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Old April 18th, 2006, 08:00 PM
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Default Young Couple on first Alaska cruise on Celebrity Summit May

We're both in our early 30's and have been on cruises before, but this is actually our first one to Alaska. I would love for anyone to recommend us shore excursions and give us tips on going there. Our trip is going to be on May 27 on the Celebrity Summit visiting Seward, Skagway, Juneau, Icy Strait, and Ketchikan. We are spending one day before in Anchorage and one day after in Vancouver. Do you guys buy your shore excursions through the cruise company or is it cheaper through someone else and if so, who? Any and all information is greatly appreciated.

We did get the Great Frontier shore excursion free in Skagway...so we have that!

Thanks!!!
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Old April 19th, 2006, 02:46 AM
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errie6,

We're both in our early 30's and have been on cruises before, but this is actually our first one to Alaska. I would love for anyone to recommend us shore excursions and give us tips on going there. Our trip is going to be on May 27 on the Celebrity Summit visiting Seward, Skagway, Juneau, Icy Strait, and Ketchikan. We are spending one day before in Anchorage and one day after in Vancouver. Do you guys buy your shore excursions through the cruise company or is it cheaper through someone else and if so, who? Any and all information is greatly appreciated.

Call your travel agent ASAP and inquire if the Grandview Rail Transfer from Anchorage to Seward is still available. It's a little more expensive than the bus transfer, but well worth the difference. You'll be much more comfortable on the train than on a bus!

As to your ports of call:

In Skagway, there are two "must see" attractions.

>> 1. Be sure to see the "Days of '98 Revue Starring Soapy Smith" at the Eagles Hall. You can either go on your own or take a shore excursion that includes the play.

>> 2. Be sure to take the excursion on White Pass & Yukon Route (real narrow gauge railroad) to Summit Lake. The scenery is spectacular and the railroad itself, built with pick and shovel in the late 1890's, is an engineering marvel even by modern standards because of the terrain through which it passes.

I recommend booking the rail trip through the shore excursion desk because the railroad sometimes operates as many as sixteen trains at once. If your ship's train gets delayed by congestion, the ship will wait for its return. If you are on another train that gets delayed by congestion, you could miss your ship.

In Juneau, there are many possibilities and I have yet to hear anything negative about any of the excursions. There's also plenty in town that you can see on your own. For example, the state capital, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Nativity are all within a block of one another just a few city blocks from the ship and completely free. You also can take the Mt. Roberts Tramway up to the summit from the base station right next to the pier.

in [b]Ketchikan[/i], Saxman Village (best booked as an excursion so the transportation will be seemless) is a worthwhile take where you'll see demonstrations of carving totem poles and enjoy a folkloric show of Tlingit dance. Alaska's fourth largest city also has other great opportunities to encounter indigenous culture. If you have time, the duck tour is also interesting.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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I do not recommend the cruiseline rail transfer. First off, it is $40 more than the regular run. You also have no time for much touring beforehand in Anchorage and little in Seward. Far superior is to take the regular run of the Alaska RR and getting into Seward a little after 11am. Then spend the day with some spectacular touring options. My top choice is a Kenai Fjords boat tour, way superior to anything you will see from your ship and if wildlife is a priority, this is your only opportunity for varied wildlife. www.kenaifjords.com has an 11:30am tour, they pick up at the depot, store your bags and shuttle you to your ship.

Other Seward options are Seavey's Sled dogs, Godwin's glacier helicopter, Exit Glacier, Sealife Center. Take advantage of being there. Here are some photos of Kenai Fjords- http://community.webshots.com/user/budgetqueen

As for shore tours- way too many excellent choices. Look over a shore excursion list and narrow down your interests. This isn't the place to skimp either.

It is not always cheaper to book independent, but they will give you a better tour with much more personal attention, longer tours etc. I recommend having all plans and reservations in place before you leave. You need to determine what tours you are interested in, then find a vender.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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>>I recommend booking the rail trip through the shore excursion desk because the railroad sometimes operates as many as sixteen trains at once. If your ship's train gets delayed by congestion, the ship will wait for its return. If you are on another train that gets delayed by congestion, you could miss your ship. <<

This often-stated reason to book on the ship is an "Urban Legend". No ship has ever left Skagway without passengers who were on a WP&YR train. There is only one track - any delay on the line makes everyone late, and that is extremely rare (usually a rockslide, every few years). The advantage "can be" because if you book on the ship, you board at your ship, if not you board 2-4 blocks away - handy for those with mobility issues.

Murray
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Old April 19th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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When we went on the White pass last year I think it was $93 per adult booked on Princess. It was about $10 difference last year booking at station vs. boat, not $40 difference. The train did drop us off at the station on its return to Skagway so we could walk around town.

I have attached the schedule website for you to compare to onboard booking.

It was worth everypenny I spent for the trip. Look at photos of our trip in the photo gallery.

http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=2759

http://www.wpyr.com/schedule.html
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Old April 19th, 2006, 01:17 PM
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Murray,

This often-stated reason to book on the ship is an "Urban Legend". No ship has ever left Skagway without passengers who were on a WP&YR train. There is only one track - any delay on the line makes everyone late, and that is extremely rare (usually a rockslide, every few years). The advantage "can be" because if you book on the ship, you board at your ship, if not you board 2-4 blocks away - handy for those with mobility issues.

Your statement about single track is true, but it has several sidings where trains going opposite directions can go by each other (called a "meet" in railroad lingo).

When demand warrants, the White Pass & Yukon Route (YP&YR) actually operates separate trainsets as "sections" for each ship, which deaprt from and return to the respective piers, and a "section" for local travellers, which departs from and returns to the station. The "sections" of each scheduled train officially run on the same timetable, but actually run perhaps five or ten minutes apart. At the end of the day, each ship waits only for the "section" that is carrying its shore excursion to return to its pier. If you are on a "section" for local travellers that's behind the "section" for your ship coming down the hill at the end of the day, you may find that the lag between your section and the section carrying the ship's excursion and the time required to walk from the station to the pier will have provided enough time for the passengers on the ship's excursion to return aboard and the ship to get underway before you get to the pier.

It's okay to buy tickets on a morning trip in town, but book afternoon rail excursions through your ship to be safe.

BTW, there's an excellent article about the WP&YR in the most recent issue of Trains magazine. The article notes that the railroad often runs sixteen or more passenger trains to accommodate demand on days when several ships are in port.

Norm.
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Old April 19th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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>>Your statement about single track is true, but it has several sidings where trains going opposite directions can go by each other (called a "meet" in railroad lingo). <<

But not where a cruise-ship-booked train can pass an independently-booked train. If one train is late, they're all late and the ship will be waiting. I've been dropping people off at the train and Skagway ships for 19 years now.
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Old April 20th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arrowhead55
When we went on the White pass last year I think it was $93 per adult booked on Princess. It was about $10 difference last year booking at station vs. boat, not $40 difference. The train did drop us off at the station on its return to Skagway so we could walk around town.

I have attached the schedule website for you to compare to onboard booking.

It was worth everypenny I spent for the trip. Look at photos of our trip in the photo gallery.

http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=2759

http://www.wpyr.com/schedule.html
My reference is for the Alaska RR, not the White Pass RR. Two, completely different trains in different areas. I am responding to the post about transfers between Seward and Anchorage. Which is clearly stated.
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