Seattle & Alaskan Cruise Tips!

belle032

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Hi all!

We have put a deposit down on an Alaskan sailing for this September and are super excited to have another chance to go this year! *I know DCL has cancelled their Alaska sailings-we are booked on another cruise line*

I honestly really trust these boards for cruising info, so just some questions I would love some advice and input on:

1) Planning on flying in the day before. Does anyone have any recommendations on hotels convenient to the Seattle airport or port? Transportation for one or the other would be great, but it's just DH & I sailing, so Uber/Lyft is a perfectly viable option.

2) Does anyone has any experience or suggestions with third party tour operators? Two adults and ports are Juneau/Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway, Icy Strait Point & Ketchikan.

3) Any experience with Alaskan Airlines? Normally book SW, but I'm open to just about any airline - flights aren't so cheap anymore!

Actually, please feel free to chime in with any Alaskan suggestions, experiences, tips, etc!
 
Last edited:

ahain

Thankful & Blessed
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Didn't DCL already cancel all of the Wonder sailings in September 2021?
582144
 

Marthasor

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 8, 2005
We stayed at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront when we cruised to Alaska in 2012. We walked right across the street to board our ship on the day of departure. If you stay there, I highly recommend eating at Elliott's which is right down the street - the seafood is amazing. Also, if you are docking in Juneau, highly recommend Tracey's King Crab Shack which is next to the Juneau public library - amazing!

Just to add - Ketchikan is very walkable. If you don't pre-book a tour, you can generally find tour buses that will take you around to see the totem poles. We also booked the Lumberjack Show there - it was really fun!
 

Meriweather

Being a Nana is my superpower
Joined
Mar 31, 2002
We're on another cruise line in /August.
We fly in the morning of the cruise, so no idea about where to stay.
We do cruise shore excursions (7th cruise to Alaska).

I guess my only help is Alaska air.....we really like them and use them all the time when we lived in WA.
Have a fun trip
 

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  • lunaland

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2014
    Hi, I can't help too much but I've lived about 30 minutes north of Seattle my entire life so I'll chime in on 2 points. Hotel: whatever the closest one to the port is if you MUST stay in the city. Otherwise stay anywhere else and Uber in. Seattle is not a very safe city currently. Alaska Airlines on the other hand, is great! There is no seat back entertainment but if you use their onboard free entertainment you can watch a ton of content on your phone. I believe food service was just restored recently. I fly them about 20 times a year and rarely have issue.
     

    OKW Lover

    Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle.
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2004
    1) Planning on flying in the day before. Does anyone have any recommendations on hotels convenient to the Seattle airport or port? Transportation for one or the other would be great, but it's just DH & I sailing, so Uber/Lyft is a perfectly viable option.
    I'm not aware of any hotels that offer transportation to either the airport or ship dock. But that doesn't mean they don't have it.

    We've stayed at two hotels in Seattle before our Alaska cruises (we were on Royal), the Marriott and the Inn at the Market. Both were fine, but I'd give the edge to the Inn at the Market for location. As its name suggests its basically across the street from Pike's Market which is a fun place to wander through.

    Actually, please feel free to chime in with any Alaskan suggestions, experiences, tips, etc!
    Sticking with Seattle, I'd also suggest a visit to the Space Needle (if it has reopened) and the nearby museum of Pop Culture. There is also a great Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in the area.

    As far as Alaska goes...
    First, be sure to get off the main/front street of the towns you are stopping in and check out the wares produced by local vendors. You'll find a disturbing number of familiar Caribbean port stores, many of which are affiliated with the cruise lines, on the main street of your ports. Support the local artisans if you can.

    In Skagway, book a trip that includes the White Pass Railroad. Spectacular scenery as it takes you up into the wilderness around the port.
     
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    Ronneeaght

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 30, 2018
    We did a train-up/bike-down in Skagway with Sockeye Cycle in 2014 and LOVED it. The tour guides were great and we got a train car just for our excursion group on the way up.

     

    kelymo

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2020
    I live in Seattle and worked downtown before pandemic. Cedarbrooke Lodge is a very nice hotel near the airport. Not much to do around there but it’s a lovely place to relax after a late/early flight. Haven’t stayed downtown but I think Marriott and Edgewater are close to where you want to be. Be cautious walking around downtown especially around Pike/3rd. Love my city but with so many office workers still remote and tourism down, it’s a little sketchy right now.
     
  • ladyofthetramp

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 3, 2014
    When we were in Seattle for our Alaska cruise we stayed at Hotel 5 on 5th. Great boutique hotel. We walked everywhere. These days, not sure how safe that is. Locals would know best. You would need a cab to the port. Too far to walk with suitcases. Space needle was fun and Chihuly is a must.
     

    jrabbit

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 13, 2002
    If you can find the Space Needle, you can find Chihuly ... like others have said it's really pretty and pretty awesome.

    Alaska Airlines is a very good carrier - so if you can get reasonable rates, then that's the way to go vs United/Delta et al. I believe that Southwest flies into SeaTac - but sometimes their fares are not the best ... and they're a "low cost carrier"

    Icy Strait Point - "is a port built by and for the cruise lines" - so I am not sure about any Independent Tour operators that are able to get "on property". We did a combo Bear and Whale watching excursion. Bear watching was mostly a bust - we might have seen a couple of bears scurrying off as we came to one of the viewing platforms ... might have been shadows. Whale watching - we did see some grey whales (I think that is the kind that migrates through the area), but we also were treated to a family of Orcas (which they say only happens occasionally). There are the requisite gift shops (only a one or two) and maybe a place to eat. The town (a ways away) is very small.

    We had a very fun zip line experience in Ketchikan. There's a mountain in Ketchikan that helps locals with the weather, if they can't see the top of the mountain, it's going to rain, if the can see the top of the mountain, it's going to rain (kinda like Phoenix in the summer time - it's going to be 115 every day)

    If the day is clear when you are in Juneau, take the tram up Roberts Point. We have whale watched here as well. You can take (or used to pre covid) public transportation out to Mendenhall Glacier. If you enjoy that and hiking, this is a good place to spend the day. We've never walked out to the glacier, just looked at it from the visitors center.

    But the best things we have done in Juneau were: summer dog sled camp (note: we are NOT "dog people", but these dogs are amazing. The short ride was a lot of fun!! Our guide actually has raced in the Iditarod, and they had "exhibits" about the race and dog sledding in general. The other really nice thing was that there were some pups that we got to cuddle. Again, not dog people but .... puppies. Now for the Bestest (sic) excursion - Flying in a sea plane from Juneau over 5 glaciers to Taku Lodge for lunch. The BEST Salmon we have ever had. And as a bonus the day we were there there was a Grandma, Mom and two bear cubs in a tree on the property - along with a couple of guys with long stick to encourage them to stay in the tree while we were there.
     

    LeslieG

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 22, 2005
    If you can find the Space Needle, you can find Chihuly ... like others have said it's really pretty and pretty awesome.

    Alaska Airlines is a very good carrier - so if you can get reasonable rates, then that's the way to go vs United/Delta et al. I believe that Southwest flies into SeaTac - but sometimes their fares are not the best ... and they're a "low cost carrier"

    Icy Strait Point - "is a port built by and for the cruise lines" - so I am not sure about any Independent Tour operators that are able to get "on property". We did a combo Bear and Whale watching excursion. Bear watching was mostly a bust - we might have seen a couple of bears scurrying off as we came to one of the viewing platforms ... might have been shadows. Whale watching - we did see some grey whales (I think that is the kind that migrates through the area), but we also were treated to a family of Orcas (which they say only happens occasionally). There are the requisite gift shops (only a one or two) and maybe a place to eat. The town (a ways away) is very small.

    We had a very fun zip line experience in Ketchikan. There's a mountain in Ketchikan that helps locals with the weather, if they can't see the top of the mountain, it's going to rain, if the can see the top of the mountain, it's going to rain (kinda like Phoenix in the summer time - it's going to be 115 every day)

    If the day is clear when you are in Juneau, take the tram up Roberts Point. We have whale watched here as well. You can take (or used to pre covid) public transportation out to Mendenhall Glacier. If you enjoy that and hiking, this is a good place to spend the day. We've never walked out to the glacier, just looked at it from the visitors center.

    But the best things we have done in Juneau were: summer dog sled camp (note: we are NOT "dog people", but these dogs are amazing. The short ride was a lot of fun!! Our guide actually has raced in the Iditarod, and they had "exhibits" about the race and dog sledding in general. The other really nice thing was that there were some pups that we got to cuddle. Again, not dog people but .... puppies. Now for the Bestest (sic) excursion - Flying in a sea plane from Juneau over 5 glaciers to Taku Lodge for lunch. The BEST Salmon we have ever had. And as a bonus the day we were there there was a Grandma, Mom and two bear cubs in a tree on the property - along with a couple of guys with long stick to encourage them to stay in the tree while we were there.
    What month did you sail? I wondered if it was when the salmon were running or not and whether that contributed to why you did not see bears on your Icy Straight Point bear tour.
     

    jrabbit

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 13, 2002
    What month did you sail? I wondered if it was when the salmon were running or not and whether that contributed to why you did not see bears on your Icy Straight Point bear tour.
    It was at the end July - through beginning of August ... we missed the birth of one of the grandkid by 3 days!!! Stinker arrive a week or 10 days early.
     

    LeslieG

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 22, 2005
    It was at the end July - through beginning of August ... we missed the birth of one of the grandkid by 3 days!!! Stinker arrive a week or 10 days early.
    We are booked on HAL for August of this year and was considering the bear excursion at Icy Straight Point. I thought there would be a better chance of seeing them when the salmon are running, but sounds like you were there at that time too but had no luck. I'm not sure if I want to take a chance on that or not. Thanks for the reply.
     

    Cheburashka

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2020
    Does anyone has any experience or suggestions with third party tour operators? Two adults and ports are Juneau/Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway, Icy Strait Point & Ketchikan.
    Our Alaska cruise port experiences seemed flawless. Here is what we did and I recommend all of it:

    Skagway:
    • There is a shuttle bus that to my recollection costs a few dollars cash (we went in 2018), and that goes past Skagway's major tourist spots. We got off at Jewell Gardens, for the glass blowing experience that we had independently booked directly with Jewell Gardens (you can book it via DCL for twice the cost). We had lunch in their nice cafe, then explored their gardens until it was time for the glass blowing. It was a very small group and we made beautiful ornaments that Jewell Gardens carefully mailed to our home for us (no extra charge) so that we wouldn't have to pack them. Great experience.
    • We could have caught the shuttle bus back to the pier but chose to walk instead, as Skagway is a cozy little town. As we walked back, we decided to stop at the Gold Rush Graveyard, and then in the back of that is Lower Reid Falls, which is also very pretty. Then we walked through the very small town back to the ship (but we could have caught the shuttle even there, as the Gold Rush Graveyard was also a stop).
    Juneau:
    • No pre-booked excursion. There is a free shuttle bus that takes cruisers from the pier to the tourist landing area (don't know what else to call it) in town. This shuttle only takes a few minutes to ride & you could easily walk the distance (we did on the way back).
    • Once you arrive at the tourist area, walk over to the stands where they're hawking bus rides to and from Mendenhall Glacier National Park, and buy one. These stands are very easy to find- they'll actually likely be calling out to you & asking you to buy- it's all good you're in the USA & they're legit. The bus will take you to Mendenhall Glacier, and will keep looping between there & the tourist landing area near the ship, so you can explore the glacier area independently and leave at your leisure. We much preferred this to doing a guided tour.
    • Once back in the tourist landing area near the ship, have lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack (it's right there). Line is typically out the door but it moves well and it's very good.
    • Then buy tickets for the Mount Roberts Tramway (it's right there, too) and take the tram to the top of the mountain, then hike the trails at your leisure, and come back down when you're ready.
    Ketchikan:
    • Island Wings Air Service to fly over Misty Fjords National Park (very experienced pilot & good views). Propellor planes are loud, so if you have very sensitive ears, this isn't for you. They do provide headphones.
     
    Last edited:

    belle032

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 6, 2011
    We stayed at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront when we cruised to Alaska in 2012. We walked right across the street to board our ship on the day of departure. If you stay there, I highly recommend eating at Elliott's which is right down the street - the seafood is amazing. Also, if you are docking in Juneau, highly recommend Tracey's King Crab Shack which is next to the Juneau public library - amazing!

    Just to add - Ketchikan is very walkable. If you don't pre-book a tour, you can generally find tour buses that will take you around to see the totem poles. We also booked the Lumberjack Show there - it was really fun!
    Thank you! It sounds like the Crab Shack is a must do and I'm glad to hear the Lumberjack Show is worthwhile, it looked fun! Looks like I can just book tickets directly through them, so no excursion needed.

    If you can find the Space Needle, you can find Chihuly ... like others have said it's really pretty and pretty awesome.

    Alaska Airlines is a very good carrier - so if you can get reasonable rates, then that's the way to go vs United/Delta et al. I believe that Southwest flies into SeaTac - but sometimes their fares are not the best ... and they're a "low cost carrier"

    Icy Strait Point - "is a port built by and for the cruise lines" - so I am not sure about any Independent Tour operators that are able to get "on property". We did a combo Bear and Whale watching excursion. Bear watching was mostly a bust - we might have seen a couple of bears scurrying off as we came to one of the viewing platforms ... might have been shadows. Whale watching - we did see some grey whales (I think that is the kind that migrates through the area), but we also were treated to a family of Orcas (which they say only happens occasionally). There are the requisite gift shops (only a one or two) and maybe a place to eat. The town (a ways away) is very small.

    We had a very fun zip line experience in Ketchikan. There's a mountain in Ketchikan that helps locals with the weather, if they can't see the top of the mountain, it's going to rain, if the can see the top of the mountain, it's going to rain (kinda like Phoenix in the summer time - it's going to be 115 every day)

    If the day is clear when you are in Juneau, take the tram up Roberts Point. We have whale watched here as well. You can take (or used to pre covid) public transportation out to Mendenhall Glacier. If you enjoy that and hiking, this is a good place to spend the day. We've never walked out to the glacier, just looked at it from the visitors center.

    But the best things we have done in Juneau were: summer dog sled camp (note: we are NOT "dog people", but these dogs are amazing. The short ride was a lot of fun!! Our guide actually has raced in the Iditarod, and they had "exhibits" about the race and dog sledding in general. The other really nice thing was that there were some pups that we got to cuddle. Again, not dog people but .... puppies. Now for the Bestest (sic) excursion - Flying in a sea plane from Juneau over 5 glaciers to Taku Lodge for lunch. The BEST Salmon we have ever had. And as a bonus the day we were there there was a Grandma, Mom and two bear cubs in a tree on the property - along with a couple of guys with long stick to encourage them to stay in the tree while we were there.
    Oh we are definitely booking something with the dogs! Our cruise line does offer an excursion (I think in Juneau or Skagway) and I already have it in my "cart" to buy it. DH and I are total dog people and this looked so fun and so unique to Alaska! I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed it!
     

    belle032

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 6, 2011
    Our Alaska cruise port experiences seemed flawless. Here is what we did and I recommend all of it:

    Skagway:
    • There is a shuttle bus that to my recollection costs a few dollars cash (we went in 2018), and that goes past Skagway's major tourist spots. We got off at Jewell Gardens, for the glass blowing experience that we had independently booked directly with Jewell Gardens (you can book it via DCL for twice the cost). We had lunch in their nice cafe, then explored their gardens until it was time for the glass blowing. It was a very small group and we made beautiful ornaments that Jewell Gardens carefully mailed to our home for us (no extra charge) so that we wouldn't have to pack them. Great experience.
    • We could have caught the shuttle bus back to the pier but chose to walk instead, as Skagway is a cozy little town. As we walked back, we decided to stop at the Gold Rush Graveyard, and then in the back of that is Lower Reid Falls, which is also very pretty. Then we walked through the very small town back to the ship (but we could have caught the shuttle even there, as the Gold Rush Graveyard was also a stop).
    Juneau:
    • No pre-booked excursion. There is a free shuttle bus that takes cruisers from the pier to the tourist landing area (don't know what else to call it) in town. This shuttle only takes a few minutes to ride & you could easily walk the distance (we did on the way back).
    • Once you arrive at the tourist area, walk over to the stands where they're hawking bus rides to and from Mendenhall Glacier National Park, and buy one. These stands are very easy to find- they'll actually likely be calling out to you & asking you to buy- it's all good you're in the USA & they're legit. The bus will take you to Mendenhall Glacier, and will keep looping between there & the tourist landing area near the ship, so you can explore the glacier area independently and leave at your leisure. We much preferred this to doing a guided tour.
    • Once back in the tourist landing area near the ship, have lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack (it's right there). Line is typically out the door but it moves well and it's very good.
    • Then buy tickets for the Mount Roberts Tramway (it's right there, too) and take the tram to the top of the mountain, then hike the trails at your leisure, and come back down when you're ready.
    Ketchikan:
    • Island Wings Air Service to fly over Misty Fjords National Park (very experienced pilot & good views). Propellor planes are loud, so if you have very sensitive ears, this isn't for you.
    I will definitely check into these! Our port days are long, so I feel like we have the ability to accomplish quite a bit. I'm pretty obsessed with Christmas ornaments, so that sounds like a really neat experience.

    That plan sounds great for Juneau-it seemed like Mendenhall was something that could be done completely on our own, so I'm glad to hear it can. And easily at that.
     

    nancipants

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 18, 2013
    We did a sled dog excursion in the afternoon in Skagway. It was amazing. In the morning we just walked around port on our own, it’s very small and walkable.

    In Juneau we took a shuttle to the glacier and walked out to the falls. We had lunch at a restaurant right near the pier. In the afternoon we did the tramway.

    In Ketchikan we walked around on our own and did the lumberjack show.
     

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