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Alaska Cruise/Land vacation in June with Seniors & Teen: Need Advice!

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Jan 14th, 2005, 06:05 AM
  #1
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Alaska Cruise/Land vacation in June with Seniors & Teen: Need Advice!

Hi! We are planning a trip to Alaska the first week of June. Our group includes myself, my husband, our 16 yo daughter, and my parents, ages 75 & 80. We are pretty much decided on the Southbound cruise on the new Coral Princess (with balconies), but we still have lots of questions about the land portion. My father wants to do the Alaskan Railway--a dream of his, but the rest is pretty open. I say we need to do Denali if we are going that far. We like the 8W Princess land tour out of Fairbanks, (~$900 ea.), but after reading on this forum, I am no longer sure that's a good idea. My main concern is the transfers with my parents, not rushing, and making it easier on them to enjoy the trip. They are quite mobile for their ages, but they are still much slower going than they used to be. We are basically trying to plan the land portion around them and trying to include things we will all enjoy. I thought an organized land tour might be the answer, but I would be most grateful for any and all suggestions!

PS
Anyone know anything about the 3rd person accommodations in a Coral Princess BA cabin?
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Jan 14th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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katybird
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First of all, I would call Princess and find out what tours are still available. We were toying with the idea of a cruise/tour combination for Aug. and many were all ready sold out, especially any tour that included the Tundra Wilderness portion.
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Jan 15th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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Thanks, Katybird! Yes, we already booked the Princess 8W land tour to hold it, but I was hoping I'd hear from some experienced travelers to the Alaska area (like Repete, BudgetQueen, etc.)for their personal recommendations. I think the 8 hr tundra tour would probably be too long a "school bus" ride for my parents.

I know there are some folks on this forum that could serve as expert tour guides and travel agents, and I hope I'll hear what they have to say about our trip.

Thanks for the input!
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Jan 15th, 2005, 03:32 PM
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My opinion only- with your reference to not being rushed and wanting to see Denali Park - you have made the wrong choice. Clearly the best portion of the Alaska RR is the Anchorage- Seward portion. And this tour has 10 hours on the train Denali Park- Whittier- IF the southbound is the same as the north- (don't have time to look. ) I highly recommend only 7 day or longer add on. This one clearly is all transit time. And frankly not even worth going with only the useless Natural History tour included. YOU NEED longer to get into Denali Park for the significant wildlife opportunities and scenery. It simply is NOT a good option to spend all those hours getting there for a 3 hour tour. Be aware that Princess assigns seats on the rail, table style with 2 people riding backwards. As for the 16 year old- probably will be bored silly- extremely few if any kids go on these land tours. So my take- go independent with the rail via Alaska RR and BREAK UP your ride- it is boring in my opinion having ridden the entire lenght several times. I would overnight in Talkeetna and Denali Park at least 2 nights. Split up if your parents don't want the SHUTTLE into the Park but plenty of seniors go, and enjoy it- BUT strongly consider going at least as far as Toklat. You aren't seeing anything of Fairbanks with tours, determine if this is what you want. Also Anchorage is extremely worthwhile- again you are clearly bypassing this. Myself- again my opinion only- you can do way better for 5 people then a $4500 too lacking add on. If you want specific help- just email.
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Jan 17th, 2005, 11:00 PM
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BudgetQueen, thanks for the insight, and yes, I'd like specific advice. I did email you, and anxiously await your assistance! Thanks, again!
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Jan 20th, 2005, 05:46 PM
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We did the Southbound cruise on Princess with my parents a couple of years ago and debated exactly what you are talking about. We skipped the Denali and Alaskan Railway add-ons with Princess - they seemed pretty pricey for what we would be getting. For us, we had been to Glacier National Park the year before so didn't feel a strong need to go inland. My parents are in their early 70's so we also had to consider their speed. We flew into Anchorage and then rented a car one way to Seward. We spent an entire day making the drive, and probably could have taken longer if we hadn't had a hotel reservation that night in Seward. it was a gorgeous drive! Then we spent a day taking one of the small boat tours of Kenai Fjords National Park. We took the full day tour since we had read that it would give us the best chance of seeing wildlife. We saw orcas, otters, Stellar Sea Lions, puffins, etc. Plus we saw a glacier calving and got pretty close to it. It was a wonderful way to become acquainted with the area! We spent another night in Seward and then some time wandering around the town and going to the Sea Life Center right on the harbor. Fascinating. Lots of stuff for both old and young. All in all, you will have a wonderful time. And dont' worry about which side your cabin is on. There is lots to see out both sides of the ship as you go through the cruise. We even saw a grizzly bear swimming across one of the inlets of Glacier Bay right in front of the ship! Have fun!
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Jan 21st, 2005, 05:23 AM
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The only problem with the above, the information is not current, Princess no longer sails out of Seward. I recommend looking at HAL which does.
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