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quack2

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  1. Just be aware that some of these shore vendor tours suck. I speak from experience.
  2. I would second the small boat visit to Tracy Arm. Just spectacular. I did a round trip out of Juneau, but some itineraries will have the cruise ship drop you on the way into Tracy Arm, and then you take the small boat back to Juneau. Small boats have a MUCH better chance of getting close to the glaciers. The cruise ships rarely get close to the glaciers due to ice floes.
  3. The downside of the ship excursion that includes Mendenhall, other than cost, is the number of people they cram onto the boat. If you're hoping to get whale photos, you will be challenged on the excursion vessel because of people being in your way. Harv and Marv, or other small boat companies, are much better for getting good photos, assuming the whales are cooperating. On a recent trip, I did Harv and Marv in the morning, had them drop me at the airport on the way back, rented a car at the airport, then drove to Mendenhall Glacier and then on up to the National Shrine of St. Therese's and beyond. Then back to the airport where I dropped the car and took a taxi back to the ship.
  4. Avis rents cars in Skagway. I've used them twice. Not cheap but still a good option for self touring. My usual trip is a drive to Carcross, and sometimes on to Emerald Lake. Lots of stops along the way for photos. If you want to see bears close-up in Alaska, this is one place where they are. They like to graze alongside the highway. Drive as slow as you safely can, keep your eyes open, and if you see a car pulled over ahead of you, there are likely bears ahead. I got some great photos in June. I also like to drive to abandoned townsite of Dyea on my way back into Skagway. Nice viewpoint of Skagway not far off main highway. Keep going and you will arrive at some National Historic Landmark sites at Dyea. You may want to familiarize yourself with the location of the gas stations in Skagway for refueling before returning the car. They are not hard to find but they don't stand out. Googlemaps can point you in the right direction. I should say that my first visit to this area was on a Dyea Dave's self-excursion. Well worth the modest cost. Fun and informative.
  5. I prefer the one-way, preferably from Seward to Vancouver. That option gives me: 1. Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward. 2. Kenai Fjords boat tour before boarding ship in Seward. Great wildlife and nature viewing. Either way, you do get the beautiful final morning coming into Vancouver.
  6. As I'm browsing through some of the menu postings on this board, I'm not seeing the chilled fruit soups on the appetizer list. Has HAL done away with them? They were my favorites on past HAL cruises in Alaska.
  7. Screwing with the promenade deck is one of Holland's really bad ideas.
  8. Don't put passport into a bag you are checking at the cruise terminal. Learned that lesson the hard way.
  9. On my recent trip to Alaska, I took my new Tamron 18-400, a canon 10-22, as well as my G7x and my iphone. I was pretty happy to have both the wide angle option for landscapes as well as the 18-400 mm for wildlife photos.
  10. I'm really enjoying this blog. Thanks for doing it. Even with the port access/weather risks, I would love to do this cruise. Is Holland not doing the chilled fruit soups as an appetizer anymore? They were my favorites.
  11. This past June, for the first time, I took the small boat round trip to Tracy Arm from Juneau. It was absolutely spectacular. The small boat was able to get close to both Sawyer glaciers (something my previous cruise visits couldn't do). We saw many harbor seals and their pups and an occasional bald eagle sitting on the icebergs. The icebergs themselves were some of the most amazing blue colors I've ever seen. If you really want to see this area, take a small boat tour rather than hoping your cruise ship will get in.
  12. When all the tourists have been eaten.
  13. Who hasn't wanted to start a brawl when they see a clown?
  14. The luggage transfer from Anchorage to Seward works very well. Be aware, however, that your luggage does not travel with you on the train. Rather, it is trucked to Seward separately. So make sure you have everything you need for your boat tour and Seward check-in with you in your carry-ons (boarding documents, passport, coats, hats, binoculars, camera, etc.)
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