I am starting to plan an Alaska cruise for May or June 2003. Which is better, south bound or north? Is there one cruise line that does Alaska better than the others? What about the land tour add on? Would we be better off planning that on our own. I am interested in the domed train I have seen in the ads.
The only problem with asking my TA is I only get one opinion. Here on the boards I can get a lot of different opinions and then pick out what I like.
Hey Judy, so nice to see someone else who is planning a summer 2003 cruise. We are planning on the princess cruise with land tour for late July or early Aug to Alaska!! I've bought a couple books on the subject, and the Frommer's 2002 Alaska Cruises (or something to that effect) is very informative!
Definitely Southbound. The flight from Anchorage to anywhere is much longer than from Vancouver and it's nice to have the shorter flight at the end of your trip.
Another poster mentioned a while back that it's better to do your land touring first and THEN take the cruise, so you'll get a chance to relax and unwind before the inevitable return home. Land tours tend to be very restrictive, unless you just want to get led around places. I have friends who want any concerns addressed immediately and don't want to deal with any problems - so they do the origanized deals. Your money will go a lot further if you rent a car and see Alaska, the roads are good and the views from the road are also wonderful.
Depending on how much time you want to spend on the train, you could just take the 5 hour trip from the Anchorage depot to Seward. The train stops right at the dock. We took Princess's Grand View RR and it was just super. E-mail me and I'll send you the URL to my WebShots albums. You'll get a good idea of the views we had. (Eventually, I'll get the photos posted here)
On our first trip to Alaska, we rented a car out of ANC, stayed overnight in Anchorage and then drove down to Seward for nights at a B&B. This was so we could take Kenai Fjord cruise with lunch at Fox Island. Then we went to Anchorage and stayed one night at a B&B and then drove to Denali National Park. We stayed two nights at a B&B in Healy (about 10 miles from the main gate) and did the park's bus tour to Eilsen Visitor Center.
On this trip we took the Princess bus from ANC to Seward to get on the ship, since the Grand View wasn't available yet.
I've already gone on too long. If you have any questions, please let me know!
I greatly prefer southbound for the great marine wildlife watching the last sailing day back into Vancouver. I will never take another cruise tour and have traveled independently interior Alaska many times. You need to allow at least 5 days in my opinon. Also don't go any less than to at least Eielson via the shutlle. It is extremely easy to go independently - few well maintained roads, or via train - just be aware- it is not wildlife intensive and in my opinon not real scenic without Mt. McKinley out (which it rarely is). It is an 8 hour ride Denali Park- Anchorage. Seward- Anchorage 4 hours. IF you do decide on the train- consider www.toursaver.com has Alaska RR coupons- BUT get all the restrictions clear. You will see twice as much going on your own vs a cruise tour at half the costs. Necessary reference is THE MILEPOST, Frommers Alaska 2001 (2002) is also good, try your local library.