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hypechick

Where to begin with booking excursions?

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Ugh, figuring out excursions is an overwhelming (but Happy) pursuit. Are there good sites or links for where to do the research on independent excursions. We are on the Ruby Princess Aug 15. Ports are Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. I'm not that concerned about Victoria since we're from Seattle and can go anytime. We've got teens from 12-21, middle agers and 2 seniors. We're open to active and adventurous options. I'd love for the teens to do research and help make decisions. I'm just trying to narrow down the field a bit. Thanks!

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Take a read down the board. Each and every port in Alaska is covered extensively here, with everything available. Private tour vendors are frequently mentioned.

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I used Tripadvisor, as I've used for most of my land vacations.  Then I went to the websites of the companies I was interested in. It became obvious very quickly that there are several tours offered independently that are exactly or almost exactly the same as the ones offered by the cruise line b/c they are the contracted company offering the tour (in my case this is Princess).   Oh and I should say that my first step was to look at the offerings by Princess for each of those ports.  I also got a lot of my ideas from this forum.  A lot of people post here asking things like "what are the must do excursions" and then get a lot of responses that it's about what you want to do.  I agree:  I'm not into things like hiking or kayaking so I stayed away from that and still found more than enough options.  I think involving your kids is great!  Just be sure that you look over things first and get a budget in mind.  Many of the Alaskan excursions are shockingly expensive, especially ones that involve helicopters or float planes.  But you can often find a non air version of a similar thing if you want at  a much lower cost.  I did that by choosing to do a sled dog excursion on land instead of flying to a glacier.  It's a $450 per person difference.

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Agree 100% with Tripadvisor -- that site will typically have by far the largest number of reviews.  I look through the ship excursions, see what interests me, then go to Tripadvisor, and also just Google the name of the activity and 'review'.  You will get tons of info!  I cringe when I see the 'what is the best thing/must do/not to miss' posts on here and other sites.  My activity level, interests, age, and lifestyle could be completely different from the person answering, so their 'must do' might me my 'meh'.  I don't think there is a 'must do' anywhere, other than what appeals to YOU and your family.  Sounds like you are on the right track by doing your research now and involving the other people on your trip!  Enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

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Best resource ..... past trip reports posted near the top of this forum.  You'll find MANY first-hand recommendations posted by past travellers.   As well as photos to give you a good idea of what the excursion is like.

 

Also look at the town web site and download their Visitor Guide.

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2639556-2019-resources-for-planning-a-visit-to-alaska/

 

Tripadvisor is great but be careful that you're booking from the actual vendor not the middleman.

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Ketch, crab boat tour,

Juneau, humpback whale watch & glacier walk to falls.

 Skag, helo to dog sled on glacier, or cheaper helo to glacier without the dogs, or cheaper White Pass RR or cheaper rental van & drive to Yukon. 

Have everyone view youtubes of what you are thinking about. Everything will be there but watch the most current. 

Just be sitting down when you see the costs and it is very likely more than the cruise costs. 

sightcrr

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2 hours ago, mapleleaves said:

 

Tripadvisor is great but be careful that you're booking from the actual vendor not the middleman.

I don't think people are advocating BOOKING with Tripadvisor, but rather using that site to do research, per the OP's original question.  

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10 minutes ago, Paula_MacFan said:

I don't think people are advocating BOOKING with Tripadvisor, but rather using that site to do research, per the OP's original question.  

 

Yes I understand that.  I'm just saying that some of the companies listed on tripadvisor are middlemen not the actually tour operator.

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For Juneau I would look at helicopter and whale watching excursions. Also the tram (can buy tickets there if desired). For Skagway I would look at ziplines and/or the train. Ketchikan is usually a shorter day and has the totem park and some scenic boat tours. Also great shopping (reasonable souvenirs and sweatpants/jackets if needed). 

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It can be overwhelming.  I'd get a read on each port separately.  What is about each one that looks interesting.  

I did a lot of possibilities before narrowing.  What might be fun to someone else might not as much be for you.  Also, budget really determines things.

 

Keitchan: Misty Fjords flightseeing is cool.  The general boardwalk shopping, history is neat.

Juneau: whale watching or glacier walking.  I've done helicopter to glacier with a tour, really cool.  This year, I'm doing Tracy Arm (you need long port time for this)

Skagaway: Train/bus combo.  There's some variety of themes around the yukon or history.

 

After I write my "interesting stuff" list, I take a city at a time and book something before moving to the next.

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It's a lot, I know! We're on the Ruby at the end of June, and also did this itinerary about 5 years ago. This time we have a teen, a tween, two elementary school kids, a preschooler, 6 middle aged folks, and one senior. Trip Advisor is a great place to research, and you can also find good recommendations on travel websites like Fodor's (with more professional reviews).  Our plans right now:

Juneau - helicopter to glacier with dog sled (this is consistently listed as one of the top excursions, and glaciers are melting, so do it while you can. We booked independently with the same company that does Princess' excursion).  You can also catch a bus out to Mendenhall and do a nice hike to see the glacier. There's a great interpretive center. We did that last time, when our kids were smaller, and the littles in our group are doing that this time (the teen and tween are mine).

 

Skagway - Yukon Rail & Bus (bus first, it starts later in the morning, train views often better in afternoon) booked independently. We did this last time as well, and everyone loved it. It also makes a great excursion for our wide age range to enjoy together.

 

Ketchikan - still working on this one. Probably Misty Fjords by boat for the older kids. The littles are doing the lumberjack show (our kids loved it when they were younger). Wandering and exploring town are great if you haven't been there, and I think there is some hiking accessible from town.

 

Victoria - we are staying on the ship! We're also from the Seattle area (Kirkland), and we sprang for a suite this time, since our kids are enormous and we wanted the aft balcony. So, we're going to enjoy it while we can. The first time we cruised we did go into town, since our kids hadn't been there before, but now they've been to Victoria a few times, and it's easy to go again.  Plus, the port is at night, so not much to do in terms of seeing the gardens or having tea. A pub crawl might be fun, though 😉

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