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Review of Inside Passage Trip

Massachusetts
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376 posts
32 reviews
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Review of Inside Passage Trip

We recently returned from our trip. To be quick and to the point, I plan on being very brief.

Worst experience: Staying at the Fort Seward Bed and Breakfast at Haines. This place should be called a rooming house - it was downright inhospitable and unwelcoming. Stay at the Hotel Halsingland down the street. At least you'll have someone around to answer questions and it's cheaper and the rooms are larger. We honestly felt as if the bed and breakfast people were hiding from us. It was very uncomfortable there...

Best experience - working with Pam Coulter and Al Gilliam of Glacier Valley Adventures in Haines. Very well run family business and I can't say enough about the wonderful memories provided by them. We air boated in to gold pan at Al's Nugget Creek and then continued on to overnite at his cabin at the base of Deblondeau Glacier. Our guide, Jeff, was perfect as was the wonderful food provided by Pam. We canoed, hiked, sledded, had a bonfire. It was all perfect and concluded with a beautiful raft ride pack into the Eagle Preserve.

Hotels: Aside from the Fort Seward Bed and Breakfast which I wouldn't recommend to anyone, we stayed at the Hotel Halsingland in Haines and the Westmarks in Sitka and Juneau. The bathrooms vary considerably at the Hotel Halsingland so be sure to ask for one with a decent size.

Best National Park tour: Skagway Walking Tour. Would love to give a shout out to our guide but I've forgotten her name. She was absolutely the best park ranger I've ever met - incredibly engaging and obviously in love with Skagway.

Best Restaurants: Fireweed and Chilkat Bakery in Haines, The Hanger, Twisted Fish and Pizzeria Roma in Juneau. Costa's Diner had a lot of "atmosphere" in Juneau but my food was only OK. Loved the pizza place next to the grocery store in Skagway as well.

Best Museum: Sheldon Jackson in Sitka. Besides all the displays, they had a Native craftsman from Nome carving walrus tusks and allowed my kids to try it out as well.

Best movie: all the parks had a movie but we liked the one at the top of the tram in Juneau the best. It was very empowering and not to be missed. BTW - we hiked up the trail rather than taking the tram and saved ourselves many $$'s and honestly must have had a better time than those people packed into the tram. It only took 1 1/4 hours and we had a 7-year old with us. Granted she kicks butt but I recommend hiking up and taking the tram back down. (Going back down is basically free. They say you need to show a receipt that you spent $5 at the gift shop but no one seemed to be checking for that..)

Highlight: walking on Mendenhall Glacier with Northstar Trekking. Very well run business and this was just an amazing excursion. We had at least 60 minutes on the glacier (they offer longer tours but we had a 7 year old with us so 60 minutes was the longest we could do). Includes a helicopter tour over the ice fields. Very small business compared to the ones associated with the cruise ships. I highly recommend these folks.

Also enjoyed: the boat ride with Adventure Bound out to Tracy Arm. Their office was a little difficult to work with but floating through icebergs on a small boat and watching glaciers calf close up was an incredible experience. Captain Steve really took his time and we were able to savor the experience. He stopped and reversed direction so we could boat around with a pod of Orca as well. What a treat.

We had the time of our lives and are so HAPPY that we didn't take a cruise ship. The State Ferry was great and spending so much time in Alaska rather than on a ship was intoxicating. Thanks to everyone (especially to mombear who introduced me to Haines!) for all their input.

haines, alaska
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1. Re: Review of Inside Passage Trip

Good morning MAW

Sounds like you had a great trip.....so sorry you did not have a good experience at Seward B&B......guess if it seemed like a boarding house, you must not have been able to book their 2-bedroom apt with kitchen......also, the owner likes to fish whenever the weather cooperates......

I really love the calzones at Fireweed (big enough for lunch the next day !!).......we don't go there often, though (popbear thinks the music is too loud)......Chilkat Bakery is also one of our fav's........glad you enjoyed Haines........did you see any bear, moose, eagles, whales ?

Boston...
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2. Re: Review of Inside Passage Trip

Thanks for the trip report; great tips! If my trip next year does come through, I'll definitely look into all the services you mentioned.

Blue

Massachusetts
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3. Re: Review of Inside Passage Trip

Mombear -

We did indeed see wildlife. We decided to walk into Sitka from the airport since our luggage didn't make the transfer in Seattle (about a 2 mile walk) and were greeted by a harbor seal as we crossed the bridge into town. We had a great bald eagle siting during our walk on the Trail of Totems. Little did we know how many we'd wind up seeing. It was great to be in Alaska while the bald eagle was officially removed from the endangered species list!

While driving on the Haines Highway we saw a moose and her calf attempting to cross the street. How special was that? One mistake we made was not going down to Chilkat Lake to see the bear - apparently they were making very frequent nightly appearances while we there. Jet lag set in and we needed to sleep!

We also saw porpoises playing in the wake of the state ferry, seals by the dozens lounging on icebergs, and orca. The only thing missing was the bear!

BTW - we did have the kitchenette suite at the B&B and I thought it was rather grim. I was hoping for some local advice/color/hospitality when I signed up for the B&B. I guess Norm shouldn't be in the business of taking people's money if he'd rather be out fishing...In any case, that was a minor glitch in the big scheme of things. I just don't want anyone else making the same mistake.

Haines is a lovely town - did you go to the wedding this past week-end? We were being encouraged to stop by if we were in town! Apparently it's expected for the whole town to show up for weddings!

haines, alaska
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4. Re: Review of Inside Passage Trip

Wow, sounds like you got to see most of the animals......moose and calf, indeed a treat !!.......We went out to Chilkoot bridge to see if the salmon were running up there yet and saw a grizzly, not quite grown.....neighbor who watches and names all the bears, says this one is named HumVee and is about 3 yrs old......one of the things I like best about living up here is that you just never know what you will see......everyday has a new surprise !!.....

Note to Blue.......How is your intenerary for next summer shaping up ??....... There are loads of trip reviews out here this year......lots of ideas and great experiences........

5. Re: Review of Inside Passage Trip

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