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Old November 5th, 2008, 01:28 PM
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Default MUST DO Alaska excursions.....looking for advice.

I booked a Carnival (7 day Northbound) cruise (6/24/2009)

http://www.carnival.com/Itinerary.as...=7&shipCode=SP
&subRegionCode=AN&rateCode=B&sailingID=46758
&sailDate=6/24/2009

Day Port of Call Arrive Depart Shore Excurions

Wednesday, Jun 24 Vancouver, BC, Canada 5:30pm View Shore Excursions

Thursday, Jun 25 Cruise Inside Passage View Shore Excursions

Friday, Jun 26 Ketchikan, AK 6:30am 5:00pm View Shore Excursions

Saturday, Jun 27 Juneau, AK 9:00am 11:00pm View Shore Excursions

Sunday, Jun 28 Skagway, AK 7:00am 5:00pm View Shore Excursions

Sunday, Jun 28 Cruise Lynn Canal View Shore Excursions

Monday, Jun 29 Sitka, AK 6:30am 5:00pm View Shore Excursions

Tuesday, Jun 30 Cruise Prince William Sound View Shore Excursions

Tuesday, Jun 30 Cruise College Fjord View Shore Excursions

Wednesday, Jul 01 Anchorage (Whittier), AK 7:00am View Shore Excursions



A little trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary...can't wait!

My wife & I are in late 30's and pretty active. I'm interested in extending our trip to see Denali as well.
It seems pretty clear that you can definately get more bang for your $ by booking the excursions on your own as opposed to booking through the cruiseline.
Seems if we were to splurge on 1 excursion, it should be a Heli-tour (with hike) any recommendations?
we'd also be interested in any "hidden gems" like a friendly local tavern with amazing seafood.
An AlaskaRailroad trip also seems like a must do.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

Jon
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Old November 7th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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Not sure what you are asking??? There are hundreds of excellent tours in Alaska to consider, few that are not worthwhile. What are your interests??? You can glacier trek without a flight, a couple hours from Anchorage.

IF you want to do interior touring, including Denali Park, you need at least 4 extra days, better is more, so to include more. Denali Park and Seward are definately hot spots in Alaska, to consider.

As for your "Alaska RR trip", the train is the White Pass RR, if you are referring to a touring train. The Alaska RR is transportation and doesn't have the scenery, history or engineering, that the White Pass does.

Northstar trekking is an excellent independent company out of Juneau.

Be advised, independent tours are NOT always significantly cheaper. The real reason to consider them is for the superior tours, sometimes longer and alway more personal attention and smaller groups.

Always have all plans and reservations in place before you leave. There is little available at the dock.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
As for your "Alaska RR trip", the train is the White Pass RR, if you are referring to a touring train. The Alaska RR is transportation and doesn't have the scenery, history or engineering, that the White Pass does.
I booked a 6 day land tour before my cruise. Not sure if i should do White Pass because I would be spending so much time on trains as it is.

Since I don't plan on going back to Alaska, I want to experience all that I can.

Should I do White Pass anyway? And if so, which segment(s) should I take?

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 07:33 PM
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I thought seeing the White Pass was well worth the time and listening to the local history over the years. Unless there is something else you'd rather do, I think you'd enjoy it.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 08:12 PM
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Thanks Donna,

I have heard many good things about White Pass, but never any comments on Alaska RR. Trying to compare.

Not wanting to miss anything...

Any thoughts in Ketchikan? I have been told to do a floatplane in Misty fyords. spelling?
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Old November 7th, 2008, 09:31 PM
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Hi Worth,
If you do a floatplane, yep, Ketchikan would be the place to do it. They pretty much fly all day long.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worthew8
Thanks Donna,

I have heard many good things about White Pass, but never any comments on Alaska RR. Trying to compare.

Not wanting to miss anything...

Any thoughts in Ketchikan? I have been told to do a floatplane in Misty fyords. spelling?

There is no comparism to the White Pass RR and Alaska RR. Not sure what your routing is, but Anchorage/Fairbanks just about parallels the Parks Highway. Very slow travel, with too many trees for my preferences. Big negative is you miss all the "small" ad lib stops available along the way. Best it to have a stop in Talkeetna so to break up the trip. By far, the MOST scenic portion of the Alaska RR is Anchorage/Seward.

The White Pass RR, narrow gage, spectacular and superior in scenery compared to the Klondike Highway, loaded with history and an engineering interest. It's not for everyone, but certainly a top rated tour for many.

Ketchikan is a great interesting city. Plenty to see and do, with Misty Fjords flightseeing a top tour choice. I have done this many times, and never tire of the beauty!!
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Old November 8th, 2008, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worthew8
Quote:
As for your "Alaska RR trip", the train is the White Pass RR, if you are referring to a touring train. The Alaska RR is transportation and doesn't have the scenery, history or engineering, that the White Pass does.
I booked a 6 day land tour before my cruise. Not sure if i should do White Pass because I would be spending so much time on trains as it is.

Since I don't plan on going back to Alaska, I want to experience all that I can.

Should I do White Pass anyway? And if so, which segment(s) should I take?

Any help would be appreciated.
As only a suggestion, be CERTAIN, you understand, fully, everything about what you purchased in your land tour. Most people do not. With your "prioirty" of "experience all that you can", may not be what you think it is?? Train travel interior Alaska, bypasses and misses a lot of touring options available.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 01:06 PM
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Thanks Karen,

I know what is in my land tour(thouroughly), my problem is what to do on shore excursions.

I'm starting the land tour in Fairbanks, then Denali Park, then Mt McKinley. All of them with Princess Lodges and most of them with land excursions included. After that, I cruise the inside passage. My concern was, after all the train traveling involved in the land tour, did I want to do White Pass or try something else.

I'm trying to avoid doing the same thing twice. T me there is no use doing a floatplane at every stop I make, so I am now in the process of deciding what I want to do and the best place to do it.

My interests include whale watching, sea kayak (glacier?), air trip (either Mt. Mckinley or Misty Fjord), Northern Lights (which is why I booked the third week of August... dark out, no moon, hoping for good weather).

Already included the land portion is a gold mine tour, steamboat cruise, Denali Park tour, and some others.

So, my dilemma...I know what I AM doing, what else do I want to do and where is the best place to do it?
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Old November 9th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worthew8
Thanks Karen,

I know what is in my land tour(thouroughly), my problem is what to do on shore excursions.

I'm starting the land tour in Fairbanks, then Denali Park, then Mt McKinley. All of them with Princess Lodges and most of them with land excursions included. After that, I cruise the inside passage. My concern was, after all the train traveling involved in the land tour, did I want to do White Pass or try something else.

I'm trying to avoid doing the same thing twice. T me there is no use doing a floatplane at every stop I make, so I am now in the process of deciding what I want to do and the best place to do it.

My interests include whale watching, sea kayak (glacier?), air trip (either Mt. Mckinley or Misty Fjord), Northern Lights (which is why I booked the third week of August... dark out, no moon, hoping for good weather).

Already included the land portion is a gold mine tour, steamboat cruise, Denali Park tour, and some others.

So, my dilemma...I know what I AM doing, what else do I want to do and where is the best place to do it?
Whale watching is only available to you out of Juneau, same with glacier kayaking. As I already stated, there is NO comparism to the Alaska RR and the White Pass RR, determine for yourself what you want here. I already posted an accurate description of each. Float planes are out of Juneau and Ketchikan. IF you want to see McKinley, your only likely way is with a flightseeing. I do suggest, if this is a tour you wish, you book this upon arrival or just before departure from Talkeetna, you must already know that it is an hour transfer between there and the McKinley Lodge??? You may not want to make this transit more than you have to?? You don't mention what cruisetour you are on, or how many nights you are at each lodge??? You have a very slim chance of seeing Northern Lights, it will be an "off" year in 2009 and you are still early for any viewing, it is NOT dark third week of August with twilight past 10pm, which is extended. Fairbanks is your best spot, but you need your own car and the ability to get out of Fairbanks, you don't see them in the city. The Denali Princess is totally lit up 24/7, again you need your own car to get out of this. The McKinley Lodge is the best place, so hopefully you will have some luck here. You will be having to walk out of the tree cover, depending on what lodge you are in.

I made a general suggestion about cruisetours, glad you are prepared. Over and over on message boards it is not the case. Many have no clue about the worthless Natural History tour, that Princess has table seating with 2 riding backwards the entire trip in assigned seats, it's an hour shuttle each way to the McKinley lodge etc etc etc.

Being informed, if the way to go.
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Old November 9th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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Any excuse to pull in one of my new youtube videos. This was from the shore excusion in Skagway. We did the wheeled cart Sled Dog Camp. This was a great excusion I like the video cause it gives you a feel of what the ride was like.
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Old November 9th, 2008, 08:53 PM
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Zip lines and whale watching. INCREDIBLE
Zip lines we were soaring with a bald eagle...... Loved it
Whale watching.... OMG such an incredible sight.
Good Luck!!!!!
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Old November 10th, 2008, 04:06 AM
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I noticed a lot of questions about the White Pass Railroad. We were able to do both the White Pass Train trip and the dog sled trip while in Skagway. It just really depends on how much time you have in port. I really enjoyed the train and would suggest it. I do have a youtube video of our White Pass Railroad trip. I hope this helps.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Awesome! Thanks Katlady, do you have anymore videos?
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Old November 10th, 2008, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worthew8
Awesome! Thanks Katlady, do you have anymore videos?
I have a bunch I still need to post. One really good Humpback Whale video. I have the Carnival Freedom waiters dancing. I just added a Disneyland electric light parade video. All my videos are available at this link. I'm new to posting videos, so I don't have to many yet. http://www.youtube.com/katlady5000
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Old November 10th, 2008, 09:34 PM
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Okay I couldn't resist this is video also from the Sled Dog Camp shore excursion. They had sled dog puppies. They are too cute.
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Old November 11th, 2008, 12:20 PM
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I want one!
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Old November 11th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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I want one!
I was going to sneak one back on to the ship. But they move around to much. They would love the buffet.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 05:35 PM
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Default Re: MUST DO Alaska excursions.....looking for advice.

Jon,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I booked a Carnival (7 day Northbound) cruise (6/24/2009)

http://www.carnival.com/Itinerary.as...Date=6/24/2009

Day Port of Call Arrive Depart Shore Excurions

Wednesday, Jun 24 Vancouver, BC, Canada 5:30pm View Shore Excursions

Thursday, Jun 25 Cruise Inside Passage View Shore Excursions

Friday, Jun 26 Ketchikan, AK 6:30am 5:00pm View Shore Excursions

Saturday, Jun 27 Juneau, AK 9:00am 11:00pm View Shore Excursions

Sunday, Jun 28 Skagway, AK 7:00am 5:00pm View Shore Excursions

Sunday, Jun 28 Cruise Lynn Canal View Shore Excursions

Monday, Jun 29 Sitka, AK 6:30am 5:00pm View Shore Excursions

Tuesday, Jun 30 Cruise Prince William Sound View Shore Excursions

Tuesday, Jun 30 Cruise College Fjord View Shore Excursions

Wednesday, Jul 01 Anchorage (Whittier), AK 7:00am View Shore Excursions



A little trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary...can't wait!

My wife & I are in late 30's and pretty active. I'm interested in extending our trip to see Denali as well.
It seems pretty clear that you can definately get more bang for your $ by booking the excursions on your own as opposed to booking through the cruiseline.
Seems if we were to splurge on 1 excursion, it should be a Heli-tour (with hike) any recommendations?
we'd also be interested in any "hidden gems" like a friendly local tavern with amazing seafood.
An AlaskaRailroad trip also seems like a must do.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Alaska is incredibly rich, with more variety of things to do than even the major cities of Europe! And the ships dock right in town in all of your ports of call except Sitka, where they tender, for convenient access. So where to begin?

>> In Ketchikan, the shore excursion to Saxman Village is very interesting. There you're greeted by an interesting collection of unique Inuit totems. You'll have a chance to watch totem carvers at work (and their totems are for sale, too), and your guide will explain the significance of the totems. You'll also proceed to the Clan House where members of a local tribe will present a show of their traditional dances. Returning to town, there's a historic tavern right on the waterfront and plenty of shops where you can browse before returning to the ship. Also in this port, the Duck Tour is a very good option.

>> Juneau is a very walkable city that you can see on your own quite easily. If it's a clear day, take the tram at the end of the warf up to the top of Mount Roberts for some spectacular views. Returning to the pier, the State Capital, just a few blocks to the north, offers free tours several times per day. A block beyond the capital, the Church of St. Nicholas (Russian Orthodox) has an impressive array of icons and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic) has some interesting art, so both are worth a visit. Returning to the waterfront area, you'll find many shops with souvenirs that reflect the area's Russian heritage, including traditional Russian nesting dolls. And the city also offers more adventurous activities including shore excursions visit the famous Mendenhall Glacier by land, sea, and air, Zip Line excursions, Whale Watching excursions, and excursions that Pan for Gold.

>> If it's your first visit to Skagway, I highly recommend taking two shore excursions -- one that goes to the Eagles' Hall for a show called The Days of '98 Revue Starring Soapy Smith which is set in the days of the Yukon Gold Rush (some cruise lines combine this with a tour of the city) and the other being the ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) that others have described. The WP&YR is a narrow gauge railroad built with "pick and shovel" (and a bit of dynamite) in a period of nine months in 1897-1898 to haul miners, equipment, and supplies into the Yukon Territory during the "Days of '98" (that is, the Yukon Gold Rush). Nonetheless, there are many other worthwhile shore excursions as well -- including the "Ghosts and Goodtime Girls" walking tour of Skagway's back alleys and skelatons. There's also a historic tavern and a collection of shops in this town, but you probably won't have time because there's too much else to do.

>> Finally, Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska and that heritage is manifest in the city's historic sites, which include the governor's residence, the cathedral, and the fort, as well as in the troupe of Russian folk dancers who perform several times each day when cruise ships come to visit. You also can visit the Raptor Center, which treats injured bald eagles and other raptors and returns them to the wild.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 07:30 PM
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We're cruising to Alaska the first part of September. Hubby would like to book the Whitepass Railroad excursion, but I'm prone to motion sickness and have a fear of heights. Is there much rocking or sideways motion on the train?
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Old December 4th, 2008, 07:46 PM
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Hi Pixie,
It is a train ride after all and you go up in the mountains, sometimes your husband may not want to look over the edge. Its a beautiful scenic ride with lots of knowledge along the way.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 08:58 PM
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The White pass is a must see in Skagway. The conductors explain the history and history of the pass and the train. You also get see the actual trail the the goldseekers followed
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Old December 8th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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If you have motion sickness issues, then you already know, this is a possibility for you?? It's not the best idea for someone with a fear of heights. I do suggest you consult your health care professional for motion sickness prevention. There are excellent products to consider.

I have also seen MANY sick passengers on cruiseships. The always "smooth as glass" reports are myths.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 05:52 PM
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Pixie Dust,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We're cruising to Alaska the first part of September. Hubby would like to book the Whitepass Railroad excursion, but I'm prone to motion sickness and have a fear of heights. Is there much rocking or sideways motion on the train?
The White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) maintains the active segment of its main line in excellent condition, so irregular motions are pretty minimal. If you are prone to motion sickness, you might want to sit in the middle of the car where effects of any sway would be the least -- but I really doubt that it will be any worse for you than aboard the ship.

And if you are afraid of heights, just take an aisle seat rather than a window seat to limit how much "down" you can see.

Norm.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 06:12 PM
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Don't go on the train. It is a wonderful ride. However, you go up high on a tiny train track and the train moves a lot. The train can not stop because you are sick. It's better to do something you will both enjoy.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 11:05 PM
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Snorkeling in Ketchikan was my favorite. This was offered on my last PRINCESS cruise. Great time!
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Old January 28th, 2009, 12:57 PM
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you have to do the white water rafting trip! its sooooooo fuunn i did it on my first alaska cruise in 2nd grade and it was soooooooooo fuunn im doing it again this summer!
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Old April 6th, 2009, 07:35 PM
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I'm a new member on cruisemates and found this thread to be most informative.

we have a cruise and land package with princess booked for 8/1-8/13.
for my wife, our 16 year old and 12 year old boys, and myself. We have never cruised before.

Itenary allows 7 hours in Ketchikan
12 hours in Juneau,
13 hours in Skagway

we also go to glacier bay and college fjord, but as I understand no off boat
excursions occur at those stops.

we then land at whittier and train to McKinley Princess Lodge for 2 nights

then we have 1 night at Denali Princess Lodge and then 1 night in Fairbanks before departure.

questions for knowledegable members

1. In Skagway we're torn between White Pass RR and the Eagle preserve float boat to Haines. Any comments on which is better and why?

2. I think we'll do a combo bus to Mendenhall glacier and boat out to whales. Is this a mistake?

3. In Ketchikan, sounds like Misty Fiord but which is better, by seaplane or boat?

4. We can book all of these through Princess, or should we use independents. If so, can you recommend good providers for these activities.

5. Haven't booked any excursions yet, is it too late? Want to book them
this week but I need feedback.

6. At McKinley Lodge, no excursions are provided as part of the tour. What excursions would you recommend. I think the kids would really like to see wildlife over viewing Mt. McKinley.

7. At Denali Lodge a 4-5 hour natural history tour is included. Is this a good excursion or should we be doing some other activity?

8. Sounds like we won[t get to see northern lights. This has alway been a lifelong dream for me, any ideas how it might be possible to see them?
I would stay up till 3:00 am to see them if that what it takes.

9. Packing advice, what do we need to be sure we bring to enjoy ourselves? As I say were novices at this.

I thank all you knowledgable members in advance for your suggestions and advice.
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Old April 6th, 2009, 09:37 PM
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Welcome to CruiseMates, estoniankid!

I too am taking my family to Alaska this summer (July). I have been planning since August and this is what I have learned. (The others who have actually been to Alaska will be along shortly to help you):

We, too, have a long port stop in Skagway, so we have booked two excursions. Maybe you don't have to choose one or the other either. If the budget allows, try both!

A whale watch is a must --- don't really think it matters how you do it as long as you go. Many of the private tours have been booked for a while but you should have no problem booking through the cruise line.

Packing: Definitely need binoculars and rain gear. Other than that, just some clothes to layer. Most have a tendancy to overpack.

You are going to love cruising! We were hooked after our first.
Make sure you come back and give us a report of how your trip went.
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Old April 11th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estoniankid
I'm a new member on cruisemates and found this thread to be most informative.

we have a cruise and land package with princess booked for 8/1-8/13.
for my wife, our 16 year old and 12 year old boys, and myself. We have never cruised before.

Itenary allows 7 hours in Ketchikan
12 hours in Juneau,
13 hours in Skagway

we also go to glacier bay and college fjord, but as I understand no off boat
excursions occur at those stops.

we then land at whittier and train to McKinley Princess Lodge for 2 nights

then we have 1 night at Denali Princess Lodge and then 1 night in Fairbanks before departure.

questions for knowledegable members

1. In Skagway we're torn between White Pass RR and the Eagle preserve float boat to Haines. Any comments on which is better and why?

2. I think we'll do a combo bus to Mendenhall glacier and boat out to whales. Is this a mistake?

3. In Ketchikan, sounds like Misty Fiord but which is better, by seaplane or boat?

4. We can book all of these through Princess, or should we use independents. If so, can you recommend good providers for these activities.

5. Haven't booked any excursions yet, is it too late? Want to book them
this week but I need feedback.

6. At McKinley Lodge, no excursions are provided as part of the tour. What excursions would you recommend. I think the kids would really like to see wildlife over viewing Mt. McKinley.

7. At Denali Lodge a 4-5 hour natural history tour is included. Is this a good excursion or should we be doing some other activity?

8. Sounds like we won[t get to see northern lights. This has alway been a lifelong dream for me, any ideas how it might be possible to see them?
I would stay up till 3:00 am to see them if that what it takes.

9. Packing advice, what do we need to be sure we bring to enjoy ourselves? As I say were novices at this.

I thank all you knowledgable members in advance for your suggestions and advice.
You have chosen a great cruiseline and have plenty of opportunities for some great touring. I am a strong independent advoate, and have been so for many years in Alaska.

Both your Skagway choices are great- if of interest?? The White Pass is loaded with history, engineering, and superior scenery compared to the Klondike Highway. The float trip in Haines is very scenic, do NOT expect any other wildlife other than a few eagles. You are going out of season, for those massive amount of birds. AND you most certainly can see eagles all over on your cruise portion, just look. Necessary is a good pair of binoculars, at least 10 power.

Whale watching out of Juneau is a great choice, however, independent is superior with allowing you unlimited time at Mendenhall. There is some decent hiking, visitor center, sometime ranger programs. A ship combo booked tour only has about 45 minutes at Mendenhall. You want to consider prearranging a pick up/drop off with an independent, then you would take the shuttle bus in the other direction.

I have sailed Misty Fiords and in my opinion, I will ALWAYS fly, seeing it from the air is excellent and really shows the vastness and beauty of Alaska. Independents are definately superior as NONE of the ship contracted vendors, allow you on land. They do land the plane, but then only allow you to walk out and back on the pontoons. Independents, can let you out onto land, various hiking extensions are also available. But in your PRIME TIME timeframe, the bear tours are excellent out of Ketchikan. These will be salmon diet blacks.

As for your cruisetour, it isn't a good choice. The 2 nights at McKinley lodge, have NO option for the wildlife of "Denali Park". You are 100 miles away. This lodge is also 50 miles from the nearest town, Talkeetna, flightseeing is about the only worth while activity, and likely your ONLY chance to see McKinley, if a priority. Your single night at Denali Park and definately your Natural History tour is a BIG MISTAKE, with your "wildlife" priority. You are NOT getting into the park. The Park Road in is 90 miles, this tour is the public road going to mile 16. You need to consider AT LEAST the tour bus to Tundra Wilderness Tour, mile 53 or my min, distance in - Eielson via shuttle bus. You need to educate yourself here- details. www.nps.gov/dena

You have NO chance of northern lights, you are going too early. You need to look at end of August or later, plus this is an off year. Next peak is 2012.

You also need to be fully aware of the distances involved, and be prepared for your kids to be the only ones on your cruisetour, very very few go. Demographics overall are older. This is far from, a good family travel option, since it is fixed point to point touring. You may be far better off having the freedom of seeing and doing, many times more than you are going to get from this??? If you continue with this cruisetour- I would first try and switch it to one that has 2 nights at the Denali Princess and 1 at the McKinley Princess- an absolute priority, with your wildlife comment. Then be certain to have triple the "stuff" to keep the kid occupied, batteries, food etc. Budget 50% more than you do at home for meals.

IF you want to rethink this- independent would definately be superior for your group, touring interior Alaska. Very, very simple, and would offer you way more opportunties for wildlife, of which at this point you have little.
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