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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-17-2006, 07:16 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11
I am booked to cruise the inside passage (August 6) and want to take a helicopter flight and glacier trek but am at a loss for the best port to do this. There are 40 pages of shore excursions offered by our cruise lines and a heli/glacier hike offered in both Skagway and Junea. Our party wants to do a variety of excursions in each port (Rain forest canopy tour, zip line, Whale watching, and flight-heli seeing are our priorities) but since the Heli/Glacier hike will probably be our most expensive/lengthy excursion, we want to get the best bang for our buck.

Does anyone have any experience with the differences in these excursions in each location and could I get some recommendations and/or things to consider? Which area is best for Heli/Hiking, Whale watching, Float plane rides, and Canopy tours? I know it's probably all great but we are looking for experienced travelers opinions.

  #2 (permalink)  
Old 01-17-2006, 09:40 AM
Lil' Lori's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 737
Well, since no one has replied, I figured I would give what info I have. Last July, we did Alaska on Princess. For Juneau we had bought the excursion "Taku Lodge" flight plane, flying over several glaciers out to the lodge, then a salmon lunch. Well, due to excessive clouds/fog, it was cancelled. We were notified at the pier. So, we were able to get on the Mendenhall Glacier walkabout via helicopter. We flew out to the glacier, and they gave us 20 minutes to walk around. Now, they wouldn't let you walk out to far, their are LOTS of crevices, and it is very uneven ground. It was pretty neat, especially hearing the choppers coming back to pick us up. It was so loud within the glacier. I don't know about the Skagway port, we went to Haines instead. We did a river float in Haines through a eagle preserve. Our guide pointed to the mountain range behind us and said that glacier bay was on the other side of it. I understand your frustration of which port to helicopter in. I went through it when I was trying to decide which itinerary to do, glacier bay or tracy arm. I posted lots of questions on the site. I also googled alot of stuff on tracy arm, cause I didn't know much about it. I did choose tracy arm, instead of glacier bay. Try googling helicopter glacier flights on both the ports. Visit the websites of the companies that offer these tours. Then compare what each port offers. Anyways, that is what I would do. Maybe, you would be comfortable booking directly with them to save money. I hope this helps. Lil' Lori
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 01-17-2006, 02:01 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 1,370
Is your cruise visiting Glacier Bay? If not, then you may want to consider the heli-hiking in Skagway, as chances are you would be heading over to Glacier Bay for it (read the tour description and even call the cruiseline if need be, to find out). If you are spending another day in Glacier Bay on the cruise, then I think I'd opt for Juneau. On the other hand, whale-watching is better from Juneau than from Skagway. Lori makes a good point about the weather; heli-hiking and float plane rides get cancelled fairly frequently if the weather is bad, and there's no way to know in advance if that will happen.

In my opinion, the best things to do in Skagway involve the 49er gold rush history - the White Pass & Yukon RR, or a tour of the town, including going out to the old cemetery. (You can walk this yourself, but you get the full (embellished?) story of it with a guide.)

Check http://www.portreviews.com, a sister site to cruise-chat, for some more ideas and information. Have a great cruise!
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 01-28-2006, 02:49 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 257

here are a couple of inexpensive alternatives that do not include helicopter rides but that you and your party should enjoy.

Juneau: Rent a car and see the Mendenhall Glacier. Then hike the East Loop Trail which will put above the Mendenhall Glacier for some great views of the glacier and the Alaskan wilderness.

Skagway: Rent a car and drive into the Canadian Yukon as far as Whitehorse. The highway is a truly great road and there is lots to see on this road.

These recommendations are not as spectacular as helicopter rides but are much cheaper and lots of fun.

Hope that yu have a great cruise.

  #5 (permalink)  
Old 01-28-2006, 07:09 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 645
I did the helicopter/glacier tour in Juneau.
Skagway was White Rail Pass train ride.
Ketchikan was the Misty Fjords Seaplane ride.

Enjoy your cruise.


Link to my webshots:
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 02-01-2006, 05:57 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Sunprincess:
I did the helicopter/glacier tour in Juneau.
Skagway was White Rail Pass train ride.
Ketchikan was the Misty Fjords Seaplane ride.

Enjoy your cruise.

If you don't mind me asking, was it worth the money and what did you like about those tours?

I'm pretty sure I've decided on a Helicopter/glacier trek out of Juneau but my biggest problem with this is the fact that doing this leaves me with little time to do anything else. I'm an amatuer photographer and would love to get some close up shots of whales so I'm a little torn as to what to do. There are 6 of us in our group and we can get a private boat for whale watching and my group has left the decision to me so I'm trying to gather as much info as possible.

Let me know your thoughts.
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 02-01-2006, 06:34 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 645

I will include a link to my webshots albums for you to look at my Alaska pictures. This alone may provide some explaination.


I am FAR from a good photographer, but, Alaska is full of photo opportunities. You will love it.

As for the tours. I have been fortunate enough to have done the Alaksa cruise twice. This enabled me to see things I missed the first time. I personally did not do any of the nature, fishing or whale watching tours.
They can be hit or miss. But, I will tell you those that went on some came back with some awesome photos. The ones I have of the bears & whales will speak for themsleves.

It can be very tough to make decisions for tours. Especially when they do offer so much. Go with what you love to see & do.
As for the money, some tours can be pricey, but, do provide a once in a lifetime look, right??
I can tell you those who did the Princess dogsled tours did not enjoy it & said it was not worth the money paid.

As for my helicopter/glacier walk worth every single penny. The one I booked left in the afternoon & was not the entire day so you might be able to get something booked for the morning. The Tram Ride downtown provides a great view IF it is a clear day.
You must take a quick visit to the Red Dog Saloon too.

Actually all of my tours were worth what I paid. Sadlt the weather did not cooperate either time I visited, but, ok.

The Seaplane ride was breathtaking. As well as the White Rail Pass.

With 6 of you in a group you may be able to book some tours independently & save some money. Read thru the posts here for tips.

You did not mention what ship you are on.

HOPE this helps some.
Feel free to ask away if you need more info.

  #8 (permalink)  
Old 02-05-2006, 09:12 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Tampa
Posts: 128
We also did the Glacier Trek in Juneau and it was worth the money. We also had the same problem deciding on whale watching vs.glacier hike. But my sons are in their 20's, so the Glacier Trek experience was well worth it for them too. We did see whales during the cruise itself, plus it's not guaranteed that you would see whales on that excursion. We booked on our own for Skagway and that was also an unforgettable experience. We did the horseback riding in the Yukon Territory and got to see Admiral Lake. My sons couldn't believe that we could top the helicopter experience, and this was equal, but in a different way.
Have a great time!
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 02-22-2006, 09:39 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 6
Originally posted by Tony Scott:
Tony Scott
I found the comments here intersting as my wife and I are travelling on HAL Oosterdamin May - our first ever cruise.
I am concerned about cruise line prices for shore excursions but have decided to use them in Ketchikan and Sitka but Juneau was a different matter.
I can book cheaper direct via the web with Temsco and I noted the comments onanother company - Coastal.
We want to do the Pilot's choice but Temsco advise that you need to book that with the cruise line. - it's $378 pp. but the mendenhall Glacier trip through Temsco is $199 c/f HAL -$242.
The other problem with Alaska I have picked up is actually getting a clear day.

Any advice or help please on options
Was planning Sea Otter Quest and Raptor Centre in Sitka. Misty Fjords cruise in Ketchikan.
We are doing a Canada tour to Banff etc after the cruise with Scnic Tours incl Rocky Mountaineer Goldleaf.
I just want to enjoy the unique experience Alaska offers.
Also have seen mixed reviews on the ship although most negative reviews seem to be by Americans whereas English etc. enjoyed it.

Thanks for any help
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 02-23-2006, 08:33 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11
I spent a lot of time researching and my party came to the conclusion that the pilots choice helicopter tour was best for us. I spoke to Temsco Helicopters in both Skagway and Juneau and it was suggested to us that the whale watching would be better in Juneau and that the Pilots Choice tour was probably their best.

We chose to do our tour out of Skagway since our time is limited in Juneau. The pilots choice offers over twice the air time (and thus scenic time) as the other tours but less time on the glaciers. We booked about two weeks ago for August of this year. Two people in our party that had a hard time deciding tried to book a wekk later and they were sold out. The Cruise ships do reserve all space and you will have to book through them. I would suggest that you not wait.
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float, glacier, helicopter, helihike, hike, ketchikan, pass, pilots, railway, review, ride, skagway, tour, trek, white

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