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Northern Aurora

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About Northern Aurora

  • Rank
    5,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    Fairbanks, AK
  • Interests
    reading, quilting
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    the next cruise

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  1. 229 Parks indeed is a more "up-scale" restaurant than the brewing company. The 229 Parks building itself is lovely -- log constructed with high ceilings. Much of the produce is locally grown. The owner and head chef is Laura Cole. Laura worked with the well known chef Kirsten Dixon when Kirsten and her husband owned the Riversong Lodge. Laura has been a finalist several times at James Beard cooking competitions.
  2. We don't know what year the OP is considering for a trip to Alaska. But for the summer of 2021 the Denali Princess is scheduled to be closed but the McKinley Chalets will be open. The Denali Bluffs and the Grande Denali also expect to be open in 2021 (at least the last I heard).
  3. Having a car in the Denali National Park area is a real "plus" as folks have so much more flexibility in terms of where they can stay and saves time as folks with a rental car don't have to wait for shuttles. One of the best restaurants in Alaska is actually located south of the entrance to Denali National Park. It is named 229 Parks as it is located at mile 229 of the George Parks Highway. While opinions about meals are subjective, I find it much nicer than the 49th Brewing Company. 229 Parks is rarely mentioned by others on this forum since folks on cruise tours have a diff
  4. We have stayed at the McKinley View Princess several times as it is a convenient place to overnight when we are driving to or from Seward from our home in Fairbanks. We only stay for one night, and I don't know why someone is interested in staying there for several days. The complex is located off of the Parks Highway. It is not located in Talkeetna (where the rail depot is located) but is at least a 45 minute drive from Talkeetna (assuming no road construction delays). While Princess offers some cruise tours which include two nights at the McKinley View Lodge Princess basically sells exc
  5. The rooms look to me to be the same as when the facility was branded a Holiday Inn. The breakfast area as been changed, and in my opinion, improved with some bench seating along some outer walls; the bench seating allows a more flexible arrangement for groups. It also seems to me that the breakfast buffet had more hot items since it has become Harbor 360. Breakfast was still included in the room rate. We didn't drive down to Seward this past summer so I have no idea what management has done with their breakfast buffet given Covid-19 restrictions. When you enter the
  6. I live in Fairbanks so observe so many of the cruise land tours. While the OP knows their own kids, I just don't think many teenagers would enjoy one. Please consider renting a vehicle and customizing your own vacation. The riverboat tour mentioned by the OP is the Riverboat Discovery. The gold mining experience is the Gold Dredge No. 8. Both are owned by a local family, and either can be booked independently if they are appealing. Regarding Denali National Park, I would suggest that taking a shuttle into Eielson Visitor's Center is much superior to either the Natu
  7. Seward is where Alaskans go for recreation. While tourism is important to Seward's economy, the town certainly is not dependent on tourism and doesn't have the touristy feeling of the cruise ports in SE Alaska. The major attractions include the Kenai Fjords National Park, which includes the Harding Icefield and Exit Glacier. Additionally there are boat excursions into fjords where there is abundant marine wildlife. The SeaLife Center is also located in Seward. Folks can easily spend a day or two in Seward. Our favorite fjords boat excursion vendor is Major Marine
  8. When we are in Victoria as a port stop we enjoy a meal at the Bard & Banker Scottish Pub. It is located on Government Street so is a comfortable walk from the cruise terminal. We found it approximately a decade ago, and have always been pleased.
  9. The SpringHill Suites by Marriott is located downtown between First and Second Avenues. Lavelles Bistro is located on the ground floor of the property, and is an upscale restaurant; we've enjoyed a number of nice dinners there. On Second Avenue just across the street and about half a block down is the Co-op Plaza. Soba is located inside, and is an interesting Moldovian restaurant. They have been open for seated dining. Bobby's is also nearby. It is a Greek restaurant, but be aware that their service can be extremely slow. Make a reservation for an early seating.
  10. Our Tanana Valley Farmer's Market is an excellent source for locally crafted souvenirs, crafts and food gifts, but they are only open during the summer. But the Fairbanks Arts Association operates the Bear Gallery year round, and they sponsor local artists; the Bear Gallery is located on the third floor of the Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts at Pioneer Park and is open Monday through Friday noon to 6 PM during the winter. Any particular interests in restaurants? Can I ask where you will be staying (not specifically, but generally, ie, downtown or out of town) and will you h
  11. It may not be clear before May. But as I type this response on March 21st a Covid-19 test is not mandated to fly into Alaska. When our state legislature failed to extend the emergency declaration and allowed the declaration to lapse on February 14th the travel mandates became travel advisories. Our state legislature is currently in session, and the coalition which controls the State House has differing opinions from the governor and the State Senate. The House coalition would be willing to reimpose the emergency declaration and extend the mandates until September. The governor wants some
  12. We have done the Vancouver to Tokyo TP which we paired with a cruise around Japan followed by a land trip in Japan. There were very few Japanese citizens on either cruise. We have been on several Celebrity cruises in which announcements were made in more than one language, but those were not two of them.
  13. I would feel comfortable with the answer from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. It is disappointing that Alaska Airlines is not more up to date in their information. But if you want another response then contact the Office of the Governor.
  14. Italy52: It is my understanding that Covid-19 tests are still being offered at Alaskan entry airports because the State had signed a contract with a testing company which extends to June 30th (I think that is the date). The state officials had not anticipated that our State Legislature would allow the emergency mandates to expire, hence the contract, but the legislature did as they were not organized (ie, no committee chairs). When those emergency mandates expired Alaska lost millions of dollars in federal Covid-19 mitigation funding. Politics in Alaska tends to be a spectator sport with
  15. We have been vaccinating aggressively here. My husband and I are both over 65 in age and are in excellent health. We received our first doses of Moderna on January 15th with the second dose on February 12th. One of the reasons Alaska has done so well is that the state public health officials have been able to successfully partnership with the tribal governments. But another reason for the rush to get jabs in willing arms includes concern that the Brazilian variant has been found in Anchorage.
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