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Old 01-22-2013, 01:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Alaskan Excursion Question(s)...

I will be heading to Vancouver for a 7 day Disney Alaskan Cruise. I have a few questions though.

1) is it possible to book more than one excursion for any given day? Or is it better to limit yourself?

2) when signing up for an excursion online (still a few weeks away) does it show you the specific times you will be gone? Or will we not get the departure times until a day or two before?

3) when there are two or three excursions that are very similar, what is the easiest way to choose between them?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.


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Old 01-22-2013, 08:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Booking multiple excursions depends on how much time you'll be in the port, and the length of each. It's certainly possible, since some excursions are fairly brief. As long as you don't cut things too close, you can be fine. Also, some excursions may be tiring, others relaxing - one of each is a decent approach. Of course, you may want some free time for wandering around in port, too. Contrast doing two shorter excursions with a single trip that might be more immersive. You can't see and do it all, so sometimes quality beats quantity, other times it's worth getting a small taste of many things

With a bit of research you can get a fair idea of what will be best/unique in each port. If the same kind of activity is offered in several ports, consider the unique things first, and fill in the gaps with the item(s) found in several ports afterwards.

For similar excursions, read carefully. Usually there's one or two items more or less that are there to distinguish one from the other. Go with the one with the most appealing items. For boat trips, it may be the type of boat, they may stop in different places... For flight-seeing, count up the time in the air vs. on ground (often a slightly more expensive trip spends much more time in the air, delivering better value).

DCL does show excursion meeting time when you're making your online reservations.
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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I agree with Dave on all points. It really depends on how much time you have in each port. I enjoyed just walking around in the port towns (all are within walking distance of where the ship docks), too, and in Ketchikan I was kind of sorry I booked such a long excursion since I didn't have time to see the town at all.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Exactly, Alaska is tricky in the Port Adventures department, in my opinion. I felt really pressured to experience Alaska when we went because we didn't think we would be back. It wasn't really a destination we had desire to frequent.

In my research I discovered the the float plane over Misty Fjords is something my entire family really wanted to do and it was less expensive booking directly with the company as opposed to through Disney, plus there was a lot more time "in air". So read those descriptions carefully.

When you start adding port adventures it will usually give you a time, also note that most tours and excursions that are shorter will give you the option of taking you all the way back to the ship or dropping you "in town" and can shop and sight see, etc and then you are responsible for your own transportation back to the ship.

They were handing out an "Alaska Savers" book at the port that had some fun coupons and deals for touristy items in them. My step-son was obsessed with going to each of the jewelry stores (I can't remember which specific one it was) and collecting the gold coins. We are missing a few though because the stores were closed, so his little box isn't full. It's devastating for an 11 year old who prided himself on "sweet talking" the ladies at the jewelry counter to give him a coin (he didn't really know about the promotion, he just knew if he asked nice they might give him a gold coin).

In my past experience the differences in the excursions come down to a very small issue such as if lunch is included, how much time is spent at one particular place (if it's a multi-stop kind of tour) or other perks. I think I have my Alaska Port Adventures guide from the ship saved in my file, I might even have them as PDF's if you need them.
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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This link should bring you to the Alaska page on my pdf account and then you can scroll through the other pages of the port adventures, they are the bottom line. Hope that helps!

Alaska Port Adventures p. 1
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That might also be a better link if you want to get an idea of the Personal Navigator activities.

The Practical Planner: Alaska Cruise Documents-Disney Wonder
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the info. It basically comes down to wanting to do four to five excursions over three shore days. Mainly the quintessential Alaskan things such as Gold Panning, Salmon Fishing, Wildlife Watching and Lumberjack show.


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Old 01-23-2013, 04:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Of those four, my personal recommendation is to drop gold panning from the list. It may be fun for a few minutes, but it's not actual prospecting, so the chances of a real score are next to zero. Most, if not all, panning experiences simply seed the sand/gravel with flakes of gold purchased from gold refiners, to be sure everyone has something to show for it.

Time-wise, it's not too hard to fit the lumberjack show into a 2-excursion visit to Ketchikan. The show is in town, a short walk from the dock, so you don't lose much time traveling to/from the show, and the show itself is about an hour, so you'll spend 90 minutes-2 hours maximum on the excursion. Now, if you happen to be staying in Vancouver for a few days and were thinking of going up Grouse Mountain... they have a lumberjack show there that's part of the basic ticket. It's not quite as good as the show in Ketchikan, but good enough for my purposes, and it frees up your time in Ketchikan for something more worthwhile (in my opinion) like a Misty Fjords flight, or a fishing trip.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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We did a flight over Misty Fjords which was breathtaking and i'd recommend it to anyone. I did book that directly with a company in Alaska and there was a lot of savings from what DCL was charging and I was very happy with their services. That being said, they were patient putting up with my incessant inquiries and emails and checking and double checking of all the details, this was an expensive excursion for us and we knew it would be a once in a lifetime thing and i wanted to pick the right one.

We also did the Alaskan Salmon Bake and Gold Panning with Disney Characters b/c my DS REALLY wanted to do it. It was kind of miserable honestly. He had fun, but it poured rain (which isn't unusual), the little gold flakes were hardly worth the cost of the excursion and the meal wasn't really up my alley. Even my fish loving father, who was looking forward to the authentic salmon feast wasn't thrilled with the authentic salmon bones he had to keep pulling out of his fish. It took up a lot of time and cost a lot of money and honestly, I would pass on that excursion as well. No offense to anyone in Alaska who is operating these tours, that is how they make their living it's just not an ideal experience for everyone and it's not one I would be inclined to recommend with all the other tour options in Alaska.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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ooh yeah, i can't remember which port we were in but we were having dinner at Palo and the people at the table next to us had been on a whale watching excursion that day so they knew what to look for and pointed out some whales that were following our ship. It was SO cool! We all ran to the windows to see (even the staff) and were very happy our fellow cruisers spotted them! Just a nice little memory to share
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:12 PM   #11 (permalink)
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In '11 we did dog sledding in Juneau followed by lunch and some shopping. We did one of DCL's dog sledding adventures, not the top of the line one the one below that and it was super amazing. I'd do that one again. We also would have had time to do the tramway but opted for the peak at many shops there instead. In Skagway we did the Yukon & White Pass trip through and independent operator, Chilkoot Tours, because they offered photo stops along the way and it was a very small group. It was a full day deal but again, another thing that was really enjoyable. In Ketchikan we did the Rainforest Hike. It was nice, we learned a lot but if we were to go again, I'd opt for something else. I do think, and maybe some other posters will confirm this, that you need to report back to the ship to the meeting point for your 2nd adventure. If that's true then you want to keep the timing of getting back to the ship etc. in mind. also, there's the food/lunch consideration. You'll need to eat and only the Yukon & White Pass trip included lunch out of the adventures we did.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the great information which leads to a new dilemma. I figure I will pass on Liarsville Gold Panning which means I will either go on the Nature/Wildlife Expedition for photos or the scenic railway (what other members of the party are doing). Or possibly both since we have 12 hours on shore. The dilemma is the other two ports of call. There are 5 excursions in each port (some of a similar nature) to choose from and fewer hours to do them in. Arrrrrgh!


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Old 01-28-2013, 03:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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I did the Misty Fjords cruise excursion in Ketchikan and really liked it. I just wish it had been about an hour shorter so I could have explored the town a bit. It looked like a very nice little town. I did the railway in Skagway-- also a very good choice. In Juneau it was rainy and so foggy you couldn't see the shore when we were docked right beside it. I was booked on the Mt Roberts tramway, but just stayed on the ship. I'm glad I did because it stayed foggy nearly all day.
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