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Jun202013

Tour/Activity

Juneau Shore Excursion: Whale-Watching Adventure with Mendenhall Glacier Tour

Juneau, Alaska

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

We were taken by bus from the ship to the marina where the jet boat left from in search of whales. The boat was not an open top jet boat as is found in New Zealand, but a canopy-covered boat that seated 24 passengers in reasonable comfort. Our drama began when the boat started to take on water. We did a large U-turn, the naturalist took the wheel while the skipper made several somewhat panic-induced rapid trips to the back of the boat. It was surprising that the passengers were not made ready for an emergency.
When we returned to the marina, the company owner was soon aboard and offered deep-felt apologies. Passengers were given a choice: refund or another trip on another jet boat as soon as one could be readied. Of the 17 passengers, four (including my wife and I) chose to have another attempt. Some passengers genuinely did not have time to take in another trip; others wanted to ensure that they saw the glacier; others simply were too nervous.
The second boat was slightly larger and slightly faster. We did catch up with some whales, but they were intent on feeding and slowly moved along in parallel with the coast. Some dived, but not spectacularly; others cruised along and blasted water occasionally from their blow holes.
Safely back onshore, we were taken to the Meldenhall Glacier and left for about an hour to walk as close as we could to the glacier. If you have time, go close to the waterfall, too. The visitors' centre is worth seeing, and a very interesting video was shown.
Overall, the trip was worth the effort and the expense - and there was some adventure as is indicated in the title of the tour, but the leaking jet boat is probably not quite what the organisers intended.

Jun192013

Tour/Activity

Ketchikan Shore Excursion: Lighthouses, Totems and Eagles Cruise

Ketchikan, Alaska

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

This was a comfortable but largely unspectacular relaxed trip. At this season the eagles were nesting, so that added to the interest. In some cases, one of the parents was on the nest, the other was in a nearby tree on lookout for food. The totems were in one location on the shore.
One part of the trip was a commentary on who lived in the houses, but this is gossip rather than enlightened commentary.
The skipper had an unusual style of commentary that mixed selective information with personal insight that was sometimes entertaining and sometimes idiosyncratic.

Jun192013

Tour/Activity

Ketchikan Shore Excursion: 30 Minute Seaplane Spectacular Tour

Ketchikan, Alaska

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Great experience.

The land crew were welcoming and hospitable. We were met close to the ship and taken to the float plane take off point. We had booked the second flight of the morning but as no one had booked the 7.30am flight, we took off at 7.40am. The clear morning enhanced the spectacle of mountains, lakes, scenery, a few wild goats seeking shelter that the polot spotted. He was informative and reassuring.

Highly recommend this trip.

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