We booked Royal Caribbean's 11-day land/cruise tour. I must say that Royal Caribbean presented a well-organized landtour with a stellar itinerary. DJ was our tour guide and was exceptional. Our landtour began in Fairbanks. The first excursion was on the Riverboat Discovery III, not a bad warm-up act for what was to come the next few days. This was followed by a bus ride to Denali. Royal includes the Tundra Wilderness Tour into Denali, which if you're interested in seeing the park and have one day to do it, is the tour you need to book. It was exceptional weather, clear enough to see Mt. McKinley in the distance, a fairly uncommon occurrence. We were treated to magnificent mountain views as well as Grizzly Bears, Dall Sheep, Caribou, Moose and even a Lynx in the distance, a very rare sight. The bears and sheep were actually quite close to the road, too. The tour guide even pointed out a Gyrfalcon perched on a rocky pinnacle, but it was too far away for a decent photo. Birders would be quite excited at seeing one, we're told. The next day the bus ride continued to Anchorage. The only thing worth mentioning was the decently clear view of Mt. McKinley and the rest of the mountain range, which made for a nice panorama photo. The next day, we took the train to Seward to catch the ship. Wow! I have to say that Royal Caribbean deserves some serious kudos for making this stretch of railway part of the tour package. Jaw-dropping beauty after leaving the Anchorage environs.
The itinerary for the cruise portion was excellent. We were blessed with incredible weather the entire cruise (except for a portion of the Inside Passage). We were scheduled for late dining which we didn't want, so we just hit the buffet every night. No complaints. The food was decent, some choices were better than others, and there were no real lines to speak of. I liked that. The hotel staff did a very good job and the guest services desk staff were very friendly and helpful. We had a very good experience overall and, provided they can promise the same weather we had (LOL), we would do this tour package again in a heartbeat.
We booked the 6-hour Major Marine Tour of Kenai Fjords National Park, narrated by a National Park Ranger, who added a lot to our understanding of the animals' behaviors. Our tour featured outstanding wildlife, Humpbacks, Orcas, Stellar Sea Lions, and a great view of Holgate Glacier, a tidal glacier. The glacier calved a few times while we were there. Stay quiet and just listen. The tour returned to port just after 5:30 PM and Major Marine shuttled us to the cruise port to check-in in time before the 6 PM deadline. The weather was outstanding with cold air and calm seas. Lunch consisting of salmon and prime rib is offered for an extra charge, but we did not partake due to our concern for seasickness, so I cannot comment on the quality. If you book this tour, you must be prepared to prevent seasickness for the seas can be rough. We were lucky with our weather.