Alaska definitely lives up to its moniker, the GreatLand. If you have been searching for an Alaska vacation that’s right for you, you may be overwhelmed by all the options. Sooo many choices! Thirteen different cruise lines sailing thirty seven different ships will ply the waters of Alaska not to count literally dozens of combinations of land tours to choose from.
I will share with you my idea of a great Alaska vacation. This is one I've done a number of times and have never been disappointed.It is one that will take 12 days.Start your journey in Vancouver on a northbound glacier cruise the last week of July or the first week in August when you have the greatest probability of the best weather. If your budget allows it, I highly recommend you take a balcony cabin on the aft (back) of the ship. This gives you a full view of both sides from the ship and a very comfortable windbreak to sit and take in the beautiful sights in the comfort of your own balcony without fighting the crowds. The balconies are a little bigger on the back of the ship. If a balcony on the aft won't work for you, go with a balcony or oceanview stateroom on the starboard (right) side of the ship for maximum viewing of the land side for northbound cruises or the port side for southbound cruises. Your typical ports of call for this itinerary are Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway or Sitka. You will either see Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier or Tracy Arm and the twin Sawyer Glaciers.
Once in Seward, opt to take the train across the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage if possible. It is more scenic and comfortable and opportunity for wildlife viewings may be a little greater. If you are arriving in Whittier, you won't have quite as scenic of a transfer to Anchorage but it will still be nice. Once in Anchorage, spend a bit of time at the AlaskaNativeHeritageCenter and downtown Anchorage on 4th Street for the best shopping. A great meal at Simon & Seafort's will give you a taste of Alaskan King Crab at its best.
From Anchorage, a scenic railcar trip to Talkeetna to view the majesty of Mt McKinley (Denali - The Great One) is a must. Talkeetna is a great little town with a lot of character. For the most spectacular event of your life take the flightseeing trip to the top of McKinley from K2 Aviation in Talkeetna. The scenery is breathtaking and it gives you a real appreciation for the enormity of the glaciers and the mountain.
From Talkeetna, reboard the train for a journey to DenaliNational Park. A white water rafting trip will give you thrills and a view of the outback. A night at the Denali Dinner Theater is a fun way to enjoy the history and culture of Denali. We recommend you spend at least two nights at Denali so you can do the 7 hour Deep Tundra Wildlife Tour that goes 53 miles into the park instead of the Natural History Tour that only goes 15 miles in and is only 3 hours long. The deep tundra tour is where you will see the most wildlife and see the beauty of this great park.
From Denali, reboard the train and head to Fairbanks. Along the way, opt for the Prime Rib Dinner aboard the train. You will not be disappointed. After spending the night in Fairbanks, be sure to do the Riverboat Discovery on the ChenaRiver with a visit to the ChenaVillage. It is a totally non-commercial village where you see firsthand the native culture, traditions, crafts and customs. It is fascinating. If time permits, a visit to El Dorado Gold Mine is fun (a little touristy but still fun.)
After you complete this journey, you will come home having really experienced Alaska and all its spectacular beauty. You will have a lifetime of great memories and probably start thinking about when you can go back. Alaska is truly the GreatLand.
One of the vendors we use regularly for this tour is Celebrity and it is Cruisetour 14. You will sail aboard the Millennium which is a great ship with good service. Take time for one special meal in the Olympic Dining Room, a specialty restaurant that rivals the best restaurants I have ever eaten in. The Royal Celebrity tour portion is definitely a cut above average in terms of the quality of the motorcoaches, rail cars, hotels and tour guides. If you are interested, fill out our information request form and we will contact you with more information.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Depart 5:45 PM
Inside Passage (Cruising)
Arrive 7:00 AM
Depart 3:00 PM
Icy Strait Point, Alaska
Arrive 8:00 AM
Depart 9:00 PM
Arrive 7:00 AM
Depart 8:30 PM
Arrive 7:00 AM
Depart 5:00 PM
Hubbard Glacier (Cruising)
Arrive 7:00 AM
Depart 11:00 AM
Arrive 3:00 AM
Seward, Alaska / Anchorage, Alaska
Cruisetour Day 8
Upon arrival in Seward, you'll board a deluxe motorcoach and enjoy a scenic drive to Anchorage. Here you will meet your Tour Director and have time for lunch on your own before visiting the Alaska Native Heritage Center‡ to learn about Alaska's first people. The evening is yours for independent activities in this cosmopolitan city. Overnight in Anchorage.
Anchorage, Alaska / Talkeetna, Alaska
Cruisetour Day 9
In the morning, you'll board our glass-domed traincars, the Wilderness Express®, for a scenic ride to the quaint town of Talkeetna. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy a variety of independent activities, such as jet boating or flightseeing around Mt. McKinley. Overnight in Talkeetna.
Talkeetna, Alaska / Denali, Alaska
Cruisetour Day 10
Enjoy the nature trails that surround your lodge before you board the Wilderness Express® for a scenic trip to Denali. You have the afternoon and evening free to enjoy optional activities, such as the Husky Homestead Tour or white-water rafting. Overnight in Denali.
Cruisetour Day 11
In the morning, head out on the Tundra Wilderness Tour‡ deep into Denali National Park. Look for Alaska's "big five": bear, caribou, moose, grey wolves and Dall sheep. The afternoon is open for optional activities such as white-water rafting or helicopter flightseeing. Overnight in Denali.
Cruisetour Day 12
In the morning, depart by deluxe motorcoach for a drive to Fairbanks. After lunch, you'll enjoy a ride on the Riverboat Discovery Sternwheeler‡, including a visit to an Athabascan Indian Village. The evening is yours to explore on your own. You’ll spend the night in historic Fairbanks.
Cruisetour Day 13
Your Tour Director will see that you are transferred to the Fairbanks airport for your flight home.