going to be seasick so I'm not sure I remember what I ate, but it was good - as were all the meals we had at Tritons - it was probably my fave dinner rotation and luckily we got it 3 times. The kids were tired so we all retired early. We were in Room 7014, quite close to the forwards elevators. It was usually quiet, though the housekeeper had a tendency to vacuum the corridors a little around 9-9;30 which was a bit late for our kids, but then everything was quiet after 10pm.

    Rooms were lovely and more spacious than I was expecting. Bed was very comfy. Split bathrooms are very convenient. I spent a bit of a fitful night though, getting used to the the motion of the ship. I didn't ever end up getting seasick through the trip - neither did my husband, who has been on a cruise in the past (not disney) and had a miserable time of it, so he was also pleasantly suprised.

    The only other things I can remember from this day, other than exploring the ship and checking out the shops, was going to see the gym and spa and trying to get the raffle. In the end, we didn't win anything, though I was very impressed with the facilities and did plan to come back to maybe walk on the treadmill, but in the end we found we were quite lazy all trip and mostly just stuffed our faces and walked around deck 4 occasionally to counter the bloat!
     

    VWISHFUL

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2016
    Day 2-3: Not sure I remember too much about these days. I think it was more of eating, lounging, exploring the ship and probably more eating. It was lovely to be out on deck and see the sights these days. It could get quite cold at time - especially when we got to see Endicott Glacier (too much ice at Tracey Arm). We also saw some whales and I think dolphins and even some seals - though they could be pretty hard to spot.

    On day 2 we did the Palo brunch which was delicious. They had this amazing truffle pasta. which was probably the table favorite and countless other goodies. I think we must have eaten 1/2 the ships caviar! Our server was amazing there and since we had dinner reservations too for the following night he also served us then which was a treat.

    The kids spent brunch time at the kids club. My kid is 8 so we gave him checkin/out privileges which he loved having the freedom to switch clubs when he wanted or head back to the room for a rest. We never had any trouble finding him and if in the club - the staff could locate his exact position with the wrist bands (these only work inside the club/lab - not throughout the whole ship). He did seem to really like the club, though I was a bit disappointed that I'd usually find him on the computer, or watching a movie when we picked him up. I wish he would have participated more in the activities, because they looked like a whole load of fun.

    I believe that night might have been formal night, or the captains welcome or both. The officers came out and stood around the lobby and it was really nice to get to talk to them and learn more about the ship and its crew and get some syrupy cocktails on the house! (I was already running up quite a tab on the ship!). I learned that we would not be going to Tracy Arm, but that Endicott was also really lovely, with nice waterfalls. Dinner was at Animators Palate, which was cool with wall features, but we preferred the food at Tritons.

    The weather at Endicott was rather cold, especially at the front of the ship. We camped out first at BBB and had the salmon bbq, which was nice - though again, we didn't find BBB to be all that comfortable. We did view the glacier for quite a while and drink hot chocolate.: The ship turned a little to the left and to the right so both sides got a look, though the back did not get a view until we turned to leave. This was the only day I think we really needed our winter jacket (fleece and shell and beanie). We had surprisingly warm/hot weather for our trip. That night we had dinner at Palo and it was so good we managed to somehow get another reservation later in the cruise for dinner there. The scallops were the favorite of the group that night - just sublime! And their truffle and tarragon pasta was also really amazing.

    Day 4: Skagway! First port of call. We had an early breakfast and headed to the Walt Disney Theater where were were seated to wait for our tour. We did the Disney Exclusive Liarsville and Salmon bake. Once off the ship, we were herded into buses and taken to the camp. The lady driver was very nice and funny and gave us lots of info about living in Skagway. Once at the camp, there was a cute puppet show and then a quick scavenger hunt and then we got to pan for gold. I've done this once before, so although we didn't get too much gold in the pan, I found that by scraping the pan agains the bottom of the trough I could scoop up the pay dirt that other tourists had ditched and was able to get a few more flakes. After this we went to the Salmon bake, which was quite nice, though the amount of flies made it a little unappetizing. Overall, it was fun and the kids liked the little giftshop.

    After, the group split and the others went back to the ship while my hubby and kid toured Skagway downtown. We had some lovely huckleberry ice-cream and did a little shopping and then took a tour at the Red Onion Saloon. I was a bit nervous that they wouldn't let my 8 year old tour, but they had no problem with it. The jokes were corny and suggestive, but it all went over my kids head and even though its a quick tour, the building its quite tiny - I thought it was a load of fun! I do recommend this stop for anyone going to Skagway.
     

    VWISHFUL

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2016
    Day 5: Juneau - This was the day I was most nervous about things falling into place. Knowing that, as first time Dis cruisers, we'd never have a shot at booking the Disney Exclusive Musher Camp, we booked something early that sounded quite similar through Shore Excursions which is Costco's tour operator (our Disney cruise was booked through Costco). This was a surprise for my son - I hadn't wanted to tell him in case the weather didn't co-operate, as I'd heard this was frequently cancelled) and plus, who doesn't love surprises?!

    The weather looked great - I think there was just the tiniest amount of spotting in the very early morning. We dragged DS off the ship early and DH got it into his head that he absolutely had to eat crab at Tracy'sCrab Shack. I was freaking out because we only had 10 mins before meeting the Era van at the tramway carpark and the curable, that was supposed to only take 5 mins to come out was taking quite a bit longer. I ended up rushing to the meeting spot with DS while DH waited for his crab leg. But that was the most stressful part of the day. When the van arrived, it turned out she was only picking us up as the rest of the group were coming by Disney bus (which was a relief to hear, since it was likely most people on the trip were from our ship and we'd be more likely to make it back to the ship if there were any delays). I was a bit nervous that we'd booked too long an excursion for the amount of time we had before all-aboard, but the lady assured me that they checked all their bookings and they wouldn't have let me book if the timing didn't work, so that was a relief. DH finally shoed up and the nice van lady let him eat it on the way out to the heliport.

    DS was excited to see the helicopters but it took me pointing to one of the picture inside their officers for him to realize that we were going dogsledding. Right before our vacation I had bought him the latest Magic treehouse book that just happened to be a story about dogsledding and the Iditarod, so he was super stoked! I highly recommend getting this book if you have kids (5-9) and are doing any of the dogsledding excursions.

    Once we had geared up we were assigned our helicopters and then we were off! The views were magnificent and the ride was so smooth - I was a bit nervous about it being bumpy - but it was like floating on a feather! Our pilot was great too!

    We landed on the Norris glacier and we were greeted by the camp director, before being allocated to our dog team. Our dog team was awesome and our guide was really nice too. He let us feed the dogs, and explained how he trained for the races and what life was like as a dogsledder. DS was able to put sunscreen on their noses and booties on their paws and we even put eyedrops to soothe the dogs eyes. Then we got to take off for a ride in the snow! Our guide stopped several times to let the dogs cool off (again - even though it was cold at first on the glacier - the sun came out and it was unusually hot - in fact they were planning on moving the camp the next day due to melting snow). This gave us chance to switch places so that we all got a chance to man the brake, however, once it was DS's turn, he wouldn't relinquish that spot for the remainder of the ride! He LOVED it!

    After the ride we got to meet the husky puppies and then we had a really nice lunch in one of the tents. The food was actually pretty good (wraps, brownies, hummus & veggies...) and the staff was really nice and answered all our questions. Waiting for helicopters to come back and pick us up, you realize just how isolated you are up on the glacier. The flight back was a little shorter but just as breathtaking. The whole excursion is simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience - truly amazing. We made it back to the ship with about an hour to spare and found the rest of our party, so they could rest easy, knowing we'd made it back on board!

    Can't remember what else happened that day, probably involved lots more eating. Oh, and the crab leg my husband insisted on getting.... it was amazingly good - worth the stress!
     

    VWISHFUL

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2016
    Day 6 - Ketchikan. After all the adventure of the previous day we didn't have anything planned for Ketchikan. Ketchikan, however is probably the nicer of the 3 ports and the ship docks closer to the town than the other two, so its a nice easy walk off the ship. Here we did a little exploring and a little shopping (its probably the nicer shopping destination on the trip too). Had a nice fish lunch at somewhere pretty close to the ship (though I forget the name). We walked over to the quaint area of Creek Street and watched a seal chasing salmon in the creek for a while, which the kids enjoyed a lot. Every so often we'd also spot little jellyfish. We checked out some of the stores there and DS was able to buy some interesting rocks in the mineral/gem store.

    We did find that a lot of the souvenirs are repeated in each port and that some of the stuff is not only available in Alaska but in Vancouver too so we bought very little in the end. Also, if you missed anything, Treasure Ketch on the ship was not too egregiously priced as we'd expected.

    That reminds me - when you first get on the ship in Vancouver there is a guy selling binoculars in the check-in line. He'll tell you that on the cruise ship the prices are sky high. We bought some binoculars from him that were perfectly fine, but we also found the prices on Wonder to be not that bad either - sure there's less choice, but we got a perfectly good pair made by Nikkon for about the same price that we paid for Orcas at the vendor in Vancouver - so don't let him push you into a sale if you are not sure. I think we paid somewhere around $120. Of course I'm sure you can pick up much better deals before your trip but we weren't so prepared.

    Day 7. Last day was at sea. It was a bit rougher due to the speed. I had booked the Exotic Rasul as a surprise for DH and he seemed to enjoy it - though he found the steam room a bit hot at times. I had to book this by phone as I didn't ever see it available online and there was only one spot left by the time booked. We had lots of fun slathering on all the products and our skin was so soft after - it was a nice relaxing treat.

    I played Bingo at Wavebands this day, which was fun, but quite pricey. Didn't win anything though, but was one number away at one point - and that was very thrilling. Also, that night we went to see the Dreams show. It was just Amazing and made me wish that we had gone to see some of the other shows. I did hear though, that this one is the best show, so maybe that was it. It had me a little misty eyed as they worked through all my favorite disney songs! And the effects were wonderful. I really recommend this show.

    Next day, getting off the ship was efficient but sad. We had an amazing time and thats without really checking out most of the activities on the ship (with kids its a little harder to do things in the evening unless they are fine sleeping alone for a few hours). Somehow we managed to put a deposit down on a future DCL cruise at their desk, so the family is already getting a little exciting and making plans for our next trip!

    Good luck to everyone preparing for their upcoming cruise. You'll have tons of fun and I'm quite jealous!
     
  • lovemycatkellar

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2013
    OK, I have read EVERY one of the 74 pages on this thread. THANK YOU! I have come up with my own 23 page of Ketchikan reviews so far. We are doing the 5 (FIVE) night Aug 2nd 2017 cruise. YES, there is only one! Wishing we had known it only has one stop...Ketchikan! Even 4 nights to Bahamas has 2 stops! But dont get me started...

    Got a few questions:
    1. On port adventures some say (seasonal), what does this mean? Are they not all seasonal, lol.
    2. what time does ship arrive in Ketchikan? I have seen stuff all the way from 7:30am to 1:30pm!
    3. life jacket sizes...do they have them to fit big chested me? My hubs is 6'5" and is very broad shouldered plus the cake gut. Love him! We have been to other excursions where they didnt have life jackets to fit. But then read things about not over 350lbs and he is only 280lbs so maybe they keep big man life jackets.
    4. what are the differences between all the misty fjord excursions besides price? EXCLUDING the two over $1500, which to pick?
    5. what are the differences between all the rainforest excursions besides price? which to pick?
    6.If our one day of excursion gets rained/fogged out we came to Alaska for a cruise. I am not going for the cruise, we cruise yearly anyway. Is this cruise going to be fun woth out Ketchikan if it is not what we choose? (we are not into characters, we pick DCL bc it is the best)
    7. Is neets Bay bear watch worth it? Floatplane apparently jacks the price up but we wanna see more than bears.

    I will research more on the other stuff but those all sounded the same so wanted opinions from some folks who maybe have done several in several trips and can truly compare. Really want to hear the negatives. Feel like we got one shot so gotta get it pretty good!

    Thanks! Melody
     

    Geomom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 17, 2010
    OK, I have read EVERY one of the 74 pages on this thread. THANK YOU! I have come up with my own 23 page of Ketchikan reviews so far. We are doing the 5 (FIVE) night Aug 2nd 2017 cruise. YES, there is only one! Wishing we had known it only has one stop...Ketchikan! Even 4 nights to Bahamas has 2 stops! But dont get me started...

    Got a few questions:
    1. On port adventures some say (seasonal), what does this mean? Are they not all seasonal, lol.
    2. what time does ship arrive in Ketchikan? I have seen stuff all the way from 7:30am to 1:30pm!
    3. life jacket sizes...do they have them to fit big chested me? My hubs is 6'5" and is very broad shouldered plus the cake gut. Love him! We have been to other excursions where they didnt have life jackets to fit. But then read things about not over 350lbs and he is only 280lbs so maybe they keep big man life jackets.
    4. what are the differences between all the misty fjord excursions besides price? EXCLUDING the two over $1500, which to pick?
    5. what are the differences between all the rainforest excursions besides price? which to pick?
    6.If our one day of excursion gets rained/fogged out we came to Alaska for a cruise. I am not going for the cruise, we cruise yearly anyway. Is this cruise going to be fun woth out Ketchikan if it is not what we choose? (we are not into characters, we pick DCL bc it is the best)
    7. Is neets Bay bear watch worth it? Floatplane apparently jacks the price up but we wanna see more than bears.

    I will research more on the other stuff but those all sounded the same so wanted opinions from some folks who maybe have done several in several trips and can truly compare. Really want to hear the negatives. Feel like we got one shot so gotta get it pretty good!

    Thanks! Melody
    I can answer the first couple of questions:

    1. Seasonal--depending on the excursion--if it's snow related, seasonal would be before the snow melts; if it's bear related, it's likely to be later in the season--July/August when the salmon are running.

    2. I just looked up your cruise. Ketchikan--9AM-7:45PM. The 7 night cruises have an 11:15AM arrival time as they're coming from farther away.

    6. Ketchikan is VERY rainy--they average 13 feet of rain a year, so you may want to look at some non-plane excursions as those will still go in rain/fog. I think a 7 nt cruise is better as it has 2 more ports, but you DO still have the 1 day of cruising to a glacier and that day was fantastic--even being misty for us, and going down Endicott Arm to see Dawes glacier. Ketchikan also has all the shops right off the boat--and historic Creek street is in walking distance as well. On the ship, they had a naturalist, and I enjoyed going to the talks--I went to one called 'Blubber is beautiful' about marine mammals and one called 'Growlers and Sliders' which was all about glaciers. The naturalist also talked over the loudspeakers as we were heading in/out of the arm--but not at the glacier as there are noise regulations near the glacier.
     

    anricat

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 20, 2014
    2. what time does ship arrive in Ketchikan? I have seen stuff all the way from 7:30am to 1:30pm!
    I just looked up your cruise on the DCL website and it indicates that you are in Ketchikan from 9:00 AM to 7:45 PM. This information should also be included in the email you received from DCL when booking your cruise. It should have a subject of "Reservation Confirmation for..." and then your confirmation number. Scroll down towards the bottom of the email and you can see your port times. Here's a screenshot of one for my upcoming cruise next year.

    Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 11.14.36 AM.png
     

    Huron66

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2016
    I have to say that Neets Bay Bear Watch was such a fabulous excursion for our family. We went on the August 15th cruise (2016). Our son (nearly 5) has always been interested in bears and with a family cottage on a lake in Ontario he has grown up watching float planes but never actually seen them up close. We had the afternoon excursion which was a good thing since the morning excursions were cancelled due to fog. We took a tour bus to the Taquan Air float plane dock (this bus ride takes longer than expected since the streets are narrow and it can't make a bunch of turns so it needs to take a roundabout route to get there. Our float plane held 10 passengers and the pilot and we were all given headphones. The flight there is about 25 minutes and after the plane gets up in the air, the pilot told us about the area. When you arrive at Neets Bay you need to stay together with the guide, especially at the time of year when we visited because it is prime black bear season. The salmon were really running well. It is just a short walk to the viewing area and nothing separates you from the bears except a metal grate on the ground. We had great luck that day as we saw Ronan an older male bear that comes every year. The bears are completely focused on getting salmon and pretty much ignored us. The best treat for us was when a sow came with her two cubs that were born in May (so only about 3 months old). That was the first time she had come to the creek with her cubs. We were able to watch them for about ten minutes and then some other male bears came along and she took off fairly quickly with her cubs. Altogether we saw about 8-10 bears in an hour. It was totally amazing to see. We also had a quick explanation about the salmon hatchery and then a walk back to the dock (a different route past a few bear dens). The plane trip back was a different route and we were able to see mountain goats in the hills and we did a fly-by of the Wonder (we got some great pictures). The hour we spent watching bears at Neets Bay was one of the fastest hours of my life! So, yes, it is an expensive excursion, but watching those two little bear cubs grabbing the first fish of their life, waiting to see if a couple of big males were actually going to fight over a salmon, seeing up to 4 wild bears at once fishing on a wild stream in Alaska - that's what memories are made of! As a side note, we walked back from the Taquan Air docks instead of taking the bus and made it back to the Wonder before the bus and even were convinced by our servers to join them for the early seating even though it was 6:15 (they saw us walking by the restaurant). So even with a not even five year old, it was faster to walk back than to wait for the bus.
     
  • lovemycatkellar

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2013
    I just looked up your cruise on the DCL website and it indicates that you are in Ketchikan from 9:00 AM to 7:45 PM. This information should also be included in the email you received from DCL when booking your cruise. It should have a subject of "Reservation Confirmation for..." and then your confirmation number. Scroll down towards the bottom of the email and you can see your port times. Here's a screenshot of one for my upcoming cruise next year.

    View attachment 201566
    I saw that but figured that was padded. Good time to do other stuff! Thanks
     

    lovemycatkellar

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2013
    I have to say that Neets Bay Bear Watch was such a fabulous excursion for our family. We went on the August 15th cruise (2016). Our son (nearly 5) has always been interested in bears and with a family cottage on a lake in Ontario he has grown up watching float planes but never actually seen them up close. We had the afternoon excursion which was a good thing since the morning excursions were cancelled due to fog. We took a tour bus to the Taquan Air float plane dock (this bus ride takes longer than expected since the streets are narrow and it can't make a bunch of turns so it needs to take a roundabout route to get there. Our float plane held 10 passengers and the pilot and we were all given headphones. The flight there is about 25 minutes and after the plane gets up in the air, the pilot told us about the area. When you arrive at Neets Bay you need to stay together with the guide, especially at the time of year when we visited because it is prime black bear season. The salmon were really running well. It is just a short walk to the viewing area and nothing separates you from the bears except a metal grate on the ground. We had great luck that day as we saw Ronan an older male bear that comes every year. The bears are completely focused on getting salmon and pretty much ignored us. The best treat for us was when a sow came with her two cubs that were born in May (so only about 3 months old). That was the first time she had come to the creek with her cubs. We were able to watch them for about ten minutes and then some other male bears came along and she took off fairly quickly with her cubs. Altogether we saw about 8-10 bears in an hour. It was totally amazing to see. We also had a quick explanation about the salmon hatchery and then a walk back to the dock (a different route past a few bear dens). The plane trip back was a different route and we were able to see mountain goats in the hills and we did a fly-by of the Wonder (we got some great pictures). The hour we spent watching bears at Neets Bay was one of the fastest hours of my life! So, yes, it is an expensive excursion, but watching those two little bear cubs grabbing the first fish of their life, waiting to see if a couple of big males were actually going to fight over a salmon, seeing up to 4 wild bears at once fishing on a wild stream in Alaska - that's what memories are made of! As a side note, we walked back from the Taquan Air docks instead of taking the bus and made it back to the Wonder before the bus and even were convinced by our servers to join them for the early seating even though it was 6:15 (they saw us walking by the restaurant). So even with a not even five year old, it was faster to walk back than to wait for the bus.
    That is a wonderful description, Thankyou so much. Many others will love that review too.
     

    monkeybird

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2017
    I am planning for my very first cruise -sailing on the Wonder on August 14- and wanted to thank everyone who has posted so much helpful information here. I'll be sure to do the same when I return. Can't wait!
     

    PURTYPAT1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2004
    We just got back late Tuesday night, and I thought I should share what we did since this thread helped me out so much before we left for our cruise.

    We got to spend a day in Vancouver before we got on the Wonder, so I'm including what we did there as well.

    Vancouver: We found a stretch limo driver that was FABULOUS! He charged us $75 per hour, and we could use his service for as many hours as we wanted. We decided to limit our tour to two hours, and we were so happy we did this! For $150, we got to customize what we wanted to do, and our limo driver was a native to Vancouver and provided us with so much information on the city. We chose to have him take us to Grouse Mountain so we could do the tram ride to the top. We then went to the fish hatchery and got to view some salmon jumping upstream. This was cool and probably not something I would have chosen if our limo driver hadn't suggested it to us. He drove us thru Stanley Park, to a beautiful place called Prospect Point, to the famous Steam Clock downtown, and then just took us around the city showing us beautiful homes (and they are GORGEOUS) and telling us the history of Vancouver. I cannot say enough good things about Vancouver. I'd definitely vacation there again, and I highly recommend the limo driver we had. I have his info if anyone is interested.

    Skagway: We did the White Pass Railway, City, and Yukon Suspension Bridge tour. This was also a great excursion! We took the train to Fraser, British Columbia, and the sites along the way were beyond beautiful! It was about a 90 minute to two hour ride on the train, and then we boarded a bus that took us to the suspension bridge and then drove us back to Skagway. It was neat to take the bus back because it all looked different from the point of view you get on the bus compared to the views from the train. Plus, our driver was wonderful and provided lots of information as we drove back. I'd also recommend this tour.

    Juneau: We did the Alpine Zipline and Glacier tour. This tour was amazing! We had ziplined in Hawaii on a previous trip, and the ziplining in Alaska was WAY better than what we did in Hawaii. Our ziplining guides were wonderful, and it included 7 ziplines and a suspension bridge. When we got back to the lodge, they had blueberry tea for us, and we could make s'mores over a fire if we wanted to. Very cool excursion and one we would highly recommend. The glacier was cool too! We thought it was better than Tracy Arm because we could actually get quite close to the glacier here. It's quite a hike to make it close to the glacier and to the huge waterfall that is near the glacier, but it's worth it! We only had a limited amount of time at Mendenhall Glacier, but we were able to make the trek up to the glacier and waterfall with time to spare when we got back to meet the bus.

    Ketchikan: This is by far the highlight excursion of our trip. My kids are already begging us to let them do this again some day! At the last minute (and thanks to a fellow DISer on this thread), we booked a float plane adventure to Misty Fjords thru a place called Island Views. Michelle is the pilot, and I cannot say enough good things about this excursion! Michelle is very knowledgeable and has been flying for many, many years. The sites are breathtaking! We got to land on a lake in the fjords and walk around on the side of one of the mountains. I cannot wait to get our pictures back from this one! We even saw a mini avalanche while we were there (but nothing to worry about). Island Views is a small company that goes above and beyond to make sure you have the experience of a lifetime. The ship was scheduled to leave port at 8:00 that night, and we didn't have our excursion with Island Views until 5:00. We booked the two hour tour so we could have some time on the mountain when we landed at the lake. The price was far more affordable than booking something similar thru Disney, and we will definitely book thru this company again if we ever go back. SUPER GREAT EXCURSION!:thumbsup2

    Hope this helps someone out there! Let me know if you have any questions or want the contact info for the limo driver we had. I told him I'd be recommended him on the DIS!:rotfl2:

    Susan
     

    Pooh's Pixie

    <font color=royalblue>The joy I get seeing those l
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2005
    Good tips! Would love the Limo Info as well. Sounds like an interesting option.
     

    Pooh's Pixie

    <font color=royalblue>The joy I get seeing those l
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2005
    Anyone think its possible to do the following in Skagway: Dog sledding and glacier flightseeing, and then splitting up to have one group do horseback riding and another do a train ride? Frustrating not knowing the times of stuff!
     

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