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Everything posted by mapleleaves

  1. The Alaska Marine Hwy (ferry) is still taking reservations . There are 2 ferries that leave from Bellingham WA and the first stop is Ketchikan; ends in Skagway. I did this many yrs ago and it was a great experience. I considered it as an option for my 3 month RV trip this summer, but it's just too expensive to take a 22ft motorhome on the ferry. Plus my 2 dogs would be uncomfortable being cooped up in the RV except for their timed potty breaks which is the only time I can see them. So I've cancelled my trip. Too many things are up in the air ..... border crossings, availability of state and provincial parks, and will Denali be open past Milepost 42. Spending a week in Denali to ride the bus every day was one of the things I was most looking forward to. If this can't be the trip I want, I don't want to settle. I still say that people who had their heart set on visiting Alaska this yr, should fly into Anchorage, rent a car or RV, and explore on your own. You'll see far more of Alaska than you would on a cruise. For a sea adventure you can take a Kenai Fjords day cruise out of Seward or a Prince William Sound cruise out of Whittier. OR, fly into Juneau and on to Gustavus to spend a few days at Glacier Bay.
  2. If you want feedback, you'll need to post a link or copy/paste a description. The hike that came up when I googled, indicates a 4hr trip and you go to Russian River Falls. If this is your hike, no you can't do it from the Lodge. The Falls are about 10 miles from the Lodge. The Kenai Princess is a beautiful property and a beautiful setting, but it's very isolated. IIRC it's about 2 miles from the hwy.
  3. mapleleaves

    Vancouver port

    So instead of cruising, adjust your ticket and fly into Anchorage then rent a car or RV and drive around Alaska for a week or 2 !!! And you'll see much more of Alaska ! To get your sea fix you can take day cruises out of Seward or Whittier, and as a bonus you'll also see more of the inland scenery and wildlife. Or fly into Juneau or Gustavus and stay at Glacier Bay for a few days. The GB day cruise is wonderful. You can stay at the GB Lodge or other accomodations around Gustavus. Use the ferry system to visit another small community on the inside passage. Think outside the box; there are other opportunities to explore.
  4. Which excursions ? Some vendors will close down because their help has gone back to college. And some excursions, like heli dog sledding, will end because the snow at their base camp has melted away by mid Aug or Sept. And some vendors just want to clean up, close up, and head to their winter home in Mexico or Hawaii. There are reasons why shoulder-season cruises are cheaper .....
  5. The train is the most scenic. Check the COASTAL CLASSIC ... https://www.alaskarailroad.com/ It leaves Seward around 6pm, a 4 hr journey. That allows you the day to sightsee around Seward ... enjoy a 6 hr day cruise to the Kenai Fjords, hike/walk at Exit Glacier, fish, or just wander around the harbor. Most flights to the east coast are red-eye out of Anchorage, so you'll need to see if this train gets into Anchorage too late for a same day departure. OR, you could spend the night, sightsee around Anchorage, and catch a flight the next day. For bus options, there's the Park Connection Bus with 2 or 3 departures per day depending on the day. I think it drops you at the Museum. Details on their web site. https://www.alaskacoach.com/schedule/ . And Seward Bus lines. http://www.sewardbuslines.net/
  6. I don't recall what time we left the ship, but we were very lucky with our timing .... the shuttle bus left the pier shortly after we boarded, and the city bus arrived at Largo della Pace a few minutes after we arrived. Both bus trips were about 10-15 minutes, so from ship to train station was about 30 minutes. So .....if you factor in missing each bus and having to wait 10-15 minutes for the next, plus the length of each ride, you'd give yourself 50-60 minutes. BTW, when we arrived at the train station there was a LONG line at the ticket machines and office for people buying tickets. I happened to notice a sign at the store next door " Round Trip tickets only". We planned on taking the train to San Pietro but on the return trip leave from Ostiense. We bought RT tickets to Ostiense and hopped off early. This was for the 9:30express. There were hardly any people on our train, coming or going. Very nice. https://civitavecchia.portmobility.it/en/civitavecchia-train-station
  7. longer port times and a Vancouver departure would be the winning factors for me. (and Vancouver is a fun and scenic place to visit .... rent bikes and peddle around Stanley Park, then go to Granville Market )
  8. Maybe I'm wrong but your response to Glaciers makes me think you're calling the Princess cruiseline number. The Fairbanks Lodge is closed for the winter so you can't contract their direct line, but you can call the Princess Lodge number 800 426 - 0500. https://www.princesslodges.com/princess-alaska-lodges/fairbanks-lodge/
  9. I assume you're getting TO Denali by train? The most efficient way to travel is via car so you have complete control over your schedule, but if you prefer to travel by train, I'd suggest the Park Connection Bus for the Denali - Anc - Whittier portion. The bus leaves Denali around 7am and arrives at the Anchorage Museum around 1:30. Their bus to Whittier leaves at 3pm also from the Museum. https://www.alaskacoach.com/schedule/ The company also sells pkg tours by train and/or bus, so you might want to talk to them about a pkg.
  10. Try googling each excursion to find the actual tour operator. Their web site might provide more details. Also, look on youtube for video of each. Being able to see the excursion might help you with the decision. Good luck !
  11. Based on prices listed on the Denali reservation site, the upgrade SHOULD cost about $60. The TWT costs $162 and the NHT is $ 102. The catch will be .... do you have time for a longer tour? You might also consider asking for a refund, then book a transit bus to Eielson Visitor Center (EVC) for $45, instead of the TWT. Both buses travel the same road, make the same stops for wildlife and bathroom breaks. The EVC is a lovely destination in itself.... awesome views if the mountain is out, exhibits, ranger hike at noon, trails, a bus dispatcher if you choose to take a different bus back, flush toilets, drinking fountains. Another advantage is the scheduling: the EVC buses leave every 30 minutes so you can choose a departure that works well for you. With the tour buses your departure is assigned and it might be as early as 6:40am or 1:40pm. Worth considering .... Details about the TWT and EVC transit in the following links: https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/the-denali-tour-experience/tundra-wilderness-tour/ https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/transits/eielson-visitor-center/
  12. You didn't post the GB4 itinerary but from what I can tell it only has 1 night in Denali: - Day 4 bus from Fairbanks to Denali - Day 5 train from Denali to Whittier. Typically with a one-night stop, you only have time for the Natural History Tour which only goes to Mile 30 of the park road. There are almost 90 miles of park road to travel!! Only going to mile 30 means you will miss out on the wildlife and scenery. ie prime bear viewing starts around mile 50. To be blunt, if you only go to mile 30, it's not worth going. I suggest you contact Princess and ask which Denali tour is provided. If it's the Natural History Tour, ask what time you will arrive to Denali. If you arrive early enough in the day you could upgrade to the Tundra Wilderness Tour to mile 62, or better yet, take the transit bus to Eielson Visitor Center to 66. https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/the-denali-tour-experience/tundra-wilderness-tour/ Since this is only a 4 night land tour, you could have easily done this as a DIY trip. DIY gives you more control of where to go and how long to stay. DIY doesn't mean you have to drive, you can travel by train the entire trip. If you won't want to bother with the research, Alaska Railroad offers pkg tours by train, an Alaska Tour & Travel offers tours by train and/or bus. https://www.alaskarailroad.com/travel-planning/packages/summer-packages https://www.alaskatravel.com/vacations/packages/
  13. Sitka ... without a doubt. (if you had your heart set on a fly in bear viewing tour, I'd say Ketchikan and go in July ) Sitka is not as visited as the other alaska ports so it's still quite charming. Lovely location, interesting Russian history, and stuff to see and do depending on your interests..... Russain Archangel dancers, the Raptor Center, Fortress of the bears. Check out the town web site for more info: https://visitsitka.org/things-to-do/placestovisit They used to have a free shuttle. Download the town Visitor Guide to see. https://view.joomag.com/visit-sitka-magazine-2019-20/0247774001549006184?short Ketchkan also has a town Visitor site and Visitor Guide to download: https://www.experienceketchikan.com/
  14. I'm assuming there are 4 people travelling based on all the luggage...... There is an additional fee if there are more than 4 of you sharing a cab. The additional fee for excess luggage seems to have been dropped. (When we're travelling we always ask the driver for an approx cost before we get in ) 30E is what people were reporting for the airport to Pl Catalunya area hotels. Fees in this doc: https://docs.amb.cat/alfresco/api/-default-/public/alfresco/versions/1/nodes/b0775b7a-3228-4567-b2e2-27d0e39c55c2/content/Tarifes 2020_14.12.2019.pdf?attachment=false&mimeType=application/pdf&sizeInBytes=79828
  15. Ditto .... look for a Vancouver departure ( more inside passage travel so more scenic and calmer waters). And Glacier Bay. As you compare itineraries, be mindful of port times. You want to be in port long enough and at the right time of day for planned activities. If these are the only 2 options i'd say #2 for Vancouver and Sitka. But w/o the port times, it's difficult to know. BTW, there are numerous trip reports listed at the top of the page. Read thru them for first hand experiences of the ships, ports, activities, etc.
  16. Use google maps to determine the distance .... Seward Cruise Ship Terminal to whatever the train depot address is. I haven't cruised from Seward but have to been to the harbor many times; I'd guess it's a 1/2 mile walk. The area is flat so it should be an easy walk as long as you don't have mobility issues and too much luggage. OTOH, not pleasant on a rainy day. The free shuttle is an option but might be a wait. PJs Taxi in Seward has a 15 pax van. Ask them for a quote.
  17. mapleleaves


    Looks like the salmon viewing at Ketchikan Creek ends mid Sept. The runs can be off by 2 weeks due to weather, water temperature etc. So depending on timing this yr, you may see thousands of them jumping at the ladder or you may see thousands of carcasses rotting in the river bed. Either one is a pretty fascinating, but one definitely smells more ! https://www.alaska.org/detail/ketchikan-creek-falls If you have a car , there are a few other viewing spots listed under Ketchikan on the Alaska F&G site: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewing.fish
  18. Not sure when you reach Denali, but prior to June 1, you would be doing the SHOULDER SEASON TW tour: https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/the-denali-tour-experience/tundra-wilderness-tour/ Additionally due land slides at Pretty Rocks at Mile 43, Park Admin isn't sure when the park road will open and how far you will be able to travel. They aren't able to make a determination until the Spring road clearing starts and they are able to reach the area and see if the condition worsened over the winter. You may want to stay alert to the Denali web site for developments. https://www.nps.gov/dena/learn/news/pretty-rocks-season-open-limited.htm
  19. If you want to experience the wildlife and scenery in Denali, you need to upgrade. The chance of seeing any wildlife in the first 30 miles is pretty slim. Having said that ... I usually see moose in the flats around mile 8-10. Prime bear viewing is after mile 50. The 2nd map in this link shows the park road and the bus stops. https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/maps.htm#6/63.421/-148.491 The Denali Park Village offers a shuttle bus TO/FROM the park, if you decide to ditch the tour bus in favor of a shuttle.
  20. To reach Anchorage from Whittier they could take the Alaska Railroad, Park Connection Bus (alaskacoach.com), Seward Buslines, a cruiseline transfer or independent transfer ( Alaska CruiseTransfer.com is mentioned often on this board but there are others). You'll need to check the schedules of each to see which would work best. The transfer company will get you into the airport or downtown by noon. They could be on their way to Denali by 1:30pm. It's about 240 miles and 5 hrs. They need a reservation to take the bus into Denali. There are about 100 miles of park road travelled by tour or transit buses. I recommend the transit bus to Eielson Visitor Center ... great destination point, great views, trails, rangers, etc. Info on the types of bus trips and their destinations on the reservation site: https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/transits/eielson-visitor-center/ Before heading back to Anchorage on their last day, maybe they would enjoy seeing the free sled dog demo at 10am, then maybe stop into Talkeetna for lunch. https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/ranger-programs.htm As for accommodations, there are the large cruisetour hotels, small hotels, cabins, B&B's, even a hostel. Depends on their requirements and budget. Look at past trip reports posted at the top of the forum to see what past travellers enjoyed. Or look at the Denali Chamber of Commerce ( Healy and Carlo Creek are the 2 communities within 15 minutes of the park) http://www.denalichamber.com/stay-accommodations-2/
  21. This is the riverboat excursion offered on cruisetours. If you have specific questions after reading their info page, give them a call: http://riverboatdiscovery.com/tour-details/ As for the Natural History Tour at Denali, it only goes 30 miles into the park (there are almost 100 miles of park road ) so you would be missing out on opportunities to view the wildlife and scenery. You could upgrade to the Tundra Wilderness Tour which goes to Mile 63. https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/the-denali-tour-experience/tundra-wilderness-tour/ A better option would be to skip the tour bus and take a transit bus to Eielson Visitor Center at Mile 66. Eielson is a an actual destination .... a great visitor center with exhibits, awesome views if the mtn is out, rangers, flush toilets, water, seating, a dispatcher if you want to change buses, and ranger led hikes at noon. Transits use the same road, same length of time, same stops for wildlife and bathroom breaks, but you don't have the video screen, snacks, water or prepared narrative as a tour bus. If you want to get off the transit bus and hike, you can do so at any point then when you're ready to continue OR return to the entrance, you just flag down a transit bus. https://www.reservedenali.com/tours-transits/transits/eielson-visitor-center/ Another advantage to the transit bus is that they leave from the bus depot every 30 minutes so you have more flexibility in your schedule whereas with the tour bus you are asssigned a time which could be 6:30am or 1:30pm. I typically book the transit between 7:30am and 9am so I don't have to get up early, and it gets me to the Visitor Center around noon which is a nice spot to eat my sack lunch. It takes about 4 hrs to get to the Vsiitor Center, then the driver stops there for his/her break, then it's about a 3 hr drive back to the entrance. You can stay with the bus or take a later one if you want to hike. Travel time is dependent on how many stops you make for wildlife. I wouldn't characterize it as a "bus ride". It's not like a Greyhound Bus barrelling down a boring highway; you're going about 15mph in order to enjoy the scenery and wildlife . The only issue in using the transit bus is that you have to bring your own lunch/snacks/drinks. Do you know what hotel you'll be using ? They typically sell sack lunches at the hotel cafe. How many days do you have at Denali? They have a free sled dog demo at the park .... i think its at 10, 2 and 4pm . Verify that on the Denali web site. https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/things2do.htm As for what to do at your other destinations .... there are probably a few hundred excursions offered by Celebrity. What appeals to you? If you want to book independently, specify which excursion and you will get some recommendations. i would also encourage you to read thru the many trip reports posted at the top of this page ... lots of first hand experiences to read about and some great photos as well.
  22. I did it years ago. The bus was almost an hr, then about a mile walk from the drop off point to Mendenhall. Flat, easy walk. It was fine on the way there, but it was raining and windy on the return, so not a pleasant walk.
  23. If you have a ticket for the train, you can check your luggage at the Seward depot starting around 9am. Look under the FAQ's for AT THE DEPOT on the Alaska Railroad web site: https://www.alaskarailroad.com/travel-planning/when-traveling
  24. Yes I understand that. I'm just saying that some of the companies listed on tripadvisor are middlemen not the actually tour operator.
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