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Old May 12th, 2006, 10:41 PM
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Default White Pass Railway in Skagway - value questions

I see that many people recommend the WP&YR in Skagway. I am pretty interested in this. I went to the site and they make this comment for cruise passengers:
For convenient dockside service, please purchase your tickets from your cruise ship's shore excursion office.

It saves me $11 per person to book through the railway directly. How far is it really to the Depot from the ship?

Also, I did a spectacular rail tour in central Canada (Agawa Canyon Train Tour). Have any of you done that train tour also? Are they pretty similar that if I am trying to save money, I might be better spending more money on a flightseeing trip in Juneau or something else?

Thanks!
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Old May 13th, 2006, 04:16 AM
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Compared to the WP&YR, the Algoma Canyon run is like going across the Prairies - see the pics at http://explorenorth.com/articles/steamex.html
It's 4-6 blocks to the trqain depot from most docking positions.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 09:46 AM
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SuBHoney,

It saves me $11 per person to book through the railway directly. How far is it really to the Depot from the ship?

I would take the railroad's recommendation on this. Depending upon the day, the railroad may be running as many as sixteen different trains in multiple sections, and they sometimes return to Skagway right before the ships leave. If your ship's train is one of the first sections and the train from the depot is one of the last sections, the lag could cause you to miss the ship -- which would cost a lot more than $11 per person.

(A "section" is railroad lingo for a separate train, with its own locomotive and consist that officially operates on the same timetable as another train. The White Pass & Yukon Route frequently operates separate sections from the station and from each pier for the most popular trains when there are a lot of ships in port.)

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 07:02 PM
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>>I would take the railroad's recommendation on this. Depending upon the day, the railroad may be running as many as sixteen different trains in multiple sections, and they sometimes return to Skagway right before the ships leave. If your ship's train is one of the first sections and the train from the depot is one of the last sections, the lag could cause you to miss the ship -- which would cost a lot more than $11 per person.<<

Norm, yet again, what you're telling people is just not true. Ship-booked trains DO NOT pass independently-booked trains coming back to town. If one is late they all are, and that is rare.

Murray
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Old May 15th, 2006, 09:34 PM
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Murray,

Norm, yet again, what you're telling people is just not true. Ship-booked trains DO NOT pass independently-booked trains coming back to town. If one is late they all are, and that is rare.

The ship's section does not have to pass an indpeendently booked section to get back to town first. The ship's section just has to be in front of the independently booked section coming down the hill. If the train has multiple sections, that can happen quite easily.

On my first cruise to Alaska, the ship's section returned to the pier only a few minutes before the ship secured the gangway. Passengers on the independent section would have missed the ship, even arriving at the same time, because it takes about twenty minutes to walk from the station to the pier. This obviously depends on the timing of the ship's departure, but, I'm not going to take the chance of causing somebody to miss a ship by advising people to book the afternoon trip independently.

Norm.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 10:02 PM
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Key here is the booking, it's easy to book independent but I wouldn't do the last train, unless you have an after 9pm departure.

I would speculate most all people will want to get into Skagway so the "train picks up at the dock" sales point isn't an advantage since you would be walking into town for your touring. Shuttle buses at $1.50 are also available.

I agree, and please take no offense but Norm, you are posting inaccurate information on some of your posts.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 01:29 AM
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We were actually thinking of taking one of the first trains out after we arrive. We thought the morning would provide beautiful lighting and be a nice way to start the day. I'm not concerned with missing the ship. What i don't want is to plan a departure that is 15 minutes after we arrive and then have to walk 30 minutes to get to the depot. I don't think that we will be that tight on time, anyway.

Thanks for your honest responses.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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Karen,

I agree, and please take no offense but Norm, you are posting inaccurate information on some of your posts.

I am posting from the experience of having cruised to Alaska on two different lines, and the most recent trip was last summer. What I am posting is precisely what I have observed on those cruises. Your experience may be different, but my experience is not wrong.

Norm.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:40 AM
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SubHoney,

We were actually thinking of taking one of the first trains out after we arrive. We thought the morning would provide beautiful lighting and be a nice way to start the day. I'm not concerned with missing the ship. What i don't want is to plan a departure that is 15 minutes after we arrive and then have to walk 30 minutes to get to the depot. I don't think that we will be that tight on time, anyway.

The canyon opens toward the west and its walls are quite steep, so the morning sun would produce major shadows. Having only taken the afternoon train, I can't say whether this is good or bad -- the shadows might well be quite striking in their own right, but they also might obscure some of the scenery. Perhaps somebody who has taken the morning train can say which way it goes.

Norm.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 05:30 AM
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Here's what a morning (8:00) train trip looks like (no shadow issues) - http://www.explorenorth.com/articles/steamex.html
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Old May 19th, 2006, 01:33 PM
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Thanks for the pictures. Doesn't look like morning sun will be a concern.

I don't recall if we are docked or tendered at Skagway. If our ship arrives at 6:30 am as scheduled, even if I book independent and not with the ship, and if we are tendered am I pushing it to think that others with a ship excursion will be off and I'll still have time to get to the depot for an 8:15 train departure? Never been on cruise so I don't have understanding of how long it takes to "unload" everyone.

Thanks for all your help!

Sue
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Old May 19th, 2006, 09:39 PM
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Sue,

I don't recall if we are docked or tendered at Skagway.

Skagway usually has plenty of dock space, with two fairly large piers and a very long warf, so it's unusual for ships to anchor there.

The depot is about a 20 minute walk from the warf and even closer to the piers. If your ship arrives on time, you will have no problem whatsoever getting to the depot in time for the 08:15 train (unless you oversleep...). The historic downtown is directly behind the depot. If you book the train through your cruise line, though, you'll be protected if the ship arrives late for any reason -- either the railroad, working with the cruise line, will delay the train for the ship's passengers or you'll get a full refund if the excursion is cancelled.

Norm.
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Old May 21st, 2006, 08:39 AM
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Book the train on the ship. You get on the train at the dock and then you can get off in town when you return to site see there. We did this last year and it worked out great. The walk from town was nice also.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 06:28 PM
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We just did the White Pass RR last week in Skagway. Our ship was the second one docked on the pier, and the railroad tracks started just above where the first cruise ship had already docked.
Just book the excursion with the cruise ship.
There are two tracks where the docks are located, so two trains can be loaded at the same time. The Princess cruise ship passengers were going on one train and the Carnival people were loaded onto another train. We went on the 12:45 train. There was a lot of fog on top of the mountain that morning, but the mountain is so high that I suspect that the fog would have been burned off early in the morning. We left at 12:45 and pulled back into the dock area at aprox. 3:45.(Our ship sailed at 5:00).
The train station itself is in town, probably about a 20 min. walk, and there was at least one train being loaded that morning from that track.
I might be wrong, but I thought we were told on our ride that there were only 4 actual running trains now. I do know that there were 2 other trains(ours made 3) on top of the mountain, and they had to shuffle the trains around a little bit before we started back down the mountain.

Our train was full for the run that afternoon, and if anything had happened and we had been delayed, I can guarantee that the ship would not have sailed with all those people missing. Besides, it's just so easy... just get off the boat and go to the train that has someone beside it holding your ship's name. Easy as pie!!!!
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Old May 28th, 2006, 01:56 PM
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I went back and forth on this excursion also. I knew I wanted to do the train but which one to do whas where I was having major trouble deciding. I ended up booking through Chilkoot Charters and Tours. We are doing the Yukon Bus and Rail Excursion. This was $152 with Chilkoot and $173 with the ship. It sounded like they were picking us up right off the dock so am hoping that will be no problem. Chilkoot's is one hour shorter but that was fine with us. Their Summit Bus and Rail Excursion through them is $103 vs $106 on the ship so pretty much a wash there but I have read on here that taking the bus down gives some different scenery and more of a chance for photo stops. This should also be a smaller more personal tour I am hoping. If anyone has taken this tour I would love to hear what you thought of it.
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Old May 28th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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Judy,

I might be wrong, but I thought we were told on our ride that there were only 4 actual running trains now.

That's probably the number for that day. The railroad runs as many trains as necessary to meet demand. According to an article in the May 2006 issue of Trains magazine, the railroad runs as many as sixteen trains per day when a lot of ships are in port. Of course, sixteen trains do not require sixteen consists (sets of locomotives and coaches) since the afternoon trains use the same consists as the morning trains.

Our train was full for the run that afternoon, and if anything had happened and we had been delayed, I can guarantee that the ship would not have sailed with all those people missing.

The ships always wait for their shore excursions to return -- which is a significant benefit of booking through the line rather than independently. If the train from the station comes down the hill behind the train for your ship, your ship will not wait for the latter, or for you to walk to the ship from the station.

Norm.
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