ALASKA SHORE EXCURSIONS
that we have enjoyed on our eight cruises to Alaska.

In response to many questions on the Cruise Mates Alaska board and elsewhere, here is a page of SOME of the shore excursions available in Alaska with our comments. These are only our own personal choices. Sometimes we have been accompanied by people of limited mobility. There are many other excursions available.

CODE: SE = Ship's Excursion. PE = Private excursion SH = Shuttle Bus DIY = independent Do It Yourself

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page

J U N E A U

Mendenhall Glacier is one of the prime attractions of Juneau. You can visit it on a ship's excursion, on a shuttle bus, or with a taxi. The shuttles board at the dock and you can buy your ticket on the spot for about $14. Once there, you can just take a look around, or you can spend quite a bit of time at the visitor center and hiking the trails. (This picture, with our cab driver, is from about 20 years ago. Sadly the glacier has receded a lot since then.) SE SH PE DIY

There is a very nice visitor center which is an easy walk from the shuttle bus stop. It has interesting displays and a good view of the glacier.

There are nice hiking trails too. Our friend Susan took a short walk to the waterfall and enjoyed it. Notice how nice the weather was the day we were there. But was that snuffling in the bushes a bear or ??

The Gastineau Gold Mine is an interesting place to visit. The ship usually has a good excursion which goes there. SE

While there you can try your hand at panning for gold in the tailings of the mine, and of course visit the gift shop. SE

Juneau is a prime place for whale watching expeditions. The ship's excursions are usually run by Allen Marine, on large comfortable boats especially designed for wildlife viewing. There are also many recommended independent operators who sometimes have smaller boats with fewer passengers. Be aware that most of the whale sightings are of the rolling back or diving fluke variety, and sometimes spouts. SE PE



Sea lions are another big attraction on the wildlife excursions from Juneau. You will also often see eagles, and sometimes dolphins, seals, or even bear or moose. SE PE

Juneau is the prime spot for helicopter trips to the glaciers. Although these can be very expensive, they are one of the most exciting Alaska experiences. The ship will offer many choices, and there are recommended independent operators who also get good reviews. Our friend Connie loved her trip with TEMSCO. SE PE

From the air you can get spectacular views of the glaciers as you fly over them.

A picture on the top of the glacier is a prized Alaska souvenir!

One variation on the helicopter flight is to fly to the dog camp on the glacier for a dog sled ride. Sadly, due to weather conditions, this is one of the most cancelled of all Alaska excursions. SE PE

The Mount Roberts Tram is a popular trip. It departs from immediately adjacent to the ship dock. We could see it going up and down from our balcony. SE SH

From the top there is a great view of the harbor and the scenery round about. There is also an interpretive center, and an eagle who was rescued. There are some very nice hiking trails through the Alaska Rain Forest.

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page

K E T C H I K A N

Ketchikan is the prime spot for Totem Poles. One of the most popular places is Totem Bight State Park. Often you can get an excursions which first visits the Totem Heritage Center, basically a museum, and then the Totem Park. SE PE SH

There is also a recreated longhouse at Totem Bight which is very interesting to visit. Across the street is a carving shed where you can watch the poles being made.

Saxman Native Village is another very popular tour. Most of the time, the native dance performance in the longhouse is reserved for ship's excursions. SE

Saxman also has a carving shed where you can watch the carvers at work, and even pick up a cedar chip as a souvenir. SE PE

The Ketchikan Ducks are another great attraction. The ship often offers an excursion, or you can book it on the internet or right at the dock. SE PE DIY

The ducks will take you past Creek Street and other interesting points of Ketchikan.

Then the duck plunges down a ramp into the harbor, and usually can visit islands where eagles are nesting.

Another good excursion in Ketchikan is the float trip to Orca Bay. This gives some outstanding opportunities for scenery. SE

The flightseeing or catamaran to Misty Fjords is another great opportunity to view the scenic beauty of Alaska. SE PE

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page

S K A G W A Y

One of the most popular tours in Skagway is the Yellow bus tour. This goes to the best viewpoint, tours the city, and concludes with a nice multimedia history. SE

The viewpoint on the Dyea road is a very pretty place to view the mountains, the Lynn Canal, and the ships lying at anchor. SE PE DIY

The "Days of 98" show is a long running feature of Skagway and is lots of fun. Of course it includes the obligatory Robert W. Service poetry dramatization. SE PE DIY

Riding the Train over the White Pass is a very popular trip. The train runs on down into the Yukon and stops at scenic Lake Bennet. SE PE

There is usually a Dog Musher's Camp excursion offered by the cruise ship. This gives you an opportunity to see the dogs in their summer camp, and ride in a wheeled sled used for summer training.

One of the most popular Do It Yourself options in Alaska is to rent a car in Skagway and drive up over the pass, paralleling the train route on the opposite side of the valley. Avis has an office which rents very nice vehicles. There is another independent company also.

DIY

Coming down the other side of the pass you enter the Yukon and drive through a long scenic valley.

Most people drive into the Yukon, past the "world's smallest desert" and on to Emerald Lake, a truly beautiful place.

Then on the way back you can stop for lunch at Caribou Crossing. There is a wonderful wildlife museum with many mounted specimens.

There is also a summer camp for dogs here, and you can arrange to take a dog cart ride.

Meeting the sled dog puppies is often a highlight for the young and the young at heart.

Another possibility at Caribou Crossing is to take an ATV tour. (Recent reports indicate this is no longer available. Check in advance.)

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page

I C Y   S T R A I T   P O I N T

We have only visited Icy Strait Point once, and among the possible activities we chose to book a bear watching trip with Keith of Teckk Tours. He is a marvelous guide and we had a great tour of the town of Hoonah and the entire area as we searched for bear. PE
We saw skunk cabbage, eagles, bear droppings, mushrooms, berries, and many natural attractions. But naturally the big attraction was to actually sight a BEAR!
The favorite watering hole in Hoonah is The Office Bar. This is a great place to stop and have a local beer and some absolutely fresh crab. You can do it after your tour, or if you prefer you can make the scenic one mile walk into town yourself and stop here to refresh. PE DIY

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page

S I T K A

The big attraction for us in Sitka was the Sea Otters. We choose the ship's excursion on Allen Marine, but recommended private operators are also available. Allen Marine features big well equipped boats with picture windows and an open top deck for viewing. SE PE
Although otters are the principal object of search, and almost always found on this tour, there are also chances for viewing humpback or grey whales, bears, eagles, seals, sea lions, or porpoises.
Sitka has a very good Raptor Rescue Center. It is possible to walk there on your own, or combine it with a tour such as the Sea Otter Search.
SE DIY
Another famous attraction in Sitka is the New Archangel Dancers. This local troupe does a marvelous show featuring Russian dances reflecting Sitka's Russian heritage. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral in town is also worth seeing. SE DIY

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page

V I C T O R I A

Victoria is a stop usually included on Seattle round trip itineraries. One of the favorite things to do here is the famous high tea at the classic Empress Hotel. SE DIY
A tour we really enjoyed here first took us to the famous Butchart Gardens. This huge site has gardens of many types from formal to informal. It is famous for roses but also features many other botanical treats. SE
Following our visit to Butchart Gardens we drove to a nearby winery for the "Wine and Chocolate" experience. Pairing a flight of wines to taste with a chocolate truffle for each wine was a lot of fun!

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page

S E W A R D

In Seward the only thing we had time for was the train transfer to Anchorage. This is a very nice option instead of the bus transfer and we enjoyed it a lot. SE
The train travels through lots of beautiful scenery and there is an onboard guide who gives an interesting commentary. We were especially fortunate to sight a pod of beluga whales as the train passed Turnagain Arm.

JUNEAU==|==KETCHIKAN==|== SKAGWAY==|==ICY STRAIT POINT==|==SITKA==|==VICTORIA==|==SEWARD

GLACIERS==|==GLACIER BAY==|==HUBBARD GLACIER==|==TRACY ARM

And our DENALI page


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