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best way to see alaska

simi valley
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best way to see alaska

we would like to take a cruise to Alaska because we have never been on one and would like to know which cruise line to take. We are in our 50's, but active and our 17 year old will be coming with us. We also want to take days (maybe 3-5) before or after to experience inland Alaska on our own. Any suggestions of the areas we should see or the best experiences. Also, is it better to take a smaller ship or should we skip the cruise part altogether and do it all on our own. Basically what is the best way to see Alaska. Thanks for you help.

USA
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1. Re: best way to see alaska

Wecome to TA, roxx!

Your post came out in triplicate, so I'll mark the other 2 as duplicate to keep responses in this post only.

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2. Re: best way to see alaska

I just got back from a wonderful Alaskan vacation. We did a land and sea tour. We did the land first, started in Fairbanks, then to Denali, Talkeetna, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, in that order. We got the boat in Whittier.

We were glad that we did land tour first, because you are moving around from town to town every other day, we felt a little rushed at times. Once you are on the boat, you have the same stateroom for several days, so it is much more relaxing, especially after all the activities we did.

Have a wonderful time!

Cadiz, Kentucky
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3. Re: best way to see alaska

I don't think there's a "best way". Any way you see AK is a good way! Our first trip we cruised up and then rented an RV for 2 weeks to see some of the interior. The biggest advantage I saw to that was that it was the easiest way to see Juneau, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. Our second trip we drove to AK in an RV. The wildlife across Canada was incredible. We will be repeating that this year, with a different route. A small RV is no harder to drive than an SUV, and - like the cruiseship - you don't have to worry about pack/unpack. The "must sees" are different for everyone, but for us they are Denali National Park and Seward. You'll have a fantastic trip no matter how you decide to do it.

Anchorage, Alaska
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4. Re: best way to see alaska

I'm not a "cruise person" and I feel the best way to experience Alaska is with your feet on the ground for the most possible time (Post #2 gave a good reason as to why this may not work for others). I don't want any "down time". I want to experience it all, all of the time (the good and the bad).

Alaska has so much to offer that you won't see it all from a boat and you'll miss many experiences you might otherwise not have while on a cruise.

Either way, you'll be in AK and having an amazing vacation.

Good luck,

Scott

Fairbanks, Alaska
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5. Re: best way to see alaska

"best way to see Alaska" I found that living here works the best for me: )

Anchorage, Alaska
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6. Re: best way to see alaska

"best way to see Alaska" I found that living here works the best for me: )

Actually I have to agree with that.

Wheatland, Wyoming
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7. Re: best way to see alaska

A cruise would be an excellent way to arrive. You will see towns that are otherwise only accessible by air. I don't think the lines matter all that much but we liked Princess in the Caribbean. I would sail to Anchorage(not a loop that returns to Seattle). You will arrive at either Whittier or Seward and bus to Anchorage.

Whittier is the strangest town in the US! Most of the population lives in one highrise tower. The police station and post office are on the first floor. You can only leave the town by way of a railroad tunnel. It is open to vehicles in one direction at a time and traffic stops for train movements.

Seward is on Resurrection Bay and is home to the Alaska Sealife Center one of the best places in the state to see. When reaching Anchorage I would rent a motorhome, taking care of your lodging and transport at the same time and eliminating tight scheduling.

South of Anchorage I think the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a good stop, most of the animals found in the state, Grizzly/Black bear, moose, caribou, musk ox?, etc can be seen here. The Sealife Center in Seward is a favorite if you didn't see it coming off the ship. This drive is the best in the state for scenery. You can do this in one day, returning to Anchorage or further north

the same day.

Day 2 can put you in Denali or all the way to Fairbanks. The Riverboat Discovery and the University Museum of the North are the best sights here. Denali is the biggest draw in the state but it is best with a long bus ride into the park that I personally could pass on. Great if the animals cooperate, bumpy and boring if they don't.

You could ride the train to Denali and/or Fairbanks, flying out from there but I think the RV gives you the best opportunity to make the trip your own.

Edited: 01 September 2011, 00:49
Las Vegas, Nevada
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8. Re: best way to see alaska

I think a cruise is a nice 'sampler" of Alaska, however it concentrates on the coast line and ports, rather than the interior. It all depends on your priorities; what do you want to see and do and experience? Borrow some Alaska travel books from your library. There are even a couple of books specific to Alaska cruises.

If you look under the TOP QUESTIONS ABOUT ALASKA, you'll find an informative article about Alaska cruises. This article will also advise you to visit TripAdvisor's sister site, www.cruisecritic.com. On cruise critic go to REVIEWS and read Member Reviews from travellers who are now returning from the trips. Some of those folks did cruise tours and some went DIY. It all depends on your comfort level.

A visit to Denali will take 3 days; 1 day of travel each way and 1 day in the Park.

There are only 2 trip reports on this forum that include a cruise and land travel. One was 4 days on the Kenai Peninsula followed by a cruise and the other was Anchorage, Talkeetna and Denali pre cruise. You'll find trip reports for 2011 under the Top Questions area.

Winder, Georgia
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9. Re: best way to see alaska

I agree with Scott. A cruise is nice if you want a lot of down time, but you are in the ports for such a short time, you don't see enough. I have both cruised & just toured on land independently, & prefer the independent travel. Going where I wanted, seeing what I wanted, for the time I wanted has big advantages. RT Seattle is the most cost effective, but then you will be at sea for a third of your trip. Alaska tours are not inexpensive, so do some research on what you want to see & do, & then decide which travel area is right for your family. If you decide to fly to the main land, reserving a car a year in advance can save enough for several tours.

10. Re: best way to see alaska

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