Originally Posted by You
Norm, thanks for the very informative post about what to do on shore - as much as I'm looking forward to my first (not last, I'm sure) cruise, I'm even more excited to see whatever I can on land there. Wish we had more time and $$$ so we could do a tour to Denali and such, but will have to save that for the next visit. What a great resource this web site is, thanks so much to everyone for sharing their advice and experience!!
Actually, I don't recommend booking the cruise lines' tour packages in Alaska. It's much less expensive to rent a car, book your own hotels, and go touring on your own.
>> At a minimum, I recommend spending a long weekend in Anchorage while you are there. Anchorage is a really neat city with a lot of great restaurants, points of interest, and activities and events, and the whole downtown area is imminently walkable. There's also a street festival and an open air market right downtown nearly every weekend. If you have a rental car, there are also several easy day trips including (1) Talkeetna, with its scenic overlook that offers spectacular views of Mount McKinley and a great lunch spot called the Latitude 62 Inn (but make sure that it's a clear day in the valley before settint out on this one...), (2) day cruises to College Fjord from Seward (with lunch included), (3) the town of Seward, and (4) Mount Alyeska resort are all within easy striking distance.
>> If you have more time, you can drive up to Denali National Park and Fairbanks to see the attractions in those destinations on your own.
I do recommend booking your hotels in advance for two reasons. First, many hotels offer substantial (50% or more) discounts for prepaid rooms. And, second, the summer being Alaska's peak tourist season, you run the risk of encoutnering "No Vacancy" signs a LONG way from the nearest hotel with vacancy if you don't.
But have a great cruise in any case!