This was the longest day of our trip. We were up at 5:30 and had our bags outside our room for pickup by 6AM. We had some time before boarding the bus so we went to the breakfast buffet at the restaurant next door, and then took a walk along the river.
At 7:15AM we all loaded on our beautiful coach and headed for the train station. The train was running late, and we learned that in Alaska things are on the "ish" system for time. The wait wasn't too bad, and we were amazed at how beautiful and comfortable the train was once we got on. The dining room is on the lower level of the train car and we were told when it was time to go down and purchase our breakfast if we wanted to. The food was very good; although things weren't as hot as I normally like them.
The train ride lasted about 4 hours, and the scenery really got pretty as we neared Denali. We did see a large mother moose and her 2 little ones along the way. Not much else for wildlife along the tracks that we were able to view. Our tour guide on the train, John, was very knowledgeable and fun.
In Denali we were picked up by our coach and taken to the McKinley Chalets for lunch. Service was slow ,and a number of people ended up taking their lunch on the Tundra Wilderness Tour bus that we boarded after lunch.
Our Wilderness bus driver and tour guide headed off to Denali National Park at 1PM and we didn't return to the McKinley Village until around 10PM. The bus was a "coach", but not in the same class as our Cruisetour coach. We were fortunate to see some wildlife as we drove through the park. There was a mother Grizzley and her 3 cubs romping on a hillside, and we also saw some more moose, Dahl sheep and Caribou and even a black red fox. It was really neat to see all of that.
We were able to get glimpses of Mt. McKinley every once in a while, but the clouds covered it most of the day.
McKinley lodge was in a real pretty location overlooking a river, but there was no AC and the accomodations weren't as nice as the rest of the places we stopped. Our room was noisy because it faced the outside bar/lounge porch, and it was a toss up whether to open the windows for air or to close them and get some sleep in the heat. We were so tired that sleep came easy. We were also glad that we hadn't booked any early morning tours for the next day. In looking back, I do wish we had signed up for the river rafting or the flight seeing.
Mary Lou Scanlon
NCL Pride of America April 24, 2010
NCL Epic February 12, 2011
RCCL Allure of the Seas - September 18, 2011
Celebrity Eclipse - February 11, 2012:
RCCL Navigator OTS - February 9, 2013
What did you do with your luggage during the train ride to Denali? We are going on a land tour/cruise soon,and sounds like part of our itinerary is like yours. We are flying to Fairbanks, then do the land tour. When we fly, we will have "carry on" luggage and will have some "checked". What I'm wondering is what did you do with your luggage-carry on and checked-during the train ride? Did it all go together in luggage area, or did you keep your carry on with you? I would sure hate to lug my carry on's all over the train, but wouldn't want to leave them at our seats if we got up to explore, eat or just look at the scenery from the viewing areas. Also, do you get assigned seating on the train, or is it just wherever you happen to land is where you sit? Thanks
I don't know how other cruiselines do it, but I'll tell you how it was for us. The cruisetour bus picked us up after they loaded all of our luggage on it, and took us to the train. We could hand deliver any carryons, that we labeled as such, to the bus driver and they were stored in a separate compartment under the bus. The bus driver dropped us off at the train ,and then she drove the bus up to Denali and delivered our luggage to the hotel later in the day. The carry ons stayed where they were until she picked us up after our tour and took us to the hotel. Then she handed out the carryons. This was a little confusing the first day to some of us, but after the first time we all knew how the system worked.
You want to be sure to take your cameras and binoculars on the train with you. We felt comfortable leaving things on our seats while we went downstairs to the dining part of the train. There wasn't any overhead storage on the train, but there was quite a bit of room around the seats. You also would need money for your meals or at least your chargecard.
They put 2 busloads of people on each traincar. The first group on sits near the front and the last group gets the seats behind those. Then for meals they took the people in the back of the traincar down for the first seating and then worked towards the front. They did try to seat people that were in groups together for the dining room part.
The carryon situation worked well, and it meant that anything of value, would be stored for you during the day ,and not just dropped off at the hotels to be delivered to your room.
Thanks so much for your help. It makes me feel better-was stressing a bit about it-is nice to know there is someone who has been there/done that to answer questions. Just couldn't see lugging stuff around, but didn't want to leave it laying around either! This is our first ever cruise and land tour-so am nervous, but very excited!! Thanks again.
Don't know if you'll see this mrsduck, but I forgot to tell you that on our tour they also took any luggage that we didn't need for the land tour, and put it into storage for us too. That way we didn't have to deal with it at all until it was delivered to our cabin on the ship. We probably could have consolidated our luggage that we kept for the land tour, and had less to deal with everyday. I know the gals loading it and unloading it on the buses would have liked that.