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Feb 7th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
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How far in advance is it suggested to book shore excursions ?? In talking with HA, they indicated that when you book excursions credit card gets charged at once. I am not going until 9/4 so hate to have to lay out money now. Appreciate any thoughts.
nygvic is offline  
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Feb 8th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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You don't have to book them far far in advance unless it's something very special that you really don't want to miss (a flight over a specific glacier, or perhaps a grizzly-bear trip by float plane). But the truth is that with the weather being as unpredictable as it can be in September, it might behoove you to simply wait and book everything (or at least most everything) on site. All the same tour operators line up at the ports and take you on the same trips (often with the same cruise passengers) for half the price. That way if it's raining and you don't want to go on an excursion that day you won't feel compelled to.
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Feb 8th, 2010, 11:15 AM
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Two trips to Alaska on HAL and only used the ship shore excursion once...mostly because I didn't know better at the time. There are tons of tour operators who will,IMHO. give you as good, or better an experience, for less money. On our Sept. trip we missed one stop because of weather and many shore excursions did not go in Juneau because of really nasty weather.
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Feb 8th, 2010, 12:42 PM
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So your thoughts are that booking thru HAL actually works out more expensive ?? Really appreciate the feedback !!
nygvic is offline  
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Feb 8th, 2010, 03:57 PM
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In Alaska especially, shore excursions booked on the ship are almost always more expensive
doug_stallings is offline  
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Feb 8th, 2010, 04:04 PM
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Been their 4 times and what the people are saying is true - ship booked excursions are more expensive, HOWEVER, remember if you go off the ship and somehow you missed the ship,s departure time - they will NOT hold the ship for you - you are on your own. If you take a ship,s excursion they WILL hold the ship for you - sometimes peace of mind is a small price to pay. Enjoy!!!
ronko is offline  
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Feb 9th, 2010, 07:28 AM
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Cruise lines mark up shore exursions by about 35%, so it is a good idea to book directly. Excursions booked directly also tend to be less crowded and more personal as well. Sites called Viator.com, shoretrips.com, and portpromotions.com all sell trips, or you can search on your own based on what you want to do and book directly.

The only "gotcha" is the one Ronko points out: if the timing for getting back to the ship is within an hour of sailing, you might want to spend the extra $ and book via the line.

The following article summarizes a Princess passenger survey rating the best Alaska shore trips. Well worth a read before you choose:


Good luck!
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Feb 10th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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After a few cruises anywhere, I as convinced that ship,d excursions are not the best value. Recalling several trips, the trips we did from the docks, stand out only to be exceeded by the ones we did ourselves. Most tours will offer "an opportunity for shopping." I've found that this means that at least a third of the alloted time is spent as a captive audience in a remote t-shirt store. It is not always possible to escape this even with a tour from the docks. We have had our guide skip significant sights to hurry us to a store or shopping areas. Often the stores are low quality. We had a tour on a Caribbean island take us to a shabby shopping area of virtually no interest. We were there for at least an hour. Then about a mile down nthe road, on our way to the next stop, we passed through a large area of very nice, quality shops. As noted book through the cruise line only if necessary. Virtually all tours they offer are available at the last minute on the ship. Maybe not helicopter rides, but most else. And don't be afraid to complain about an inadequate experience. I did and received a discount.
Aristotle is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 04:24 PM
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We're leaving for Alaska in June on HA for the 14 day tour. Anyone have experience with this one? Also, our first time to Alaska so, of course, what to wear?I love my jeans and plan on wearing them alot along with long sleeve turtle neck shirts...good choice? longjohns? what tours did you experience? we already booked the one whale watching tour, on our own. I'd also love to know about wonderful restaurants in the different cities. Should we hire our own guides on shore?
shadiladi is offline  
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Jun 5th, 2012, 06:53 AM
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you will be going at the tail end of the season.most on-shore operators will probably have cut rate deals because they're closing shop soon. i know that flight tours of Misty Fjords out of Ketchikan usually have lower rates by September. more importantly, weather plays a big factor.
you'll do alright to book your own trips once ashore that late in the season.
Gonzo_Kerouac is offline  
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Jun 8th, 2012, 07:55 PM
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Hi shadiladi

We've just finished a 12 day cruise/land trip to Alaska. It was jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt every day with either a sleeveless vest on top or a rainjacket if we were out and about.
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