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Joanandjoe

Alaska excursions

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We're excited about our upcoming northbound Alaska cruise, May 27, 2008, and are looking at the ship's excursions. We will also consider private excursions.

For now, we're looking at excursions other than flightseeing, and would appreciate your thoughts. We also want to have at least one experience panning for gold, and one small boat excursion where we can see glaciers and/or wildlife (particularly whales).

Victoria - I would think we can do this city on our own. Any opinions on this?

Ketchikan. We'd like to see some totem poles. Should we take the ship's Totem and Town Tour, the City highlights tour, or a tour on our own? Can we do this on our own after taking in the logging tour, which sounds like fun? Has anyone done the tour?

Juneau. We've done this city on our own before. The big question is whether to take the Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer, or one of the whale watching tours. While we could do both, we'd like some time on terra firma. Is the underground gold tour a good idea, or should we do our panning in Skagway? Can we get to the Mendenhall Glacier without a ship's tour?

Skagway. We'll probably do the railroad, maybe combined with the gold dredge. Is that a good excursion?

Sitka. We're thinking of doing this city on our own. Would we be missing a great ship's tour by doing so?

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Sitka can easily be done on your own. When we were there in May, we did an wildlife quest for sea otters. While we certainly say lots of them, the excursion was somewhat boring.

For Juneau, the whale watching excursion we did was one of the best excursions we ever did. I believe that you could see Mendenhall Glacier without a ship's tour.

In Skagway, we took a bus into the Yukon and took the train back. I think that the bus into the Yukon isn't really necessary. The lunch wasn't very good, and the town that they brought us to (Carcross), has seen better days. Certainly, the train is worth it.

The first time we were in Ketchikan, we toured the town on our own, and loved it. We stopped into the Totem Museum and that was pretty good. There are certainly lots of totem poles around town. Last time we were there, we went to Totem Bight Park. Nice tour, but was a bit slow. The tour guide was great.

We were in Victoria once, and took a ship's sponsored bus tour of the city. Victoria is a pretty big city for that part of Canada. I'm glad that we took the tour. It is a beautiful city.

Hope that this helps some.

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Sitka can easily be done on your own. When we were there in May, we did an wildlife quest for sea otters. While we certainly say lots of them, the excursion was somewhat boring.

For Juneau, the whale watching excursion we did was one of the best excursions we ever did. I believe that you could see Mendenhall Glacier without a ship's tour.

In Skagway, we took a bus into the Yukon and took the train back. I think that the bus into the Yukon isn't really necessary. The lunch wasn't very good, and the town that they brought us to (Carcross), has seen better days. Certainly, the train is worth it.

The first time we were in Ketchikan, we toured the town on our own, and loved it. We stopped into the Totem Museum and that was pretty good. There are certainly lots of totem poles around town. Last time we were there, we went to Totem Bight Park. Nice tour, but was a bit slow. The tour guide was great.

We were in Victoria once, and took a ship's sponsored bus tour of the city. Victoria is a pretty big city for that part of Canada. I'm glad that we took the tour. It is a beautiful city.

Hope that this helps some.

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Oops! Sorry about the previous post. Hit the wrong button. Anyway, I want to second the info about the whale watching out of Juneau. It was awesome to say the least. We saw lots of whales and some very close to the boat even tho we were supposed to stay a certain # of feet away. But no one apparently told the whales! They send planes out to locate the whale pods and then radio their position to the boat. They even guaranteed that we would see whales and we sure did. Would do this one again in a heart beat. Also we took the train in Skagway up into the mountains and back. Spectacular vistas and lots of wildlife. Bear right next to the tracks and bighorn sheep in big herds. Took a ton of pictures of both of these excursions. We also just explored Ketchican by ourselves and found it to be very easy to navigate on foot. Found some interesting shops including a quilt shop (for us quilters) and bought some carved fossilized walrus bone. But hope you have a balcony cause the wildlife along the way is to die for. We saw orcas along side, seals with new babies, walrus, eagles, sea otters right below our balcony in the harbor, and much, much more. This is definitely the trip of a lifetime. Have a ball! We did!

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Joan and Joe - you can see a great deal of Victoria on foot but it is quite a walk from the cruise dock. We did notice several buses though. You will be able to see The Empress Hotel, The Parliament Buildings and the Wax Museum and several other spots right in town but place like Butchart gardens are several miles outside of the city. There is a great Christmas Store in town as well.

We did the Totem Bight tour in Ketchikan - the park was quite a way out of town so transportation would be needed. You can see Creek Street after a short walk from the dock.

In Juneau there is a bus you can take to the glacier itself. We did a photpgraphic safari that took us out on the water for a close up view of the whales and seals....then to the glacier. Wonderful tour. We got so close to the whales that Dh got pics of the barnacles on their fins. At the glacier we caught a bear fishing. Got some great photos there.

We always take the ship's tours - the peace of mind is worth the extra money to us.

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One of the highlights of Victoria for us was Butchart Gardens...we took the tour from the ship, and it was excellent. We had a picnic on the lawn of the gardens and they served a lunch that was served to the Queen of England. We were expecting a brown bag sort of lunch...this was far beyond our expectations, and I would highly recommend doing this tour. We booked it through the cruise line and had plenty of time to see the gardens on our own.

My son and I did a tour of the Totem Bight park while my hubby and other son went salmon fishing. It was interesting, but it was slow-moving.

We did the White Pass Railroad the first time we went to Alaska and wished we had combined the gold dreding with it. Our friends did both, and wished they had just done the railroad. They complained about being dirty, it took too much time, and the day they took the railroad it was foggy. Their pictures weren't anywhere near as good as ours, we took on a clear day.

I know a lot of people like to tour on their own. I prefer to book through the cruise line when I'm visiting a city I've never seen before. I figure the cruise guide will be able to show me much more than I could do on my own. When we've been to a place before, then it's not such a big deal to do it again on your own.

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In Ketchikan, if you mean the lumberjack's show, we've done it. You can do this on your own as it's only a block from the ship. .

Juneau, you can take the very cheap $ local and empty bus to the glacier. We've taken the ship's tour 5 times and felt rushed so the last time we took the local bus.

Skagway, if you take the train ride, make sure you sit on the left side going up. The sights are on the left. We've also done the gold dredge. It's mostly about how the device operated. Afterwards you have an opportunity to pan for preplanted flakes of gold. It was enjoyable.

Victoria, you can hire a cab to the gardens and they will wait for you. The rest of the city you can do on your own. The last few times, I walked from Ogden Point(Pier) to town center. (20 minute walk)

Sitka, you can definitely do it on your own. The raptor center is a little further out.

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