Just returned from the Rhapsody of the Seas Alaska cruise. Wonderful time, just wanted to share a brief review of the shore excursions we took.
We booked the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe ride for 5 of us via Alaska Travel Adventures. I booked independently since it wasn't offered from Royal Carribbean but it was offered thru another cruise, I think Princess. Well, when I made this reservation I had a choice of 12:30 or I believe a later time of about 1:30. We were going to be in port from 11 to 8 ( had to be back on the ship by 7:30). and this excursion was about 3 1/2 hours. We booked the 12:30, I figured we would have enuff time after to do the Mt. Roberts tram, dinner at the Red Onion and shopping. Well we were instructed to meet at the sundial near the tram at 12;15. We like to be early so we were there about 12:05. and we waited. At 12:30 no one showed up so I called the Alaska Travel was told that someone was on their way. Well at about 12:40 we met up with a guy in a red jacket and was told that the tour was moved to 1:30. We were told to meet back at 1pm. There was another gentleman with his son who was also booked for the 12:30. There was some mix up and they only had him for one person but he had the online receipt that showed he paid for two. It seemed that they were able to resolve the mix up. Well, we did not have much time to do anything so we just sort of sat around. Well 1pm came and went so finally at 1:15 when still no one came, I called Alaska Travel again and was told some one was on their way. At 1:30 still no one came so I called again and was told the same thing. Finally a girl came with a red jacket, I asked if she was from Alaska Travel and she was, however she was not handling the the canoe ride, however she was very nice and made a call to try and help us. Well, at about 1:40 the guide, Darrell, showed up. He apologized then said, "someone mad?" Well, we finally were on our way, we had waited about 1 1/2 hours. It seems that they only had 7 people for the 12:30 tour so they combined it with the 1:30 tour. We made one stop to pick up another family. Darrell tried to relay some info as we drove to the site but you could only hear if you sat in the front seat. The tour itself was great, it was much fun. You could probably see the glacier just as well if you went to the visitors center and walked to the waterfall, however, we got up close to the icebergs that were floating in the water and you could not get that experience unless you were in the canoe. I would suggest that if you book this tour independently then you should call them the morning of the tour to confirm the time so you are not wasting your time. We did not have enough time to do the tram after eating and shopping. If we were notified earlier we could have done the tram during the 1 1/2 hours we were waiting around. It would have been helpful if the notifed us, especially since we have limited hours in port. They had our cell number and the name of the cruises ship we were on and there were only two families that had to be notified.
We booked the morning musher's camp excursion thru Royal Caribbean. Our guide was on time. I thought it was pricey but my kids just loved it. And when we got out of the van at the musher's camp, there was a grizzly bear about 40 - 50 yards away. I was able to get him on video tape. We were taken on a short ride by the dogs, my son said, 'that was cool, but I wish it was longer." Mike the musher gave an interesting talk about life as a musher and we got to hold some young pups. We had a lot of fun.
We also did the Chilkoot Trail hike and float in the afternoon and it was booked independently thru Skagway Float Tours. It was also offered thru Royal Caribbean but it was a few bucks cheaper with Skagway Float. Our guide was Bob, he was great. The tour started on time and he gave out a lot of info while driving to the site. His van was also equiped with a microphone so all of us in the back could hear clearly. The hike is a little steep in the begining, but Bob stopped often to make sure everyone was doing okay. He was very knowledgeable and personable. The float was calm and relaxing - I could have floated all day, my kids also really enjoyed the ride, I though they would be bored by it but they were'nt. We saw bald ealges and a couple of bald eagle nests.
I know that the White Pass train ride is very popular and I would find it fun and relazing, but I figured my sons would be bored after 10 minutes of dramatic scenery.
Hope this helps anyone who is looking for shore excursions.
We did the musher's camp with Celebrity and really enjoyed it. I agree it's pricey, but I thought it was worth the price. The musher's talk was very informative, plus the puppies are so cute.
We booked Mendhall raft trip through Celebrity (in 2006) and had some minor issues. They said they took pictures of us on the raft. But the pictures never appeared and I believe they were part of the price we paid. The raft excursion description was written what like a river rafting trip. But it was really mild, more like a float trip not river rafting. Also we didn't get that close to the glaicer. So that part was kind of disappointing. We still saw amazing scenery and animals including eagles.
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Freedom of the Seas 2012
Carnival Splendor 2010
Carnival Freedom 2008
Carnival Elation 2007
Celebrity Infinity 2006
Carnival Ecstasy 2005
Carnival Paradise 2004
Star Princess 2002
Viking Serenade 1994