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Best Excursion for Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan


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We will be doing our very first Alaska cruise on the Princess Ruby in May/June 2022. It will be myself and my husband- both in our late 40's. I want to hear from you- what are some of your best/favorite excursions for these locations (Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan)? We are so excited! 

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Depends on what hours you are in port. Here are my general suggestions.

 

Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier - many tours available locally. Some combine time at glacier with whale watching or kayaking or hiking. Some folks rate landing on the glacier (via helicopter) or flying over the glacier as the most memorable. The Mt. Roberts Tramway is a nice time-filler. We took a general overview bus trip with time to hike to falls at Mendenhall and a stop at the scenic chapel on Auke Lake on our first Alaskan cruise and then toured the Alaska State Museum. Have booked whale watching for our second. 

 

Skagway - Bus/train into Canada (many local companies to choose from as well as ship excursion) If doing an independent excursion, try to get the train back as there will be passengers on it doing ship's excursion - in case there is a delay the ship will probably wait. You can also rent a vehicle and do it on your own - can't get lost, just one highway out of town. The town has several interesting historic buildings. Some nice hikes if you prefer that to the scenic trip into Canada.

 

Ketchikan - 3 areas for seeing totem poles (Saxman Village to the south, Totem Bight State Historical Park with some hiking trails to the north, Totem Heritage Center in town) - can't go wrong with whichever you pick. All are doable on your own, but to watch the dancers at Saxman Village you must take a ship's excursion. Creek Street. Many shops near the pier have authentic Alaskan goods/crafts/souvenirs but some have the usual non-local items.

 

No matter what you end up doing, you will have a great time. Even if it's just getting off the ship and walking around. We went at the end of May and had a wonderful cruise. Can't beat the scenery - on or off the ship.

Edited by Cruise Suzy
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Ketchikan:  The Misty Fjords Floatplane trip.  Choose one that actually lands on a lake in the Fjord and that allows one to get out of the plane and stand on the plane's floats for a few minutes.  It is quite an experience!

 

Skagway:  A bus/train combo trip to Carcross in the Yukon.  My tour:  bus up the mountain to Carcross with time to have lunch at Carcross and visit the small museum there, then a drive past Emerald Lake, then connecting with the train back to Skagway.  That was a winner of a tour as well.

 

Juneau:  Taku Glacier Flight and Feast (a delicious Salmon lunch/dinner).  A frequent "guest" after the Salmon is grilled is a bear that arrives to climb up to the platform where the grill is located to get his/her share of the goodies.  A highlight of the tour!  A non-touristy option is a visit to the Alaska State Museum for some Alaskan culture.  One could spend many hours there; I found the exhibits and the descriptions to be read very interesting.  The Museum is within easy walking distance of the cruise ship piers.  

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Hi, Dreams42Day, and you're in for a treat, Alaska is awesome! We can't wait to go again.

 

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau is very beautiful, have to agree with what others have said. My sister in law and I once did a wonderful whale watch boat trip out of Juneau while my eldest brother and Mike did the ship's bike-and-beer excursion. On another trip, Mike and I did a Mendenhall-and-whale-watch photography excursion. And on our last trip, we just rode the Mt Roberts tramway up the mountain and had a nice little hike in the beautiful woods. Great views from up there, despite the rain on that trip!

 

Skagway is a fun stop. We've rented a car twice and headed up to Emerald Lake and Carcross (last time was with a picnic we'd picked up in Skagway on our way out of town; we stopped and ate in Carcross on the way back), and we went on a van tour once to pretty much the same spots, except that the trip back was on the train, which was really enjoyable. Walking around town is fun, too, a very touristy kind of place but "sourdough", if that makes sense!

 

Our last visit to Ketchikan (2019) was my favorite! It was my elder brother's FIRST cruise and first time to Alaska. Our sibling-and-spouse group are 5 in  number and all age mid- 60's. Well, I found an e-bike company in Ketchikan and we did a bike-and-hike tour on that trip. It was a BLAST. My first-cruise brother wasn't sure about it, but once we told him it was like riding a motorcycle, you don't really have to peddle if you don't want to, he was all over it and never looked back (to the point that we didn't even get any pictures of him on that day!). SOOO much fun, and we were really lucky to have a beautiful day for it. Such a SUPER memory of that cruise. The hike at the end of the bike ride was really nice, through a beautiful rain forest along a great path to the ocean, lots of salmon in the streams and just a fantastic day.  If you type "e-bike and hike Ketchikan", the company is usually the first one on the list, and at your age (not ours, not ready for that!), you may want to do one of their kayak tours.

 

Have a fantastic time planning. Don't have to wish you a great cruise, coz we're sure it will be fantastic. 😃

Best wishes!

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I agree with rkacruiser on the Taku Glacier Flight and Feast.  Pricey but I felt like the adventure was worth the expense.  Juneau may also offer a small ship excursion into Tracy Arm fjord which is amazing.  Whale watching is good from Juneau.  The Bering Sea Fisherman’s tour is fun in Ketchikan.  Skagway bus/train combo is recommended.  Skagway also has some great hiking trails and lots of gold rush history exhibits through the national park system.   

 

Wait to purchase the Mt Roberts Tram tickets until you get to Juneau.  On a clear day you can get some great pictures.  If the weather is rainy and cloudy it is not worth the price of the ticket.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, oaktreerb said:

I agree with rkacruiser on the Taku Glacier Flight and Feast.  Pricey but I felt like the adventure was worth the expense.  Juneau may also offer a small ship excursion into Tracy Arm fjord which is amazing.  Whale watching is good from Juneau.  The Bering Sea Fisherman’s tour is fun in Ketchikan.  Skagway bus/train combo is recommended.  Skagway also has some great hiking trails and lots of gold rush history exhibits through the national park system.   

 

Wait to purchase the Mt Roberts Tram tickets until you get to Juneau.  On a clear day you can get some great pictures.  If the weather is rainy and cloudy it is not worth the price of the ticket.

 

 

I'll certainly agree with the Bering Sea Fisherman's tour...one of our favorites and have done it twice.

 

Skagway the bus/train option booking with Chilkoot.

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Alaska is a beautiful and peaceful place -- everyone should visit this state at least once in their lifetime.  Instead of asking what our likes are, perhaps you can tell us what your Alaskan interests are so that we can be of more assistance.  Suggestions are merely that -- this is your trip and its success will depend on your research and seeing if what you find out suits your needs/desires.  There are plenty of trip reports above this thread (some with pictures) that are worth taking a look at to get some ideas.  Happy researching.

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1 hour ago, oaktreerb said:

The Bering Sea Fisherman’s tour is fun in Ketchikan.

 

How could I have forgotten that one!  It's a winner as well!

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Loved mendenhal glacier in Juneau and especially loved the state museum. We just walked to the museum on my own and we were some of the first people there for day. One of the docents gave us a tour because we were there way before the ship excursions. 
 

Skagway, we did a walking tour with a ranger. You get free tickets at the visitor center which is in the middle of town. By far one of my favorite things we did there. 
 

We did the boat tour to misty fjords in Ketchikan and that was great. We quite enjoyed it. We had absolutely gorgeous weather and got super lucky with that. 

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Ketchikan is a good place to try Alaskan style charter fishing.  You'll be with a small group on a fishing charter, get to know the skipper and his/her love of Alaska, see amazing sea life, birds, whales, seals, and feel that you have experienced something beyond "tourist Alaska."  You might even catch a fish!  It's one of the best ways to be out on the water. 

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17 hours ago, rsldonk said:

Loved mendenhal glacier in Juneau and especially loved the state museum. We just walked to the museum on my own and we were some of the first people there for day. One of the docents gave us a tour because we were there way before the ship excursions. 
 

Skagway, we did a walking tour with a ranger. You get free tickets at the visitor center which is in the middle of town. By far one of my favorite things we did there. 
 

We did the boat tour to misty fjords in Ketchikan and that was great. We quite enjoyed it. We had absolutely gorgeous weather and got super lucky with that. 

I was thinking we'd do the boat tour to Misty Fjords from Ketchikan too. I'm interested in the seaplane flight but I hear Ketchikan is the most likely port to be foggy, and I wouldn't want to end up not seeing it at all because the flight was cancelled. Plus, my family won't get on a small plane. (I'm a private pilot so I'd enjoy it.)

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2 minutes ago, strickerj said:

I was thinking we'd do the boat tour to Misty Fjords from Ketchikan too. I'm interested in the seaplane flight but I hear Ketchikan is the most likely port to be foggy, and I wouldn't want to end up not seeing it at all because the flight was cancelled. Plus, my family won't get on a small plane. (I'm a private pilot so I'd enjoy it.)

Ketchikan usually only gets about 10 or so clear days per year. 

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I agree with the Float Plane tour to the Misty Fjords......I have done it twice with a company called ISLAND WINGS.

I highly recommend them😀 (In Ketchikan)........10 clear days? I guess I must have been lucky then......it was very clear on both of my flights👍

 

Hope you have a wonderful cruise........when the light is just right, it is amazing......the sky meets the horizon meets the water..........it is majestic!🙂

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We went in late June/early July in 2018 . In Juneau, we rented a car for the day (4 adults). We stopped to pick up sandwiches and a cooler and headed out for the day. Went to Mendenhall Glacier first and when we left, it was really busy. Then we drove to Eagle Beach and had our picnic lunch. Then stopped at the Shrine of St. Therese. We considered going to Glacier Gardens, but ultimately decided not to spend the money. Returned the car, had a snack of crab legs at Tracey's and called it a day.

 

In Skagway, we took the tour with Dyea Dave http://www.*****/tours.htm to Emerald Lake. We took the bus up and rode the train back. 

 

Ketchikan was one of our splurges - We took a float plane trip with Carlin Air to Anan Creek Bear Observatory https://www.carlinair.com/Ketchikan-tours/Ketchikan-bear-viewing-tours. This was the highlight of our trip! And Carlin was the only company operating on July 4. BTW, it was sunny and in the 80s that day! https://www.wrangellalaska.org/visitorservices/anan-bear-and-wildlife-observatory

 

There are so many options - it's best to read trip reports to get ideas of things that best suit you. We loved everything we did!

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On 5/16/2021 at 3:07 PM, strickerj said:

Plus, my family won't get on a small plane.

 

That's what I thought about me.  I'll admit that I had to screw up my courage when I made the booking for the floatplane trip to Misty Fjords.  And, then, to land on a lake and step out onto the plane's floats!  That tour was an unforgettable experience for me!

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5 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

That's what I thought about me.  I'll admit that I had to screw up my courage when I made the booking for the floatplane trip to Misty Fjords.  And, then, to land on a lake and step out onto the plane's floats!  That tour was an unforgettable experience for me!

I'll see if I can convince them. 🙂 My mother-in-law has actually been on a small plane - she grew up in farm country and a neighbor had a cropduster. My wife had never flown (even commercially) when we met.

I was thinking, as an alternative, I could book the 5 glacier flight in Juneau - weather seems to be marginally better there, and we have longer in port there so its cancellation won't ruin the entire visit.

Edited by strickerj
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2 minutes ago, strickerj said:

I was thinking, as an alternative, I could book the 5 glacier flight in Juneau - weather seems to be marginally better there, and we have longer in port there so its cancellation won't ruin the entire visit.

 

The 5 Glacier Flight with a stop at Taku Glacier Lodge for a salmon lunch or dinner would be a worthy alternative to get your family in a small plane to just try the experience.  They will get a "reward" half way through the flight by enjoying Taku Lodge, a good meal, and the frequent appearance of a bear to dine on the leftover salmon bits on the grill.  

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6 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

The 5 Glacier Flight with a stop at Taku Glacier Lodge for a salmon lunch or dinner would be a worthy alternative to get your family in a small plane to just try the experience.  They will get a "reward" half way through the flight by enjoying Taku Lodge, a good meal, and the frequent appearance of a bear to dine on the leftover salmon bits on the grill.  

Yeah... I wanted to do that one but the Mrs. doesn't like seafood. 😞  Might be doable if they have other options though.

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1 hour ago, strickerj said:

Yeah... I wanted to do that one but the Mrs. doesn't like seafood. 😞  Might be doable if they have other options though.

Chicken is also available.  You will be asked when you reach the aircraft office if you prefer salmon or chicken.  The ice tea is made from glacier ice.

https://www.rogerjett-photography.com/here/wp-content/gallery/taku-lodge/P5110146.jpg

 

https://www.rogerjett-photography.com/here/wp-content/gallery/taku-lodge/P5110112.jpg

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16 hours ago, Crew News said:

Chicken is also available.  You will be asked when you reach the aircraft office if you prefer salmon or chicken.  The ice tea is made from glacier ice.

 

I recall that chicken is available and with the glacier iced tea.

 

Your photo brought back good memories.  I was seated at the end of that table with my back to the windows in your picture.

 

17 hours ago, strickerj said:

Yeah... I wanted to do that one but the Mrs. doesn't like seafood. 😞  Might be doable if they have other options though.

 

The salmon looks and smells so good that she might get "caught up" in the spirit of the adventure that she would try a bit.  

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1 hour ago, rkacruiser said:

 

I recall that chicken is available and with the glacier iced tea.

 

Your photo brought back good memories.  I was seated at the end of that table with my back to the windows in your picture.

 

 

The salmon looks and smells so good that she might get "caught up" in the spirit of the adventure that she would try a bit.  

Here is a link to all of my Taku Lodge photos:

 

https://www.rogerjett-photography.com/place/alaska-2/juneau-2/taku-lodge

 

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2 hours ago, Crew News said:

Here is a link to all of my Taku Lodge photos:

 

Thank you so very much!  That was quite a memorable day and tour.  

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We are going in May and I’ve reserved 3 very different experiences: the train ride, a whale watching tour, and a trip for wildlife/bear viewing. Of course, nothing is guaranteed!  We are going NCL so we can visit Glacier Bay one day. 

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