2 years ago we did an Alaskan cruise preceded by a Princess tour of the Rockies which was great. Are thinking of doing the pre cruise Alaska tour this time. Has anyone done this and what was it like? Is it as good as the Rockies tour?
A BIG problem I see over and over with Alaska cruisetours is people NOT knowing what they are purchasing. You need to consider AT least a 7 day add on, otherwise way too much time is in transit. With Princess, McKinley lodge is out in the middle of nowhere, 100 miles from Denali Park entrance and 50 from the nearest town Talkeetna. Fairbanks requires a car- otherwise you don't see any of it with a cruise tour. The Kenai Princess is ideal for fishing, again out in the middle of nowhere and 40 miles from Seward. The Copper River Princess- again out in the middle of nowhere with the added problem of fewer activites. None of these lodges - would I stay at without my own transportation. Understand- the train is 10 hours if you opt for the Whittier/Denali Park train, 8 hours- Anchorage/Denali Park. You NEVER want the Natural History tour, completely worthless, look at all those hours to get there. This tour only goes in 17 miles of the 90. Likely no wildlife and little scenery. My opinion only, the cruisetour is lacking - group point to point travel just doesn't cut it for repeat Alaska travel snobs. My advice- look at many options and go what is best for you, the more homework and educated you become the better these choices will be for you.
I too would recommend touring the interior independently (it is amazing by the way). To clarify the issue re: Natural History Tour from Karen. The Denali tour you want is the TUNDRA WILDERNESS TOUR, which goes in far enough to the park so that you actually see the wildlife and topography. If going independently, you do better to opt for the shuttle bus rather than either of these tours.
We couldn't stay long enough for a post cruisetour thru Princess so after out cruise, we hired a limo to take us to one of the Princess Lodges in Denali - about 3 hours from Anchorage. (train left Anchorage before our ship docked)
We stayed 2 nights, returning on the train - very nice - & flew home very late that night.
We got to see Mt McKinley for the entire afternoon & evening - quite a rarity. Our lodge was directly across from the peak. There were shuttles running back & forth between our lodge & another (we had lunch at the other lodge), Talkeetna - free of very nominal fee & the train station.
From our lodge you could take several different type of tours. Would have liked more time but I own by own biz & 11 days was tough enough to do.