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Tyskie

Alaska - DIY Land & Coral Princess SB June 13, 2018

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Posted (edited)

A few facts about us: Late 60s & DH early 70s, rather adventurous but not hikers. Bucket list trip, planning in the works for well over a year. I picked up some amazing tips from BudgetQueen, Mapleleaves, an AK friend (from another cruise) and the many reviews, so hoping some of our stays & excursions will help others. I’ll try to post pictures as I go along – my picture posting skills aren’t that great.

Do decide what youwant to do and what will work for you– don’t be swayed by what you “have to see” because that might not be your“have to see” thing!

Edited by Tyskie

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Posted (edited)

DIY Land(Talkeetna-Denali-Wasilla-Palmer-Anchorage)

Princess land tour held no appeal for us. We realized from the get-go we wouldn’t beable to see everything on our list – time change from NY to AK is/was a killerfor me.

6/7 – Thursday - We arrived in Anchorage 2pm – Enterprise car reserved. Keep checking prices, got upgrade and lower price close to arrival date. We loadedup, got a bit confused getting thru Anchorage but got on our way toTalkeetna. (Just before town there is a viewing area on the left)

We reserved Denali Fireside Cabins http://www.denalifireside.comfor 1 night. Highly recommend. We walked to town and ate at the Wildflower Café. Wanted to hang out a bit but we were starting to run out ofsteam.

Edited by Tyskie

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Approaching Anchorage

 

 

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Posted (edited)

6/8– Friday - We breakfasted at the Road House – best reindeer sausage of the whole trip! Town very cute but as others have said – getting very commercialized. There is a National Park Service – Ranger Station. Excellent video re climbing Denali. You can also stamp your passport.f496a5e49dacf2707d8d761200fe405e.jpg

Edited by Tyskie

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Posted (edited)

We continued on to Denali. There was some construction on the Hwy but not enough to slow us down much. Ourstay for the next 2 nights was the CreeksideCabins (& Café)http://www.mckinleycabins.com/ We were able to check in early.

*Of note: Gas station in Cantwell is last one until “Glitter Gulch” – 14 miles each way from our cabin. Gas is less expensive in Cantwell.

We spent the afternoon at the Denali NationalPark Visitors Center and able to catch the 4pm Sled Dog exhibit and demonstration. (hrs. 10, 2 & 4) We ate at the Café where we were staying – good food, Alaskan Beer and wine choices besides coffee. They open early for coffee, breakfast sandwiches to go and breakfast sweets.

Edited by Tyskie

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6/9 - Saturday - A recommendation from a friend in Wasilla; we chose the Denali BackCountry Adventure – full 93 miles to Kantishna. (Pick-up at Denali Cabins @6am, The Bluffs& one of the Princess Lodges.) We chose the first pickup so we could have our seat choice. We stopped at Toklat, Eielson Center, WonderLake and lunched at the Denali BackCountry Lodge.

Lunch was included: 2soups, 4 different roll sandwiches, potato salad, fresh veggies, lemonade,water. Wine for purchase. We walked up to the main lodge and sat outside enjoying our view, of the creek, savoring a glass of wine. Both coming and going – hot drinks (coffee,tea, chocolate, cider), water, soda were served at our stops, along with fresh baked cookies and granola bars. Our driver Missy was amazing – I had to give her extra credit for navigating those hairpin turns along the road. She was quite knowlegable about the area and hikes within Denali regularly. She was telling us about the 100yds camping rule – tent, food storage, eating – all 100yds apart like a triangle. It was along day but worth every bit of time. We saw dall sheep (more like white dots, lol) mamma grizzly and her (2) 2 year old cubs, moose, herd of caribou, golden eagle, red fox (with fresh kill in mouth), snow-shoe rabbits, arctic squirrels and ptarmigans. What a day!!!

 

We ate dinner at the DenaliCabins - Prey Bar & Eatery. Wehad a much needed adult beverage and shared a house salad and ReindeerBolognese. Portion was large enough toshare – delicious.

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9b3f4328f856436746ebfc6d9da2241e.jpg. Creekside

864d768817673335ab254f2d2c6be715.jpg

Our bus

 

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6/10 Sunday – Breakfast at our Café – then “On the road again”…………………….

We headed south to Wasilla/Palmer area. Along the way we stopped at the Iditarod Headquarters – they have a ½ hr video but DH wasn’t too interested in staying for it. A big bus arrived with HALpassengers returning to ANC. We waited until they left and played with the puppies. They do give wheeled dog sled rides for $10.

 

We found our B&B for the next two nights: Alaska Harvest B&B overlooking PioneerMt. I can’t say enough about the accommodations. http://www.alaskasharvest.com Check-in time is 4pm. Now that we found it – we decided to explore and find the Knik River Lodge where our helicopter Glacier Dog Sled tour was for the next day. Beautiful day, people camped along the banks of the Knik River. Was able to speak with the owner of the Helicopter tour (yup, I was a little nervous) he put my mind at ease and I was excited for the next morning. We had dinner at the Noisy Goose in Palmer, local comfort food.

 

6/11 Monday – WOW! Glacier Dog Sledding on Troublesome Glacier. We saw the Knik River, KnikRiver Glacier, Lake George, the Colony Glacier. They had fresh snow during the night, as soon we landed 3 dogs ran to greet us. We got a brief overview and saw their camp. Dogs were hooked up and away we went – what an experience! Loved, loved, loved ! I bookedthru Knik River Lodge https://knikriverlodge.com/alaska-lodging-tours/classic-alaska-dogsled-tour but the company was:

https://anchoragehelicoptertours.com/tours (same price btw)

After we returned we had lunch at the Lodge, toured the ReindeerFarm and off to explore Hatcher Pass and the Independence Mine. Unfortunately the weather turned, temps dropped and it started to rain, heavy at times. We got to the Mine and the last road to the mine was still closed from winter(even though it said online it was open –call). It was 38 degrees, misting and very windy – nope too cold and nasty to hike in - not happening for this girl!

 

After a pretty full day – we picked up chicken and some sides at Fred Meyers Grocery – went back to the B&B, did some laundry and enjoyed our view.

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Some pictures:

Iditarod pup

6ffc5d3e18f9ac54c0ac67ec620d16ee.jpg

 

f0d47d6998cf61b7f00a914f9bac8ac3.jpg

Our B&B view

 

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Dog sled camp

 

75ca6270dcef4fe2ff3c4a5a6fe74229.jpg

 

 

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Looking forward to the remaining posts. I will be doing a trip like this next June, 2019. One week in Alaska first, then one week on Coral Princess southbound.

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e30181675ca28f9069e599d1f7689b0d.jpg

 

Thought this was cute-we had mosquitoes in Talkeetna the first night-none the rest of the trip

 

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lunch at Knik River Lodge - Halibut sliders

 

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At Park headquarters & dog sled demo

 

 

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6/12 – Anchorage – back into town, along the way stoppedat Ekultna Spirit Houses – quite interesting but quite buggy, eek. ULU Knife Factory – shipping is quite reasonable. Street bridge to see salmon but the tide wasn’t cooperating. We lunched at the 49th State Brewery. Tasted 2 different beers. Suggest sharing as the sandwich portions were very large.

 

We stayed at the Lakefront Hotel – checked in and dropped luggage – returned rental car to airport (hotel has free shuttle). Hotel is older, only AC in windows but pretty view from terrace and restaurants of the float planes coming and going. We met up with friends for the cruise portion. Dinner was at Kincaid Grill http://www.kincaidgrill.com –reservation made thru Open Table. Uber

to restaurant. Restaurant excellent!! (It's in a strip mall and didn't look like much but one of our favorite meals of the trip) We had Rockfish (2), Black Cod, Pork Chop& Oysters as appetizer.

 

6/13 – Salmon Berry Tour & Cruise day

We had arranged for the Salmon Berry Tour and Transfer. They picked us up from the hotel. Scenic drive to Turnagain Arm, Girdwood, Alyeska Tram, Lunch in Alyeska, Wildlife Center and scenic stops inthe Portage Valley. Driver very nice& knowledgeable but felt the tour was overpriced. (btw- gurus on the AK board did not recommendthis tour but I felt it fit our needs & it did) It was beautiful scenery and some interesting sites.

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Thank you for sharing! Looking forward to the rest of your trip! We are going next year!

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Coral Princess (Whittier-Hubbard Glacier/YakutatBay-Glacier Bay-Skagway-Juneau-Ketchikan-Sea-Vancouver)

 

Just a fewPrincess facts: We’ve been cruising with Princess since 2002 & on the Coral Princess for the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal. We think she is one of the best ships in the fleet – love the size.

New beds - amazing, no longer need the eggcrates (yay!)

No BOGO cocktail hour as mentioned in other threads.

Platinum, Elite & Suite Cocktail Hour in ExplorersLounge 4:30-6:30 daily.

We had the Captain’s Circle Cocktail Party

(mostly bluecards, 270px Gold, 61px Ruby, 73px Platinum, 29px Elite – ship was full)

Most traveled couple 1020 days, 2nd& 3rd was in the 700s.

Pop Choir – 7 members total (5W-2M) - Nice to see, 4 young people (maybe high school) participating.

Pub lunch – last sea day.

Alfredo’s pizza in Sabatini’s for lunch.

Did not have Princess Pizza

EZ Air –Delta JFK-SEA-Anc and return YVR-JFK. Able to pick seats ahead of time & flights on time. Best pricing too!

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View Caribe 524

 

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We spent two nights at the Denali BackCountry Lodge shortly after you were there (6/14-6/15). Highly recommend it (along with a flight around the mountain from Kantishna Air Taxi that leaves from right near the Lodge) but if the price/timing doesn't work, at least do the Adventure as the OP did. Those last 30 miles are so worth it and the Lodge is wonderful!

 

That mama grizzly and her two cubs have apparently been hanging around for quite a while. I can't be 100% certain of course but we saw an identical grouping and my wife has seen pics posted as recently as 3 days ago of what sure looks like the same bears.

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Posted (edited)
We spent two nights at the Denali BackCountry Lodge shortly after you were there (6/14-6/15). Highly recommend it (along with a flight around the mountain from Kantishna Air Taxi that leaves from right near the Lodge) but if the price/timing doesn't work, at least do the Adventure as the OP did. Those last 30 miles are so worth it and the Lodge is wonderful!

 

That mama grizzly and her two cubs have apparently been hanging around for quite a while. I can't be 100% certain of course but we saw an identical grouping and my wife has seen pics posted as recently as 3 days ago of what sure looks like the same bears.

 

 

 

I would say I have to agree with you about the bears-they seemed oblivious to the buses.

 

It must have been nice staying at the lodge - very pretty setting. Did you see Denali ? We did not![emoji22]

 

 

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Edited by Tyskie

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If you don't mind me asking, what was ballpark cost of diy land portion? I'm planning a very similar trip next year.

 

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These are approx numbers that do not include food:

Lodging was $850 (Talkeetna $200, Denali -2 nights $350, B&B - 2 nights $300). Car rental $300, gas $50, Backcountry Adventure (2) $ 400, Dog sled & helicopter (2) $1000.

 

In Anchorage we prepaid @$200 for the one night before cruise & cruise tour transfer $400 which included lunch, Alyeska tram & wildlife sanctuary.

 

It adds up, no doubt about it! If it’s a once in lifetime don’t hesitate to do what you want.

 

 

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6/13 Boarded at 4pm, luggage arrived promptly and all put away before muster. We switched to AT dining which worked well for us this trip. We ate at 7:30 each night.

 

6/14 Yakutat Bay & Hubbards Glacier (Sea day - cold & windybut nice) – The Naturalist started his narration around 3:45. Of note, he mentioned that Hubbards was one of the active glaciers & growing. Currently approx. 6 ½ mi wide and 76mi long.

Dinner at Sabatini’s – good – still feel that CB has the best Sabatini’s - IMO

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Posted (edited)

6/15 Glacier Bay (chilly, sunny & nice)– National Park Rangers were picked up around 9am, gave lecture in the Princess Theater at 10am and left the Coral Princess approx. 7pm.

Sanctuary –something I had asked about on the boards – the general opinion was you want to“move around and be at all different levels”. Our traveling companions decided to book the sanctuary and we went for it as well!

BEST DECISION FOR US! It was $60pp – we chose our lounger. Greeted in the morning with a mimosa, fruit,yogurt, muffins, beaver tail donuts, coffee, tea. Around 11am we had Rockfish Chowder. (We had the UBP) Lunch consisted of salads and little bites. We had afternoon tea with little sandwiches, scones, cookies. Drink of the day was Mudslide (free). We were spoiled rotten! Given blankets for the day & souvenir head warmers and 8x10 photo (we each had a "photo shoot" so there was many to choose from).

 

We had beautiful views, lots of room to move around. I did venture out to the bow and walked a few decks but felt where we were was perfect. While we were in Glacier Bay the Coast Guard picked up a sick passenger from the ship - outside decks needed to be cleared but we were able to stay but asked to clear the side decks.

Dinner that night in MDR – crab legs

Edited by Tyskie

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8cc3193230a162cd5bc3c7c9b0577acd.jpg

 

If I have my notes correct Margerie Glacier

 

d02715b3ca775da93e7b420223878bea.jpg

 

Lamplugh Glacier

 

 

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Glacier Bay

 

 

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This was taken middle of night -

? Not sure what time

 

 

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It must have been nice staying at the lodge - very pretty setting. Did you see Denali ? We did not![emoji22]

 

Yes, we were very fortunate. On our drive in we saw about 70% of the mountain. It looked like we might be able to get around the clouds at the top as we neared the back of the park but they shifted. On our way out (which was pretty amazing b/c we had an entire school bus to ourselves plus one BackLodge employee who was heading into town to pick up stuff for the staff) it was 100% clear and we could see it the whole time.

 

We also of course saw it from the air on the flight tour I mentioned but that's a different experience entirely.

 

Nice review btw. The bears and Denali pics are already making me miss it. FWIW, I'll likely be posting a long review here at some point in the next week or two.

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Yes, we were very fortunate. On our drive in we saw about 70% of the mountain. It looked like we might be able to get around the clouds at the top as we neared the back of the park but they shifted. On our way out (which was pretty amazing b/c we had an entire school bus to ourselves plus one BackLodge employee who was heading into town to pick up stuff for the staff) it was 100% clear and we could see it the whole time.

 

We also of course saw it from the air on the flight tour I mentioned but that's a different experience entirely.

 

Nice review btw. The bears and Denali pics are already making me miss it. FWIW, I'll likely be posting a long review here at some point in the next week or two.

 

Jealous!!! ;):cool:

Looking forward to reading your review - did you cruise too?

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6/15 Glacier Bay (chilly, sunny & nice)– National Park Rangers were picked up around 9am, gave lecture in the Princess Theater at 10am and left the Coral Princess approx. 7pm.

 

Sanctuary –something I had asked about on the boards – the general opinion was you want to“move around and be at all different levels”. Our traveling companions decided to book the sanctuary and we went for it as well!

 

BEST DECISION FOR US! It was $60pp – we chose our lounger. Greeted in the morning with a mimosa, fruit,yogurt, muffins, beaver tail donuts, coffee, tea. Around 11am we had Rockfish Chowder. (We had the UBP) Lunch consisted of salads and little bites. We had afternoon tea with little sandwiches, scones, cookies. Drink of the day was Mudslide (free). We were spoiled rotten! Given blankets for the day & souvenir head warmers and 8x10 photo (we each had a "photo shoot" so there was many to choose from).

 

We had beautiful views, lots of room to move around. I did venture out to the bow and walked a few decks but felt where we were was perfect. While we were in Glacier Bay the Coast Guard picked up a sick passenger from the ship - outside decks needed to be cleared but we were able to stay but asked to clear the side decks.

Debating about doing the sanctuary for Glacier Bay in September on the Ruby. Never been to sanctuary before. Were you able to take pictures unobstructed from windows? Are the pictures included in this write up from the Sanctuary? Thanks.

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7d02fc166f6c8d87e645051bb85eccb5.jpg

View Caribe 524

 

58a166269b08228cd914506a9eff333d.jpg

 

db094f3fa69b872542f568788a4f3070.jpg

 

2ebb68549f129e6908183f76273864d8.jpg

 

 

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We were on the same cruise as you. Glad you are doing a review so I can relive our spectacular cruise and weather!!

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Thanks for this great review. We are doing a 12 day DIY starting next month. We are doing the same Denali tour and Flightseeing tour that you did!

 

 

6/12 – Anchorage – back into town, along the way stoppedat Ekultna Spirit Houses – quite interesting but quite buggy, eek. ULU Knife Factory – shipping is quite reasonable. Street bridge to see salmon but the tide wasn’t cooperating. We lunched at the 49th State Brewery. Tasted 2 different beers. Suggest sharing as the sandwich portions were very large.

 

We stayed at the Lakefront Hotel – checked in and dropped luggage – returned rental car to airport (hotel has free shuttle). Hotel is older, only AC in windows but pretty view from terrace and restaurants of the float planes coming and going. We met up with friends for the cruise portion. Dinner was at Kincaid Grill http://www.kincaidgrill.com –reservation made thru Open Table. Uber

to restaurant. Restaurant excellent!! (It's in a strip mall and didn't look like much but one of our favorite meals of the trip) We had Rockfish (2), Black Cod, Pork Chop& Oysters as appetizer.

 

6/13 – Salmon Berry Tour & Cruise day

We had arranged for the Salmon Berry Tour and Transfer. They picked us up from the hotel. Scenic drive to Turnagain Arm, Girdwood, Alyeska Tram, Lunch in Alyeska, Wildlife Center and scenic stops inthe Portage Valley. Driver very nice& knowledgeable but felt the tour was overpriced. (btw- gurus on the AK board did not recommendthis tour but I felt it fit our needs & it did) It was beautiful scenery and some interesting sites.

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Debating about doing the sanctuary for Glacier Bay in September on the Ruby. Never been to sanctuary before. Were you able to take pictures unobstructed from windows? Are the pictures included in this write up from the Sanctuary? Thanks.

 

katrina915, the Coral Princess Sanctuary is aft on deck 14 - on the Ruby it's in the bow. Very different configuration.

 

All of my glacier pictures of Glacier Bay were taken in the sanctuary. But note: the picture of the 4 of us with our ear warmers - Coral just has a regular deck railing - no "windows" like the Ruby.

 

I haven't been on the Ruby but if those windows are around the entire area - you might want to rethink. I would go up to the Sanctuary and "scope it out". We only booked the day before. Hope this helps.

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Jealous!!! ;):cool:

Looking forward to reading your review - did you cruise too?

 

Yes. We DIY’d Fairbanks-Denali-Anchorage-Girdwood-Seward for 10 days snd ended with a 7-night SB cruise on RCI’s Radiance of the Seas that hit Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Vancouver.

 

Between recovering from the time zone changes & red eye home, sorting through the 2000+ pics my wife took, and being long-winded when posting reviews, it may be a little while but the review is coming. Hopefully it delivers.:)

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That sounds amazing. We are not going to Fairbanks but we are going south to Homer.

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