We are first time cruisers and do not want to take the chance on booking excursions on our own. We are cruising HAL - my question is: Should you Book your shore Excursion as soon as you get on the ship? (I was just worried that if you wait - you may find the tours you want booked)
We want to take the train in Skagway and then Bus Tour to the Glacier in Juneau...
We're first-timer cruisers, too, who feel the same way you do about shore excursions. We've selected Celebrity and were able to book all of ours online. We've received confirmations for all of our excursions and have been told our tickets will be delivered to our cabin the night we board.
Does HAL offer online booking? If so, you might want to consider it.
We did the 8:15 and had no problem with fog/rain, guess we were lucky. Some people go for the later one in case its foggy, by then it should be gone. Seems the train was full fo rthe earlier one, so do which every one fits your schedule..... I know you'll enjoy the scenery!
There is really very little risk in booking your own tours if you do your homework, read these boards and don't try to cut the time too close. Last May/June, we booked all but one of our tours on our own and decided to add one more while on the ship. The only trouble we had with timing was the one the ship booked, a city tour bus in Sitka. We got our excursion info on line from HAL before we got our ticket packet, and got another with our packet. As I remember, you could book most of the excursions right away and send them in or do on the website. If you wait until you get on the ship on the first day, I don't think you will have a problem either. Have a great trip.
We booked the White Pass rail trip on line directly and it was no trouble. We went on the early train and it was awsome. No fog or rain. Lucky I suppose. Left plenty of time on our return for walking around town and some relaxing. The train has spurs that back literally right up the the 3 main ship docks so it's very simple to catch the trains no matter which cruise line you're on. On our two trips there were no ships that needed to tender however so if you do need to tender I'm not sure how that works.
There are bus services right at the dock in Juneau that for about $10 per person it'll take you round trip to the Mendenhall glacier visitor center. No need to book ahead for that. They leave and return every 1/2 hour or so which means you can spend a lot of time at the glacier.
Also right at the docks, and if you're not afraid of heights, is the Mt. Roberts tramway. Very beautiful and highly recommended. You don't need to book ahead for that either.
Thanks for the tip on Juneau. The glacier trip sounds good as does the price as we just want to see the glacier, no salmon hatchery or anything else (We're from the west coast) We also plan on the tram if the wx. is good. I think that'll make for a nice day!
The choices you have made- train and Juneau city tour- are not "sell outs" requiring early reservations. I disagree- I prefer the pm White Pass RR- but mainly for the option of getting to the Park Service Visitor center for a good background that will enhance your later train trip. All free- movie, ranger talks, walking tours, museum. Located at Broadway and Second- at the $1 shuttle stop if you have walking limitations. I never book any ship tours and always direct. For clairfication- there is the glacier express bus in Juneau listed above for $10 but there is also a city/glacier combo tour with the same company that is an excellent overview for a bargain of about $20 (1/2 the ship prices going to the same place), drive by city tour, stop at Chapel on the Lake at Alaska Univer. 20 min. Mendenhall glacier stop with included visitor center admission (($3- extra on the shutte). They have a booth at the dock MGT. Be sure to purchase any tickets when you get off the ship so to get times you want. These buses most always are full.