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Princess18

2:00am arrival in Anchorage, no hotel?

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We have a late flight that arrives Anchorage around 2:00am.  Later that morning, we are taking the 9:45am train from Anchorage to Whittier to board the ship.  So, we have a short window between arriving the airport and getting on the train.  Should we book a hotel, knowing at best we could only sleep a few hours, or hang around the airport and then perhaps leave for the train station a few hours before the train leaves, or, does anyone have any other ideas?  Note, we are flying cross country, thus the late arrival into Anchorage is unavoidable.  Thanks for any ideas.

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Maybe someone  knows for sure, but can you get back into the airport proper once you go to baggage claim?  You cannot at my local airport.

Maybe you could take a cab to a Denny’s or another 24 hour diner type restaurant and hang out there?  

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If your flight is coming in at 2am, I would find a 24hour place to grab a bite and then make your way over to the train station when it opens.

I was able to see 3 with a quick google check: Denny's, Leroy's and Village Inn.  

The Train station opens at 5:30am in the Summer (May to Sept) so you would only have to kill a couple of hours at the restaurant.  I'm sure they are used to people just hanging out in the early morning.

 

Hotels are not cheap in Anchorage and spending $200 for a couple of hours does not seem wise but I'm not sure what you will feel comfortable with doing.

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Since you are investing thousands of dollars in this vacation, I presume this is more a question of "is it worth it" rather than "I can't really afford another $250".  Unless you are flying first class, your sleep on the plane will be minimal and/or poor quality.  The train ride is full of great views, and you are going to want to feel good for that as well as getting on the ship.  How much will you and your family be able to enjoy all that with perhaps the equivalent of a couple of hours sleep the night before?  If your plane lands on time, you can probably get as much as four hours' sleep before heading to the train station.  That wouldn't leave much time for showers, etc., but a quick cleanup after several hours sleep can have you in MUCH better shape for your Alaska journey.  If your flight is for some reason significantly delayed, then it might not be worth the cost.  If it were me, I would look for some of the lower-price airport hotel options which are still decent quality, then I would call several and ask how frequently they had rooms available at 3:00 AM.  My goal would be to have a list of 3 - 5 possible hotels, and call the first on the list when I landed to hopefully lock in a room.  If they were full, I would go down the list until I found an available room.  Or, you can play it safe and make a reservation knowing a delayed flight will further limit your sleeping time.  My goal would be to get to the hotel by 3:00 and get to bed ASAP with an alarm set for perhaps 7:00.  That would leave time for everyone to have a few minutes in the bathroom, then grab a cab/Uber/Lyft to the train station feeling somewhat refreshed and fired up for the trip.

 

Whatever you decide, good luck and have a great time.

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In addition to moneeman's advice to get a hotel room for a few hours, can you change to a later train to Whittier leaving after the hotel's check-out time?  That could give you even a few more hours of sleep.  You don't want to sleep on the train since the ride is a lovely introduction to Alaska.

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I had a different situation, but similar enough to give my thoughts: 

 

Last summer I was flying in from North Carolina. We ended up arriving in Anchorage at 3:30AM. Our plan was to get a rental car and drive to Denali. Most of the advice I received was to get a hotel and get a few hours of sleep before making the drive, but I decided to go against this advice. We just got off the plane, got our luggage and the rental car, and made the early morning drive. For us, it turned out to be the right decision. We never go on big vacations - driving a few hours to the beach is about the most we usually do. First trip to Alaska, first big vacation in forever, and first cruise... I was so full of adrenaline that the drive was no problem.

 

You just have to think about what is right for you. I'm only 31 and didn't spend $10,000 to go to Alaska and sleep. For those who are older or get to travel more often, getting as little sleep as I did all throughout my 2 weeks in Alaska probably would be a bad idea, but for me it turned out to be absolutely the right decision. 

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You didn't mention how old you are or if you can sleep well on aircraft. If I was still 31 years old I might take cltcruizer's advice but since I'm over 2.5 times that age, I would look closely at capriccio's advice.
 
We don't sleep well on airplanes, even in business class. A long time ago we quit booking cruises where we arrived the day of or shortly after. Matter of fact, nowadays we don't book unless we can get a hotel room two nights prior. Our last cruise is a good example, we flew from Anchorage to Venus where we got on the ship. I had a number of hotel choices, some were in downtown Venice and $$$$. We chose one on the mainland, it was reasonable, in the country and quiet. Got in about 4:00 PM, started cutting zzzzzzs right away. By the third day we transferred to the ship about 2:00PM, but not to sail, we had that night on the ship as well as an entire day the ship, the port was close to the city of Venice and we didn't sail until about 6:00 PM, the fourth night. We really enjoyed our excursions the last day since we were fresh.
 
Better yet I would jack up my arrival in Anchorage by 24 hours. Probably cost and time limitations prevent that for you though, that would have been the case when I was 31.        
 

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We live in Anchorage, it is not a long drive to get to the train station, maybe 20 mins max. Since you will have flown all night I would say get a hotel near the airport and sleep! There is nothing really to do at that time in the morning and you will want to be refreshed for the train trip as it is spectacular. Remember the motion of the train will make you sleepy so if you start out that way it will be very hard to stay awake.

The train station can be chaotic on a ship day so go an hour early. The drive from airport area to downtown will give you a good idea of Anchorage.

Airport hotels will be safe so don't feel like you have to get the most expensive if that is an issue. There are some nice places to eat breakfast around the airport also which is a good idea since the station and train don't have a lot to offer. Gwennies is great if you like a true Alaskan feel and a big breakfast, plus it is within walking distance from several small hotel/motels.

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Posted (edited)

Driving in an unknown place with no sleep in the dark is not a great option for many. For some it’s the same as driving under the influence of alcohol in terms of reaction time and concentration.  

Edited by Pushka

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19 minutes ago, Pushka said:

Driving in an unknown place with no sleep in the dark is not a great option for many. For some it’s the same as driving under the influence of alcohol in terms of reaction time and concentration.  

It’s not dark in Alaska in the summer, unless you’re coming late in the season.  I prefer to drive in the wee hours when the motor homes are tucked in for the night.  

 

 

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