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Anchorage to Seward


Glendakayself
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We plan to fly into Anchorage and spend a Tuesday night in July, 2022. We have booked two nights in Seward prior to a cruise departure and need to transfer to Seward the following Wednesday. What is the most economical way to transfer to Seward? We would take the cruiseline transfer, but we are going in two days early. We are not opposed to the train but would prefer an afternoon transfer if possible.

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You could do a one-way car rental with Hertz. There'll be an extra fee for the one-way drop off.

The Alaska Railroad train runs in the morning, as you've seen.

You could do a private car hire with BAC Transportation or Aurora Limousines or PJ's Taxi.

You could see if the Park Connection bus or Seward Bus Lines has any options that work.

Sorry for the lack of links, but Google is your friend.

 

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14 minutes ago, AKStafford said:

You could do a one-way car rental with Hertz. There'll be an extra fee for the one-way drop off.

The Alaska Railroad train runs in the morning, as you've seen.

You could do a private car hire with BAC Transportation or Aurora Limousines or PJ's Taxi.

You could see if the Park Connection bus or Seward Bus Lines has any options that work.

Sorry for the lack of links, but Google is your friend.

 

The one-way Herz rental is crazy expensive, and the private car service I found was even more expensive. I do not think I tried the specific companies you listed, but I will. With cruising haulted from Seward this year, the buses are not showing what I need.  I did find a decent price to rent a U-Haul. Much better than the one-way car rental. It may just be an option.  I'll keep looking. 

 

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Route and schedule information for trains, buses, and ferries in Alaska are published bimonthly in the Canada and Alaska Timetable. Between Anchorage and Seward on a Wednesday your choice include: (1) Alaska Railroad, departing Anchorage at 6:45 a.m., arriving Seward at 11:05 a.m.; (2) Seward Bus Lines, departing Anchorage at 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., arriving Seward at 12:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.; (3) Park Connection, departing Anchorage at 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., arriving Seward at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. One-way per-person fares are: (1) Alaska Railroad $116; (2) Seward Bus Lines $60; (3) Park Connection $70. Note that the Park Connection bus provides a higher quality and reliability of service than the Seward Bus Lines bus, and so that may influence your decision-making.

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Train, train, train.  So much better than the other options despite the early departure.  When you get to Seward, take the 6 hour boat cruise on the Kenai Peninsula.  That makes for a great day in Alaska.

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@GTJ and @quack2

Thank you both for your suggestions. We were planning on taking the 2 PM or 3 PM bus, so we need to be patient and wait for the 2022 schedules to be firmed up and hope that cruising resumes from Seward next year. After we arrive in Seward, we wanted to go to Exit Glacier and book the 8-hour Kenai cruise/tour for the next day. 

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@GTJ and @quack2

Thank you both for your suggestions. We were planning on taking the 2 PM or 3 PM bus, so we need to be patient and wait for the 2022 schedules to be firmed up and hope that cruising resumes from Seward next year. After we arrive in Seward, we wanted to go to Exit Glacier and book the 8-hour Kenai cruise/tour for the next day. 

 

If we did take the train and could not check into our hotel until later in the day, is there luggage storeage at the train depot? I know most hotels will store luggage as well, just trying to think through my options.

Edited by Glendakayself
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While folks will be happy with the scenery from a motor coach the scenery from the train is generally considered superior.  In fact, train buffs rank the route between Anchorage and Seward to be one of the most scenic in North America.

 

We’ve stayed in Seward a number of times.  Our current “go to” hotel is the Harbor 360.  It is owned by the folks who own Major Marine, which happens to be our favorite Kenai Fjords day trip vendor.  In the past they have provided shuttle service for their guests arriving by train, and can also store luggage.  They also offer shuttle service between their hotel and the cruise terminal.

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6 hours ago, Glendakayself said:

We were planning on taking the 2 PM or 3 PM bus, so we need to be patient and wait for the 2022 schedules to be firmed up and hope that cruising resumes from Seward next year. * * * If we did take the train and could not check into our hotel until later in the day, is there luggage storage at the train depot?

 

I would not anticipate any substantial schedule changes between this year and next year, as they have been fairly stable for several years. Such stability has avoided even relatively small schedule changes, but, of course, nothing forecloses such changes from actually being implemented. Most transportation providers in Alaska firm up their schedules shortly after the conclusion of the prior year's summer season, so I would anticipate the same happening sometime within the next month or two. That said, the pandemic of 2020 resulted in operational changes that came on suddenly that year, and the same could happen again in 2022, notwithstanding any firmed-up schedules being published in these next few weeks.

 

The railroad does not offer baggage storage at any of its stations. When I have been faced with the matter of baggage at stations not offering formal storage services (be it by railroad, motorcoach, or air), I have simply not claimed checked baggage immediately upon arrival, but have instead waited until later in the day when I was ready to so reclaim such baggage. I cannot opine on the practicability doing the same at Seward, though I will note that the railroad's published terms and conditions of transportation do not impose any obligation on passengers to immediately reclaim baggage, and that until baggage is reclaimed principles relating to a non-gratuitous bailor's obligations may apply (but being certain to reclaim prior to 6:00 p.m. when the last train departs and after which the station may close for the day). I do think that the railroad is shirking its customers' expectations by failing to formally offer baggage storage at its stations, especially in the case of where first ("goldstar") class service is provided at very expensive fares, and despite any of the railroad's lamentations of perceived (but likely substantially over-blown) security implications, the tourism authorities and/or state legislature should take action to compel such baggage storage service being offered.

 

All else being equal, I generally prefer traveling by railroad than by motorcoach. Here, however, all else is not equal. Most notably, the railroad schedules its departure quite early in the morning, requiring an Anchorage hotel wake-up at around 5:00 a.m. to ensure arrival at the station by 6:30 a.m. (the deadline for checking-in baggage). Also, the railroad fare is substantially higher, which is in contrast with your expressed desire to ascertain the most economical transportation available. While the general scenery of both railroad and motorcoach are similar, many persons express a preference for the railroad. All of these attributes are, of course, personal preferences, and there is no "correct" choice as to the better of the two options.

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Advantage to the Alaska RR - Gold Star service meal and beverages provided complimentary

Coach there is a concession car to grab a snack and beverage

That noted the scenery is outstanding as the train treks off where there are no roads and the

measure of comfort is a great deal better than the BUS aka motor coach or any other provider.

 

Baggage got to figure out that impasse of storage -

taking a cruise same day it is checked at the Anchorage Depot and you will see it at your

stateroom door.

staying at a B&B or hotel lodge accommodation certainly can use that avenue

Some shore excursion providers can handle it while you take a hike or other venture

But do this on your own and you have luggage to lug around with you

 

About taking that cruise -

there is the scheduled Alaska RR trip in the am Anchorage to Seward

early enough to lounge around and board the ship leisurely 

then the cruise line may have a charter train later to arrive timely with the cruise schedule

And true with the cruise ship arrival there is the Alaska RR evening trip to Anchorage 6pm

There may also be a charter train leaving in the am to make connections with airline flights to

the lower 48

Check out your options - - -

 

The Alaska RR scheduled trip operates daily in season - just like the Denali Star to Fairbanks    

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1 hour ago, don't-use-real-name said:

Advantage to the Alaska RR - Gold Star service  * * *

 

[T]aking a cruise same day it is checked at the Anchorage Depot and you will see it at your

stateroom door. * * *

 

[W]ith the cruise ship arrival there is the Alaska RR evening trip to Anchorage 6pm

There may also be a charter train leaving in the am to make connections with airline flights to

the lower 48

 

The original post emphasized "the most economical way," so on that basis I omitted discussion of more expensive ways to travel. And given the early morning departure hour, there might be temptation (intentionally or not) to get some shut eye along the way, possibly causing economic waste with respect to the additional charge for first class (goldstar) travel.

 

Checking baggage at "the" railroad station, and having it appear at the stateroom on board the vessel, would only be a possibility with the "charter" train, departing from the Anchorage airport, not the regular train departing from the downtown Anchorage station.

 

The "charter" train, from Seward to Anchorage in the morning, and return in the evening, is not a daily operation, and only operates when vessels are in port. Additionally, it does not provide service to and from the downtown station in Anchorage, but instead the train operates to and from the airport, so there would be the additional step of getting from downtown Anchorage to the airport. The train generally operates to and from Seward every Friday (to meet Royal Caribbean Group vessels), and then alternate Mondays (to meet Norwegian Cruise Line vessels) and alternate Thursdays (to meet Silver Seas vessels). (As well, the motorcoach operator Alaska Cruise Transportation provides direct service between several hotels in downtown Anchorage and Seward, but only on days when vessels are in port: multiple departures on Fridays and alternate Mondays, and a single (morning) departure on alternate Thursdays.) The original post contemplated travel to Seward on Wednesday, when Princess Cruises (Carnival Corp.) vessels are in port, but at Whittier, not Seward. So given the contemplated travel day, the "charter" train is not a practicable option (nor is the additional motorcoach service operated by Alaska Cruise Transportation practicable).

 

But changing travel days, or changing the value of travel desired, would indeed provide a few more options!

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@GTJ and @don't-use-real-name Thanks again for your explanations and suggestions. We would probably prefer the train for the scenery if it left a little later in the day. I am afraid we would be lulled back to sleep at that early hour and miss the beautiful scenery, but we do understand the train schedule for picking up and dropping off cruise and airport passengers. 

 

 We are staying one night in Anchorage and two nights in Seward and have lots of time to explore. We do have a Seward hotel reserved, but check-in is later than the train arrival. I am sure the hotel will hold the luggage. In Europe, we have found the coin-operated luggage storage lockers in train stations very convenient. Thank you GTJ for honoring my original question for the most economical transportation. I was experiencing a bit of sticker shock after pricing a car rental. The train is not that expensive when compared to the cost of a one-way two-day car rental or a hired driver which are both pricing over $1,000 for the trip from Anchorage to Seward. 

 

This will be our third Alaska cruise, and we have done the usual tours to Denali pre-cruise in the past. Those tours dropped us at the Seward cruise port without any effort on our part. Next July, we are taking a post-cruise tour from Vancouver to Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, and Calgary. That leaves us free to explore on our own pre-cruise in Anchorage and Seward. 

Edited by Glendakayself
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Checking baggage at "the" railroad station, and having it appear at the stateroom on board the vessel, would only be a possibility with the "charter" train, departing from the Anchorage airport, not the regular train departing from the downtown Anchorage station.

 

 

My experience

NCL JEWEL 15500 Seward-Vancouver 9/16/2019

 

Luggage checked at Anchorage Depot for trucking to ship

Checked in for Gold Star service on the scheduled Coastal Classic RR trip ---

Luggage at (actually in) cabin on checking in for the NCL JEWEL

This makes sense in that the luggage is handled once instead of

loading it into the baggage car on the train and then off loaded to the cruise guest

at the port to be loaded onto the ship.

 

??? Question about that cruise charter train - YES makes sense to board or get off

at the Anchorage Airport - but why not at the origin of the train consist at the Depot

and/or termination of trip.

Not everyone on the train is going to travel by air immediately leaving the ship.

 

And about that Coastal Classic train - RIDE THE BI-LEVEL GOLD STAR - for the best

view and the meal and beverages are included in the price - narration of prime

attractions - glaciers - critters in the wild - other touristy things - all these are easier

to point out in the glass dome cars,

 

Traveling on a cruise ship day BOOK EARLY !

The cruise lines frequently book almost an entire train from one point to another

(Denali Star train) - if this presents a problem look to book a day before or after

that. Frequently happens from Anchorage to Denali - a couple days later Denali

to Fairbanks.

This why one day the train is available and the next not.

Be flexible in working around this.

This of course unless on a cruise ship shore excursion pre-post cruise.

 

Note flights to Fairbanks are offered non-stop from the lower 48 prime season

but off - shoulder season require a plane change at Seattle

 

It is tricky putting a travel package together - but don't be discouraged.

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Some of my personal experiences and memories:

 

I was in Alaska the very first season during which the passenger railroad service to Seward had been reinstated. It was just a daytime round-trip, so I had no baggage. Then it was operated with nicely-rehabilitated Budd rail diesel cars, a pair of them,  I recall (as continues being operated by Canadian Pacific, for Via Rail Canada, between White River and Sudbury). Not very crowded, both on account of being a renewed service and being post-Labor Day. What I remember most about that trip was traveling in the RDC combine, and the engineer noticing the salmon spawning in one of the rivers we passed over. Those RDCs are so maneuverable that the engineer spotted the baggage door of the combine to be directly over the bridge spanning the river, opening that baggage door, and inviting all the passengers to come up into the baggage part and observe. Now with conventional equipment being used to and from Seward, such informalities are more difficult for the crew to provide. Yes, shiny new cars are nice, but I do like being able to travel on RDCs (so few now remaining in service). On the same trip I had traveled on the route between Whittier and Portage, mostly through the tunnel. I recall passengers being accommodated in bi-level cars, fomerly used for commuter service, and which were positioned following the many vehicle carriers that were used to transport motorists. Because of that separation, there was no head end power in the cars, so the entire trip was made in darkness! Not one of the railroad's best services!

 

If you post-cruise tour is via railroad, then you'll find the same type of equipment that the Alaska Railroad uses for its first class (goldstar) service being used to provide the Rocky Mountaineer service to Lake Louise and Banff (the service to Calgary continuing via motorcoach). I understand how many passenger like the ultra dome cars used for the service, with the expansive overhead windows, but my preference is the combination of standard railroad coaches with separate vista-dome car (as is used by Via Rail Canada on its Canadian service), for the conventional cars have convenient overhead baggage racks and do not leave one stewing continuously in the sunlight, and the vista-dome cars provide a more intimate surrounding and a forward-looking view not generally available with the ultra dome cars.

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18 minutes ago, don't-use-real-name said:

My experience * * *Luggage checked at Anchorage Depot for trucking to ship Checked in for Gold Star service on the scheduled Coastal Classic RR trip --- Luggage at (actually in) cabin on checking in for the NCL JEWEL This makes sense in that the luggage is handled once instead of loading it into the baggage car on the train and then off loaded to the cruise guest at the port to be loaded onto the ship.

 

??? Question about that cruise charter train - YES makes sense to board or get off

at the Anchorage Airport - but why not at the origin of the train consist at the Depot

and/or termination of trip. Not everyone on the train is going to travel by air immediately leaving the ship. * * *

 

It is tricky putting a travel package together - but don't be discouraged.

 

From your prior experience, was the baggage from the Anchorage station to stateroom, transported by truck, handled by the railroad or handled by the cruise line? That is, who accepted the legal burden of baggage carriage? All that I have seen is the cruise lines steering passengers only to their own charter trains, not the regular train, so if any of them are now cooperating with the railroad and its regular train, such would be an improvement! (I have had a similar experience, but in the reverse direction. I had stayed at the Rock Harbor Lodge on Isle Royale in Michigan. Upon checking out, guests left their baggage in their rooms, providing the hotel with their next destination. So I left Isle Royale empty-handed on the vessel sailing to Houghton, Michigan, and upon arrival my baggage that I had left on the bed in my hotel room appeared in the baggage claim area.)

 

The Alaska Railroad has a number of deadhead movements associated with its charter train, and I wish those segments were made reliably available. But it is a charter, so the railroad leaves the decision-making to the cruise lines.

 

Full agreement as to the challenges to putting together an itinerary using scheduled services. I do enjoy taking on those challenges, for to me the planning is half the adventure!

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Yes, our trip to Jasper from Vancouver will be on Via Rail. It is an overnight trip with sleeper and dining accomodations. We have never before spent the night on a train and look forward to the experience. I just checked the itnierary, and the rest of the journey will be by motor coach. 

 

As far as planning, this one was simple. Flights to Anchorage and Anchorage hotel are booked. Seward Hotel is booked. We have plans for activities in both cities. The hardest part is deciding on transport between Anchorage and Seward. We booked a hotel near the Anchorage train station and museum with an airport and around-town shuttle. That gives us the option of walking to the station or museum to pick up transportation or using the airport shuttle back to the airport for transportation if necessary. 

Edited by Glendakayself
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7 minutes ago, Glendakayself said:

Yes, our trip to Jasper from Vancouver will be on Via Rail. It is an overnight trip with sleeper and dining accomodations. We have never before spent the night on a train and look forward to the experience. I just checked the itnierary, and the rest of the journey will be by motor coach. 

If you folks like no make that love rail travel - think of the Rocky Mountaineer as an alternative

to VIA Rail - sleeping accommodations in hotels at night and scenic rail trips by day thru the

Canadian Rockies.

 

GTJ

From your prior experience, was the baggage from the Anchorage station to stateroom,

 

Luggage with NCL cabin tags attached checked at Anchorage Depot - BUT - not loaded

on train but into an awaiting truck taking it directly to the ship and stateroom.

 

 

On the Fairbanks to Anchorage (v-v) the luggage in the non cruise ship sense is loaded

into wire rack containers by destination by fork lift and dolly into the baggage car.

Pretty rapid load and unload of luggage on the scale of widebody airline aircraft.

 

How Princess and Holland-America cruise lines handle the luggage I don't know.

NCL is a small player in the Alaska cruise market.

 

 

GTJ

Full agreement as to the challenges to putting together an itinerary using scheduled services. I do enjoy taking on those challenges, for to me the planning is half the adventure!

 

Think of it as being a modern day Phileas Fogg --- "Around the World in 80 days" !

 

When Jules Verne wrote the story "Around the World in Eighty Days" in 1872, he predicted that one day man could accomplish the task in eighty hours, but which most considered folly to do in eighty days in current times, that is except for people like Englishman Phileas Fogg, a regimented man who believed all it would take is exacting work, the skills he possesses. He just has to make sure a train's schedule meets the required sailing schedule which meets the required coach schedule and so on.

 

NCL JEWEL 15500 Seward-Vancouver 9/16/2019

From MSP Fly to SEA - connection to FAI

2 nights

Denali Star Fairbanks to Anchorage

2 nights

Coastal Classic Anchorage to Seward

board NCL JEWEL to Vancouver

Fly YVR to SEA connection to MSP

 

*had BOGO tickets MSP-SEA-MSP credit card

Mileage on SEA-FAI for my partner and I.

 

A few delays hitches here and there of no consequence

AND best of all "punch line" NO DATE LINE TO CROSS !

 

Just love it when a plan comes together "The "A" Team" !

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Glendakayself said:

The hardest part is deciding on transport between Anchorage and Seward.

 

If the hardest part is that decision, then I think you are well-set. With the transport options as they are between Anchorage and Seward, I view the decision as not especially critical because of the redundancy and independence of that segment from everything else. And otherwise I see that you have a "Plan B" available as well. Whatever detail is ultimately decided you should have a fabulous trip.

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1 hour ago, don't-use-real-name said:

Luggage with NCL cabin tags attached checked at Anchorage Depot - BUT - not loaded

on train but into an awaiting truck taking it directly to the ship and stateroom. * * *

 

Just love it when a plan comes together "The "A" Team" !

 

What I sense is that the cruise line, rather than the railroad, made the arrangements for the baggage transportation from the Anchorage station to the vessel, if only from the use of cruise line baggage tags-. Sensible, as it avoids finger-pointing in the event of baggage misdirection . . . the cruise line is definitively liable without the passenger having to prove the loss was caused by either the cruise line or the railroad (though only to the extent of its $100 limit on liability, compared to the $500 limit typically controlling railroad transportation of baggage). NCL is such a minor player, having vessels in port only on alternate weeks, but most similarly situated in the Royal Caribbean Group, having vessels in port once weekly. Carnival, of course, is the big player, with three vessels in port per week (two Princess Cruises, and one Holland-America Line), and with their extensive rail operations, motorcoach operations, and hotel operations, they may have a parallel trucking network interconnecting many railroad stations, hotels, and docks. But all of these cruise line trucking operations would really be separate from the Alaska Railroad service, not available to everyone but only to those sailing on a particular cruise line vessel.

 

I think my best "Phileas Fogg" planning to date was from several years ago when my now-wife and I went away to get married and honeymoon. It involved have planned in advance the following separately-arranged segments timely: (1) NCL partial cruise, New York to Cozumel, including independent tours at all six intermediate ports of call, (2) Ultramar ferry, Cozumel to Playa del Carmen, (3) ADO bus, Playa del Carmen to Oaxaca, changing at Cancún, Coatzacoalcos, and Veracruz, (4) hotel for overnight connection in Veracruz, (5) hotel, church, and daily tours for guests in Oaxaca, (6) ADO bus, Oaxaca to San Cristóbal de las Casas, changing at Puebla and Tuxtla Gutiérrez, (7) hotel for overnight connection in Puebla and cooking classes while there, (8) hotel in San Cristóbal de las Casas, (9) group tour to Palenque, (10) hotel in Palenque, (11) private transfer, Palenque to Flores, including enroute visits to Bonampak and Yaxchilán, (12) hotel in Flores, (13) group tour to Tikal and return, (14) Línea Dorada bus, Flores to San Ignacio, (15) hotel in San Ignacio, (16) group tour to to Actun Tunichil Muknal cave and return, (17) Línea Dorada bus, San Ignacio to Chetumal, (18) ADO bus, Chetumal to Playa del Carmen, (19) hotel in Playa del Carmen, (20) Waterjets ferry, Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, (21) Carnival partial cruise, Cozumel to New Orleans, including independent excursion touring at one intermediate port of call, (22) hotel in New Orleans, and (23) Amtrak train, New Orleans to New York. A bit of an effort to ensure that the timings all worked out, and having to deal with two dozen different suppliers. (I did make a good plan for 2020, overland from New York to Iowa and back, using a similar number of railroads, motorcoach lines, and even a catamaran across Lake Michigan, but it was stymied by the pandemic!) The quote of John "Hannibal" Smith is apropos.

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9 hours ago, don't-use-real-name said:

If you folks like no make that love rail travel - think of the Rocky Mountaineer as an alternative

to VIA Rail - sleeping accommodations in hotels at night and scenic rail trips by day thru the

Canadian Rockies.

Actually, this part of the trip is a cruiseline tour, so Via Rail is part of the package. We priced doing the tour on our own with the Rocky Mountaineer and opted for the less expensive escorted tour. 

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24 minutes ago, Glendakayself said:

Actually, this part of the trip is a cruiseline tour, so Via Rail is part of the package. We priced doing the tour on our own with the Rocky Mountaineer and opted for the less expensive escorted tour. 

 

What was a bit difficult to follow with your general description was its inclusion of Lake Louise and Banff, places no longer served by Via Rail Canada, and I assumed that your itinerary was with the Rocky Mountaineer service. I do now see that you mentioned Jasper as well, which is served by Via Rail Canada's Canadian service. So it makes sense to travel Via Rail Canada from Vancouver to Jasper, then motorcoach (presumably either Brewster or Sundog) from Jasper to Lake Louise and Banff via the Icefields Parkway. A classic holiday trip (though surprising to me that the cruise line would offer the trip at a better price than self-booking the same journey). Might you have planned Via's "Prestige" service, or just an ordinary bedroom? In either case, traveling with one of Via's "Park" cars on the tail end makes for a superb journey!

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I'm having a similar dilemma:

 

Fly into Anchorage on Wednesday, May 11 and arrive at approximately 8 p.m.

Pre-cruise plans are as follows:

Thursday, May 12

-- 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Matanuska Glacier

-- ??? Hope for late afternoon transfer from Anchorage to Seward

Friday, May 13

-- 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Seavey's Ididaride dog sled tour

-- 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. - Kenai Fjords cruise

-- 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Board Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas cruise ship

 

Now, my question is this:

Other than private transfers or rental car, do I have any options for a 5 p.m. or later transfer from Anchorage to Seward?

Also, if I do Matanuska Glacier, would a trek on Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau be more of the same and be too much of the same thing?

And am I trying to do too much on that Friday before the cruise (sled dog, Kenai Fjords)?

Reason I'm trying to sort out is if Mendenhall is more of the same as Matanuska, I could easily do sled dog tour in Juneau instead of Mendenhall, which would allow us to take the train early Friday morning to Seward and avoid late evening transfer on Thursday evening.

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18 minutes ago, JayFank said:

Now, my question is this:Other than private transfers or rental car, do I have any options for a 5 p.m. or later transfer from Anchorage to Seward?

 

Short answer is: probably not. Anchorage does not have extensive ground transportation options. Generally, the last departures--to any point--are in early afternoon, typically 2:00 p.m. The Park Connection bus has its last departures, from the Anchorage Museum, at 3:00 p.m., both northbound (to Denali) and southbound (to Seward). Otherwise, a private transfer would likely run about $450 (quite a bit more than the $70 per person bus fare).

 

Are your timings for the Matanuska Glacier tour accurate? The standard tour for the glacier itself is about two hours in duration, plus two hours travel time each direction from and return to Anchorage. There should be enough time to allow for a return to Anchorage before 3:00 p.m. bus departure. Perhaps the tour that you're looking at also includes lunch after the glacier, and waiting for lunch to be served results in missing the 3:00 p.m. bus departure? (Expensive lunch!) I do see that Levi Connally operates a "no-frills" shuttle service to and from the glacier, a service that excludes lunch, and might allow you to return in time for the 3:00 p.m. It might be worthwhile contacting him directly, perhaps through LinkedIn, and make inquiry.

 

One final possibility: Viking Ocean Cruises will have one of their vessels, the Viking Orion, in port at Seward on Thursday, May 12. It will have sailed from Vancouver on May 3, arrived in Seward on May 12, ending its one-way voyage from Vancouver and beginning a new one-way voyage back to Vancouver on May 13, and departing Seward on May 14. So on both May 12 and May 14 there will be round-trip shore excursions from Seward, and it is possible that there might be independent excursions operating from Seward to Anchorage and back that you might be able to join for the return portion back to Seward. If not sold out, the independent excursion operator might welcome the extra fare! It is a long shot, certainly, especially because Viking Ocean Cruises includes their own shore excursions as part of the cruise fare, and for that reason there might not be any independent shore excursions that you would be able to join. When I went over the Viking Ocean Cruises "roll call" boards, I did not see any entry for this May 3 sailing from Vancouver, but if such an entry is later added, you might want to make inquiry from those on this sailing to ascertain if there are any independent shore excursions . . . or any possibilities to otherwise share a ride from Anchorage to Seward. Not particularly satisfying, but remotely possible.

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35 minutes ago, GTJ said:

 

Short answer is: probably not. Anchorage does not have extensive ground transportation options. Generally, the last departures--to any point--are in early afternoon, typically 2:00 p.m. The Park Connection bus has its last departures, from the Anchorage Museum, at 3:00 p.m., both northbound (to Denali) and southbound (to Seward). Otherwise, a private transfer would likely run about $450 (quite a bit more than the $70 per person bus fare).

 

Are your timings for the Matanuska Glacier tour accurate? The standard tour for the glacier itself is about two hours in duration, plus two hours travel time each direction from and return to Anchorage. There should be enough time to allow for a return to Anchorage before 3:00 p.m. bus departure. Perhaps the tour that you're looking at also includes lunch after the glacier, and waiting for lunch to be served results in missing the 3:00 p.m. bus departure? (Expensive lunch!) I do see that Levi Connally operates a "no-frills" shuttle service to and from the glacier, a service that excludes lunch, and might allow you to return in time for the 3:00 p.m. It might be worthwhile contacting him directly, perhaps through LinkedIn, and make inquiry.

 

One final possibility: Viking Ocean Cruises will have one of their vessels, the Viking Orion, in port at Seward on Thursday, May 12. It will have sailed from Vancouver on May 3, arrived in Seward on May 12, ending its one-way voyage from Vancouver and beginning a new one-way voyage back to Vancouver on May 13, and departing Seward on May 14. So on both May 12 and May 14 there will be round-trip shore excursions from Seward, and it is possible that there might be independent excursions operating from Seward to Anchorage and back that you might be able to join for the return portion back to Seward. If not sold out, the independent excursion operator might welcome the extra fare! It is a long shot, certainly, especially because Viking Ocean Cruises includes their own shore excursions as part of the cruise fare, and for that reason there might not be any independent shore excursions that you would be able to join. When I went over the Viking Ocean Cruises "roll call" boards, I did not see any entry for this May 3 sailing from Vancouver, but if such an entry is later added, you might want to make inquiry from those on this sailing to ascertain if there are any independent shore excursions . . . or any possibilities to otherwise share a ride from Anchorage to Seward. Not particularly satisfying, but remotely possible.

https://www.907toursalaska.com/glacier-hike-day-tour-winter

 

I was going to book Matanuska through this company, which offers roundtrip transportation from Anchorage, but am open to more suggestions, of course.

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5 hours ago, JayFank said:

I was going to book Matanuska through this company, which offers roundtrip transportation from Anchorage, but am open to more suggestions, of course.

 

Having not been to Matanuska Glacier myself, personally, I cannot give a first hand view of the tour. But what is interesting is that while the 2-hour travel time required between Anchorage and the glacier are consistent among tour operators and Google maps, the time at the glacier is not. The on-site tour operator, Glacier Tours on the Matanuska, states on its webpage about summer glacier tours that states its departures are at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., with tours lasting from 1-1/2 to 2 hours. So the morning tour should end between 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., and arrival back in Anchorage could be between 2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. But the same website states on its FAQs that Anchorage travel time is 2-1/2 hours, and that "[t]ours are between 2-3 hours depending on the group," which would put an Anchorage return time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Your intended tour provider states that "[a]fter your glacier hike we will stop at a nearby rustic Alaskan lodge where you can purchase a variety of lunch and dessert items," which clearly suggests that an alternative tour operator that does not make a lunch stop will return to Anchorage sooner. The sum of all the above leaves ambiguity as to actual return time in Anchorage. Given the variations, I would try to contact the actual tour operators--not the booking agents that simply take your money--and inquire as to actual timings typically realized, including ascertainment of a post-tour lunch stop or a direct trip back (that's what caught my eye as to the service offered by Mr. Connally: no lunch). It seems that the tours were intended to be combined with a bus trip to Seward, but each the individual operators can probably best advise if making the bus connection from their tour would be practicable.

 

I also noted that your intended tour operator does advertise private anytime transfers to Seward, for which there could be some assurances of a coordinated connection between the tour and a private transfer. However, its fare, $920, is a bit steep. However, Alaska Cruise Transportation, the company that provides regularly scheduled bus service to the various cruise vessels, advertises a private transfer from Anchorage to Seward that could be booked at 5:00 p.m., for a total of $450, a better deal than the $920.

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