We went this May and , after trawling the internet, did not find much of a difference between the cruise ship prices and the ones in the port.We went on the Misty Fjords floatplane trip and it blew my heart away with the scenery. the floatplanes were all bookoed when we got to the port so you could nnot have booked it on arrival. Sitka we just did our own thing.
There will always be plenty of taxis and minibuses to take you where you want to go and they are cheaper but if you are new to cruising better try and meet up with some who can perhaps share with you and keep you right. My word of warning is late back to the ship it doesn't wait for you unless you are on one of their bus trips.
If you want to see or do something in particular it may be better to book excursions through the cruise line or find your trip privately on the web and book. When we were in Alaska last summer each port had several huge cruise ships on the same day so immense demand on limited facilities. Plenty of shopping but not much else to see in the ports themselves.
If you do enough research on the web you can easily find how to DIY in ports thus ensuring a cheaper trip with fewer people. You can also find people on board willing to share private tours if you register for the connections party.
We have just come back from the alaska cruise and thoroughly enjoyed it, as for excursions, you honestly would be better off doing it independatly, for one, if you book the whale cruise, you dont see anything different than if you were to take a 'side of the road' whale cruise, the good thing is that on the independant whale trip, you may only get about 20 people in a boat. loads of room to see and do whatever you like but if you book with the ship, you may get 200 people on a boat and all you take pictures of is elbow's and heads.
all of the port of calls in alaska are walking distance to the towns so you really dont need to book anything at all, we did book one which was a rainforest one and too be honest it was a waste of time, they took you up a hill on a golf cart and it never even stopped for you to get out, do it yourselves and have a great time.
by the way, if you go to a soap shop, buy some, best soap for zits and bad skin in the world, clears it up in no time.
We cruised Alaska on the mercury last year, best cruise we have ever done, truly a trip of a lifetime - and with that in mind i think you are much better booking excursions with celebrity rather than doing your own thing and risk it going wrong -after all you would only have yourself to blame and possibly lost memories. We did whale watching in Juneau , horse riding and helicopter glacier walking in skagway - having done a lot of research before we left you do not save that much doing it on your own once you take into account other expenses. The trips we did were well worth the money and were well organized. If you were going to europe then I would say do your own thing, but for such a once in a life time thing do not leave to chance. The mercury is a great ship, I hope you enjoy your cruise - if you want any other info then just leave me a message .
Thanks Mr& Mrs Jennings for your information it is most helpful. Can you please tell us do we need a green card or a Visa for this trip if so where do you get it. Many Thanks .
As I do not know your nationally or what passport you hold you should contact the Canadian and American embassies to clarify. If like us you hold a newish British passport then you should still be able to travel under the USA waiver programme, which means that you as you are issued a green card at Vancouver port, that sees you though Alaska and they collect it when you get back off. But as I say you are best to check first.
When is the best time to go for the whale watching, as that is what we would definitely like to see. I wonder if it is guaranteed that we could see whales? How much do the excursions cost? Did you have to go on a separate ship for the whale watching?