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Everything posted by AuroraRose

  1. Of course! Happy to answer any questions too! This is the one we stayed at in Healy, but it was about a 10 minute drive to the park entrance and very close to the supermarket/gas station. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15904609?source_impression_id=p3_1609561007_lUWcW3XUTgfgREz4
  2. I agree wholeheartedly. My husband and I saw it last year (mainly because he really wanted to; I was indifferent when booking). We are in our late 20's/early 30's with no kids and we both really enjoyed it! At times there was corny humor but watching their skills was awe inspiring and we still laughed a few times too. We also booked axe throwing after the show and had fun learning how to do that from one of the lumberjacks (and competing against each other for bragging rights 😉 ) Here's a picture I took during the show last year!
  3. Last summer we rented an AirBNB in Fairbanks. It was my husband and two friends for the land tour; we rented a 3 bedroom house that was walking distance to downtown for $75 a night (total price!). It had a full kitchen and laundry and was perfect for what we needed. We did have a rental car through Alaska 4x4 rentals which made renting a house easier, but we also had to drop off the car at Pike's lodge to return the rental. The entrance to the lodge looked great but it was crowded with buses arriving and very close to the airport (so flight noise could be a problem).
  4. We loved being on the rooftop terrace on deck 12 during our visit to Hubbard last August (we sailed on the Millennium post remodel). Here are some pictures, all taken from deck 12. We got great views and could hear the calving. And there were some chairs but they weren't near the railing and people stood at the railing. We did end up going back to our balcony while still at the glacier to be able to sit while still viewing it.
  5. My husband and I (a couple in our late 20's) sailed Celebrity to Alaska in August 2019. Icy Strait Point/Hoonah is a nature lover's paradise! You can walk into the town of Hoonah from Icy Strait Point, admiring the scenery as you go. We also did a flightseeing excursion over Glacier Bay National Park from Icy Strait Point since the ship visited Hubbard Glacier instead. In Juneau, we booked a helicopter glacier landing excursion (which was one of the highlights of our trip!). We also took the tram up Mt. Roberts and there were numerous hiking trails at the top up there. And I wasn't feeling well after that so we decided to forgo Mendenhall Glacier, but according to my research there are numerous hiking trails (including a hike to a waterfall!) there too. In Ketchikan we really enjoyed the lumberjack show and booked an axe throwing session after the show, which was a lot of fun. After that we walked around Creek Street. We didn't end up buying anything in the shops but we really enjoyed just walking around and taking everything in. We enjoyed reading the historical marker signs on the buildings and watching salmon swim upstream. I think there are some trails into the woods from Creek Street as well. The ship itself visits Hubbard Glacier (it's not a port in the traditional sense), but last summer was the first time an excursion was offered, where you could book a small boat tour to get a little closer to the glacier. We decided to just stay on the ship and not pay the extra $500 per person to do that, and we lucked out with fantastic weather that day. The boat didn't seem to get much closer than the ship did honestly! I have a bunch of pictures and more details in my trip report.
  6. I have only done the train, but I will echo others here in that it was absolutely fantastic taking the train and we felt really immersed in the landscape. We did Gold Star Seward-Anchorage and I felt it was worth it. The meal was delicious, the views out of the dome car were excellent, they had a good selection of drinks to use your free drink tickets on, you got a souvenir pin, and the open air platform was fantastic for wildlife viewing and taking pictures. Our friends took the train to meet us in Seward the day our cruise ship arrived (they only wanted to do the land portion of our tour) and they took Adventure Class on the way down. They said they enjoyed it overall, but the breakfast foods sold out fast and they hadn't eaten anything all morning by the time they arrived in Seward, and that they wished they had done Gold Star on the way down too.
  7. @Chrisclaire Thank you! Your photos of South Korea are fascinating and now I have a new bucket list destination as well! Here's another one from our Alaska Trip this past August. This was taken from the Mt. Roberts gondola in Juneau looking across to Douglas Island with the Millennium below.
  8. Hubbard Glacier, August 2019, Celebrity Millennium from Vancouver to Seward, Alaska. We had almost perfect weather that day and the ship got within a half mile of the glacier, which is about the closest you can get. This picture was taken from the Millennium.
  9. Admittedly that's the same reason I have hesitated to book them too. We ended up taking a Celebrity cruise to Alaska which is supposed to have a better passenger:crew ratio and less "nickel and diming", but I have been eyeing a few NCL itineraries recently and have been talking to coworkers about if they like it. They all seemed to love it. We also went on an excursion in Juneau with people around our age who were on a NCL ship in port, and they seemed to say that the nightlife on the ship was great. They were asking us about Celebrity since we were the only people that they had seen in their 20's who came off that ship. NCL certainly looked like much more of a lively crowd than the Princess, Holland America, or Celebrity ships. The NCL ships also seemed to have more kids on board. And opening up itineraries that don't include Glacier Bay would give you options on Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean which also are kid friendly and the latter two are apparently lively for nightlife/shows as well (not sure about Disney, but a lot of adults seem to enjoy that line too).
  10. Friday, August 16th: Time to fly back to NY! As I mentioned earlier, this trip was supposed to be a bunch of couples going together. One couple backed out early before anything was booked since they found out they were expecting (and now have a healthy, happy son!). The other couple still wanted to do this trip but was not interested in the cruise with us, so instead their plan was to fly further North from Fairbanks on Thursday, August 15th and see/hike Gates of the Arctic National Park. Well they ended up getting a divorce after DH and I had booked all of our flights and cruise, but she still wanted to do this trip as she had done a lot of the planning for it. Our other friend (who is first friend's roommate post divorce) came at the last minute instead of the ex-husband. She hadn't booked flights yet before the divorce happened, so they were able to book flights together, and they flew in together at the beginning of the trip. However, the second friend/roommate wanted to extend her trip by visiting her family in Seattle, so they booked separate flights on the way back from Fairbanks. They both decided to book their flights the same day that our flight left, but coordination with our flights was not great, so all of our flights were spread out throughout the day. Friend/roommate who was visiting family in Seattle booked a very early morning flight, so I woke up at 3 am to drive her to the airport in Fairbanks. I got back to the rental house and slept as long as I could, but still was awake by around 9. The remaining 3 of us decided to pack up and check out of the house by 10 am. We decided to go get breakfast at The Crepery, which served fantastic crepes. They have won national awards for their crepes, so I highly recommend stopping here if you are in Fairbanks. The rental car didn't have to be returned until 1 pm, so we explored the shops around the Crepery and stumbled upon an indoor mall with an Alaskan history museum inside. We walked around the exhibits a bit before we needed to get the rental car returned. Alaska 4x4 rentals operates out of Pike's Lodge in Fairbanks, which is close to the airport but not quite walking distance to the terminal. We returned the vehicle, dropping the keys off at the front desk of the hotel as instructed, and boarded the hotel's free shuttle to the airport with our luggage. I remember getting through security very quickly at the airport, and having a lot of time to kill before our 3 pm flight. Our friend's flight wasn't until 8 pm that night, but she assured us she would be happy to just sit there and read her book to kill time. She had a deck of cards and we all played a few rounds of Hearts in the airport before our flight started boarding. We said our goodbyes, DH and I boarded our flight, and we were off. We had also booked these flights on points and were flying first class again, but this was your standard domestic first class. Nothing fancy, but still more comfortable than economy. Flying out of Fairbanks the views were spectacular. The mountain ranges were beautiful to look at. Our first flight was from Fairbanks to Seattle. We landed in Seattle around 7 pm and our flight to JFK wasn't until 11 pm, so we went to a lounge that we had free access to because of my American Express Platinum card and ate dinner in the lounge. We hung out there until it was almost time to board, then went to our gate, boarded and found our seats, and settled in to try to fall asleep for our flight to NY. We had a 3 hour drive once we landed in NY so we needed all the rest we could get. Again, just a standard domestic first class...man how I wish I had those lay flat seats for this leg of the trip. DH and I both didn't sleep great and were exhausted when we landed in NY, but we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts close to the long term parking lot on our way home and grabbed large coffees and bagels to help us get home. The drive home was uneventful and after we picked up our dog from our friend's house, we went back to our house and crashed all afternoon. Fortunately we left some buffer time and had all afternoon Saturday and all day Sunday to recover before having to go back to work on Monday. Edit: Both of our friends made it back to NY without any issues as well. All of our return flights were uneventful, which is always a good thing in my mind. Uneventful means they went exactly as they should of and were stress free, which is what vacations should be. So that's the end of my report. We certainly enjoyed our bucket list trip to Alaska and have fond memories. This trip was also our first introduction to cruising and I am working on planning more for the future because we loved it so much! I hope you enjoyed my report, and let me know if you have any questions!
  11. Thursday, August 15th, 2019: This was our last full day in Alaska, and as a result, we decided we would go to Chena Hot Springs today. We were all pretty tired from the past few days and got a bit of a late start to the day, but got to the Hot Springs a little bit after 11 am. We signed up for the 2 pm energy tour (free) and the 3 pm ice musuem tour ($15 per person). My friends and I all decided to do the Ice Appletini for an additional $15. While that's not cheap, where else can you drink an appletini out of a hand carved ice martini glass? It was an experience more than anything. We signed up for the tours, and then decided to go grab lunch in the cafe since we had time to kill. Most of us had soups if I remember correctly that were made with veggies grown on site. After a quick lunch, we headed to the pool house to buy tickets for the hot springs and kill some time there. We thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor hot spring. A little after 1, we decided to dry off, get dressed, and go back to the activities lodge to wait for the energy tour to begin. The energy tour started out with a tour of the greenhouse on-site where they grow vegetables year round. We also got to see the outdoor vegetable garden, the chicken coop, and the highlight of the tour for me was the geothermal electric power plant that produces all of the resort's electricity. It was awe-inspiring seeing how much of the resort was self sufficient. Going on this tour actually inspired me to do my grad school capstone project on geothermal electricity (which I passed, and my advisors loved; I completed that this past fall, which is why this trip report is so late!). After the energy tour, we returned to the activities lodge just in time for the ice museum tour. Chena keeps the ice museum at 20F year round, but they hand you parkas as you walk in. They talked about the resident ice carvers on site and the different things they have done there. There were two hotel rooms inside the ice museum that you can try to sleep in; no one has made it through an entire night yet! Chena gives you a regular room as well if you book the ice room so that you can warm up and aren't out of luck if you can't make it all the way through. We enjoyed looking at the sculptures, peeking inside the unoccupied hotel rooms, and just taking it all in. At the end of the presentation, the presenter went behind the bar and called anyone over who ordered an appletini and started making them for us. He laid the ice glasses out on the bar with paper towels so you could hold onto them and just poured vodka and apple liqueur directly into the glasses. They were strong but I powered through and finished it! Once everyone was done with their drinks, he told us to hang onto our ice glasses, because they had a tradition that once you left the museum to whisper a secret into your glass and then smash it in the parking lot. We left the museum, hanging up our parkas and holding onto our ice glasses. My friends and I whispered our wishes into our glasses once we got outside and smashed them immediately afterward. My wish came true so there might be something to the legend after all! Me with my Appletini: This is one of the two hotel rooms inside the ice museum, and that's the bed in the middle: After the ice museum tour, we decided to have dinner in the full service restaurant on site at the resort. I had had a tomato soup made with tomatoes grown in the greenhouse on property for lunch, and the restaurant served that as well so I decided to get a big bowl of that and a grilled cheese. I think it might have been one of the best tomato soups I have ever had. I don't remember what everyone else ordered but I do remember that everyone seemed very pleased with their meals. After dinner we headed back to the house in Fairbanks to start packing up our luggage and get ready for the next day. We had a lot of beer still that we had bought in Anchorage so we all a few that night when we got back since we couldn't easily take them on the plane. And my pictures are all out of order again and Cruise Critic doesn't want to let me move or delete this one, so here's a bonus picture of the bartender pouring vodka and apple liqueur directly into my ice glass.
  12. Wednesday, August 14th, 2019: we got up, made coffee, ate breakfast, packed up our luggage, and checked out of the cabin. We headed to the rafting company where we donned dry suits and were shuttled to the river entry point with the rafts. Overall this was a fun activity, but I would only book a half day trip next time (hindsight being 20/20). The majority of the full day raft trip was calm water and honestly a bit boring; probably better for someone not as active who just wants to float down the river and look at nature and scenery. I personally want to get knocked around and have a thrill ride when I go white water rafting. Our tour included lunch which was a sandwich, a bag of chips, water bottle, and a brownie. We stopped on a beach for lunch, which was nice. There were bathrooms there which everyone really appreciated, but getting in and out of the dry suit was a hassle to be able to go to the bathroom. After lunch, the rapids picked up more and we hit some class 3 rapids that had their fun moments. For less than half the price and a much shorter trip, we could have just done that portion of the river (the "Canyon Run" route for anyone who looks at the website) and still had a great time. I don't have any pictures as we were told that a photographer would be taking pictures for us. While that ended up being true, what we didn't know is that you had to pay $50 for a cd of the pictures at the end, and none of us liked our pictures that much to pay that amount for them. After the white water rafting trip, we went to dinner at the Denali Park Salmon Bake since we were starving. I didn't realize it would be a full service restaurant and bar and had visions of a more casual fish and chips stand that served salmon. The food was good though and it was a nice break before hitting the road to Fairbanks that evening. The drive to Fairbanks was pretty uneventful, and we arrived to the house we rented around 10 pm and all crashed early.
  13. Have you looked at NCL sailings? The same age issue occurs with their Youth program (except for one ship that offers a nursery that I don't think sails in Alaska), but there will probably be more kids and kid oriented activities on board in general compared to Princess. On top of that, the nightlife and shows are apparently great. I haven't been on NCL, but everyone I know seems to love it (coworkers my age in their late 20's and some coworkers who are in the 60's as well who exclusively cruise on NCL). And NCL cruises to Glacier Bay National Park as well. Edit: Also, we didn't cruise to GBNP and our ship instead went to Hubbard Glacier. I thought Hubbard was fantastic as well and have no regrets about not cruising to GBNP, however we did book a flight seeing tour of GBNP so we at least got to see it too. Looking at sailings that don't go to GBNP may open up more options for you as well, and you will still have a fantastic time.
  14. Tuesday, August 13th, 2019: DH woke up early to drive our one friend to her whole day bushwhacking hike in the park and drive back. Then the other 3 of us took our time getting up and heading to the park. It was the first day in our trip so far that we had rain, and DH and I had to put our new raincoats to use. We dropped our friend off to get her bus pass to go deeper into the park, and reiterated to her what time we were all planning to meet back up in the main area. DH and I got in line for the bus to the Husky Kennels for the husky demonstration. They showed us to the stands where DH and I were fortunate enough to get under an awning and out of the rain. Others weren't so lucky. The demonstration is relatively quick. The ranger talks about why they have sled dogs, the role the dogs play in the park, and exercise routines, while others are preparing the dogs and harnessing them to the training cart. The audience is asked to help get the dogs excited to run by howling with the ranger, and the ranger hops on the sled and goes for a run around a track in front of the audience. Once the demo stops, the audience is released to the kennels where you can pet the sled dogs. After taking the bus back to the main parking area, DH and I decided to drive to the end of the public road in Denali, just to see what was there. The area is called Savage River, and seemed to have some interesting, relatively easy hiking trails. We didn't end up hiking on them due to the weather, but had it been a nicer day I would have suggested we do so. DH and I decided to make our way back to the main area, and go grocery shopping as the cabin was out of coffee even though it was supposed to be provided. We figured buying coffee wasn't a big deal though and didn't want to bother our hosts who lived off property when we could easily buy a bag ourselves. The car also needed gas so we figured we would go run some errands. Driving back toward the main entrance of the park, we spotted a moose in the woods. This was the first wild moose I had seen. We pulled over when we realized it was walking closer and closer to the road and looking like it wanted to cross. As it got closer, we realized this was a mama moose that had two babies with her. All 3 ended up crossing the road in front of us! We continued on and went up to 3 bears grocery store in Healy, which conveniently also had a gas station right there. We found some interesting Alaskan coffees and decided to buy a few bags as souvenirs, including "Alaska Outhouse Blend" and "Skookum", which DH found funny because of his favorite Youtube video series by AvE. At this point it was getting to be the time we were supposed to meet our friends, so we dropped groceries off at the cabin and headed back to the park. They ended up catching a bus together coincidentally and got back together. They were both exhausted from their days and just wanted a quiet night in. DH and I still wanted to explore some more of town so we dropped them off at the cabin and walked around the gift shops just outside of the park. We decided to eat at Prospector's Pizza, which was not memorable to me for the food (it wasn't bad, but not something I would go out of my way for), but the pictures inside hanging on all of the walls showing different parts of Alaskan history were really cool to look at. We brought a pizza back to our friends as well so they had something for dinner too. We turned in early that night.
  15. Monday, August 12th, 2019: We were picking up the rental car at 9 am, so we all agreed to meet for breakfast at 7:30 to give us time to eat and catch the free airport shuttle from the hotel. Breakfast was included in our stay, and was one of the nicer breakfast buffets I have seen at a hotel. The food was good but just normal breakfast staples of bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, french toast, etc. Still, it was filling enough for the long trip we had ahead of us. We checked out of our hotel rooms and caught the shuttle to the Anchorage airport, where the Alaska 4x4 rental desk is. I made a mistake by not reading the confirmation email closely enough and assumed that the Alaska 4x4 rental desk would be where "Car Rentals" are located at the airport. Unfortunately, I was very wrong. After not seeing the Alaska 4x4 rental desk in the area where all the other car rental company desks are located, I pulled up the email on my phone and realized we had to go to the International Terminal. So we dragged our luggage on sidewalks and roads on the airport property to get to the International Terminal since we couldn't find an airport bus that would take us there. A bus driver took pity on us and stopped to ask where we were going right as the International Terminal came into view for us. He still offered to drive us but he said he would have to loop around the entire airport to do so and it would take about a half hour. At that point we only needed to walk another 1000 feet or so so we declined and toughed it out. Fortunately once we got inside the International Terminal the desk was very easy to find. We were the only people pretty much in the terminal, but two women walked by with airport therapy dogs and we all needed some canine cuddles at that point so we gladly accepted petting them when the women asked if we wanted to. I think they could tell we were all stressed and frustrated. After we found the desk, the check in process was very easy, and Alaska 4x4 gave us a free upgrade to a larger SUV. Given how much luggage we had between the four of us, I'm glad we got the upgrade, as I'm not sure everything would have fit in the smaller one. We picked up the SUV and found a grocery store nearby to load up on snacks, beer, and some items we wanted to bring to Denali since we had heard through research that grocery stores were limited in Denali and to buy stuff in Anchorage. DH and I had packed a soft cooler bag that we put to good use for cold items. We spent about an hour shopping and then hit the road to Denali. The drive was not really too bad; the roads are paved and there is really only one road there so it's pretty straight forward. DH saw a moose on the side of the road but it had gone into the thick brush by the time he pointed it out so we didn't see it. We detoured to Talkeetna to stop for lunch. In Talkeetna, we decided that pizza sounded good, so we stopped to eat at Mountain High Pizza Pie. We ordered the "Game On" (Reindeer gyro, Italian reindeer sausage, basil and onion, mozzarella) and "Papa Georgio" (Soppressata, tomato, basil, fresh garlic and Provolone) specialty pizzas, and both were delicious! The Game On is in the foreground and DH is taking a slice of the Papa Georgio. We packed up the leftovers and hit the road back to the main road to head up to Denali. On the road back, we passed a parking area where a lot of people had stopped and were taking pictures. We decided to investigate and realized that it was such a clear day that you could see Denali mountain from this overlook! Our pictures didn't really come out well because it was a bit hazy surrounding the mountain. The peak looks like clouds in the picture below (like I said, the picture didn't come out well compared to what we could actually see from this overlook). As we continued on, our one friend who booked the white water rafting trip for Tuesday got a phone call that not enough people booked on Tuesday and they had to cancel our trip, but would we consider going on Wednesday instead? We were staying in our cabin until Wednesday, but we talked it through and decided we could make it work by checking out of the cabin in the morning before we went white water rafting and leaving our luggage in the car. However, this threw another wrench into the plans, as our friend also really wanted to do a ranger led hike in the Denali National Park, and you have to sign up for the hike before 6pm the night before the hike. So she asked if we could stop at the ranger station in the park before we checked into our cabin that night. We obliged and headed directly to the park so that she could check in. We got her there at about 5:45, and she just made the cut off to check in for the next day's hike. Then we decided to drive down the road in the park a little since most visitors were eating dinner and we were there anyways! We decided to go check in to our cabin in Healy, and realized we were almost across the street from the 49th State brewing company, so we decided to go there for dinner and beer before turning in for the night. We also discussed what the other 3 of us were going to do tomorrow since our plans shifted around. Our other friend decided she wanted to take the bus into the park and would buy a bus pass and ride that around all day. DH and I decided we really wanted to go see the Husky demonstration in the park, and would figure out what to do after that. We all made a plan to meet at the spot that our friend signed up for her hike in the evening.
  16. Oh my gosh I'm so sorry that I forgot to update; grad school and other life events got in the way and time got away from me! I'm determined to finish this trip report today though to help others who are planning similar trips for this upcoming summer. Sunday, August 11th, 2019: Our one friend woke up really early to catch the shuttle to Exit Glacier and go on a hike to the edge of the glacier (The Harding Icefield Trail). That hike was too advanced for the rest of us, so we slept in and took a later shuttle. The shuttle in question is $15 round trip from downtown Seward, and we took the free town shuttle from our AirBNB to the shuttle depot. We went on a ranger led hike to the Glacier Overlook where we made frequent stops to talk about the history of the area, the geology, how much the glacier had receded and how much that receding had accelerated in recent decades, etc. The hike took about 1.5 hours to hike about 1.5-2 miles one way. The trail for most of it is wheelchair accessible with great views of the glacier, but the last 0.6 of a mile to the overlook is not and is quite steep and rocky in some parts. Bring good walking/hiking shoes (I would not recommend sandals if you want to get to the overlook; someone stopped us on our way down to ask if her platform sandals were sufficient footwear and the answer was a resounding no from all 3 of us). The hike ended at the Glacier Overlook and we were able to spend as much time as we wanted there before heading back to the main area where the shuttle would pick us up. DH took a picture of me and my friend standing at the Glacier Overlook after the ranger left. The interesting thing about this picture is that 2019 was our 10 year high school reunion (we all missed the reunion because of this trip to Alaska). The glacier was approximately where we are standing in this picture when we were in high school. There were markers along the trail telling you where the edge of the glacier used to be, and it was both awe-inspiring and chilling that the glacier had receded that much in such a short time frame. It is now on my bucket list to go back in a few decades to see just how much farther it recedes compared to this picture. I'm grateful that I was able to see it now at least though. We hiked back to the main area in roughly 25-30 minutes since we weren't making frequent stops with the ranger this time. We waited at the ranger station for a few minutes for our friend to meet us, as there was no cell phone service in the park. She got back from her long hike about 20 minutes after we did, and we caught the 2 pm shuttle back to town. The Exit Glacier shuttle depot had stored our luggage for us since we were leaving Seward that day and had checked out of our AirBNB before we left that morning. We got back to the shuttle depot, picked up our luggage, hopped on a free town shuttle over to the train station, and checked in our luggage for the evening train to Anchorage. At this point we still had almost 4 hours to kill before the train left, and we were all starving, so we decided to take the free shuttle again back into downtown and find somewhere to eat lunch and do a little last minute souvenir shopping. We settled on eating at Zudy's cafe, which had salads and sandwiches that were delicious. The view from their patio was excellent as well (as long as you ignored the parking lot between the patio and the bay). After a late lunch, we walked around town a little and went into some gift shops to buy souvenirs. DH bought salt water taffy for his brother (a tradition in their family), one friend was buying postcards in every town she visited, and the other was looking for local art. Nothing really stood out to me as something that I had to have so I didn't buy any souvenirs. It was finally time to head back to the train station and board the train. Our friends came into Seward on the train to meet us, and they took Adventure Class on the way since Gold Star was sold out for their trip by the time they booked it. However, Gold Star was available for our trip from Seward to Anchorage and you only live once right? Upon check in, the railroad gave us blue and gold pins to designate that we were Gold Star passengers. I actually still have it, so there's a souvenir that I do have! I forgot to take a picture of it that day but I just went and grabbed it and snapped a picture of it on my kitchen counter this morning. You are expected to wear the pin the entire time you are on the train so that the crew can instantly identify that you are authorized to be in GS cars. We boarded directly onto the second deck of the GS car, which is the dome car. It had excellent viewing opportunities, and an open air platform that you could go out and stand on. The upstairs area also had a bar. Gold Star service includes 2 free alcoholic beverages per passenger, so my friends and I went and got some Alaskan craft beers that were available on board and enjoyed the open air platform. I was very surprised how few people actually were out there enjoying it, but they sat half the car for dinner pretty quickly after we left Seward, and we had the later seating with fewer people in our half of the car, so maybe it was busier while we were eating dinner. After about an hour and a half-2 hours, it was our turn for dinner. We were called to the downstairs half of the train where there was booth seating. I had a reindeer chili, fish tacos, and chocolate mousse for dessert. Everything was delicious! And we ran into a couple that we shared dinner with on the Millennium a few nights earlier that were enjoying their dinner in the GS car too. I'm not sure how we didn't see them on the second floor but it was a nice surprise running into people from our cruise! On the Millennium, we had all discussed that we were all doing a land tour on our own post cruise and that they were also taking the train from Seward to Anchorage, but they didn't remember what day they were taking it when we asked. After dinner, we went back up to the dome car, grabbed our second free drink (we all tried different craft beers and ciders again), and enjoyed the sunset views as the train pulled into Anchorage around 10 pm. We called an Uber to pick us up and bring us to the hotel. I booked the Crowne Plaza midtown on points for all of us, so it was free for us to stay there that night. We got to the hotel and pretty much all called it a night, knowing we had a long drive ahead of us the next morning.
  17. To add some thoughts, we did a Northbound cruise out of Vancouver this past August, and then a DIY land tour from there. Our cruise ended in Seward, where we spent a few days and went to the aquarium and Exit Glacier. We took the train from Seward to Anchorage, spent the night in Anchorage, and picked up a car rental in Anchorage the next day. We rented from Alaska 4x4 rentals, which does allow you to drive on gravel roads. We got a discount using a coupon book as well (toursaver book I think). After we picked it up, we drove straight to Denali, stopping for lunch in Talkeetna. We rented a cabin for a few days in Healy and enjoyed Denali NP and went white water rafting on the Nenana River. We then drove up to Fairbanks where we rented a house on AirBNB. We went to Chena Hot Springs for a day while there, and flew out of Fairbanks. We saved a lot of money this way since we booked private rentals that were cheaper than hotels and had kitchen facilities, allowing us to cook our own meals if we didn't feel like eating out.
  18. There is a lot to do in Seward, and I don't think an evening before boarding is enough time to see everything there, depending on how much you want to see. I personally really loved going to see Exit Glacier (there's a $15 shuttle from Seward, but it sounds like you might have a rental car, so you can also just drive there). The Sea Life center is pretty cool to see some native Alaskan marine creatures, and there are excellent tours that go to Kenai Fjords. I'm not sure what you plan to do in each location, but I strongly suggest finding a way to spend a little more time in Seward if possible.
  19. We did something like this after our Celebrity cruise on the Millennium this past August, but we gave ourselves a little more time to work with. But I think it could be manageable with you itinerary. We took the train from Seward to Anchorage, spent a night in Anchorage, picked up a rental car in the morning and drove to Denali that day. I believe the train from Seward-Denali would also require an overnight in Anchorage. There is also a Park Connection Bus that can be taken from Seward to Denali. The train leaves Seward in the evening, and I believe there are boat tours of Kenai Fjords that can be fit into a schedule where you can still catch the evening train. I personally think I would do this all by train given your short timeline, as the trains are reliable, and you don't run into the construction zones (we got held up a few times driving our rental car between Anchorage and Denali, and it added probably an hour to our drive). So with the train, an itinerary might look like this Friday: debark ship, Kenai Fjords boat tour, catch train to Anchorage (6 pm-10:30 pm), overnight in Anchorage. Saturday: train to Denali (8:15 am to 3:40 pm), spend the afternoon/evening exploring shops/restaurants, overnight in Denali Sunday: Explore Denali/ go on a tour (full day in Denali) Monday: Breakfast in Denali, Train back to Anchorage (12:30 pm to 8 pm), overnight in Anchorage Tuesday: Fly out of Anchorage Edit to add: We loved our Millennium cruise; I'm happy to answer any questions you might have! Also, Celebrity offers a Kenai Fjords boat tour and Anchorage airport transfer excursion that you should look into as well! You could grab a taxi, hotel shuttle, or rental car (if you go that route) from the airport to your hotel.
  20. So we took a 7 day cruise on Celebrity (part of the RCCL brands) this past August, and while we sailed through the Inside Passge, we missed almost all of it due to fog. You can see pictures of that in my trip report. As a note, the trip report is still in progress (I plan to finish writing it up within the next week or two) but I covered all of the cruise already. I don't feel like we missed out on anything that day personally, so I wouldn't hesitate to book a cruise that doesn't sail through there from a scenery perspective (rough vs calm waters may be a different story). However, the 5 day itinerary you are talking about does not visit any glaciers. The only opportunity you might have is by doing a flightseeing tour of Glacier Bay National Park from Icy Strait Point (see trip report here; comment #29). We did this excursion and loved it, so I do recommend that, but it was only offered through the cruise line, and I'm not sure if Royal Caribbean offers it too. They might since Celebrity is the same company, but I couldn't find it in RC's sample excursions offered at Icy Strait. If you want to guarantee that you will see glaciers, I think you should really look at longer cruises that specifically visit a glacier (will say glacier/cruising as a "port" on the itinerary even though the ship doesn't stop there). Going to Juneau also allows you to easily see Mendenhall Glacier. My advice is to either pick a cruise that stops in Juneau and/or specifically calls out going to Glacier Bay National Park, Hubbard Glacier, Tracy Arm, or Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier.
  21. The sun was just starting to set in mid August when we pulled into Anchorage around 10 pm, so you will have plenty of daylight for the glacier views!
  22. Our cruise also had a few Alaska Brewing Company beers on board, and as a craft beer connoisseur and a history buff I also really loved the Spruce Tip Ale from Skagway Brewing Company. This beer provides a hefty dose of Vitamin C and was used to prevent sailors from getting scurvy in Alaska since citrus doesn't grow well there!
  23. We went to Exit Glacier (taking the shuttle for $15), ate lunch by the bay at Zudy's cafe (highly recommend! good food and great views from the deck!), went to the Sea Life Center, and just walked around enjoying the various shops. We stayed in Seward for 3 days post cruise this past August.
  24. I booked it through TripAdvisor/Viator (can't remember which; and they are affiliated companies). TripAdvisor/Viator did a 10% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday last year that I was able to take advantage of. The helicopter company itself is Coastal Helicopters. Here is a link to the tour I booked: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g31020-d11763517-Juneau_Shore_Excursion_Helicopter_Tour_and_Guided_Icefield_Walk-Juneau_Alaska.html Even without the additional 10% off the tour price is still about $100 cheaper per person than booking the same tour through the cruise line. We did run into a small snafu with this company though; their instructions were emailed to me to meet the van in front of the Red Dog Saloon, and my husband and I were there at the time we were supposed to be, and we didn't see their van. A couple walked down the road and asked us if we were waiting for Coastal Helicopters, as they told us the company was at the pier by the ship calling out our names. Finally we met up with the van and then everything went smoothly from there! Edit to add: Picture from our Tour! He is holding a cup and I am holding a water bottle; both of which are full of pure glacial water we got on the glacier!
  25. Saturday, August 10th, 2019: Our friends woke up very early to go on their kayaking tour of Aialik glacier. They were gone before DH and I got up. DH's back had been bothering him, and both of us were desperately in need of laundry, so we just decided to spend a leisurely day at the AirBNB and not book a tour for today. The AirBNB had a washer and dryer included so we made good use of that :). We decided to forgo the kayaking when I found the Glacier Bay flightseeing tour from Icy Strait Point, as they were the same price, but the flightseeing allowed us to see another National Park on our trip. I also had reservations about the kayaking trip to begin with, as they talk about specific types of clothing to wear ("not cotton", and all I own pretty much is cotton...), "snack provided" on an 8+ hour tour, can't bring much with you either, and only about an hour or so of actual kayaking, with the rest of the trip on a small boat to and from the glacier. And I knew in advance we would need time to do laundry after the cruise, so not joining our friends for the kayaking trip seemed like the best option for us. When our friends got back later that evening, while overall they really enjoyed the part where they got to kayak near a glacier, they basically were only given a granola bar to eat all day and were starving. They did get to see a pod of orcas and listen to their calls, but apart from the time spent chasing the orcas, they said the boat rides were boring as well. They both showered, took naps while we finished up our laundry, and we decided to go out to dinner again. We went to dinner at another local restaurant that wasn't as good as the Cookery, and the food wasn't really memorable to me. We then walked around the park near the bay and ended up playing horseshoes. It started to get chilly so we walked back to the AirBNB and called it a night, as we had a busy day ahead of us on Sunday.
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