Search the web and educate yourself is the first line of defense. This way you will know what to discuss with your travel agent, what to expect, and you will have a better idea of what you want to see and do in the short time you're there. I have found an excellent TA in Wasilla, Alaska and have been extremely pleased. As a matter of fact, she is the best we have found YET! Very helpful, attentive, and has a lot of patience. If the price of our cruise is lowered (for which we qualify), we will be reimbursed the difference, guaranteed! We are taking a Southbound after 6 days of driving the interior of Alaska. We will fly into Anchorage, drive to Denali for 2 nights, drive to Talkeetna for one night, back to Anchorage the last night, take the train from Anchorage to Seward (said to be one of the most beautiful train trips in the WORLD), take a wildlife cruise through Kenai Fjords, and then board the ship for a wonderful cruise southbound. Northbound was out for us because we like to fly Continental. The ONLY flight out of Anchorage is at 12:55 A.M.!!! No thank you. If you are interested, my TAs information is as follows:
ANCHORS AWAY CRUISE OUTLET
TOLL FREE: 1-800-580-3494
HOURS: M-SAT 10 AM - 7 PM PACIFIC STANDARD TIME
M-SAT 1 PM - 10 PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME
What I like about Corky is that she has lived in Alaska for 25 years, is full of life, and knows the ins and outs of what to do, where to go, when to go, etc. She is loaded with helpful hints. No joke! Also, she will arrange for your hotels, etc. and does not charge extra. I have checked it all out myself AND she could even get better rates and I COULD! No. I'm not Corky. I'm just an extremely happy customer. I know it's difficult to find a good TA -- I have found one -- and I'M KEEPING HER!
Lastly, THE MILEPOST is an exceptional learning tool, as well. It can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Best of luck!
P.S. The ONLY problem with going to Alaska is that you will want to go back time and time again. Ask anyone who has been there!