This was a great excursion. Our tour guide is the leader of the tribal corporation that owns Icy Strait. He provided a great deal of local history and color. We saw a number of brown bears up close and were glad we weren't shoved into a bus on a ship's excursion. There were 7 people in a 12 person van.
Involves 45 min bus ride to and from, but a great way to see more of the island and learn of it's history. We did not see any wildlife other than a black squirrel, but the scenery was lovely. The tour after ours saw several bears, so it's hit or miss, but you are in their home, not a zoo, so it's to be expected.
After a 45 minute drive to Spasski River Valley, including a stop to allow a mother bear and her two cubs to cross the road, we got to our stopping point. A short hike into the woods along a path took us to the first observation deck. It was a pretty view, but no bears. Same for the second observation deck. However, after we had been at the third deck for a while, a gorgeous golden brown bear walked under the deck, and ate some breakfast by the river. We ooh'ed and aah'ed, as you can imagine.
Our tour guide was outstanding. Nearly every plant in the forest had some sort of medicinal use. Not only did we see lots of various kinds of native plants, but lots of wildlife, but animal and birds. While we were on the beach we even saw seals, otters and humpback whales only meters off shore. On the way back to the dock, were were given a fascinating history and overview of the native tribes and their culture. I almost wish I could have taken notes.
Went to the Spaaskiy River to see wildlife. Learned about the area from our guide. Beautiful stop where you can do all kinds of things right off the ship. Can see whales, dolphins, seals, eagles right from the shore and the ship. We were lucky and saw three brown bears on our excursion.
Fun drive, interesting an informative guides. Unfortunately, mother nature did not cooperate as the salmon were NOT running therefore, no bears---which was what we went for. Nonetheless, we saw lots of fresh bear Poop!! So we know there were watching us. We felt safe as we had 2 armed guards to protect us.
This fascinating 90-minute tour was led by a retired science teacher. We learned about Icy Strait Point and its history as we hiked along the rocky shore and then through the forest on the island. We also heard about the various types of rocks found along the shore, the flowers and plants of the forest, as well as the varieties of trees in the forest. This was a fantastic tour, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
We took the tram that went to the forest and the beach. If you are interested in doing one of the active excursions like the zip line I recommend that you do not book on the ship. Book one of the cheaper excursions and they give out coupons so you can get a lower price on one or more of the more expensive excursions.
Although our guide was likable, in a rough kind of way, I think the spitting of chew out the window might be a little too "authentic" for your average cruiser.
The Tongass was lovely, we did get to see a good portion of it that most people likely don't get to. However, we all were there to see brown bears. The guide drove us to bridges. Not sure that's the best way to go, we were a 15 passenger van, not super stealth. Whatever, we knew we might not see them and thats fine. What was awful was that he just wouldn't stop!! Once it became clear that we were out of luck, I think everyone would have been fine with returning to the cannery and grabbing a bite to eat! In his defense I think he felt that he had to try and give us our money's worth. This trip was 6 hours LONG!!! They didn't supply a bottle of water or a snack either. In future they might take a consensus. If it was 3 hrs it would've been fine: Instead we saw no bears and also got kidnapped for our whole day ashore!!
We knew it was going to be tricky to see bears in early June, but we went anyway. We saw a few Sitka Black Tailed Deer that we passed by and I pointed out. There were a few ladies in the van that said, "We have those in our backyard in New Jersey." I answered that they were not the same kind of deer. They still seemed unimpressed. We did see bear scat on the roads. Our tour guide was funny and told numerous anecdotes. If we would have seen a bear this would have been an easy five star review, but we did not. So, I will give the tour 3 stars, not because of the guide, but because the animals were not cooperative.
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