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Viking and Alaska

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We have our first Viking cruise set for the Midnight Sun in 2022 but I am already thinking past that.

 

I did a southbound Alaska cruise tour on Princess in 2014 unfortunately the wife started coming down with flew as we arrived and once we boarded the ship after the land section she wound up getting quarantined for most of the voyage.

 

So I have been thinking about Alaska again and this time maybe with Viking although we are not locked to any cruise line but we would like to go more upscale than Princess.

I like the Viking cabins, covered pool, included wifi compared to other lines.  I also see Viking has a pre/post tour with the Rocky Mountaineer to/from Banff.

 

Does anybody have anything to offer in personal experience on either the Vikings version of the Alaska cruise experience or the mountaineer land tour?  When I visited Skagway the first time I did not do the train ride.  I think we just walked the town.  In Juneau I did a whale watch but without the wife and in Ketchikan I snorkeled.

 

I would like to whale watching again and the question is which is the best place and tour to do that in addition to other must not miss things.  I know Viking also hits different ports.

 

Regarding the Mountaineer itinerary, We have been to Banff and did the Athabasca Glacier thing in the 90s but I have never traveled westward from there to Vancouver.  I have also not been to Jasper.  

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The Skagway train ride was recently purchased by a group which includes units of Carnival Corporation. There's been a huge investment in New locomotives, passing sidings, etc.

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If you can get to Jasper do it. And drive the Icefields parkway south towards Banff.  IMHO much more beautiful scenery (and less crowded) than Banff. See first picture below. 
 

if you can, try to also go into YoHo National Park.  It’s the contiguous park yo Banff and Jasper that is located in British Columbia (under an hour drive from Banff). Takkahawk Fall there is AMAZING! (Second picture below)

C60BA0EA-85AC-4C18-B076-6E110BFB5AEF.jpeg

0315302A-EFA8-487F-BE8E-49A3DD4B7B1F.jpeg

Edited by Clay Clayton

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Thanks I remember driving the Icefield parkway from Banff to/from Athabasca during the 90s.  We did not do the part from Jasper to Athabasca.

85870078.jpeg

85870077.jpeg

85870056.jpeg

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We are doing the Viking Alaska Cruise 6/12/22. We were supposed to have done the cruise last June, but that was canceled. I’ll be following this thread and look for “Pushka“. Thank you, Peregrina, for providing more information!

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Haven't been to Alaska with Viking, but have cruised there many times, both as a pax and working. Don't think we have been there since we retired, so info is at least 8 yrs old.

 

Ketchikan - normally has a plethora of flight-seeing options. They also have a few local lodges that are fly/cruise-in that host traditional Alaskan buffets. In town, we usually walk the length of historic creekside and take the funicular up to the totem poles.

 

Juneau - Our best ever whale watching tour was in Juneau. The dog sledding on the glacier by helicopter is great tour and similar to Ketchikan, will probably have a plethora of additional flight-seeing options. On your own, a trip up the cable car provides great views on a clear day. You can also take a taxi to the glacier visitor centre, which is just outside the town. Last time in Juneau, we walked into town and booked the Alaska Brewery shuttle to the brewery at the edge of town. Spent the entire afternoon sampling.

 

Skagway - probably will have various combinations of the train or train/bus tours. A boat trip down to Haines can be interesting, as you can then drive north along the river a ways. I usually head up the hill to Lower Dewey Lake and then wander around the lake. In my younger days I would venture up to Upper Dewy Lake, but that is a good hike. Lower lake is only 500 to 600' up, but the upper lake is about 3,000'.

 

Sitka - only been once and that was back in 1980, so memory a little hazy. I found the Russian heritage rather impressive.

 

Rocky Mountaineer - for train buffs this is an impressive journey, with train by day and hotels stays overnight. You have similar options by Via Rail, but they operate 24/7, so you do miss sections at night. However, unless a serious rail buff, I often suggest flying into Calgary, hiring a car or motorhome and driving across, seeing the areas that interest you. 

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I second Andy's suggestions and would add the Sourdough Bar in Ketchikan.  An old dive bar on the docks with some great pictures of local shipwrecks.  Pictures taken before PhotoShop so yes, they are real.  🍺

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Jim - we also stopped at Burger Queen in Ketchikan a few times. About a block up from the Sourdough. Doesn't look like much from the outside, but great, huge and sloppy burgers. Lots of crew frequent this place.

 

Only have a few tables, so we would get a take-out and go sit on a bench.

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    Looking at booking an Alaska cruise with Viking. It would be our third Viking cruise.

  When the cruise ends in Seward, do they bus you to Anchorage for the flight home? Thinking about setting up a tour to the Brooks Falls Lodge to watch Bears fishing for Salmon and they work out of Anchorage.

  Thanks in advance,

  Tom

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14 hours ago, tomhigh said:

    Looking at booking an Alaska cruise with Viking. It would be our third Viking cruise.

  When the cruise ends in Seward, do they bus you to Anchorage for the flight home? Thinking about setting up a tour to the Brooks Falls Lodge to watch Bears fishing for Salmon and they work out of Anchorage.

  Thanks in advance,

  Tom

Can’t answer your question but did want to suggest looking at renting a car and driving yourself to Anchorage. The drive is beautiful. It is inky like 120 miles but it took us all day since we were stopping so often to enjoy the beautiful scenery. 
 

As I recall (this info is over 10 years old), Hertz didn’t charge a drop off fee. We were doing the opposite so picked up the car at the airport, had a couple of days using Anchorage for our home base visited Denali and Talkeetna (landed on the glacier from there) and then drove to Seward.  Friends took the train (which I suspect is what Viking uses) and while they enjoyed it and did see some sights we didn’t, I think we had a better trip down to Seward.  Hertz was located near the cruise port so we were able to drop off our luggage and then the car and walk back to the ship. 

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23 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

Haven't been to Alaska with Viking, but have cruised there many times, both as a pax and working. Don't think we have been there since we retired, so info is at least 8 yrs old.

 

Ketchikan - normally has a plethora of flight-seeing options. They also have a few local lodges that are fly/cruise-in that host traditional Alaskan buffets. In town, we usually walk the length of historic creekside and take the funicular up to the totem poles.

 

Juneau - Our best ever whale watching tour was in Juneau. The dog sledding on the glacier by helicopter is great tour and similar to Ketchikan, will probably have a plethora of additional flight-seeing options. On your own, a trip up the cable car provides great views on a clear day. You can also take a taxi to the glacier visitor centre, which is just outside the town. Last time in Juneau, we walked into town and booked the Alaska Brewery shuttle to the brewery at the edge of town. Spent the entire afternoon sampling.

 

Skagway - probably will have various combinations of the train or train/bus tours. A boat trip down to Haines can be interesting, as you can then drive north along the river a ways. I usually head up the hill to Lower Dewey Lake and then wander around the lake. In my younger days I would venture up to Upper Dewy Lake, but that is a good hike. Lower lake is only 500 to 600' up, but the upper lake is about 3,000'.

 

Sitka - only been once and that was back in 1980, so memory a little hazy. I found the Russian heritage rather impressive.

 

Rocky Mountaineer - for train buffs this is an impressive journey, with train by day and hotels stays overnight. You have similar options by Via Rail, but they operate 24/7, so you do miss sections at night. However, unless a serious rail buff, I often suggest flying into Calgary, hiring a car or motorhome and driving across, seeing the areas that interest you. 

Clay,

  Thanks for the reply. I didn't know there was a train between Seward and Anchorage. My Wife and I really like trains so I expect we would take that.

  The Bear viewing trip from Anchorage is mostly for me as I have spent too much time watching them on this site during our Covid hide-out period.

   https://explore.org/livecams/brown-bears/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzOnY17ad6gIVUxh9Ch04lgSCEAAYASAAEgJjY_D_BwE

  I'm also wondering if any of the tours promoted by Viking that include Bear watching actually see any Bears. That could take the place of the excursion from Anchorage.

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10 hours ago, tomhigh said:

Clay,

  Thanks for the reply. I didn't know there was a train between Seward and Anchorage. My Wife and I really like trains so I expect we would take that.

 

Yep!  Also trains up to Denali fromAnchoage. More info here: https://www.alaskatravel.com/alaska-railroad/?_Cart=a09298d4dd024988


 

But the fare from Seward to Anchorage is not cheap especially if you want to be in the Dome cars.  That’s probably one reason the three of us traveling together rented the car instead! LOL

045D6178-9DED-4415-9540-E0FD0F56988B.jpeg

Edited by Clay Clayton

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On 9/14/2020 at 8:44 PM, tomhigh said:

    Looking at booking an Alaska cruise with Viking. It would be our third Viking cruise.

  When the cruise ends in Seward, do they bus you to Anchorage for the flight home? Thinking about setting up a tour to the Brooks Falls Lodge to watch Bears fishing for Salmon and they work out of Anchorage.

  Thanks in advance,

  Tom

We did this cruise last year.  We were bused from Seward to Anchorage and it was a lovely 2 hour drive with lots to see.  We were taken to a Holiday Inn where you could choose what time a shuttle took you to the airport (according to your departure time).  They gave us a conference room with tables and chairs and refreshments and all luggage was in a locked room which you accessed when your shuttle arrived.   We had hours to walk around Anchorage and explore shops and restaurants.   It was a very efficient, seamless process. You would have to calculate your tour and travel time so it works out for departure time but it probably could be done with a later time to leave.  

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On 9/15/2020 at 12:08 PM, tomhigh said:

Clay,

  Thanks for the reply. I didn't know there was a train between Seward and Anchorage. My Wife and I really like trains so I expect we would take that.

  The Bear viewing trip from Anchorage is mostly for me as I have spent too much time watching them on this site during our Covid hide-out period.

   https://explore.org/livecams/brown-bears/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzOnY17ad6gIVUxh9Ch04lgSCEAAYASAAEgJjY_D_BwE

  I'm also wondering if any of the tours promoted by Viking that include Bear watching actually see any Bears. That could take the place of the excursion from Anchorage.

 

I'm not sure what Viking offers as far as bear tours, but you could book an independent flightseeing tour in Ketchikan (or Wrangell) that will take you to spectacular bear viewing areas. We did one in Ketchikan with Island Wings to Traitor's Cove. Our flight had just one other couple and we had about 90 minutes to watch at least a dozen black bears, including several cubs, feeding on salmon. Along with our private whale watching tour in Juneau (Harv & Marv's Whale Watching Tours) it was a highlight of our Alaska trip. Another fantastic bear watching opportunity is Anan Creek, which is accessible by air from Wrangell and Ketchikan and by boat from Wrangell. Anan is special because you can often see both black and brown bears there. I haven't done that one yet, but it's on my bucket list along with Brooks Falls. Someday!

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On 9/14/2020 at 12:38 PM, Heidi13 said:

Rocky Mountaineer - for train buffs this is an impressive journey, with train by day and hotels stays overnight. You have similar options by Via Rail, but they operate 24/7, so you do miss sections at night. However, unless a serious rail buff, I often suggest flying into Calgary, hiring a car or motorhome and driving across, seeing the areas that interest you. 

 

Andy and Clay....I'm glad I looked at this thread. Have always wanted to do the Canadian Rockies / Glacier NP areas. Of late I've been tossing around the option of the RM versus flying into Calgary and a DIY driving trip (which we always love anyway). Any thoughts? Recently watched a webinar that my TA told me about - very impressive presentation by RM with, of course, stunning pics - but I'm thinking by car we'd allow more time for the Parkway and also can then get down to Glacier. RM has a 12-day Vancouver to Vancouver circle journey that includes Kamloops, Quesnell, and Whistler. In checking with Trip Advisor forums, I'm told that I could easily skip these last three stops. 12 days is ok, but I'm sure I'd plan to spend a bit longer. The only way to get to Glacier with RM is to do one of their shorter Calgary to Calgary routes. Also, VERY expensive train!  Thanks for any suggestions. I definitely want to allow enough time for Banff, Jasper, Moraine Lake,  Yoho, the Parkway, and Glacier / Waterton NP. Right now I'm thinking a late Sept. trip (2022). I've been debating between May and Sept. and am told that Going to the Sun Road is typically not even open yet in May. Also, May is considered "mud" season due to transitioning from winter. October is considered to be too late. 

Edited by OnTheJourney

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On 9/14/2020 at 1:30 PM, Jim Avery said:

I second Andy's suggestions and would add the Sourdough Bar in Ketchikan.  An old dive bar on the docks with some great pictures of local shipwrecks.

 

Jim....geez...always talking about the bars. I guess I have to keep my promise to buy you that free drink for guessing right answers on the music trivia thread..... 😉

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On 9/13/2020 at 12:30 PM, Clay Clayton said:

If you can get to Jasper do it. And drive the Icefields parkway south towards Banff.  IMHO much more beautiful scenery (and less crowded) than Banff. See first picture below. 
 

 

GREAT pic! So that first one is from Jasper?  Never been but definitely want to - high on my list but just never made it there yet - partly cause I've always considered it a summer trip (hate traveling during summer anymore - long story) but now I'm thinking mid-Sept. is still ok (?)  Hoping you can give me some good tips on driving that area. I'd like to stay at Banff Springs too - seems a shame to go that far and not stay at such an iconic place. Was surprised to see that the top level class on the RM stays at the Rimrock instead of B. Springs. 

Edited by OnTheJourney

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On 9/12/2020 at 8:26 PM, zalusky said:

Regarding the Mountaineer itinerary, We have been to Banff and did the Athabasca Glacier thing in the 90s but I have never traveled westward from there to Vancouver.  I have also not been to Jasper.  

 

Z....my apologies for sort of hijacking your thread, but the RM and Canadian Rockies were mentioned, so I just had to jump in for a bit being that I'm in the early stages of deciding on how best to visit that area. 

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2 minutes ago, OnTheJourney said:

 

Z....my apologies for sort of hijacking your thread, but the RM and Canadian Rockies were mentioned, so I just had to jump in for a bit being that I'm in the early stages of deciding on how best to visit that area. 

 

Fine with me.  The more info the better.

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44 minutes ago, OnTheJourney said:

 

Jim....geez...always talking about the bars. I guess I have to keep my promise to buy you that free drink for guessing right answers on the music trivia thread..... 😉

Andy and I both worked ships up these ways so naturally we know all the places to get off the ship for.

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53 minutes ago, Jim Avery said:

Andy and I both worked ships up these ways so naturally we know all the places to get off the ship for.

I was just giving you a ribbing.....

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1 hour ago, zalusky said:

The more info the better.

 

I agree!  Can't research a destination too much (at least for my part). 

Edited by OnTheJourney

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Just now, OnTheJourney said:

 

I agree!  Can't research a destination too much (at least for my part). 

 

And given that is all we can do right now!

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