Many thanks to those who told us to ditch the Experience Denali Tour (a Princess offering). I called (in July) about the Tundra Wilderness Tour (http://www.reservedenali.com/tours.php
)...it was full for the day we were there, Sunday, August 26. Was given a phone number to check on cancellations within 8 days of the trip.
I called while we were in Juneau...bingo...6 seats had opened for August 26...cept they were for the 6:40 am departure. Oh well, suck it up...this is a one time trip. We popped up very early, had breakfast at the 24 hr Subway across the Hiway and hiked the 1/4 mile to the other lodge (McKinley Chalet) to get on our bus.
IT WAS FABULOUS! We saw 12 grizzlies, a Boon and Crockett bull moose, dall sheep, caribou. All but the sheep were so close we could smell their bad breath! We had perfectly clear weather and a great tour bus driver. (and small critters-ptarmigan, showshoe hares, arctic ground squirrels, a rare falcon and some kinda overgrown mouse that I forget the name.)
It was just my wife and I from our group of ten. The other eight had other arrangements so they later went on the "Experience Denali Tour". They were sick. 20 minutes on the bus, a 1 mile hike and a little lecture by a naturalist. No bears. no caribou. no sheep. no moose.
While we had a fabulous trip, I have many other opinions about the various aspects of the Princess cruisetour. Some good, some less than great.
I will say that, on the cruise portion, we saw whales, porpoises, whales, otters, eagles, whales, sea lions. Did I mention whales??
Note: anyone who wants to book the Tundra Wilderness Tour should be aware that they are typically booked solid by sometime in February of a given year. We really 'lucked out' by getting a cancellation.