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Old August 7th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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Default PEARL ALASKA EXCURSIONS IN SEPT - NEED HELP!!!

I am trying to figure out which excursions to book for our Sept 9th trip on the Pearl and (think) I have narrowed it down. I've been searching the net for reviews and information on the ones I think we'd like to do and would soooo appreciate some input from those of you who have been on some of these and what your thoughts/experiences have been - or what you would suggest instead of what I think we want. I keep putting off booking these because I'm afraid of not choosing the right ones. I've tried to do my homework but I'm still unsure.

Will probably go through NCL to book - first timers and don't want to get stuck anywhere.

In Skagway, Toast of the Goldrush
In Victoria Butchard Gadrens & Victoria Highlights

In Juneau Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake

Not sure about Ketchikan yet. Thought about Best of Ketchikan by Land & Sea, Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer, Ket. by Horse-Drawn Trolley

Do you do an excursion in every port???

Hubby says wait to book, not sure if that's a good idea. For sure the Mendenhall Glacier, not sure if it's worth it for the salmon bake, or how good it is - anyone??

We are not cruise people at all and this will be a very new experience for us. We are use to traveling on our own schedule, never on a specific time frame. I want to make sure that I chose the best excursions for us and for the money we are going to spend on them. Plus, it's hubby's 55th birthday and the excursions are on my dime!

We would love to walk the cities - we love to go and see the local areas but again, not sure what there is to see - we don't really like tourist traps. Any places you suggest that are in the towns that should be seen. Someone told us about The Red Dog Saloon??? Open to any and all suggestions!!!!

Personally, I am worried about what to wear - we live in Miami where winter garments are as hard to find as a palm tree in Alaska would be. I am not prepared for this trip at all and it's bringing a bit of apprehension with it. I have all but one fleece jacket that gets very little wear here - nothing else wintery. Are gloves necessary - those I can probably find.

Again, I truly would welcome any and all suggestions you may have. I want this trip to be a good one - we always wanted to go to Alaska and now we have the chance due to hubby winning a trip to anywhere in N.A. - we chose the Alaska and the Pearl, and I need to get these taken care of before I find us with nothing to look forward to.

Thanks in advance to you all - it's truly appreciated!!!!![/b]
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Old August 7th, 2007, 09:46 AM
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Hello Debelli,
We have done Alaska 3 times and we don't always do excursions. DH and I also like to stroll about town, stop into a local spot and partake of the local beer.

We were on the Pearl on the 7/15 sailinng and I did a review if you want to check it out but I did not talk about excursions. Our kids did though and they did not get any of their first choices on excursions because they waited til 4 weeks out to book. Just a piece of info for you.

Victoria, we did the gardens and they are beautiful. It was raining cats and dogs when we were there but it was still beautiful. The aroma was fabulous. There was also fireworks after dark. I don't remember if they do them by Sept though.

Skagway, I would recommend doing the White Pass Train. It is a beautiful ride. Some of the exursions have a salmon bake included and others go to a "gold rush village". Yes to the salmon, no, to the village.
The town is very, very, very tiny (600 people in the winter). Lots of pretty flowers but strolling about it doesn't take long. It is the most unspoiled of the bunch (meaning there is only 1 Diamond's Int'l)

Juneau - Mendenhal Glacier is a great tour. You can do this one on your own if you want. There are several tour companies at the pier (if you dock at the alternate pier, they shuttle you over to the main one - 2 minute ride). The bus fare out there is about $6, I think. Then you can come back when you're ready. If memory serves me the bus runs about every half hour. The whale watching was also nice, we did that one year. But some of the tours will do whale watching, salmon bake and Mendenhal. Just too much to pack into one trip.

We also did the Taku Lodge trip and it was terrific. Expensive but great. There was a taped narration (through headsets) and a tour of six glaciers. We set down on a river in front of a glacier at a wonderful lodge in the wilderness. We then had the best salmon I've ever eaten. Caught that morning and grilled as we watched. The area was beautiful to stroll while we waited for dinner, although the mosquitos were horrible. and being from Louisiana - we know mosquitos!

Ketchikan - we did this tour once that I thought would be cheesy and it was great. It was a crab something-something. You went out on a boat and checked crab pots while learning all about crabs then came back to a restaurant where they fed you all the king crab you could eat. There was also a competition between tables, but that's another tale. Ruined me forever for king crab. Kinda' like eating Hawaiian pineapples at the Dole plantation - it's never the same again.

One other year, we had a trip of a lifetime. Contracted with a lovely lady names Michelle (easy to find on the web) and did a float plane tour. Went through the Misty fjords (beautiful beyond words) and then put us down on a high alpine lake. We got out, walked around, oohed and ahhed. On the way back to the pier we saw a pod of orcas and she circled and circled til everyone had their fill and lots of photos.

Hope this helps.

Magnolia
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Old August 7th, 2007, 12:09 PM
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Thanks Magnolia - I actually did read your review before posting - very informative and I even took notes!

The Skagway tour didn't have the salmon bake, but the MHG does and was going to choose that one. Did you possibly hear and pros/cons from others who sailed when you did last month about what they liked/didn't like?

I'm a bit confused ont he Skagway tours - do all of the Whitepass tours have a train ride up and a bus ride back (or vice-versa)? There's a 3 1/2 hour tour, a 5 1/2 hour tour (the one I think we'll book) and then an 8 hour tour (DH says too long for his liking)

We are also 4 weeks out and I'm afraid once I make the overall decision I may have to start again from square one.

The MHG - easy enough to do this one on your own without going through NCL - and the salmon bake on your own as well?

You mentioned La Cocina on the ship being good - do you make res. when you board? If we decided to do just one restaurant on the ship that has a fee - which is voted best and is it really worth the fee?

Personally, as much as I love good food, I don't each much at one sitting - going to Vegas and doing buffets are really a waste for me, so, where food is always good, it's not a focal point for me on this ship (DH can and DOES eat his share) Now, local fare at port, non-tourist trap, if there is one, would interest me more. If I know theirs a local place to go for something special I can't get at home, I'm all for it if it's reasonable. We have a 2 night stay in Seattle and even though I'm not a big donut fan, I heard that TOP POT DONUGHTS were a must have, so I'll just have to force myself to splurge

Is there a good "must take" list somewhere that you know of of things to pack? THe binoculars were something I didn't even think of - was reading about the coffee - guess we'll just have to take some Starbucks with us to brew in cabin!

I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. I try to find the answers to my questions on my own but I find that it's not as easy as I thought and times getting short to make my decisions.

If you have any other suggestions please throw them out my way - I value the opinions and suggestions of those who have been there and know.

THANKS AGAIN!
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Old August 7th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Magnolia Blossom, you're thinking of Island Wings in Ketchikan for the Misty Fjords flightseeing tour. We did that last summer, and we thoroughly enjoyed it (the highlight of our trip).

Debelli, we also took the tram up to the top of Mt. Roberts in Juneau. The tram is very close to the dock and not too expensive. We also went on our own to Mendenhall Glacier on one of the buses right at the dock.

You'll love Alaska!
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Old August 7th, 2007, 05:32 PM
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CMO, you're right Michelle's company name is Island Wings. Wasn't it fabulous?

Okay, now let's see if I can not be too distracted by my adorable granddaughter and answer your questions.

Yes, you can book salmon bakes on the pier, but I have no idea if they take you to the same place as the ship tours (although I bet they probably do).

Maybe the tour I was thinking of with the salmon bake was MHG, after a while they all run together. See, all that relaxin' just rots your brain.
Yes, the White Pass tour is a one way train trip. The other leg is by bus and was a nice drive. I'm with your husband, 8 hours is too long. We did a lot of those 9 and 10 hr. excursions in the British Isles and it really stops being fun after a while. anyway . . . where were we?

La Cocina is really a nice experience. No cost but you do need reservations. They will only make reservations 24 hours in advance so it can be tricky. We wanted to go back a second time with our kids but even calling at 8:01 a.m. (desk opened at 8) they would be full. Likewise for Mambos, which we never got into. I would not pay for the Japanese steak house again but our kids really liked the sushi. We didn't do any of the other pay restaurants, so I can't judge. On the Sun, we were always pleased with the steak house, for what that's worth.

Packing - sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat and light weight layered clothing. I especially like long sleeved tees. So easy to put a sweatshirt or sweater over. Sept. is the end of the season so it may be getting pretty cool, but I don't think you will need heavy clothing. My hands are always cold so I always take gloves, but didn't need them this trip. You can buy a pair at WalMart for a buck, the little one size fits all kind and that will be fine. The jacket I take is one I got at the end of the season for cheap, cheap (like $10) at KMart. It's just a nylon windbreaker with a hood and a longer length (hip). It rolls up really small and is good for misty and drizzly days (think happy thoughts and maybe you won't have any rain).

Oh, cute little fact - on the Pearl, in many places the carpet has cute little fish in the design. Remember, that the fish are always swimming toward the front of the ship!

Must haves at dinner - the cold soups are great.

Hope that helps,
Ga
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Old August 18th, 2007, 05:53 PM
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Default excursions

Just got back from Alaaska rccl....I skip the food you have all you can eat on the ship......SPEND THE MONEY ON TH HELICOPTER!!!!!!!!!we went to the glacier and I was sorry I didnt get the more expensive tour.....it was the best!!!!!!very smooth sights were awesome...we always do something we cant do back at home.....I can eat samon anywhere.....
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Old August 19th, 2007, 05:48 AM
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I totally agree with threecruisers, do an excursion including a helicopter ride. When we cruised around Hawaii we took a helicopter trip over Western Maui and Molokai and that was fantastic!

If it´s within your budget, book a tour with helicopter over a glacier, that must be fantastic too!
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Old August 20th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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I would suggest packing a rain coat with a hood. It can get pretty rainy in the Inside Passage. Layers are definitely the way to go. Many of the souvenier shops in Ketchican sell reasonably priced sweatshirts, hats, gloves etc. We booked a van tour for the white pass locally in Skagway instead of the train. It was great because the van could stop when we saw interesting wildlife. We saw a mountain goat up the white pass which was pretty rare.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 02:20 PM
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We just returned from cruise on the Pearl 8/12-8/19. We booked about 4 wks. in advance, thru NCL. Several excursions were already sold out. In Juneau, we did the Mendenhall Glacier/Wildlife Exploration excursion. (Whale watching). Took around 5 1/2 hours, but was very nice. In Skagway, we did the "White Rail Pass" roundtrip on the train. (around 4 hrs). We also did the Helicopter ride over glaciers/Dog Sledding excursion in Skagway. I loved this trip. We got to "mush" our own team of dogs. Very pricey, but a great experience. In Ketchikan, my husband & sons went fishing & guide cooked their fish at a campsite. They loved it. I shoped & toured the town. In Victoria, we didn't do any excursions. Just toured the city & shopped.
We ate at only the "non fee" resturants. You will need reservations at La Cucina, Mambos & Summer Palace. Book 24 hrs ahead.
Weather was sunny & warm for our entire trip. We were lucky! But, bring light windbreaker for hood & dress in layers. Have a great time!
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Old September 5th, 2007, 09:59 AM
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Default State Rooms

Hi - we're first time cruisers and were wondering about what is in our room - we have a balcony room. Is there a hair dryer, coffee pot, mini fridge, wine glasses, internet hookup, drinking glasses, iron? Appreciate the help.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnolia Blossom
Hello Debelli,
We have done Alaska 3 times and we don't always do excursions. DH and I also like to stroll about town, stop into a local spot and partake of the local beer.

We were on the Pearl on the 7/15 sailinng and I did a review if you want to check it out but I did not talk about excursions. Our kids did though and they did not get any of their first choices on excursions because they waited til 4 weeks out to book. Just a piece of info for you.

Victoria, we did the gardens and they are beautiful. It was raining cats and dogs when we were there but it was still beautiful. The aroma was fabulous. There was also fireworks after dark. I don't remember if they do them by Sept though.

Skagway, I would recommend doing the White Pass Train. It is a beautiful ride. Some of the exursions have a salmon bake included and others go to a "gold rush village". Yes to the salmon, no, to the village.
The town is very, very, very tiny (600 people in the winter). Lots of pretty flowers but strolling about it doesn't take long. It is the most unspoiled of the bunch (meaning there is only 1 Diamond's Int'l)

Juneau - Mendenhal Glacier is a great tour. You can do this one on your own if you want. There are several tour companies at the pier (if you dock at the alternate pier, they shuttle you over to the main one - 2 minute ride). The bus fare out there is about $6, I think. Then you can come back when you're ready. If memory serves me the bus runs about every half hour. The whale watching was also nice, we did that one year. But some of the tours will do whale watching, salmon bake and Mendenhal. Just too much to pack into one trip.

We also did the Taku Lodge trip and it was terrific. Expensive but great. There was a taped narration (through headsets) and a tour of six glaciers. We set down on a river in front of a glacier at a wonderful lodge in the wilderness. We then had the best salmon I've ever eaten. Caught that morning and grilled as we watched. The area was beautiful to stroll while we waited for dinner, although the mosquitos were horrible. and being from Louisiana - we know mosquitos!

Ketchikan - we did this tour once that I thought would be cheesy and it was great. It was a crab something-something. You went out on a boat and checked crab pots while learning all about crabs then came back to a restaurant where they fed you all the king crab you could eat. There was also a competition between tables, but that's another tale. Ruined me forever for king crab. Kinda' like eating Hawaiian pineapples at the Dole plantation - it's never the same again.

One other year, we had a trip of a lifetime. Contracted with a lovely lady names Michelle (easy to find on the web) and did a float plane tour. Went through the Misty fjords (beautiful beyond words) and then put us down on a high alpine lake. We got out, walked around, oohed and ahhed. On the way back to the pier we saw a pod of orcas and she circled and circled til everyone had their fill and lots of photos.

Hope this helps.

Magnolia
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Old September 5th, 2007, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: State Rooms

Quote:
Originally Posted by anniebanana
Hi - we're first time cruisers and were wondering about what is in our room - we have a balcony room. Is there a hair dryer, coffee pot, mini fridge, wine glasses, internet hookup, drinking glasses, iron? Appreciate the help.
Anniebanana -- which ship are you sailing on? You posted your question in a thread about the Pearl, but your signature indicates the Sun

The ships aren't furnished the same way, so if you can clarify it will help posters who want to answer.

We've sailed both, but the Sun was 3 years ago, so I'm a little fuzzy. Both the Pearl and the Sun have hairdryers in the rooms. The one on the Pearl was great, the one of the Sun wasn't very good. There were mini fridges on both ships. When we sailed the Sun, the fridge was empty. By the time we sailed the Pearl, it was filled (like a hotel mini bar), but I think that is a fleet wide change. If it's filled up, ask your room steward to empty it. We're not coffee drinkers, but I think there was some sort of coffee pot in both rooms. Wine glasses -- don't think so, drinking glasses, yes. Internet hookup -- yes on the Pearl, but it requires an ethernet cable. I don't remember about the Sun. Irons are available on the Pearl in the public laundry rooms, but there were no laundry rooms on the Sun. I doubt irons were available on the Sun, but could be wrong.

Have a great cruise, whichever ship you're on!
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