It has been so long since my first visit to Alaska, a great deal has changed. I have booked a land/cruise tour for August/September 2021.
As others have said, determine your priorities. Wildlife & nature are mine.
So far we have decided to fly into Anchorage a couple days before the land tour starts and visit Kenai Fjords National Park by boat from Seward one day, and do the 26 Glacier tour out of Whittier the second day. We have a travel agent working on the best way to do this logistically.
Then we head back to Anchorage and connect with the ship’s tour to Denali - personally I would not want you to visit Alaska and not visit here. Our tour includes two full days in Denali. Not enough, but we will make the most of it. The first day our tour takes us on a Tundra Wilderness Tour - about 63 miles into the park. Our second day is a free day. We are looking at a flightseeing tour that takes around Denali - the mountain. Some even include glacier landings. Though pricey, people who have done them rave about them.
We could also take Kantishna Air Taxi to (or from) Kantishna lodge, which is the “end of the road” in the park. The description of the flight makes it sound as if you get to fly around the famous North face of Denali, but it is a shorter flight time wise. The tour we are considering has us traveling by bus in the opposite direction. One way includes some time at the lodge to enjoy the surroundings or activities - whatever one chooses. Though this sounds great, we are not sure if we want to do two long bus rides back to back. But this is Denali! We decided not to stay at Kantishna lodge - it is very expensive. But I bet it is amazing.
Then our tour takes us back to Whittier to catch our ship. Our itinerary includes Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and finally Vancouver.
If your cruise does not take you to Glacier Bay, look for a private company who tours by plane or boat. I would not visit Alaska without visiting GB, but that is my personal opinion. It is a magical place.
Skagway has some amazing options. The White Pass train mentioned earlier is amazing. But we really want to visit the Chilkat bald eagle Preserve, in hopes that the eagles are busy fishing for salmon. We will be doing a float raft trip - not a white water raft tour. We will take the ferry from Skagway to Haines and then head out by bus to the Preserve & board our rafts.
Juneau - is undecided as of now. The last time I was there, I took a helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier and walked around on the glacier. So I do not plan on doing that again. We are looking at a whale watch tour, preferably with a small number of people, but we have time to figure this out.
In Ketchikan we want to either take a plane or boat to Misty Fjords National Park. I have just started looking at trip advisor to see if I can find info that would help us make our decision.
The Cruise ends in Vancouver. We will do a trolley tour our first day, and then take a ferry/bus tour to Victoria and Butchart Gardens.
Then we head to Seattle by the Amtrak train to spend a couple days with famity before flying back to Florida.
We won’t start booking excursions until the end of this year, and will only book, if they are 100% refundable, but we want to be ready, since there are so many amazing options.
Hope you share your decisions with us. And I would also benefit from any thoughts you want to share after your trip!
Most of all - hope you have an amazing trip!