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  #1  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 10:51 AM
cg_abby cg_abby is offline
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Smile Please help me make the best of this Alaskan cruisetour!

Hello! My parents have booked a ten night Princess cruisetour leaving July 7 on the Diamond Princess. http://www.princess.com/find/cruiseD...OfPax=2&meta=B

It will be my grandparents (both decently mobile), my parents, my 11 year old brother, and me (16, girl). We have been on two Caribbean cruises and enjoyed them a ton!! Never sailed with Princess before. After reading all this info I see now a DIY land your would be best, but we've already booked so I need advice on how to make sure we have a good vacation. I know we will not have much time at our land destinations (which makes me feel sick to my stomach and want to cry!!) but I don't think I'll get my parents to change their minds. My father is pretty cheap and wants to save money, we could barely convince him to do this so were stuck.

One thing I know we will do is cancel the NHT in Denali and take a shuttle to Eilson instead, but I don't know how to go about that. Or if we will even have time?! I will try to find the more specific times for our itinerary after school.

Other than that what else can I do to make sure my family has a great time. I really want to make this great for them. What are good excursions and good tour companies that are reputable and safe? Are there any "secrets" like the shuttles-save money and do more? I have been researching the boards but between band and school I have little time.

Thank you! I appreciate any help you can give me!
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  #2  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 11:05 AM
cg_abby cg_abby is offline
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Or... At the very least, will someone reassure me we will have a good time on this vacation. My family is SO excited but I feel full of dread and anxiety...I have read so much "it's not even worth it if you aren't doing a long DIY tour". Has anyone done this tour and still had a good time?
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  #3  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 11:07 AM
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I'd go with the flow. You will see lots and if you like it you will find a way to go back many times in your lifetime and explore on your own. I've gone several places in my life that I thought were once in a lifetime trips only to go back several years later.

Enjoy it,

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  #4  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 11:54 AM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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At Sea
Sunday, July 8







3


Ketchikan, Alaska
Monday, July 9

6:30 AM

2:00 PM



4


Juneau, Alaska
Tuesday, July 10

8:00 AM

9:00 PM



5


Skagway, Alaska
Wednesday, July 11

7:00 AM

8:30 PM



6


Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (Scenic Cruising)
Thursday, July 12

6:00 AM

3:00 PM



7


College Fjord, Alaska (Scenic Cruising)
Friday, July 13

5:30 PM

8:30 PM



8


Anchorage (Whittier), Alaska
Saturday, July 14

12:30 AM




8

Whittier/Denali
Saturday, July 14
Disembark in Whittier and board the Denali Express rail directly to Denali National Park. Enjoy the evening at leisure at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.



9

Denali/Mt. McKinley
Sunday, July 15
This morning, take an educational tour into Denali National Park. Then, travel by motorcoach to the south side of Denali for a night at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.



10

Mt. McKinley/Anchorage
Monday, July 16
The morning is free to either relax at the lodge or choose one of the many optional excursions. Continue by motorcoach to Anchorage for the night.



11

Anchorage
Tuesday, July 17
Your tour ends this morning in Anchorage.


With your "cheap" comment- would anyone be receptive to perhaps, another look at other options?? You could also see and do more. I do not see where you are even on the Natural History tour??? Sorry to say, I will speculate your tour is to the visitor center?? Which is a poor choice with all that time involved in the transit.

As only a suggestion- maybe, get the adults in the reality of this tour??

With a group of 6, an extended van could be a superior choice, or, although a tight fit- could also consider a big RV. You have 3 nights.

I would suggest- pick up a rental car, or RV in Anchorage. Drive to Denali Park- allow all day, make a few stops, more details on where available.

Two nights at Denali- take the Eielson shuttle bus first day. other park actives second day.

day 3, drive toward Anchorage. Stop frequently along the way, could overnight in Mat SU,

Depends on when your home flight is?? IF an overnight flight home, could add a glacier trek, touring Anchorage, drive along the arm etc depending on interests.


You could offer to the adults- the cruisetour- is not free, and there may be superior ways to spend the same, or less money. You have some additional information on Alaska. And especially with the big problem of this choice- Denali Park, I doubt you are even going to have the option for the Eielson shuttle bus, which means, 10 hours on the train being your "tour".

www.nps.gov/dena is very detailed and informative. Maybe have the adults take a closer look?

Good luck, you will have a great trip anyway. Make the best of it, if it can not be changed.
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  #5  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 12:06 PM
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AKman2495 AKman2495 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cg_abby View Post
Or... At the very least, will someone reassure me we will have a good time on this vacation. My family is SO excited but I feel full of dread and anxiety...I have read so much "it's not even worth it if you aren't doing a long DIY tour". Has anyone done this tour and still had a good time?
First of all, don't believe everything you read. Alaska is a big place. I have lived here for 36 years and have travelled far and wide in Alaska and I have not yet been to much of the state.

A wise man once said the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. That is a good way to think about Alaska. Take it one day, one stop and one experience at a time. SO, don't worry about missing something-just take in what you can and enjoy it for what it is. People going in with an open mind can never have a bad day in Alaska-even if it rains. Trust me.

Then, after you have gone back home, you can begin planning your next trip up here. Oh, you may not know when you will come back,,,,,but odds are you will.....
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  #6  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 12:11 PM
dancerwith4kids dancerwith4kids is offline
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I hope you will have fun no matter what happens. You said your dad likes to save money. We are traveling with 8 people. Me, my husband, our 4 kids and their grandfathers. I originally booked a cruisetour with Princess but decided to do it on our own. It saved us over $6,000 for all 8 of us. We are renting an 8 passenger van with pickup in Whittier and going wherever we want. We get to see and do a lot more, especially for the kids.
Just let them know their are other options, but I hope you will still enjoy being in Alaska if you can't change their minds.
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  #7  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 12:12 PM
epixx epixx is offline
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Default Talk to the adults

I agree with BudgetQueen. I have my own teen girls, and they ofter have better ideas than I do. I would listen if they presented a rational argument. Get your brother in cahoots with you, and approach the adults together on this.

Get all your facts in line, and you seem to have many, and ask them to reconsider the cruisetour in favor of the significantly less expensive DIY tour.
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  #8  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 12:31 PM
cg_abby cg_abby is offline
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So would we just cancel the tour portion or book a whole nother cruise? What are some good websites for renting cars/RVs?
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  #9  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 12:44 PM
cg_abby cg_abby is offline
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And is there any way I can edit my first post. I looked in the FAQ and it said I could but the edit button is gone. Sorry if it's obvious.
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  #10  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 01:13 PM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Yes, you can cancel the interior cruisetour portion of your booking.

Two RV companies that I have used are Great Alaskan Holiday and ABC. It would be "cozy", but for 3 days- I'll bet it will be a LOT of FUN!!!!! Can offer some food/drink savings (still on the money saving theme) Gas is costly, you are looking at maybe, 10 mpg. RV's are simple to drive in Alaska.

Invite your adults, to take a look at this board. One thing they would get is clear accurate information.
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  #11  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 03:04 PM
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Larry22554 Larry22554 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cg_abby View Post
Or... At the very least, will someone reassure me we will have a good time on this vacation. My family is SO excited but I feel full of dread and anxiety...I have read so much "it's not even worth it if you aren't doing a long DIY tour". Has anyone done this tour and still had a good time?
You WILL have a good time! 70% of your vacation will be on the cruise ship regardless of how you do the land tour.

Keep asking questions; there are a lot of helpful folks here.

Have Fun.
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  #12  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 03:20 PM
Lookingforfacts Lookingforfacts is offline
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You've gotten some good information. Some things to consider before you talk to your parents:
  1. Are your parents, and grandparents, willing to sleep in a RV?
  2. Are your parents, or grandparents, willing to drive a van or similar vehicle on vacation?
  3. Is everyone willing to restrict their luggage so everything will fit in a rental vehicle?
  4. Do you want to do all tours together? In other words will some of you do white water rafting, or an extended bus trip into Denali, if others aren't interested in that activity?
  5. Is everyone willing to restrict their luggage to one bag each. That's necessary if you want to book a tour not through your cruiseline.
  6. Do you already have your flights booked?
An alternative is to put together a custom tour. You can book your own motor coach, train and hotels. You can also book a package through a booking agent such as alaskatravel. They have a post cruise package which gives you motor coach transportation from Whittier to Denali, 2 nights in Denali and one night in Anchorage. The website lists some packages with tours but you can customize it. Check tour 2106 as an example.


http://www.alaskatravel.com/tours/tour-x106.html

Last edited by Lookingforfacts; March 22nd, 2012 at 03:23 PM.
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  #13  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 03:32 PM
cg_abby cg_abby is offline
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Ok everyone good news. I talked to my mom and she seems really interested and flexible. However we already have our flights booked and I don't think we can cancel them coming home so we have to leave July 17th. The cruise ends around noon on the 14th. What would a good itinerary be? We really want to see Denali, so on the 14th could we rent a car, drive there, spend that night and the next night there, then where should we go? I guess I just don't know how it will all work and I want to be able to explain it to my dad. Do most people stay at lodges in Denali or hotels. ANY resources or websites will help. Thank you all so much!!!!!
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  #14  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 04:59 PM
Lookingforfacts Lookingforfacts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cg_abby View Post
Ok everyone good news. I talked to my mom and she seems really interested and flexible. However we already have our flights booked and I don't think we can cancel them coming home so we have to leave July 17th. The cruise ends around noon on the 14th. What would a good itinerary be? We really want to see Denali, so on the 14th could we rent a car, drive there, spend that night and the next night there, then where should we go? I guess I just don't know how it will all work and I want to be able to explain it to my dad. Do most people stay at lodges in Denali or hotels. ANY resources or websites will help. Thank you all so much!!!!!
The cruise docks shortly after midnight. You can disembark long before noon. I don't think you can even stay on the boat until noon.
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  #15  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 09:47 PM
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Larry22554 Larry22554 is offline
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Yes, you can disembark as early as 7AM. Check the price of renting a minivan at Whittier versus Anchorage. I think you'll find Anchorage less expensive.

Here is an option for getting to ANC. They will get you to ANC as early as 10:30 AM. www. whittier shuttle . com

Make sure your dad is sitting down when you show him the cost of a rental van. You are looking at $800 + for the three day rental.

Others can suggest places to stay at Denali NP and stops in between.

Good Luck.

Last edited by Larry22554; March 22nd, 2012 at 09:54 PM. Reason: link
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  #16  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 10:05 PM
dancerwith4kids dancerwith4kids is offline
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We are staying at Denali River Cabins. We got 2 cabins for $176/night per cabin. There are lots of other options as well. I figured out where we wanted to stay and the cost of the rental van and figured out how much less than the cruisetour option was.
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  #17  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 10:19 PM
cg_abby cg_abby is offline
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Thank you for all the good advice everyone.

We talked to my dad/grandparents and they are all on the fence about it. I don't think my dad really understands why I want this-he doesn't think it will really save much money or be that worth it. My grandparents are afraid our rental car will break down or something-just afraid of not having Princess's direction. They are also worried we will not see Mt. McKinley, but I told them we probably will if we take a good shuttle deep into the park and the weather's right. But I think everyone is attracted to being able to see more of Denali and having a more relaxed pace.

Here is what I have tentatively come up with...

Disembark ship the morning of the 14th, get a rental car (or train) and drive to Denali, get there and relax. Stay there that night, the next day go on a shuttle tour, stay again that night. Wake up, sightsee (not necessarily in Denali), stay in Anchorage that night, get on our plane the next morning.

Questions...

My grandma really wants to ride one of the glass domed trains. Is it possible to do that somewhere in our land tour. Could we ride from the ship to Denali on a train? And if so, could we rent a car in Denali?

Also, I have found the Denali Park Hotel to be the cheapest hotel option. However, I've heard the toursaver book has great deals, and maybe we could buy that and stay in a nicer hotel for around the same price? Is the toursaver book a good investment and if so, how do I convince my parents to buy it?

Thanks again. I'm glad we are at least considering it now!
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  #18  
Old March 22nd, 2012, 11:06 PM
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After reading this whole thread, I am so majorly impressed with you, the OP (cg_abby). What a mature sounding girl you are for 16 years old and that you had the smarts to find this web site and do all the research you did. I am just amazed.

I hope the adults come to a united decision and you get what you want as the majority of us prefer doing the land touring independently. Your grandparents are just afraid because the unknown sounds scary and they feel they have security with Princess handling it all.

Since you get off in Whittier, another option you can consider is:

Don't take all the time that it takes to go to Denali and do that another trip since you are short on time. Check out the car rental prices in Whittier (Avis) and drive towards Anchorage stopping at the Alaska Wildlife Refuge Center, going to Girdwood and going up the Mt. Alyeska tram (with gorgeous views) and stop at Beluga Point and Potters Marsh. The views around Turnagain Arm are just spectacular.Return your car to the Anchorage airport where you could take a shuttle (most of the time for free) to your hotel. Then you could spend the night in Anchorage and take the 6:45 am train to Seward. Your hotel could also shuttle you to the train station to catch that 6:45 am train. Your grandma would get her glass domed train ride. From those that have done it, they say it is one of the most spectacular train rides anywhere. It arrives in Seward at 11:00 am where you could then take one of the 6 hour day cruises out into the Kenai Fjords National Park perhaps seeing whales, puffins, sea lions and one glacier. Spend the night in Seward. Rent a car in Seward just for your time in Seward and visit the Alaska SeaLife center the next day and perhaps out to Exit Glacier. The streets of Seward are also fun to walk around. You can see what the drop off fee is to return your car at Hertz at the Anchorage airport or return it in Seward. Hertz is the only car rental agency in Seward and it is very close to the train station and cruise ship dock. Then you could take the train back to Anchorage. (I think there is a 6:00 pm train getting to Anchorage about 10:00 pm). Check the Alaska Railroad web site (www.akrr.com). Spend the night in Anchorage. Don't know what time your flight is on the 17th.

Of course, this is just another idea. It is not as much driving as driving to Denali is.

Most of all, you should all talk together and make a decision based on what everyone wants to do.

Like the previous posters said - it is all in a positive attitude. Just make up your mind it is going to be a great trip and experience no matter what the adults decide to do.

It is great how excited you are about going to Alaska. Sounds like you will really appreciate the gorgeous awe-inspiring scenery to be found there.
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  #19  
Old March 23rd, 2012, 08:40 AM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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I suggest you call Avis, directly in Anchorage, and see if they can find out, if a van rental is available from Whittier. As already noted, it will be costly. Don't know what the costs are with your tour- but, you really can't compare the two. You can see and do much more independent. The alternative, is the shuttle, in the morning to Anchorage.

Pick up the van/car rental/RV rental by noon, grocery ship by Wasilla (can't miss it), be in Denali early evening.

Next am do the shuttle bus to Eielson (or Wonder Lake).

Take your time driving back to Anchorage, with plenty of stops.

McKinley is NOT viewable usually. And most people will not see it from the ground. A flight may be the best option for viewing.

There is no time for any rail travel on this portion. The White Pass RR out of Skagway is an excellent sightseeing choice.

I highly recommend the Denali Park Hotel, and have stayed there many times, including in 2011.

The "break down" concern, is remote. Anyway, there are few roads, and only one, Anchorage to Denali Park. Assistance will be offered, Alaskans are generous of their time and efforts to help others.

I suggest you head to your public library and see if you can get a copy of THE MILEPOST, this is all about the highways of Alaska and sights/services along the way, along with Alaska travel books, Fodor's Alaska and Frommer's Alaska are especially good.
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  #20  
Old March 23rd, 2012, 09:13 AM
Lookingforfacts Lookingforfacts is offline
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What time is your flight on the 17th? Who booked, is paying for, the trip? The person who booked, organized and paid for the trip will probably be the ones making the decision. If your grandparents are treating everyone to the trip, and they prefer having Princess handle all the details then you may be doing an exercise. I'd concentrate on telling everyone a DIY tour will allow you to spend more time doing stuff. Is Denali a "must do"? If not you can put together a tour, or even change Princess cruisetours, and not spend as much time going from place to place.

You could take the park connection bus from Whitter to Denali. Stay in Denali 2 nights and then take the RR back to Anchorage.
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