Sourdough Tours is a tour company located in Ketchikan, Alaska. They specialized in tours of the city of Ketchikan, wildlife tours, and tours of the native Saxman village. We booked one of their tours while on a cruise. We took several tours during our cruise and we choose not to book the tours associated with the cruise line. Sourdough Tours handled our tour/excursion in Ketchikan. We took a tour of the city and of the Saxman Native village. Our tour also included wildlife stops. It should have been a 2-hour tour.
Price: The price for the 2-tour we took was $50 per person. This included admission (but no tour guide) of Dolly’s house and Creek Street, Herring Bay, Rainbow Falls, and the Saxman village. They have other tours such as two-hour tour of the Saxman village ($40/person), a three-hour Ketchikan Highlights & Totem Tour (party of 12 only $75/person), and they also offer flight tours and charter fishing (you have to call for availability and price). These prices seemed comparable to the other tours operating in the area.
Location: The location of the tour agency is pretty good. It is close to the docking ports for the cruise ships, and is close to the shopping in Ketchikan so that you can shop while you wait for your tour to begin.
The Tour: The tour itself was nice. Our tour guide was named Uncle David (request him if you can) and he was a good tour guide. He grew up in Ketchikan and he is fisherman (among other things). He is also a native of the Saxman village so he knows all the stories of the totems that you will see in the Saxman village. He was a very nice and insightful tour guide and told us lots of stories about the totems and general stories about the village. He also educated us on the traditions of his native culture, which I found interesting. It was fun to see the wildlife at our wildlife stops. We saw a momma bear and two cubs, and lots of bald eagles. I also enjoyed seeing the totems at the Saxman village. We took lots of pictures and I bought a book on the myths of the native culture at the Saxman village shop.
Customer Service: Like I said Uncle Dave was a good tour guide, but Sourdough Tours is not run very well or efficiently. They really don’t care about the customer experience. They only care about how many people they can stuff on a bus and how much money they can make off the tourists. We reserved our tour a couple of months in advance and we pre-paid for the tour. The tour was to leave at 8:30 and be a 2-hour tour. When we (myself and 3 other family members) got to the tour venue, they directed us to board a large bus, which was completely full. There were no seats. We had to get off the bus and we were directed to another smaller bus that was also completely full. They had way oversold the 8:30 tour as the smaller bus was for the overload from the big bus. Therefore, even though we had book our seats two months in advance we had to wait while they called in Uncle Dave to take the overload of the overload which included 10 other people besides my family. This meant we lost 20-30 minutes of our 2 hour tour so our tour. As a result, our tour felt really rushed, and we didn’t get to stay as long in places as we would have like. It also meant we paid for tour time we didn’t get. But in a way we were lucky, the bus we took was smaller and only half full instead of being crammed with people the was the other two buses were.
I felt like this tour group was not as well organized as the other tour groups that we took tours with. The other groups asked us to be there early so we could leave on time. They had an appropriately sized vehicle for all those going on the tour, and they had a list of people going on the tour. The tour guides marked you off the list as you boarded the bus. I also felt like the other groups were more professional. The people both at the venue doing the booking and the tour guides were professional and courteous at the other tour groups. Some of the guides and staff at Sourdough Tours were anything but courteous. The man at the venue making the reservations was snide to me when I wondered out loud why they didn’t have enough buses for everyone, and another tour guide came up to Uncle Dave at a tour stop and said, “you stole my passengers.” This other tour guide was a very scary looking, unkempt man, and I was very glad to have Dave as my tour guide. I just didn’t get a feeling of professionalism from the staff of Sourdough Tours.
Overall, I felt like this tour service didn’t care about giving us a good experience during our tour. This is a shame because Ketchikan has a wonderful history, and some beautiful wildlife that should be fun to explore. Sourdough Tours’ customer service was so dismal that it pretty much ruined the day for me. It left a sour taste in my mouth that I had paid $50 for tour that I didn’t really enjoyed because of all the drama that proceeded it plus I got shorted on time during the tour. My recommendation is to take another tour group in Ketchikan or trying booking a tour through the cruise ship as they have their own people who do tours at the port stops.
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