Just received my Princes Cruise Line travel booklet for 2006 and noticed all the Sea/Land Cruisetour and Land/Sea Cruisetour packages where pre- or post-cruise you hop on one of their Princes trians(with panoramic views from the all glass enclosed scenic railcars) right off the ship and they take you to Anchorage, Denali, Fairbanks, Denali, Copper River, Mt. McKinley, or Kenai at one of "THEIR" lodges for 3-7 days with a wide variety of where you can go, how many days you can stay in each place. etc.
I'd like to hear some comments from anyone whose been on the land protion of one of Princess' cruisetour. Was it a good value? What was your best and least favorite part?
You need to do a LOT of homework, a great many cruisetour purchasers are not aware of what they are purchasing.
not realizing the times in transit, so go for as long as you can afford, ideally 7 day, I don't recommend 5 days or less, just too high a percentage of time in transit. Train from Whittier/Denali park is 10 hours seats are also assigned table style with 2 riding backwards.
Realize the Denali Princess and McKinley princess are 100 miles apart- so you do NOT get an extra day to tour the National Park staying at the McKinley Princess, and the nearest town is a 50 mile shuttle bus ride. Not much at the lodge and McKinley is seldom visable.
Princess has the Natural History tour included in many of the cruisetours, worthless tour compared to what is available. You need the Tundra Wilderness tour if you want scenery and wildlife. I can NEVER rationalize this tour of 3 hours when it takes all that time and money to get to Alaska- like seeing Disneyland from the parking lot. The Park Road into Denali Park is 90 miles, the NHT goes to mile 15, TWT mile 53 but my min. distance in is Fish Creek 63 via the shuttle and alway Wonder Lake mile 85 past mid August. The shuttle buses are 1/3 the cost.
The Kenai Princess is very nice, but without your own transportation limited in what you can do. Excellent for fishing in the area.
Copper Princess, again , not an area I would be in without a car, If you don't come from or go to Valdez, you have missed the most scenic portion of the Richardson. Top tour here in my opinion is McCarthy/Kennicott.
If Fairbanks is included, rarely do you see much of the city having a full day scheduled with the boat trip and gold mine tour. It is worthwhile to add a few days with a rental car.
All meals are extra, budget 50% more than you do at home.
There is also independent touring to consider, can see and do more in less time.
Just got back from cruise/tour. The tour part was my favorite, the scenery in Denali was absoutley gorgeous. The train rides do get long but you see alot of Alaska. We had no problems with any of the lodges and found that the Princess service was great.
Wow, Karen, you're right about the things they don't tell you. I had no idea the train ride from Denali to Whittier was 10 hours! I keep hearing about the travel time needed to do the cruise tour, but I've never heard specifics like that! Keep the info coming!
Transit times to consider when looking at cruise tour.
Anchorage-Denali Park via train 8 hours, via bus 6
Denali Park - Fairbanks via train 4 hours via bus 2- but a lot of construction adding about an hour now.
Anchorage- Seward via rail 4+ hours, bus 3
Whittier -Anchoarge train 2 hours, bus 1 1/4 hours
Buses also have wait times for loadings. I was in Talkeetna and saw tour people waiting for the train at the shelter for over an hour.
I disagree that the Alaska RR sees a "lot of Alaska". Especially on the Anchorage/Denali Park portion- it does have a lot of repeative scenery and the least scenic portion in my opinion. Plus all along the way there is plenty to see and stop at if you drive the Parks Highway which runs parallel a significant amount of the time. The most scenic portion of the rail is definately Anchorage/Seward by far.