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cruisetour land portion advice

virginia
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cruisetour land portion advice

OUr family of 14 is on a roycal carribean cruisetour - ( #13) starting Aug 10, 2013. We have 6 adults, all active, and 6 children from 6-11. We all are interested in active excursions - wildlife/ hiking/ cultural learning. We have no idea what excursions will be offered on the land portion - since they do not tell you much beforehand... so we were wondering if anyone has experience on these tours/ or in the areas - which excursions are typically available...We will be in Fairbanks Aug 10, Denali Aug 11, Talkeetna Aug 12, Anchorage Aug 13, 8/14 Alyeska, and Seward 8/15-16. I again dont know exact times - but they say you have a few ours in the original city in the morning, a few hours to transfer, then the afternoon in the city i have listed for that date. Any suggestions and tips are appreciated.

Lake Tahoe...
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1. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

Never been with Royal Caribbean before, but if already booked you should have your detailed description of your tour. From what you said of your interests I'm surprised you decided on a whirlwind cruisetour. Only one day in Denali and three or four days to get to Seward from Talkeetna? It's only about 225 miles.

And, as for Denali don't let try to pass off that Natural History Tour on you. Do the Tundra Wilderness Tour or better yet use the less expensive shuttle busses into the park

Phhiladelphia
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2. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

In Seward the Sunnycove tour of Resurrection Bay and 2.5 hr kayaking with salmon/prime rib lunch was one of the highlights of our trip, got back June 29. Saw otter, whales, seals, puffin and more up close. For taxi service in Seward use PJS taxi ask for Renee who can also give a tour. Eat the Halibut bites and seafood soup at Thorne's Showcase Lounge, not fancy but good and local atmosphere (smokey but we were ok with it).

Don't know where you will be staying in Talkeetna but be sure to walk the town and eat at the Roadhouse, we ate breakfast but bet all meals are an experience and more than can be eaten. On a clear day you can see Mt McKinley from the river at the very end of the town.

Tundra Wilderness 8 hr tour was a good full day, saw most of our land wildlife there, moose, grizzly and caribou

Kansas
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3. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

For what it is worth: I will attempt to attach a copy of your itinerary from the website. You should receive detailed info, possibly via e-mail, since you have booked.

Large groups can take more time to get everyone organized and on the way to an outing…planning and communication may help. I also encourage you to consider allowing for some down time. Alaska is so immense and a too full of a schedule can make for some crabby travelers. You may want time just to relax and enjoy each other. That said, I will offer some thoughts for your consideration.

Aug. 10 – Depending on the time your plane arrives, you may have time to go to the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. It is open until 7pm and is $12 for adults. Check your arrival time and determine if that would be a possibility. It is worthwhile IMO. Not sure if your hotel would offer shuttle service to the museum. Plan ahead for transportation to and from.

Aug. 11 – Morning trip via the train to Denali. Your cruise INCLUDES the basic tour called the Natural History Tour which is unfortunate as it, again IMO, is not the best use of time. It may work best for your large group. Something to consider, would be to just let your advisor know you are disregarding the included Natural History tour and pre- schedule/pre-pay yourselves on the earliest morning shuttle bus into Denali that would be preferred. I am not certain how long the 6-11 year olds will want to sit on the bus, so you could even split up and let an adult or two take the kids on the easy trip that is included and the more adventurous adults take the shuttle all the way in. Many reviewers recommend purchasing a ticket clear to Eielson (Mile 66 – 8 hours round trip not counting any time you spend off the bus) where the Visitor Center is located or Wonder Lake. All along the way, you can get off the bus and go hike around – you would need to inquire / investigate trail information before going. Then you have to catch another shuttle bus heading the direction you are going (with enough seats for your group) to continue the journey. There are ranger led activities scheduled at Eielson. Definitely read the website so you will be correctly prepared. You can reserve through the National Park concessionaire link on the website. You must take your own food and drink on the shuttle. nps.gov/dena/…CP_JUMP_308918

Aug. 12 – Morning – In addition to the tours into the Park area, you may wish to take the free GREEN colored Savage River Shuttle (2 hour round trip ride if you don’t get off) to mile 14 just before the entrance gate in to the park. There is a 2 mile round trip loop trail and picnic facilities. Again, take your own food and drink. Many of the dining options in the area will prepare box lunches for you if you pre-order that may be picked up very early in the day. By the Way, I do hope each person will have their own daypack in which they can put their food, drink, raingear, trash to carry out, etc. Invaluable! There are additional trails mentioned on the website including some near the various lodging options.

There is also a shuttle to the sled dog training kennels where a ranger gives a free demonstration. Be certain to ascertain pick up times so you will be back to your hotel in time to board the train for Talkeetna.

I urge you to consider a flightseeing tour out of Talkeetna. talkeetnaair.com/flightseeing/grand-denali Your group would not all fit on one plane. I would assume the cruise line will attempt to offer these type of excursions on their terms so they will benefit from the sales but if you can determine the time of arrival, etc. you could schedule your own and possibly save some funds.

Aug. 13 – OK, I will admit I fell for eating breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse myself. We wouldn’t do it again. We stayed at a cabin in the woods just outside of Talkeetna and didn’t rise early. I believe they open at 7am. If you decide to go, expect a wait for a place to sit. Go on in and try to find somewhere to stand (try near the fireplace) and look around to determine who is about finished. Let them know you would like to reserve their spot. When they get up, you get their seats. You all sit at large tables and with your group, you may have to spread yourselves around wherever you will find a seat. It is decent diner food, IMO. talkeetnaroadhouse.com/cafe-and-bakery.html. This might be a good day just to allow extra time for a leisurely breakfast and not have to rush around to get to other activities for once.

Train on to Anchorage. There are a couple of very nice museums in Anchorage. Or you could rent bikes downtown and do: tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60880-d14…

Aug. 14 - Morning open then on to Alyeska where it sounds like your tour includes the wildlife center. I think the kids would enjoy the tram up the mountain, or a nature trail. Maybe the adults could take turns with a spa session and overseeing the kids swimming in the pool. OR you could always save the spa visits for the cruise ship.

Aug. 15 – Sounds like an early departure for Seward where you have an included 3 hour Kenai Fjords tour.

Aug 16 – We cruise on Holland America out of Vancouver so not certain how it works for your itinerary but you may have until noon or later before you may embark the ship. You may want to take the kids to the Seward – Alaska Sealife Center which opens at 8 am http://www.alaskasealife.org/

Other tips: It is very cold & windy when you go in to see the glaciers on the ship. Layers! We stood out on the bow during this portion and they served hot bowls of split pea soup and cocoa. (Holland America)

Juneau – we rented our own rental car and drove ourselves out to Mendenhall Glacier where we went on a hike. We gave up trying to go into the very busy , jam packed visitor center after our hike. Do the visitor center as early as possible before everyone arrives. (Whatever you do, please do not feed the wildlife including bears near the parking lot.) For your large group, it may be much more cost effective to rent a van and go on your own.

Skagway – as you walk into town from the cruise docks, there is a road to the left that leads to a bridge that crosses a creek at the end of a runway….follow that across to a trail head. Fun for all ages and free. We also did the free ranger led hike around Skagway on our own.

Ketchikan - Be sure to take your raincoats. Take the city bus to Totem Bight State Park. You can take the bus to the park for $1 each way. Take the Blue Line from the Library/Museum at :45 after the hour or from the tunnel across from Berth Two at :46 after the hour. Be early for the bus and don't be surprised if it is running a little late. Traffic in the heart of town is very congested during cruise ship calls. Allow 30 minutes for the ride out, an hour in the park, and 30 minutes to return back to town for a two hour minimum tour. There is a bookstore, scenic beach, nature trail and bathrooms at the park . Next door 1 minute walk is Potlatch Park. Both parks are free to the public. Get walking tour maps from local merchants and allow 2 hours.

Catch the Blue line bus @ :15 after the hour back to town Dock & Creek St.(library) for exploring Creek St. Stop by the City of Ketchikan Museum and Library on the creek. Enjoy the exhibit, take pictures of the view and then head to the edge of the parking lot for Creek St. historic district shopping and food. We love Soho Coho, http://www.trollart.com/ a great shop where we stocked up on souvenirs designed by my husband’s former classmate, Ray Troll. Creek Street is easy walking distance from cruise ship. History of the area is posted on walls of buildings and shops. Just meander through. Ketchikan Falls are near the Library at the end of Creek St. (Salmon). The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center at 50 Main St, $5 ea and kids free. Is a block or so beyond Berth One on the other side of the Salmon Landing Market complex. It's a museum like natural history interpretive center that does a great job at giving an overview of our local flora, fauna and native culture.

Itenerary from R.C.Webpage:

10-Aug Fairbanks, Alaska

Upon arrival in Fairbanks, you will be transferred to your hotel and meet your Adventure Specialist. Enjoy a relaxing overnight stay in Fairbanks.

11-Aug Fairbanks, Alaska /

Denali, Alaska

In the morning, travel via the Wilderness Express®, our glass-domed traincars, through the spectacular wilderness to Denali. Then, take the Denali Natural History, a guided experience into Denali National Park. Keep an eye out for wildlife along your path. Overnight in Denali.

12-Aug Denali, Alaska /

Talkeetna, Alaska

The morning is open for you to explore Denali on your own before heading out on the Wilderness Express for Talkeetna - one of the most idyllic spots in all of Alaska. You'll have free time to book an optional Shore Excursion, such as a Mt. McKinley flightseeing tour. Spend a relaxing night at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge.

13-Aug Talkeetna, Alaska /

Anchorage, Alaska

In the morning, enjoy the nature trails that surround the lodge, or take advantage of optional activities, such as sport fishing or jet-boating, before you depart on the Wilderness Express for Anchorage. The evening is free for you to explore this cosmopolitan city filled with museums and shops. Overnight in Anchorage.

14-Aug Anchorage, Alaska /

Alyeska, Alaska

Enjoy a leisurely morning in Alaska's largest and most cosmopolitan city before traveling in the early afternoon by deluxe motorcoach to Alyeska. Enroute to Alyeska you will be treated with a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is yours to enjoy The Hotel Alyeska and travel up the Mt. Alyeska Tram amongst the beautiful scenery of the seven hanging glaciers. Overnight in Alyeska

15-Aug Alyeska, Alaska /

Seward, Alaska

The morning departure from Alyeska leads you to a new adventure awaiting you in Seward aboard the Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise. Travel on this three hour journey through the Kenai Fjords marveling at the marine wildlife and scenery surrounding you. Overnight in Seward.

16-Aug Seward, Alaska

Before boarding the Radiance of the Seas for your Alaska cruise adventure relax in Seward for the morning or choose to participate in an optional Shore Excursion.

Tours and activities as described, other than optional activities, are included in your cruisetour vacation.

Day Port Arrive Depart Activity

16-Aug Seward, Alaska 8:00 PM

17-Aug Hubbard Glacier (Cruising) 2:00 PM 6:00 PM Cruising

18-Aug Juneau, Alaska 9:00 AM 9:00 PM Docked

19-Aug Skagway, Alaska 7:00 AM 8:30 PM Docked

20-Aug Icy Strait Point, Alaska 7:00 AM 4:00 PM Tendered

21-Aug Ketchikan, Alaska 9:00 AM 6:00 PM Docked

22-Aug Inside Passage (Cruising) Cruising

23-Aug Vancouver, British Columbia 7:00 AM

Have a great trip and come back with a trip report for us!

Edited: 13 July 2013, 05:52
virginia
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4. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

Wow - that is all so helpful... thank you all for your time and attention - I will try to detail a report when i get back. Its hard to know when you start to plan a vacation if you should do it all on your own - or for the fiirst time - something like the cruise tour and have it handled - although not exactly in the time and way you would wish for! Will make the best of what is planned - with extra planning!

USA
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5. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

The Natural History tour at Denali barely makes it into the park. Most of us recommend canceling that for a shuttle bus to Eielson Visitor Center or at the very least to Toklat. Even the Tundra Wilderness tour is better than the Natural History tour.

I would upgrade from the Natural History Tour to get further into the park.

What a wonderful family reunion you all will have!

fti
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6. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

If you really want to see more of Denali NP than basically nothing (with the NHT) you need to begin planning NOW.

You arrive from Fairbanks by train - so about noon arrival. Book a shuttle bus for that afternoon. Everyone under 16 is free so you can book everyone on the 1pm or 2pm Eielson shuttle. They get back to the entrance at 9pm or 10pm respectively. If the kids get bored you can have them and a couple of adults turn back anywhere along the way. With that large of a group though you need to book NOW.

If you keep to the Natural History Tour, as one poster said it is like going to Walt Disney World and only going to the parking lot. Quite sad. Actually I think it is worse than that - at least from the parking lot at WDW you can see what you are missing. Not so from the NHT - you have no clue what you are missing.

Have some snacks and drinks ready (buy in Fairbanks) or buy some stuff at the Wilderness Access Center where you pick up your tickets (smaller snacks and sandwiches I believe but not much more).

Then use the morning of August 12th to see some of the entrance-area things. The doggie demo would be a big hit with the kids I would think. That is at 10am and is free.

virginia
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7. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

OK I now just need to choose to use the $ we have already paid to upgrade to tundra wilderness tour - goes 53 miles in, and is narrated...( i am assuming live guide) versus do the Eielson shuttle - which means we have to navigate/ interpret on our own...which may be more of an adventure and but cheaper in the end anyway! ) Is it your experience the tundra wilderness tour is a step in the right direction towards experiencing Denali - but still not the real deal. I will call for shuttle reservations now -

Lake Tahoe...
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8. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

vbmom3 - I think there is some narration on the shuttles and sure much cheaper than the Tundra Wilderness Tour

fti- John actually Disneyworld is better than the Natural History Tour (but not the parking lot)

fti
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9. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

There is commentary on the shuttle buses. Don't let that deceive you. The drivers on the shuttle buses are not "required' to give commentary, but it is VERY rare to find a shuttle driver who doesn't give excellent commentary.

Plus, with your kids, they pay a hefty price for the TWT whereas they are free on the shuttle buses. I believe the only way to upgrade from the NHT to the TWT with a RCCL cruisetour is to do it locally once you arrive - not a good idea for a group of your size. I would book an Eielson shuttle and just tell them that you already paid the entrance fee when you book (the entrance fee is paid by RCCL when they booked the NHT for you).

Lake Tahoe...
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10. Re: cruisetour land portion advice

That's right according to the bus website. In comparison to that tour that goes in all the way versus the shuttle bus there for $50 each and free for our granddaughter that's alot of saving (vs about $500). Besides, if our granddaughter gets enough of it we can return back without a big loss. BTW I should not have to pay an entrance fee with my lifetime senior pass to the U.S. parks.