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  #61  
Old December 10th, 2012, 12:09 PM
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alaskawdw12 alaskawdw12 is offline
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Default And...We're back on the train to Anchorage! :)

Sorry for the loooooong delay! We're musicians, and our lives were very much affected by the "war", so we've been working hard to catch up on things.

Anyways, back on the train!!

This time, the Goldstar car was pretty much full, unlike the half empty car we had from Fairbanks. There are a couple of things I would like to mention about the train:
1. They offer a free magazine that describes the places of interest you pass during the train ride. It's great, because that way you know where you are, plus you can read the info about what your seeing if the naration is unclear.

2. Naration is provided by local high school kids who voulentear to do this. Some are better than others, and they switch cars as the trip goes on.

The scenary from Denali to Anchorage was BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! We loved being in the glass domed car for this train ride, I think it's totally worth it. The 8 hours went by in a flash! There's always something to look at outside. Whenever the train goes by something of interest or wildlife, the train slows down so that you can get a good look at it. We even aw a bald eagle purched in it's nest, a female moose, swans and lots of mamma ducks with little ducklings following. Other than that , there were another 2 female moose spotted (but we missed them), a salmon that leaped out of the water (but we missed that...) and a BEAR ON A TREE!!! which everyone but the engeneirs at the front missed...more on that later.

Right after the train left the station, we were asked who wanted to eat lunch right then, and we raised our hands and were escorted down to the dining car. The dining car is so nice, and hey, every table is by a window!
We shared the salmon chowder, which was DELICIOUS!! yummy, yum yum. I had a salmon dish which was amazing, and I don't remember what Lior had, but he loved it. We were really pleasenly surprised by how good the food was, since the breakfast wasn't great. I guess we just lucked out with the breakfast, because everything else onboard was amazing.

We went back upstairs, and the girl providing the naration said that since it was such a sunny and bright day, we would probably get to see Mt. Mckinley!!! Woohoo! Everyone was extatic! The other passengers on the train were so nice and friendly. We had a little group, and we were chatting it up and cracking jokes the whole time. It was great!

At some point, I don't remember who started the rumor, but suddenly we were all staring at this big snowey mountain and cheering "Mt. Mckinley!We saw it! We're part of the 33%!!" There was a whole celebration going on in our Goldstar car, until the guy providing naration (he switched the girl, who was now in a different car) gently informed us that we had not yet gotten to the point of the trip where Mt. Mckinley is visible, and those are some other mountains, nowhere near as big as "The Great One". oops!!!! Now didn't we all feel silly...LOL.




Beautiful!!

We went over a high longish bridge. I thought it would be scary, but it was fine. Thank god!!


Looking down from the bridge. You can see its shadow.



I don't remember when it happened, but there was a "bear in the tree debacle" lol...Whenever the engineers up front see wildlife, the train is slowed down, and they tell the narators where the wildlife is. At this point we had a new girl in our car, and she seemed to be the youngest and least experienced. You could tell she was very nervous and shy. She anounced in her mic "bear in a tree on the right". Obviuosly, everyone in the car was excited and searching for the bear, but with no further info (like "on the right at 3 oclock") there was no way we could see it, and we missed it. No big deal! We were all just in Denali and probably saw bears in there. But people were PISSED!! They were really angry at the poor girl...who's just a voulenteer and trying her hardest! I felt bad for her, and I also wanted to try to lighten the atmosphere in the car, since people were so disappointed, so I said "wow! that bear was cool!" getting my who "click's" attention. They asked "what?? You saw it??" And I said "yeah! it was so cool! But the coolest part about it was it had a salmon in its mouth, and there was a pack of wolves circling the tree on the ground, and an eagle circling from above!! And with Mt. Mckinley in the background!! Man, that was awesome!" People started catching on and laughing, and adding details to my tall tale. One woman spoke of the porcupine the wolves were trying to get away from. By the end of it, everyone was laughing and we had our own little mythology going. It was great!
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  #62  
Old December 10th, 2012, 03:35 PM
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Default Train Continued...

Now for a little math:
If train A leaves Denali at 12:25 Pm and train B leaves Anchorage at I-don't-know AM, will they meet and what will the cunductor be wearing?
Here's the answer to the second half:

The conductor came around and talked to us, and punched holes into the tickets of anyone who wanted him to. It was cool!

As for the first part of the question, yes, they will!! And when they do, make sure to wave hello or make moose antlers at the passengers on the other train!
When the 2 trains meet, the staff on both trains switch places, so that they head back in the direction they started from. It's actually pretty interesting and makes a lot of sense, since this allowes them to go back home...




I apologise, I really don't remember if the Mt. Mckinley sighting was before or after this...but now for what we were all crossing our fingers toes and whatever we could for - will we see it or won't we??
For this, Lior and I went out on the outside platform. If I remember correctly, it happened after the stop for Talkeetna. I think we went outside to catch a spot while we were stopped in Talkeetna. Once the train left the station, the outdoor platform filled up, so we were very happy to catch a "front row" space.
And there it was!
It was a really beautiful, sunny day. However, Mt. Mckinley is so enormous, it creates its own weather system around it!!! crazy! What we saw were lots of clouds over a snowey mountain range. We thought we were looking at THE mountain, and oooing and ahhhing. It turned out we were looking at the little brothers of Denali...our fellow passenger friend from India, who had been with us on the train from Fairbanks as well said:
- "you see the clouds?"
- "yeah"
-"look above the clouds. way over the clouds. you see that mountain tip?"
- "OH MY GOD! THAT'S HUGE!!!"
lol
It's really amazing. It looks like something out of the Wizard of Oz. It was spectacular!

Later on the trip, the train again slowed down for wildlife. This time a salmon was leaping out of the water. We all missed it, but immediatly started a new mythology about the humpback whale that leaped out of the water in persuit of the salmon, and the herd of killer whales that were after the humpback. It was so much fun! What a great group of people...

At about 6:30 PM, I think, it was final call for dinner (I'm not completely sure about the time...sorry). We went down to eat, since we knew by the time we checked into the hotel, there was no way we were going to go out and eat, esspecially considering the crazy hour we'd be getting up the next morning.
Dinner was fantastic! I had the Pene pasta dish, and didn't leave anything on my plate! BTW, we never ordered drinks, since we had complimentry soft drinks in our train car. This was no problem at all.

We finished eating and went back upstairs. We were now at the outskirts of Anchorage, going by a US air force base. I thought that was very cool and took a bunch of pictures.


It turned out we were in town the day before an airshow, that reinacted World War 2 or something like that...and they were practicing when we rolled into town! Old airplanes from back in the day were doing all kinds of tricks up in the sky and promoting the airshow that would be taking place the next day

We got off the train and went over to collect our luggage. This was no trouble at all.

We had a reservation at the Grand Anchorage hotel. This hotel is the closest hotel to the train station. The problem is you have to walk up a steep street to get to it. If you have a lot of luggage (like us) or if you have mobility issues, you won't want to walk it. We tried to get a cab, but the first cab driver we asked said there was a free shuttle to our hotel, and pointed us in the direction of the shuttles. We thought "great!" and walked over to where people were boarding a shuttle, found out it was for a completely different hotel, and then back to the other side of the station, where a different group of people were boarding a shuttle, again not to our hotel. It turned out the guy just didn't want to take us on such a short drive, which I get, but sending us on a wild goose chase while we're stuck with all our luggage isn't very nice...just say you're not interested...
We called the hotel, and the very sweet girl at the front desk told us that she's sorry but there's no shuttle (I didn't think there was...but I believed the cab driver...). I started getting worried that no one would be willing to take us and that I would have to somehow make it up the hill with all of the luggage (I try to spare Lior from lifting as much as I can). But because the station was pretty empty by now, one nice cab driver said he'd take us. We were very gratefull, and gave him a very nice tip since it really is a ridiculasly short drive.
He was happy, we were happy, and all together the three of us stood and watched what was being written up in the sky above our heads.



cool, huh?? Can you believe this picture was taken at about 8:30 PM?!

We didn't know that there was another entrance to the hotel with a ramp, so we somehow got all of our luggage up the stairs and into the lobby (but if you stay there, take the ramp entrance!! lol) There were fresh big chocholate chip cookies on the counter and candies. We got the card key for our room and took the elevator up.
Our room was HUGE!!!!!! With 3 walk in closets, a big living room, big bed, and a kitchen with a stove, oven, dish washer, toaster, microwave, dishes and pots. The girl at the front desk told us we were welcom to use everything in the kitchen, and just place the dirty dishes in the dish washer before we leave. There's free Wifi in the room, and breakfast is also included. There's a breakfast card in your room. You write down what time you want breakfast to be there, leave it on the door, and the next morning there's a bag full of food hanging on the door handle. I wrote on it that we were leaving for the train to Seward, so that they knew how early we need the breakfast to be delivered.
The breakfast is very nice. It has bagels, cream cheese, energy bars, juice and I don't remember what else (maybe fruit? I don't remember).

We went to sleep, knowing we had to get up at 4:30 AM. That bed was so comfortable! It was Lior's favorit. BUT I had trouble falling asleep...because the hotel is so close to the train station, there's a lot of noise all night. I'm a very light sleeper, any little thing wakes me up, so I just couldn't fall asleep with the noise. I closed all the windows, tried again, and still I couldn't fall asleep. I have a tube in one ear (like a little kid, lol) so I have ear plugs for taking showers and for th Disney water parks (woohoo!). I ended up using the ear plugs to block out the noise, and finally was able to sleep.

So here's my take on the Grand Anchorage Hotel:
1. It is the closest hotel to the train station. If you don't have much luggage, it's great, since it's literally up the street from the train station. However, if you have a lot of luggage or have mobility issues, I think it's a whole lot more convenient to stay at one of the hotels that offer a free shuttel to and from the train station.

2. The rooms are enormous, with a full kitchen. So if you're planning on staying in Anchorage for a few days, I think this is a great option for you. It's also a very nice accomodation for a family, since there's so much space.

3. There definitely is noise from the train station all night. Not constant noise that will give you a head ache, just noise of an active station. We honostly didn't even notice it until we went to bed. Lior was not bothered by it at all and fell right asleep. However, if you are a light sleeper like me, it probably will bother you.

I took a bunch of pictures of the hotel from the train station, so that I could show you how close it is, but I can't find them...

Tomorrow is the day I waited 6 months for - the day I meet an octopus!

Last edited by alaskawdw12; December 10th, 2012 at 03:44 PM.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 07:42 PM
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So, I did really like the pictures of the conductor, the trains, the sky writing, etc. But, didn't you get any pictures of the tip of McKinley poking through the clouds?
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Old December 10th, 2012, 10:14 PM
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So glad you and Lior are alright and back to give more details about Alaska, I had been checking board every week.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 10:14 PM
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Glad you are safe and back online, as usual great review. Looking forward to reading more!
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Old December 11th, 2012, 04:38 AM
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thanks for the update!!!!!! i was in total withdrawal already!!!!

about the hotel in Anchorage - i'm guessing you mean the Anchorage Grand Hotel (not Grand Anchorage Hotel)
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Old December 11th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Todah rabbah! Mitzuyan! (Ani morah b'bet sefer ivrit.) This review is very helpful! We are doing the Radiance northbound and then DIY land. We are going to a lot of the same places as you. We already have booked a lot of the same tours that you did. Now you've given us a lot of ideas of what to do in Fairbanks, Denali, and what else to do on days we have short tours. Plus your packing list if really helpful. Shalom u'vrachah!

Todah,
Allison
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  #68  
Old December 11th, 2012, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustThinking23
So, I did really like the pictures of the conductor, the trains, the sky writing, etc. But, didn't you get any pictures of the tip of McKinley poking through the clouds?
LOL...I was expecting that question! I know, it's very dissapointing, and other people got great shots, but I'm not so into photography, nor do we have a great camera (just the standard regular digital camera), so I don't think we could have gotten a good shot of it anyways. The train is moving and you only have so much time to gaze with amazemant at the mountain, so I was just getting in as much eye candy as I could, with and without binoculars. I just wasn't interested at looking at the view through the camera, I just wanted to live the moment, you know?
BTW, I forgot to mention that you should have your binoculars out for this, because it's far away.

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Originally Posted by volunteer cruiser View Post
So glad you and Lior are alright and back to give more details about Alaska, I had been checking board every week.
Quote:
Originally Posted by supsan
Glad you are safe and back online, as usual great review. Looking forward to reading more!
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaska_planner View Post
thanks for the update!!!!!! i was in total withdrawal already!!!!

about the hotel in Anchorage - i'm guessing you mean the Anchorage Grand Hotel (not Grand Anchorage Hotel)
Thank you all so much! That means so much to me I'm so happy you're following my review. Feel free to ask questions or make comments or anything you'd like!

Oops! Yes, I meant the Anchorage Grand Hotel...Thanks for correcting me!

Last edited by alaskawdw12; December 11th, 2012 at 10:31 AM.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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Default Thursday July 26th - Seward

Today I will meet an octopus!

We woke up at the ungodly hour 4:30 AM, because we wanted to be at the station by 5:45 (an hour before the train leaves. Do it! You don't want to be stuck in a long line). Breakfast was already hanging on our door. Lior was ready before I was...so he toasted the bagels in the toaster and put cream cheese on them, so that we had sandwiches ready for us. We also took the energy bars and I don't remember what else we took with us. After putting the plate and knife in the dish washer we went down to the lobby to check out. This is when we discovered there is another entrance to the hotel with a ramp...The girl at the front desk saw us getting ready to haul the luggage down the stairs, and asked "why aren't you using the ramp?" Why indeed?! hahaha. So we left the hotel easily pulling our luggage down the ramp, laughing at ourselves about how hard we had worked the previous day.

Like I said, the hotel is like a 3 minute walk from the train station. Rolling luggage down isn't a problem, so we walked down to the station with all of our luggage. Because we had so much luggage, it was still a good work out, so I was hot, sheded all of my layers down to a tank top and proclaimed myself a local. Everyone else was in coats and everything. Not me! lol, I was a local in a tank top.

We checked our luggage in rigt outside the station. In seward, we were going to be staying at the Holiday Inn Express. It turned out you can check your luggage all the way through to the Holiday Inn Express! Fantastic!
We went into the station to check in, and discovered we had the front seats of the Goldstar car!! Yay!
Lior got a cup of coffee, and we waited until we were allowed to board.

This time the Goldstar car was completely full, and with good reason. The scenery on this train ride was BREATHTAKING!! It was like traveling through a post card. It was really like being on an amazing excursion. And we saw 7 bald eagles, including one baby in a nest, and one that was flying in front of the train for a while! That was awesome. Bald eagles were the only wildlife that I was good at spotting, for some reason. I was the one who spotted most of them during the train ride, but that meant a lot of responsiblity!! lol... is it at 4 o'clock or 5 o'clock?? The pressure, I'm telling you...


Me being a local.


The journey begins!







It was the perfect sunny day!


Now what you can see in the above 2 pictures is crazy. During the huge earthquake in 1964, the ground in areas around the head of Turnagain Arm near Girdwood and Portage dropped as much as 8 feet (2.4 m), and this area was flooded by the ocean!! Because of the salt water, the trees here were destroyed and cannot grow! We even saw the ruins of a building that used to be the local pub, but it was completely destroyed by the earthquake and is now in the water! Crazy!

Last edited by alaskawdw12; December 11th, 2012 at 11:12 AM.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 11:26 AM
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Default Seward Continued...

As usual, at the beginning of the train ride they asked who was interested in eating. This time we did not raise our hands, since we had our packed breakfast from the hotel. So we munched on our bagels with cream cheese and enjoyed our breakfast very much. I loved the complimentry tea and soft drinks offered onboard, it made the train rides feel so relaxed. Just like everywhere else in Alaska, all the train employees were super nice and did a fantastic job.

Here are some more pictures:





This summer was an unussually cold one, so there was more unmelted snow than usual on the mountains, and even right there on the ground!


Is that Mickey Mouse on the front of the train?? LOL...I worned you...HUGE Disney freaks.


One of the glaciers and its river.

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Old December 11th, 2012, 12:16 PM
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Great photos and commentary - thanks! We will be in Alaska in June for 3 days before a southbound cruise on Radiance, so I am reading your thread with eager anticipation!

We have the train from Anchorage to Seward already booked, the GoldStar service, so I hope our weather is as good as yours was. It's stunning!
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Old December 11th, 2012, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allisons View Post
Todah rabbah! Mitzuyan! (Ani morah b'bet sefer ivrit.) This review is very helpful! We are doing the Radiance northbound and then DIY land. We are going to a lot of the same places as you. We already have booked a lot of the same tours that you did. Now you've given us a lot of ideas of what to do in Fairbanks, Denali, and what else to do on days we have short tours. Plus your packing list if really helpful. Shalom u'vrachah!

Todah,
Allison
Hi Allison!! Eze kef leefgosh otach!
You're going to have such an amazing trip!! The Radiance is the perfect ship for Alaska, and we just had the time of our lives on that cruise. Alaska itself is beyond anything that words can describe! Which tours have you booked?
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
Chag sameach!!

Happy Chanukah everybody!!

We picked yellow and blue candles tonight in honor of Lior's favorite soccer team - Macabee Tel Aviv! Which is fitting, since the Macabees are the stars of the holiday...lol


My favorite food on the planet!! Soofganiyot!!!!! I'm on a strict diet of at least 2 soofganiyot every day of Chanukah, lol.

Last edited by alaskawdw12; December 11th, 2012 at 04:58 PM.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 05:08 PM
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Great photos and commentary - thanks! We will be in Alaska in June for 3 days before a southbound cruise on Radiance, so I am reading your thread with eager anticipation!

We have the train from Anchorage to Seward already booked, the GoldStar service, so I hope our weather is as good as yours was. It's stunning!
Thank you so much! I'm really not a great photographer, so that just tells you how stunning the scenery really is if even I managed to get these shots! LOL...
You'll have an amazing time on both land and sea!! I'm so jealous!
Don't worry about the weather at all. I was also nervous about it before we left, but when we were there I realized that the thing about Alaska is that it's so beautiful there, it really doesn't matter what the weather's like. The different weather just sets the mood and provides a different shade of beauty When it rains, you just feel like your in this enchanted mysterious place. So don't give it a second thought! Just be prepared with rain gear, so that the rain doesn't prevent you from doing any of the activities you want to do. But don't be worried about the view, Alaska will deliver
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Old December 11th, 2012, 05:25 PM
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Looking forward to more comments and pics. I am hanging on every detail because I will be in Alaska for 13 nights but starts with cruise tour and ends on Radiance. With my extended family going I am not ready to do a DIY.
I just realized I somehow missed this comment a long time ago! I'm sorry!
Thank you so much! I'm so happy you're enjoying it! and I love that you keep on commenting throughout the review
I totally get why you would rather do a cruise tour with a big group...it's a lot of pressure trying to please everybody and feeling responsible for everyone's happiness 24/7. The Radiance is an amazing ship, the staff is fantastic, the itinerary in my opinion is the best and there's a lot of different things to do all the time, so everybody in your group will have a great time

Last edited by alaskawdw12; December 11th, 2012 at 05:33 PM.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 04:34 PM
allisons allisons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskawdw12 View Post
Hi Allison!! Eze kef leefgosh otach!
You're going to have such an amazing trip!! The Radiance is the perfect ship for Alaska, and we just had the time of our lives on that cruise. Alaska itself is beyond anything that words can describe! Which tours have you booked?
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
Chag sameach!!

Happy Chanukah everybody!!

We picked yellow and blue candles tonight in honor of Lior's favorite soccer team - Macabee Tel Aviv! Which is fitting, since the Macabees are the stars of the holiday...lol


My favorite food on the planet!! Soofganiyot!!!!! I'm on a strict diet of at least 2 soofganiyot every day of Chanukah, lol.
Chag sameach! Ani ohevet sufganiyot! Ta'im m'od! Anachnu ochlim harbay l'vivot b'hanukah!

So far, we have booked:
Ketchikan - Misty Fjords floatplane, lumberjack show
Icy Straight Point - whale watching boat tour
Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier helicopter tour, sled dog summer camp
Skagway - White Pass Summit train
Seward - Kenai Fjords boat tour
Seward - SeaLife Center mammal encounter, Exit Glacier
Anchorage/Whittier - Prince William Sound Surprise Glacier boat tour
Talkeetna - McKinley flightseeing
Denali - ????? shuttle/tour bus, Cabin Nite dinner theater
Denali - Canyon Run rafting
Fairbanks - Riverboat Discovery, Gold Dredge No. 8
Anchorage - ?????

I actually do have a question for you. Why/how did you decide to do the Eielson shuttle bus in Denali? Did you consider doing the Wonder Lake shuttle, Kantishna shuttle, and/or Kantishna tour? This is the only decision that we're struggling with.
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Norwegian Epic 1/1/11 Eastern Caribbean 7-night
Carnival Dream 1/8/11 Western Caribbean 7-night
Celebrity Summit 5/8/11 Bermuda 7-night
Ruby Princess 1/8/12 Eastern Caribbean 7-night
HAL ms Nieuw Amsterdam 1/15/12 Western Caribbean 7-night
Carnival Splendor 11/25/12 Mexican Riviera 7-night
RCI Radiance of the Seas 6/28/13 Alaska Northbound 7-night
Celebrity Equinox 5/11/15 Western Mediterranean 10-night
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  #76  
Old December 13th, 2012, 05:31 PM
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alaskawdw12 alaskawdw12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allisons View Post
Chag sameach! Ani ohevet sufganiyot! Ta'im m'od! Anachnu ochlim harbay l'vivot b'hanukah!

So far, we have booked:
Ketchikan - Misty Fjords floatplane, lumberjack show
Icy Straight Point - whale watching boat tour
Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier helicopter tour, sled dog summer camp
Skagway - White Pass Summit train
Seward - Kenai Fjords boat tour
Seward - SeaLife Center mammal encounter, Exit Glacier
Anchorage/Whittier - Prince William Sound Surprise Glacier boat tour
Talkeetna - McKinley flightseeing
Denali - ????? shuttle/tour bus, Cabin Nite dinner theater
Denali - Canyon Run rafting
Fairbanks - Riverboat Discovery, Gold Dredge No. 8
Anchorage - ?????

I actually do have a question for you. Why/how did you decide to do the Eielson shuttle bus in Denali? Did you consider doing the Wonder Lake shuttle, Kantishna shuttle, and/or Kantishna tour? This is the only decision that we're struggling with.
You're going to have such an amazing time!!!! And you really are doing a lot of the same things we did, even the excursions that I haven't gotten to yet!

We LOVED the lumberjack show!!! It's so much fun!
Our whale watch in ISP was so incredible I actually had tears in my eyes... .
Mendenhall Glacier is gorgeous!
We also did something with dogs in Juneau, our's was called Alaska Sled Dogs and Musher's Camp. I'm not sure if it's the same one you're doing? If so, this excursion was Lior's favorite excursion
The train ride in Skagway was beautiful.
We really loved Exit glacier. Don't forget your mosquito repellent there!! The mosquitos there were huge and aggressive!
About the mammal encounter, we did that too. It was very nice, but not exactly what they say it will be, since you don't interact with the animals at all, and we were a little disappointed. I'll be getting to it in my next post (hopefully), so you'll be able to see what it's all about.
I'm totally jealous you're going rafting!! So much fun!

As for the shuttle in Denali, I thought about this A LOT! lol...
It was actually the one activity I was most stressed out about, because of Lior's back (he fell off a mountain in an ATV accident 6 and half years ago. He broke his spine and now has a metal vertibra and metal cages and bolts in his spine). He doesn't do well on long drives, and reports on this board about the bumpy road and not-so-comfortable seats were making me very nervous, and I was even considering us not doing the bus at all.
However, we both really wanted to see bears, and aren't willing to get on a floatplane to do it so we said we'd give it a shot. So then it was a matter of what was the minimum length shuttle that will give us what we're looking for. I searched this board, and the answer I got was Eielson.
After reading up on it, I really wanted to make it out to the Eielson visitor center, because I really like visitor centers and I wanted to go on the walk with the ranger, since that was a good way to go on some sort of an easy guided adventure in the park.

So, in short, Wonder Lake just wasn't an option for us because of the length of the trip. But I have to say that personally for me, I really had enough by the time we got to Eielson. I was happy we made it already, happy we didn't have any longer to go, and very happy that now we were going to be spending a couple of hours off of the bus. Don't get me wrong, we were having a great time, but we were both at that point where - right now, we're having a good time, but if we have to stay on the bus longer we'll start getting antsy.
When we were done doing everything we wanted to do in Eielson, we were ready to head back. So for us, back problems or not, that was just the right choice for us. But that's just us! For us, the Eielson shuttle was perfect

But we met many people who had done the Wonder Lake shuttle and loved it!!! (bring mosquito repellent if you're going there).
We also met people who had done the Kantishna shuttle and loved it!!! They showed us some amazing pictures and you could tell what a great time they had had.

So you just really have to read up on what each shuttle offers, do a search on this board to see what people say and pick what's best for you.
I definitely recommend the shuttle over the tour, because it's a third of the price and you have the flexibility of getting off the bus. So that way, if you decide you want to take the Wonder Lake shuttle, you can get off at Eielson, check it out, maybe hike one of the trails, and then continue. Or you can do it the other way around. But if you're on a tour bus, you're locked in. You can't switch buses, or stay in one place longer or change your mind because you suddenly got car sick. You're stuck. That makes me nervous!!! lol.

(Just FYI, we thought the seats were fine and the road was fine too, no need to worry about that).
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  #77  
Old December 13th, 2012, 10:25 PM
allisons allisons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskawdw12 View Post
You're going to have such an amazing time!!!! And you really are doing a lot of the same things we did, even the excursions that I haven't gotten to yet!

We LOVED the lumberjack show!!! It's so much fun!
Our whale watch in ISP was so incredible I actually had tears in my eyes... .
Mendenhall Glacier is gorgeous!
We also did something with dogs in Juneau, our's was called Alaska Sled Dogs and Musher's Camp. I'm not sure if it's the same one you're doing? If so, this excursion was Lior's favorite excursion
The train ride in Skagway was beautiful.
We really loved Exit glacier. Don't forget your mosquito repellent there!! The mosquitos there were huge and aggressive!
About the mammal encounter, we did that too. It was very nice, but not exactly what they say it will be, since you don't interact with the animals at all, and we were a little disappointed. I'll be getting to it in my next post (hopefully), so you'll be able to see what it's all about.
I'm totally jealous you're going rafting!! So much fun!

As for the shuttle in Denali, I thought about this A LOT! lol...
It was actually the one activity I was most stressed out about, because of Lior's back (he fell off a mountain in an ATV accident 6 and half years ago. He broke his spine and now has a metal vertibra and metal cages and bolts in his spine). He doesn't do well on long drives, and reports on this board about the bumpy road and not-so-comfortable seats were making me very nervous, and I was even considering us not doing the bus at all.
However, we both really wanted to see bears, and aren't willing to get on a floatplane to do it so we said we'd give it a shot. So then it was a matter of what was the minimum length shuttle that will give us what we're looking for. I searched this board, and the answer I got was Eielson.
After reading up on it, I really wanted to make it out to the Eielson visitor center, because I really like visitor centers and I wanted to go on the walk with the ranger, since that was a good way to go on some sort of an easy guided adventure in the park.

So, in short, Wonder Lake just wasn't an option for us because of the length of the trip. But I have to say that personally for me, I really had enough by the time we got to Eielson. I was happy we made it already, happy we didn't have any longer to go, and very happy that now we were going to be spending a couple of hours off of the bus. Don't get me wrong, we were having a great time, but we were both at that point where - right now, we're having a good time, but if we have to stay on the bus longer we'll start getting antsy.
When we were done doing everything we wanted to do in Eielson, we were ready to head back. So for us, back problems or not, that was just the right choice for us. But that's just us! For us, the Eielson shuttle was perfect

But we met many people who had done the Wonder Lake shuttle and loved it!!! (bring mosquito repellent if you're going there).
We also met people who had done the Kantishna shuttle and loved it!!! They showed us some amazing pictures and you could tell what a great time they had had.

So you just really have to read up on what each shuttle offers, do a search on this board to see what people say and pick what's best for you.
I definitely recommend the shuttle over the tour, because it's a third of the price and you have the flexibility of getting off the bus. So that way, if you decide you want to take the Wonder Lake shuttle, you can get off at Eielson, check it out, maybe hike one of the trails, and then continue. Or you can do it the other way around. But if you're on a tour bus, you're locked in. You can't switch buses, or stay in one place longer or change your mind because you suddenly got car sick. You're stuck. That makes me nervous!!! lol.

(Just FYI, we thought the seats were fine and the road was fine too, no need to worry about that).
Thank you so much! That is extremely helpful!
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Norwegian Epic 1/1/11 Eastern Caribbean 7-night
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Celebrity Summit 5/8/11 Bermuda 7-night
Ruby Princess 1/8/12 Eastern Caribbean 7-night
HAL ms Nieuw Amsterdam 1/15/12 Western Caribbean 7-night
Carnival Splendor 11/25/12 Mexican Riviera 7-night
RCI Radiance of the Seas 6/28/13 Alaska Northbound 7-night
Celebrity Equinox 5/11/15 Western Mediterranean 10-night
HAL ms Zuiderdam 9/26/15 Eastern Mediterranean/Greek Isles 11-night
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  #78  
Old December 15th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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crazycruiserdc crazycruiserdc is offline
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I've signed up for the octopus encounter at the SeaLife Center in Seward so I'm interested to hear your opinion of it. I'm having doubts now and might change to the puffin encounter.
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  #79  
Old December 16th, 2012, 07:13 AM
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alaskawdw12 alaskawdw12 is offline
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Originally Posted by crazycruiserdc View Post
I've signed up for the octopus encounter at the SeaLife Center in Seward so I'm interested to hear your opinion of it. I'm having doubts now and might change to the puffin encounter.
NO!!!! YOU HAVE TO DO IT!!!! lol...the octopus encounter was amazing! It was the one thing I was most looking forward to on the whole trip, and I wasn't dissapointed It was exactly what they said it would be. I fed an octopus and touched 2 of them for a good amount of time. It was SO awesome!
I'm going to try to post the rest of our day in Seward today or tomorrow, so you'll be able to read in depth what it was all about, but definitly do it!! I was disappointed by the mammal encounter, but the octopus encounter was worth every penny!
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  #80  
Old December 16th, 2012, 10:57 PM
allisons allisons is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,876
Question

Yeish li od sh'eilah. For Skagway, did you book the White Pass Summit excursion directly through the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway or through Royal Caribbean? We always book all of our shore excursions privately. We never book any of our shore excursions through the cruise lines. We've attempted to book this with WP&YR. However, they are strongly encouraging us to book it with RCI instead. What did you do? Todah!
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RCI Sovereign of the Seas 12/27/96 Bahamas 3-night
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RCI Viking Serenade 12/27/99 (Millennium Cruise) Mexican Riviera 7-night
RCI Adventure of the Seas 1/12/03 Southern Caribbean 7-night
RCI Serenade of the Seas 1/3/04 Southern Caribbean 7-night
RCI Navigator of the Seas 1/8/05 Western Caribbean 7-night
RCI Enchantment of the Seas 1/2/06 Western Caribbean 5-night
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RCI Freedom of the Seas 1/7/07 Western Caribbean 7-night
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Ruby Princess 1/8/12 Eastern Caribbean 7-night
HAL ms Nieuw Amsterdam 1/15/12 Western Caribbean 7-night
Carnival Splendor 11/25/12 Mexican Riviera 7-night
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