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We need some advice from the experts, so I go right to the source.


Here is our situation--we have a cruise booked on NCL, Sept 2-9 southbound from Seward to Vancouver. We stay a day in Vancouver and then do another cruise to Hawaii on RCCL.

We have been to Alaska twice already, once on a round trip from Seattle and another on a northbound from Vancouver to Seward. We got to Anchorage, but due to circumstances at home, we never got further North and had to fly home from Anchorage.

This time we would like to try and do a more Northern trip as we do have some time.

Here are the questions, we figured to fly into Anchorage, rent a car, travel North and then back to Anchorage to get the southbound cruise from Seward. Is this a better plan than to fly in to say Fairbanks, rent the car and travel south, to Anchorage? Would that be possible, renting in Fairbanks and returning to Anchorage? 

Second, about how much time should we leave to explore a bit and then return to Anchorage. I know some will say weeks, but we don't have that time. If we drive from Anchorage to say Denali and then back, what amount of time should we allocate for that trip, stopping along the way so as not to rush thru things? I don't know if we can do an extra week traveling. Would say 4 -5 days be any good. The drive isn't that far and stopping along the way where we wanted. Any good advice as to where to stop and what to see. We are more lookers than doers, if you know what I mean. We are seniors, and  helicopters and things like that are out.

Also, do they still have books, like Toursaver that would help with hotels and any things we might want to participate in?


We haven't booked our plane fare yet, and are looking to do that this week, so that's why the questions on time are very relevant to us now.





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There are two advantages to  doing your precruise tour as a round trip out of Anchorage.  First there are more flights to Anchorage than Fairbanks and secondly it is generally less expensive and easier to book a round trip car rental than a one way, as you avoid the issue of drop charges.  You might consider at least one day in Anchorage itself and then 3 to 5 nights for the remainder of the trip.  As you point out, the longer you stay the more you can see, but that would allow reasonable time. Many of the cruise line tours range from 3-5 days.  With a car you have lots of flexibility where you stay and how much time at any location.  Do book a tour as deep into Denali as you can.  More chance to see wildlife and great scenery.

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A one-way rental car will cost a lot.  You'll need three days to include Denali from Anchorage - one to get there, one to tour the park interior (via shuttle or tour bus - no private cars allowed) and one to get back.  In late August to early September you might have some terrific autumn color on the tundra in the park.  


On your last trip did you have time to go on a Kenai Fjords cruise in Seward?  I would make time for that prior to sailing.  


Here are some things you could consider during a short pre-cruise stay:  


Denali (3 days minimum)


Hatcher Pass/Independence mine - a couple of hours north of Anchorage, this is a fascinating and scenic day trip.


"26 Glacier" cruise out of Whittier - spectacular up-close encounter with numerous tidewater glaciers.


Alaska State Fair, in Palmer (an hour north of Anchorage, on the way to Hatcher Pass.)  The dates this year are Aug. 22 - Sept. 2.  Go see the giant vegetables and other typical state fair stuff - quite enjoyable.  http://www.alaskastatefair.org/site/


Consider stopping at the fascinating cemetery in the Native village of Eklutna on the way to/from Palmer/Hatcher Pass.


You might consider renting a car for ONE DAY only for the trip to Seward (otherwise the one-way charge will be extreme.)  That way you could stop for the 26 Glacier cruise en route, or perhaps visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center at Portage, or stop in the old mining village of Hope on the way.  (So you'd need two different cars, one a round-trip rental from Anchorage, the second a brief one-day one-way rental to Seward.  Only Hertz serves Seward.)


Eklutna cemetery




Rodeo, Alaska State Fair




26 Glacier Cruise



Edited by Gardyloo
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On 2/9/2019 at 5:14 PM, diesel1973 said:

After dropping car off in Anchorage how do you plan on getting to Seward to catch your cruise?

Good question. 

Isn't there a bus that runs from Anchorage to Seward?

 If not, any suggestions would be appreciated.




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Thanks for all the great advice. We figured about 4 days pre cruise, maybe 5 if we can swing it. 


Last time we were in Anchorage, we were only there for one day and, as I said, had to change plans and fly home from there. It ended up working out great as we had a midnight flight out of anchorage, took some advice form CC and sat on the left side of the plane and we were treated to an amazing display from the Northern Lights. Yes, I know people say you won't see them at the end of August, but we did and it lasted for almost 45 minutes. 


Again, thanks for the advice and any more would love to have.




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