My husband and I will be going on an Alaska cruise on June 19 on the Grand out of San Francisco, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary
We are looking at excursions and trying to decide. We will be doing whale watching/Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and the Lumberjack show and walking the town in Ketchikan. Our question is for Skagway. We are looking at the Eagle Preserve & Wildlife Quest. It involves a catamaran ride up to Haines, then a 45 minute bus ride through the Eagle Preserve. We would then hop aboard a large raft and "float" (NOT white water rafting) through the Reserve, have lunch, then ride back to Skagway.
Anyone out there have experience with this excursion? We are both in our mid 50's, do a good amount of walking almost daily. My husband has a pacemaker, but we are both in good health besides that.
First off, congrats on your anniversary and your first cruise to Alaska. I've done Alaska 10 times, and July 9 will be my 11th time as I'm doing the Grand out of San Francisco with my sisters.
I've done whale watching in Juneau a couple times, once thru the cruise line (Princess) and once with Orca Entrerprises (Capt Larry) in Juneau. While I enjoyed both, Captain Larry was outstanding, they know the times the ships arrive etc and work with you. They use sonar to find the whales.
In Skagway I love the White Pass / Yukon combination.
Capt Larry / Orca Enterprises is a great choice for whale watching and can arrange for a drop off/pickup at Mendenhall.
Ketchican is nice to walk around, the Lumberjack show is kind of hokey but fun. The Misty Fjords flightseeing trip with Michelle at Island Wings is an excellent choice. but can get pricey
If you haven't been to Skagway before I'd stay there rather than head down to Haines. The catameran ride down/back is the same channel your ship sails so you won't see any different sights. Also I don't think the eagels are really there in big numbers until late Sept/Oct. IMHO a much better option is either to rent a car and drive into the Yukon or take the longer train/bus trip. The shorter 3 to 3 1/2 hr trip doesn't get nearly as far into the nice scenery.
Congratulations on your 25th! My wife and I just celebrated our 40th last year and a cruise is an awesome way to celebrate!!
Alaska is amazing and no matter what you decide to do, I know you'll love it.
My best advice is to definitely look at booking independent excursions and not booking through the cruise line - they charge more, are very regimented, and always very crowded. Whereas often with an independent, you may be the only one on the excursion, will usually pay less, and they are almost always very flexible so you have more fun.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/13 yrs exp and 48 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
I thought they used knowledge of past years and shared sightings to locate whales as sonar is somehow bad for the whales. It's one of the reasons many tours don't guarantee you will see them since they want to observe and not disturb whenever possible.
My sister and I did this tour a couple of years ago and of all the excursions - this one was THE BEST! The entire thing was wonderful from the catamaran to Haines the bus ride and of course the float down the river. They equip you with jackets and boots (because it can be chilly). We saw many eagles and were lucky enough to see a brown bear with her cubs.
The river is not very fast and is very shallow, so sometimes you feel your butt scraping the along the riverbed.
The lunch at the end of the float was excellent.
I am doing the Alaskan trip again this coming September (with my hubby and his family). We are going to do the bike ride in Skagway - coasting down the mountain to the ship.