Anyone have any opinion on the following excursions in Juneau: Wildlife Quest (4hrs); Juneau Deluxe City Tour (4.5 hrs); or Mendenhall Glacier Float Trip (3.5hrs). We will be visiting on the Celebrity Infinity in September. Any advice would be appreciated since money is tight! =)
We just got back from Alaska last week, Celebrity Mercury. We did all our excursions on our own, some in our party of 9 did it through Celebrity. One was the float trip and they didn't think it was that great. The rest of us took the $5 bus that shuttles you out to Mendenhall. That way you can spend as much time as you like hiking. There are beautiful trails that give great views of the glacier and awesome waterfalls. Also a creek with lots of salmon spawning. I would highly recommend that. Just walk off the ship and the booth is there. Another thing we did in Juneau was go on a whale watch. We watched the boats with 50 people tip from side to side as everyone rushed to squeeze in to see the whales. We went with Rumrunners, a private 6 seater boat and went up to the flying bridge and watched them from comfy seats. The captain is a former marine biologist who just loves taking groups out. That one cost $90.
My boyfriend and I did the Mendenhall Glacier Float trip and personally didn't enjoy it very much. From what I understand, there are much better ways to see Mendenhall Glacier. I think there is a company called MGT that runs shuttles to the visitors center. I think most of the city tours stop there too.
2 of your tours- I do not recommend- the city tour and the Mendenhall float trip- only brief distant view of the glacier - rest of trip trees and backyards. Money is far better spent elsewhere. The city tour is available from booths at the dock for haft the ship prices and GO TO THE SAME PLACE. Same with the whale watching- book ahead with either Orca or Dolphin for a better and longer tour. I have a lot of Alaska travel experence and just returned from my 10th trip.
Another consideration for you is to rent a car. I rented from Rent-A-Wreck for about $40 a day and paid an extra $10 fee to keep the car past closing time of 6pm and park it in a garage right next to the ship pier. I kept the car till 10 pm as our ship left at 11pm. I was on HAL which did not get into Juneau till 2pm. This way I was able to do as much or little as I wanted. You can drive right up to the Mendenhall Glacier, park and hike if you want, drive to the fish hatcheries, to Auke Bay, etc. I drove out to St. Therese Shrine which is a gorgeous peaceful place to visit.
As far as whales go, the best place we saw whales was right from the deck of our cruiseship. Around 5:30 pm in the Icy Straits leaving Glacier Bay, we saw a group of 6 humpbacks right next to our ship playing and putting on a show. This was better than any whale watch we ever paid $ for. Unfortunately most passengers missed it though as they had gone inside for the evening. Book a late dinner and enjoy the ports and scenery as long as you can.
Enjoy whatever you decide to do and have a great trip!--Bonnie