Overall, a spectacular trip. Took the northern route from Vancouver to Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Then onto Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord. Disembarked in Whittier, got on the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna, then spent two days each at the Princess McKinley Lodge and Denali Lodge, then onto Fairbanks and home.
We have sailed with Princess before and never had any complaints about the ship or the service. We think the dining experience is better on Royal Caribbean and usually dine at the buffet when on Princess. The food is always good and varied. We usually get a mini-suite and always have had excellent service from the cabin steward.
Excursions: Duck tour in Ketchikan. It's cute, kinda dorky, but it's a duck tour what do you expect? In Juneau we took the Whalequest and Mendenhall Glacier trip. It was fabulous. Saw 14 humpbacks and bald eagles. The boat was comfortable and had surprisingly good food. You can stay inside if you want but the action is outside. Bring warm clothing, especially head gear,
ear muffs, ski hats, gloves. Even in July it is cold out in the elements.
Mendenhall Glacier is breathtaking. Wish we had more time there. Could easily have spent three hours there instead of one.
In Skagway we took the Klondike bus and White Pass train. Highly recommend this versus only the White Pass train. The bus stops and you get to see alot more. There is a stop at a musher camp for a nice lunch.
Glacier Bay and College Fjord are spectacular. If the weather is good the captain can get in real close. We had good weather the whole trip. Alaska is notoriously rainy. It is the luck of the draw with the weather.
The Alaskan train to Talkeetna is scenic and comfortable. Talkeetna to me was nothing to write home about. The McKinley Lodge was very nice. You stay in one of the twenty-five or so outbuildings. The only complaint here and at the Denali Lodge is the wait staff at the on-site restaurants. I hate to say it but they are all American kids working for the summer and they just don't have a clue and could care less about you or anything else. Spoiled brats for the most part. Princess would do themselves a favor by utilizing the people that they employ on their cruise ships to staff the Lodges. Those people know the meaning of work and service because they need their jobs. These kids were a turnoff and I have to say I enjoyed immensely stiffing them on their tips.
We went on the Black Bear ATV adventure. It was great fun and well done.
They provide you with complete protection for your clothes so no worries.
We also went on the Scenic Rafting Tour down the Nenana River. Again you are decked out in a rubber suit and boots because you do get splashed. It is not totally mild. There are parts that are pretty exciting for a novice rafter, but it was also great fun. Ladies, do not bring your purse. No place to put it in your suit. Also the only camera you would want to take is a waterproof one. They do take your picture and absolutely rip you off for $20. But they know you have no other picture of it so you pay. Just business I guess.
The Denali Tundra Wilderness tour lasts nine hours. It is spectacular and unfortunately it is on a schoolbus. Very crowded, difficult to get good pictures from the bus until you stop. You don't stop enough and it is tedious getting on and off these crowded buses. Polychrome Pass is breathtaking as is the road to it: gravel, narrow, switchbacks, no guardrail and about 1000 feet down. Glad I was not driving. This tour is worth it for the scenery and the wildlife. We saw some grizzly bears close up. But it would be so much better if they took about ten sets of seats off the buses so you could breathe and move around better. Go ahead and charge more, I would have gladly paid for a more comfortable experience.
I would highly recommend this cruise and land tour. We took 1150 pictures.
Alaska is a treasure and Princess has this down to a science.