Shore excursions for Alaskan cruise

I figured I’d better finish planning my July cruise to Alaska before finals hit (just gave my first ones today) – grading season is usually pretty busy…

The advice I got from my travel agent and from this blog’s readers really helped me decide. This is the thought process I went through:

Juneau = I had heard about small boat excursions to the glacier – they go right up to the glacier apparently – but didn’t know which one I was after:

Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer

Mendenhall Glacier River Float

I don’t eat fish usually, but my wife really likes salmon sushi so maybe she will enjoy a salmon bake. We decided on Mendenhall and a late salmon bake. We’re doing the river float instead of the motorcoach trip to Mendenhall because it seems cooler to be on a boat than a bus.

Skagway = I knew I wanted to do White Pass Railroad but there are a few different choices here. We ruled out panning for gold (though I have written about that kind of thing before) but haven’t quite chosen which White Pass Railroad excursion to take.

Ketchikan = We decided on the Saxman Village tour for story telling, totem pole carvings, songs, etc. We had also considered the Misty Fjords, but apparently the mist can be so thick you don’t see anything at times. I’ve always been interested in learning more about Native American culture, at least since I went to a sweat lodge in college. Reminds me of this old blog entry.

Victoria = We chose not to do one in Victoria. I think we’ll just take the little ferry / boat around the harbor, get off at different stops and explore a little. The gardens are the big attraction here, but I’ve seen a few nice gardens and don’t really feel a need to see another.

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  1. Amy says:

    The Mendenhall River Float Trip doesn’t get you right up to the Glacier; I doubt even closer than if you take the motor coach to the glacier and hike a trail that takes you about halfway to the face. I could be wrong – I’ve done the Mendenhall River Float twice, and I guess there could be other, more intense trips – but I don’t think so.

    As for the salmon bake, definitely go to the Thane Ore House, not the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. Thane Ore House is outside of town in Thane (past downtown). They have not only all you can eat salmon, but beer battered halibut, barbecued ribs, baked beans, corn bread and salad bar (you go for the halibut and salmon; the rest is fine, but that’s the best). It’s about $25

  2. Ashley says:

    The Misty Fjords were absolutely the best thing we saw in Ketchikan. Breathtaking. The Yukon white pass train ride was a total rip off. The train derailed prior to our boarding and we had to wait for two hours. It was a bore and so is Skagway so just enjoy the town and shop. Go to the museum in Juneau. Mendenhall Glacier is great but best by helicopter. Buchardt Gardens are really spectacular and you shouldn’t miss them. That wine and chocolate tour in Victoria is a rip off and a waste of precious time. About Victoria..figure out how much time you have there and plan accordingly. It’s beautiful and interesting. If you have enough time for a Garden tour and then you’re on your own for awhile that would be great. The Garden is 18 miles one way, so if you take a cab instead of a tour, factor that in. I wouldn’t count the gardens out. We cruised around Tracy Arm while on the cruise ship and it was really beautiful.

  3. Alik says:

    While in Victoria, rent a car for the day and plan out your itinerary before hand. The car rental is far cheaper than taking bus tours and you control how long you want to stay and where you go.

    Just as an example, we rented a car for the day for about $5o/day ( US funds ) the tour bus to go to the winerys was about $70/per person ( we had 3 people in our group, you do the math ). As an added note, the winery tours are FREE.The other option, as I mentioned before, you control where you go and how long you stay.The nice thing about renting a car you are not restricted in staying in one place.

    The main thing is PLAN AHEAD, PLAN AHEAD.

  4. Deborah says:

    I am going July 18 on the Amsterdam…I go every year and here are my favorites:

    Juneau: Captain Larry’s Whale Watching at He really is the best for that excursion….also don’t miss Glacier Gardens.

    Skagway: nice small town to walk around. My favorite excursion is in Haines called the Eagle Preserve by Jetboat

    Ketchikan: Another great town to do a walking tour..go to Creek Street and see the nice views and shops. Flightseeing to Misty Fjords another nice excursion with

    Ziplining in Ketchikan or Juneau are both I have not done it yet.

    Have a wonderful trip.

  5. Donna says:

    The mist at Misty Fjords shouldn’t be much of an issue in July. It’s in May/early June and Sept/early Oct. that it can be hard to see. When we flew the Fjords in early August it was bright and sunny with no mist at ALL, which gave us a chuckle, given the place’s name. Our pilot said that it’s quite amazing sight WITH the mist–even more breathtaking than the way we saw it!


  6. catrinarawson says:

    During our stopover in Skagway last summer, we took a canoe trip at Glacier Point. After a quick boat trip from the port in Skagway to the Glacier Point penisula, we were transported on a vintage school bus first to a wild strawberry patch where we picked juicy berries to our stomachs’ delight. Then we were driven deep into the dense forest. Arriving at a fern-encircled clearing, we donned life jackets, slickers and boots and hiked a mile to a gravelly riverside beach where we embarked on canoes. We paddled and putt-putted by electric motor to a beautiful bay and right up to the face of an ethereally blue glacier. While snatching at mini-icebergs floating past our canoe, we spotted a large black bear gamboling along the icy base of the glacier. Bald eagles soared above as we made our way back to our departure point. This was an experience I would repeat every year if I could.

  7. James Trotta says:

    That canoe trip sounds awesome! Do you remember where you booked it?

  8. John Rivers says:

    Being from Alaska, I have seen first hand the effects of global warming. I have witnessed glaciers calve off in monumental proportions.

    In fact, I found a disturbing, yet spectacular movie that shows global warming footage of calving glaciers. Huge chunks of ice breaking off into the ocean! You can find this film called “Alaska, The Tracy Arm Experience” on Film Baby HERE:

    I highly recommend buying Alaska, The Tracy Arm Experience. Watch the glaciers disappear before your eyes and show your friends and family what is really going on in Alaska.

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