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New to Cruising and Alaska

Discussion in 'Alaska & Pacific Northwest Ports' started by mbc, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. mbc

    mbc Guest

    New to Cruising and Alaska

    Please help with our planning. My wife and I are planning a cruisetour of Alaska next year (2005). I have been reading brochures and messages on the various boards. Still wondering which way to go. We want to do a 7day inside passage cruise between Seward or Whittier and Vancouver followed by a land tour. The land portion depending upon the tour, would include Fairbanks, Denali and maybe Talkeetna.
    Other possibilities include stops at Coldfoot, Prudhoe Bay or Nome and Kotezbue. We love scenery, wildlife and native culture.
    We are looking for recommendations for the following:

    1. Cruise line

    2. Suggestions for shore excursions in or out of:
    a. Seward
    b. Anchorage
    c. Ketchikan
    d. Skagway
    e. Sika
    f. Juneau

    3. Land tour excursions in or out of :
    a. Fairbanks
    b. Denali
    c. Talkeetna

    4. Pros and cons of the other above mentioned locations.

    Any and all suggestions/recommendations appreciated.
  2. PEB

    PEB Guest

    Let me first say that you MAY want to consider doing the land portion first and the cruise last. The reason I say this is usually the land portion can be hectic and many say they get tired out on the land portion. If this is the case you would be able to relax on the cruise while sailing to Vancouver. It is up to you this is just a suggestion and something to think about.

    1. Cruise line: Princess and Holland America have some of the best land setups as well as excellent cruise reputation for Alaska. Alaska is truly beautiful and any line can do a good job however these to lines are known for their experience in Alaska.

    2. Suggestions for shore excursions in or out of:
    a. Seward: There are some very good glacier and whale watching tours out of Seward.
    b. Anchorage
    c. Ketchikan: Excellent place for fishing, Kayaking and Totem Park tours.
    d. Skagway: Excellent place for flight tours, especially out onto a glacier, a trip into the Yukon and the White Pass Railway tour. Gold Rush museum and Red Onion Saloon are big attraction in town. The town has a lot to offer as far as information on the Gold Rush Days. You can also take a tour over to Haines Alaska from here.
    e. Sika
    f. Juneau: Excellent place to do a whale watch. Flight tours are big here especially out onto a glacier. A trip to Mendenhall Glacier is good here as well as a raft ride down the river created by the Mendenhall Glacier. There are tours of gold mines and panning for gold here. Red Dog Saloon is big attraction in town as well as the tram.

    3. Land tour excursions in or out of :
    a. Fairbanks
    b. Denali
    c. Talkeetna

    4. Pros and cons of the other above mentioned locations. With the exception of Ankorage all the towns are fairly small, Ankorage is a the biggest city in Alaska and holds half the Alaskan population. Ketchikan is a rain forest so the chances are that it will be raining there regardless of when you go. You can walk most of the interesting parts of the towns in a small amount of time. If there are a lot of ships in a port, especially Skagway, the town can be quite crowded.

    The one thing you will find in Alaska is that it is extremely beautiful. There will be many sites that will amaze you. Alaska is never the same twice do to the changing glaciers and the fact that you never know when and where you will see wildlife both on land and in the sea.

    I hope this helps you some. I hope someone else will help you with some of the things I did not answer or with other ideas for places I did comment on.
  3. Dale

    Dale Guest

    Out of Seward I would recomend the Kenai National Park Tour. It takes most of a day and is well worth it. This is a top priority when we go. We will have cruised the Inside Passage 4 times after May 24 and we will be doing the Kenai National Park tour again for the second time.
  4. traveltime

    traveltime Guest

    Alaska is truly my favorite destination! I'm cruising there for the 3rd time in 6 weeks. Two of my favorite shore excursions are the Taku Wilderness Lodge trip out of Juneau. Absolutely the best excursion! A floatplane takes you on about a 30 min. flight over the glaciers to a beautiful lodge in the wilderness. You have a great salmon bake, etc. there. Breathtaking! My other favorite is the White Pass Railroad trip out of Skagway. Whale watching is a must. I prefer the Jet Boat type of boat vs. a double-decker, larger boat. Just my preference. Many of the tours will refund you if you do not see a whale.
    Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions.

    Sunlover Destinations

    Post Edited (04-22-04 11:28)
  5. PEB

    PEB Guest

    Traveltime mad a mistake the White Pass Railway is out of Skagway. It does have extremely beautiful views from the train.
  6. traveltime

    traveltime Guest

    Oh, thank-you!!! My face is red. That'll teach me to try posting & listening to TV at the same time. LOL!!
  7. lgeorgi

    lgeorgi Guest

    Thank you for your comments regarding the Alaska excursions. I have just booked a trip for my 10th wedding anniversary and can't wait to go.

    We are interested in the following but want some advice on if they are worth the money.

    Fly fishing
    helicopter ride that lands on a glacier
    Night whale watching (is this what you did?)
    Bear watching

    Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thank you
  8. traveltime

    traveltime Guest

    Hi! I'm sorry that I can't offer any help with the excursions you mentioned. I've not gone on an evening whale watch. I did get to do some bear watching, however it was from the ship. Which reminds me ~ be sure to pack binoculars! One for you & your spouse. While in one of the glacier bays or fjords, you will probably have the opportunity to view many different animals. It can be frustrating trying to share binoculars. I hope someone else can answer your excursion questions. Have a wonderful trip!

    Sunlover Destinations
  9. PEB

    PEB Guest

    lgeorgi the helicopter ride and landing on a glacier is deffinately worth the price but keep in mind the price is high.

    A night whale watch is not much different than a whale watch during the day. Keep in mind the sun stays up a long time in Alaska it is not like the lower 48. Night time whale watching does not make it any easier to see whales or better to find whales. Whales show up when they want regardless of the time of day. Our personal favorite whale watch is with Orca Eco Tours and Captain Larry in Juneau. When you see the whales it is worth the money.

    Bear watching tours are limited to specific times of the cruise season. You can see bears some from the ship or possibly on most tours if you look hard enough but the true bear watching tours, such as when the salmon are running, are only during certain parts of the summer.
  10. Alaskaborn

    Alaskaborn Guest

    There is a company here in Alaska that offers private Alaska land tours. They book all the tours, and shore excursions, at no extra cost. It may be worth a peak. My mom used them last year.

    I would say you have to go flight seeing in Talkeetna. I went and it was awesome!

    Hope this helps.
  11. mbc

    mbc Guest

    To All, Thanks for your comments and suggestions, they have been very helpful. We have decided to do a HAL cruisetour in July of 2005. Just a few more questions related to shore excursions. We want to maximize our excursion opportunities so I was wondering, taking weather and timing into account if :
    a. If a Tundra Wilderness tour is included and we then have a free day in Denali what would be a good follow-up?
    b. If we are over-nighting in Anchorage and transferring to Seward the next morning(an assumption) I would appreciate any comments on the following - Portage Lake and Glacier cruise, any glacier landing and dog sled trip from Seward, and a Redoubt Bay bear watch trip.
    c. Would a helicopter glacier and dog sled trip be better from either Juneau or Skagway.
    d. In Juneau, if we get into port at 7:00 AM, can we take the Capt Larry Whale watch, do Mt Roberts and a glacier landing with a 6:00 PM departure?
    e. A similar question in regard to Skagway - can we do the White Horse RR and a glacier and dog sled helicopter trip between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM?

    One final question in regard to HAL, how close do they come to the stated arrival times in port, and approximately how long does it typically take to disembark?

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