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Old May 22nd, 2004, 09:14 PM
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Default North Star Treking or Princess??

My hubby and I will are first time cruisers and first time to Alaska. What is the advantage or disadadvantage of booking with North Star Treking for their helicopter/glacier tour as opposed to booking it with Princess, other than the $25 price diference. They both include 2 hours on the glacier.

I have heard that North Star does a good job. However, I have a feeling that walking on a glacier is going to be unforgetable no matter who we use. Has anyone done the Princess one? If so how was it?

We are going the end of June. How often does this get cancelled? Should we shell out the money for two trips? The one from Juneau and one from somewhere else, so that we will be sure that we will be able to do it at least once? Right now we are not planning on returning to Alaska and this is the one thing we do not want to miss doing because of the weather. We are dong the land part first.

Thanks for any info you can give me on Helicopter/glacier treking!
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 11:40 PM
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

Northstar goes with smaller groups than ERA- ship contractor. These tours do get canceled with no predictions. If you are willing to go twice, then book also out of Skagway. If booking with a ship contractor and Skagway is after Juneau- then you MAY be able to cancel??? If you book independently then you will not. There is also a glacier trekking option out of Skagway- I believe with the rail? And also a fly in?

Bottom line cancelations can and do happen. I have been canceled plenty of times. It is unrealist to make this a absolute choice. Best as mentioned above- double book if you can afford it and it is that important to you.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 12:36 PM
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

Thanks for the info. Skagway is the day before Juneau. So we would have to go twice.

Princess has one that is 2 hours long with 50 minutes of flight and 30 minutes on the glacier (2 landings so each is 15 minutes?) for $305. The Juneau one is 4 1/2 hours long with 2 hours on the glacier and only $50 more. Seems like a better deal.

Do you know the names of the companies that operate out of Skagway and either a web site or phone numbers?

Thanks again.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

TEMSCO is the only independent out of Skagway.

www.temscoair.com
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Old May 24th, 2004, 10:51 PM
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

I am a tour operator. As much as I would love to tell you that booking independently is the better route, it really is not. If you book through the ship you get treated so much better. Plus, there are no worries because the ship takes care of everything for you. I would recommend paying a little extra for the insurance of the ship knowing the best operators and having alot more flexible at getting things then the independent travel. Have a great cruise.
All three helicopter companies are really great companies. They all have slightly different advantages. Coastal is the only company that I would steer away from.
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Old May 25th, 2004, 08:26 PM
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

Korey,

This is our first cruise and I am reading everything I can. I think you are the first person who has said to book through the ship! So far the onl;y thing we have booked is with North Star and it turns out they are the one that Princess uses. When I called them directly they said the only differece is that we would have a 7 - 10 min. walk to get picked up in the van. To save $50 we will walk it. : )

It is good to hear different opinions.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 01:31 AM
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

Korey may have a conflict of interest??? Since they write they work for the cruiseline industry??? I have perhaps taken OVER 100 independent tours in Alaska and I never take ship tours. Have had excellent experiences including 3 trips with Coastal.
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Old June 15th, 2004, 02:55 AM
ucanbyteme
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

OK, I hear that North Start is the one who really started glacier trekking in that area. Temsco had a triple crash into the glacier a few years back so they make me kind of uneasy. Three in the same week is kind of high stats.
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Old June 15th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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Default Re: North Star Treking or Princess??

ucanbysteme, the Temsco triple crash happened 5 years ago. At that time, they voluntarily shut down and did a full investigation into the cause. The results showed that it was a combination of bad weather coupled with the fact that helicopter pilots were not required to be able to do instrument flying and things like radar altimeters were not required in helicopters. As a result of their findings after the accident, Temsco voluntarily installed the equipment required for instrument flying and trained their pilots to use it. Therefore I think your uneasiness is unwarranted. Additionally, I have a friend who lives up in Juneau and is a part of the volunteer search and rescue unit there. I asked him about the helicopter flights and glacier trekking a few months ago and he encouraged me to go for it and even mentioned Temsco as being a good operator. To me that says something about the safety of the activity and the company. I am sure that he would rather be doing something else with his spare time than rescuing tourists from the Juneau icefields.

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