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masterdrago

Trip Report [May 24 2019] Radiance of the Seas Seward - Vancouver

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Posted (edited)

Getting a head start on the trip report. Our cruise planning report can be found at...

DW and I are retired and have only cruised a few times in the Caribbean and this is DWs 1st time in Alaska. We're doing a DIY 8 day pre-cruise prior to ship boarding in Seward.

 

radiance cruise route.jpg

Edited by masterdrago

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Day 1:   Fly into Anchorage, pick up rent car, check in at Lakefront Anchorage, Drive to Wasilla for dinner at Grape Tap

Day 2:   Explore the Glenn Hwy east towards Palmer and Mantanuska Glacier, view large Bore Tide at Bird Point, check in Talkeetna Alaska Lodge

Day 3:   Talkeetna Air Taxi Grand Denali w/glacier landing air tour, explore, ovrnite Talkeetna Alaska Lodge

Day 4:   Explore Denali area, check in Grand Denali Lodge, Sidexside ATV BlackDiamond tour with backcountry dinner

Day 5:   Possible Transit Bus to mile 53 Taklat River, dinner Moose AKa's, Denali Jeep Excursion Denali Hwy, ovrnite Grand Denali Lodge

Day 6:   Drive Denali to Alyeska Resort near Girdwood, check in, Dinner @ 7 Glaciers Restaurant

Day 7:   Lazy Otter full day "Best of Prince William Sound" glacier tour, ovrnite Alyeska Resort

Day 6:   Major Marine Orca Quest Cruise, check in Seward Windsong Lodge

Day 7:   Set Sail Day might get tight, drop rental at Ted Stephens, catch A.C.T. Big Bus 11am to Seward to board Radiance

Day 8:   Cruise Hubbard Glacier 3-5pm

Day 9:   Juneau: 9a-9p Harv & Marv's Whale Watch, 5 Glacier Sea Plane booked through RCI

Day 10:  Skagway: 7a-8:30p Dyea Dave Tour Skagway - Carcross - Fraser, WPYR train Fraser - Skagway

Day 11:  Icy Strait Point: 6:30a-3p Glacier Wind Charter Whale Watch

Day 12:  Ketchikan: 9a-6p Island Wings Air Misty Fjord Nat. Mon. Flightseeing

Day 13:  Cruise Inside Passage

Day 14:  Vancouver: 7a RCI transport to Vancouver International, Pick up rent car, drive Seattle, ovrnite Seattle Hilton

Day 15:  Fly home non-stop 1st class

 

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Posted (edited)

How much is car rental ? Seems like back tracking with the car?

Edited by Jimbo

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Just want to be clear on a few things. On day one you arrive in Anchorage and stay at Lakefront. Are you going to drive all the way to Wasilla just for dinner and then back to Anchorage? Also on day two you are going to Bird Point to see the boar tide which is in the opposite direction from the rest of the day. I've seen a bore tide and it's not worth that much backtracking especially when you will be driving right past Bird point when you go to Alyeska. Bird point is definitely worth a stop though.

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Rental and return from Enterprise at Ted Stephens airport for 8 days was $415 in Jan. $248 in early April. $210  10 days ago when I cancelled and re-booked for the 3rd time. Just looked and it is $427/week now. Enterprise had the best reviews when I first began looking for car rentals. And the best prices. If returning somewhere else, price runs into the thousands. Backtracking just saves a lot of $$$$ but we finally worked out the schedule to our best advantage and were able to add the Seward Orca Watch. We also booked the Vancouver to Seattle for 127CAD.

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5 minutes ago, masterdrago said:

Rental and return from Enterprise at Ted Stephens airport for 8 days was $415 in Jan. $248 in early April. $210  10 days ago when I cancelled and re-booked for the 3rd time. Just looked and it is $427/week now. Enterprise had the best reviews when I first began looking for car rentals. And the best prices. If returning somewhere else, price runs into the thousands. Backtracking just saves a lot of $$$$ but we finally worked out the schedule to our best advantage and were able to add the Seward Orca Watch. We also booked the Vancouver to Seattle for 127CAD.

Good info, we would to do something like you are doing next July before we board Radiance(same cruise itinerary you are doing).

 

Enjoy your land tour and cruise,  will be following.

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12 minutes ago, Eileen G said:

Just want to be clear on a few things. On day one you arrive in Anchorage and stay at Lakefront. Are you going to drive all the way to Wasilla just for dinner and then back to Anchorage? Also on day two you are going to Bird Point to see the boar tide which is in the opposite direction from the rest of the day. I've seen a bore tide and it's not worth that much backtracking especially when you will be driving right past Bird point when you go to Alyeska. Bird point is definitely worth a stop though.

Yep. Dinner places are important to DW. I could eat at JacknBox. Looks like about 60 miles each way. Bore Tide timing is very critical. Has to do with moon positions and phase. Best time is May 19 or 20 but we will be in Denali then.The one on the 17th is fairly exceptional with a -2.6 low tide. We may explore the Kenai down towards Homer b4 the 2:45 Bore tide. Still a bit open. Just don't want to spend much time in Anchorage (big city).  http://www.alaska.org/advice/alaska-bore-tide#Bird Point Bore Tides

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22 minutes ago, Eileen G said:

Just want to be clear on a few things. On day one you arrive in Anchorage and stay at Lakefront. Are you going to drive all the way to Wasilla just for dinner and then back to Anchorage? Also on day two you are going to Bird Point to see the boar tide which is in the opposite direction from the rest of the day. I've seen a bore tide and it's not worth that much backtracking especially when you will be driving right past Bird point when you go to Alyeska. Bird point is definitely worth a stop though.

If I had my way, we might choose to stay in Wasilla instead of the Lakefront Anchorage. We don't arrive Anchorage until 1:50. By the time we get the rent car and explore north, it will be dinner time. Not many directions to go from Anchorage until Talkeetna next day. Another take would be to move the calendar shift so we have more time between Wasilla and Fairbanks which we have not added into the equation.

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8 minutes ago, Jimbo said:

Good info, we would to do something like you are doing next July before we board Radiance(same cruise itinerary you are doing).

 

Enjoy your land tour and cruise,  will be following.

Make a plan to watch air and car rentals prices closely. The norm I've heard is that 53 days out from the flight or day b4, prices are lowest. I got antsy watching seats go so booked b4. The 53 day thing did not happen anyway. Good hunting.

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31 minutes ago, Eileen G said:

Just want to be clear on a few things. On day one you arrive in Anchorage and stay at Lakefront. Are you going to drive all the way to Wasilla just for dinner and then back to Anchorage? Also on day two you are going to Bird Point to see the boar tide which is in the opposite direction from the rest of the day. I've seen a bore tide and it's not worth that much backtracking especially when you will be driving right past Bird point when you go to Alyeska. Bird point is definitely worth a stop though.

If I were a gambling man, DW will be totally underwhelmed by the Bore Tide and will give me a hard time for eating up gas and time😟

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2 minutes ago, masterdrago said:

If I were a gambling man, DW will be totally underwhelmed by the Bore Tide and will give me a hard time for eating up gas and time😟

 

Yes she probably will. You should really consider spending the first night in Wasilla and the second day exploring the area around Palmer, Matanuska Glacier and Independence Mine. There are just so many wonderful places to see and the Bore tide is just OK if you happen to be in the area at the right time. You are spending too much time backtracking. I don't think you have a good grasp on how long it takes to get between places.

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Wow nice you're doing the fully Monty!

I'll be watching we are doing similar in 2020, the first southbound of the year so please also report weather conditions.

Have fun!

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Posted (edited)

Odd itinerary in places but it doesn't appear that you are looking for feedback .....

You have two Day 6 and two Day 7.  Does this mean you're undecided between the options?

 

Do you know what time the bore tide will arrive in Bird Point?  While you wait for it, you could visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in the morning, and the boardwalk at Potters Marsh.   Then you're driving to Matanuska, and Talkeetna ?

 

In order to avoid backtracking to Anchorage to return the car then returning to Seward, you could turn in your rental car early , then take the Park Connection Bus to Seward.  It's an early ride, 7am, but sure eliminates the hassle and stress of driving back to Anc and hoping to catch that 11am transfer. 

Edited by mapleleaves

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24 minutes ago, mapleleaves said:

Odd itinerary in places but it doesn't appear that you are looking for feedback .....

You have two Day 6 and two Day 7.  Does this mean you're undecided between the options?

Big Mistake! I thought, why only 15 days. Thought was 17 total. Nice catch. I was working from a spreadsheet outline so the sequence and list is correct. Just not the numbering system.

 

Do you know what time the bore tide will arrive in Bird Point?  While you wait for it, you could visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in the morning, and the boardwalk at Potters Marsh.   Then you're driving to Matanuska, and Talkeetna ?

I've looked the bore tides over pretty good. Best are 18th & 19th when in Denali but 17th is over -2' on low tide at Fire Island @1:03pm - Predictions for Bird Point vary by source but 2:57-3:20pm. Might do GlennAllen Hwy b4 Bore tide. Then driving to Talkeetna for overnight after Bore Tide.

 

In order to avoid backtracking to Anchorage to return the car then returning to Seward, you could turn in your rental car early , then take the Park Connection Bus to Seward.  It's an early ride, 7am, but sure eliminates the hassle and stress of driving back to Anc and hoping to catch that 11am transfer. 

That's the tight day. Might need to get away from Alyeska ~7a.

We looked at that scenario and a possible morning train from Anchorage to Seward - 6:45am departure. Means very early wake-up call for DW - not in the cards if leaving Alyeska. We end up with slightly more time keeping the car an extra day and taking the 4 hr Orca Watch in Seward day b4 boarding ship.

 

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2 hours ago, Eileen G said:

 

Yes she probably will. You should really consider spending the first night in Wasilla and the second day exploring the area around Palmer, Matanuska Glacier and Independence Mine. There are just so many wonderful places to see and the Bore tide is just OK if you happen to be in the area at the right time. You are spending too much time backtracking. I don't think you have a good grasp on how long it takes to get between places.

Thank you. I'm feeding her the idea of staying in Wasilla instead of Lakefront Anchorage. She is receptive and we have until the 14th to cancel no $$ lost. I'm thinking of spending time on Glenn Allen hwy day 2 so Wasilla is a better alternative. The Bore Tide is high on my list because we live near the Gulf of Mexico. The other place on my Bucket List is Bay of Fundy in Maine at the peak of the tidal cycle every 18 years.

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1 hour ago, mac1_131 said:

Wow nice you're doing the fully Monty!

I'll be watching we are doing similar in 2020, the first southbound of the year so please also report weather conditions.

Have fun!

My after cruise report will have detailed weather notes. I'm very much into weather and astronomy and wish we could have gone at a time to see aurora. Too cold for DW.

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1 hour ago, mapleleaves said:

Odd itinerary in places but it doesn't appear that you are looking for feedback .....

You have two Day 6 and two Day 7.  Does this mean you're undecided between the options?

Thanks again for spotting that FUBAR and confusing plan... 

This is what the correction should look like.... And I'm always looking for ideas to assist. First DIY tour we've done.

 

Day 1-May16   Fly into Anchorage, pick up rent car, check in at Lakefront Anchorage, Drive to Wasilla for dinner at Grape Tap

Day 2-May17  Explore the Glenn Hwy east towards Palmer and Mantanuska Glacier, view large Bore Tide at Bird Point, check in Talkeetna Alaska Lodge

Day 3-May18  Talkeetna Air Taxi Grand Denali w/glacier landing air tour, explore, over nite Talkeetna Alaska Lodge

Day 4-May19   Explore Denali area, check in Grand Denali Lodge, SidexSide ATV Black Diamond tour with back country dinner

Day 5-May20   Possible Transit Bus to mile 53 Taklat River, dinner Moose AKa's, Denali Jeep Excursion Denali Hwy, over nite Grand Denali Lodge

Day 6-May21   Drive Denali to Alyeska Resort near Girdwood, check in, Dinner @ 7 Glaciers Restaurant

Day 7-May22   Lazy Otter full day "Best of Prince William Sound" glacier tour, over nite Alyeska Resort

Day 8-May23   Major Marine Orca Quest Cruise, check in Seward Windsong Lodge

Day 9-May24   Set Sail Day might get tight, drop rental at Ted Stephens, catch A.C.T. Big Bus 11am to Seward to board Radiance

Day 10-May25   Cruise Hubbard Glacier 3-5pm

Day 11-May26   Juneau: 9a-9p Harv & Marv's Whale Watch, 5 Glacier Sea Plane booked through RCI

Day 12-May27  Skagway: 7a-8:30p Dyea Dave Tour Skagway - Carcross - Fraser, WPYR train Fraser - Skagway

Day 13-May28  Icy Strait Point: 6:30a-3p Glacier Wind Charter Whale Watch

Day 14-May29  Ketchikan: 9a-6p Island Wings Air Misty Fjord Nat. Mon. Flight seeing tour

Day 15-May30  Cruise Inside Passage

Day 16-May31  Vancouver: 7a RCI transport to Vancouver International, Pick up rent car, drive Seattle, over nite Seattle Hilton

Day 17-June1  Fly home non-stop 1st class

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I'll look at it later, but at first thought,  I'd probably flip the itinerary to avoid all the backtracking.

Do Whittier and Seward first, then head to Matanuska, Talkeetna and Denali.   Have dinner in Wasilla on the return ride to Anc.

Turn your car in the night before the cruise then take the ACT transfer to the ship as planned.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Mapleleaves. I believe I have DW finally agreeing to drop Grape Tap in Wasilla since we fly in, rent car & stay in Anchorage the first day. She is game to explore Anchorage. The fly in the ointment is the 3:00pm Bore Tide on day two. We will spend 6+hrs that day b4 the Bore Tide at Bird Point. I suspect, after looking the map over that we should have time to explore the sights along the Glenn Allen hwy. Grape tap is only open for dinner and we have reservations on the way back at Alyeska Resort day 6 May 21. Mat-Su looks good but only have dinner hours also.

Edited by masterdrago

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, mapleleaves said:

I'll look at it later, but at first thought,  I'd probably flip the itinerary to avoid all the backtracking.

Do Whittier and Seward first, then head to Matanuska, Talkeetna and Denali.   Have dinner in Wasilla on the return ride to Anc.

Turn your car in the night before the cruise then take the ACT transfer to the ship as planned.

Wouldn't this  mean he would have to cancel and rebook all his overnight stays where some availability this late might be an issue?

 

Really though I think little tweaks might be welcome at this point, but major changes this late in the game won't be happening.He has a ton of excursions planned too.

 

Here is our tentative schedule as of now for next July 2020. Not quite as power packed as yours.

 

Chart for travel distances/time:  http://www.alaska.org/advice/mileage-chart

 

Car rental  ANC to ANC 24th- 28th 3pm -3pm

 

24th Overnight in Anchorage after arriving from East Coast 9Flight)

25th Overnight in Denali Park

26th Overnight Denali Park   (Tundra Wilderness Tour (AM) (62 miles into the park)

27th Overnight at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge ( Possible Sightseeing Flight that day in the afternoon weather permitting, also might check on flight possibility on 25th when driving by to Denali)

28th Overnight in Anchorage (return Rental Car)

29th Overnight in Seward (Train Ride today on the Coastal Classic Train at around 6:00am from ANC to Seward)

30th Overnight in Seward (6-Hour  Kenai Fjords boat tour )

31st Board Ship for 7 day cruise

 

 

Edited by Jimbo

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1 hour ago, masterdrago said:

Thanks Mapleleaves. I believe I have DW finally agreeing to drop Grape Tap in Wasilla since we fly in, rent car & stay in Anchorage the first day. She is game to explore Anchorage. The fly in the ointment is the 3:00pm Bore Tide on day two. We will spend 6+hrs that day b4 the Bore Tide at Bird Point. I suspect, after looking the map over that we should have time to explore the sights along the Glenn Allen hwy. Grape tap is only open for dinner and we have reservations on the way back at Alyeska Resort day 6 May 21. Mat-Su looks good but only have dinner hours also.

 

yep, the bore tide will make for a long day if you plan to drive to Matanuska and Talkeetna afterwards.

Bird Point is about 30 minutes south of Anchorage;  Matanuska is about 2 hrs from Anc, and Talkeetna is another 2 1/2 hrs.   Luckily  you'll have lots of daylight, so enjoy !

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50 minutes ago, mapleleaves said:

 

yep, the bore tide will make for a long day if you plan to drive to Matanuska and Talkeetna afterwards.

Bird Point is about 30 minutes south of Anchorage;  Matanuska is about 2 hrs from Anc, and Talkeetna is another 2 1/2 hrs.   Luckily  you'll have lots of daylight, so enjoy !

You are correct. I've known going into this that there would be days like that. Fortunately, I've spent years of 9-10 hour day trips so nothing new. I figure if we get out of Lakeshore Anchorage 8-9am and make the first part of the day touring the Glenn Allen Hwy, then get back to Beluga or better, Bird Point, we will be on the downhill to Talkeetna. Getting in there 5:30-6pm will work for me as we have two nights there with only the 2 hour air flight around Denali on day 3 May 18. I do appreciate your input.

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2 hours ago, Jimbo said:

Wouldn't this  mean he would have to cancel and rebook all his overnight stays where some availability this late might be an issue?

 

Really though I think little tweaks might be welcome at this point, but major changes this late in the game won't be happening.He has a ton of excursions planned too.

 

Here is our tentative schedule as of now for next July 2020. Not quite as power packed as yours.

 

Chart for travel distances/time:  http://www.alaska.org/advice/mileage-chart

 

Car rental  ANC to ANC 24th- 28th 3pm -3pm

 

24th Overnight in Anchorage after arriving from East Coast 9Flight)

25th Overnight in Denali Park

26th Overnight Denali Park   (Tundra Wilderness Tour (AM) (62 miles into the park)

27th Overnight at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge ( Possible Sightseeing Flight that day in the afternoon weather permitting, also might check on flight possibility on 25th when driving by to Denali)

28th Overnight in Anchorage (return Rental Car)

29th Overnight in Seward (Train Ride today on the Coastal Classic Train at around 6:00am from ANC to Seward)

30th Overnight in Seward (6-Hour  Kenai Fjords boat tour )

31st Board Ship for 7 day cruise

 

 

We would not want to or could not reverse the flow. I would double check on the TWT on the 26th. I think until June 1, they only go in as far as Taklat River (mile 53). That was one of the things CC folks warned me about when changing to a May trip. I've heard here the Coastal Train is awesome for the scenery. Overnighting in Anc will make it work for you. Leaving Alyeska was just too early for us to make that train and we had bounced around a slew of scenarios trying to fit in a long tour with Kenai Fjords. Because of the dates we are there, no full day tours were available. We went with the full day Lazy Otter tour out of Whittier closer to Alyeska. We had actually booked the full day with Kenai Fjords out of Whittier but in Oct. they moved their entire operation to Seward thus cancelling the Prince William Sound tours.

Since you have time, check into the Alaska Mileage BOA credit card for points and their companion fare.

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7 hours ago, masterdrago said:

We would not want to or could not reverse the flow. I would double check on the TWT on the 26th. I think until June 1, they only go in as far as Taklat River (mile 53). That was one of the things CC folks warned me about when changing to a May trip. I've heard here the Coastal Train is awesome for the scenery. Overnighting in Anc will make it work for you. Leaving Alyeska was just too early for us to make that train and we had bounced around a slew of scenarios trying to fit in a long tour with Kenai Fjords. Because of the dates we are there, no full day tours were available. We went with the full day Lazy Otter tour out of Whittier closer to Alyeska. We had actually booked the full day with Kenai Fjords out of Whittier but in Oct. they moved their entire operation to Seward thus cancelling the Prince William Sound tours.

Since you have time, check into the Alaska Mileage BOA credit card for points and their companion fare.

Our dates above are July 2020......so no worries about the TWT access.

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