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Family Vacation July-August 08

Which Denali National Park and Preserve hotels are on sale?
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Indiana
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Family Vacation July-August 08

My family (wife, mom, dad, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and 6 month old to be born this winter) are looking to go to Alaska in late July and early August of 2008. We may have a sister-in-law and a grandma that could join us as well. I'm thinking with such a large group we're looking at going by boat, rail, and/or tour bus. Mainly just looking for an overall Alaska experience. Looking at 1-2 weeks depending on how departure dates can be arranged (can take 1 week each in July and August). Please offer any suggestions on where to go, what to do, how to go, and ways to save money.

Thanks!

Manitoba, Canada
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1. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

Hi merf. I'm unsure from your post whether you're talking about a cruise or landtour or both. Travelling with such a small baby is a lot of work. Here's a good article if you are doing some or all of your trip by cruiseship, and you can apply a lot of the ideas to just a landtour as well: findarticles.com/p/…ai_112354817

If a cruise, my first impression is that it might be an idea to do a round trip 7 day cruise (Vancouver to Vancouver or Seattle to Seattle) with a line that has an excellent babysitting service. That will give you and your wife some free time together that you probably won't have had for a while, and you can enjoy a few ports of call.

If you opt for a northbound or southbound cruise via Seward/Whittier and add on landtour, or do just a landtour, perhaps rent an RV in Anchorage if you think everyone could get along at least during the day, and maybe have some of the group stay in hotels or Bed and Breakfasts at night. Unfortunately, no cheap way of doing that unless your party likes to camp in tents. But even people who usually get along well can get on each other's nerves if they're stuck with each other 24/7, especially with a crying baby. Something to consider. Have any of you talked about that yet?

I wouldn't recommend Denali with such a small baby, unless some of your party would be willing to stay at the hotel to babysit. Or perhaps you could take turns: some of you go on the shuttle into the park one day, and the rest the next. Same with rafting, dinner theatre, etc. Or maybe someone won't be interested in doing those types of activities and can be the DD (designated diaperchanger).

Or you might just plan a tour of Anchorage and the peninsula. Lots of things to do. What are you interested in doing? Fishing, hiking, rafting, wildlife, whale-watching, glaciers, goldpanning, museums, etc?

Indiana
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2. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

thanks for the info. I have brought up the issue of how difficult it will be to travel with a baby, but my wife , parents and in-laws all seem to be for it. I'm looking at a combo cruise and land tour. It appears Princess and Holland America are the best lines for Alaska. Any opinions on that?

Manitoba, Canada
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3. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

Are you talking about a landtour arranged by the cruiseline, or doing the land portion on your own? If the former, I went on a HAL cruisetour last year and I don't even want to imagine if a 6 month old had been along. I spent hours just sitting (if I was lucky to find a seat) in hotel lobbies waiting for our tour number to be called out so we could board a bus. There were many long drives in a bus, every seat filled, no extra room for all the stuff you need to take along for a baby. And what happens when baby needs changing or starts crying?

If you do a landtour, I strongly recommend you arrange it yourselves. That's a much cheaper way of doing it anyway, and better too because you get to do what YOU want to, not what some cruiseline thinks you should do. There are a lot of people on these forums who are happy to make suggestions to assist you.

As to your question, yes, HAL and Princess are both nice cruiselines, but I suggest your first priority is to find out if babysitting will be available when you need it. There are likely going to be times the whole bunch of you would like to do something together without worrying about waking the baby. Maybe your baby will be a real trouper about traveling, but maybe not. And what if he/she starts teething during the trip?

I found an article that might give you some ideas, and maybe your wife might like to read it too:

click2houston.com/travelgetaways/…detail.html

Manitoba, Canada
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4. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

Here are more articles you might find helpful:

cruisemates.com/articles/family/bringbaby.cfm

best-family-beach-vacations.com/family-cruis…

cruisedirectonline.com/familycruises/cruises…

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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5. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

Hi there! Maple gave you some excellent info, but I'll add my piece as well. Obviously, the most cost effective way to travel is to camp . . . our hotel rates double/triple during the summer. If camping isn't something you'd consider, I would consider B&B or cabin type accommodations that include basic cooking facilities as one of the most expensive things in Alaska is eating out. As well, many places like that would give you more room, which would be nice when traveling with babies.

Now, I know several might disagree . . . but I think traveling with a baby can be very doable. You need way less stuff than you think . . . and a good child carrier is essential. We traveled with babies for years . . . you just have to plan well for it and know your baby. Some do better than others . . . drive lots, get them use to car travel when they are young. Most Alaskan kids are use to sitting in cars for hours - because that is what we do just to get to the grocery store! :) Hence, our kids do great on long car trips. Now the bus ride to Denali is another thing . . . but possible. Just plan to get off the bus when baby gets fussy. I wouldn't try to stick together as a group with the folks - that way you aren't overly stressed about doing everything together. There is also an excellent licensed day care in Healy if you need to do something with out a baby for a few hours or for the full day. You have lots to consider, but plenty of time to do it in. Most arrangements can be made ahead, and you can always cancel something if you think it just won't work. Good luck and write again or PM me if you need some additional info. :)

Indiana
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6. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

Thanks Coalminer. I haven't been here to visit the forum for awhile. I greatly appreciate the input and words of encouragement from an experienced traveler.

Right now, I am sitting with my family 3 1/2 month pregnant Wife, Parents, and In-Laws, trying to plan the trip. We are tossing around the idea of flying to Fairbanks and then traveling to Denali, Mt. McKinley, and Anchorage with a possible short cruise to see some glaciers and fly out of Anchorage. We had originally thought about doing a Cruise+Land from Vancouver to Fairbanks. We are unsure about how the travel will work with a 6 month old. We are now looking at doing the arrangements ourselves so we can travel at our own pace and have a large Van to get where we want to go. We would love to take the rail if that would accommodate all that goes with taking care of a 6 month old.

Basically, we have 6 adults and 1 6-month old baby to be looking to see the highlights of Alaska for the first time in approximately 10-14 days near the last week of July and first week of August.

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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7. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

our own pace and have a large Van to get where we want to go. We would love to take the rail if that would accommodate all that goes with taking care of a 6 month old.

Basically, we have 6 adults and 1 6-month old baby to be looking to see the highlights of Alaska for the first time in approximately 10-14 days near the last week of July and first week of August.

I think if you fly to Fairbanks then driving one-way to Anchorage the one-way car rental will be quite expensive, especially for a larger car. It is only about 2 hours longer to drive from Anchorage. Yes, you have the same scenery both directions but the scenery from Fairbanks to Denali is nothing special. And most likely either from Anchorage to Denali or back the weather won't be that great anyway (i.e. you might really only have 1 good day to see the scenery).

We rented an Astro van last summer for 7 adults with a LOT of lugggae, camping equipment, food, etc for camping at Wonder Lake and it worked out great.

Re: short cruise to see glaciers, that is best done from Whittier, just south of Anchorage. They have 3-5 hour day cruises. You can also do a day cruise out of Seward that gives you a combination of marine wildlife and a glacier (the 6+ hour cruises are best).

If you want to take the rail, I suggest doing that from Anchorage to Seward. It is really nice to have a car at Denali. But note that the train will cost you +-$125/person round trip from Anchorage to Seward. That will be significantly more than keeping the car for a couple of extra days. I am taking the train to Seward in a couple of weeks and heard that it is spectacular scenery (travels a different route for a good part of the journey to Seward).

John

8. Re: Family Vacation July-August 08

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