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Old April 7th, 2007, 09:10 PM
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Default $500pp for an excursion? Yikes! What do you pay?

I don't consider myself a cheap person but I'm choking when I have to spend $1,500 for a 2 1/2 hour excursion to see a glacier and ride a dog sled. It seems extraordinarily expensive.

I usually budget around $1,000 for our excursions but that doesn't seem to apply in Alaska. Everything that looks fun seems to be in the $250-$500 range per person.

I don't want to go on a bus tour of gardens.

I usually stay with the ship excursions but may not this time around.

Please tell me what you're planning to spend for your Alaskan excursions and some of the things you are doing.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 10:18 PM
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Alaska tours are definately more costly. But they also are some of the best around. I never use the ship tours, and always book direct with venders- have done so for over 10 years of touring here. Many well run venders who give excellent tours- However, do not expect significant savings- but you will get a longer and more personal tour.

Glacier dog sledding is a given, costly tour. No way around it if you want it on snow and a sled. For clairfication you DO NOT drive your own sled. You are in tandem with a driver using 2 connected sleds. You can ride the breaks or in the basket. This is also the most canceled of all Alaska tours- always have back up plans, and think if you will accept a regular glacier helicopter landing if available. Know what else is available in the port so you can make some quick decisions and not waste valuable touring time.

The glacier dog sledding is far more snow based and sometimes, little if any ice. The regular glacier helicopter landings expose you to more ice and those blue colors.

As for tour costs- I take any tours I wish, always included are flights and a whale watch. Flights are the only way to really see the beauty and vastness of Alaska. I have taken many many many tours in Alaska in my 22 trips. Few I wouldn't repeat!!! I go in a cheap cabin which I don't care about, for me, it's whats outside the ship.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:26 AM
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Already booked the Photo Safari in Juneau and the Duck Tour in Ketchikan. We might do the rail tour in Skagway but want to wait and see what the weather brings - no point in going on it if you can't see through the clouds lol.

We are going on Septemebr 12th on the Spirit so hope to see some fall foliage en route :o)
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Old April 10th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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The float plane tours are cheaper than the helicopter tours. I booked the Misty Fjords National Monument tour with Island Wings in Ketchikan for $209/pp.
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Old April 10th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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I'm too frugal......er......cheap to rationalize the high cost of the flightseeing tours (there are 3 of us). So I sacrifice the beauty of those for lesser excursions.

I've mentioned before that I'm a pro-balcony person and feel the money's better spent for a week with a balcony than an hour or 2 flight tour. I still spend a greater amount of time out on the public decks than the balcony by the way.

And many (like Karen) feel the exact opposite about balconies vs tours. But the good news is we both really enjoy and are happy with our choices and that's all that counts, right?

Know what you like and how to spend your budget and go for it and you'll have a great time.

We've done the Duck tour and it's relatively cheap, you get a nice little tour of the town and then drive into the water. Very silly.....but fun.

White Pass train is awsome IMO.

The bus to Mendenhall is reasonable too.

If you check carefully the available tours you can fit your budget and still have a great time. Just do your homework.
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Old April 10th, 2007, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
I don't consider myself a cheap person but I'm choking when I have to spend $1,500 for a 2 1/2 hour excursion to see a glacier and ride a dog sled. It seems extraordinarily expensive.
i can totally relate! i have done a lot of traveling and usually my philosophy is that as long as you are spending the money to go on the trip you might as well do whatever you want to do when you get there... but this is my first alaska trip and it definitely has some of the priciest activities i've seen!

if you are an experienced cruiser i would try to plan most excursions independently from the cruise company since you will probably find better deals... i am a first time cruiser so i am more comfortable sticking with princess' excursions but i also did a lot of research to figure out what i could easily do on my own about town without ANY tour companies... my activity strategy is to do a little of everything which requires a lot more planning but i figure you get the most bang out of your vacation buck...


KETCHIKAN:
princess tour: "Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary tour" which includes a wildlife walk, feeding reindeer, and a bunch of other stops...
afterwards i plan to pick up a map at the ketchikan visitor's center to do a walking tour which includes many cool sounding sights and museums to check out... most notably i am looking forward to visiting Totem Heritage Center ($5) and Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery ($8)
The hatchery sounds especially neat... there is a resident pair of injured, flightless bald eagles in an enclosure that visitors can actually walk through and they hunt salmon swimming naturally through their enclosure... the cruise company charges a ton of money for a tour that includes this place but you can easily walk to it from the pier.

JUNEAU:
princess has a tour that combines Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska brewing company, and Chez Alaska Cooking School which is how i will be spending my morning and then after a break we are doing a whale watch cruise, also booked through princess (i looked around a little bit and independent tour companies didn't really seem much cheaper for that one) if we are not totally pooped by the time we get back from that we will probably just hang out in one of the tacky(in a good way) sounding bars on the pier for a round of some local brew at non-cruise booze prices.

SKAGWAY:
princess tour: wilderness kayaking... probably paying way too much for it but kayaking is a must for me so i like having the security... skagway is another town where it's really easy to walk to various inexpensive activities... museums and such... the national park service visitor center even has a free 45 minute walking tour... there are also some good hikes (free!) the "dangerous days of '98" show sounds funny and interesting... their website is down but you can get tickets in advance by emailing them and then getting them at will call(princess offers them at twice the price). i plan to just hang out at the red onion saloon to check out there brothel museum, hear some live music, and enjoy more alaskan amber beer...


ok so now the world knows what a crazy super planner person i am! if you want to know more details about the activities i mentioned let me know, or if you have particular activities you like i can tell you what i have researched about them... i am also visiting fairbanks and denali...
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Old April 10th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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ok so they admit you to the hatchery by paying them eight dollars not by smiling at them with sun glasses on 8) ! lol!


btw as far as dog sledding goes... maybe a good thing to save for a non-cruise adventure to alaska as there seems to be quite a few kennels that offer the summer wheeled sled experiences for pretty cheap... you just have to arrange it on your own. if you want to see huskies do their thang without riding a sled they have a demonstration at denali too... i assume it is free?
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Old April 11th, 2007, 01:10 AM
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I'm just skimming here, so forgive me if I'm being redundant.

What excursion is $500 pp? Unless you're WAY out in the land of totally custom, private, chartered tours, $500 pp seems excessive. I DO know that the cruise lines don't consider booking anything that they can't make 20% or more commission on, so any of the ship's tours are likely to have seriously inflated prices. The higher the base price of the tour, the more the ship makes since they charge a percentage... I've seen $250 pp tours that the ship makes 30% on, a shore coordinator makes a big cut, and the actual tour vendor is left with less than $90 to cover expenses for the entire tour. ACK! Definitely book directly with the vendor wherever you can.

RE: megs's comment about dogsled trips - the excursions with sleds on wheels are MUCH less spendy because there's no helicopter flight time involved to get thousands of feet up in the mountains to ride a dogsled on a glacier. An icefield dogsled tour IS also a flightseeing tour (and highly recommended by all who have taken one!) The wheeled sled camps are fun too, but you won't get the glacier flightseeing as a part of the tour.

-Case
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Old April 11th, 2007, 04:22 AM
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It's $505pp for a helicopter ride to a glacier and a dog sled ride. The whole excursion is only 2 1/2 hours. That's $1,515 for the 3 of us and as much as I want to do this, I can't spend that much for only a few hours. Most of the other excursions I looked into were around $200pp.

We have a 16 year old so whatever we do must be interesting for him too and because we live in Southern California, we don't want to do all the things that we do here like whale watching & kayaking.

I like the White Pass rail idea and will book that.

What took me by surprise was how much more the Alaskan excursions are compared to the Caribbean excursions. We're only a family of 3. I feel for those with 2 or more kids. Even though we won't be doing all the things that I wanted to do, I'm still planning to have a fantastic time.
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