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Old 05-13-2004, 11:05 AM
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Location: Sugar Land, Texas
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This is our first cruise, ever (Diamond Princess, July 31). We chose Alaska because of the smooth, inside sailing (no one else gets seasick on a rocking chair, do they?!) and because my 9 year old son is a nature freak. Even though I have read everything I can find on every subject imaginable, I just can't decide which shore excursions to do. We think that Juneau has to be a whale watching excursion (disappointed in Victoria a few years ago) but we don't know what to do in Skagway and Ketchikan. We are considering a 1.8 mile hike then a float down Chilkoot River, but with no rapids, is it boring? Ketchikan in early morning suggests just a walk around town. And Victoria at night: we don't drink; been to Butchart and Empress; what do we do? Stay on board?
Any and all help about shore excursions, packing for the first of August, etc. greatly appreciated. (and kids at formal night.)Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2004, 11:05 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Sugar Land, Texas
Posts: 64
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This is our first cruise, ever (Diamond Princess, July 31). We chose Alaska because of the smooth, inside sailing (no one else gets seasick on a rocking chair, do they?!) and because my 9 year old son is a nature freak. Even though I have read everything I can find on every subject imaginable, I just can't decide which shore excursions to do. We think that Juneau has to be a whale watching excursion (disappointed in Victoria a few years ago) but we don't know what to do in Skagway and Ketchikan. We are considering a 1.8 mile hike then a float down Chilkoot River, but with no rapids, is it boring? Ketchikan in early morning suggests just a walk around town. And Victoria at night: we don't drink; been to Butchart and Empress; what do we do? Stay on board?
Any and all help about shore excursions, packing for the first of August, etc. greatly appreciated. (and kids at formal night.)Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2004, 02:25 PM
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If your son is a nature freak, then take him to Butchart Gardens. If he's been there before too, perhaps just a stroll around town.

Whale-watching from Juneau would be great; so would taking the Mt. Roberts tramway (you can do that on your own) or visiting Mendenhall Glacier. In Ketchikan, walking around town would be good - Creek St., which is built out on a boardwalk over the water, is fun to see. If you want a little more excitement, go to Totem Bight State Park, especially if it's offered as an excursion (a cab ride might be $$; it's a ways out of town) - there are totems there, a Tlingit winter lodge, and it's at a traditional summer fishing spot for that tribe. (Expect rain in Ketchikan). I haven't done the river rafting in Skagway/Haines; by August the fall eagle crowd may start to form (though I think it's later). Just enjoy the nature around you, if it's a slow float.

Make sure to bring binoculars! On the way through the Inside Passage, look for golf balls in the trees (that's how you find the bald eagles - their white heads look like golf balls up in the branches). Your son should have fun trying to find them that way.

Have a great cruise!
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Old 05-14-2004, 05:52 AM
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Dear Karen,
Thanks for the input. We have all been to Butchart, and since the ship is only in Victoria from 7pm to midnight, I was having a hard time figuring out what to do. We were there for 3 days a few years ago.
What shore excursions have you done in Skagway? That town really has me stumped. The train sounds a bit boring. One way would be okay, but 2-way just seems wrong. An independent tour to Emerald Lake with a 2 hour horseback ride sounded great (albeit expensive) but my husband with the bad back vetoed that one! My son won't even think about a helicopter because of his fear of heights.
Anyone: please send reviews on any and all things to do in Skagway!
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Old 05-14-2004, 06:16 PM
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Did you check the Skagway entry in Portreviews.com? (Associated with this site). It might have a few ideas too. We took the Skagway Streetcar Co. tour and spent a couple hours walking through town and shopping - not too interesting for a young boy. Sounds like you all might enjoy the river rafting in Haines (across the Lynn Canal from Skagway), or you could wait to decide until you are onboard. If there is a day (boat) tour to Glacier Bay, that could also be quite interesting, especially to a nature lover!

As far as packing goes, I'd recommend making sure you have enough film/memory cards and battery support for taking pictures. Take the videocamera, if you have one. Other suggestions: an alarm clock, a small nightlight, and layers of clothing (rather than any real heavy things). Fleece vests or pullovers can be very handy. Bring raincoats (slickers, ponchos or the clear plastic variety)and hats (good for both sunny and rainy days). Remember water-resistant footwear, or bring an extra pair of walking shoes (sneakers, whatever), in case your other ones get wet. Of course, if you are from the Northwest, I don't need to tell you this!
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Old 05-16-2004, 08:54 PM
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Skagway is a lot of fun. The town itself is quite interesting and there a lots of nature hikes available if your son wants to get out into the wild. Check with the visitor's center downtown to get a map of the various hikes in, and around Shagway.

I wouldn't disount just hanging around the outskirts of Skagway either. There is much to see and do there.
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Old 05-17-2004, 07:25 AM
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To Karen:
Your replies are really helpful. I've checked everything I can find, it seems. I booked the cruise in January so I've had lots of time for research (every lunch hour since then!) I think I have finally made up my mind to take a VIP tour that Princess just added to this year's excursions that has a virtual hiking movie of the what it was like during the gold rush, a tour of the town, and a tour of the camp town up the mountain. It is supposed to parallel the train, so you get the views but you can stop for pictures. Someone recommended this since photographing from the train is difficult. Of course, I've changed my mind so many times already, and almost all of the excursions sound great.
As for the packing: we're from Houston. That's why I am having such a difficult time with the weather. It is already 90 degrees down here. By the time we leave in late July, it will be at 100 degrees, and 75 will feel chilly! I am seriously considering taking a down parka for the whale watching boat, but I would hate to use that much space in the luggage if it is not necessary.
Again, thanks for all your comments.
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Old 06-06-2004, 12:46 PM
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Dyxiegirl,
What is the name of your tour for Skagway. It sounds really neat. Thanks.
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Old 06-07-2004, 06:13 AM
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Hey Luann,
The excursion is called "Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float Adventure." The first part is a 2 mile hike that goes up 700' then down 700' to the river. From what I understand, it is the first part of the trail the goldrushers used, and it is supposed to be a tough hike. The river float is 40 minutes with no rapids. We decided that we weren't in good enough shape to handle that hike, especially after reading a journal of a young hiker who did the whole 33 miles, and almost croaked on the first 3 miles!
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Old 06-07-2004, 06:25 AM
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I would highly recommend the hike into Lower Dewey Lake from Skagway. You can get a trail map in the museum and it is a relatively easy hike (steep for the first 1/2 mile though) Once you are at Lower Dewey Lake, you would think you are a million miles from anywhere. There are several trails from there if you want to explore further.You could easily do this hike and the tour you are considering in the same day and still have time to explore Skagway.

Have a great cruise!!!

Tom
 
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ak, alaska, alska, excursion, excursions, july, juneau, kids, kidsreviews, reviews, shore, skagway, victoria, watching, whale

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