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Home > Member Reviews > eschguy's Port Reviews of Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria

eschguy's Port Reviews of Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria
Norwegian Pearl cruise in June 2010
Member Name: eschguy
Cruise Date: June 2010
Embarkation: Seattle
Destination: Alaska
Member Review: eschguy's Norwegian Pearl Review
Seattle
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
We arrived in Seattle a day before our cruise departed and checked into the Comfort Inn Suites Downtown/Seattle Center. The hotel had great rates and good proximity to the Space Needle (10 minute walk), so it works for a one night stay. Anything longer than that, and it's worth it to look more downtown for better service, nicer amenities, etc.

On Sunday morning, we took a food tour of Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle Tours, which was excellent. Our tour guide took a group of 20 or so people around the market, tasting foods from smoked salmon to piroshkis to chocolate covered cherries, while providing interesting and humorous historical anecdotes. I found this tour on Trip Advisor and the positive reviews were definitely spot on.

Worth noting, three of us headed to the pier at 9:00 to check our bags in. The porters started taking bags at about 9:45a, so this is a good option if you want to go explore town before you check in. Also, they have a $3/bag concierge service if you can't wait until the 9:45a pick-up time.



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Juneau
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
On our Juneau day, we took the MGT Express ($14 round trip) to Mendhenhall Glacier. It's about a 25 minute ride and the bus departs every half hour, with the last one leaving the glacier at 6:00pm. Once there, we walked to the Photo Point (5 minutes) and then took the trail to Nugget Falls, a great looking waterfall. That trail took about 50 minutes there and back and provided some great photo opportunities.

It was an overcast day when we were in Juneau, so we decided not to take the Mount Roberts Tram, as many previous commenters have advised.

Once back in the town, we walked around for a little while, but there really isn't too much to see. Most of the stores on the main strip are cruise-owned tourist traps.


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Skagway
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We signed up for the White Pass Rail & Laughton Glacier Hike excursion through NCL. This was probably my favorite excursion or tour I've ever done in my life. We met up with the rest of the group (17 total hikers, 3 guides) and headed to the train. We had our own car reserved on the train, which we took for about 14 miles before we got off. This was nice because we got to experience the train, but not have to do the whole three-hour roundtrip.

Once we got off, we began hiking up toward Laughton Glacier. After an hour in the woods, we got above the tree line and climbed up river rocks to approach the glacier. We stopped for lunch, which we had made on the train ride, on the ice and then the group broke up -- some people headed back for a "leisurely" descent, while the rest of us kept climbing up the glacier. Between the river rocks and the glacial ice, finding safe footing was challenging -- almost everyone, including the guides, took a fall at one point or another.

The scenery was absolutely amazing, the guides were knowledgeable, funny and very willing to take pictures of everyone and the hike itself was a nice challenge. All in all, we were hiking for about six or seven hours on very uneven terrain, so it's pretty physically demanding, but if you're in good shape and want to see a glacier, this is an absolute must.

The "town" of Skagway was similar to Juneau -- almost everything there was designed for tourists.



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Ketchikan
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We took the Deadliest Catch Tour in Ketchikan and it was great. Watching the show is not a pre-requisite for enjoying the tour, as I've only seen a few episodes, and I really had a good time. Over three and a half hours, the captain and crew pulled up a few pots of crabs and fish, stopped at an island occupied by bald eagles (there must have been 40 of them flying right in front of us) and regaled us with stories about being fishermen in Alaska. I strongly recommend this tour.

Once off the tour boat, we walked the town of Ketchikan, which, compared to Juneau and Skagway, was more of what I envisioned Alaska to be like. We walked to Creek Street, which was nice, and found the Married Man's Trail (which was much smaller and less impressive than I had expected, based on the reviews I'd read -- not much to see here).



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Victoria
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
We arrived in Victoria at 6:00p. Based on other reviewers posts, we decided to skip the Gardens because it would potentially be too dark to enjoy them. We took a $7 r/t shuttle into the city of Victoria. As we weren't really expecting much out of Victoria, we were happily surprised to see how nice and charming it was. We walked around down by the Empress Hotel and took some good photos there, then went through the town and started an impromptu bar crawl. Our favorite stop was the Bard & Banker -- a Scottish pub with a good offering of local micro-brews.



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