What a beautiful place...



I can understand why so many people move to Alaska after just one visit!! It is breathtaking. Unfortunately, 1 week is no where near enough time to explore everything this state offers. I did lots of preplanning for my one day in each port! That's my advise to others planning this trip - do your research. And don't think you have to book everything through the cruise. In fact, I only booked one thing through Celebrity - the White Pass Rail in Skagway. Other excursions were booked either online (Captain Larry and Orca Excursions in Juneau a must for whale watching! - Thanks everyone on this forum who mentioned him), through the naturalist on our ship (thanks Dirk!) or just going alone (I hiked more in the last week than in the last year!). Another thing future cruisers should know is that if the excursion on the ship is sold out - don't worry! When you get into port, there are dozens of other companies that offer the same things (ie float or heli trips). Or you can bus it; I took a bus to Mendenhall Glacier ($10) and hiked the East Glacier Trail (gorgeous); another time in Ketchikan, I took a city bus to Saxman Native Totem Park (cost $5 each way) (on this one, I was glad I didn't pay the $$ through the cruise - you can see the whole thing in like 10 minutes tops. Also, if there's another tour there, you can usually listen in to what the guide is saying - I found this to be true in almost every attraction in every port!).

I'm one that favours going off the beaten path (no interest in tanzanite here). One of my favourite stops was Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). This is the true Alaska - only 800 people and lots of wilderness. Here, Dirk the naturalist arranged an excursion to go bear watching (again, not through the cruise). Teckk Outfitters is run by a character named Keith Skafelstad! A native, he knows all the back woods, and will take you where the other excursions won't. On our trip, there were only 8 of us (including Keith!). I highly recommend it. Check it out at teckkoutfitters.com. I asked Keith where I could buy some fresh Salmon to ship home. He dropped me off at a place called Buy N Pack Seafood (nr the Marina outside of town). I talked with the owner Dave for about 45 minutes (and he gave me a sample of his fish - YUM) and placed an order. After calling him when I got home, he shipped the next day overnight delivery. His prices are unbelievable!!! I have checked out other places, and Dave is no where near as expensive as they are (King Salmon Steaks $6.50/lb - he just caught them the other day!). If you're looking for great seafood to ship home, that's the place to go - not in Juneau. (Tell him Lil sent you!) If you want a taste of Alaska Wild Salmon before you go, email him at buynpack@aol.com - you will never want to go back to "regular" fish!

Finally, I want to thank others on this forum who provided information I found useful. Hopefully, some of you will find my experiences helpful.



Hi Lil, you make my wait till next year that much harder. We are booked to go to Alaska June 2006. It sounds like a really beautiful place. Its also my first cruise. We are doing land tour first. Did you do an excursion of helicopter or floatplane? I was wondering what was the best one to use. Also would like to go dogsledding while we are there but that seems pricey but I dont think I can pass that one up. Thanks for the information.