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Old June 2nd, 2002, 11:01 AM
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Default Train in Alaska?

Just trying to get the excursions together that we'll be doing in Alaksa and wondering if these "train" rides are worth it and if not whats a better way to see the sights?

for any good/bad advice!

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Old June 2nd, 2002, 01:14 PM
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Default Re: Train in Alaska?

Donna ==>

IMHO, the narrow guage White Pass Railroad trip is definitely worth it. The train itself is an experience, and the scenery is totally awesome. No...you don't HAVE to take the train. The highway takes you up and over the pass. However, IMHO, the train adds a certain magical touch to the trip. And you'll get lots of stories from the train staff.
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Old June 2nd, 2002, 01:44 PM
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Default Re: Re: Train in Alaska?

Thanks Jim,
To do a train excursion, do you have to go through the cruiselines or can you do independently? We're on Celebrity Infinity, suppose I should check out their excursions again, I do know that Princess offers it.

Thanks again Jim

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Old June 2nd, 2002, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Train in Alaska?

Yes, Donna ==>

You can book the train indpendently at about 60% of the cruise line excursion price. The problem is that you might not get on the train. I've heard that cruise pax have priority but don't know that for sure. You can check it out at www.whitepassrailroad.com.

Speaking of train trips, if you're looking for a great way to spend an evening in Vancouver, check out the Pacific Starlight Express at...http://www.bcrail.com/starlight/ I know your not this old, but it takes you back to a time when Ernest Hemingway first graced our bookshelves...when Fred and Ginger danced their way into our hearts...a time that embraced the romance of the golden era of train travel.

OK...so I'm a train freak too. I just happen to love these side trips that allow you to step out of today to experience a lifestyle long since gone.
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Old June 2nd, 2002, 06:12 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Train in Alaska?


again JIM!

Just what I was hoping for!

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Old June 2nd, 2002, 10:13 PM
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Default Re: Train in Alaska?

Donna,

You are only going to save about $10 going directly through White Pass.

Because there are so many ships while I am in port - I didn't want to chance it and decided just to go with the ship. You can book it in advance but for $10 convenience fee - I will go with the cruiseline.

Theresa
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Old June 3rd, 2002, 08:23 AM
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Default Re: Re: Train in Alaska?

Our ship was delayed out of Skagway last year, because one of the White Pass trains was late returning. Good news - the passengers were on a ship's excursion, so we had to wait for them. That, combined with the fact that cruise ship pax seem to have priority, make it worth booking through the cruiseline in my opinion.

Another fantastic train trip option if you're doing the Gulf of Alaska and not just the inside passage is the Grandview Rail between Seward and Anchorage. We took this form of transfer over the coach transfer last year. We had already driven the road along Turnagain Arm a couple of times and wanted something different. The passage through the mountains was full of breathtakingly beautiful scenes. The train left Anchorage around noon and was a longer transfer than the coach ride, but, I think it was very much worth it. (This was a Princess xfer, but it is hooked up to an Alaska RR engine that has its own cars so it might be possible to book independently.)

If you're spending time on land, then I would also say that I enjoyed the Midnight Sun Express to Denali -- we lucked out with a beautiful day, and once the Alaska Range was in sight, we could see Mt McKinley the entire time it was visible from the train tracks. Some did find it boring -- but not me. (The MSE is also pulled by an AKRR engine so it is also possible to book this trip independently.)
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Old June 3rd, 2002, 08:47 AM
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Default What a difference a cruise line makes!

Donna ==>

Theresa's message about pricing got me curious...and what a surprise that was!

Last year, we paid $159 for the Princess excursion on the White Pass Railroad. Since you're on Infinity, I checked Celebrity exursion pricing only to find it was $94. Compare this with the $82 charge for independent booking.

No wonder we've switched to Celebrity.
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Old June 3rd, 2002, 10:47 AM
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Default Re: Train in Alaska?

Humm we only paid $94.00 through Princess in 2000--- that was just for the train ride itself--- did you maybe take a combo tour-- Princess does offer several which inclued the train and combo of other tours ???
April
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Old June 3rd, 2002, 01:52 PM
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Default Re: Re: Train in Alaska?

You may be right...but I have no way of knowing at this point. I wrote the excusions we wanted to take (May 2001) on our brochure. I could have easily written down the price of a combo tour but then actually signed up for and taken the train trip. I didn't keep my receipt from the ship...after matching it to my credit card bill.

I've known of excursions pricing differences between cruise lines...typically 5% at the most. So this one was certainly a surprise.

You reaffirmed my faith in Princess. I'll chalk off my stupidity to another senior moment.
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Old June 3rd, 2002, 02:33 PM
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Default Re: Train in Alaska?

Donna ==>



Theresa's message about pricing got me curious...and what a surprise that was!



Last year, we paid $159 for the Princess excursion on the White Pass Railroad. Since you're on Infinity, I checked Celebrity exursion pricing only to find it was $94. Compare this with the $82 charge for independent booking.



No wonder we've switched to Celebrity.

Hey Jim and Theresa,
Wow, for the $10 I'll definitely go with booking through the cruiseline. Thanks Theresa, its worth it for the piece of mind and not worrying if the train is late getting back :-)

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Old June 6th, 2002, 11:09 AM
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Default White Pass Train in Alaska

Reference the White Pass Train in Alaska. Any recommendations on the best time of day to go? They have morning, early afternoon and late afternoon. I would think morning would have the best wildlife, but is fog a problem? Also - any recommendations on which salmon hatchery to see - Macauley Salmon Hatchery in Juneau or the one in Sitka? These are Royal Caribbean excursions. Thanks for any help!
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Old June 7th, 2002, 09:58 AM
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Default Re: White Pass Train in Alaska

You never can tell with weather, so I am not sure anyone can give you a specific recommendation. Our excursion was in the afternoon, and despite the sometimes patchy skies, the landscape was clearly visible at all times. No one mentioned anything about any wildlife in the area, so I am not sure if this is normal or not. However, after having spent 10 days on land with lots of wildlife sightings, we had not come on the train ride expecting to see any and thus were not disappointed.

Can't help you with the hatchery tour in either of those towns. We did do a hatchery tour in Ketchikan - it was interesting, but I would not call it a not-to-be missed.
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Old June 9th, 2002, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: What a difference a cruise line makes!

It's listed in this year's Princess shore excursion book at $94. We paid about $85 doing this on NCL six years ago and it was well worth it. We did the afternoon trip and it was better because it wasn't foggy like in the morning.

We've also reserved the Pacific Starlight in Vancouver. Jim, it is worth the extra charge (about $15 pp US ) for the dome car?

Thanks.
Linda
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Old June 10th, 2002, 09:35 PM
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Default Re: Train in Alaska?

Linda, can you tell me more about the Pacific Starlight?? Do you have the web site? Does it go around Vancouver, etc. Thanks!!
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Old June 15th, 2002, 04:31 PM
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Default excursion

Reference the White Pass Train in Alaska. Any recommendations on the best time of day to go? They have morning, early afternoon and late afternoon. I would think morning would have the best wildlife, but is fog a problem? Also - any recommendations on which salmon hatchery to see - Macauley Salmon Hatchery in Juneau or the one in Sitka? These are Royal Caribbean excursions. Thanks for any help!


I recommend the afternoon train- less fog, but most of all for the ability to get to the Park Service visitor center located at Broadway and Second, loads of information as well as free activities, It will greatly enhance your later train trip. Don't expect any wildlife sightings just not the area for it. I am not aware of any hatchery in Sitka- they do have an excellent Raptor center however. Easy to get to on your own. I am also not sure of your reference to the hatchery in Juneau- I've only know theirs as Gastineau Salmon Hatchery, but worth a look, can get there via city bus.
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Old June 17th, 2002, 02:34 PM
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Default Re: excursion

The afternoon White Pass (about 12:45) was recommended because the fog has a chance to burn off. Definitely true. I'm from Minnesota. Me and the "inland" Candians were so warm we had to stand on the outside platform to try to cool off. Weren't expecting wildlife but saw mountain goats (mama & kid on the way up/two BIG billy goats on the way down), eagles, the usual. The guides told us how to get the best camera shots and avoid glass glare, plus we kept going outside. I was there May 23rd. Passengers who took the early train had mega-fog, not a pretty day and saw no wildlife. Just an aside, the Wite Pass Railway website will not book cruise passengers independently; they want you to book through your ship. I was on NCL Wind, cost was $92. We had fabulous weather. Fog early in most ports, burned off by afternoon. For the whales in Juneau (May 24th), it was the opposite. Got up early, took that little jetboat and saw seven humpback whales including a mother/calf combo. A couple of the males did that "tail" thing that makes for great photos. I also saw whales from my cabin on the way up--maybe 5 a.m.

Actually, I took a little cruise around the Vancouver harbor. We saw two bald eagles roosting on the mast of a small fishing boat, two huge Stellar sea lions and some harbor seals. I was worried that I used all my wildlife spotting luck before I even went looking for any . I have some great video of seals and sea lions lolling about on the ice floes by the Sawyer Glacier (up the Tracy Arm). Be vigilant for bears. They look like moving rocks on the shore (except for the one sunbathing at the Mendenhall Glacier). He looked very content to make us ooh and ah. The eagles look like white cotton balls. Be sure to bring binoculars and/or a good zoom lens camera. Every time I thought I couldn't be more impressed, I was. Enjoy your cruise.
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