Alaska excursions

Old Jun 16th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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Alaska excursions

I'm leaving June 28 for an Alaskan cruise on Holland America. I will be stopping in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway. What excursions and sites would you recommend? Many people have recommended the flightseeing but that's a little beyond my budget.
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 03:10 AM
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Type in the city name in the search box and highlight Alaska. A search will bring up lots of threads that will offer plenty of suggestions to you. Also, try posting on the cruise board. Good luck with your planning!
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 05:35 AM
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Look over your shore excursion list first and narrow down your interests. Should be available on line. Then pick your top 5 or so and go from there. There are way too many excellent tours to recommend otherwise.

If flightseeing is of interest. Do try and take one, it is the "top" choice in Alaska since it really shows all the beauty and vastness.
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 05:46 AM
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Hi timefor travel. Just got back from much the same sea/land tour. Was on the Holland America Veendam. Always enjoy a cruise but wish we had done the trip in reverse with the cruise last. That way we could have had some cruise time to relax and rest up (vacations are not for wimps!).

The cruise started in Vancouver and made stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and ended in Seward. The ship made trips ino Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Was surprised that the coastal tows are so small but very green and trees on every square inch of land. Really enjoyed the Glacier Bay part as we spent about an hour in front of the Margerie Glacier waiting to see if it would
'calve' (a large piece breaking off and falling into the water).
Just as we were about to leave, this action took place. Was lucky to have
the digital camera on 'burst' mode where it saved the last 6 images. Of course, that meant I missed the start of the break & slide but the water splash was by far the best part. Afterwards, I was about blind from staring at that glacier for an hour. Be sure your batteries are fully charged and lots of film/memory cards.

In Ketchikan, we signed up for the Rain Forest Tour and it rained on & off all day. Was interesting and had a ride on a Zodiak to & from the island. Tides run up to about 19 feet here so marinas are something else. Did see a couple whales but not the highlight.

In Juneau, we had a 3-part tour (Best of Juneau) starting with a bus trip to the Mendenhall Glacier Nat'l Park (OK but time limited and could only see from a distance), and ending with an all you can eat salmon bake. The middle portion was a 4 hour whale/orcha watching on modern twin-hulled boats. Had enclosed areas as well as an open deck aft. This was a highlight and would recommend it highly. Saw lots of humpbacks, orchas, sea lions and various birds. Trying to catch whales/orchas on camera is tricky and could use a long telephoto. Problem is that the longer the telephoto,
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 05:58 AM
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We were on that same cruise May 20. Now as I think back as to what I remember the most, It's the beautiful scenery right outside our balcony doors. The rest of the ship, including the food and our table mates, were nice but nothing compared to being in Juneau and taking Coastal Helicopters glacier landing tour. The stillness and beauty is still fresh in my memory and always will be. That was our favorite tour combined with Orca Enterprises, Capt Larry, whale watching tour, all in Juneau. To make up for the expense of that day, we rented a car from Avis in Skagway and drove into the Yukon, a very pleasant day and reasonable in price. We took a Misty Fjords float plane tour with Southeast in Ketchikan and really enjoyed it but our favorite was the helicopter glacier landing in Juneau. If it's possible to extend your budget to just include that, I don't think you will be sorry.
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 06:11 AM
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Sorry. Guess my typing finger hit somethging wrong so the incomplete message posted. To continue:

Long telephotos result in shakier photos. Image stabilazition is a must when you get to 10X & 12X. Also, digital cameras have various degrees of 'shutter lag' and delay between photos. Newer ones seem to have resolved some of this. Look for 'burst' mode where the camera can take several photos rapidly and then save either the first or last of the series. (Take lots of memory cards!)

In Skagway, we took the 4 hour train tour to White Pass. Enjoyed it and would recommend it.

All these coastal towns are very small with population of only 2,000 - 4,000 and the tourists just about overwhelm them.

As I previously mentioned, I really enjoyed the Ship's trip into Glacier Bay but thought the trip into College Fjord was so, so.

At Seward, we left the ship and had a tour into Kenai Fjords Nat'l Park. Recommend this as we saw lots og Whales/Orchas and loads of birds. Am not a big 'bird person' but the Puffins wre a delight. Think they must be related to the 'Goonie Birds' since they also seem to have a heck of a time taking off & landing.

Then a bus trip to Anchorage - the onle reasonably large city we saw. Did enjoy the brief stop on the way at the Wildlife Conservation Center. In Anchorage, we did a city tour by bus and Sourdough Mining Company Tour (dinner). Were pretty tired to enjoy much here.

Then a Train trip to Denali in modern Observation Cars. Next day we took the Tundra Wilderness Tour of Denali Nat'l Park. Were getting tired by now so were hot happy to find we had to get up at 5am for a tour in a glorified school bus but this turned out to be a real highlight. Private vehicles are not allower in the Park so you don't have much choice. The road is 'improved dirt' so was dusty at times. Saw loads of wildlife (bears, caribou, elk, eagles, Dall sheep, etc). Our guide told us that only about 25 percent of tourists get to actually see Mt. McKinley. It is so tall (20,300 ft) that it creates it's own weather and is mostly covered by clouds. Our day was great and we had good views of most of it. The very top was in the clouds. Be sure to stop in the Visitors Center (by the RR station) and see the movie!

Then another train on to Fairbanks. Went on the River Discovery paddelboat tour. Was interesting but hoards of passengers. Some interesting demos alongside the river (sled dogs & Indian village) but not too great.

Then back home by plane. Did get to see the top of Mt. Mckinley on the way. Overall, had a great time and took tons of photos (digital) that I am now trying to edit & sort. Lots of 'throw aways' but can never tell until you see them later. Enjoy your trip.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 05:47 PM
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We did the Alaskan cruise last June with Royal Carribean. In Juneau, we went whale watching with Captain Larry - it was awesome. In Skagway we did the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari, which was also great, but cold. In Ketchikan, we went snorkelling with Mountain Point Snorkel Alaska. The snorkelling was the best excursion we did. Hope this helps, enjoy your trip.

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