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Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

bridgetown
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Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

Hello,

I have been researching our Alaska Cruisetour since January. I have spoke with a few different travel travel agents local to us and did not get a good feeling. I was actually telling them things I had found out through my research that they didn't know (simple basic things). This did not give me a good feeling. After more research and several conversations with Princess themselves I decided to book direct through Princess. I felt confident with them! Now I am wondering if I made a mistake. I still feel confident with Princess but I just don't want to miss anything important that I need to do before leaving and am not aware of. Have any of you booked direct with Princess? What were your experiences? Do you think I should have booked with an agent???

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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1. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

You can always transfer your booking to a travel agent if you find a better price (check online agents for example and monitor your Roll Call on Cruise Critic for people talking about price drops).

My biggest concern is that you booked a Princess Cruisetour. I trust you know EXACTLY what you purchased - where McKinley Princess Lodge is located (answer: in the middle of nowhere), which tour if any you get at Denali NP (answer: most likely the Natural History Tour which means you don't really get into the park and have a very small chance of seeing either the Mountain or much wildlife).

If you can post a link to the exact cruisetour you booked (links are better - most of us don't have time to go researching and guess which tour you are on) we can give more opinions. Almost always the shorter landtours are terrible. The longer ones are not much better!

Also, are you traveling alone? If with others, how many others and if with any kids, how old are the kids? What are your interests when you are in Alaska? Glaciers? Wildlife? Native culture? Hiking? Relaxing and doing nothing? Something else?

bridgetown
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2. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

FTI - thanks for your reply. I think after all the research we pretty much are prepared for what we have purchased. Yes we are aware that Mt McKinley is isolated. In Denali the NHT was included in our package but we have cancelled it, rec'd credit for it and will be booking a shuttle bus at least to Eilson...maybe all the way to Wonder Lake depending on the weather. This is the tour we have booked:

www.princess.com/find/cruiseDetails.page…

Hope this link works...

I am traveling with my husband who is a wilderness buff through and through. he is not happy unless he is in the woods in isolation! lol No children traveling with us.

We are soooo easy going ....we like to try a little of everything. Interests are glaciers, some hikes (not too long) knees sometimes act up. wildlife, history, maybe some ziplining...scenery scenery scenery! ATVing. I don't want to waste our time in Alaska but we are not apposed to kicking back with a drink and enjoying the scenery...just relax and enjoy. perhaps an evening at mckinley is the perfect place for this! We will be on the land portion the last week of Aug and on the cruise to vancouver the first week of sept.

Our excursions look something like this:

Mt McKinley - ATV perhaps (my husband lives for this stuff!) and relax!

Denali - Dinner Theatre, Shuttle bus to Eilson or maybe beyond

Copper River - kennecott Mine Tour (fly in)

Ketchikan - Wander around on our own, creek st etc, explore

Skagway - White Pass Summit/Yukon tour to Emerald lake, take train back

Juneau - a bit undecided but maybe ziplining/mandenhall glacier

Also would like to add jetboating somewhere maybe

bridgetown
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3. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

How significant is mandenhall glacier on an alaskan trip? You can't walk right up to it can you?

fti
MN
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4. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

That is one of the better Princess cruisetours. I would book the shuttle to Wonder Lake. It is not much more expensive than Eielson and you can always get off at Eielson if the Mountain is not out. Definitely get off the shuttle bus on the way back with your husband liking wilderness. Even just hiking along the side of the road and/or on the tundra for 1/2 hour and having your lunch will be a treat.

Fall colors in Denali should be incredible the last week of August.

>>Mt McKinley - ATV perhaps (my husband lives for this stuff!) and relax!

Also do your jetboat here with Mahay (you can book independently). Check the train schedule - you should be able to get a bus from McKinley Princess to Talkeetna in the morning, have breakfast at the Roadhouse and maybe even take the jetboat tour before the train.

>>Denali - Dinner Theatre, Shuttle bus to Eilson or maybe beyond

When the train arrives at Denali, you might consider just staying there and walking 100 yards or less to the visitor center. See the exhibits and film and also walk to or take the free bus to the WAC where you can pick up your shuttle bus tickets for the following day. Then catch a Princess bus to the lodge.

>>Copper River - kennecott Mine Tour (fly in)

Actually it is the MILL tour (the mine is a long, strenuous hike). I would suggest also trying the Root Glacier 1/2 day hike with St. Elias Guides. It is really not a hard hike and is a treat. You have to see how that works with the flight schedules.

>>Juneau - a bit undecided but maybe ziplining/mandenhall glacier

I know you said not long hikes, but I would be inclined to book a car rental in Juneau (you can always cancel it later). Then you can drive to the West Glacier Trailhead and hike until you feel you want to turn around. I hiked this a few years ago and got above the glacier looking down at the toe of the glacier. It was great. But there was some elevation gain. Saw hardly anyone else except for a couple of locals. Otherwise you could take the bus from where the cruise ships dock to the glacier (about $18/person round trip). The buses go to the east side of the glacier and it is much more touristy. But you could take the easier East Glacier Trail which is a loop trail and few people do that (though not many glacier views from this trail). The car rental won't cost that much more and will give you lots of flexibility. Whale watching is also very popular here if you are interested.

Edited: 10 April 2012, 19:56
bridgetown
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5. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

FTI your reply is so helpful! You have made me rethink our excursions!! Thanks for all the tips....I will defiantely take your advice and book Wonder Lake Shuttle Bus.

I like your idea about going to Talkeetna for breakfast and possibly jetboating if time permits. I hope this works - if so it will allow us to fit in both the ATV and Jetboats. Looked up the Roadhouse....the breakfast pics looks delicious and by the looks of things we better bring an appitite! lol

Also...excellent pointers about the WAC and visitor centre. Does it cost to grab the bus back to the loade? Can you walk back to the lodge? How far is it?

Now you've really got me interested in Root Glacier. This is what I'd like to do. 1/2 day root glacier hike and mine tour all in one day. with the 1/2 day hike will we see things like ice caves and waterfalls and the pools of water? or do you have to do the full day to see those things? looks amazing. How could we work this day trip using the copper river princess lodge as our base? is there an independant tour co that offers transportation from copper river lodge to root glacier, then the mine tour than transportation back to the lodge? this would be sooooo perfect. Any info you could provide to help me make this work would be appreciated.

still undecided about Juneau...will have to research more i gues!

fti
MN
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6. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

I assume dawn is a travel companion with lonerider?!

If you get breakfast at the Roadhouse, you might consider ordering one meal and two plates. Their breakfasts are HUGE.

Check with Princess, but my guess is their shuttle to the Denali lodge is free. Even if it is not, why waste a lot of precious time to save a few bucks? I am a budget traveler, but there are limits to my frugalness!

I would check with St. Elias Guides about combining the Root Glacier hike and the MILL (not mine!) tour. The half day hike is actually 5+ hours. The mill tour is done afterward. I am sure it could work if you booked independently, but I am not sure if operators can pick you up at the Princess Lodge. Check with some of them to find out. You need the flight operators since the shuttle would probably take too long (check the park service website for authorized operators).

You don't get to ice caves on the half-day glacier hike. But waterfalls, pools of water and crevasses are common. So is eating lunch sitting on the glacier (the guides bring nice mats to sit on). If/when I go back, I would take the full day hike or hike to one of the mines.

Edited: 11 April 2012, 15:43
bridgetown
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7. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

No! I am the same person. Sorry I know a bit confusing. I somehow have 2 accounts (don't ask me how) and sometimes I get logged in as one or the other and don't realize it. I don't know how to delete one of them.

Lake Tahoe...
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8. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

We have been using Zoe's Cruises since 2006 and she knows what she is doing. Although located in Sacramento she does do online stuff. The only time we deal with Princess directly is future cruises onboard a cruise and Zoe still gets credit. They all know her.

As trying to educate the travel agents you must have had bad luck. What did you use - the yellow pages? Recommendations are always your best option. And, we have never had any complaints with ours, and far as I know, no one else has. You may use me as a reference.

bridgetown
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9. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

Thanks k2iks....I'll keep that in mind. we just went to local travel agents in the small town where we are from. As a matter of fact one agent that I went to and told her that I was interested in going to Alaska said to me "Alaska? You may want to reconsider....most people your age want to go south" Those were her exact words. I was like...no..I'm pretty sure I know what I want...and I want to go to Alaska. She did not even know that disney did Alaska Cruises now. Turned me off right away. I think for now I will stick to doing things direct..>I have lots of time to make sure everything is in order and have access to great forums such as this one!

bridgetown
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10. Re: Booking Alaska Cruisetour Direct Through Princess

FTI - (or anyone for that matter!!) now that we are talking glacier hikes....what are you thoughts on doing a glacier trekk on mandenhall glacier VS root glacier? One better over the other? This might answer my 'what to do in Juneau' problem!