Highly recommend the Alaska Cruise Tour adventure. (We recommend doing the tour first, then the cruise. Princess is so organized and takes such good care of you.)
We decided to explore a few other cities prior to joining our Cruise Tour. We started in Anchorage, rented a car, and explored the city and surrounding areas (Old Town on 4th street, a quilt shop, and THE BRIDGE for dinner and to watch locals fish). An item on our bucket list was to make sure we went to the Arctic Circle and to go to the MOST northern city in North America, Point Barrow, but chose to do it our way. We flew to Barrow AK and yes, we did touch, and put our feet into the Arctic Ocean. We stayed a couple of days at the King Eider Inn, rented a car. We drove everywhere in that small town. We met a man and his daughter who asked us to join them when they went to their fishing nets that evening. We got many photos of them and enjoyed their company. Yes, they had many fish in their gill nets. The father went out in his kayak and the daughter went out in waders! What brave people,they are to domths in the icy cold Arctic Ocean! We visited the local market and experienced sticker shock. Who would have thought a gallon of tide detergent would cost over $58.00, and a 30 roll pack of TP over $40.00, and 30 bottles of water would be over $38.00. We then flew to Fairbanks prior to our Tour, rented a car, and spent 4 days exploring the sites: Pioneer Park ( previously called ALASKA LAND in the 1960’s), the visitors center, the Muskox Large Animal research Center at the University of Alaska, a local Saturday market. We also drove to the North Pole, Alaska,so we (me actually) could see where Santa lives! I visited a local quilt shop and bowl making store.
We enjoyed the Tours prior to our cruise, PRINCESS was so organized with all of the pre printed luggage tags, room keys, and itinerary details. I wondered how they could pull it off. We did have to wait a few hours, in McKinley Lodge to get into our room as it was not ready when we arrived. BUT, we did find our room and found that our luggage had arrived. They could use more housekeepers so the rooms would be done faster. The Fairbanks and McKinley lodges were ready when we arrived.
The Fairbanks DISCOVERY II paddlewheel Tour (with Princess) was superb. At first we thought it would be like a Disneyland ride and we’re not too excited. Were we in for a surprise! Everyone needs to go see this one! The float plane demo, the Susan Butcher dog sled race narrated by her husband, the salmon catching-filtering- drying, etc., was excellent. Of course we were blessed with warm sunny weather.
Regarding the cruise. Loved the small ship....met lots of lovely people. Spending a whole day in GLACIER BAY was a big highlight for us....we had sunny weather and it was a GREAT adventure. Too many times people are whisked in and out of a tour but PRINCESS made sure we had a good viewing and they made sure everyone on both sides of the ship could see ALL the glaciers. This was on my husbands bucket list and he was NOT disappointed.
Embarkation and disembarking was smooth. We recommend this trip....especially taking the tour portion first, then the cruise. The reason? Packing up ones belongings every 2-3 days, on a land tour, can be tiring. And, one needs to be in good shape physically. We saw several elderly having trouble ambulating the lodges, the trails, and the hills. We decided to call the TOUR portion our adventure, and our CRUISE the relaxing part. Highly recommend this trip. We would love to do it again.
Clean and adequate for a ship