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Home > Member Reviews > agru's Port Reviews of Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait, Anchorage

agru's Port Reviews of Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait, Anchorage
Amsterdam cruise in June 2012
Member Name: agru
Cruise Date: June 2012
Embarkation: Seattle
Destination: Alaska
Member Review: agru's Amsterdam Review
Ketchikan
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We enjoyed our day in Ketchikan, where we rented a car and went birding by ourselves. In spite of the amount of tourism, the town still has a sleepy feel to it and the roads are easy to drive.

Beautiful scenery. A perfect first stop in Alaska!

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Juneau
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
We had mixed feelings about Juneau.

The morning was perfect. We took Harv and Marv's Whale Watching trip. With only six passengers and a small boat, we went out and saw Orcas and Humpback Whales. With transportation to and from the pier, the incredible attention of the staff, and a stop at Mendenhall Glacier thrown in for good measure, I highly recommend this company.

We ate lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack, a local "joint". The prices were outrageous, but so was the food.

What disappointed us most was the shopping experience in Juneau. A great deal of the items for sale were NOT made in Alaska, but overseas somewhere. After a while one shop blended into another. We eventually gave up on buying anything and returned to the ship.

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Icy Strait
Wildlife Tour Rating: 5+ out of 5+
This is one of the ports where I really wish we had much time.

Our excursion combined whale watching (with amazing results, including a group breaching in sequence), a walk looking for bears (seen, but in the distance), and too little time left afterward for a visit to the town or shopping in the more authentic shops by the pier.


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Anchorage
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We rented a car from Enterprise in Anchorage. They met us at the Egan Center (where the free shuttle from the pier drops you off downtown) and took us to the rental agency.

The day was spent driving along Turnagain Arm. HIGHLY recommended. Beautiful scenery, fabulous birding at Potter's Marsh, Dall's Sheep on the cliffs, amazingly dramatic tides, and a visit to the Wildlife Rescue at the end of Turnagain Arm.

Lunch at Turnagain Arm BBQ was unexpectedly authentic and good.

In spite of our not needing to be back on the ship until 10:30 pm, we returned to Enterprise at 6, just in time for a ride back to the pier.

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Sitka
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Interesting that our previous two ports were not available to review. FYI, they were Homer and Kodiak. We used HAL's excursions for both stops. One: Seldovia Cruise w/Gull Island (good, but not enough time in Seldovia), and Kodiak Sightseeing & Wildlife Cruise (Small and personalized).

Now, onto Sitka!

In Sitka we chartered Sitka's Secrets to take us out to Saint Lazaria Island, a major bird breeding area 15 miles from Sitka by boat. The wind was high, the water was choppy, and the ride was better than the worst roller coaster. But we made it and saw an incredible breeding island with over 21 species of bird, many of which were new to our life lists (species we've seen).

After our thrill ride, we did a bit of shopping in Sitka and managed to find a few gifts for friends and family.

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Victoria
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
I always like visiting Canada. Victoria was no exception.

Again, we rented a car, this time from Budget. They met us at the pier and took us to the agency.

Our goal for the day was one specific bird which we knew we could see in the fields around the airport. We did.

At the pier, one of the van drivers recommended we also visit Swan Lake Nature Conservancy. It was an incredibly beautiful (and birdy) place. But the weather turned a bit sour, so we returned to Budget, turned in our car, and they drove us back to the pier.

Before getting back on the ship we walked along the Breakwater, admiring the art along its side.

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