Now for my next question about cruises, as this is our first so I'm full of them! We are going on the Norwegian Sun to Alaska in August and I can't seem to find much info out there about the shore excursions. What I would like is recommendations on which ones to go on and the ones NOT to go on. We have a list of the tours available, but they give you no details. Hope anyone can help. Thanks.
I was on the spirit last week:
In Ketichikan we took the Jeep and and Canoe tour adventure, it was ok but I am sure there is much better, they pair you up to 4 people in a jeep so you have to take turns driving, the drive lasts 1hr, then you get into a 20 man canoe, go across a lake, for some lunch, and then back. There is a lumber jack show (I did not go) and heard two different reviews, one said it was good, the other said they could not stand watching men chop wood for 1 1/2 hours.
In Juneau there is a lot to do, I suggest taking a helicoptor tour, it was amazing, you can book through the ship or there are some independent operators, you can find the independent operators by doing a search on the internet, we used www.coastalhelicoptors.com, there are plenty of others that do short or long trips including a hike, the helicoptor tour was one of the highlights of the cruise.
If Skagway is part of your itinerary, be sure to book the White Pass railroad which was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush.
You'll ride in vintage-style parlor cars and enjoy panoramic views of the mountains. The tour is narrated and soooooo picturesque.
I would recommend booking all Alaskan shore tours through the ship. Alaskan port stops are quite short, and there is a risk of a late return to the ship. If a ship sponsored tour is late, the ship will wait. If you're on your own, and return late----------the ship might sail without you.
Our favorite excursion on the Sun was the Tracy Arm catamaran excursion. You board a small ship (catamaran) in Juneau, and leave port at about 1:00, and then meet back up with the Sun at around 6:00 in the Tracy Arm fjord at South Sawyer Glacier.
While on the excursion, we saw 3-4 whales and great scenery. According to other posters, they will occasionally see bears and Dall sheep as well. You get to see North Sawyer Glacier, which I don't think the Sun went to, as well as closer views of South Sawyer Glacier. The catamaran maneuvered through the icebergs to get much closer to the face of the glacier. Unfortunately, it wasn't actively calving while we were there, but I've heard that frequently it does.
While we were there, the harbor seals were using the area as a birthing/mating area, as it is quite protected. We actually saw 2 seals give birth, as well as numerous ones sliding off the icebergs into the water and swimming around. I'm not sure if they will still be so numerous by August, as I think it was more of a seasonal thing.
I heard some ot the other passengers complain about the cost, when the Sun does see part of the same scenery, but we thought it was a great excursion.
As far as our other excursions, we used Sourdough Tours in Ketchikan to see both Totem Bight and Saxman Village. The tour was interesting, and our tour guide was great.
In Juneau, we took one of the city/Mendenhall glacier tours. I wasn't particularly impressed with the one we chose (not a ship excursion). The city tour wasn't much, and there was only about 45 minutes at Mendenhall glacier. Next time I'll do a little more research. We had actually planned on riding the Mt. Roberts tram, but it was so cloudy there wasn't any point.
In Skagway, we rented a car and drove to Emerald Lake. Beautiful scenery! If it had been just 2 of us, we would probably have done the train, but we had 4 people in our group and the car rental made more sense for this trip.
thanks shoreguy! I did download that list. After much researching on the net we've booked a whale watching trip, the Yukon Train and a walking tour of Ketchikan. We are so looking forward to this. We are going from Aug.22-29...when are you going?
Thanks to everyone who made suggestions.