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Alaskan shore excursions in July

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Apr 17th, 2012, 03:48 PM
  #1
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Alaskan shore excursions in July

There will be eight of us (2 brothers and 1 sister w/ spouses) taking a cruise in early July. We would like to consider doing our own excursions rather that booking from the cruise line in order to do more that one thing at each port as well as saving some money. We'll be stopping at Haines, Ketchikan and Juneau. Is it possible to find local tour operators just off the ship? Which ports would be best to book a fishing charter? Would a rental van for all eight be an option at one of these ports?
Any advise my Fodor friends could supply would be appreciated.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 04:22 PM
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There are vendors you can purchase tours from as you get off the ship in each port- trouble is yu don't know for sure what options will be available. We booked everything through the cruise line and although it might be more expensive, it was very easy and if you had a problem you could go through the cruise line rather than the tour operator( although we did not have any problems)

We went whale watching out of Juneau and it was fabulous! We saw whales doing "bubble net feeding" and it was amazing to see.
Ketchikan we did a float plane trip of the fjords - also great!
We did go to Mendenhall Glacier on our own- you can take a bus from the cruise ship.

We did our own trip to Homer for several days before the cruise- seems like it would be a great place to go fishing- they appeared to be catching a lot of halibut and ling cod- the best halibut of the trip we had in Homer.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 06:40 PM
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We are planning to go Alaskan cruise this August and we have no single idea how to organize one. Great thing I saw this thread at least I got things to consider in an Alaskan trip.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 07:02 PM
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Yes, you can book your own excursions locally in port. My favorites were the helicopter sight seeing trip and the float plane tour.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 03:25 AM
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If you type Alaska into the search box, you will find lots of threads on touring in Alaska as well as trip reports with some feedback on excursions etc.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 07:46 AM
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You will need to start by doing tons of reading on www.cruisecritic.com. Go to their "Boards". You will find out everything you could possibly want to know about ships, ports, excursions, etc It's a friendly bunch and very active and helpful. I planned a 14 day RV then cruise trip with lots of details and learned most from that site. Everything I read and used turned out to be correct.

In most of the ports, the towns are very small and you dock right in town. For excursions, the companies will handle your transportation if you need to be taken somewhere. If you choose to book your own excursions (we did most of our own), you can go to their websites and make your reservations ahead of time instead of just getting there and seeing what was available. There were lots of excursions that didn't have someone on dock selling them. You had to know about them.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 08:43 AM
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As had been said, there are tours available at the docks. BUT, what you see is what's left over, that nobody else wanted. Many of the popular tours are already sold out. We never book through the ship unless it's a tour we really want that isn't available independently (there are a few).

Ketchikan is your best fishing port, with Juneau next - it can be spotty at Haines with few operators.

A van for 8 won't be easy to find, and will be extremely expensive if you find one (hundreds of dollars - my 3-day van rental in June in Anchorage after a Celebrity cruise with 6 people is costing me $1100).
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Apr 18th, 2012, 09:02 AM
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I agree with the above posters re: Find the tours you want and make reservations yourself. In Juneau we took a whale watching tour and a helicopter glacier tour. Walking on Herbert Glacier and flying down Medenhall Glacier. We went with: Coastal Helicopters, Inc

In Ketchikan we took a Misty Fjords seaplane into the wilderness. We went with Southeast Aviation. Both of these tours were wonderful! I called and made the reservations before our cruise and would recommend it. I learned of these companies from CruiseCritic as others had used and recommended them. I also agree with the above poster who recommended you learn how to utilize CruiseCritic.com So much information!
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Apr 18th, 2012, 12:27 PM
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I especially think with 8 people you should book your excursions in advance. If you want to do something like a helicopter/glacier landing, you may not find 8 seats, or you may have to all go at different times.

We found many reliable, independent operators with tours we could book in advance. Also, some are willing to coordinate. For example, we called Orca Enterprises in Juneau, and the booked both a whale watch as well as coordinating with Coastal Helicopters for our glacier landing. So we could have done them back to back, without returning to town (both the heliport and the small boat harbor are about 30 minutes from the docks).

others have already said it, but I'll repeat...we got a ton of info from cruisecritic. The folks on those boards have loads of experience with cruising and cruise excursions.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 02:11 PM
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Thanks to all for the input and advice. I'll check out cruisecritic.
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Apr 19th, 2012, 02:44 PM
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What a frustrating 3 hours trying to use cruisecritic.com, very hard to maneuver and I could never figure out how to post. Most of the forum feedback was years out of date. Certainly not as user friendly as the Fodors forum.
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Apr 19th, 2012, 03:35 PM
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jackz- thats why I ended up just booking through the cruise line- in my opinion that was hard enough as there so many choices of things to do at each port-

and, as stated above, since there are 8 of you, seems like it might be less complicated to book through cruise line just to make sure you all get to do what you want.

Try checking You tube for bubble net feeding- no guarantee you will get to see it but its worth a try- it was amazing
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Apr 19th, 2012, 03:50 PM
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Noty only is Cruise Critic a good resource, I encourage to find the "roll call" for your particular cruise. Fellow passengers may already be organizing private tours, but also willing to include others in their shore excursions. This is a great way to save $$$.

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