Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
JerseyShoreGirl0732

Long Trip Report - 5 Days DIY land & SB Coral Princess Whittier to Vancouver 7/25-8/1

Recommended Posts

We returned home one week ago and I've have been working on this very long, detailed trip report ever since. I will post it in sections and try to add photos if I can figure out how.

Background

My husband and I are in our late 40's (Sue and Pete) and traveled with our 16 yr old son, Sean, and almost 15 yr old daughter, Shannon. We live in NJ. The planning for this trip began one year to the date before our embarkation and continued up until a few days before we began this incredible trip. I read tons of trip reports and gathered lots of information from this site and Trip Advisor both reading posts and posting questions. Doing this was SO helpful in the planning process. The only change I would make is adding more days to the land portion. We were able to fit a lot into 5 days, but there was a lot of driving and very little downtime. My expectations were so high, I was afraid I might be let down. This was 100% not the case. My expectations were exceeded by a mile. We all loved every minute of this trip... well lets say every minute once we actually got on the road in Alaska;). At the last minute I purchased the Milepost which was a valuable tool that was used while traveling by car. A cell phone was not helpful most of the time.

 

 

Itinerary

7/20/18 – Arrive in Anchorage, pick up rental car, drive to Seward

7/21/18 – Seward - Major Marine Kenai Fjords Northwestern Cruise 8.5 hrs

7/22/18 – Seward - Exit Glacier Ice Hike w/ Exit Glacier Guides. Drive to Homer

7/23/18 – Homer - fishing trip w/ Silverfin Guide Service (boys). Ferry to The Saltry in Halibut Cove for lunch (girls)

7/24/18 – Drive to Girdwood, lunch in Cooper Landing, hiking in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Wildlife Conservation Center

7/25/18 – Hike Winner Creek Trail, return rental car, depart Whittier on Coral Princess Southbound Voyage of the Glaciers to Vancouver

7/26/18 – Hubbard Glacier

7/27/18 – Glacier Bay National Park – Margerie Glacier & Lamplugh Glacier

7/28/18 – Skagway – Dyea Dave Emerald Lake Tour, return on train

7/29/18 – Juneau –rental car, hiking at Mendenhall Glacier, salmon hatchery

7/30/18 – Ketchikan –Southeast Aviation Traitor’s Cove Bear Viewing & SeaPlane

7/31/18 – At sea

8/1/18 – Arrive in Vancouver, 1:15pm flight to Newark Liberty Int’l Airport :(

 

 

Alaska Day 1

 

Travel day. We left home at 5:15 AM with about 300 lbs of luggage. We arrived at Newark Liberty Airport curbside check in. Curb checking took way longer than it should have. 4 of us traveling with 3 different reservations made things complicated. We checked 5 bags and had to pay fee for one heavy bag :mad:. The security line was about a mile long. We were thankful for Pre-check for 2 of us and United Premier status for the others. We boarded our flight armed with bagels, snacks and pb & j sammies from home knowing we had a very tight connection in Denver (1 hour) and most likely would not have time to eat in between flights. Then the dreaded announcement once we boarded the plane... ‘We have a delay due to a mechanical issue’. The issue was resolved in 45 minutes only to be 16th in line for takeoff. Seriously? We started to realize we probably were not going to make our connection. The Captain announced they were going to make up time putting our arrival 25 min before our connecting flight. This didn’t happen. I had to stop looking at the time because there was nothing I could do to make it standstill. During the delay we checked our options if we missed the Denver flight. They were not great and involved a second connection in San Francisco. The flight attendants were well aware of the tight connections many passengers had. They asked everyone who had a tight connection to ring their call bell during our final approach. About 75% of the rows rang their call bells! We did get off relatively quickly and then did a full-on sprint to the gate. Well, Shannon and I did, the boys walked briskly. And then the best moment ever... the plane was still there, phew! I couldn't believe they waited for us! Thank you United! After we (and 2 other parties) boarded, they waited a bit longer for bags to be loaded. Thank you again United! We began our taxi to the runway when the Captain announced we were circling back to load more bags. Thank you once more United (I'm pretty sure they were our bags)! We arrived in ANC 15 min later than our original arrival time, as did all 5 of our checked bags. Now on to the rental car counter. I reserved a minivan with Enterprise through Expedia. I made this reservation ten months in advance to ensure we’d have a large vehicle that would accommodate all of our luggage and also to get a reasonable rate. I did keep checking rates periodically and they continued to go up and the vehicle selection continued to go down. The Enterprise agent told us they do not have a reservation in our name. I quickly pulled out my phone and looked up the confirmation email from Sept 2017. As soon as I clicked on it, the dates said ‘Pick up July 20, 2017’. My stomach sank. I couldn't figure out how I selected the wrong year when I made the res. Or how Expedia let me select a date in the past. Ugh! This was a very expensive mistake... or so I thought. I’ll get back to this later. We calmly asked the agent if they had a car available (I already knew the answer to this question from reading many trip reports and constantly checking rates leading up to our departure date). The answer was no. We had been traveling for 14 hours and had a 3 hour drive ahead of us. There was no time to be mad/upset, we had to find a car. We checked with 2 or 3 counters at the airport. No luck. Then we both took to our phones searching for available cars. Thrifty had a full-size SUV for $375 more than our original res so we went to the desk and inquired about it. They would not match the online price. We would have to book online and then wait approx 40 min for the reservation to go through their system to get that price. We were so tired and desperate, that we took a full-size SUV they offered us that was over $1k. Again, so tired and long drive ahead, not to mention we hadn’t had a real meal all day. 20 min later we arrived at the car to realize it was a midsize, not full-size SUV. Ugh! We decided to just let it go b/c looking around, they did not have another vehicle that would fit us and all of our luggage anyway. We made everything fit (not an easy process) and we were FINALLY on our way! We ended up stopping in Girdwood for a meal on the advice of a TripAdvisor poster. We went to Chair 5. All 4 of us had burgers and they were delicious! Oh and Pete and I each had a well-deserved cocktail. We finally arrived in Seward around 7:45pm. We rented a cabin through VRBO, Lost Creek Cabins. The place was perfect! I loved everything about it. Unfortunately, we are only there 2 nights and had very full days so we didn’t spend much time in the cabin. We were only a few miles from downtown so Sean and I went to the grocery store to pick up breakfast food and wine. From there we continued driving to the waterfront so we knew where to go for our Major Marine tour in the morning, and then on to look at all the campers beyond the marina. There were many!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sue...thank you for sharing! I know it's a lot of work to do a review...I've been writing one myself.

 

My family is similar...mid40s and we have a 17-year old son. We did a northbound cruise in June with 4 days DIY land tour post cruise on the Kenai Peninsula. We were in the same areas as you but did different things.

 

May I ask? Could you find a way to break up your text into paragraphs? It's a bit difficult to read when it is all just one huge block of text.

 

Some people load their photos to here directly using an app.

 

I prefer to maintain control of my photos so I use a separate web host for the photos which gives each photo a unique url. You can use the photo icon (yellow square with a mountain and a moon) to add the photo to your post. Click on that icon, add the http address in the pop up box...hit ok and it will add IMG tags so that the photo will show in your post.

 

OR...with the web host I use...I select the embed code that already has the IMG tags added. This is the web host I use...

 

https://imgbb.com

 

If you make the free account, then you maintain control of your images. You can delete them later on if you decide that you no longer want them online for whatever reason.

 

Whichever way you do it...if you hit the preview post button...you can see that your photos show up properly...and see what your photo will look like before hitting that submit reply button.

 

Hope that helps you. Welcome to the boards. I'm really looking forward to reading more about your trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Anita, thanks for reading my first trip report entry. I did read your trip report which was wonderful and full of some really helpful information. I think I have to go back and read more about the land portion of your trip, I'm not sure I got that far.

Thanks for the tips! I will definitely break up my posts into paragraphs. I see under Posting Rules that I can edit my post, I just can't figure out how to do it.

I'm going to look into the web hosting site you mentioned, so hopefully I'll be able to include photos in my upcoming posts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The editing function only works for a limited amount of time after you post. Maybe 15 minutes? Maybe a little more...but it goes away. When it's available, it's an icon next to the quote one at the bottom of the post.

 

I'm actually still writing my report! I've just started writing about our land portion after our cruise! I write a lot! :')

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alaska Day 2 - Major Marine Kenai Fjords Northwestern Cruise, Seward

I was up very early and decided to call Expedia to try and get the rental car situation resolved. In my "Day 1' post I forgot to mention that once we settled into the cabin in Seward, I looked more closely at the email with the reservation confirmation from Sept 2017. The dates were, indeed correct. Only the initial screen had the wrong year listed, once I scrolled further down, the correct dates were listed. I was relieved and frustrated at the same time. I ended up being on the phone for over an hour. The rep did escalate the issue and a refund request was issued. It would be a few days before I would hear if it was approved.

 

Once the kids were up it was a little hectic. The phone call took too long and we didn’t unpack and prepare anything the night before. Each of us quickly packed a backpack with extra layers, snacks, camera and rain gear. We made the 8 minute drive to town and checked in at the Harbor 360 hotel for our 8.5 hour Major Marine Kenai Fjords Northwestern Cruise.

The weather that morning was perfect! I read so many reviews about seasickness on this cruise so I hoped the good weather was a sign of calm seas. Shannon is very prone to motion sickness so she took Dramamine and wore sea bands. The rest of us took Bonine just in case. We watched the Viewfinder pull up to the dock and we were able to board shortly thereafter. Captain Justin and Clint were our guides.

cyL0ap

As we began our journey, the sun suddenly disappeared behind the clouds and fog rolled in. Not long after that, blue skies and sun appeared again. Then fog. This was the pattern for most of the day. Despite the changing weather, the seas were fairly calm.

The four of us used all of our extra layers except rain pants. Anyone who was outside on the bow and the sides of the boat did get wet from the spray when going full speed. I’m glad I had waterproof hiking boots on because the boat deck was wet.

It wasn’t long before Clint announced there was a whale off the port side. It was a humpback whale and I was in awe, just amazing! The was the first of many humpback whales we saw throughout the day. We also saw lots of sea lions, puffins, bald eagles, harbor seals and Murrelets (I think they were Kittlitz’s Murrelets) which are very small, rare glacial birds.

ind8T9hmbZ1UcGANo9

While we saw quite a few glaciers, the highlight of this cruise was the Northwestern Glacier. Simply spectacular! The captain cut the engines for about 30 minutes so we could hear the cracking sounds of the glacier calving. Very cool! This was something I really wanted to see/hear in Alaska. I’m so glad we opted for the 8.5 hr Kenai Fjords Northwestern Cruise so we could experience this.

kSzRFp

Clint prepared lunch baskets for everyone in the galley as we left the NW Glacier. This was another reason I selected this tour over the others. The others offered a salmon lunch buffet and I am not a fan of seafood. We enjoyed a turkey sandwich, cheese, carrots, apple and a brownie which was good and filling.

Mother Nature was definitely on our side on this day! Just when we thought the fog was going to ruin the breathtaking views, it lifted. There was virtually no wind. I was a bit nervous about 8.5 hours on a boat, but the day flew by. When it seemed like there was a lull, another whale was spotted. I lost count of how many we saw. Side note, I booked this on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday (can’t remember which it was) and got a 40% discount.

mKcfap

Once we arrived back to the dock, we walked over to Ray’s Waterfront Seafood for an early dinner. All of it was great - the food, the service and the view of the marina. Afterwards we walked along the docks where we were entertained by a sea otter devouring a fish thrown to him by one of the fisherman.

We drove around town on our way back so Pete and Shannon could see the campers and tents set up along the waterfront.

I was the last one to bed and couldn’t get over the fact that it was still light out at 11pm!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've finally figured out how to include photos! The following are just a few from the Major Marines Kenai Fjords Northwestern Cruise (Trip Report Day 2).

 

The boat we were on for 8.5 hours

DSC_0003.jpg

 

Just a sampling of the wildlife.

Eagle_in_flight.jpg

 

Whale_Tail.jpg

 

Harbor_Seals_NW_Glacier.jpg

 

The Northwestern Glacier calving

Calving_NW_Glacier.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last of the photos from the Kenai Nat'l Fjords cruise

Full_view_glacier.jpg

 

We saw so many glaciers, I cannot remember all the names

Glacier.jpg

 

Puffin

Puffin_in_flight.jpg

 

Sea Lions

Sea_Lions.jpg

 

Another humpback whale

Whale_dorsal_fin.jpg

 

We saw views like this all day long

Clouds_through_the_landscape.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful pictures. We are doing this same cruise on August 26th. I hope we have just as nice weather as you had. Was there enough viewing space outside for everyone on the boat? I'm having a hard time figuring out if I'm planning to many layers for this cruise. Planning on leggings underneath jeans and having rain pants with me if needed. Just having a hard time wrapping my head around this sitting home in 85-90 degree heat & humidity :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beautiful pictures. We are doing this same cruise on August 26th. I hope we have just as nice weather as you had. Was there enough viewing space outside for everyone on the boat? I'm having a hard time figuring out if I'm planning to many layers for this cruise. Planning on leggings underneath jeans and having rain pants with me if needed. Just having a hard time wrapping my head around this sitting home in 85-90 degree heat & humidity :-)

 

Thanks! I’ll be posting more over the next few days.

 

There was plenty of viewing space on the ship although we didn’t go to the upper decks when we were in Glacier Bay. We were on our balcony or the aft on deck 11 and also deck 7. I really loved the size of the Coral Princess! It never felt crowded to me.

 

I really stressed about the weather and packing for it. I did check weather in Seward and Homer every day for a week leading up to our departure and it looked like we’d have rain for the entire land portion of our trip. That was not the case. Of the 12 days we were there, we had rain on 2 days.

 

I brought flannel shirts, sort sleeved shirts, heavy pullover fleece (I only wore this for the glacier hike), light vest which I wore over a flannel and short sleeved shirt on a sunny day in Glacier Bay. We all had lightweight down jackets (Patagonia Nano Puff). These were so easy to pack and were used more than I expected. I never needed a layer under jeans, nor did I need a hat and gloves. I also had an unlined rain jacket that I wore a couple of times. We brought rain pants but didn’t have heavy rain ever.

 

The days we were in port were very warm and sunny. We didn’t pack enough clothes for the warm weather. I wore my waterproof hiking boots quite a bit, but they were too warm during port days. I also brought Toms which I wore most of the time on the ship and sandals for dinner. My daughter and I had knit wraps (kind of like a blanket) that were great for dinner and sitting outside before or after dinner.

 

Feel free to ask more questions!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Were you on the Star Princess? We were too!! I'm working on my trip report as well. Going back to work is getting in the way!! :)

 

I love your pictures and review, keep it coming!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Your pictures are outstanding! Enjoying your review too. I'm in the planning stages for summer 2020.

 

Thanks and enjoy the planning! I love writing this trip report because I am reliving the trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Were you on the Star Princess? We were too!! I'm working on my trip report as well. Going back to work is getting in the way!! :)

 

I love your pictures and review, keep it coming!

 

No, we were on the Coral Princess.

 

Yes, same here! We arrived home at midnight and I worked the next day (and every day since then).

 

I'm getting ready to post more of my trip report now, with photos:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alaska Day 3 - Exit Glacier Hike, drive to Homer

 

This is the day I was really looking forward to. We were going to hike on an actual glacier! It was cloudy but the forecast called for sun. I wore hiking pants, waterproof hiking boots, a short-sleeved tech shirt and a Patagonia Better Sweater (heavy, fleece quarter zip). My rain jacket was packed in my backpack along with Advil, sunscreen, snacks and my camera.

 

Our check-in time with Exit Glacier Guides was 9am. After a quick breakfast and cup of coffee, we said goodbye to the wonderful cabin that we really didn’t get to enjoy as much as we would have liked to.

 

We packed up our bags and loaded the car. Right after our glacier hike we were hitting the road for the 2.5ish hour drive to Homer .

 

We arrived at Exit Glacier Guides home office and met Julia and Allie. They were our guides for the 6 hour hike. We were fitted for crampons and each given a backpack with water, helmet, harness and snacks. We were able to leave our packs and any personal belongings in the office.

 

There were 6 others in our group. I was really hoping it would be just the 4 of us so I wouldn’t stress about holding anyone up. I’m pretty sure I was the oldest one in the bunch (Pete is 5 months younger than me and reminds me often). I was also worried about my knee holding up. In April I fell skiing and tore my MCL. Many reviewers of this hike mentioned it being hard on your knees.

 

The ten of us piled into the van for the 20 minute ride to the Exit Glacier Nature Center. We shed our layers, used the restrooms and extended our trekking poles (supplied by the guides) before we began the 1.5 hour hike to the glacier.

Harding_Ice_Field_Trail_Map_Sign.jpg

 

It was chilly, but Julia assured us we would warm up quickly. She was right. We removed our outer layers and made our way to the trail. It was still cloudy.

Start_of_Exit_Glacier_Trail.jpg

 

Allie told us we’d have 3 set stops on the way to the glacier. These breaks came at the perfect times. I did fine keeping up with everyone, although the hike was moderately strenuous, mostly uphill and over uneven terrain.

 

Allie was the leader and Julia stayed at the back of the line.

 

Sean and Pete ended up talking to Julia for most of the hike. She’s from Rhode Island and works as a ski instructor in Jackson Hole, WY in the winter. We were in Jackson Hole last summer and Sean absolutely loved it (we all did)! He hopes to ski there soon. They had a lot to talk about. She has skied all over the world.

Hike_break_2.jpg

 

To get to the ice we turned off the main trail and took a much less traveled trail to the ice. At this point I was so happy that we were almost there, I hadn’t held anyone up and my knee felt fine.

 

It was still overcast once we arrived at the glacier. We took a break, had a snack, put on our harnesses, crampons, extra layers, helmets and gloves. The gloves were more to protect our hands from the sharp ice in case of a fall.

 

I wore my fleece pullover and rain jacket. These layers were ideal.

 

While we were getting ourselves ready, Julia was on the ice using her ice axe to carve ‘steps’ over the steep area where we’d begin our ice hike.

 

In the photo below Julia is in the upper left corner. The white dashes are the 'steps' she carved.

Break_before_ice_hike.jpg

 

Allie checked harnesses, helmets and crampons on each of us before we entered the ice.

 

Gearing_up.jpg

 

Learning to walk in crampons was not as difficult as I expected. Small steps, wide stance and use moderate force with each step. Julia and Allie were so great! They watched everyone to make sure we were all walking properly. Throughout the hike they showed us different glacial features and assisted each one of us as we looked down into a deep crevasse. In the photo below they are holding Sean as he takes a look into the crevasse.

 

Sean_looking_into_crevasse.jpg

 

I could have stayed there all day, it was just so amazing! I really couldn’t get enough of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had this excursion booked but canceled it because I was so worried about not being able to do it. It would have been on our last day of our two week vacation. I was kind of dreading it...thinking that it would be more exertion that I could handle at that point in our trip...and also with my current level of fitness. I tore my ACL a few years ago...we did conservative treatment, so I don't have an ACL...I was in the process of improving my fitness when I tore it and that is still a work in progress. I'd like to be more fit but I do okay. Reading your report, I know that I'll be able to do this in the future...just toward the beginning of the vacation!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alaska Day 4 - Exit Glacier Ice Hike, drive to Homer (continued)

 

The ice was spectacular! Hiking on it truly was an amazing experience! We spent 1.5 to 2 hours on the ice, had lots of opportunities for photos and saw some pretty incredible glacial features.

 

This would be a fun water slide!

Natural_waterslide.jpg

Family photo

Family_shot_2.jpg

 

All good things must come to an end. We made our way off the ice, took off our gear and extra layers and began our descent. Except it wasn't really a descent at all! It was a fairly steep, uphill, 20 minute hike back to the Exit Glacier trail. This was the most difficult part of the entire day!

 

Once we were back on the main trail, it was all downhill and went quickly with no breaks. We headed back to the office, returned our gear and were on our way.

 

At this point we were very hungry so we opted to stay in Seward for an early dinner rather than stop in Cooper Landing, which was the original plan. We decided to try the Seward Brewing Company. This was recommended by Julie, the owner of the cabin we rented in Seward. I tried their El Jefeweizen Chile Wheat beer and wasn’t a fan. The food and service were good though.

 

The drive to Homer was beautiful, but it was long and we were tired.

 

Cell service is not guaranteed which we learned quickly. I made the mistake of not printing out my full itinerary with contact info, addresses and directions for the places we were staying.

 

During a small window in our drive when we had cell service, I looked up what I thought was the address for our rental. We pulled into the driveway and talked to a few men who were sitting on their deck enjoying the beautiful view. They said there was no one there to check us in, that I should look for the email with the door code to the unit we reserved. Of course I couldn’t open the email because there was no cell service! We headed back towards town in search of cell service.

 

We stopped at a small market for the essentials - milk, bread and wine. I had to ask the cashier where the bread was because I didn’t see a bread shelf anywhere. It was in the freezer! I really got a kick out of that! Frozen bread was just fine for us.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc was on sale for $14.99 which was an absolute bargain in Alaska! I bought the last 2 bottles (I saved one to bring on the ship).

 

With cell service, I opened the email from Homer Seaside Cottages and found the correct address and check-in instructions. This was not the place where we were earlier! I’m sure those 3 guys we talked to were wondering what happened to us.

 

Sea_Shanty.jpg

 

We stayed in the Sea Shanty Cottage and it was perfect! There were folks at the other cottages sitting on their decks enjoying the nice weather and watching a bald eagle perched on top of a telephone pole.

 

Eagle_on_telephone_pole.jpg

Once we unloaded the car, Shannon and I walked to Bishops Beach which was a block and a half away. The views were stunning, but short lived, as we had overcast skies the rest of our time in Homer.

Bishops_Beach_view_2.jpg

It was an early night. Pete and Sean had to be on the Homer Spit to meet their fishing guide at 6:30 am. I still managed to relax with a glass of wine, taking in the incredibly beautiful landscape.

 

Night_view_from_upper_deck.jpg

 

I was starting to get used to daylight until after 11pm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm loving your review! I can't wait to read the rest. You're pictures are wonderful, too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i am planning a diy land tour prior to my cruise...and am struggling with this questions:

 

1. I cant decide if I really want to drive to Seward for the Marine Major tour since I will be cruising in Glacier Bay AND taking a whale excursion in Juneau.

 

I seem to really only be looking for something to do in Seward to make that drive worthwhile. I keep reading it is a "dont miss" opportunity and I am interested in some hike/walks and scenery along that drive. Do I need to the boat tour?

 

Time is limited to 5 1/2 days (6 nights) and we are going to Denali. I am thinking 1 night in Anch (arrival) , 2 in Seward, 1 in Palmer and 2 in Denali. I am struggling with wanting to see/do too much. :)we do have a rental car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We had this excursion booked but canceled it because I was so worried about not being able to do it. It would have been on our last day of our two week vacation. I was kind of dreading it...thinking that it would be more exertion that I could handle at that point in our trip...and also with my current level of fitness. I tore my ACL a few years ago...we did conservative treatment, so I don't have an ACL...I was in the process of improving my fitness when I tore it and that is still a work in progress. I'd like to be more fit but I do okay. Reading your report, I know that I'll be able to do this in the future...just toward the beginning of the vacation!

 

I think you made the right decision canceling the ice hike since it would have been at the end of your long vacation. It's pretty amazing you are able to hike at all not having an ACL. I have several friends that had surgery to repair their torn ACLs. The recovery was long.

 

After reading your trip report and seeing your photos, I wish we did the paddling excursion with Liquid Adventures! It looked and sounded amazing! Next time, I guess;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i am planning a diy land tour prior to my cruise...and am struggling with this questions:

 

1. I cant decide if I really want to drive to Seward for the Marine Major tour since I will be cruising in Glacier Bay AND taking a whale excursion in Juneau.

 

I seem to really only be looking for something to do in Seward to make that drive worthwhile. I keep reading it is a "dont miss" opportunity and I am interested in some hike/walks and scenery along that drive. Do I need to the boat tour?

 

Time is limited to 5 1/2 days (6 nights) and we are going to Denali. I am thinking 1 night in Anch (arrival) , 2 in Seward, 1 in Palmer and 2 in Denali. I am struggling with wanting to see/do too much. :)we do have a rental car.

 

In my honest opinion, if you are definitely going to Denali, I wouldn't go to Seward. I was in the same predicament when I started planning the land portion. Our initial plan was to go to Denali and then somewhere on the Kenai Peninsula. When I learned more about Denali and how you can only drive so far into the park with a vehicle, and the bus tours were 8-12 hours, we bagged it. My daughter has pretty severe motion sickness. Between the 2 days of travel to get there and back, and one day on a bus in the park, she would miss out on 3 days of vacation. Original Dramamine is the only thing that really helps her, but it also knocks her out.

 

Some day we will go back to Alaska, focusing on Denali and surrounding areas.

 

After researching the Kenai Peninsula more, we decided we would split our time in different areas there. I'm so glad we did this, I really loved every minute of it! I do wish I had one more day in both Seward and Homer. It was a lot of driving over 5 days and we didn't get to explore and see as much as we would have liked to.

 

The Major Marines tour was fantastic and a highlight of our trip! If you end up changing your plans and have more time on the Kenai Peninsula, I highly recommend the MM Northwestern Tour. I'm not sure the whale watching in Juneau will get you close to glaciers and other marine life. Glacier Bay on the ship is amazing, but the small boat on the MM tour will get you SO close to glaciers.

 

Enjoy your planning!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alaska Day 4 - Homer

 

Our first morning in Homer was an early one. Sean and Pete were meeting a guide at 6:30 for a walk and wade fishing trip. Shannon and I planned to explore the Spit before our 11:30 check in for a water taxi to Halibut Cove for lunch.

 

During the trip planning, I knew the Upper Kenai River would be the ideal spot for fly fishing on the Kenai Peninsula, but I just couldn’t make it work. I had rearranged our 5 day land trip so many times that I lost count! I had to figure out how to squeeze in a fishing trip for the boys, and it had to be in Homer because our days in Seward were completely booked.

 

Homer is known for Halibut fishing, but luckily I found a fresh water guide. I contacted him via email back in November. He suggested a 6 hour trip beginning with a water taxi ride across the bay to Kachemak Bay State Park. He said our requested date worked well with the short window when there would be an abundance of salmon in this particular area.

 

I drove Pete and Sean to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Spit where we met Gary, the owner of Silverfin Guide Service, and his helper Jordan. They were fitted for hip boots and checked to make sure Pete and Sean each had a fishing license.

P_amp_S_geared_up.jpg

They took a 7am water taxi (Ashore Water Taxi) across the bay. The group consisted of Pete and Sean, 3 guys from Texas, and a couple from Switzerland.

 

Once across the bay, they had to hike about a mile to get to creek. There had been quite a bit of talk about bears during the hike (and lack of seeing them this season) when low and behold, one of the Texans spotted a black bear across the narrow creek. The black bear was a safe distance away, so photos were snapped. Strangely, they had remarkable cell service so Pete sent me a text about the bear sighting and this photo below. I was so bummed that I wasn’t with them.

Bear_at_Humpy_Creek.jpg

 

The fishing was unreal. Pete guessed they each caught well over 30 fish (mostly pink salmon and a few dolly varden). Alaska state law allows 3 keepers per person.

 

Gary and Jordan cleaned and filleted the fish so it could be sent back to NJ. They stopped at Coal Point Trading Company and had 15lbs of pink salmon flash frozen, packaged with dry ice and shipped home.

 

While the boys fished, I checked email and saw I had a message from Expedia. The message read they reviewed my case and determined there was ‘no error’. Really? Oh, there surely was an error! Since Shannon and I didn’t have to be anywhere for a few hours, I decided to call Expedia.

 

This ended up taking way longer than I had hoped. Long story short, I had to resend my documentation and the rep assured me my case had been escalated to Corporate. I was given another case ID number and crossed my fingers.

 

Unfortunately we missed our window to do some exploring on the Spit before our water taxi to Halibut Cove.

 

At 11:30 we picked up our water taxi boarding passes, walked down the ramp to the dock and waited to board the Danny J. It was cool and overcast, but thankfully, no rain.

 

Most of the seating for the boat was outside on the bow. We went to the aft hoping to find some space, but it was minimal and the group before us claimed it. We ended up in the cabin and it was just fine. There were windows and we could pop outside if wildlife was spotted. Most importantly, we were warm.

 

The 12:00 boat includes a tour of Gull Island. This was basically just a loop around the island. Here we saw an abundance of birds and a few sea otters hanging out in the water. Bald eagles could be seen in the tree tops too.

Sea_Otter.jpg

Bald_Eagle_tree_top.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards
      • Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo invites you to #CrewUpWithWomen
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...