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Icy strait or skagway?

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We are looking at a cruise to Alaska out of Seattle. My question is which do you think is preferable, Icy Strait or Skagway?  Is there much difference?  Also, how was the Bliss for those that have sailed on her to Alaska?  Any other info is appreciated. Thank you!!

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We have done Skagway two times and ISP once. I would pick Skagway if you have never been there as  there is a lot more to do. 

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I have not been to ISP but love Skagway - also agree that Glacier Bay is best for a first time cruise.

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ALL  these choices are excellent    -   it depends on YOU and what you are looking for out of your trip.    I also do not make any  "must"   claims,   like some of the above.   ALL of Alaska is worthwhile to see.      So,  I suggest with the OP asking the specifics about these 2 ports-   that you take a look at how-    YOU are going to occupy your port time -  what tours you are going to select and which choices are your preference.     A good place to start-   is your shore excursion  list,  and also the visitor web site,   for Hoonah and Skagway.     Plenty to see and do.    

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Have been to both

 

ISP - has a fabulous Zip Line from what I hear it is the highest and longest run in Alaska

         Was a tender port now has a pier

         At the port there is an old salmon canning museum very interesting

         There are some 19 SXs - whale watching - hiking wilderness tours - zodiac boat rides -

         kayak lessons - ATV and jeep rides and the aforementioned zip line(s)

         LINK:

https://www.ncl.com/shore-excursions/search?destination=Alaska+Cruises&port=ICY

 

Skagway - the main excursion here is the White Pass & Yukon RR trips to the Canadian

         border and beyond with motor coach combinations and variations -

         There are some 36 SXs - way too many to mention - go to the NCL site LINK:

https://www.ncl.com/shore-excursions/search?destination=Alaska+Cruises&port=SGY&sort=searchWeight&sortOrder=asc&perPage=12&startingRecord=24

 

Not all the excursions operate with every cruise and at the beginning and end of the cruise season there may

be schedule changes and adjustments i.e. Was on the WP&Y RR booked in the Parlor car and it was cancelled

the rest of the train did operate with fewer cars.

 

I believe the NCL JOY and the JEWEL are the ships doing both of these ports alternately check your itinerary

for which is doing what. The BLISS does not do ISP.

I suspect with a ship as large as the JOY that many excursions are going to be sold out in a hurry - both ISP

and Skagway are set up for small groups excursions i.e. 20-30 people (Skagway WP&Y RR exception train load) 

 

Having a choice of only one port it would be Skagway hands down

 

Really wish that NCL would port call at Stika (the old Russian Capitol of Alaska).

But NCL doesn't so one would have to take a cruise on either Princess or Holland-America.

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I've been to both, and I'd avoid Icy Strait, or not get off the ship. The old cannery is interesting, and yeah the zip line's looked fun unless your like me and have a serious fear of height's. The one knock I heard on the zip lines came from the tour guide for the ATV ride (which I'd avoid) she said 40 minute bus ride for 90 seconds of zip line. All of the excursion's are run by the same company, so what you see is what your get. The nice thing about Icy Strait is none of the jewelry shops that are in all the other ports, and they want to keep it that way, which I agree with. 

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8 minutes ago, RD29P5 said:

I've been to both, and I'd avoid Icy Strait, or not get off the ship. The old cannery is interesting, and yeah the zip line's looked fun unless your like me and have a serious fear of height's. The one knock I heard on the zip lines came from the tour guide for the ATV ride (which I'd avoid) she said 40 minute bus ride for 90 seconds of zip line. All of the excursion's are run by the same company, so what you see is what your get. The nice thing about Icy Strait is none of the jewelry shops that are in all the other ports, and they want to keep it that way, which I agree with. 

"All of the excursions"    are NOT run by the same company.   There are multiple  independent vendors,   including some of the ship excursions.    Yes the Native Corp  does operate the Icy Strait-  compound.    It is very   nicely planned out actually.    So obviously I do not agree with the above.    There is plenty to see and do here.   

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Posted (edited)

I actually really liked both ports but for different reasons.  We were with Royal Caribbean in June 2016.  Skagway had a huge variety of areas to enjoy.  We took a dog sled tour that brought us up into the mountains on a "unimog" to see summer dog training.  Very cool and informative with amazing views (cool moss carpets on forest floors and panoramic vistas from atop the mountain).  Then we also took a horseback riding tour through Dyea flats, a beautiful grassland valley created by a glacier - gorgeous scenery and wildlife.  Both were tours booked separately through Alaska Excursions.  

 

ISP/Hoonah has the newly constructed pier as mentioned.  The whole area has a way more laid back vibe than the tourist traps of the other ports.  We enjoyed our time with the Tlingit people.  The cannery was fun to walk around in and there was a nice walking/hiking park area to the left once you crossed the pier walkway.  My kids spent literally hours playing in the rocks along the pier by the cannery finding shells and little crabs and things.  The girls (including my 65 year old mother) took the longest zipline tour.  Even the longest zipline is over in a few minutes, but it was well-done and the ride up was informative.  My son and husband wandered around and found a place to rent little 2-seater arctic cat vehicles (I think it was Hoonah Travel adventures).  No tour, just hop in and explore.  It comes equipped with a GPS with some pre-programmed destinations and maps (and directions to get back to the shop).  They loved it and saw some creatures and cruised around the mountain roads.  

Edited by GetMeOutOfMN

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ICY for 'private' whale watching in 5-12 pax boats --  avoid the 150 pax boats.  Skagway for train and great bars up the street from Red Dog

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ISP also has a huge coastal brown bear population. If you hit it at salmon run times, you can see a lot of bears.

 

With that said, having been to both, I would pick Skagway and not look back.

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