We are planning an Alaska trip in August 2004. We have pretty much decided on a Princess Cruise, but are undecided on whether to add a land tour package. It seems to be expensive, and we don't know if there is overlap with the activities and sights on the cruise part of the trip. We can't find much in the way of reviews.
Is the land tour worth it?
What is the deal with food on the land tour?
What are the Princess lodges like?
I am no fan of cruisetours and will always go independent. As for your questions- there is NO overlap, vastly different- inside passage ports vs. interior, so indeed very very worthwhile to take advantage of being all the way there- allow 2 weeks. No food is included and with a tour, unless specifically mentioned- like Cabin night, your food options are less since you don't have any transportation. Plan on about 50% more than you would spend at home to give you a cushion. Lodges are nice- with Cooper, Copper, and McKinley the nicest, Denali Princess is only so so- my opinion only. The lodges are intended to function for large groups of people. I greatly prefer staying in B&B's myself. There is the option of going on your own. Very very easy to do. You can take idea routes from the Princess tour and further explore your interests. A major advantage of this via rental car is the ability to stop anywhere along the way- clearly you can see twice as much for 1/2 the cost. Head to your library and take out all the Alaska touring books and especially THE MILEPOST. Look at what is best for you but do consider interior touring- just excellent!!!
You will love Alaska and a cruise will give you a taste and yearning to go back and see more. I've escorted cruise groups to Alaska for the past few years and this year in August am combining a land tour which INCLUDES all meals - even soft drinks, and includes all gratuities together with loads of sightseeing. We are travelling as a small group and visiting places the large tour operators can't get too - places that are a little more pristine and give the true Alaskan experience. We think the value is excellent! You are welcome to join the group - it is comprised of couples and singles - all ages - and several have cruised with me to Alaska before. Please email me if you would like our website address which details the itinerary in full.