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Alaska cruise tour on-your-own


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We took a Celebrity cruise from Seward to Vancouver three years ago and fell in love with Alaska. We flew into Anchorage, rented a car at the airport and drove to Denali for three days. The drive was easy and very scenic. After spending three days in Denali, we drove back to Anchorage, returned the car, took a city bus ($1.00 pp) to downtown Anchorage, spent the night at the Hilton, had the best pizza ever at Glacier Brewhouse, and took the train from Anchorage to Seward the next morning. It was a great adventure which was so easy to do on your own with a little planning. If you book the car in advance and return it to the same location, you avoid the drop off charge. I say go for it. :cool:

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Has anyone ever taken an Alaskan cruise and then planned their own interior of Alaska tour? We are having second thoughts about a Celebrity cruise tour we have booked for next year. I think there's going to be a lot of mixed transportation and schedules which eat up time we could be doing this ourselves.

 

I'm in the process of researching this, and it seems like it would be a lot of fun to rent a car and do some time in Kenai, Anchorage, and drive up to Denali.

 

My question is: has anyone here done that? I'm interested in your opinions, reviews, recommendations, etc.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

 

I would do my own, so this would free up the time you want to spend at the places you want to see more of.

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Interesting thread.

I have a couple of questions.

1) What is a rough order of magnitude difference in the open jaw airfare (Seward/Anchorage) as opposed to RT Vancouver or Seattle?

2) If we wanted to spend 4-5 days either before or after a cruise, see Denali and ride the train instead of rending a car, how do you get transport?

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We did our own pre-cruise tour in Alaska before a cruise 9 years ago.

I posted a review of the land portion of our trip on the Alaska forum here on Cruise Critic: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=231529

And some photos here:

 

In comparing information with some on our cruise who took a cruise line tour (through Princess on that cruise) we saw lot more of Denali park. We spent three nights in Denali on a package that included two nights at a hotel/motel near the park entrance, where most people stay, and one night at a lodge in Kantishna at the end of the 90 mile park road deep inside Denali park which was just incredible. Most cruise tours don't go more than a few miles into the park.

 

In my opinion the most important thing you can do in planning your tour is to research the differences between all the trips into Denali park as there are, or were, only 3 or 4 different types of trips available. There are a lot of threads with good information on this in the Cruise Critic Alaska forum.

 

In short: Most of our trip was arraigned around tour packages sold through the Alaskan Railway and actually included parts of different packages they offered at the time (remember this was 9 years ago). We stayed one night at a B&B in Anchorage, then took the Alaskan Railway to Denali for our three night package, returned on the train, overnighted two more nights in Anchorage with a tour into the Kenai peninsula in the day in between. Around Anchorage we took taxis or walked. Our transportation from Anchorage to the cruise terminal in Whittier (we were sailing on Princess that trip) was via private transportation which I found either through the Cruise Critic Alaska forum or through Google searches.

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In reading this thread, it's definitely got me thinking, or rather re-thinking, about the cruise tour I want to book in May of 2016. It's our 20th wedding anniversary that month and we want to really do some exploring. This is still all in the planning stages, but we're tentatively planning on visiting Seattle for about 5 days, then taking the train up to Vancouver the day before we do the 10 day cruise tour (Vancouver to Seward, then it ends in Fairbanks).

 

With the tour, our hotels, transportation, etc., are already paid for, but would it be cheaper (and easier) to just do a 7 day cruise and then go off on our own for 3-4 days?

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...With the tour, our hotels, transportation, etc., are already paid for, but would it be cheaper (and easier) to just do a 7 day cruise and then go off on our own for 3-4 days?

 

I don't think the tour we did was cheaper nor easier. But I do believe it was better.

 

If you're planning on going to Fairbanks do read some reviews and comments to determine what is there. I've heard mixed feelings of whether it was worth the time to go there. Not been there myself.

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Interesting thread.

I have a couple of questions.

1) What is a rough order of magnitude difference in the open jaw airfare (Seward/Anchorage) as opposed to RT Vancouver or Seattle?

2) If we wanted to spend 4-5 days either before or after a cruise, see Denali and ride the train instead of rending a car, how do you get transport?

 

There currently is no commercial air service into the small Seward airport. It really does surprise me that Ravn (formerly named ERA) doesn't do limited summer service.

 

For those who use the Alaska Railroad to go to Denali the hotels provide shuttle service, but clarify the shuttle services (i.e., how often and the route) before booking. While there are some commercial tours into the park the best bet is to book the National Park Service shuttle into Eielson Visitor's Center or Wonder Lake. Also, in the past one of the B & Bs in the area has had limited car rentals available; just use the CC search function to find the name or ask on the Alaska forum.

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.....

 

If you're planning on going to Fairbanks do read some reviews and comments to determine what is there. I've heard mixed feelings of whether it was worth the time to go there. Not been there myself.

 

Fairbanks is the second largest community in the state and is very different than Southeast Alaska. Tourism is not the major industry here, and we don't have the "touristy" feel of Skagway, Ketchikan or downtown Juneau.

 

I am convinced that the tourists who find this community interesting are those who are more inclined to do outdoorsy activities and extreme sports. In Fairbanks local residents actually go camping, continue to run trails and ride their mountain bikes in the winter. While we have attractions like the Riverboat Discovery, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, the Museum of the North and the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, Fairbanks is the "jumping off" point for those who want to cross the Arctic Circle or float a remote river. Those folks who want to shop at a Diamonds International won't find one here.

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We have just come back from Alaska

 

We started our trip in Fairbanks and hired a car, spent 2 nights Fairbanks , 2 nights Denali, 1 night in talkeetna then one night in anchorage before picking up a tour to Seward.

 

The car was surprisingly expensive, but well worth it, you can drive where you want when you want and most importantly stop when you want. There are so many lovely spots you see when you drive that you can just stop and get out and take it all in. For instance on our drive down to anchorage we stopped to watch and take pictures of a black bear and a moose and her calves.

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