Need some activity advice for our Alaskan port stopsovers...
First, thanks to everyone who have helped with all the advice thus far. After researching for-EV-er we finally booked with HAL on the Oosterdam leaving out of Seattle this July 18, and my Mom and Grandma are so excited! For us this is truly going to be the trip of a lifetime!
Right now I'm looking for things to do with my family at our various ports of call. Grandma has Parkinson's and some mobility issues, although she can stand and walk for a little bit. Steps for her would be iffy, although we could probably manage if it meant getting to something really good, like a good train ride.
Here's where we'll be...
Juneau.....7a-8p....Wed Jul 21
Sitka........8a-5p....Thu Jul 22 (tendered)
Ketchikan..7a-1p.....Fri Jul 23 (helicopter ride?)
Victoria....6p-11p...Sat Jul 24
Seattle....11a-11p..Sun Jul 25 (dinner at Space Needle?)
Keeping Grandma in mind can anyone suggest good things for us to do at these ports? Originally we thought we might be in Skagway for the train ride but unfortunately we won't be stopping there. So, if there are any good train rides in any of these cities we'll probably try to go for it. If possible money and time wise I'll probably try to take Mom on a helicopter ride in Ketchikan.
So, I'm all ears for your suggestions! Thanks so much for your time and your advice! I'm sure I'll be back here to let everybody know how it all goes!
My husband and I are on an Alaskan cruise beginning July 24th and I'm looking for things to do also. I can't wait to see what kind of responses you get...maybe I'll get some ideas too!!
Will Grandma be in or have access to a wheelchair? I think a great option is to get a bus at the Juneau dock and head to the Mendenhall glacier. That's a sight everybody visiting Juneau should see. But as I recall, it's uphill from the parking lot to the viewing areas and the visitor center is even higher. Wouldn't be too hard to push a wheelchair around there though. If she can walk some by just taking time you could pull it off that way. Another highly recommended Juneau adventure is whale watching. No walking involved in that. It's great to watch these magnificent animals up close. You can do both the whale watch and Mendenhall. You'll have plenty of time. In fact on our whalewatch trip they dropped people off at the glacier on the return trip.
In Ketchikan, a non walking event that we found quite fun was the Duck tour. A nice tour of the town and then you drive into the channel. They pick you up at the dock. Again, with a wheel chair Ketchikan is an easy town to walk around (and push).
We didn't do any tours on our visit to Sitka. It wasn't one of our favorite ports. I don't know how much walking would be involved but I hear good things about the raptor center. You can buy a buspass for going around Sitka which would take you there and to other spots.
Enjoy the trip....you all will. HAL will treat you very well.
There are hundreds of tours. You need to do your homework and take a look at a shore excursion list and narrow down your interests. Determine your budget. Everyone needs to do this. There is no point in me raving about my favorites, if of no interest to you.
Consider splitting up as well. It's too costly to drag someone along with has no interest.
We've done the Alaska cruise three times. Here are our favorites:
Juneau.................................Whale Watching and/or Mendanhal Glacier
Ketchican.............................. Misty Fjords (Plane/Boat tour) The town is cute too though!
Sitka..................................... Explore the city on your own
Skagway.............................. Car Rental (lovely drive out the only Hwy)
Many people like the train ride. We hated it and felt like we were at Disneyland. But we live in an area very similar to the terrain of the train ride. Anyway for us it was a complete boring event and the "Goldrush Town" was even worse.
Victoria.................................. Either explore the main tourist waterfront or go to Butchart Gardens, limited time though. We usually find a highly rated restaurant and have a special dinner to celebrate the end of the cruise. By then you are sick of cruise ship food.
Consider the White Pass train ride in Skagway, the trains are right by the port, so it would be easy on Grandma and quite the scenic ride...
But all of the ports of call have very worthwhile shore excursions -- indeed, more variety than any other cruise destination anywhere in the world, including Europe! -- and many of the shore excursions are wheelchair accessible.
>> In Juneau, the cruise ships dock at a warf that's right in the heart of downtown so you can walk to all of the major attractions in the downtown area. The state capital building is about four blocks from the warf, easily walkable. The Mount Roberts Tramway is right at the south end of the warf, but I'm not sure whether it's wheelchair accessible or not. Also, the Mendenhall Glacier is a unique attraction and the Salmon Bake is probably the best known.
>> Sitka is best known for its Russian heritage, as it was the Russian capital of the Alaskan colony. The Russian dancers put on a pretty good show, and the Raptor Center probably also would be a good take. (BTW, HAL's tenders have special lifts for transferring wheelchair passengers.)
>> In Ketchikan, the shore excursion to Saxman Village is an outstanding opportunity to encounter the indigenous culture of the Tlingit. Also, the warf where the cruise ships dock is in the heart of the downtown area.
>> In Victoria, I think that Butchart Gardens are a "must."
Have a great cruise!
As I recall though, the Capital bldg is up a pretty steep hill so that might be tough...even in a wheelchair.
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