Suggestions needed for ideal first land tour itinerary...
Hi! Just found this site and thought I'd take advantage of the expertise of you all on the message board. My husband and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary next year, and we want to see Alaska. Neither of us are the group tour type, so I am trying to put together a land tour prior to a 7 day cruise- right now I'm thinking we'll do the southern route from Seward to Vancouver. There are so many choices! Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated- I know we want to visit Denali, and I would love to take the train from there to Seward- where would you suggest we fly into to start our tour? Any other 'don't miss' places to see if we want to spend 4-5 days on our own exploring?
I've made no arrangements so far- I'd welcome any help on best time to come, etc; (we're leaning towards a Princess or Celebrity ship so far)
THANKS so much for helping out a Floridian who wants to cool off next summer!
Princess and Celebrity are good choices for Alaska , as are Hal and RCCL. They all offer very extensive and diverse pre and post cruise land options that include all planes, buses, trains, hotels etc. Get ahold of the booklets for Alaska for next year and look at all the options. Although you may not like travelling in a group, the options they offer may very well work out better than trying to put it all together by yourself.
I completely disagree with the above advice. You are NOT better off with a cruisetour and anyone who has gone to Alaska independent always sees and does way more than group travelers wasting time waiting for loading and unloading at fixed locations. I doubt the above has traveled independent Alaska??
It is extremely simple to travel Alaska independent. As a sample I would suggest you perhaps consider a round trip rental car from Anchorage and head north to Denali Park for 2 nights, take the Park Road Shuttle to at least Fish Creek. Perhaps spend a night in Talkeetna on the way back? Then depending on your interests, head to Fairbanks for a couple days or go across the Glenn to Valdez for a couple days. Take the ferry Valdez to Whittier. Back to Anchorage, turn in the car, then take the train Anchoage to Seward, you can have a long day and a late embarkment onto your ship or go the day prior and overnight. Key activity here is a Kenai Fjords boat trip, don't miss it. With only a week, I would suggest only the above train trip, it is the most scenic of the entire line. Taking the train Denali Park/Anchorage is slow and misses everything in between. It also parallels the Park Highway most of the trip, so essentially the same scenery from a car.
Do your homework, and know areas and distances, allow enough time at destinations- a big problem with cruisetours. Consider staying in some great B&B's an excellent way to get in touch with Alaska.
Thanks so much, Karen! This is EXACTLY the advice I was looking for! I appreciate your help so much- would you recommend any particular month, or is it pretty much a crap shoot as to best weather and chance for seeing wildlife, etc;?
I like mid to late August with a northbound sailing. Then you get the fall colors usually interior Alaska. Still decent daylight and great wildlife viewing. If you care to- here are some photos from my last trip. http://community.webshots.com/user/budgetqueen
Awesome photos, Karen16! You must have a really powerful zoom to have gotten such great shots of the bears, fox, etc; I'm going to have to budget for a new camera to take with me on my trip!
Any particular reason for the northbound preference? I was kind of thinking that it would be nice to do the land portion of the trip first, and then relax on the cruise and end our stay with a day in Vancouver...
I'm thinking I really want a ship that visits Glacier Bay after reading many of the posts on this board- what is your opinion on splurging on a balcony? Worth the $$$, or is it better spent on tours?
Those photos were taken with a Canon S-2 Powershot, gotten a few days before I left.
I have sailed both directions and each great. But going in late August as I mention, it is superior to head north rather than south as the Inside Passage has the worse potential for weather past the first week of Sept. also the great disadvantage of dusk by 7pm. It just works better going north.
I never get a balcony and my opinion only, if your funds do not allow you your tours with a balcony, then I would never consider it. The tours are half your trip and a necessary expense in Alaska travel. But I also spend all my time out on a front open deck- I want to see it all. Extremely few people are willing to do this.
Hi again, Karen16! Thanks for all your candor- I really appreciate the excellent advice from someone who's familiar with Alaskan travel. I saw you recommend TourSaver on another thread- can you do these tours at ports of call on a cruise, or are they only feasible when you're travelling on your own? I know sometimes tenders will only take people who've booked the ships tours on early departures, etc; Is it possible to do? Have you?