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Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

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Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

We are planning a trip through the inside passage using the Marine Highway. We are thinking flying into Ketchikan and flying out of Sitka or Juneau. Places we would like to see...Ketchikan, Petersburg, Juneau, Sitka, Haines, Gustavus. How much time should we allow at each stop? What are the best places/companies to use for whale watching, kayaking, salmon and halibut fishing? What airlines fly from Haines to Gustavus? I have found good advice on this site already but any route advice or tips are most welcome. It is a bit overwhelming!!

New York
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1. Re: Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

I am assuming your trip is for 2013??

You need to look at the arrival and departure schedules, but also look at at least a 2 night stayt, so that you have time for the activity highlights, more, nights, depending on your touring priorities.

Whale watching is 100% sightings of humpbacks out of Juneau and Hoonah. Varied wildlife with usually humpbacks out of Sitka.

There also are some nice smaller cruise companies that do 7 day cruises with daytime port stops, that run between Ketchikan and Juneau.

Juneau, Alaska
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2. Re: Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

Wings of Alaska can fly you from Haines to Gustavus, but you'll go thru Juneau. You can save a few dollars by booking online at their website - www.wingsofalaska.com

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it honestly depends what you want to do in each city. I think 2 days is plenty in Sitka, 1 in Haines, 2 in Skagway, 3 here in Juneau, 2 in Ketchikan, 1 in Petersburg/Wrangell, and 1 in Gustavus... but it all depends what you want to do.

Adirondack, New York
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3. Re: Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

Yes, it really depends on your interests, how much time you have and your budget. To plan a visit to Ketchikan, Petersburg, Juneau, Sitka, Haines, Gustavus you need not only to be flexible with your itinerary but also be certain what you want to do in each place. Without knowing your interests it is impossible to give you any route suggestions or recommend how long you should stay in each place. You need to spend many hours studying the ferry schedule which will dictate your final itinerary. We didn't plan on staying in Juenau for as many days as we did because it wasn't our first visit there. However to include other destinations we sailed from Juneau to Gustavus, then returned to Juneau and sailed to Sitka, finally returned to Juneau one more time and finally sailed to Haines.

Diver, I respect your valuable input but I wouldn't recommend going all the way to Sitka for just one day. This is too interesting destination to only zip through. Again it all depends on interests of OP.

We stayed in Sitka a whole week and wish we stayed longer. I feel the same about Wrangell, Gustavus, Haines, Petersburg but we're hikers and every place mentioned has some great hiking options. With one day in Gustavus it wouldn't be even possible to go on a day tour of Glacier Bay NP. I followed suggestion of staying maximum of 2 nights in Gustavus and learned my lesson. What is enough for some is not enough for others. I wish we stayed in Gustavus at least 5 days. But, I agree, all depends what you want to do, how much time you have and what your budget allows.

Edited: 24 January 2012, 15:59
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4. Re: Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

We have decided to skip Haines. We will spend 2 days Kechikan, 1 day each Petersburg/Wragnell, 3 days Juneau, 2 days Glacier Bay and Sitka. I need advice where to go and what company to use for salmon /halibut fishing, whale watching, and kayaking. We have our other interests in place for the stops.

Thanks again for you assistance!!

Ketchikan
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for Ketchikan
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5. Re: Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

For whale watching, go to Frederick Sound out of Petersburg. The best in the business is marine biologist Barry Bracken who owns Kaleidoscope Cruises www.petersburglodgingandtours.com or 1-800-868-4373. He and his wife also have a gorgeous Bed and Breakfast on the water. if he is booked, ask him for recommendations or call Viking Travel in Petersburg at 1-800-327-2571. They are also experts at ferry travel. In Wrangell, Native Culture is a great focus, with the Nolan Center Museum, the Petroglyph Beach and Chief Shakes Island. There are also dozens of tour guides who will take you hiking or on Stikine River excursions for boating, glacier viewing or kayaking. In Ketchikan, the two totem parks are not to be missed....Totem Bight and Saxman, and I always take guests to the Forest Service Discovery Center...a type of natural history museum with local flora, fauna and culture, the Ketchikan Museum for local history and the Totem Heritage Center at lovely city park for more history. Ward Lake is a marvelous wilderness walk just four miles from town and another must but there are tons of other hiking trails, shops, restaurants galore. Get a "Frommer's Alaska" guidebook written by real Alaskans for all the details.

Adirondack, New York
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6. Re: Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

Many great suggestions from Rainbird.

If you have only one day for Petersburg there is no way you could do a whale watching trip if you want to see or do other things around Petersburg. It is a long, very long, day trip and could be rough sailing too. First it took about 2 hours to get to the area where we saw first whales. I would not go back with this company mentioned post #5. Maybe the captain had a bad day; maybe had some personal issues but his demeanor affected our tour. He did not communicate at all with us, did not want to tell us how long it takes to where we were going and where we were heading. When we finally saw whales he didn’t comment, didn't turn around for the best pictures. When we asked about headphones and promised possibility to listen to whales he only said no. I hope that was an isolated behavior of this captain but spending all day long on a small very tight boat with limited sitting and with unhappy captain who was not willing to communicate wasn't any fun.

Andersp, because you're staying in Juneau for three days I suggest you go whale watching there. These tours are shorter, calmer and you always see humpback whales.

I heard that Viking Travel has a good reputation but keep in mind that when making the ferry reservations with this company you're a subject to cancellation and changing policy of 25% from a moment when you paid your deposit. For this reason we always book our ferry segments directly with the Alaska Ferry. There is no cancellation or changing fee until two weeks before departure.

7. Re: Need Inside Passage Trip Advice

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