I think many people would find a listing of available and recommended excursion by port a valuable commodity. Most of the excellent recommendations on the message boards are either grouped by ship or company.
Karen - any ideas on where a company independent list of available and recommended excursions might exist ?
Many thanks in advance. BTW, we are doing a 30 year anniversary trip in early August. Southbound after a land tour. We have not decided on the exact trip but are settling in on Princess Cruisetours.
For starters look at ship shore excursion lists, they are divided by ports. Then narrow down your interests. You can also request each port's visitor guide, loaded with all the tour listings. www.traveljuneau.comwww.skagway.orgwww.visit-ketchikan.com Be VERY selective on your Princess cruisetour and do not consider the Natural History tour in Denali Park, a waste of time and included with a lot of their tours. You want the Tundra Wilderness tour. Go for as long as you can afford- ideally a 7 day add on. any shorter has more time in transit which is far from ideal.
If the Natural History Tour is included in your package, you will want to contact your provider (ie. Princess cruisetours, etc.) to upgrade to TWT. Otherwise, you're essentially throwing money away purchasing the NHT and then spending $$$ on TWT. Whether you can upgrade will depend on (1) availability (ie. Princess only upgrades a certain number) and (2) whether your cruisetour has sufficient time in Denali to allow for an 8 hour tour in place of a 3 hour tour (many of Princess tours don't have the time for it because they arrive to late on your first partial Denali day and leave to early on your second). This is why folks here always recommend checking carefully before you purchase a cruisetour.
Another option for the independent tourist is to buy TWT tickets through Denali Park Resorts (which contracts with the concessionaire). It tacks on a slight service fee for the identical tour, with the only differences being (1) bus picks up/drops off at the hotel rather than the visitor center for a little extra convenience, which is nice for these early morning tours and (2) tickets are picked up at the 24 hour front desk of any of the participating hotels (as opposed to picking it up before the visitor center closes on the day before your tour), to allow you to leisurely drive to Denali and get there when you get there. The concessionaire can give you Denali Park Resort's number if you are in this situation.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean. You could mean:
1. Will Princess' booking system make you lose out on a popular excursion? No. They (and all of the lines) have a certain number of each of their excursions and aren't likely to run out before they are offered to their passengers. Princess actually opens things up earlier than many of the other lines. If booking through Princess, I'd act shortly after they open booking ... flightseeing and bearwatching sells out quickly.
2. If I'm booking independently, should I use the 120 days as a guide for making reservations? Probably a good rule of thumb. I can only really think of Captain Larry as selling out quickly and people talking about signing up for his tour ASAP.
A major consideration with the upgrade is TIME. Some cruisetours just do not have the time needed for the Tundra Wilderness tour. You need to contact your booking agent and DETERMINE if this will be an option for you with the info directly from Princess. Last season they sold out and there were no upgrades available for some people. Understand that the Eielson SHUTTLE bus is less than the upgrade cost. SO if you have the time in Denali Park- this may be an option to get far enough into Denali Park. Other consideration- would be to change your tour with a longer one, usually the ones 5 days or less won't have time for the upgrade.