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Old January 20th, 2008, 09:05 AM
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Default Holland America Excursions (Flights)

Good day everyone.
I am heading to Alaska on the Westerdam at the beginning of August. We are trying to decide which "flight" excursion we want to do and get it booked so we don't get disappointed with a sell out.

I've read lots of excursion questions on here, but I still can't decide and am not quite sure those excursions would be the same as Holland America's.

The ones that I am offered are:

Juneau:
Dog Sled & Four Glacier by Helicopter Adventure $527 p.p
Dog Sled on Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter $534 p.p
Four Glacier Adventure by Helicopter $339 p.p
Glacier Flightseeing by Float Plane $199 p.p
Helicopter flightseeing & Glacier trek $399 p.p
Mendenhall Glacier by helicopter and walk $279 p.p
Taku Glacier Lodge, feast, and flight by float plane $274 p.p

Ketchikan:
Alaska Bear Adventure by floatplane $339 p.p
Magnificent Misty Fjords by floatplane $242 p.p
Neets Bay Bear Watch by floatplane $339 p.p

So that is all of them. No wonder I'm confused.

I guess my first question would be, is the actual flight more enjoyable than being on the glacier? I noticed the helicopter is in the air for about 10 to 25 minutes total, whereas some of the planes are up for almost 1 hour. Another question is whether the glaciers are that much different, as in, does it matter which glacier I land on for a trek?

We are hoping to do one of the above excursions, along with a snorkel or zip line.

I also noticed that some people were making private agreements to do the flights. Is that a much better deal than going through Holland America?

Thank you all for your help.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 10:27 AM
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I have flown many of your list. Be advised that glacier dog sledding is the most canceled of all Alaska tours, so always have back up plans, know what else is in port and be prepared for a fast decision- IF offered to consider a regular glacier helicopter landing or not.

My preference is definately for the landings rather than all fly overs. Significantly different experience.

Be aware with some ship excursion vendors, they can be "shuttle like" the flights are tightly booked and on a fixed time. You can encounter drop off/pick up schedules rather than landing and your pilot staying with you. Generally with independents, you have more personal attention and not as tight a timeframe. Most always, you can get some savings booking direct as well, if of interest.

One major factor, I recommend in Ketchikan, with any ship excursion, never book a bear watch that does NOT identify where it is going. This is a poor choice and has more possibility of being skunked. Everything depends on YOUR timeframe. Neets Bay is my recommendation, or Anan-IF at the begining of August??

Glaciers are in a constant state of change and each is unique, none "better" than others in my opinion.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 05:20 PM
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Karen, thank you very much for the information.

I will do some google searches to try to get some independent prices for tours.

Just curious, why is the dog sledding the most cancelled? I would think if the weather is bad, all Helicopters would be cancelled, not sure Dog Sledding.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vandutch
Karen, thank you very much for the information.

I will do some google searches to try to get some independent prices for tours.

Just curious, why is the dog sledding the most cancelled? I would think if the weather is bad, all Helicopters would be cancelled, not sure Dog Sledding.
Because the dog sledding is a fixed camp. There are many places that the pilots can go for a regular glacier landing.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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we've decided against the dog camp as we much prefer to get up on any glacier than running the risk of a cancellation and then nothing.

I think we're going to do a Helicopter ride and a hike. Holland America has one which is 30 minutes in a plane followed by a 2 hour hike on a glacier. It's $399, but I haven't been able to find any other companies that offer this length of an excursion, so I may have to book with the cruiseline on this one.

Any comments?
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Old January 27th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vandutch
we've decided against the dog camp as we much prefer to get up on any glacier than running the risk of a cancellation and then nothing.

I think we're going to do a Helicopter ride and a hike. Holland America has one which is 30 minutes in a plane followed by a 2 hour hike on a glacier. It's $399, but I haven't been able to find any other companies that offer this length of an excursion, so I may have to book with the cruiseline on this one.

Any comments?
Northstar Trekking, I believe they offer a 3 hour hike?? Here, longer is better. Consistantly reviews on the short hikes/treks were, regrets they didn't book the longer ones. I went glacier trekking and ended up out over 4 hours, and that time did fly by.
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