I'm trying to plan a big first-time trip to Alaska for me and my partner, and my 75-y/o dad. With intensive web research over the past week, I've gone from considering a 7-day cruise out of Seattle, to a cruisetour (~5 days in Anchorage/Denali) with 7d cruise to Vancouver, to now considering skipping the cruise altogether.
Facts to consider: not particularly interested in the cruise scene or being herded through crowded gift shops in quaint towns, more interested in scenic train trips, seeing (and photographing) mountains (and glaciers) and wildlife. Need hotels or lodges though, no camping or roughing it.
So now I'm thinking of starting with 4 or 5 days doing the Anchorage/Talkeetna/Denali loop (going by Goldstar train) including a park bus tour and some flightseeing, either booked independently or as a package (like the Denali and Spencer Glacier Tour on the AlaskaRailroad.com website), followed by a flight to Juneau where we could spend 2-3 days doing excursions to Glacier Bay, Mendenhall Glacier, and whale watching. Then fly home.
Any thoughts on this current plan? What would we be missing out on (that should not be missed on a first visit to Alaska)? This assumes I can find hotel/lodge bookings for late summer now, though I think it would be easier than trying to get 2 balcony rooms on August cruises at this point. But a cruisetour is not totally out of the picture.
Thanks for any advice. The options are overwhelming.