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Recommended Excursions for Alaskan Cruise

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Since there are so many experienced and knowledgeable Alaskan cruisers here, I am hoping some of you will give your excursion recommendations based on personal experience. I am overwhelmed by all of the options at each port! My husband and I would enjoy something that includes wildlife viewings, glaciers or other must-see sights. We will be there end of July and stopping at the following ports:

 

-Ketchikan

-Juneau

-Icy Straight (Hoonah)

-Victoria BC

 

Not looking for recommendations on the really expensive items (ex. private bear viewing for $3700), let's say excursions that are less than $500 per person. Also, any tips in terms of booking would be hugely helpful (online in advance of the trip, on the ship, once we step off the ship at the port).Thank you!

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YOU  first need to take a look at your shore excursion list and significantly narrow down your interests.   Your current "list"  involves,  hundreds of tours.     Especially your "must see" reference.   Which is ALL of Alaska.   and would take way more than a single trip.

 

IF wildlife is a priority,  then-  now-  search various Ketchikan float plane vendors for Anan permits,  availability.    At this point later in the game,  it doesn't matter the vendor.    lists-   www.visit-ketchikan.com       In Juneau-   look for a whale watch boat tour-  100% sightings of humpbacks,    Victoria--   an Orca whale watch-  most likely will have to be through the ship with your late arrival. 

 

Unfortunately some Seattle itineraries,  are short on port times,   but if possible do a combo in Juneau- with a Mendenhall Glacier visit-   I only recommend independent- with the transit-  direct between  the whale watch and glacier.    Nugget and Trail of Time trails are especially highlights there.  

 

As noted,   go to the Alaska ports of call board.   

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I second the recommendation to head over to the Alaska forum.

 

But so long as you are here, In Juneau I strongly recommend a whale watch if that interests you. Check out Alaska Humpback Adventures, Captain Steve Olmstead.  His boat will take up to 6 passengers so very personal tour.  Steve is a great guy and has been doing Whale watch tours for many years - he knows his stuff. 

 

The tour operators are very reliable in Alaska, I would not limit myself to just ship excursions look also at 3rd parties.

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Ketchikan- Wilderness Explorer & Crab Feast

Skagway - Dyea Dave to Emerald Lake

Juneau - take bus to Mendenhall & walk trail to Nugget Falls

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Ketchikan  - visit Creek Street (easy walking) Check out Tongass Trading Co for AK clothing and other trinkets. There are also buses out to the Totem Bite and Totem Park areas. Expensive tours include any of the flight seeing tours into Misty Fjords NP.

That said, July is during the salmon run and the potential for bear sightings increases - which would make the Misty Fjords a good way to spot bears.

 

Juneau - this is whale watching territory - book a tour either with the line or with one of the private vendors.

 

IPS - never been there.

 

Also try www.cruiseportinsider.com for more info about these and other ports.

 

Also make sure that your cruise is going to IPS and not Skagway - I believe that the Joy is alternating between the two.

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1 hour ago, bonvoyagie said:

Ketchikan  - 

That said, July is during the salmon run and the potential for bear sightings increases - which would make the Misty Fjords a good way to spot bears.

 

For clarification-   "Misty Fjords"    is not a "good way"   to spot bears.    It is rare to see a bear with a Misty Fiords flight.       Essential   is to KNOW locations,  and go during peak runs.    I already posted this above-   with Anan.   End of July is also the start for  Neets Bay,  but Anan would always be my preference.   

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I agree that you need to visit the Alaska Board.

 

Here is what we did:

Juneau--private 6-person whale watching,there are a lot of providers that you could google

Ketchikan--Bering Sea Crab Fishermen; Saxman Village

ISP--Glacier Wind Wildlife Boat Tour

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In Juneau, we booked Emerald Taxi for $70 per hour. You get your own vehicle for as long as you book and they will take you wherever you want to go. We had them take us to Mendenhall Glacier. 

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So,,, I am not familiar with the itinerary and where you go for “scenic glacier watching”. If you head to the Sawyer or Dawes glaciers on the Juneu afternoon, then the Glacier Explorer Cruise is a must do. There are a few pics from this year starting at post 243

 

 

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11 hours ago, mnventure said:

In Juneau, we booked Emerald Taxi for $70 per hour. You get your own vehicle for as long as you book and they will take you wherever you want to go. We had them take us to Mendenhall Glacier. 

Sorry....typo. We used EverGreen Taxi in Juneau. 

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I would do one flight seeing trip and one whale watch. Those are pretty much the only must do things at your particular ports.

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In Skagway I highly recommend the eagle preserve float. We saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 eagles. Bear have been seen frequently though we didn't see any, we did see sign's of bear activity.  

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3 minutes ago, RD29P5 said:

In Skagway I highly recommend the eagle preserve float. We saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 eagles. Bear have been seen frequently though we didn't see any, we did see sign's of bear activity.  

This isn't Skagway-   it is in Haines.    Bears are more common being seen,  mid August and later due to the late salmon runs.   Best way for success,  is to have a rental car,  and invest a LOT of time up and down the Chilkoot River,  to the lake.   This is NOT where the float trips are.  

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1 hour ago, RD29P5 said:

In Skagway I highly recommend the eagle preserve float. We saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 eagles. Bear have been seen frequently though we didn't see any, we did see sign's of bear activity.  

 

1 hour ago, Budget Queen said:

This isn't Skagway-   it is in Haines.    Bears are more common being seen,  mid August and later due to the late salmon runs.   Best way for success,  is to have a rental car,  and invest a LOT of time up and down the Chilkoot River,  to the lake.   This is NOT where the float trips are.  

OP isn't going to Skagway.

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Victoria - Butchart Gardens.  Seriously, it's rated in the top 10 gardens in the world.  55 of the 135 acres is accessible to the public and doesn't have a bad time of year after Mid April.  It costs 33 dollars Cdn to get into the gardens, cruise ships usually charge around 99 to 120 US to go, including transportation.  If you want no hassle do this. They give you 2 hours to the minute to see the gardens and if you miss the bus, well now you're taking the taxi.  IF you have 2, 3, or 4 people I would save yourself a bunch of money and take a taxi/cab from Ogden point (cruise ship dock) or from downtown to the Gardens, and take one back when you're done.  Taxi fare is about 70 ish Cdn each way and takes the same amount of time or less than the bus.  So if the timings work for the bus tour, a taxi can do it also.   You can do the bus thing but that is not great for timings.  Now all this depends on how long you're in Victoria.  Some ships come in and stay for 10-12 hours, some just drop by for 4 to 6 hours (to meet the Jones Act rules).  If you have a late night departure I would suggest taking your trip out to the Gardens around 5 pm.  It starts to quiet down around that time.  That way you can spend some of the day visiting downtown.  And I know it sounds cliche but if you are downtown and have the time, visit the Royal BC Museum, it really is worth the visit.  

Yes, I'm a Butchart fan, my family buys seasons passes each year.  Spring for bulbs (they plant over 350 000 each year) Roses Late June and through July, Fall...wow, and Christmas for the lights.  (check the website).  Also, if time allows, take the 45 min tour boat ride from the bottom of the Japanese Garden at Butchart.  It's an extra 20 bucks but you'll have a great time, learn some history, see some sea life and relax your tootsies after a walk around the gardens.  BTW a casual stroll takes about 90 minutes to see all the gardens.

Avoid the English Pub tours.  You can go to the Bard and Banker, and Irish Times (across the street from each other) downtown on Government St. (main tourist area) and sample all the beers the tour provides eat a big meal and still pay less than the cost on one person on the tour.   Hop on Hop off bus is a good way to see all of the Victoria areas also.

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The tours my DH & I did were:-

-Ketchikan -Misty Fjord Flight then walked to Creek Street

-Juneau -Helicopter to a Glacier & dog sled (definitely worth the money. We also had to pay an extra 50% due to DH's weight) then caught a taxi to Mendenhall Glacier and the bus back

-Icy Straight (Hoonah) -whale watching cruise was so so. We didn't see ANY wildlife on our wildlife tour in May

-Victoria BC -Butchart Gardens and Craigdarroch Castle

 

It's a shame you aren't going to Skagway. We did the railway and bus tour. We were dropped off at the airport and flew over Glacier Bay, beyond amazing.

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Juneau - we did Tracy arm excursion which was one of our favorites, great way to get up close to glacier.  We had also done Mendenhall glacier/photo safari/whale watch in the morning, which was wonderful.  Loved the scenery on all, even during the journeys looking for whales & glaciers.  Both were through NCL.  

 

Tip - WARM clothes and warm gloves for Tracy arm, it was freezing on deck, but the cabin was heated - but at the glacier you are going to want to be on deck!

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