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...
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.
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.
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...