Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Worldtraveler33

Which shore excursions in Alaska

Recommended Posts

Hello

 

we will be traveling on the Norwegian jewel from June 24 from Seward to Vancouver. 

 

Unfortunately, we do not go to Glacier Bay. We stop at icy point. I don’t know if it is worth to take the plane for a 2 hour flight to glacier bay or wait and pick a cruise that goes to glacier bay next time. The alternative excursion would be the whale watching. 

 

Also for Ketchikan, I’m between the lumbar jack show and touring the tone versus taking the float plane to Misty fords. I have the special $50 port credit with Norwegian. They don’t offer a float plane. Just the boat tour and the reviews are mixed. We were considering booking our own excursion. 

 

Finally in Skagway, , we wanted to do the trip to Haines and the chillroot kayake but hear the Yukon train is also a must see. 

 

Any tils or asvice ice would be appreciated. Thank you 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Go back and do Glacier Bay on the ship. You need to spend all day there.

 

NO comparison between the lumberjack show and a float plane to Misty Fjord. Float plane all day every day!

 

I'd say for the first time to Skagway, the train is the way to go.

 

This is all based on 5 Alaska cruises with the 6th coming in September.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Float Plane to Misty in Ketchikan , White Pass RR in Skagway and a Helicopter to a glacier if you can squeeze that in.

Glacier bay best viewed from your cruise ship , all day ,someday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband and I have cruised Alaska twice, once just us and once with our kids. We both preferred Hubbard Glacier to Glacier Bay, and our family's all-time favorite shore excursion was the sled-dog camp in Skagway. There's one in Juneau too, but after reading a lot of reviews between the two, we chose Skagway and were not disappointed.

 

We did a bear tour in Icy Strait Point that was pretty cool, but man we rode far into the middle of nowhere for it. Don't drink anything before you go. We went through an independent operator though, I think it was Hoonah Travel Adventures, guided by an indigenous local who knew all about the area.

 

For both Skagway and Icy Strait Point, there is really nothing to do unless you have an excursion. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have done totems in Ketchikan x3, train in Skagway x2, and whales in Juneau x2. The only reason all are not x3 is that last cruise did not go to Skagway and first cruise we did whales in Seward not Juneau.

 

If you can afford to do small plane trip in Ketchikan, go for it, but the totems, particularly Totem Bight where you walk in OLD FOREST, are not to be looked down on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have also taken 5 AK cruises with #6 coming up in September.

 

Like most, we booked excursions at most of the port stops on our first cruise.  We had no idea 25 years ago that we would be back so many more times.  As a rule we now do most of our port visiting by foot, but, generally, we book one port excursion per cruise.  We have only made one stop at Icy Point Strait, and, I have to say, it has moved up to the #1 AK port stop on my list. We booked a combination Whale Watching/Bear Search through the cruise line.  The Whale Watch was outstanding--numerous humpbacks including one, very spectacular, breach.  The Bear Search, however, was a true highlight.  I was interested in the comments regarding the Bear Search by a previous poster.  We did not travel that far from town--maybe, 45 minutes.  We left the bus and followed a path into the forest, a bit, and along a river.  It was not a difficult walk, at all.  However, I don't think it could not be competed by somebody relying on a walker or even, maybe, a cane.  We did spot a bear feeding in the river.  So, that was, pretty cool.  On the bus ride back to town, as we approached a bridge over a river (may have been the same one we walked along), there were numerous parked cars and people standing on the bridge.  Sure enough, there was another bear in the river.  So, the bus stopped and we were able to take more pictures.

 

Some trivia on the bears.  They are Coastal Brown Bears and, according to our docent, they are the largest bears in the world. (If that is local hyperbolic pride, so what?)  They are isolated on these three islands, and, interestingly, scientists have found that they have almost as much Polar Bear DNA as that from their Brown Bear cousins on the mainland.

 

Yes, being a man of a certain age, I did make sure I stopped off at the men's room before I boarded that bus.

 

Here is the thing I truly love about Icy Strait Point/Hoonah.  All the businesses are locally owned.  Everybody we met tried very hard to make us tourists feel welcome.  The docent on the Bear Search was terrific.  It was apparent to me that she had worked very hard in developing her presentation.  She had interesting information and stories for both directions of the bus trip.

 

I have difficulty with the concept of "must see."  The worst of our five previous AK cruises was wonderful.  Do not succumb to FOMO.  You are going to have a great cruise and will see awesome natural beauty.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/16/2019 at 4:41 PM, emory2001 said:

My husband and I have cruised Alaska twice, once just us and once with our kids. We both preferred Hubbard Glacier to Glacier Bay, and our family's all-time favorite shore excursion was the sled-dog camp in Skagway. There's one in Juneau too, but after reading a lot of reviews between the two, we chose Skagway and were not disappointed.

 

We did a bear tour in Icy Strait Point that was pretty cool, but man we rode far into the middle of nowhere for it. Don't drink anything before you go. We went through an independent operator though, I think it was Hoonah Travel Adventures, guided by an indigenous local who knew all about the area.

 

For both Skagway and Icy Strait Point, there is really nothing to do unless you have an excursion. 

Did you do the helicopter tour to the sled dog camp? If so, which company did you use?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to disagree with Skagway having nothing to do if you hsven't booked an excursion.  There's a great museum and lots of locally owned shops when you get off of the main street. And it's extremely walkable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also some great hiking around Skagway. A lot of folks go to the Gold Rush Cemetery and Lower Reid Falls. We did that hike on our last cruise to Alaska then kept walking to the Jewell Gardens. We went around Dyea Road, where there's a great overlook of the ships and town, over to Yakutania Point and then walked across the pedestrian bridge by the airport to get back into town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We just got back from a RCI cruise from Seward to Vancouver.  We did a whale watching dinner cruise in Juneau, which was AMAZING with all the wildlife we saw.   In Skagway, we did the "sled dog summer camp", where you actually get pulled through the woods in a sled on wheels. Puppy contact, too!!!     So much fun!!!  (We've also done the White Pass railway in Skagway, which is also very scenic.)   Ketchikan, the lumberjack show is fun, also the tour out to Saxman Native Village.   Any tour in Ketchikan that also includes the all you can eat crab feast at the lodge is also fantastic.   Don't bother with the duck boats.   You get a quick tour of town, and not much to see on the water.  

 

Saying that, we ALWAYS book our excursions through the ship.   Yes, it's more expensive, but you have the security of knowing that the ship will wait for you.   The whale watching cruise in Juneau this time, we were the last excursion back, and because my partner needed a wheelchair to get back to the ship, they were literally closing the door behind us.   No guarantees with independent tours.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, taclkc said:

Did you do the helicopter tour to the sled dog camp? If so, which company did you use?

It was the Royal Caribbean excursion. We went up the mountain in a semi-open military-style vehicle. I don't know what they are called.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/18/2019 at 1:56 PM, emory2001 said:

It was the Royal Caribbean excursion. We went up the mountain in a semi-open military-style vehicle. I don't know what they are called.

 Yes...   That's the one.   It's called the "Musher's Camp and Sled Dog Adventure".  As I mentioned, they drive you out  to a "husky summer camp." where the mushers send their dogs for the summer.   You ride in a "unimog" which is a large vehicle, (kinda like a cross between a tractor and an SUV), up the hill, to where the dogs pull you through the woods in a sled on wheels.   So much fun.   The dogs are so excited about pulling the sleds, as that is what they are bred to do.  

 

Back in Skagway, take the brothel tour at the Red Onion Saloon.   A "madam" in period costume, takes you through the upstairs, shows you through the rooms, and tells stories.   It's a pretty short tour, but it's not expensive, and it's fun.   They say how it was.   They don't glamorize it.  

 

For lunch, I'd stay away from Northern Lights Pizzeria.   It's pretty hard to #%)^# up salmon in Alaska, but they managed to pull it off.   Battered and fried salmon and chips.   You just don't *do* that to salmon.  

 

Anyway, this was my third trip to Skagway.   I like the port a lot.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Skagway has a great free walking tour provided by the Park Service.  We also take Chilkoot Tours for the van ride up to the Youkon/train down which includes lunch at the northern outpost with petting zoo and summer dog sled camp providing a nice opportunity to snuggle a pup and watch the dogs go wild hoping they’ll be selected to pull the cart.  Ketchikan offers a unique opportunity for snorkeling in an nice thick wetsuit - what a change from the warm-water critters!  Juneau has very affordable buses available to drop you at Mendenhall glacier for a terrific romp through the area - great option if you are on a budget.  

 

Alaska is remarkable and our favorite cruise area - have a great trip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/16/2019 at 4:41 PM, emory2001 said:

My husband and I have cruised Alaska twice, once just us and once with our kids. We both preferred Hubbard Glacier to Glacier Bay, and our family's all-time favorite shore excursion was the sled-dog camp in Skagway. There's one in Juneau too, but after reading a lot of reviews between the two, we chose Skagway and were not disappointed.

 

We did a bear tour in Icy Strait Point that was pretty cool, but man we rode far into the middle of nowhere for it. Don't drink anything before you go. We went through an independent operator though, I think it was Hoonah Travel Adventures, guided by an indigenous local who knew all about the area.

 

For both Skagway and Icy Strait Point, there is really nothing to do unless you have an excursion. 

 

We felt the same way about Hubbard Glacier.  It was *the* highlight of that cruise from Vancouver to Seward, and yes, that cruise also included Glacier Bay.

 

Glacier Bay was a beautiful, beautiful place.  Very peaceful.  Totally unspoiled, a real treat.

But Hubbard Glacier... the day we were there, there was SO much calving, and the ship was so close (or so it seemed)!  

The glacial calving in Glacier Bay was not much at all by comparison.

 

And our ship just stayed a very long time right in front of Hubbard Glacier, slowly turning so everyone had a chance to see it... round and round (not fast, obviously).

And then, an extra little treat [Possible SPOILER ALERT]... when we sailed away from Hubbard Glacier, we sailed into that very narrow channel to the port/left side of the little island there.  We all wanted to inhale, to make ourselves thinner.  It didn't seem there was any possible way for a relatively large ship (not a mega ship, however) to fit through that... but fit through it we did.

 

We had a wonderful private excursion, from Juneau,  with little hovercraft heading out to totally isolated areas to walk on the front edge of a glacier (forgetting the name).  That and the sailing at Hubbard Glacier were by far the two highlights of our cruise, although it was all truly memorable.


GC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/24/2019 at 12:26 PM, GeezerCouple said:

 

We felt the same way about Hubbard Glacier.  It was *the* highlight of that cruise from Vancouver to Seward, and yes, that cruise also included Glacier Bay.

 

Glacier Bay was a beautiful, beautiful place.  Very peaceful.  Totally unspoiled, a real treat.

But Hubbard Glacier... the day we were there, there was SO much calving, and the ship was so close (or so it seemed)!  

The glacial calving in Glacier Bay was not much at all by comparison.

 

And our ship just stayed a very long time right in front of Hubbard Glacier, slowly turning so everyone had a chance to see it... round and round (not fast, obviously).

 

 

We go so close to Hubbard Glacier, I swore I heard Celine Dion start singing in the background. 😂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with the Quark Expeditions Team!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...