I am planning on taking the Land and Sea Diamond Princess Heart of Alaska Tour 1-S next May. We are doing the land part of the cruise first. We will fly to Fairbanks for a 2 night stay. Then have 1 night at the Denali Princess Wilderness, and the next night at the McKinley Princess. We'll take the McKinley Express rail directly to the ship in Whittier for a 6 night cruise back to Vancouver.
What happens to your luggage when you arrive in Fairbanks? Does it go directly to a specified hotel? My cousin is planning the cruise and I keep forgetting questions to ask of her.
I'm hoping to get a balcony room and was wondering if we should be on the port or starboard side of the ship going south to get the best views.
I've read a little on this forum and I know that I want to whale watch one day. I don't think I'm brave enough to take a helicoptor or other plane tour to see the glaciers.
I don't think the food is included on the land part of the tour. Any idea of what I can expect to pay for meals in Fairbanks and in the Lodges?
If anyone has gone on this tour, I'd like to read your comments. This is my dream trip and I'm so excited to be planning it. How early should the reservation be made?
Fairbanks is a great city but best seen with a car rental, consider getting in a day early.
As for Denali Park,- you may want to strongly rethink this tour if it included the Natural History tour. A complete waste of time in my opinion. Hopefully it has the Tundra Wilderness tour??? The only one to consider if you want scenery and wildlife. Big difference in distance into Park, 53 miles, vs the public road of 16 miles.
Realize that the McKinley Princess is out in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles from the nearest town, Talkeetna. Plan your time carefully so as to not be on the shuttle more than once.
No meals are included unless specified, budget 50% more than you would at home, for a cushion. It will greatly benefit you if you pick up snacks in Fairbanks.
If you only want to view your glaciers from your balcony, you need a port side cabin. If you plan on being out on deck, it matters little, since Inside passage, has viewing at some point on both sides.
Thanks Karen 16. I appreciate your thoughts and ideas.
We still have not selected our trip yet. I will review some of the other choices for the Land/Sea trips. Those sound good and since this will probably be my only trip to Alaska, I want to chose the best one possible, but what you've said doesn't make it seem like what I want. Two days in Fairbanks without a car doesn't sound like fun from what you've said.
Do you think that any of the "cruise only" trips are good ones, where you have enough time in port to explore with the shore excursions? Is there a cruise ship you would recommend that we look for?
I realize that if we only do the "cruise" we could at least be on the ship for dinner, wouldn't have to haul luggage around, and probably save a lot more money that way. Some friends did that this summer and loved it.
If the "land" trips that are listed in my particular trip aren't really that hot, it doesn't seem like a good idea at this time.
You really need to do your homework for a choice to be right for you. Time is necessary for any interior travel, and cruisetours for the most part are significantly lacking here, anything under a week add on, has to much time in transit in my opinon and not enough at the destination. It is a great disadvantage to be interior Alaska without a car. There is so much to see and do.
As for a 7 day cruise - just excellent, the cruiselines do a very good job at packing plenty into 7 days. I do think however that HAL is superior, their round trip Vancouer with both Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm- is one of the best overall itineraries. And their one way trips are a big bonus with College Fjords, Glacier Bay and Seward. DO take advantage of being there however, most all cruisetours just pass though, what a missed opportunity.