Cruise excursions-Which ones?

Old Jun 28th, 2000, 06:39 PM
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Cruise excursions-Which ones?

Going on an Alaskan cruise in august. I just received the excursions offered and there are a ton of choices and all of them very expensive. I'd like to pick out a choice few - any ideas on the best ones? also can these be purchased separate from the cruise so i could save some money?
thanks for your help.
Old Jun 29th, 2000, 03:39 AM
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Hi Laura -- I cruised Vancouver to Seward a few years ago on Princess. A fantastic trip! Yes, cruiseline excursions are expensive, but IMO, on this trip anyway, with short port times, the reduced "hassle-factor" is worth the additional cost to let them do the work (others surely may have a different slant on it). Depends on the trip, but some of the offerings are just easier if you don't have to arrange them.

The one "MUST DO" item? Highly recommend the helicopter ride onto a glacier--this should be offered at most ports, but we took it in Juneau. Definitely worth the money--there is nothing quite like flying over those glaciers, then landing and walking on them! Several people toured the indian village/totem pole camp/area in Ketchikan and said it was very interesting (I didn't do this). I took an excursion in Skagway that took us into the mountains by van, then we biked the 5 miles down into town. This was also a great trip. Many took the White Pass railroad trip there, but I heard mixed things about it...

I'm having trouble remembering the options--if you want to write to me detailing them, and what your interests are, happy to help if I can. Again, this is a trip of a lifetime--have a wonderful time! I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Old Jun 29th, 2000, 03:41 AM
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Hi Laura, we went on Princess last July - Seward to Vancouver. By far the best excursion was the Pilot's Choice helicopter in Juneau. It was expensive but great. Another good excursion is the RR in Skagway. We booked all our trips thru Princess so we have no experience with purchasing them on shore. In Ketchikan, we just took a horse drawn tour and saw the Salmon Hatchery and the totem museum. Then just walked around town. We had perfect weather - hope you enjoy it.
Old Jun 29th, 2000, 04:14 AM
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Dear Laura, I just received shore excursions booklet for my Alaska cruise also. (are you doing Celebrity-Mercury, by any chance?) The Railroad excursion in Skagway is listed at $89. whereas the current brochure I have from the Railway lists the trip at $78. Judging by this, I have to presume all trips are more expensive if booked with cruise line. However, we went ahead and chose our shore excursions with the cruise line because we chose some early morning excursions, and we figured first divs would go to cruise line sign-ups. Based on "research" (helpful people who read these posts), friends who've been there, reading, etc, we chose the City sights and Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, The Railroad in Skagway, the tour and Raptor rehab. in Sitka, and the Saxman Village in Ketchikan. We are neither fishermen, nor helicopter people, so it was not too difficult to make the choices. I agree that the excursions are expensive. Hope you have a wonderful time. Marie
Old Jun 29th, 2000, 05:10 AM
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Laura, I'm back again with a suggestion. Perhaps you might want to post your questions on the "cruise" segment instead of United States. Might get more replies. Marie
Old Jul 6th, 2000, 11:27 AM
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We went on a Princess cruise (Vancouver to Seward) in 1997 for our honeymoon. We were 27 & 28 years old and went in May. Our observations....

99% of the cruise clientele were senior citizens -- not bad, but not what we were expecting - this may be different in June/July/August.

Excursions --
First off, all of the towns we visited (Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Sitka) are easily walkable.

DEFINITELY do the helicopter ride to the glacier - we didn't and wish we had.

DEFINITELY take the "whale watching" tour (or whatever they call it) our of Juneau -- it was THE best part of our trip.

SKAGWAY -- very small town -- really the only thing there is shopping -- we did do the WHITE PASS train ride. It was interesting, as far as history goes, as well as breathtaking...would I do it again versus something else? I don't know ... depends on the options avaiable. We fell asleep several times - the rocking of the train and the clickety-clack -- VERY relaxing!

KETCHIKAN -- We walked all over and saw the salmon hatchery and totem poles -- didn't tour -- didn't think it was worth the $$.

JUNEAU -- Everyone seemed to just walk this town. It is interesting.

As far as booking yourself -- don't bother. We checked prices off ship and they were as much as through the cruise line. Also, with so many cruise lines going to these ports, the excursions you want might be booked up and then you're out of luck.

Also, if you aren't already -- I would HIGHLY suggest taking the time to go to Denali. We GREATLY wish we had and will go back simply to do that. =)
Old Jul 6th, 2000, 11:29 AM
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Oh yes!
SKIP the salmon fishing -- a couple we met on our trip went and caught NOTHING. A friend of ours that went in July caught some fish, but it cost him a VERY pretty penny to process and ship it back home. Save your money and just buy your salmon when you want it.
Old Jul 25th, 2000, 08:52 AM
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Haines/Skagway -- If you like eagles, one of the Eagle River Adventures on the Chilkat River was great. I went in May and am going again in September. The White Pass Railway was very interesting, but I wouldn't do it a second time. Wildlife cruise from Juneau found us taking pictures of eagles, seals, sea lions & whales. We did see one bear but were told it is a rare occurence on that excursion
Old Aug 12th, 2000, 10:56 AM
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Laura...My wife and I sailed HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam on the southbound Glacier Discovery cruise Jun 8, 2000. One of the highlights was the wildlife cruise/Mendenhall Glacier excursion in Juneau. We saw seals, eagles, 2 brown bears, and were within 50 yds. of two breaching humpbacks. It was the best $120/pp I spent on the trip.
Old Apr 5th, 2001, 09:56 AM
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I am going on Sun Princess to Alaska (Vancouver-Seward)in early July 2001 with stops in Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau. Any updates to the very excellent advice on shore excursions already posted in this thread ? Our group includes a couple of healthy 80 year olds who tire easily, so we need to take this into account. Thanks.
Old Apr 22nd, 2001, 07:56 AM
Alan Cleveland
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I am extremely biased on this issue, and do not agree that it is in the travler's best interest to buy their excursions form the cruise line.

I ran an independent car rental company in Juneau back in 1989, and had spoken with several of the agencies regarding this option for their passengers. My idea was simple. You are in town for less than 12 hours, so, I'll offer a partial day rate. Yet, the cruise lines were requesting a $30.00 referral fee at that time, and I refused to ask my customers for $60.00 or more for a half day rental. So, I lost that business except that the crews would often take advantage of the offer.

My friends at Era Helicopters had heli-tours priced at $89.00 on the dock, but they sold for $169.00 on the ship.

Alaskans are not overcharging you, but the cruise lines are.

The only advantage that I can see about buying your excursions on board is that you can watch the weather and determine your option at the last minute. If it is raining, which it often is in Southeast, you might want to wait until the next port to try flightseeing.

As for the dig on fishing. I am going to take issue with that as well. When you are fishing, you aren't guaranteed a catch. That's what makes it fun! The chance of being skunked is always a possibility. But, whether you catch fish or not, you are still on the water and most likely seeing whales, otters, and sea lions....with the possiblity of catching fish to boot! I know that's why I go.
Old May 22nd, 2001, 09:19 AM
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Excellent information! I'm going on a Princess cruise in late June, do you have any advice and/or contacts for adventure excursions (flightseeing, rafting, kayaking, wilderness watching, hiking, etc.) in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Anchorage?
Old Jul 4th, 2001, 08:35 AM
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We are going on Princess in July/August, and I bookeb my own shore excursions. Check out [email protected] or Doing a Mendenhall Glacier, city tour of Juneau for about half the cruiseline price. Alsodoing a Haines tour out of Skagway. When we went to hawaii with Celebrity I booked our own whalewatching, we paid half of what the cruise line charged--and were on the same boat!
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 10:19 AM
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I checked the website you gave and was wondering how their tour prices compare with the Dawn Princess prices for mid -August?
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 12:24 PM
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I've taken 3 cruises, none to Alaska. We tend to try to spend our money locally when possible, but we go for the cruises' official excursions in cases where time might be a little tight (less than 3 hours between our expected return and the ship's planned departure). They will hold the ship's departure for delays in their own excursions, but not for those purchased from other sources.
Old Jun 16th, 2002, 03:58 PM
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This question is for Mary who answered Laura's question.
Which Whale Watching did you do in Juneau? There are 2 of them.
And which helicopter ride with a walk on a glacier could you recommend. We're going the last of July.
Thanks, Lydia
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