I've been reading up on the Alaska forum for a couple of weeks now trying to research our first Alaska trip. There will be a total of 10 adults (18-50 yrs old) and 2 children (7 & 9) taking a North Bound Cruise with HAL next June. My husband, daughter, and myself will be staying back to spend a few extra days in Alaska. The others will only stay about 3 days after the cruise. My sisters would like to see Denali National Park since they heard great things from their clients. So I'm task to come up with an itinerary and plan this whole trip. Our overall interest is the view and nature. For me, I'd like as many photo opportunities I can get. Not into kayaking or long hikes.
Here is our tentative itinerary and would appreciate your recommendations & feedback.
Day 1 - 3 Vancover - enjoy Vancouver and wait for siblings to meet up on cruise date
Day 4 - 11 Northbound Alaska Cruise
Fly into Vancover, BC 3 days before going on cruise ship (6/22 date may change to 6/9). My husband and I are very hesitant with cruise. We only been on another cruise (NCL 7 days south Caribbean) and did not enjoy as much. We experienced motion sickness but the sea band did help a lot. I didn't care for the Dramamine since it makes me drowsy despite it advertises as non drowsy. However, everyone we talked to said that we need to take a cruise if we go to Alaska. We are reluctant but will give it another try. Our 9 years old daughter has motion sickness too so we'll ask for patches to place behind the ears for the trip just in case.
Day 11 (Sunday 6/29): Disembark at Seward and find transport to Anchorage Airport to pick up car rentals.
We will be disembarking in Seward at 6am Sunday morning (6/29), find some sort of transport to Anchorage airport to pick up car rental before heading to Denali National Park. However, we do want to stop along the Seward Hwy for photo opportunity. The only car rental place in Seward is Hertz but they do not open on Saturday and Sunday. I sent a few emails to places like PJS Taxi and Anchorage Tours and Transfers a few days ago to get quote for group transfer but no one replied yet. The cost from HAL transfer to Anchorage is $75 per person. The other transport places charges about $65 will stop at Wildlife Center which we can't afford to stop since we're trying to get to Anchorage airport to pick up our cars and head to Denali National Park. I do plan to do that after the Denali National Park trip.
I'm hoping that we can leave for Anchorage around 8am and plan for a 3 hours drive? Not sure how long the disembark will take. Pick up car rentals in Anchorage and head to Denali NP. At this point I'm thinking if the day is beautiful to swing by Talkeetna town, perhaps take Mt. McKinley flight seeing tour and/or have lunch then head to Denali NP and check in hotel close to entrance. I'm still researching hotel.
Day 12 (Monday 6/30): We will try to get on the 8am or 9am bus to Wonder Lake and will be reserving tickets in advance once they are available for 2014. If the day is gloomy, we may just stop at Eielson. With the two kids, hopefully this is not too long for them. Do you know how long the bus stop each time for break? Since were a group of 12, we would like to follow the bus schedule so we don't loose our seats and may have to split up if stay back and catch other buses.
Day 13 (Tuesday 7/1): Have breakfast and leave around 9am back to Anchorage to catch 8pm flight for most of us (9 people). What would you recommend us to do in Anchorage before heading out, assuming that we'll take about 6 hours to get there.
Here is where I need most of the help. While 9 people head back to the main states, my family (3 of us) will continue our journey and won't fly out till evening of 7/5. I'm thinking about heading to Girdwood and stay a night or two. Should we stay at Hotel Alyeska? Is it very scenic there? We are willing to splurge a bit if the hotel has very nice view (perhaps around $400 a night). I love to take pictures and wished we could stay at some secluded lodges but the cost is prohibited. Also, I'm interested in taking the tram to Alyeska mountain. I bet it's very picturesque from above?
What should we do on this evening?
Day 14: Another day in Girdwood with side trip to Prince Williams Sound?
Day 15: Head to Seward
I see there are tours to Kenai Fjord National Park and Glaciers tours with overnight option on Fox Islands. Is it really nice in Fox Islands? Is there a nice place to stay that's not going to break the bank, looking out to a lake? Our Northbound cruise would have covered Glacier Bay already. Any recommendations?
Day 16: Stay another day in Seward? What to do?
I thought about doing a flight seeing and dog sled tour but we'll being doing that part of a shore excursion in Juneau.
Day 17 (Saturday 7/5) Drive back to Anchorage: What should we do in the morning? We have an 8pm flight to catch at Anchorage International Airport. What time should we start heading back to Anchorage?
Thank you in advance for your input.