I wanted to see what is becoming the last frontier in the most comprehensive way. Alaska is so huge that a cruise seemed the most efficient and relaxing way to go about it. Arriving just in time for the summer solstice festival in Anchorage got the trip to a great start. Mingling with the natives and having my first taste of reindeer sausage got me in the mood for our Alaskan adventure. My husband along with another couple (close friends) took in the Alaskan midnight sun and hiked the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail topped with a birthday dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse with a waitress with just the right amount of sassiness! What a first day! And because of Princess organization, it just got easier from there. Just a little pre-planning of what we needed to have on our person, and our luggage showed up at the next stop without us having to lug it. No need to check-in - keys pre-delivered to us!
Land highlights included a side-trip stop in Talkeetna - good beer, good shopping, and good meeting the legendary mayor - a cat! Loved the treehouse at Princess Mt. McKinley Lodge where other guests loaned us their binoculars to get a glimpse of that elusive summit of Denali. But nothing could beat the all-day Kantishna Denali Park tour - where a mama bear and two cubs literally sauntered along the side of our bus. Caribou, moose, fox - all made an appearance for us! Felt quite lucky as I know that this is not Disneyland and animals cannot be made to appear. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the wildlife and the history of the park, and I am now a Fannie Quigley fan! What better way to conclude the land portion with a glass car train-ride back south to Whittier where we saw the best view of Denali, rivers, and forests with amazing service and narration.
Just like the rest of the trip, the transition to ship was seamless. I am not sure how they get 600+ people off the train and onto the ship without long lines and waiting. We were in our stateroom in minutes. This was my first cruise and although the stateroom was compact, the furniture/cabinets were well-designed with plenty of room for all our luggage. Having a balcony was key for me as I loved sitting in a private space with my husband to watch the water, glaciers, and islands.
The good was good in the buffet, and our service at the Provence dining room was exceptional. I liked the sinks to wash hands right by the buffet - I felt everything was done to keep the ship germ-free.
We loved playing games/cards in the library, and listening to the singers who encouraged taking requests and sing-alongs. I definitely recommend having excursions booked at each port as the actual towns are touristy stocked mainly with souvenir shops.
The land tour and excursions were the excitement portion of the trip. The cruise with all the fine service and entertainment was the relaxation portion of the trip. In tandem, this was a perfect mix of adventure, education, and rest!
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