Island Princess July 11, 2012 Cruisetour Alaska
We chose the three day on you own land tour. I got a really good deal on it! This was our 2nd cruise to Alaska as we did the Sea Princess inside Passage 3 years ago. We wanted to go back to see Denali though, and our cruise buddies were booked, so we joined them. Very worth it! We had a wonderful time.
We started out in Fairbanks and stayed at the Bear Lodge. It was very nice. Princess was at the airport, as always, to transfer us to the lodge. It never ceases to amaze me that they are so organized! They transferred our luggage from lodge to lodge and nothing ever got lost or misplaced! Bear Lodge had a pricey but lovely breakfast.
We had booked the Riverboat Discovery for a trip on the sternwheeler. We shared a cab with our friends, but Princess does this tour and provides busses. This little cruise down the Chena River was so picturesque. Very pretty. They stopped for a sled-dog demonstration, which we loved. They also stopped at an exhibition village, where we learned many things about the Indian tribes. Really, this was one of the highlights of our trip and I'm so glad we planned it. (There were many highlights.)
From Fairbanks, we took the train to Denali. Wonderful train ride, and the breakfast service was such a treat! Stayed at Denali Princess Lodge. Had a beautiful room facing the water and lush trees. Way on one side of the property but we didn't mind. The nice restaurant on the grounds had great food. Service was definitely Princess and we had a terrific server! Can't remember the restaurant name but it had Salmon in the name.
While in Denali, we took a shuttle from the access center into the Park. We did the tour that took us in about 57 miles. This was long enough! Please take water with you...none anywhere in the park. Take a snack too, as there are none. The park was beautiful and we were lucky enough to see bears, caribou, and moose. Mt McKinley did not show itself as it was very cloudy. Still, it was a sight just to see all that wilderness!
We took a motor coach to the ship. Nice ride. Stopped for lunch and then on to the ship! Finally saw Mt. McKinley!
We are now Platinum members so didn't have to go through a long line, which was so nice. We met the rest of our friends on board and that night we made plans to have our same waiter as our last trip on Island Princess (Panama). We do Anytime Dining but there are ten of us, so we arrange reservations.
We finally got to cruise the glaciers, as we didn't get to do that last time. It was very cloudy and even rained a bit. Very cold and people bundled up. But it was really wonderful to see and also hear the calving of the glaciers.
This ship is still one of my favorites. Food seemed better the last time. It seems like maybe they are cutting corners. Entertainment was great, and we always enjoy Crooners bar and Wheelhouse. The ship is beautiful and just the right size. Try the peanut butter cookies....yummy! We love to hang out on deck 5 in the lounge by the coffee bar.
The rest of our cruise was mostly a repeat of our first, but we enjoyed all the ports. We took the sea plane on Juneau again! We loved it so much 3 years ago, we had to do it again with our friends. Mendenhall is easy to get to...just take the blue glacier bus in town. It's $16 a person round trip. A must-see! Skagway was fun. We took the White Pass train and it was really great! We loved it. We hadn't done that before. In Ketchikan, don't miss Creek Street! So quaint. Weather turned warm in Skagway. In Juneau it was cold by Mendenhall. It drizzled a little. In Ketchikan, it was very windy! We definitely needed our heavier jackets in Denali. Lighter jackets and/or layers in ports. Must have rain gear!
Disembarkation was fine. In fact, at no time was it difficult to get on or off the ship.
We stayed in Vancouver a couple nights and really enjoyed that too. Wonderful city. It rained one day, but was still nice.
In our opinion, Princess did it once again! The crew was friendly, everything done to assure our comfort. As usual, we purchased our future cruise credits on the ship.