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Old 05-28-2018, 09:12 PM   #1
Aurora
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Default Shore Excursions in Alaska advice please.

We went on the Inaugural DCL Alaska 2011 and loved it so much I just booked another Alaska cruise that leaves in 2 1/2 weekís. Sadly this one is NCL not DCL, but I saved about $8,000. Itís almost the same itinerary except we go to Glacier Bay instead of Tracy Arm. I was told Glacier Bay was incredible then and knew my next Alaska would have to include Glacier Bay. I was able to snag a mini suite with a balcony for total of $5600 for 3 adults and a 16 year old. This includes a ďfreeĒ beverage package and 3 special dinners. DCL was over $13k with no additional perks and our boys are way past the age of chasing characters, but indulge my addiction with Disney. Since Iíve only got about 2 weeks to plan I was hoping for some insights into the excursions. Itís the same ports. Last time in Skagway we panned for gold and did the sled dogs with puppies. In Ketchikan we did the lumberjack show and the totem poles. In Juneau we rode the Robertís tram to the top of the world and hiked up there. Our boys are now active young men at 19 and 16 and no longer little boys. We went on DCL to Norway 2 years ago, but mostly did sightseeing there. My favorite excursion day was January 1, 2015 in Cozumel, Mexico. That was a Princess. We had 3 excursions that day. We got covered in mud on our Xrail, then did mini subs for ocean viewing and then swam with dolphins. I never plan to top that day, but I would like to try. Any kind suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:18 PM   #2
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Do they still have the Deadliest Catch tour? I did this tour while the guys in the family did the zip line in Ketchikan. I really enjoyed it. It was not booked through the cruise line (Princess) but on my own. This was 10 years ago so they might not offer this any more.
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:49 PM   #3
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I can enthusiastically recommend a 3rd party excursion from in Skagway Chilcoot Charters & Tours. The one I chose took a train all the way to Carcross in Yukon Territory, and a tour van back to port. At the time none of the Disney excursions went that far or took the train up the mountain.

If you are interested, check out my trip report.
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:19 AM   #4
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We have never been to Alaska, but we are going this August to visit friends who moved there a year ago. I just bought my plane tickets today. Iíll be interested to hear about your trip. We will be on our own, but I know we will see a lot. Out friends are adventurous and scheduled vacation time to be our tour guides.

I canít wait to hear what you did.

/Jim
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:41 AM   #5
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When we cruised in Alaska, we booked our excursions through the Alaska Railroad. We canoed in Ketchikan, which was a lot of fun. We also did whale watching and listened to the whales through a microphone. Glacier Bay was exciting because of the glacier calving. It sounded like a bomb. It was a few years ago that we made our trip, so things may have changed.

We flew into Anchorage a week before the cruise and toured Fairbanks and Denali, camped on an island in Prince William sound, and did some whitewater rafting.

I hope you have a great time!
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:33 AM   #6
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Marv and Harv in Juneau if you like whale watching. They use small boats which allow for MUCH better viewing than the large barges. If you go bring a camera with a long lens, trust me it will be worth it. The shots I got of whales bubble feeding are amazing. I would do this tour again in a heartbeat (and probably will). Plus see the (shrinking, sigh) Mendenhall glacier, I recommend walking out to near the waterfall. Wear shoes with decent traction. If you like beer I recommend stopping for Alaskan Brewing company for a flight.

Bering Sea Crab Tour in Ketchikan. Come for the crabs, but use that camera again to snag amazing eagle shots when they throw food in the water for them. I have a closeup of an eagle with claws out and forward about to snatch a piece of fish from the water. Again, amazing. If you can't get a good shot of an eagle on that tour I can't help you.

Rented a car in Skagway and drove to Emerald lake. Drive is a bit meh, but I liked the freedom to stop whenever we wanted. Nice little bakery along the way in the small town just before the lake. Plus you can stop to see the suspension bridge and other items; if you want get Murray's Guide to the highway for a list of things to see along the way (granted you can get most of it from Google). They will even stamp passports at the site where the bridge is. Additional advice: Slow down near the border crossing, they get cranky if you don't. Also did the fast boat tour up and down the canal, got awesome shots of seals AND (again with the long lens) an eagle feasting on a fish we saw it snag out of the water.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonv1 View Post
Marv and Harv in Juneau if you like whale watching. They use small boats which allow for MUCH better viewing than the large barges. If you go bring a camera with a long lens, trust me it will be worth it. The shots I got of whales bubble feeding are amazing. I would do this tour again in a heartbeat (and probably will). Plus see the (shrinking, sigh) Mendenhall glacier, I recommend walking out to near the waterfall. Wear shoes with decent traction. If you like beer I recommend stopping for Alaskan Brewing company for a flight.

Bering Sea Crab Tour in Ketchikan. Come for the crabs, but use that camera again to snag amazing eagle shots when they throw food in the water for them. I have a closeup of an eagle with claws out and forward about to snatch a piece of fish from the water. Again, amazing. If you can't get a good shot of an eagle on that tour I can't help you.
Rented a car in Skagway and drove to Emerald lake. Drive is a bit meh, but I liked the freedom to stop whenever we wanted. Nice little bakery along the way in the small town just before the lake. Plus you can stop to see the suspension bridge and other items; if you want get Murray's Guide to the highway for a list of things to see along the way (granted you can get most of it from Google). They will even stamp passports at the site where the bridge is. Additional advice: Slow down near the border crossing, they get cranky if you don't. Also did the fast boat tour up and down the canal, got awesome shots of seals AND (again with the long lens) an eagle feasting on a fish we saw it snag out of the water.
Oh my - it sounds like you were traveling with us! I too downloaded the Murray's guide ( we laughed that we saw a bear on the side of the road just where he showed one). We drove to the lake, stopped at the bakery.....I also think we took the same whale watching tour in Juneau. However before we did that we took a helicopter to a glacier and "hiked" on the glacier. That was amazing! But you are right about the pictures of eagles....I got so much teasing from the family because I have hundreds of eagle pictures just from that tour. Apparently you are not allowed to feed the eagles, but the tour goes to an area that for some reason (fuzzy memory here) allows it.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:01 AM   #8
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If I remember correctly, I think it had to do with the land being owned by natives. I think that was the only reason they could even bring up some of the crab.

We didn't hike the glacier that trip, but did just about everything else including heading to Denali for a few days afterward. On the drive from Seward to Denali we panned for gold, went to the wildlife rehab center, stopped at a observation point for salmon (random thing we saw thanks to roadside signs), etc. While at Denali we even took the bus ALL the way to the end of the park road, which was worth it (even without seeing the mountain) but I do recommend extra seat cushions.

We also did the Kenai Fjords boat trip in Seward (not the super long one, but next longest), which was amazing both in scenery and wildlife. Again, more awesome photos of dolphins swimming/jumping alongside the boat when we were at speed.

Seriously though, if anyone reading this goes beg borrow or rent a camera with a nice long zoom lens with stabilization and autofocus. 300MM is usually enough, and with the right tours you should come home with more photos than you could possibly hang on your walls. I kid you not that with the right camera setup it is so easy to catch awesome wildlife action shots in Alaska that an amateur could do it. I can't stress this enough: Don't spend $150+ per person on a nice tour and only bring a cel phone. Also, practice with the camera before leaving. Have someone drive you around and practice taking shots out the car window so you get used to capturing shots while moving.

My wildlife favorite photos were an eagle about to grab a fish in the water, an eagle eating a fish (kind of gruesome, but awesome), a family of whales (including little one) breaching at the same time (orcas and humpbacks both), multiple amazing whale tail shots (orcas and humpbacks both), and whales bubble feeding (humpbacks). Mind you I haven't mentioned family shots, scenery, random land animals, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reblzmom View Post
Oh my - it sounds like you were traveling with us! I too downloaded the Murray's guide ( we laughed that we saw a bear on the side of the road just where he showed one). We drove to the lake, stopped at the bakery.....I also think we took the same whale watching tour in Juneau. However before we did that we took a helicopter to a glacier and "hiked" on the glacier. That was amazing! But you are right about the pictures of eagles....I got so much teasing from the family because I have hundreds of eagle pictures just from that tour. Apparently you are not allowed to feed the eagles, but the tour goes to an area that for some reason (fuzzy memory here) allows it.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:50 AM   #9
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We did kayaking in Juneau, though I am sure you could find it other places as well. There are also some hiking trails in Skagway.

Don't feel bad, I won't be able to afford DCL in Alaska. I'd rather put that extra money to good use. Alaska is an itinerary where it is more about what is going on outside the boat than within. So for us, the boat means less.
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:18 PM   #10
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My family also did Marv & Harv's Whale watching tour in Juneau and were very happy with it. There were eight of us so we filled the boat. The guide was excellent. We could see folks from the ship's excursion packed onto a large boat. I doubt any of them could see much. I highly recommend Marv & Harv's.
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