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Booking Excursions Independently vs. Booking with the Cruise Lines

Published: Jan 01, 2021
Last Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Your cruise ship likely offers excursions as additions to your cruise package, so you may be wondering what the difference is when you book directly with an excursion company, like Alaska Shore Excursions. You may be told that booking independently is dangerous, you won’t have access to helicopter tours (we have many!), or even that you might get scammed.


We can only speak for ourselves, of course, but there’s nothing like that to fear with us! We’re a team of local Alaskans who want to share our home with you, the real Alaska, and at local prices. When you book a tour with us, you are likely going to get a much smaller tour size than you would have if you booked with the ship - this allows us to offer greater connection, personal attention, and more in-depth information about Alaska’s treasures.


This business philosophy also means that when you call us, a real person will answer the phone! We care about your experience, and we want to ensure that you’ll have excellent things to say about your experience with us. We also guarantee to return you to the ship before it departs; we’ve never had a passenger miss their ship.


Many first-time visitors to Alaska are surprised by how “American” Alaska feels: there’s no need to worry about Visa concerns, language barriers, or other obstructions to independent travel when abroad. (There’s also no need to worry about having to pay for tours in cash.) We are also happy to accommodate groups that wish to experience Alaska together whenever possible, where this is often not an option when booking through the cruise.


But the bottom line? You’ll save money when you book excursions independently. We’ll give you the best price, guaranteed. We offer local wholesale rates for all of our tours because we feel that everyone deserves the same lowest price. (Though if you, as an individual, would like to book a group of 10 or more we will offer you a 5% discount.) Our prices don’t have any hidden fees or gimmicks. On the shopping cart page, you'll see any applicable local city taxes applied before you continue to the checkout page!

If you have any further questions or concerns about booking independently please check out our Frequently Asked Questions or give us a call at 1-888-586-8489.


Alaska Excursion FAQ

1. What are the best Alaska shore excursions?

The best Alaska shore excursions are:


2. What is the best port for whale watching?

Juneau is the best port for whale watching, because seeing whales is 100% guaranteed. Icy Strait is also a good choice for whale watching, because whales are abundant (though not guaranteed).

3. What is the best port for dog sledding?

There are dog sledding options in many ports, including Juneau, Skagway, and Anchorage. Each excursion typically includes a helicopter ride and dog sledding on a glacier. It's a must do in Alaska, but which port you try it in is up to you.