??Alaska/Inland passage +Denali

Sep 5th, 2005, 03:32 PM
  #1  
ed
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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??Alaska/Inland passage +Denali

We are trying to find a cruise/tour that included the inland passage plus an extension to Denali.

There was one some years past that had a train to Denali.

We would like it to be a round trip but one way and a flight to home or Alaska would be OK.

Looking for May.

:-B
ed is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 07:53 AM
  #2  
ed
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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I'm topping my plea.

Or am I on the wrong site??

:-B
ed is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 08:40 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Last August, we took the Radisson Mariner from Seward to Vancouver via the Inside Passage. Before embarking we spent several days in the Denali area. While we could have selected a Radisson Denali pkg., it was easy to do on our own, more flexible, and less expensive. We flew to Anchorage, rented a car at the airport, stayed overnight in Anchorage, drove to Healy (near the Park) and stayed at a B&B not far from the Park, spent most of the day in the Park, drove to Talkeetna, stayed at the Alaskan Lodge for 2 nights, flew over McKinley, took some other excursions, drove back to the Anchorage airport to drop off the car, boarded the Radisson train car right at the airport, took a very scenic trip to Seward (now it would be Whittier), and boarded the Mariner. For more information, you may contact me at [email protected]. You may also want to check out the Cruise Critic Alaska board.
Dreps is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 02:44 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
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There are plenty of cruisetours to choose from with every line offering the one way cruise/ interior Alaska travel combo.

BUT be very very informed on what you are purchasing, most people are not.
You are best to consider a 7 day add on since shorter tours have too much time in transit. A highpoint is most often Denali Park- educated yourself on the differences of the tours and shuttles. The cruisetours ONLY offer the tour buses (same school bus types into the park). The Park Road is 90 miles long. Forget the worthless Natural History tour- only 15 miles, the Tundra Wilderness tour is to mile 53. But my min. for myself is Fish Creek via the shuttle - mile 63 with Wonder Lake my destination after mid August- mile 85. Farther is better here.

Distances are vast so factor in all the transit times. Seward is my top pick for the excellent options there for touring, but most people just pass through completely missing out.

Meals are extra on the land portion, factor in 50% more than at home for a cushion.

Also consider independent touring, superior for planning what are your priorities. Simple to do. Alaska RR has tour packages and look at the www.toursaver.com last few years offered a 2 for one with the train and Princess lodge- only consider at least a 2 night however. Head to a TA and pick up brochures, Princess, HAL, RCI, Carnival, Celebrity.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 08:36 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 72
BudgetQueen- thanks for the great info. I'm not sure why a trip to Alaska seems so much more complicated than other places, but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed as I plan my trip. Perhaps it is a case of too many choices.

I looked at the toursaver.com site and saw the Princess rail/lodge offer you were talking about. But then how does one tour the park? I'm assuming there are tours you can book at the lodges?
And I'm assuming these train/lodge packages are round trip?

Sorry if these questions seem painfully obvious, but like I said, I'm just struggling a bit wrapping my head around this trip!
aspalm is offline  
Sep 8th, 2005, 03:30 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Traveling INTO Denali Park requires a bus. The distances and differences are stated above. For more info www.nps.gov/dena

Yes the rail/princess package is round trip.

To narrow down the options, pick up cruise brochures and have an Alaska map handy. Go over the tour options, places and distances, you will see a lot of the same type of tours, just different descriptions.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Sep 15th, 2005, 09:55 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 111
A friend suggested that instead of a cruise, we book a flight to Anchorage and then rent a car. We did this on Memorial Day week, just before the summer rates kicked in and saved money. We were free to travel when and where we pleased and this was a great way to see a lot of Alaska. We drove to Denali, booked a room at the Princess owned lodge, from which the busses took us into Denali Park (you can only drive the first 14 miles of road into the park, by park regulation.) After that first 14 miles, you must use a park sponsored bus to view the park. We took the 53 mile tour and saw grizzlies, lynx, black bears, dall sheep and lots of other wild life. The second day, we just did the 14 mile stretch, visited the husky kennels and the visitor center, did some off road hiking and photography. There are some nice restaurants at the lodge and in the area and some small amount of souvenier shopping. We also took a tour of the Husky Homestead kennels of Iditarod champion Jeff King.
Traveling back toward Anchorage, we stopped at Talkeetna overnight and stayed at the Talkeeta Alaskan Lodge, the best hotel we used in Alaska. Fantastic views of Denali, nice rooms, beautiful place! We took and air taxi flight to Denali base camp and got to visit the area where hikers start out for the summit. I believe we used Talkeetna Air Taxi. You get an unbelievable view of the Alaska Range from the air. However, any small plane flight in Alaska is not without it's risks. A flight that left shortly after ours, with a pilot who had 20 years of experience, crashed. It was a clear, cloudless and perfect day.
From Talkeetna, we drove to Anchorage, passing a funny place called "Wall-Mike's." We took pictures in front of the taxidermied heads and other oddities that you will not find at a traditional Walmart. Typical of the quirky Alaskan culture of individualism.
Back in Anchorage, we had a couple great dinners at the Marx Brothers Cafe, known for it's wine list.
We then set out for the Kenai peninsula and Seward. Took a day cruise into th e Gulf of Alaska, where we saw dophins, whales and lots of other sea life, calving glaciers. The tour was into part of Kenai Fjords National Park. We also did some independent sight seeing and toured the Alaska Sea Life Center. There are a number of nice restaurants specializing in seafood, and the halibut and wild salmon are best.
Stopped at a place on the way back to Anchorage and tried the home made pie in a log cabin lodge setting.
The ability to explore independently is the best thing about flying and driving. The driving is very easy, roads are not crowded and are very good. We saw a lot more than I described, and I have to say this was one of our most spectacular vacations. A cruise or other boat transportation is necessary to see the "inside passage" and we may do that later. However for a first time trip to Alaska, my friend's recommendation to fly and drive was perfect and we did so much more than we would have been able to do on a cruise ship or group tour.
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