My family is sailing to Alaska on the Princess Diamond 07/31 and I just reserved my shore excursions online. I had my heart set on bear watching at Traitors Cove in Ketchikan but found only 1 space was available. I need 3, so I'm wait listed.
How do you know if space becomes available? Will my shore excursion summary on the Princess site change (hopefully!) from wait list to confirmed? Or, will I not know until sometime later while on the ship?
There is space available on a very similar bear watch at Neets Bay in Ketchikan. Can anyone offer their opinion on Neets Bay for bear watching? I'm tempted to reserve that trip to be sure I don't lose out on the opportunity altogether but would have preferred Traitors Cove.
Any answers/advice you can give will be most appreciated!
Just returned from Alaska cruise. We stayed in Vancouver for 4 nights before cruise. We had a super time in Vancouver. We took the trolley ride around town, went to China town, Gas town, Stanley Park and the Aquarium and the reason for this reply, Grouse Mountain.
Grouse Mountain was great. You take a tram ride up the mountain to the top . I think the cost was about 23 dollars each, well worth it! At the top was a really wonderful restaurant , snack shop, store etc. Best and most exciting of all there was two Grizzly
bears in residence. You walk on a path to their compound. They were ophaned and are being raised by the people there. They are about 400 pounds each and still growing.
I was less than 2 feet from them. Between them and me was a thin wire fence, some what like turkey wire. On this fence was a small sign which said "Fence Electrified".
I jokingly said to my husband, "This is like Jurasic Park, I hope they don't blow a fuse while we are here". Fence or no fence, it was thrilling to be that close on a mountain top to two grizzlies.
If your other bear viewing plans do not work out for you , I hope you can find the time to do Grouse Mountain a short seabus ride from downtown Vancouver.
I have been to Neets bay and Anan- why not book independent and get SURE reservations??? For clairfication- I would NOT go to Traitor's Cove before full season - AFTER August 15. It is a costly tour and going on the fringe won't be fun if there are no bears. This is an area of a later salmon run. Even though they offer tours from the end of July, when I go- I make sure my wildlife tours are peak season so to have the best chance of great views. I recommend considering Island Wings, Carlin Air, I have gone with both.
Neets is ship contracted via ProMech so you can only book through the ship, but you would be peak season there. So if you only want a ship tour- then book them now, they always sell out.
That's the best news I 've heard. My husband and I collect bears and also bear pictures that we take. We have not gone this last in the season to Alaska and picked this time of the year to see more bears. I sure hope we are lucky.
How about whales this time of the year? Sailing south from Anchorage 8/27/04. We have the side facing the ocean most of the trip in hope of seeing more whales.
tetons, are you sailing out of Seward or Whittier? If you are sailing out of Seward, my advice would be to get to Seward a day or so before your cruise and book one of the Kenai Fjords/Resurrection Bay tours (preferably a full day one) in Seward. Don't know if you will see any of the humpbacks there, but Orcas are like bears. They love salmon dinners so they are out and about. I took the half day tour the first week of September 2002 and we saw a good sized pod of Orcas swimming around on our tour and were able to get up as close "as the law allows". On the tour, we also saw sea otters, lots of sea birds including 2 kinds of puffins and eagles in the trees around the bay and lots Stellars Sea Lions. I would advise one of these tours rather than trying to see whales from the cruise ship. The tours are a little less comfortable than the cruise ship. It was chilly and overcast the day that I went, but you are a lot closer to the water and the animals. They have lots of coffee and hot chocolate on the tours too. You will see whales from the cruise ship, but they will be more like just dots in the water. Hey, if you take the Traitors Cove tour, tell those bears to stay put for a week or so. I'll be right behind you on the Statendam!
Tetons- hopefully you are going to Denali Park??? Be certain to take the shuttle to at least Eielson- and ideally Wonder Lake. You will have an opportunity for plenty of brown bear views, and the cheapest bear watching. Be aware that Ketchikan tours are for blacks. For clairfication- it is NOT common to see orcas on Kenai Fjords boat tours. These tours are more "route" based and definately NOT whale watches. If the whales are in the area- yep you will see them, but the area is vast and no guarantee you will see them. I have been on this trip many times and whale were viewed about half the time. The opportunity is for varied wildlife and it is not a whale watch. For 100% humpback viewing- go out of Auke Bay- Juneau.
Karen, you are right in that the Wildlife tours out of Seward are not "Whale Watching Tours", but my information comes not only from my own experience but also from tips that I have received from photographer friends of mine who actually live and work in the area . I have received a whole lot of them from one professional nature photographer who grew up in the Interior of Alaska (Wrangel-Elias area) and lives in Seward. He has done work for clients like National Geographic, Alaska Airlines, and the NPS including a extensive work in Kenai Fjords National Park and Denali. He says that September is a good time for Orcas in Resurrection Bay/Kenai Fjords NP. Now, as with all wildlife viewing, there are no guarantees, but the day-long tours do give one at least a fairly good possibility of seeing lots of wildlife including Orchas and other whales. Most whale watching tours do have a very slight advantage because the operators do keep track of sightings. However, seeing whales one day in a particular place does not mean they will be there the next day. Last year on a trip to the Pacific Northwest, I went on a "whale watching tour". The day before when I took the ferry from Seattle to Victoria, we sighted a large pod of Orcas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The next day on a "Whale Watching tour", all I saw was 2 Minke whales and no Orcas. They must have been at the other end of Vancouver Island. Personally, I would rather go on a tour where there is an opportunity to see many wildlife species rather than limiting myself to chasing one particular animal to the exclusion of anything else. There is a lot less disappointment that way. I don't mean this as any offense to you, but I know the source of my information and I trust my source.
No offense, I too have many sources, some from the Alaska government. Whale watch tours out of Juneau to Auke Bay have just about 100% sightings of humpbacks May- Sept. That is excellent odds. I always post that the Kenai Fjords tours offer VARIED wildlife which is true. I have not seen whales on all the tours I have taken - which is over 10.
Thank you for all of the help. We are not going to do the land tour this trip. We did that land/cruise tour two years ago and really enjoyed it. We are introducing three people to cruising this time around and we really hope they like it. I am now very excited about going to Neet's Bay. I was a little concerned at first but you have reassured me. We are doing the whale watching trip in Juneau and also several other water tours in other places as well. I just don't want to always shop in these ports. I have to be outdoors seeing the scenery. Those full day trips out of Seward sound great. I just don't think you can do everything each trip. I have told my DH, a whole new world has been opened to me and I just can't get enough of Alaska. It is gorgeous. These boards are so helpful.
We'll be there right around the same time on a different cruise. I asked...Neet's bay is the hatchary. Trader's cove is more like a wild setting than the hatchary. There are independent tour operators that offer bear watch tours tailor to cruise arrivals, but so far they are more expensive than cruise shore exercusions. Some independent operators only offer bear watching from seaplanes, those are cheaper. For independent operators go to google.com and search "ketchikan bear watch tour"
I was just at Traitors Cove yesterday and today. It was a beautiful walk up to the bear watching place, but there were no salmon yet up the stream and so no bears either. They were saying that it is usually in August before the salmon and bears make it up there. I am not sure about Neets Bay. I did take photos of seals at the entrance to Traitors Cove. I am going to send in the photos to Sitnews.us and see if they will post any of them.