I'm on the Legend of the Seas Northbound 8/22 to 8/29.
From Seward to Anchorage, are there any tours that make a one-way trip and stop along the way? Isn't there a lake or glacier?
I know the train leaves Seward at 6PM or so, but what other options do you know of?
(P.S. I have all day - flying out at 8AM next day, so I WILL have all of my luggage with me...)
OR, I could go straight to Achorage by bus, no stops, be there by 2 - are there any not-to-be-missed afternoon/evening tours in/near Anchorage?
There is plenty to see in all the areas, including Seward. With a car you would have more options along the way, the glacier you are probably referring to is Portage- way done on the "glacier" list, since you will be doing others. Also Exit Glacier- out of Seward. Good close up views with some hiking. Any bus "tours" would probably only include the "animal" park (low on my list too as my objective is for sightings in the wild) and possibly Portage. There wouldn't be much else. If you have a car- you could stop all the way up AND have an opportunity to see Anchorage. Determine what your interest is- there is far too many possible great attractions for one day. There are also Kenai Fjords boat trips, but they would take up all your time, but a good option with the train back- superior for scenery. Tough choices.
I know you asked about options other than the train, but we loved the train so much that I can't help but sing it's praises. It stops for photo ops if wildlife is sighted, is very comfortable, you can walk around, not just sit in 1 seat the whole trip, has a tour guide pointing out sights and helping you spot wildlife. You can see some sights from it where it goes inland and the highway doesn't go. As I said we loved it. In fact, it was our 2nd favorite "excursion" next to the helicopter landing.
curious as to the timing...presume most of the ships get in around same time...when do the trains leave seward and what time into anchorage? thanks...trying to put together an anchorage "event..." once arriving, staying overnite.
My Ship arrives in Seward at 8 am. (so I'm off y 10 or 11?) The train schedule that I looked at www.akrr.com/passenger/tt_may-sept.htm
had departure from Seward at 6:00 pm and arrival in Anchorage at 10:25 pm. (I'm staying overnight there, my flight is the next morning at 8am)
So that would mean hanging around in Seward with my luggage all day - I just posted the question to see if there were any earlier options.....
Seward actually has the earliest disembarkment I have ever experienced. You can easily be off your ship - usually by 9am. As for the Alaska RR- only ONE train per day leaving 6pm. And NO you won't be lugging around your bags- there is storage at the Seward depot. Seward has plenty to keep you occupied for the day as stated above. In Anchorage to really see more than "downtown' you need a car. Staying in Seward would probably make the most of your too short time. The train is superior for scenery and any bus would be my last choice. I would either take the train or drive. There also may be a cruise contracted train depending on what ship you are on- HAL and Princess offer it. This train leaves by 8am- again usually. You may want to consider either of the Ramada's as they offer depot and airport shuttles. Sometimes decent web rates, but you need to call the new one- they were offering a $99 rate? (former Hojo)
Depending on the cruise line you use, you may be able to take a "Cruise Train", i.e. a chartered Alaska Railroad train that leaves from either Anchorage to Seward or Seward to Anchorage at other than the published hours you see on the Alaska Railroad website. The cruise line's charter is much more convenient to the arrivals and departures of the ships. In our case, we took the train from Anchorage to Seward on Sunday, August 3rd, arriving at the ship at approximately 5:30 PM, in plenty of time for the ship's 8PM departure, but not so early that we couldn't take our time eating breakfast and checking out of our downtown Anchorage hotel. The "Cruise Train" cost was $99 per person. The train takes 4 1/2 hours to make the trip, because it moves verrrrrrrrrrry slowly. Awesome scenery, but the train tends to roll a lot from side to side. The conductor blamed it on the soil.
To get the best pictures, go to the end of the car and shoot out the open upper half of the door on the car. Our photographs through the windows did not show accurate color. On the other hand, the seats inside with the glass-or-plexi-domed roofs overhead provide a panoramic view of the scenery. Move around and see what you enjoy most.
Not all cruise lines offer a chartered train, though I am certain that Holland America and Princess do.
Go on the train. Next to the glacier helicopter landing, it was our favorite "excursion". The train goes inland in some places where the highway doesn't go. We saw more wildlife from the train than at any other time the whole week. The train stops for photo ops if any are sighted.
Our Princess cruise sailed from Vancouver to Seward, so we spent the day in Seward prior to taking the 6:00 p.m. Alaska railroad train. I disagree with the previous writer that said that the cruise lines trains are more convenient. We went on an all-day boat excursion in Seward that was one of the highlights of our trip, and we wouldn't have been able to do that with the Princess train schedule because they haul their passengers straight into Anchorage without the opportunity to spend time in Seward. Our excursion in Seward was so fabulous--humpback whale with baby whale, tons of orcas, puffins, seals, etc. We also went to a glacier that was doing a lot of calving, and it was exciting to see it from a small boat down close to the water as opposed to seeing all the glaciers from the cruise ships. Also, regarding the Alaska railroad, we road in their cars and in the Princess cars (road in Princess cars from Anchorage to Denali and from Denali to Fairbanks), and they were very comparable. I know Princess touts the dome tops on their cars, but the Alaska railroad cars have that too. As previously noted, the scenery on the train is fabulous. It's just a really fun trip.
You and linda and karen have sold me on the Rail trip from Seward to Anchorage! Thanks. Now I just have one other question, you said that you took an all day boat excursion in seward, which one did you take? - I'd like to take it, but in a smaller boat (smaller than the cruise ship) did people get seasick?
Oh, I wish I were going back too. We used the tour operator recommended in the Frommers Alaska book (there's probably some info on www.frommers.com too), but we also received a brochure on this tour operator from the Alaska Railroad when they sent us our tickets, and I think they offered a $10 discount or something like that, so you can ask them about that when you book your rail tickets. Kenai Coastal Tours’ National Park Tour from 11:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (1-800-478-8068, www.kenaifjords.com). This tour goes to Aialik Bay to the tidewater glacier, and they guarantee that you will be at the train (believe it or not, the train is held if this tour is not back, and we noticed that the trains ran late in Alaska anyway) prior to the 6:00 p.m. train departure. You'll have time to go to the sea life center prior to the tour too, and it's great, or you can walk around the very small town of Seward. If you read about the tours of the Kenai Fjords area, you'll note that the longer excursions are the ones where you can get far enough into the park to really see the wildlife. Our boat trip included lunch, and the boat held about 70 passengers. There was an open deck on the top and a heated interior on the lower deck with full glass windows all the way around. They operate rain or shine (like most of the tour operators in Alaska) and, after a full week in Alaska with practically no rain, light rain started on our excursion, but that did not hinder the wildlife sighting at all. Seeing the huge humpback whale with her baby from the water level from that small boat (as compared to a cruise ship) was an awesome experience, and the orcas came very close to the boat too--no binoculars necessary!! When we arrived in Seward, the town operates a school bus type shuttle around the town for like $2 for jump-on-and-off all day, so we took our luggage to the tour operator's office (they locked it in a room) and then we went off to see the sights of Seward via the bus shuttle and then returned to leave for the exursion. I hope that helps, but if you think of anything else, please let me know. Have fun!
P.S. So sorry--I forgot to tell you that the tour operator will take you from the boat dock to the train at the end of your tour (after you collect your luggage that can be stored at the tour operator's office).
As for Seward boat trips- It is important to be on the water at least 6 hours to get out of the bay. Also if the above poster did go on the "all day tour" this possibly would have been to the Northwestern Glacier 9 1/2 hours on the water, offered by Kenai Fjords. Park Rangers are on Major Marine. Most tours are 6-7 hours and go to Holgate Glacier- these offer many varied wildlife viewing opportunities. It is not a whale watch but they are commonly seen. There is also Renown tours. As for making the train- kenai fjords has a 11:30am trip and Renown 10:30am trip- both these will make the train. Major Marine's Holgate tour doesn't return until 7:30pm. It is important to note- this sails through some very rough seas- I have seen sick passengers on EVERY trip and this is a common occurance of which the companies will warn passengers about. Take precautions if you are prone. It is a LONG ride trapped if you get ill. As for your luggage- you can also simply store your bags at the Seward depot rather than hauling them back and forth to the boat tours.