We just got back from the cruise and agree with the White Pass railroad. We took the delux tour that ended in a salmon bake - the weather was great and it was quite a ride. It depends on what you like to do mostly - as far as I was concerned the stops were all just jewelry and t-shirt shops in the towns - and the same ones at that (International Diamond was pushed hard by princess and there was one at every port. because of the "accident" we didn't get to Victoria and I understand it's beautiful. The folks that went on the whale watcjing excursion saw plenty of them - we didn't see any on our trips. Several eagles and a Mt goat were all we got :-)
The glaciers were neat, but not nearly what I expected. We went on the Mindenhall Glacier excursion and it was interesting. The day spent cruising Tracy Arm was just more of the same - from further away - two glaciers. We spent the day sunning on our balcony.
We had 4 glorious days of sun - hope everyone is that lucky! The scenery was wonderful everywhere, and the ship is magnificent - if they can keep it in the water.
BJ, it looks like we were on the same cruise .. and yes the weather was amazing, luckily! The white pass rail excursion I went on took us to Carcross in the Yukon by bus and then we returned to Skagway by train.. it was a very good trip, and our tour guide was amazing. It was definitely a shame we had to miss out on Victoria!
IMO, the Mendenhall Glacier wasn't that nice, Tracy Arm was better (and "free"), and overall, Skagway was the most interesting port.
I have lived in Alaska for the last four years. I have been to most of the major cities in the Southeast area. I would recommend doing Whale Watching or Helicopter glacier tour (if you can afford it) in Juneau. In Skagway I would do the train. Ketchikan is a great shopping port but if you are looking to do shore excursion, snorkeling is pretty unique or culture tours.
Have fun on your cruise. Best of luck to you.
Remember the rain gear!!
I agree that in Skagway, the White Pass Railway is a must do. And if you don't have time for the full day one, then just do the shorter train ride in the morning. I did that, and then went horse back riding that afternoon. In Juneau we did the evening whale watch and it was VERY cool. Got to see a mommy and her calf, which the naturalist said was very rare this early in the year. The mom's don't usually bring the babies north until June. All in all, had a great time on the excusions. In Ketchikan I did the Misty Fjords cruise / flight. The flight was ok, but the cruise was very boring. All you saw was islands with trees and more trees, and more trees...and the naturalist on the Misty Fjords boat didn't know her facts and details very well.
We had a great time just walking around in Ketchikan. The sad thing about it was that was the one that we wished we could have spent more time in, we were only there for a few hours! I suggest going to the mendenhall glacier in Juneau. We rented a car and it was cheaper than paying to go on a tour. Have fun!
The train in Skagway is a great excursion. We took a bus to Fraiser, BC and rode the train back. It's faster (and about $10-$15 cheaper) than the round trip. We were back in plenty of time to walk around downtown Skagway and shop, shop and shop some more. OK, so I waited outside while my wife shopped. If you have a video camera, be sure to have fully charged batteries and lots of tape for the train ride. You'll want to tape the whole thing! The scenary from the train is absolutely spectacular! Have fun!!!