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Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

Derry, New Hampshire
5 posts
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Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

Hi!

My family of 8 is going on an Alaskan Princess cruise sailing July 5. We booked the post cruise land tour for 3 days. I cannot believe I didn't research Denali more prior to my booking, or I would have booked a longer tour ensuring us 2 nights in Denali so we'd have one full day there to do a longer bus tour into the park.

This is a once in a lifetime trip for my parents. They *really* want to see the wildlife and I just feel like travel to Princess lodge Saturday, then to McKinley Sunday, then to Anchorage Monday...that we are going to miss out.

I am strongly considering ditching the transportation, and the night at McKinley.

My thoughts were:

get a private transfer from Whittier to Anchorage.

Rent a 10 passenger van and we would drive at leisure to Denali.

Saturday night as planned at Princess Denali Lodge.

Sunday we take a park tour and then stay at Grande Denali Lodge that night (ONLY place that has any availability)

Monday we drive ourselves to Anchorage.

I know it will cost more money. That is not my concern.

Has anyone ever ditched the Princess land tour though? I wonder if we'd lose our Monday night reservation at Captain Cook. Wouldn't break my heart as I've stayed there in the past and wasn't overly impressed.

When I called Princess yesterday to try to get the longer land tour, they said it would cost us $12,000 in penalties...which is completely ridiculous since we were looking to spend MORE money with them.

I'm not looking for a refund from them. We would simply not go to McKinley with them and do our own thing in denali.

Thoughts?? Ever hear of this before?

Thanks!

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
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11,425 posts
207 reviews
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1. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

If you are trying to get any money reimbursed from Princess for items you don't do, I can see Princess having an issue.

If you are just going to abandon their land portion (after cruise is complete), I can't see of any issues (though I haven't read the contract you signed for the details in it).

Abandoning during a cruise can be an issue (too much legal"eeze" to figure out all of what's involved).

You are experiencing exactly why I dislike tours, group/organized events, schedules. I just never know when I'll want to change something and when I want to change, I just want to kick and scream like a 2 yr. old.

Derry, New Hampshire
5 posts
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2. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

Ha! Me too. I am truly kicking myself.

I am not looking for any refund/ reimbursement. I wouldn't expect it. This is my fault.

I simply don't want to use their transportation post cruise, and get ourselves to our first night at Princess lodge, and then do our own thing.

I haven't booked any excursions with them.

When I called them they were SO absolutely "NOPE! you cannot modify a thing".

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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40,876 posts
44 reviews
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3. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

Good luck - we recommend ditching cruise land tours all the time, as we feel you can do that much better on your own. Let us know how it works out. Also, don't forget the town of Healy has lodging as well . . . it is only 11 miles north of Denali Park and works well if you have your own transport. www.denalichamber.com for more info.

Derry, New Hampshire
5 posts
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4. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

Does anyone know if Princess "fines" you for ditching? I'm afraid to call them back. Not at all impressed with their phone customer service.

I mean, if it's AFTER the cruise, what are they gonna do?

Greater Sydney...
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17,571 posts
91 reviews
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5. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

You need to read the contract for that to be answered, if indeed such might even be mentioned. They do have a credit card number after all.

Edited: 21 May 2014, 15:42
Lake Tahoe...
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9,264 posts
64 reviews
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6. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

I believe one of the problems here is that the early July date is within the final cancellation policy, which is 75 days. Any cancellations (or changes after that) will involve penalties as they need to cancel and rebook. That 12K sounds like a lot and would suggest contacting your travel agent rather than Princess.

You will not need be able to keep your Denali Princess Lodge reservation as it was part of your landtour package.

Princess does shutle passengers from the ship to Anchorage for something like $54 per person and you can purchase them from the Shore Excursion Desk, as they will contact you regarding debarkation about two days before.

As you wish to reserve a vehicle to haul 8 people (plus luggage) this may be hard to do at this late of a date and you may have to live with what you got, or pay the hefty penalties to upgrade. But, this doesn't sound right. As I suggested, contact your travel agent and he (or she) can advise you.

BTW we are experienced with Princess cruises (done 23 of them) and always booked with a travel agent, except when booked onboard through the Future Cruises Desk (and our travel agent gets the credit)

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,557 posts
28 reviews
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7. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

You *might* be able to use the Denali Princess for your first night since it was confirmed. But other than that, it is iffy. The problem is that the Grande Denali requires a 14 day advance cancellation or else you pay 100% cancellation fee.

What about if you used Princess to get you from Whittier to Denali, used Princess for the first night, then booked Grande Denali for the second night at Denali? Grande Denali Lodge will pick you up right across the street from Princess and bring you to their hotel (probably after your time in the park that day). Leave your luggage at Princess until you come out of the park. Then take the train (later) or the bus (earlier) the third day from Denali to Anchorage. That would save you the car rental, one night in the hotel near Denali and give you the transportation from Whittier to Denali.

Once at the Denali Princess tell your tour group leader you won't be joining them on the rest of the tour - "We love Denali so much we decided to stay here an extra day!"

Be sure to book a SHUTTLE bus into the park and not the Tundra Wilderness Tour. The shuttle will go further into the park if you book to Eielson and that last 5-13 miles on the bus is prime bear habitat. Plus, the Eielson Visitor Center is very nicely done, has drinking water and flush toilets.

Edited: 21 May 2014, 16:47
Derry, New Hampshire
5 posts
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8. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

Well this may be the perfect solution! Thank you.

I made a reservation at Grande Denali Lodge (I'm shocked they had availability!) for this exact night...the night we *would have* been staying at McKinley.

I'll just make our own ressies in Anchorage for the last night.

Surely they must have people do that all the time right? Tell them they won't be joining them the rest of the tour. I mean, I won't get my money back, no skin off their nose. I read the contract and it seems like that's the worst case...no refund. We just have to let them know.

Lake Tahoe...
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64 reviews
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9. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

John(fti) evidently they have one of three choices on a 10-day Princess cruise tour. These, according to my hard copy of Cruise Atlas shows cruisetour A to be one night each at Denali, Mt McKinley, and Anchorage. I guess this is the one they have as the other two end in Fairbanks. Perhaps, they had better see if they can get space on the train or bus to Anchorage, as they would be on their own.

Also, be aware (the way I read it) that the first night will be at the Mt McKinley Lodge with train and bus from the ship. And, they will need to bring all their luggage with them off the ship. Those on cruise tours are alowed one bag each with the remainder sent to their final destination point, which would be the Captain Cook in Anchorage.

Derry, New Hampshire
5 posts
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10. Re: Can you ditch a Princess land tour and do your own thing?

We are doing the "on your own" land tour (the name of the Princess tour) and arrive *first* at Denali Princess Lodge.

Saturday: So disembark Whittier and take motorcoach to Denali Princess Lodge and arrive at 4pm and spend night at lodge.

Sunday: supposed to leave at 2pm to head to McKinley lodge (I was able to get a ressie at Grande Denali Lodge for this night for our party if we ditch at this point)...so we could spend entire day in Denali

Monday: train (on our own) to Anchorage . I believe it departs at noon

Monday night: spend night somewhere in Anchorage

Tuesday: our plane doesn't leave until 9:25 pm so not sure what we'll do this day

So once at Princess, we'll have all of our bags and hopefully could store them at the lodge until after our day trip.

Does this sound feasible?

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