Originally Posted by greeneyes
I will be cruising in June 09, out of Vancouver on HAL Veendam into Seward. I was hoping to take a scenic train from Seward to Anchorage. Any suggestion, prices? Any infor would be appreciated.
There's only one rail line connecting Seward to Anchorage, and it's owned and operated by the Alaska Railroad -- which provides both passenger and freight service on the line. Karen described the regular scheduled service that the railroad offers to the general public. It operates between the regular rail station in Seward's downtown and the main rail station on First Street in Anchorage.
In addition, some cruise lines offer a "Grandview Rail Transfer" as an alternative to the standard bus ("motorcoach") transfer. Also operated by the Alaska Railroad, the Grandview Rail Transfer actually goes directly between the cruise ship's pier and a relatively new rail station connected to the main passenger terminal at Anchorage International Airport (or vice versa). This service operates only on turnaround day, and you have to book it through your cruise line because the Alaska Railroad does not sell it separately.
There are pros and cons to both services.
>> The regular rail service offers a chance to spend some time on your own seeing the town of Seward before you go up to Anchorage. However, it constitutes "independent arrangements" that mark the end of your cruise package so it's not available to passengers who book a land tour into Alaska's interior through the cruise line as part of a cruise-tour package. You have to book it on your own, and you have to arrange your own transportation (taxis being the most readily accessible option) between the pier and the main rail station in Seward and between the main rail station and either the airport or your hotel in Anchorage.
>> The "Grandview Rail Transfer" is offered for sail exclusively through the cruise line, so you may be able to "upgrade" the transfer between Seward and Anchorage in a cruise-tour package to include it depending upon the cruise-tour schedule. It's also the most seamless option since it does operate directly to or from the ship's pier in Seward and directly to the main passenger terminal at Anchorage International Airport, where you can either connect directly with your flight to/from home or pick up/drop off your rental car if you book independent arrangements to visit Alaska's interior. Of course, this option does not afford any time in the town of Seward -- but you could drive down from Anchorage as a day trip if you wish.
The Grandview Rail Transfer probably is a little more expensive than the regular daily train service, but the taxi rides at both ends probably will cost more than the savings.
BTW, I think that the Grandview Rail Transfer is vastly superior to the standard "motorcoach" transfer. The train has larger seats that are much more comfortable, room to stand up and move around, and food and beverage service en route. Also, the scenery from the rail line is absolutely spectacular -- especially where the rail line is not adjacent to the highway!