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Old 04-22-2015, 10:01 PM   #21
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In Juneau, they have booths selling tours at each docking area. I don't know if they're cheaper, I've seen some operators willing to dicker a little. If you go on a whale watching tour or fishing charter, about all of them will stop at the visitors center at the Mendenhall Glacier, so you won't need to book it separately. If you decide to not go on any excursions, I'd at least go see the glacier. The cheapest way would be to hop on a public bus that goes out to the Mendenhall Valley area, but you'll have to walk about 1-1/2 miles each way. Fares on the bus system are $2 each way and you can get a schedule and directions at City Hall. Your other options are to take one of the glacier buses or taxi.
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:11 PM   #22
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We take a cruise most every year. We never take the cruise line's excursions. I'll go online and book an excursion locally. Sometimes we'll rent a car, and sometimes we'll get a cabbie to take us around to interesting sites.

I suggest going onto TripAdvisor.com and seeing if they have a list of excursions for the ports you're visiting. You may can take a side trip cheaper, and I promise it'll be better than the excursion for the masses of people.
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Old 04-23-2015, 02:23 AM   #23
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Thank you for all the suggestions and advice! I'll check out those websites tomorrow, but it sounds like the helicopter flight to the glacier is a winner! I really wanted to do the White Pass/Yukon train ride, but we aren't stopping in Skagway (boo!).

Seems like cruising is a popular vacation choice. I'm curious to give it a try with DH. I don't think he's ever been on one. Luckily we have some friends going with us. I would assume you normally try to go on a cruise with people you know, right? Or do people go alone?


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Old 04-23-2015, 02:34 AM   #24
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Thank you for all the suggestions and advice! I'll check out those websites tomorrow, but it sounds like the helicopter flight to the glacier is a winner! I really wanted to do the White Pass/Yukon train ride, but we aren't stopping in Skagway (boo!).

Seems like cruising is a popular vacation choice. I'm curious to give it a try with DH. I don't think he's ever been on one. Luckily we have some friends going with us. I would assume you normally try to go on a cruise with people you know, right? Or do people go alone?
Evie, you will probably have a ball!

My Alaskan cruise was my first cruise and I was with ~150 of my professional colleagues. We organized a conference on board. We had a fabulous time! I have done other cruises alone and with friends (one or two). I've enjoyed all of them. Every ship and every itinerary is different. On a river cruise, with fewer than 200 people, you get to know many more people and the action is mostly on land. But I have really enjoyed sea days too!
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:09 AM   #25
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We did a small ship cruise, with a land/ train to Denali/Kantishna.

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Old 04-23-2015, 10:22 AM   #26
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DW and I did a 2-week Alaska cruise and land tour combo 2 years ago. In At Ketchikan, I'd recommend a self-guided walking tour. If you go in late summer, the salmon will be spawning on the river that runs right through the middle of town. Be prepared for rain. Ketchikan is one of the rainiest places on earth. On our trip we were there on one of the rare summer dry days. The locals kept telling us how lucky we were.

In Juneau we did this tour. Pricey, but DW and I both agreed it was the highlight of our trip. After the tour, we had time to walk to the Alaska State Museum and spend a few hours viewing the exhibits there.

In Icy Straits, a whale watching excursion would be my recommendation. OTOH, if you are an adrenaline junkie - the longest (and at one time, the highest, and fastest) zip line in the world is located there. Even if you don't zip, it is worthwhile to eat at the restaurant near the terminus and watch the brave make the trip.

The wild card in any Alaska trip is the weather. You never know what you are going to get from one day to the next. Be prepared for changes in plans. And always pack a poncho.
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Old 04-23-2015, 11:40 AM   #27
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We did the white pass rail tour.
I skipped this one but my family and relatives did it. They all loved it.

Lumberjack show - so so.

I did hikes and they were good ... and free.
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Old 04-23-2015, 02:31 PM   #28
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Be aware that the Alaska State Museum is currently closed, as they are constructing a new building for it. The Juneau/Douglas City Museum is open, but it is a smaller museum. It is within walking distance from the docks and if you have time to kill, you can tour the State Legislature building right next door for free, assuming they haven't been cut for budgetary constraints.
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Old 04-23-2015, 03:08 PM   #29
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While in Juneau and if you are on your own for lunch this is a great place to watch float planes from. And the food and beer is pretty good also.

Hangar On The Wharf, Juneau - Menu, Prices & Restaurant Reviews - TripAdvisor
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Old 04-23-2015, 03:26 PM   #30
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We did the same as Eagle43....first the land tour and then relax on the ship cruising home. I highly recommend the 2 week tour as there is so much to ground to cover and so much to see. Holland America was a great cruise line for this. I would love to do it again.....
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Old 04-23-2015, 05:32 PM   #31
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Funny I am working on the same thing right now. We are cruising 11 days in Sept - we do have that stop in Skagway. We are booking a car there. May drive on our own because there will be more than 10K people in dock at Skagway that day.

We can always change to the train if it works out. We are mostly concerned that the weather is bad, then we paid $200 a person to see not much. The only bad reviews you see are from this issue.

They do post on the cruise critic boards that when you walk off the ships there are tour companies there who will negotiate, although someone said the cruise lines are pressuring them to stop.
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Old 04-23-2015, 05:34 PM   #32
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We did a small ship cruise, with a land/ train to Denali/Kantishna.

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That is a FANTASTIC photograph! Love it!
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Old 04-23-2015, 05:41 PM   #33
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My stops are Ketchican, Skagway, Icy Strain Point, Juneau, Victoria and Nahaino, BC.

We will prob do no tours in Ketchican or nahaino. Will take cab to Butchart Gardens in BC (Celbrity tour cost is silly). Rent the car in Skagway and drive up into the Yukon to Emerald lake. So I really only need to figure out Juneau and Icy Strait Point.

We are big kayakers so maybe Icy Point for this depending on weather.
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Old 04-23-2015, 06:24 PM   #34
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My stops are Ketchican, Skagway, Icy Strain Point, Juneau, Victoria and Nahaino, BC.

We will prob do no tours in Ketchican or nahaino. Will take cab to Butchart Gardens in BC (Celbrity tour cost is silly). Rent the car in Skagway and drive up into the Yukon to Emerald lake. So I really only need to figure out Juneau and Icy Strait Point.

We are big kayakers so maybe Icy Point for this depending on weather.
I think you mean Nanaimo. I think you will enjoy the Butchart Gardens. Here is a photo I took there last September. I wonder whether it might be cost effective to rent a car in Nanaimo to do that?
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Old 04-23-2015, 06:38 PM   #35
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what is a typical Alaska cruise cost? just a rough number please

Thanks.
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Old 04-23-2015, 06:41 PM   #36
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I think you mean Nanaimo. I think you will enjoy the Butchart Gardens. Here is a photo I took there last September. I wonder whether it might be cost effective to rent a car in Nanaimo to do that?
Is it close to Nanaimo? It's only 13 miles from Victoria.

the picture is AWESOME! My husband is a huge gardener.
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Old 04-23-2015, 06:51 PM   #37
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what is a typical Alaska cruise cost? just a rough number please

Thanks.
No such thing as typical.
Anywhere from $2,000 per person to $15,000 per person for a one to two week excursion.
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:04 PM   #38
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No such thing as typical.
Anywhere from $2,000 per person to $15,000 per person for a one to two week excursion.
Thanks. I know the question is kind of open ended. We tend to spend maybe $300 per day for a "nice" domestic car driving vacation. Maybe $450 per day for a European vacation including everything (for 2 including airfare, etc.).

So I'm just looking for a middle-of-the-road number. We could drive or fly up the West Coast and then do the cruise. DW lived in Alaska in her early teens. She'd love to see it again. Neither of us has done a cruise.
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:40 PM   #39
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what is a typical Alaska cruise cost? just a rough number please

Thanks.
I'm sure it depends on a lot of stuff. We're doing a 7 day cruise. We reserved last fall when the prices were lower, so around $1500 per person with a window, but no balcony. I think now they're running closer to $2000 per person. We also got a drink perk that I don't remember all the particulars, but basically I think we're drinking booze for free all week.

One of my friends who likes to travel in style inquired about the state room, which is a big suite type room I think. He said that normally the cost for a suite type room would be 2 or 3 times the cost the lowest price cabin, but in this case, it was $11k per person! Crazy! He ended up booking a smaller room.
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Old 04-23-2015, 09:51 PM   #40
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Is it close to Nanaimo? It's only 13 miles from Victoria.

the picture is AWESOME! My husband is a huge gardener.
Nanaimo is 118 km (73 miles) from the Butchart Gardens. I have attached a map.
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