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Old 04-23-2015, 09:53 PM   #41
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We cruised Alaska when the economy was awful so we were able to get a balcony on a seven day cruise for $900 each .In Juneau we did a whale watch about $69 each & in Skagway we did a private tour to Emerald Lake in the Yukon.That tour was also $69.00 each . We then went to the Red dog saloon for reindeer pizza .
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Old 04-23-2015, 09:56 PM   #42
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Do have tea at the Butchart Gardens. It's an occasion!
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Old 04-23-2015, 09:58 PM   #43
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For some reason my iPad will only allow me to post one photo at a time.
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Old 04-23-2015, 10:06 PM   #44
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Last photo from the Butchart Gardens.
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Old 04-23-2015, 10:31 PM   #45
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Do have tea at the Butchart Gardens. It's an occasion!
We totally enjoyed the Butchart Gardens tea experience. The most fun discovery was the rose tea. Delicious!
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Old 04-24-2015, 12:55 AM   #46
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I'll add Butchart Gardens to the itinerary for the week in Vancouver following the cruise!
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Old 04-24-2015, 08:02 AM   #47
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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.
Yep. That's what happened on our trip. Great weather till we got to Skagway, then dense fog. Thus, about the only thing we saw on the rail trip up to the pass was the rail cars in front and behind us. Knowing what I know now, the next time I'll purchase tickets for the rail after seeing what the weather is like when I get there.
Because the dense fog continued for the remainder of the cruise, we did not have an opportunity to view a glacier from the ship while in Hubbard Bay. The fog was so bad, you couldn't see from the bow to the stern of the ship. The captain turned the ship around about halfway to the glacier because he couldn't see to navigate around the icebergs in the bay. It was the only real disappointment of the trip.
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Old 04-24-2015, 08:02 AM   #48
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I'll add Butchart Gardens to the itinerary for the week in Vancouver following the cruise!
Will you take the ferry or fly to Vancouver Island?
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:06 AM   #49
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Thanks - that is an idea to do it that day. This forum is so great.
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Old 04-24-2015, 12:59 PM   #50
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Will you take the ferry or fly to Vancouver Island?
The last time I went to Vancouver Island, I think we took the ferry, so likely the ferry? I remember it was huge, with five levels for cars I think. I'll be in Vancouver with a group (partial group from the cruise), so gotta coordinate with them.
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Old 04-24-2015, 02:07 PM   #51
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There are plenty of different kinds of ferries. Last year we had a couple of days in Vancouver and just waked and took the bus. Hiked all over Stanley Park. 23 years ago we went to Buchart Gardens. We took a pedestrian ferry and then rented a car on Vancouver Island. Took our 4 month old son and a stroller. Had a wonderful time but it was tiring with the baby. Than goodness for the car. I think we took the ferry from Port Angeles as it was a shorter trip.


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Old 04-24-2015, 03:41 PM   #52
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If you are trying to stretch your dollar, pick one port and "do it up" with a great excursion. We did a sea/land trip and picked a couple of places we wanted to spend extra for the excursions. At the other ports, we "did it on our own". Juneau, Icy Strait, and Ketchikan were 3 of our ports also.

Juneau - we actually rented a car for the day, drove out to Mendenhall Glacier, went to the chapel in the woods, got some amazing pictures, drove over to Douglas, etc, etc. We also left ourselves time to walk around town later. Inexpensive way to spend the day and lots to see. You're not likely to get lost....the roads leading out of Juneau all just "end", but the sights outside the city are very pretty until they do.

Icy Strait Point - we were there in 2007. Maybe things have changed...but if they haven't, there really is little to see there. We walked into town and back, but I am using the word "town" loosely. A lot of people did a whale watch out of Icy Strait and said it was great. If I ever went back, I would skip town and do the whale watch. As we were leaving port the whales were everywhere, so I suspect the whale watch was great that day.

Ketchikan - this was where we opted for a pricey excursion and did a float plane to Misty Fjords. We booked privately and the trip included landing inside the park on one of the "ponds", so we could get out and walk around for awhile. The trip was amazing and we saw a lot of wildlife on the mountain tops.

One word of caution - if you do decide to book any type of plane trip - DO YOUR RESEARCH - and be sure your pilot is someone who has flown that area a lot. From what I understand, a lot of companies hire pilots to come up for the summer to fly excursions. These guys might be great pilots, but they don't know Alaska or its weather. Misty Fjords, in particular, can have fog roll in pretty quickly. You'll want a well-experienced pilot, if that happens. The woman we hired was very well-known in the area and has been flying there for years and years.

I think a few others have said this - but I would agree, if you can spend even a few extra days on mainland Alaska after your cruise - do so!!! And try to get up to Denali, if nothing else. If you DO get to Denali, do NOT do the Denali Natural History Tour. DO the Tundra Wilderness Tour. It will take you all day, but you go in much further and will see a lot more wildlife.

Enjoy!!
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Old 04-24-2015, 05:36 PM   #53
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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.
I like to do something similar for similar reasons: Sometimes cheaper, always better. But, sometimes GF likes the additional safety/security of no chance of the boat leaving without us. Me, I am confident in my ability to find my own way to the next port of call if needed. (I have never missed a sailing.)
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:10 PM   #54
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I'm going on an Alaskan cruise this summer and have been reviewing my excursion options. Holy cow, they are expensive! I've only ever been on one other cruise to Mexico and it was paid for by my employer at the time.

Are these excursions worth it? Wondering if I'd be better off just wandering the towns and checking it out that way, but then get concerned that I'll be missing out on amazing stuff potentially.

Stopping in Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait. Any advice?


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We are also going on our first Alaskan cruise this summer. We have 2 tours booked, scenic cruises at Glacier Bay and College fjord. As part of the cruise package we then take the train to Denali NP for 4 nights and have 2 tours booked there, a natural history tour and a river rafting trip.

On return to Anchorage we have a few days booked before flying back to Vancouver.

Reading this thread has me really looking forward to it. We've been packing today as we start driving in a few days, stopping at various places on the way before parking up in Vancouver. DD and her SO are flying up from LA to join us on the cruise and rail trip.

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$4058 for the 2 of us, balcony room midships, including all the excursions etc. We had not booked a balcony room but received an email offer this week to upgrade for $159 each.
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Old 04-25-2015, 05:05 AM   #55
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For those venturing north to Denali, we greatly enjoyed a visit to the museum in Fairbanks.
UA Museum of the North
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Old 04-25-2015, 08:33 AM   #56
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One more thing to consider: if there's one cruise on which it is totally worth it to spring for a balcony room, it's an Inside Passage Alaskan cruise. Gorgeous views right out your big picture window, all day and most of the night.
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:08 AM   #57
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Yep. That's what happened on our trip. Great weather till we got to Skagway, then dense fog. Thus, about the only thing we saw on the rail trip up to the pass was the rail cars in front and behind us. Knowing what I know now, the next time I'll purchase tickets for the rail after seeing what the weather is like when I get there.
Because the dense fog continued for the remainder of the cruise, we did not have an opportunity to view a glacier from the ship while in Hubbard Bay. The fog was so bad, you couldn't see from the bow to the stern of the ship. The captain turned the ship around about halfway to the glacier because he couldn't see to navigate around the icebergs in the bay. It was the only real disappointment of the trip.
Ack! Yes I would be so unhappy if this happened.
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:12 AM   #58
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With the incentives Celebrity was offering, we got a balcony on the 11 day cruise for only $3300 total. Includes a drink package.

This cruise is unusual, it leaves Seattle, but docks in Vancouver. It then goes on to Australia (via Hawaii). Seems like lots of people on cruise critic are doing B2B (back to back) cruises - staying in the same cabin and moving on to Australia.
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:13 AM   #59
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Honestly, other than reserving the car, I really hate to "book" anything because of weather. I may just identify a couple things that we would like in each area and decide as the weather is fit.
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:25 AM   #60
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Honestly, other than reserving the car, I really hate to "book" anything because of weather. I may just identify a couple things that we would like in each area and decide as the weather is fit.
That's the way DH and I are and it works out for us. Rainy days are spent in museums.

Cruise Critic has already been mentioned- go to the Ports of Call section. There's a Board for each city and you'll get tons of recommendations (and non-recommendations) for various excursion companies.

DH and I took a cruise line that's so different they call themselves UnCruise and it was a small ship that got into the places the big ships can't reach. I've done kayaking and snorkeling and hiking (including a cave called El Capitain). I just laughed as I walked through Juneau and Ketchikan (our start and end points) because the streets seemed to be full of people buying gaudy jewelry, high-end outdoor wear, gourmet popcorn or filling up the pubs. Plenty of businesses to accommodate them, too. The Ketchikan public library closed its branch near the port because cruise ship passengers mobbed the place so they could use the free Wi-Fi.

Alaska is amazing; definitely do research ahead of time so you can enjoy its fascinating history and natural beauty.
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