"Hi Jane and Dave!!!
Ed and I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed and appreciated
the Saxman Village Totem Tour, the Whale watching tour and the river
rafting trip through the Bald Eagle preserve.
The small groups afforded us a personal tour that could not be equaled by
the much larger tours booked via the cruise ships. We were able to stop on
an 'island' in the river a few times and explore - allowing us to see bear
you provide a service and experience that CANNOT be equaled by the larger
cruise ship operators."
Ed & Wendy Fuentes
Know Before You Go: Planning your Trip to Alaska
Help for Cruise Ship Passengers
How to get the most out of your Alaska tours & Shore Excursions
Ambrose Button reprinted from Dolly Varden's Tips 'n Travel
I recently read an article about how people spend more time
planning their vacations than they do planning their lives. I am
sure this is probably true for many. And although, I encourage you
to spend some time planning your life, I also
encourage you to research Alaska before you finalize your cruise
ship plans. This way you can plan your time and itinerary to take
advantage of all that Alaska has to offer for you.
Here are my 7 favorite tips:
1. Gather ideas on what you want to see and do in Alaska
Before you make your plans, read up on Alaska and research the
most important things you want to see and do. This is a
critical element, and will make planning the rest of your trip
much easier. Alaska is so vast and filled with opportunities it is
very important to familiarize yourself with the possibilities and
then narrow them down - BEFORE YOU GO!
2. Decide on the Ports-of-Call that are most important
The typical ports where the cruise ships dock are:
Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. However these three stops are
not always the only stops available. Other ports include Prince
Rupert, Hoonah (Icy Straits), Sitka, Wrangell, Haines, Valdez,
Seward & Whittier. Every port has its own heritage, charm and
shore excursions. Once you have a clear picture of which towns you
want on your itinerary, then narrowing down the right cruise
becomes a clear choice.
3. Check for the amount of time in each port
would be amazed at how many times we get calls from people wanting
to schedule a certain tour in a particular port only to be
disappointed that there is either not enough time for the tour
they wanted ~ or not enough time for the two tours they had their
hearts set on. It is imperative to know the times your cruise ship
is going to be in port. Allow yourself not only the most possible
hours in port, but try to schedule arriving in the morning and not
the afternoon. When you arrive in the morning you have more
choices throughout the day to schedule independent shore
excursions and time for sightseeing and shopping. When we book
tours we always double check the cruise line's arrival and
departure time - and you should too. A site where you can get this
Northwest Cruise Ship Association
4. Book your shore excursions in advance
We get emails and calls from travelers who want to know if they
can just book a particular tour at the dock when they arrive in
port. My answer to this is always - book in advance - know what
you are doing before you go. Many of the most popular tours
are booked way in advance. These are ones such as
flightseeing, helicopter tours, dog sledding, rafting, kayaking,
whale watching, fishing. Although there may be exceptions, you
really don't want to spend your precious time in port running
around trying to find a tour. Nor do you want to be disappointed
when you can't get on the one you wanted. When you plan in advance
you aren't rushed, you know what you are doing and in the long run
you have more time to "vacation".
5. Learn about
the history of Alaska
Read all you can about Alaska. It's history is captivating.
Each town has its own heritage and story. The more you learn the
more fascinated you will become. We'll be posting a list of good
books about Alaska on our website soon, in the meantime read as
much as you can.
6. Know the best
time of year to visit
We're continually asked questions about the best time of year
to visit Alaska. The answer to this is totally subjective and
depends on your priorities. If it's wildlife you want to see, then
make sure you know the optimum time for viewing the species you
are looking for. If you want the best weather - then probably
don't risk a September trip. What about the best fishing - well,
what do you want to catch and where are you going to be? You see,
there are lots of reasons to pick certain months. The best time to
come to Alaska is when you and your family can take time off of
work and see this majestic state.
7. Ask Questions!
It is so important to ask questions of people who know Alaska
and the ports where you will be visiting. The big thing to
remember is that other people's views are extremely subjective.
One person's dream tour could be another one's nightmare. I've
talked to 2 families who have done exactly the same tour at the
same time and one thought it was the best trip in Alaska and the
other complained because it was not what they expected. Make sure
you ask the right questions and ask someone who can give you