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Alaska Cruise vis Princess

Hello - looking for excursion suggestions.

I'm traveling with family but sounds like most of them prefer to stay on the ship (10 days total).

Are there any excursion worth attenting?

Ports are -
Ketchikan, Alaska,
Juneau, Alaska
Skagway, Alaska
Victoria Bristish Columbia Canada

Thanks!

Posted by
3620 posts

Don't remember which ports had which excursions, but the short answer is yes!! There are many worth taking. Some visit glaciers, others go whale watching, you can ride the White Pass railroad, and downtown Victoria is very interesting. Personally, I'd never stay on the ship in any of the ports you mentioned. They all have many things to offer and the scenery is unbelievable.

Posted by
598 posts

Skagway - book with Beyond Skagway - do their Van ride up to the Yukon and the WhitePass Railroad back - most gorgeous scenery ever. They have a website and are very good about emailing. The WhitePass RR is the most popular excursion in Skagway. There is also only one train that afternoon, so you will be on in it with passengers from lots of ships = event Princess guests who booked thru the ship will be on the train - but you will have a much better and more personal experience with Beyond Skagway.

Juneau- Whale Watching with Jayleen's Alaska. She has a great Facebook page and website. She has a 6 passenger boat so you learn a ton from her compared to the 150 passenger boats you will see full of cruise passengers. She has been on the Alaskan waters since she was 7. Her dad also has a Whale Watching company. She even has a book out that we bought and we saw it sold all over Alaska and even on our ship. If more than 6 want to go, use her dad's company -- Harv and Marc

you will love Alaska. Princess does it best and they've done it the longest. Hope you are cruising through Glacier Bay.

Why go to Alaska and stay on the ship?!!? If I were to skip a port and not get off, it would be Victoria - but that is a neat city too.

Posted by
264 posts

Yes! there are lots of stuff worth seeing and doing on your own.

In Juneau, rent a car and drive over (or take a tour) to the see the Mendenhall glacier and waterfall and then drive out to see the Shrine of St. Terese and drive back
or take the tramway up the mountain or visit the Alaska State Museum

In Victoria, BC. rent a car (or take a tour) and go see Butchart Gardens
or walk to the Empress hotel and look around or have tea

In Ketchikan, Alaska, walk the town and get your picture at the town sign, walk over to Creek Street, visit the Totem Heritage Center. Like schlocky things? Do the lumberjack show. From Creek Street, we took the free bus to the salmon hatchery. Lots of shops in Ketchikan.

Skagway- take the train excursion or book a bald eagle tour

Lots to do. What are you interested in?

Posted by
5262 posts

Those are all good suggestions above. I'd add, for Ketchikan, a boat ride into the Misty Fjords National Monument. From Juneau you can take a helicopter ride among the glaciers (for a high price) and even get off and walk around on one (for a higher price).

Plenty to do, and you don't have to buy the overpriced excursions the cruise line offers. The same local companies that provide those excursions in the ports will take you, or a group of you, on the same or a comparable experience for much less. The Cruise Critic website has a "roll call" for each cruise where people can arrange to share the costs of group tours or activities. The only benefits of an excursion arranged through the cruise line are (a) maybe getting off the ship faster to get started and (b) a guarantee that they won't sail without you if your excursion returns late. There's a very low risk of that happening with a local tour company that does this regularly.

Posted by
247 posts

We took a flying tour of the Misty Fjords from Ketchikan. It was a clear day and the scenery was spectacular. If flying is out for some reason, look into a kayak tour of the local area waters. Sorry to hear that your family members will stay on the ship. The shipboard views of the Inside Passage are wonderful, but nothing beats actually getting out and into the scenery. Take every opportunity to get off the ship and up close to nature, you won't regret it.

Posted by
745 posts

A word of caution. If you book an excursion from a vendor not associated with the cruise line, make certain your payment is refundable if your cruise ship is late arriving in port. Our ship was late into every port.

Posted by
794 posts

I took my mother on that same cruise 10 years ago and scratched one off her bucket list. We had other family on board too, so it was fun. They did a lot more paid excursions than we did, but nothing really stands out other than the train to Whites Pass from Skagway. Be advised it takes most of the day, but is absolutely worth it.

We mostly walked around town, getting as far from the tourist docks as possible. In Juneau we met Sarah Palin totally by coincidence, browsed a used bookstore where I found a book I'd been looking for for years, and spent a couple hours talking with the folks in an art co-op.

In Ketchikan we did a chef's table type meal sitting in the kitchen of a very nice restaurant talking with the staff. My mom knew relatives of the head chef, and it was basically just the two of us sitting around BSing with the staff and occasionally trying whatever they were cooking.

Our ship was only in Victoria for 6 hours at the end of the trip, so we didn't do anything there. We've spent days in Victoria, and I live just a couple hours from there, so it's nothing big. The stuff I like on the island takes more than that to get to and experience. If you have time, and want to see some of the island, rent a car and drive over to Sooke and then up the coast to Pt Renfrew. Most everyone will head for the Gardens if the weather's good, and they are great, but if you have kids and don't want to see any more country, take them to the Bug Zoo downtown. I've never met a kid yet who didn't like that.

We did our trip in high season, mid-July. It rained most of the time, and people on the ship we're kind of upset. I live up here, and know something about Alaska and the inside passage (I'll be in Valdez for the next 2-3 weeks), so it was okay by me. Make sure you take gore-tex and a hat. I liked being able to get out on deck and only see one or two people. Be advised even in good weather if you're on deck at 5 am you'll be a rare passenger and you'll see stuff everyone else will miss.

Let me also add that, if you're from out of town, plan on spending some time in Seattle. You want to take a day or two minimum before you get on the ship to get used to the time and get over any jet lag. It makes for a better trip. And if you've never been up here, Seattle's got lot's to do and see.

Posted by
3 posts

I did this exact itinerary in 2015 with Princess. You will love it. Do you have Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm scenic cruising?

Plan to spend every second possible in Juneau since there's the most to do there. The only excursion the entire cruise was an Iditerod dog training camp. My mom loved the dogs. I loved the Mt. Roberts Tram and associated hikes. The trails (like all of downtown Juneau) are very steep and rustic. Lift tickets on the ship were the same price as on land, so buy them on the ship to save time. Definitely do the Mendenhall. Arrange a taxi to/from but make sure he/she will pick you up in 1-2 hours. The Mendenhall hikes are flat and easy.

You can visit a municipal totem museum for $5-10 plus taxi fare that is equivalent to the excursion in Ketchikan. You only have about 4-5 hours there.

Victoria is lovely but an afterthought to keep international registry. You only have the evening there. I just walked around downtown and went to the cultural museum.

Temperatures in early June ranged from 95 (Juneau, Skagway) to 50 (Glacier Bay). Be prepared.
TV recommendation at the risk of being banned :) is Burt Wolf's Alaska (Like Rick, he shares his PBS work on Youtube).

Posted by
1767 posts

Let them stay on the ship. Do what you want. I enjoyed the train in Skagway and the culture tour ( totem poles, etc. ) in Ketchikan. In Juneau I did a walk on my own. 50 + years ago I visited the Buchart Gardens in Victoria and liked it. Little did I know the owners would be snowbird neighbors in Scottsdale!

Check out some Youtube videos. The ones by Sheri at cruisetipstv and Kevin and Frank at cruisingwithwheels are pretty good.

Posted by
131 posts

Sounds like you're sailing out of San Francisco RT. At most ports you can get the same excursion from shore at 60% the cost from the ship. But, be careful of your time in short stays like Victoria. If you like hiking, I'd give you other recommendations.
- Skagway, book the White Pass train onboard. That way you get the train to come right to the ship. Morning is best for weather and leaves time later for seeing the historic town. There's a shore bus that takes you into town.
- Juneau, take a whale watching boat trip to see Humpback Whales. This can easily be booked onshore. Juneau is your longest day in port, so you'll have time to do other things in town, like the Roberts Mountain tram or the Red Dog Saloon.
- Ketchican, walk Creek Street and look for the spawning, jumping salmon. About a 30 minute walk from the ship. The Misty Fjords boat trip is very scenic. I booked this onboard.
- Victoria, book a Whale Watching trip to see Orca killer whales. Or book a trip to the Butchart Gardens. There's a shore bus that will take you to see the scenic downtown.

Posted by
2466 posts

In Skagway we took the Good Times Girl wlaking tour early in the morning, they met us by the ship. The town was empty and the tour was great. We did the white Mountain Pass trai. Ride i the afternoon. Great shopping in Skagway. harv and Marv whale watching in Juneau is recommended. My daughter and SIL went dog sledding there. Ketchichan they tood the deadliest catch fishing excursion. There are so many good things to do in Alaska you can just walk around the port and enjoy yourself. An added bonus is that no ports are tendered, all walk off. We loved it so much are looking to do another Alaskan cruise in a few years. Would try a different cruise line and departure port. We went in 2017 on Celebrity from Seattle.

Posted by
5477 posts

Why would you stay on the ship and miss these ports?

Skagway was the best. Take the train that goes to the Canadian border.

Ketchikan, we did a very nice tour with Ketchikan Taxi that was not expensive.
Juneau, go to the Mendenhall Glacier and then whale watching.
Victoria, see if you can go to Buchert Gardens, it is amazing.

Posted by
1937 posts

It has been several decades since our inside passage sailing along Alaska.
Two shore excursions we took in Alaska remain highlight memories to this day:

1) Helicopter ride to the top of glacier, where we drove dog sleds, and also met some of the dogs. Our guide and his team had run in the Iditarod the previous year, so it was fascinating hearing about his experience.

2) Took a small group float plane for salmon fishing. I learned what setting a hook meant.

From the ship itself (we sailed in July) we were literally surrounded by humpback whale one night, so much so the naturalist announced she had NEVER seen so many before. We abandoned dinner and headed out on deck :) One breached right in front of the ship.....incredible moment.

We actually signed up for dog sledding for the first port it was offered (and then we had back-up sign-ups for the next port)....good thing, as fog kept the first helicopter trip from going.

Beautiful country...........sort of primer, if you will, for future trips to Antarctica and Greenland years later. My spouse tells everyone that if they loved Alaska, then they simply must venture to more polar regions.

For Victoria, Butchart Gardens, if you love gardens. Otherwise, enjoy tea at the fabulous old hotel in town (can't recall the name, but everyone will know).

Enjoy your trip.

Curious why your relatives prefer to stay on the ship....money, physical limitations?

Posted by
5262 posts

The hotel in Victoria is the Empress, right on the Inner Harbor (sorry, Harbour). A very expensive high tea. The Empress also has an Indian restaurant with tiger skins on the walls and lots of atmosphere, also expensive. It's either a long walk or a short shuttle ride from the cruise docks to downtown. Also worth seeing downtown is the Royal B.C. Museum and, if you're into civic stuff, the Parliament Building -- all right on the harbor.

Posted by
714 posts

Alas the Bengal Room and it’s curry lunch buffet at the Empress are no more. The room is now a mish mash of the beautiful old wood panelled walls and very ugly modern furniture that does not go at all, and as for the artwork....well I know art is subjective but have look at the hotel photos of the Andy Warhol type portraits of Queen Victoria....

I do recommend the free tours of the B.C. Legislature (similar to state capital). The Lege, as we call it, is a lovely building inside and out and there are fascinating stories about the architect who designed both it and the Empress.

Head to Victoria’s fishermans wharf and check out the fish and chips stand there and wander along the wharves and houseboats. It’s an easy walk from the cruise ship terminal.

Posted by
5262 posts

Alas, RIP the Bengal Room. I have fond memories of several delicious meals among the tigers.

Posted by
380 posts

Don't know the ages of your kids, but if old enough, reading James Michner's Alaska might help them be more appreciative of the upcoming trip. Especially Skagway with the gold rush.