We have been taking three cruises a year and normally I find several people on the net who are going on the same cruise. We leave June 14 on the Westerdam for the inside passage. Never been to Alaska so this is all new to us. We have been on the Westerdam in the Caribbean and love this older ship. Here is my list of questions: We are not into wildlife, but love strolling through new towns. It looks like most of the tours from Skagway, Juneau and Ketchican are wildlife or totem pole types. Can we just get off the ship and see the towns on our own? My fiancee is a retired FAA controller and presently a flight attendent, so needless to say, he loves any kind of flying. Are the helicopter trips really worth the steep price? It seems to me paying a total of $600 for the two of us is pretty high compared to what we paid for the cruise.
I will appreciate any advice and would love to find someone else on this cruise. It is sold out so there has to be someone out there!
The helicopter flight out of Juneau through Coastal is about $165. I'd book with them directly. It was a great experience and well worth it. You can walk any of the towns on your own. In Juneau you can take the Mt Roberts tram which is right next to the dock and see beautiful views from the top. There is also a bus that will take you to the base of Mendenhall Glacier where there's a movie, gift shop, and trails around the glacier. The shopping in Juneau is right next to the ship. Lots to keep you busy. Skagway is a cute little town with lots of history. The White Pass Railroad is a great way to spend a few hours. Be sure to visit the visitor center manned by the senior citizens. They have a great display and movie all about the gold rush, all for just a donation. There are museums and a neat old cemetary there all within walking distance. In Ketchikan you might want to take the Misty Fiords flight tour if you're into flying. Doing them on your own, not through the ship will save you a lot of money. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions. Oh, BTW, we loved it so much we're returning again this year in August!
Yes Yes Yes, do the helo trip. We have found that the helo trips vary. More money, get more for the buck. If you can, schedule one of the helo trips that stops on at least 2 glaciers aka pilot's choice. We have, in the past, booked thru Princess however I am sure you can get a good deal booking on your own. Just do the research.....In May, 1999 we took our first trip to Alaska. We took the $600 plus helo out of Juneau. When we took off and started over the ice fields, the pilot played a Vagner concerto thru our headsets. With the beauty of Alaska and that music, I was overwhelmed. I just could not believe the pristine beauty of our 49th State. Tears streamed down my face. No one person can describe what you will see and feel in Alaska. I still have my piece of granet from one of the glaciers we stopped on and it is my most prized souvenier from the cruise. As for Skagway, it is a fun town to just walk around and shop. Tons of stores and lots of interesting things to see in the downtown. Juneau also is fun to walk around. You stated that you are not into wildlife, but a whalewatching tour is just as fantastic as the helo. Personally I did not like the train in Skagway but again that is just IMHO.....Juneau downtown is quite close to the pier for the cruise ships. In Skagway, the downtown is a bit of a walk but I guess after cruising and eating and eating and cruising, the walk is a welcomed adventure......
Juneau has 2 good museums- Alaska State Museum and Juneau Douglas City Museum, also the capital has a self guided tour. I have glaicer landed via helicopter 6 times. www.coastalhelicopters.com is $169 this year. float planes out of Ketchikan are also worthwhile. I have flown with www.taquanair.com and www.islandwings.com For clairfication the cemeterys in Skagway are 1 1/2 miles one way from town. Be sure to stop at the Park Service visitor center as well- Broadway and Second. Worthwhile free museum, movie and walking tours.
We just returned June 2 from a southbound 'Voyage of the Glaciers' cruise on the Sea Princess - Sublime!! We only booked one excursion - in Skagway the Chlikoot trail glacier landing Helicopter tour, very cool!! The am in Skagway and all day in Juneau, and all day in Ketchikan we wandered around and saw the local sights on foot. It was great to get a couple blocks off the pier and actually see the towns themselves. If I were to do it again I would take a guided 'town tour' of each to get the inside scoop, but that's it - I think that too many excursions cloud the experience. Too complicated and unrestful. I can't rave enough about the sights though - unbelievable scenery - and I live in a Ski Resort! We booked everything through Princess, tours, transfers, flights etc. and were not disappointed in any aspect - talk about making it easy! They have it down to an artform. It was articularly fabulous to cruise into our home Port have a leisurely breakfast and have family waiting to pick you up