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  #1  
Old May 8th, 2011, 12:50 PM
igepal igepal is offline
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Default Denali Explorer Trip on Island Princess- Excursion Crazy

My wife and I have booked an 11 day cruise to Alaska starting July 27 on the Island Princess. My wife doesn't like buses, so I want to minimize her discomfort. Ketchikan (6:30AM to 2PM), Juneau( 8 AM to 9PM), Skagway7AM to 8:30PM), Denali, and Fairbanks. Going crazy on choosing excursions.We like the Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise and Flight in Ketchikan. Juneau town tour and tramway look good, but there is a lot of time left. Glaciers and whale watch look interesting. Can you actually walk on a glacier if you don't take the helicopter ride (slightly over weight limitation, so $$$$$)? Train ride a must in Skagway, but there are a half dozen options (Yukon, Bennett Lake, Liarsville, Suspension Bridge, and the no stop option).

In Denali, most of the options include school buses. I won't mind but, are there any better options?

Would appreciate any information or suggestions.... George
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  #2  
Old May 8th, 2011, 03:58 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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I would say you have some "problems" with the buses issue. That is your ONLY access into Denali Park, and frankly, with a short 4 day cruisetour- your ONLY highlight of your interior land tour. And with that, do you have the Tundra Wilderness tour included?? If you don't, then you aren't getting into Denali- which means, none of the spectacular scenery, and little if any wildlife. The time is spent in transits on long train rides or buses, with little else. If your tour includes the McKinley Lodge you have a 2 hour round trip bus ride to the nearest town Talkeetna. This is also where the train station is, if you are taking the train?

As for your inside passage excursions, there is no access for glaciers unless you are committing to an extensive hike in of many hours or a helicopter.

The boat/floatplane combo tours of Misty Fiords out of Ketchikan get good reviews.

In Juneau- on the dock are "bus" tours (which I am assuming what you mean by "town tour"??) which are very well run, and are about 1/2 the cost of the cruiseline shore excursions. The Tram can be purchased on the dock once there and you check the weather. Whale watched have 100% sightings for humpbacks. The combo whale/Mendenhall tours are a good use of time, but independent, allow you to get there/return when you wish. Cruise booked tours, are there for fixed times.


Skagway, as you note have several tour variations with the White Pass RR. For rail fans, the Lake Bennett is a highlight. IF you wish to get into the Yukon, you need a long tour. With the cruise booked tours you are, again on buses. With independents, it is usually small shuttle buses/vans, if that makes any difference.
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  #3  
Old May 8th, 2011, 07:48 PM
igepal igepal is offline
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Default Denali Issues

My wife and I may be doing different excursions in Denali. I have to switch from the History tour to the TWT( can I get credit?). I've heard there is a visit to a dog raising farm and horseback riding. Anything else she might be interested in?... George
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  #4  
Old May 8th, 2011, 09:39 PM
igepal igepal is offline
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Looks like the TWT is not available for the days I am going to be in Denali. Must be booked up already. Yuck!... George
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  #5  
Old May 8th, 2011, 11:17 PM
cruiseluv cruiseluv is offline
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If the TWT is booked why not do the park shuttle? From what I understand it might be in some ways preferable and you ahve the option of oing further into the park.
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  #6  
Old May 9th, 2011, 08:38 AM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igepal View Post
My wife and I may be doing different excursions in Denali. I have to switch from the History tour to the TWT( can I get credit?). I've heard there is a visit to a dog raising farm and horseback riding. Anything else she might be interested in?... George
Yes, by all means get the credit for that worthless Natural History tour. It is simple to book yourself on the Toklat Shuttle bus, BUT, you do need to hook this up with the Princess Denali Lodge SHUTTLE bus to the access center- where you board the Park Shuttle buses. The Toklat Shuttle goes the SAME distance as the TWT, or get on the shuttle to Eielson, even better. You do have to take all your own food and drink. FAR superior to what you currently have booked.

Denali Park does use sled dogs, and the kennels are open in the summer with dog sled demos three times/day. Again, there would be the need to hook up with the lodge shuttle bus schedules.

If you have no mobility limitations, it is about a mile walk to the Access Center. You are going to have to be very careful about your time with only one night at Denali park. You still may have no other options then the NHT?? IF you post your cruisetour, I can tell you what would be available.
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  #7  
Old May 9th, 2011, 11:18 AM
igepal igepal is offline
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Default Denali

We do have two nights in Denali. We arrive around 3PM on 8/3 and leave at 3PM on 8/5. The Princess excursions show a Husky demo that we can do on the evening of 8/3, a covered wagon/breakfast trip for the morning of 8/4 (8 to 11AM), and a Jet boat trip on the morning of 8/5. The NHT is scheduled from 2:30 to 8:30 on 8/4. I wonder if the park shuttles could accommodate my going in after 11:30 AM?

Do I have to wait for the cruise to start to get the NHT removed?

Thanks for all your help.... George
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  #8  
Old May 9th, 2011, 12:03 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igepal View Post
We do have two nights in Denali. We arrive around 3PM on 8/3 and leave at 3PM on 8/5. The Princess excursions show a Husky demo that we can do on the evening of 8/3, a covered wagon/breakfast trip for the morning of 8/4 (8 to 11AM), and a Jet boat trip on the morning of 8/5. The NHT is scheduled from 2:30 to 8:30 on 8/4. I wonder if the park shuttles could accommodate my going in after 11:30 AM?

Do I have to wait for the cruise to start to get the NHT removed?

Thanks for all your help.... George
No, do not wait to get your refund. Request it now, through your booking agent. I suggest you figure out what YOUR priority for touring this area is?? IF it is for access into the park, then I suggest you look at seeing what fits best. An "after 11:30am" selection is NOT a good choice, as you will be walking back to your lodge. I would look at booking a 9am bus to Eielson- IF you wish to see scenery and wildlife.

The dogs are not "huskys" like you may be thinking, in fact some are pretty darn ugly. They are a mix working dog.

With your "3pm" reference it sounds like you are traveling by bus??? Are you aware of the vast distances in interior Alaska?? If you happen to be using the Alaska RR, these are not the times, so you may want to relook at your itinerary. I am confused by your "jet boat" tour, as those are usually out of Talkeetna/McKinley Princess?????? What cruisetour are you on??
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Last edited by Budget Queen; May 9th, 2011 at 12:06 PM.
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  #9  
Old May 9th, 2011, 12:24 PM
Lookingforfacts Lookingforfacts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Budget Queen View Post
With your "3pm" reference it sounds like you are traveling by bus??? Are you aware of the vast distances in interior Alaska?? If you happen to be using the Alaska RR, these are not the times, so you may want to relook at your itinerary. I am confused by your "jet boat" tour, as those are usually out of Talkeetna/McKinley Princess?????? What cruisetour are you on??
The OP booked a cruise followed by a land tour. The tour includes Fairbanks. An itinerary showing a 3p departure from Denali could be either rail or bus to Fairbanks.
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  #10  
Old May 9th, 2011, 01:03 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by Lookingforfacts View Post
The OP booked a cruise followed by a land tour. The tour includes Fairbanks. An itinerary showing a 3p departure from Denali could be either rail or bus to Fairbanks.
Trains do not leave at 3pm, they leave at 4pm. The only way they can go is by train or bus. This poster claims the wife doesn't like buses. This is only a 4 day add on. They may not realize all the transit time????
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  #11  
Old May 9th, 2011, 01:20 PM
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We sailed Island Princess last July through Alaska. It was wonderful!! I wrote a detailed blog about what excursions we did with photos:

http://moonprincess.com/travel/categ...s/alaska-2010/

Hope it helps!! You'll also love Island Princess. She is a fabulous ship!
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  #12  
Old May 9th, 2011, 01:41 PM
frugaltravel frugaltravel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igepal View Post
We do have two nights in Denali. We arrive around 3PM on 8/3 and leave at 3PM on 8/5. The Princess excursions show a Husky demo that we can do on the evening of 8/3, a covered wagon/breakfast trip for the morning of 8/4 (8 to 11AM), and a Jet boat trip on the morning of 8/5. The NHT is scheduled from 2:30 to 8:30 on 8/4. I wonder if the park shuttles could accommodate my going in after 11:30 AM?

Do I have to wait for the cruise to start to get the NHT removed?

Thanks for all your help.... George
If the "husky" tour is in the evening, it is probably Jeff King's kennels. I suggest booking the SHUTTLE bus on your own to Eielson nfor Aug 4th. Book at departure at 8-9am. You are back late afternoon.

The morning of 8/5 you can see the free sleddog demo in the park (10am), see the visitor center and even take the free Savage River shuttle bus. Find out if you are taking the train or bus from Denali. If the train, no need to go back to the lodge. That will gain you more time in the park.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 02:01 PM
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FYI - I should have mentioned that we also stayed at Denali Princess for 2 nights, did the Husky Homestead Tour the first evening, and the Eielson Shuttle Bus the next day. It was fantastic! As I said earlier, details/photos in my blog.
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  #14  
Old May 9th, 2011, 02:11 PM
igepal igepal is offline
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Default Denali

OK, now that I have my itinerary in front of me, I have the correct times:
All train:
- Arrive 8/3 Denali 5:45PM - 1/2 hour bus ride to Princess Wilderness Lodge
- Leave 8/5 to Fairbanks- lodge to train station 3:00PM
- Train leaves at 4PM
Sorry for the confusion.

CruisingGoddess.... I spent yesterday reading your blog. Loved it! Lots of great information.
frugaltravel - Yes, it is Jeff King's. Given the time we had, that was the only thing that looked good for the first day. What do you mean when you say no need to go back to the lodge on the last day? Do they have pickup at the travel center?

Thanks for all your help.... George
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Old May 9th, 2011, 02:30 PM
frugaltravel frugaltravel is offline
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Check out of the hotel the morning of Aug 5th. Princess will have all your luggage, so no need to return to the lodge for the bus transfer back to where you came from! Show up at the train station (a stone's throw from the visitor center) at 3.15pm for the 4pm train. You will still be at the train station before the bus from the lodge gets there (we all know that 3pm means they won't leave until 3.15pm or later!).

So you can have all day on Aug 4 in the park (Eielson shuttle bus, or even Wonder Lake). Then get to the park at 9am on Aug 5 and have 6 hours on Aug 5 in the park doing what I mentioned above. You can grab lunch at the grill near the visitor center. You can still go to Jeff King's on the evening of Aug 3 if you want.

Last edited by frugaltravel; May 9th, 2011 at 02:31 PM.
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  #16  
Old May 9th, 2011, 03:11 PM
Lookingforfacts Lookingforfacts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Budget Queen View Post
Trains do not leave at 3pm, they leave at 4pm. The only way they can go is by train or bus. This poster claims the wife doesn't like buses. This is only a 4 day add on. They may not realize all the transit time????
The question isn't what time the train leaves but rather what time the bus picks up the guests at the lodge for transfer to the train station. OP confirmed bus picks them up at 3p for a 4p train departure.

The tours that go from Denali to Fairbanks via motor coach generally leave early enough for an afternoon or early evening Riverboat Discovery excursion.
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  #17  
Old May 9th, 2011, 04:51 PM
igepal igepal is offline
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Is there a web site for the Park Shuttle reservations in Denali?
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  #18  
Old May 9th, 2011, 04:57 PM
Lookingforfacts Lookingforfacts is offline
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http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...ing-denali.htm

You can reserve shuttle bus or TWT.
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  #19  
Old May 9th, 2011, 10:26 PM
igepal igepal is offline
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Thank you. Wow, I can't believe how inexpensive the shuttles are compared to the tour buses! Also, I can schedule a 12:00 departure into the park and be back by 8PM.

One more question..... IS there transportation between the Denali Visitor Center and the Princess Hotels? Or is it just a 15 minute walk (I walk slowly)? I'll need to plan for this....

Thanks again... George
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Old May 9th, 2011, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igepal View Post
Thank you. Wow, I can't believe how inexpensive the shuttles are compared to the tour buses! Also, I can schedule a 12:00 departure into the park and be back by 8PM.

One more question..... IS there transportation between the Denali Visitor Center and the Princess Hotels? Or is it just a 15 minute walk (I walk slowly)? I'll need to plan for this....

Thanks again... George
Yes, Princess runs a shuttle from Denali Princess to the Visitors Center every hour beginning at 7 am. It would be a far walk.
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