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Old March 20th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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Default port or starboard / excursion in Juneau

I will be visiting Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria in July.

I read on a few of the posts in this forum that the port side of the ship is recommended for the best views of Glacier Bay. I will be on the top decks to take in the view but I did book a cabin with a balcony and would like to take advantage of that too. I recently switched to the port side - can anyone confirm that the port side offers the better view?

I have plans for excursions in all of the ports except Juneau. I'm planning a sea plane visit to Misty Fjords in Ketchikan so I don't want to spend the money on a plane or helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. I would like to go sea kayaking but have heard good things about the river raft float trip. Is it worth doing both or should I do just one and then take a bus out to Mendenhall? I have 13 hours in Juneau and would like to make the most of it. Any suggestions?
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Old March 20th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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We've been to Glacier bay twice. Both trips our balcony was on the port side. The first trip we pulled up to the Margerie glacier and for about 1/2 hour the port side of the ship was facing the glacier. The ship then did a 180 pivot and spent an equal amount of time with port facing the glacier.
On our second trip the ship pulled up with port facing the glacier however was farther away from the glacier as the previous trip. The ship then did a U-turn and the starboard side was much closer than the port had been. My guess is that it's Captain's choice as to how they approach the glaciers.

Also on our first trip the ship pulled up to the Johns Hopkins inlet and hovered for a while. On our second trip the ship entered the inlet all the way to the far end. Very spectacular. I believe this might be due to mating season for seals in the area in which the inlet is closed to ships at certain times. Both trips however were the same time of the year, the 2nd week in August.

In Juneau, I've heard that the river raft float trip isn't so great.
I suggest yes, take the bus to Mendenhall glacier. It's a beautiful area with a very nice visitor center. You will not need to pre-book the bus. There are kiosks at the dock where you can sign up and head to the glacier.

I also recommend a whale watch excursion. It's a great trip and you will see whales and likely very closely. We used Orca enterprises for our trip.
Do pre-book a whale watch trip.

If the weather's clear you might consider the sky tram to the top of Mt. Roberts. Incredible views from the top. Again, no need to pre-book this. The tram station is right at the dock. If you're afraid of heights you might want to pass up this however.
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Old March 21st, 2006, 07:48 AM
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I think part of the time you are at the glacier, you'll want to go up on the top deck to get a good view. You hopefully will be there for at least an hour and when we were there the captain turned the ship in a 360 so everyone got a good look at it. It was also nice to sit on the balcony after awhile and out of the wind. Either way, you should have some excellent views of the glacier.
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Old March 21st, 2006, 08:11 AM
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The port side reference is for more than the end of Glacier Bay at the Grand Pacific and Margerie. It is for the entire sailing into the bay. You pass no glaciers on the starboard side and all the commentary is on the way in.

For clairfication- sailing up to the John Hopkins glacier is closed until Sept 1. Has been so for at least the 10 years I have been sailing Glaicer Bay. It is a harbor seal sanctuary, nothing to do with mating.

I never recommend the Mendenhall float trip, compared to all the tours in Alaska I have taken, this rates near the bottom. You get only a brief distant view of Mendenhall, rest of trip is trees and back yards. In my opinion, money is better spent elsewhere.

Again my opinion only, since you are willing to spend $100+ on a Juneau tour, then either up the amounts and go with a glacier helicopter landing- superior to Misty Fjords in my experience, or consider a whale watch perhaps- close to 100% sightings of humpbacks.
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Old March 21st, 2006, 12:48 PM
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The way I figure it is that entering the inlet to Margerie the glaciers are port and exiting the glaciers on on starboard....so it's a wash.

Either our Capatain broke the law or for some reason they adjusted the rule for entering the Johns Hopkins inlet because we did enter to the end. It was the 2nd week in August of 2002.

I'd post a couple of photos....if I could figure out how. [/img]
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Old March 21st, 2006, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen16
The port side reference is for more than the end of Glacier Bay at the Grand Pacific and Margerie. It is for the entire sailing into the bay. You pass no glaciers on the starboard side and all the commentary is on the way in.

For clairfication- sailing up to the John Hopkins glacier is closed until Sept 1. Has been so for at least the 10 years I have been sailing Glaicer Bay. It is a harbor seal sanctuary, nothing to do with mating.

I never recommend the Mendenhall float trip, compared to all the tours in Alaska I have taken, this rates near the bottom. You get only a brief distant view of Mendenhall, rest of trip is trees and back yards. In my opinion, money is better spent elsewhere.

Again my opinion only, since you are willing to spend $100+ on a Juneau tour, then either up the amounts and go with a glacier helicopter landing- superior to Misty Fjords in my experience, or consider a whale watch perhaps- close to 100% sightings of humpbacks.
Thanks to everyone who has responded! I'm going to keep my cabin on the port side of the ship but will most likely be on the top deck anyway. I'll skip the rafting float trip in Juneau.

Karen - is sea kayaking worth the time and effort? Also, do you have any suggestions for local helicopter companies? I've found several online and would prefer to book direct and not through HAL.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 07:56 AM
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It may be a "wash" on the views of the glaciers, but as I have mentioned, all the commentary and extended viewing is on the way in. Essentially on the way out, you are just sailing by.

Sea Kayaking is excellent out of Ketchikan. Look at Southeast Kayak for independent booking.

I do give an edge to Coastal Helicopters out of Juneau.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 08:31 AM
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As previous posters have said the ship does turn in front of Hubbard Glacier in Glacier Bay. Port or starboard will get about the same time. The biggest thing is making certain you are on deck early to get a good veiwing spot because the glacier is calving and you might miss it if you stay in the room. We saw 5-6 calvings when we were there in June 05. It was raining and we just bundled up and got wet but the sounds of the glacier was much of a surpise as the calving.

The Juneau whale watching and Mendenhall glacier tour was great. Whales, bald eagles, seals and the view were beautiful.

Enjoy Alaska. I love it.

When I figure out how to down load to this site I will post some pictures
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Old March 26th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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http://cruisemates.com/gallery/

I have downloaded a few pictures. Alaska-Mike Barlow Gallery
Hope you like them. I will add to this as time permits.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arrowhead55
As previous posters have said the ship does turn in front of Hubbard Glacier in Glacier Bay. Port or starboard will get about the same time. The biggest thing is making certain you are on deck early to get a good veiwing spot because the glacier is calving and you might miss it if you stay in the room. We saw 5-6 calvings when we were there in June 05. It was raining and we just bundled up and got wet but the sounds of the glacier was much of a surpise as the calving.

The Juneau whale watching and Mendenhall glacier tour was great. Whales, bald eagles, seals and the view were beautiful.

Enjoy Alaska. I love it.

When I figure out how to down load to this site I will post some pictures
For clairfication- Hubbard Glacier is NOT in Glacier Bay. Front viewing is best here, since it is a 6+ mile wide glacier area, sailing in and out of Yakutat Bay.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 02:33 PM
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I stand corrected. It was the Margarie Glacier we watch in Glacier Bay on Dawn Princess not the Hubbard Glacier as I previously posted. I just looked it up on the map to be certain I had the correct name this time.

I will also correct the name in the photo gallery.
Sorry for the misinformation.
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