During our May cruise my husband and I will be stopping in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka. We have excursions we are considering in each stop, but are concerned we may not be leaving enough port time. If you could choose one port to explore, without time consuming excursions, which one would you choose?
Also, has anyone ever seen Misty Fjord by boat. I cannot get my husband on a floatplane. Does it compare to the plane? Since we are hoping to do a boat excursion in Juneau, possibly Tracy Arm, I am concerned about lack of port time.
The ports you mention can be explored in an hour or so, so you should have time for excursions. In Juneau, you'd have to have lots of time to do an excursion to Tracy Arm. If you can't, consider booking a private wildlife watching charter boat trip. I recommend Harv and Marv's Alaskan Outback. They are great. Also Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau is great. White Pass Railroad is definitely the excursion to do in Skagway. In Ketchikan, there is a great Lumberjack show which is funny, very well done, and gives you lots of time for walking aorund.
Ketchikan - I've always enjoyed the Lumberjack show and a side-trip out to Saxman Villiage. Both are inexpensive excursions and will allow plenty of time to explore town. Be sure to check out Ray Troll's shop, the Soho Coho on creek street... great local artist. IMO, Misty Fjords needs to be flown... such a huge area, that you really miss much of the splendor from a boat.
Juneau - The Tracy Arm trips are great. Adventure Bound and Alaskan Marine Adventures are the two regular Tracy Arm running tour boats. Price and schedule will vary between the two, as Alaskan Marine Adventures is a 6-pack boat, while Adventure bound runs 2 large vessels carrying between 12 and 50 per tour. One will customize your tour and one leaves the dock promptly every day, so if your port times don't match up, you're SOL...
Skagway - This is my favorite candidate for exploring without any excursions, although I still ride the WP&YR train for a short tour every time I'm there. Stop by the Forest Service, they've got a great walking tour and history lesson for Skagway, and don't forget to have a drink in the Red Onion Saloon...
Sitka - This is the port you want to go fishing at. Every chance I get, I drag the family out to the coast to have fun pulling on all sorts of fish... giant Pacific Halibut, King Salmon, rock-fish too various to list. Be sure to ask if anyone specializes in catching Sablefish as well... not many do, as they live in 1500'+...
Of the 4 ports, Juneau seems to have the best built infrastructure for moving folks around and the most variety of tours and excursions. We could probably fill a week or more just taking side-trips form Juneau. Ketchikan is good for about 2 days, 2 or 3 in Sitka, and Skagway is always a 1-day affair for me...not that you have that much time, just putting it into perspective.
Happy Alaska Travels!
Better not for now... signatures get me banned!