I will be taking my wife and 2 small kids ( 5 & 9) on the RCL Radiance June 7th. Limited budget for excursions but I really need to know which ones would be the most memorable and worth the investment. Also please enlighten me to what not to take. The glacier/dog sled sounds like the excursion of a lifetime but at $350/pp, I could take another trip. I have also heard people utilizing excursions outside of cruise. If you have had a positive experience, give me names and how to get ahold of them. I have waited 10 years for this trip and I want it to last in my kids dreams a lifetime. Thanks in advance for the info.
We went with our son twice. Once when he was eight and the 2nd time at 9.
He loved the WhitePass train excursion in Skagway. Not cheap but about 90 bucks for adults...less for the kids but I can't remember the amount. The next year we took a mini-bus tour basically paralleling the train. Cheaper but not nearly as fun. I felt the cemetary was a waste of time as well.
For 10 bucks apiece (round trip) in Juneau take the bus to Mendenhall glacier (book from the dock, not the ship). A beautiful visitor center (small extra charge for that), and a walk down to the water's edge is easy and nice. My son loved doing that. There's also a deck there for viewing salmon spawning and maybe some black bear although I'm not sure if the salmon are spawning in June (we were there in August).
Also in Juneau for under $20 each (kids less) take the Mt. Roberts tramway (unless you're afraid of heights). The view is spectacular and there is a nice visitor center there as well. This is right at the dock where the ships dock although RCL tendered when we were in Juneau both trips. There is plenty of time in Juneau for both of these excursions, and shopping too!
Look up the story of Patsy Ann the "official" greeter in Juneau. The kids will love the story and there's a statue of her at the park near the dock. There is a web site about her so you can get the full story. Just do a word search for patsy ann and you'll find it. She was a dog by the way.
Ketchikan is an easy walk to visit the town. Creek street is right where the salmon ladders are and again if they're spawning in June you'll see them leaping up the stream. And it's free! Take the funicular (one trip there was a small charge and the other trip no charge) up to the top of the hill and there is a small totem pole park in front of the lodge. And a nice easy stroll back down the husbands walk.
The duck tour in Ketchikan looked like fun but we tried to book too late and couldn't get aboard.
Not sure about Sitka in case you're going there but in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan the ships dock (or tenders let off) right in the towns so walking tours are quite easily accomplished. Even for the youngin'. And of course that's free.
You will also see plenty of wildlife from the ship itself. Humpback whales, Orca, Dolphin, and seals. You'll most likely see all. At least we did on both trips.
My son has great memories of these trips as will your kids. He is nagging us as to when we can go again. We sailed NCL and HAL and the kids programs were great on both lines (HAL a bit better). I'm sure RCCL is great as well. They'll enjoy that as well. Not to mention many games of shuffleboard.
One negative I found as far as bringing kids is all 3 towns are quite proud of the criminal past and the many brothels and saloons and are quite open about it. But it's easy enough to sidestep those issues.
I waited 10 years as well for my first visit. I hope you got a balcony cabin....it's worth the extra expense.
I would encourage you first to look over a shore excursion list online. Then narrow down your interests. there are just too many options not knowing what is important to you. Salmon will not be running when you are there, but a short walk to the hatchery in Ketchikan may be worthwhile- pick up a walking tour map at the dock visitor center. Make a loop up through the city park, if you take the funicular you can go out the back of the Fox Westmark - several totems and walk back down via married man's trail. I don't agree that you will see endless marine wildlife from the ship- this is not the norm. Usually for sightings it requires a great deal of invested time out at the front deck of the ship with a good pair of wide angle binoculars. Be sure to go to the Naturalist's talks, they can pinpoint the locations better for you, but don't expect much more than blows and a few tails of the whales. For any closer viewing you need a tour as for any wildlife viewing. A budget option could also be renting a car in each port and with their visitor guides get out on your own. Extremely easy to do- I never take any ship tours. Rent from Rent a Wreck in Juneau as they are the only company with downtown pick up- majors are at the airport a costly cab each way. Ketchikan- Alaska Car Rental and Skagway Avis. Reserve now and cancel later if your plans change. I am a many time visitor that knows the ports well.
Re: Re: Family w/ 2 small kids - what should we see?
Maybe we were lucky on our two Alaskan cruises but we DID see abundant wildlife. As we entered Icy Straights there were many humpbacks frolicking. Some breaching too. No, the ship doesn't get real close but certainly close enough to see without bincocs. Although Binoc's are a must I'd say. The ships even slowed down to watch the show.
We didn't get as close to Orca however announcements were made whenwever whales of any type were spotted.
Dolphin raced the ships many times throughout the cruises as well.
So as with any nature watching I suppose it's just "luck of the draw".
We also saw many seals. One bald eagle flew by the ship. No bears were spotted on shore however.