Arriving 2 days early to acclimate ourselves we rented bikes and tried the Tony Knowles Costal trail and spotted a Mama Moose and her 2 calves within feet of the path. Found a really great bar that had outstanding food--F Street Station (near F and 4th) As we were peeking in the door a patron said "i've been coming here for 30 years" -good enough endorsement for us-we ate there and stopped again when the tour went through at lunch time for another try. Really good sea food.
The Tour featured a train trip as far as Talkeetna (another group boarded for the rest of the trip to Denali as we transferred to buses). The ride was nice but we did get the part of the trip that featured a view of trees. Tony the guide had a good sense of humor and breakfast in the dining car was a treat. Talkeetna was a "quirky" little town--we stopped both ways. The Lodge there has a fantastic view if Denali is out (which it was for us) but eating outside the lodge was just passable bar food.
The Grand Denali Lodge was okay. Our half of the building had views of parking lot. The natural history tour with Brian (?) was much better than expected. The weather was good for us and we did spot all 5 of the major animals. Our driver was kinda a cowboy poet with a great voice and really enthusiastic about everything Denali.The Tour left Denali went back through Talkeetna and on to Alyeska. The lodge is something to see. Only complaint is the room booklet didn't tell about anything but the restaurants. We took the train up to & Glaciers where we had our first 5 star dinner. It was pricey, but worth it. We did hike around the grounds on some very well marked and maintained paths.
transferred to the seward and the ship. The Radiance was like home to us, as we have sailed both Jewel and Brilliance. We really enjoyed a dinner at the captain's table-thanks to our CC friends Mike and Sue. The only complaint about the ship is the music after mid-night in the Star-quest lounge. It was packed on nights that featured classic rock--but was a ghost town when playing blazing current stuff. (On 50-60s night--we couldn't even find a seat). The ship and Staff were excellent.
In Juneau we booked an outside excursion-whale watching with Harv and Marv. It is a real family business with long time Alaskans. Small groups of 6 on small boats so they really could personalize your tour.
In Icy Straights we did the ZIPline. The wait was cold, long and scary- but once we were launched it was intense and we were ready to do it again.In Ketchikan we booked independently again through South East Sea Kayaks. This again was a small group in a highly personal tour. 4 of us in two canoes with a life-long Alaskan for a guide. They picked us up, outfitted us in rain gear, transported us to the "mother ship" where we were given a lesson and our Kayaks (also where they treated us to a smoked salmon snack and a hot drink afterwards).
The views through out Alaska were what you normally only see on PBS or the Travel Channel. The people were very friendly and most helpful. If you are going inland especially in June you really do have sun at midnight and it really does rise again around 3:30 a.m. (Not so much in the pan handle) I would urge anyone going to venture a few streets beyond the portside streets to Alaskan owned stores (signs in the window) even then you need to check for "made in Alaska" on the bottom.
Take extra film, extra layers of clothes, and binoculars. Many on our trip were on their 2nd or 3rd Alaskan trip and many more booked an additional one when they left.