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Home > Member Reviews > BackslashAZ's Port Reviews of Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria

BackslashAZ's Port Reviews of Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria
Oosterdam cruise in June 2013
Member Name: BackslashAZ
Cruise Date: June 2013
Embarkation: Seattle
Destination: Alaska
Member Review: BackslashAZ's Oosterdam Review
Mendenhall Glacier Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

Beautiful, blue and huge, the glacier is a must see. There is also an incredible, powerful waterfall from snowmelt runoff. We only had an hour at the site so we skipped the visitors center and took the two mile, easy hike to the base of the waterfall and got a much closer look at the grandeur of the glacier. We took a ton of photos of both attractions along with plants, insects and eagles on ice flows.

Be aware that you don't get right up to the glacier unless you do one of the expensive helicopter tours. And you can take public transportation up to the glacier if you'd rather do this on your own rather than as part of a shore excursion and you'll save quite a bit.

Whale Watching Rating: 4.0 out of 5+

This tour was okay but not great. The crew were good, the boat was comfortably warm inside with the opportunity to go up-top if you chose. It was also a stable ride with none of the 100 people on our tour getting sick. The whales just didn't cooperate. We only saw two, a mother and calf the crew told us. And we didn't get very close.

After the boat, we stopped at a nice little lodge to eat. The meal was so-so except for fresh salmon grilled on arrival which was wonderful and you could have as much as you wanted.

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Zodiac Tour Rating: Not Rated

Best shore excursion we took in Alaska. It was incredible. Our wonderful captain, Reilly, took us out for an exciting adventure.

You ride in a zodiac-type raft. If you don't know what that is, google it. It has an inflated three foot diameter tube around the outside and a metal floor. Each of six passengers ride on straddle seats. It's kind of like sitting on a small motorcycle or something with your feet on the deck. There is a handle to hold onto and you can sit on or stand over the seat.

You shoot over the waves at 30 miles per hour for twenty minutes out and twenty minutes back with over an hour looking at wildlife and scenery. They take you out to a beautiful island bird sanctuary where you see millions of birds. It was completely amazing. The ocean undercuts the shore to make sea caves, one of which was large enough for the captain to float us into.

We saw dozens of sea otters on a large kelp bed in addition to all of the birds. On the way back our captain spotted a whale spout about a half mile away. He expertly moved us to and parked us in the perfect spot to see the whale when it resurfaced, up close and awesome.

You get bounced around quite a lot, which we found exhilarating. But, don't take this tour if you have serious back problems or bladder issues. Otherwise, don't miss this! It is phenomenal!

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Snorkeling Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

Snorkeling in Alaska? You've got to be kidding, right, but this was pretty cool. There are no glaciers in the area and there is a warm current so it's warmer than you'd think. They provide you with a thick wetsuit complete with hood, booties and gloves. If they fit right you get a thin layer of water between you and the suit which keeps you warm. Too loose you're cold, too tight and you can't move or breath well. Make sure your suit fits and you'll love this.

This isn't like snorkeling in a tropical setting. You can't see forever and the colors aren't vivid but you swim through kelp forests and see starfish, jellyfish, crabs and sea anemones.

And people won't believe you actually snorkeled in Alaska.

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Port Rating: Not Rated

We hadn't scheduled anything in Victoria since we were only in port from 6 pm to midnight. Downtown shopping, dining, etc. aren't right at the dock. We stepped off the ship and paid 10 bucks each for a round-trip to downtown. We strolled through the beautiful downtown where nearly all the bars and shops were open throughout the evening. We shopped and window shopped and then went up the street to Chinatown. We ate a really good meal at Don Chees restaurant. It was very good, especially the chow mein noodles.

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