Having gone to Alaska only once, and chosen Princess only once, may I say the Escorted tour I took a few months ago was priceless.
It seems (to me) that Princess holds the title for the Alaskan experience. This was determined by me from extensive reading and visiting other lodges represented by other cruise lines along my land tour. My tour included both train and motorcoach. I enjoyed both. The motorcoach was able to 'stop on demand' while the train also stopped on demand depending on the wildlife/scenery. The belugas in Anchorage was a delight to all.
I flew to Fairbanks from NH, 26 hours door to door, with the cruise portion ending in Vancouver. Needless to say I was very tired but glad to get that leg of my trip out of the way. When it's time to go home, you want to get there, quick. The land tour portion was busy, requiring early check-outs. Every minute was well worth it. Mt. McKinley was visible all three days I stayed at the Princess lodge. Lucky, indeed. My cruise portion at the end of my trip provided leisure and sleeping late whenever I wanted. No packing/repacking. This is why I suggest cruising last, an expense well worth it.
Denali is an absolute must if you desire to experience the true wild version of Alaska. The Tundra Wilderness Tour (provided by the park itself, on a refurbished-yet comfortable-school bus) is the best option for those who want to see Alaska for its beauty. It takes you deep into the park and the drivers will stop for any movement (wildlife) you and your fellow passengers notice...unless it is unsafe for the bus to stop. It can be a long trip (9 hours?) with stops in between and snacks. This seems like a long time, but I would do this trip again in a heartbeat.
Since I have only done this trip once, I cannot compare to other cruise lines.
The only thing I can add is....if Alaska has been a dream trip of yours, please take into consideration your expectations of an Alaskan trip and save the money to do this trip right. Sometimes cheaper isn't always better. If one has to, wait an extra year to save that money! Only a couple of ships are allowed into Glacier Bay, the highlight of my trip!
Thanks for the advice. Do you think this might be a good year to see Alaska? I wanted to go last year when the prices were so cheap but we thought it sounded pressty expensive. now we are starting to think this economy is going to stay this way for awhile and we aren't hgetting any younger.
I'm a Katzenjammer Kid
Seabourn 1995 - Carnival Elation 1996 - Sea Princess 1998 - Crystal Harmony 1998 - Grand Princess 1998 - Holland America Ryndam 1999 - Renaissance 2000 Oceania 2002 - Carnival Conquest 2004 - Pride of America 2005 - Emerald Princess 2006 - Crsytal Serenity June 2008
Haven't checked the prices, but IMHO, I wouldn't put off any Alaska cruise, well worth it and most likely a trip of a lifetime. Just be sure to be choosy and pick excursions that you really want to do, yea, they are expensive, but when will you be up there again. I'd go for it and enjoy it!
Part of the problem with Alaska now and in the future is the $50/person head tax.
Cruise lines are reducing capacity on the Alaska cruises in 2010 and 2011.
They are relocating ships to Europe instead.
SS Ithaca , Volendam , Mariner of the Seas (x2) , Veendam , Coral Princess , Island Princess (x3) , Emerald Princess,Sapphire Sapphire (x3),Diamond Princess