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Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

NJ
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Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Hello from the lower 48! I received alot of help from some folks on a previous topic. Now I'm going to focus on specific activities within August, 2007. Any help from geokas, Travel1000, coalminer, and others would be gratefully welcome!

Our family of 3 able adults and a 13 year old is traveling with our inlaws on a Northbound cruise going Vancouver to Whittier leaving July 28, 2007. We end up 7 nights later in Whittier. We have decided the RV will be fun (and we have some experience in that area).

We are trying to keep budget minded, but narrow down some decisions and could use a lot of advice or ideas!

A) a few more intimate "non cruise crowd" tours for 2 adults, 1 child off the ship during our Princess cruise that begins July 28 2007.

B) We are focusing on RV with early 50% off booking discounts.

C) Tours during the 14 day (RV bound) post cruise that match up with our schedule after being on the Princess. Thanks

We are looking to book a few things keeping budget friendly that is not too overwhelming with combined shuttle from the ship to the location of the excursion.

The stops the ship makes are:

We are first looking for a budget over night in Vancouver, B.C. the night before leaving on the 8/28. Any suggestions with something that has breakfast and transfers to the dock?

Stops in Ketchikan - have from about 7:30 AM till 12:30 NOON

Possible interests:

Rain Forest Wildlife Sanctuary

back country jeep and canoe safari

rain forest canoe adventure

clover passage by kayak

Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer

Misty Fjords Seaplane Exploration

Stops in Juneau - have from about 9 AM till 7:30 PM

Possible interests - can do something that we can easily get to without running

ragged - maybe just one activity.

Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Hatchery Tour

Historic Juneau Gold Mine tour

Rain Forest Garden Adventure

Discover Point Nature Walk

Mendenhall Glacier & Wale Quest

Glacier View Sea Kayaking

Stops in Skagway - have from about 8 AM till 7:00 PM

Any ideas here that are budget minded and keeps us out of the cruise crowd? We are looking for just one activity.

Something like:

Gold Fever Adventure

Chilkoot Trail Hike and Flat Adventure

Deluxe Haines Highlights

Eagle Preserve Scenic Float Adventure

Wilderness Kayak Experience

Ends in Whittier - do you folks advise us staying over night and then getting over to get our RV Rental the next day? ABC Motorhome Rental is out of Anchorage Airport. Does anyone know of a budget B&B or cabin in the Whittier area?

Are there any recommendations on seeing:

Turnagain Arm History and Tram Tour

or Kayaking in Prince William Sound?

After the weeklong cruise that would be our luxury. At this point we'll be looking for natural beauty.

We are interested over the following 14 days (traveling in an RV) to find some FREE safe, quiet (but not too quiet) and beautiful pull over spots to boondock.

We'll be looking along the way for some prepaid budget value tours, kayaking (2 trips), whitewater rafting (2 trips) with dry suit, helmet, and guide.

Value accommodations in camp grounds with possible free showers? Do places have these?

We will be wanting to spend 3 nights in Denali, and take the shuttle bus that goes all the way in to the lake in Denali.

The best budget boat tour (small) that takes you to a glacier pool.

We are looking at:

Whittier or Anchorage - 1 night

Homer area - 1 night - 2 nights

Kenai Peninsula

Talkeetna area - 1 night

Denali National Park area - 3 nights in this area

Fairbanks - 1-2 nights (if it's needed?)

Tok

and some of the towns in between and the trip back down. We are very interested in Valdez - but not sure how to route that into the 14 day plan.

If there are any suggestions from this point, please continue to send your thoughts. You are all incredibly helpful.

We prefer to avoid the cruise crowd folks. We would like to decide on activities and be hooked up with the service providers that offer the best value for their trips. We are only looking for value/reputation in our side trips. Thanks so much! Any other tricks or tips are welcome! Thanks!

Adirondack, New York
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1. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

You did not ask for my input but I would suggest not staying in Whittier. Also you can easily fit Valdez in your itinerary.

NY
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2. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

For info on Vancouver you should post on the Vancouver forum. For info on cruise tours post on the cruise forums. We didn't do a cruise, but here is a link to our 14 day driving itinerary from this August. It was our first trip to Alaska. It might give you some ideas.

members.virtualtourist.com/m/ba7e8/4f9/

We rented a car not an RV, but it seemed you could pull over and stay overnight in an RV basically anywhere along the road. Once you decide on an itinerary you can research the campgrounds and choose some along your route and find others as you go or just park along the road, allowing flexibility in your plans. There are just so many beautiful spots... Someone posted recently they parked in the supermarket parking lot for a night. You don't really need to stay at a campground every night. In Denali National Park stay at the campground at mile 29. That will save you over an hour each way on the shuttle. And you can hike Savage river area before you get to your campground.

I am curious - Why do you want to do 2 kayaking trips and 2 rafting trips, not 1 of each? Do you want to do day trips or do a multi-day trip with camping? We kayaked from Valdez to Columbia glacier and I would highly recommend that trip. I looked at all day trips I could find kayaking out of Seward, Homer, Whittier, and Valdez and chose that one because it was kayaking between huge chunks of ice, in addition to the amazing scenery. Other trips only had the scenery. I would not recommend the rafting trip we did. I don't know how good rafting is in other places. What level of rafting are you looking for?

Why do you want to go to Tok?

There are a number of towns on Kenai Peninsula, including Homer, Seward, and Cooper Landing.

Have you looked at a driving map for Alaska? Have you thought about how much driving you want to do at a time?

NJ
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3. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Hello Places! Thanks so much for your input, it's so appreciated! I mentioned " and others would be gratefully welcome!". You are under my "gratefully welcome" lot. I'm up for suggestions as we are traveling with my inlaws who are in their middle 70's, and would not want to be uncomfortable. You're very helpful, and we appreciate the Valdez idea.

Is it advisable to come into port at Whittier and get a bus or something to Anchorage to get the RV the same day, or maybe stay in Anchorage one night then get the RV the next morning? We pay by night (not per day) with the RV arrangement. Then possibly swing to Valdez then or put that towards the end of our trip? Thanks os much! We really appreciate it!

haines, alaska
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4. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Just a few thoughts based upon personal experiences

In Juneau you can catch one of the blue busses at the cruise ship dock for an inexpensive trip out to Mendenhall Glacier.....no need for a fancy tour......also would recommend the glacier kayak tour in Juneau.....we have rented equipment and arranged drop off services from the folks who run this and they are teriffic.......never once left us stranded......

In Skagway, you can take the catamaran over here to Haines either do the highlights trip (bus trip) or float trip (no white water, calm float trip through the eagle preserve) or if you are offered the kayak trip at Glacier Point that is truly the best one, by choosing one of those you will still have enough time to stroll Skagway, visit the museum ......we have had people visit Haines who have taken the Yukon Pass RR tour in the morning and then come over here for rafting and still make it back to their ship in plenty of time........

As for the RV trip.....get yourself a good road map and plan a circle tour to include all the towns you want......Do not miss Valdez !!....Driving over the Thompson Pass and down to Valdez is some of the most incredible scenery you will see on your trip.....waterfalls everywhere.....

Alaska State Park system has some very nice campgrounds.....most have water and outhouses, no electricity or showers.......they are in beautiful locations and very reasonable.....check them out on-line for pictures and locations.....

Just north of Anchorage is the Eagle River Nature Center.....do stop and hike a little here......well kept trails with interpretive signs for the flora and fauna.....

Another not to miss side trip on the way to Denali is the Independence Mine northeast of Palmer.....if you enjoy history and alpen scenery you could spend an entire day there (keep your eyes open for wild blueberries, they grow in abundance on the hillsides).

Tok is a nice enough little town and does have some good private campgrounds, but look at the map......there is vertually nothing between Delta and Tok except woods.......it could be a very boring side trip to just go over there and back, unless you are going on to the Yukon (best saved for your next trip)........

Those are just a few suggestions......would be glad to help you with any more questions......

Adirondack, New York
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5. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

snorklebunny, more suggestions to come. I'll post sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, I agree with bear about Tok. I suggest removing Tok from your itinerary and including Valdez instead. If you HAVE to go to Tok for your dental appointment or to meet your high school sweet heart or you have to go there for some extremely important reason then that would be another story, otherwise skip this place. I am not saying you shouldn't visit Tok at all I'm just saying there are so many more appealing places in Alaska. Maybe you can go to Tok on your next visit or third or tenth visit but for now forget about it.

Get a transfer to Anchorage from Whittier. Stay in Anchorage overnight somewhere withing easy access to many attractions. Chose accommodation that has a free shuttle to the airport. Next day rent your RV. Did you notice my post "Things to do in Anchorage?" Check it out and chose activities interesting for you and your travel mates. Are you having any fun planning your trip?

NJ
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6. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Hi folks! For some answers to questions. While we are apt and ready for the white water rafting levels 1 - 4, my mother in law will not be and this is why the RV works for us. She can be near to us, yet she can kick up her heels in some quiet to just take a nap if she wants!

We will want to find some quiet spots (maybe with another camper nearby) to pull over and park for the night with the RV.

Great advice about staying at the campground at mile 29 to save an hour each way on the shuttle - these tips are what really helps us!

As we are finding, kayaking seems to be a good way to get a little closer to nature and see a variety, same with rafting. As we have almost a week to pick one or two of these, and then two more weeks to do another two trips, we seem to have the time - and the 4 water lovers will enjoy this (while mom is at RV with feet up...LOL!). We wre looking only at day trips, not overnight kayak or raft trips. Anything with a glacier view or sea kayaking in smoother water (or a lunch) is a plus!

Which raft trip was not recommended?

Q: ""Why do you want to go to Tok?"""

A: We were told by a cruise company that this was along their tour route and was something to see - which I've learned that you can always believe them. It's better just to talk to folks and base it on preferences and experiences. We unfortunately do not have a "sweet heart" waiting to see us, etc. there. LOL! That was cute! :) We've taken that off our itinerary & advice is worth a lot on this site! Thanks!

""There are a number of towns on Kenai Peninsula, including Homer, Seward, and Cooper Landing.""

We would like to know more about what there is in the areas, and what your top experience was in each of these areas.

We are getting a map for Alaska, and plan on sort of taking it day by day with the the time we need to get back in our minds. We don't mind driving 200 miles one day and then 10 miles (or no driving) the next day!

It is very helpful receiving the information about """In Juneau you can catch one of the blue busses at the cruise ship dock for an inexpensive trip out to Mendenhall Glacier.....no need for a fancy tour......also would recommend the glacier kayak tour in Juneau.....we have rented equipment and arranged drop off services from the folks who run this and they are teriffic.......never once left us stranded....""" This is helpful as we do not know anything about what is the least expensive bus transport and so forth. We could use a lot of this as we do not know how to get from Whittier up to Anchorage or if there is something that runs between those areas when the ship comes in.

We want to stay off of the cruise ship crowd all together. When we get to Skagway - would anyone have suggestions to keep us out of the cruise excursion crowd to make our visit a little more intimate - less than say 17 people in our group? Is there pick up or bussing to a float trip throgh the eagle preserve, or a kayack trip at Glacier Point?

Valdez is on my list. Is it recommended to come over the Tompson Pass and down to Valdez from that direction? We love the way the

"incredible scenery" was described! Sounds exactly like what I'm looking for. Are there any other places like this?

With the campgrounds - are there any budget minded ones with showers that will work for us in the areas mentioned above?

On our driving trek explained above, including Valdez, does anyone have recommended gas station stops for lower price fill ups with the RV?

Q: "" Did you notice my post "Things to do in Anchorage?" Check it out and chose activities interesting for you and your travel mates. Are you having any fun planning your trip?""

A: I'm checking out the post now for the Anchorage things to do! I am having fun planning, but I think it's a lot all at once. I'm relieved to have held my cabin room on the cruise and to have made a definitive decision about the cruise! My inlaws instantly jumped in and are now calling on their AK cruise (they are much more experienced cruiser than us though). Our 13 year old is incredibly excited and this will be a wonderful memory for him as he'll be turning 14 next year and graduating 8th grade. Did I mention that the trip is also for my husband's and my 25th Silver Anniversary and to celebrate our 50th birthdays???!!! 3 celebrations in one big, exhilarating trip!

Thanks everyone! I appreciate all your help!

Adirondack, New York
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7. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Try to read posts here on this forum on Seward and Homer, both on Kenai Peninsula. On the way from Anchorage to Denali you can stop in Talkeetna. From Denali NP you may chose to continue to Fairbanks. From Fairbanks it is a long drive to Valdez but it is scenic drive and you may want to stop in between for a night. Stop in Copper Center Roadhouse for lunch or dinner. From there continue to Valdez. You may want to consider the ferry from Valdez to Whittier. Finally you can travel to Homer or Seward or if you have enough time include both. Personally I would chose Homer over Seward but this is only my personal preference. Your can have completely different opinion. Nonetheless I wouldn't go all the way to Homer only for one night.

I don't recommend including the Turnagain Arm History and Tram Tour offered by a cruise line. You could do exactly the same thing on your own at your own pace and for 1/5 of the price that a cruise line charges especially if you are going to use toursaver coupons or 2 for 1 coupons that are included in free Anchorage travel guide you find in every visitor center, airport and many hotels.

www.toursaver.com

For a cheaper gas do not fill your tank at the entrance to Denali. This August it was about 30 cents cheaper at Cantwell which is located on the way to Denali NP at the intersection of Parks and Denali Highways. In Valdez get your gas not in town but before you get there on your right side as you are driving to Valdez at the intersection with a road leading to the airport, it is an unmanned gas station so I guess that's why a gas there is always much cheaper than in town. Credit card is needed, two people were not able to use their debits cards while we were pumping. Before your trip and maybe during if you have an access to internet check this website to get an idea where to find cheaper gas prices www.gasbuddy.com

You can do kayaking from Valdez, Homer, Seward.

I know you asked for budget ideas but If you want to celebrate all those special occasions in a very unique way and if you can win a lottery or are able to come up with a nice chunk of money some other way then my suggestion would be to go on bear watching day trip from Homer. I bet it would be the most exciting event for your 13 year old and for the rest of you could be a lifetime experience as well.

Read posts here on each of these destinations and bear watching.

Now relax , you have lots of time before booking your activities. Only one activity that has to be booked well in advance is bear watching trip.

Adirondack, New York
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8. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Valdez, similar to Homer, is in the end of the road. As you are driving to Valdez on Richardson Highway you have no choice but to go over Thompson Pass. No other way leading to this town. There is only one road that you drive on to Valdez. You may take the ferry but that would be from another direction.

Santa Cruz...
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9. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Whew. Where to start.

We did a three week trip to the "upper" part of Alaska and rented a motor home.

Also, this past summer we did an 8-day small ship cruise of the Inside passage

For that, you do not need to do the cruise ship's "tour" of the Mendenhall Glacier. Simply find the public buses mentioned above.. There is a really good visitor's center and you don't need to pay your cruise company. You will also have more freedom to explore.

In Juneau they will offer you the White Pass and Yukon, I think it is, railroad trip. It is very interesting, with beautiful scenery and a marvel of engineering, since it was built around the gold rush time. We did it. It was fairly expensive. The best way to do it is a train ride up and a minibus back. Otherwise, I would suggest that you go to the Ranger Station there and ask for dbigfoot, who is on this forum. With the time you have there, see the intereresting video and walk around the town.

If your ship can get into Sitka, do try to visit the Raptor Center. They rescue birds who have had mishaps with power lines, etc. and fix them up and try to send them back into their habitat. Absolutely fascinating.

OK, for the "upper part" of Alsaka, I would definitely rent the motor home in Anchorage. We used a company called Clippership, and were very satisfied with them. Since then Cruise America has pretty much taken over, as I understand.

An absolute essential is a copy of the Milepost, which is a telephone size book filled with maps, sights and locations plotted by the milepost markings on the roads, and more information than you can imagine. Get it now. It's online.

You may not know this, but if you find yourself in Anchorage without a place to park your RV, Walmart allows free parking. We arrived on a rainy night and it was a godsend, instead of having to find a park at that time of night.

We decided against going to Fairbanks, based on what we had read. I don't regret it. We did go to Valdez, and the best part of that was the beautiful scenery getting there. We had intended, then, to take the ferry over to Seward or Whittier, I do not remember, but had neglected to make reservations, so we ended up driving all the way back. I was not too impressed with Valdez, itself.

On the way, we did happen to hit the Alaska State Fair in Palmer (it was September). Delightful..especially the HUGE vegetables. Also we visited the musk ox farm.. Check that out on your way to Valdez.

We also had two state parks on this part of the trip which were free. No hookups, but our generator worked and our propane tank was full.

The Kenai Peninsula, and getting there are interesting. In Seward, you can park the RV on the beach, with hookups, for very little money, and there are hot showers. You can also, from here, take a small boat cruise...we used Kenai Fjords...for several hours out to sit in front of glaciers and see birds, etc. Dolphins followed us for several miles. One cruise gives you a salmon bake on an island. Seward also has the Sea Life Center, which is really interesting.

In Homer, you can also park on the strand, I think it's called, for not much money. We found it noisy and dirty so we moved to an RV Park at the beginning of town which had spaces on a vast grassy area and was not too expensive. It had a convenience store and great showers, and a laundromat. There is also a really interesting small museum in Homer. Wher we were there, the bottom floor had exhibits of the Valdez Oil Spill and a recording of the ship's captain trying to explain himself.

Oh, before you go to Denali, assuming you plan to fix some meals, even breakfast, lunch or snacks from the RV...stock up on groceries. There ain't nothin' around there except convenience stores.

If you stop at Talkeetna on your way to Denali, there is a very nice public park for your RV. If you can afford it, do take a flight over McKinley from there.. It's awesome.

Have a great trip.....

Adirondack, New York
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10. Re: Ideas for 7 day cruise & 14 day RV land In Alaska (budget)

Hi snorklebunny, don't you have two threads asking the same question? I am getting a little confused about what I already suggested and where. Can you possibly keep everything in one place so we won't repeat what we already commented on? Thanks

Getting back to your original plan regarding itinerary after your cruise, I think that I would stay at least 1 night in Anchorage and I mean at least one night. Then go to Denali for 3 nights, Fairbanks 2 nights, Valdez 2 nights, Homer 3 nights, Seward 2 nights. From Valdez consider taking the ferry to Whittier, although it won't be inexpensive transfer with RV and 5 people. Nonetheless, it is the fastest way to get to Homer or Sward. You may consider skipping Fairbanks on this trip and go from Denali to Valdez with overnight stays in Talkeetna then somewhere in the Sheep Mountain or Palmer area before arriving in Valdez. You have to make choices where to go and what to see. There is so much to do and see in Alaska and that's why so many of us go back once after the first trip or year after year. In Palmer you can stay overnight at Fred Meyer's parking lot for free but only at a designated spot for RVs.

www.fredmeyer.com