We are experienced cruisers (both in our 60s) with our two grown children and thier spouses. To review this trip you really have to look at two separate things - the land portion and the cruise portion.
We did the land portion first. Definitely a good idea. It was a lot of travelling and pretty exhausting - with not overly comfortable accommodations or very good food. It was good to do it first, and then be pampered during the cruise.
We stayed at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage for two nights. I would give it a C minus. Adequate but nothing more. It was in a good location. Anchorage is small enough that you can see virtually everything on foot.
The train to Anchorage lived up to its expectations. Great scenery, interesting and fun narration, nice drink service upstairs and pretty good food downstairs. It was a comfortable ride, but it was LONG. every bit of nine hours. No alternative of course, but After 4 or 5 hours, there are only so many trees and mountains you can look at.
We stayed at the Chalets in Denali. Very unimpressive. Those that like camping will think it is luxury. Those - like us - used to higher end properties think it was pretty rustic. Service was not great either. Trying to get a straight answer about times for the shuttle were impossible. Coffee shop for was supposed to be open for breakfast at 6 - staff showed up at 6:15 and said they would open " in a little while". (This on a day we had a tour leaving at 7:15.
The included tour into Denali was very nice. But again, I wish an 8 hour bus trip lasted 4 or 5. We also did a tour to the Iditarod puppies (a very nice and interesting time) and the raft trip down the river (wonderful!)
The bus trip down to Seward was a mystery, I had no idea what to expect. Here is what I posted after the trip:
"You are assigned a time for your bus from Denali to Seward once you get to Denali. It can be anywhere between 7 AM and 9 AM. Our time to leave was 7:15 The trip is approximately 10 hours.
The bus is a nice tour bus. Comfortable seats, smooth ride and a small but adequate bathroom. The driver also acts as a narrator. I found him annoying, others liked him. There were a couple of travelogue type videos shown on TV monitors which I ignored.
There is one rest stop about 2 hours in. It is a highway rest area with portapotties. Not very nice. There is a very meager snack bar.
About 5 hours in, you stop at a restaurant. A lunch buffet is set up in a side room. It is free and all you can eat. It includes breads, lunchmeats, salads and cookies. Soft drinks are also provided. There is also a bar where you can buy other drinks. The total time of this stop is about an hour. The food is decent and the bathroom facilities are clean. You find an open table to sit and eat. There is a very nice outdoor patio with tables if you want to take your food outside.
After lunch, there is about 4 hours to Seward. There is another rest area stop planned about 1 hour from Seward. The driver asked if we wanted to stop, but everyone said keep driving.
The scenery for the first 4 hours is just trees. We did see a couple of Moose running along the side of the road. The second half of the trip you ride along an inlet (on the right side of the bus). But really, not much to see.
We pulled into Seward about 4:30 and were dropped off right by the front door of the embarkation building. Basically, this trip is something to be tolerated. Not much fun at all. "
Once on Board, the cruise was excellent. Room was a typical veranda cabin and service was efficiently invisible. Food in the main dining room was consistently good (B plus to A minus). My daughter in law had significant dietary restrictions and the worked with her every evening to plan her menu for the following night. My only complaint about the dining room is the drink (wine) service. I would give it a c at best. Slow. We also had one dinner in the Pinnacle grill - excellent - as well as the LeCirque dinner in the Pinnacle (very good, not over the top great). Only complaint about the Pinnacle was an obviously scorched lobster bisque that was virtually inedible. Four of us agreed about that on the next morning, but none of us wanted to send it back. We should have.
We ate most mornings and lunches at the LIDO. I am not a buffet person by any means, but I really did enjoy these meals. Fresh, served nicely, nice variety no trouble finding seats.
We loved the piano bar and the player Jimmy. Incredibly talented and we closed the piano bar down at midnight each night. I enjoyed the casino while my wife and others went to the shows. No rave reviews, but they report they were enjoyable.
Our cabin (5077) is a great location - just about equal distance from the bow and the back. Typical balcony cabin. I liked having the tub /shower - much better than the small shower stalls. Adequate storage for a week's cruise. Lifeboats are one deck down, so no obstruction looking out, but you can not see straight down to deck below or ocean.
This cabin is a great location - just about equal distance from the bow and the back. Typical balcony cabin. I liked having the tub /shower - much better than the small shower stalls. Adequate storage for a week's cruise. Lifeboats are one deck down, so no obstruction looking out, but you can not see straight down to deck below or ocean.
Excellent trip....saw about 8 whales in 2 hours. Brief bus trip to Mendenhall glacier for a short viewing was a highlight of the trip for meView All 906 Whale Watching Reviews
Small town, easy to walk around
Tiny town...nice to get off and walk around.
Viewed this from the ship. Interesting