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Denali explorer customization


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Hello everyone!

 

I will be a first time cruiser next July in Alaska (booked the Coral SB Anchorage to Vancouver... SO EXCITED!). I have a 3 year old and this will be my first real vacation in a while (my son will be staying home with his dad). Because of that, I couldn't manage to go away for more than 10 days and decided to book the Denali Explorer land tour before the cruise. I wanted to see the most in the shortest time, and also wanted the peace of mind of having all the travel and accomodations sorted out without me planning everything (for once!).

 

I'm now having second thoughts about the land part though. The itinerary is:

- 1 night in Anchorage

- 1 night at Mt. McKinley Princess lodge

- 1 night at Denali Princess lodge (Natural History tour included, but possibility to upgrade to Tundra Wilderness tour from what I gather)

- Train from Denali to Whittier for the cruise.

 

I'm wondering if it would be wise/possible to change it to 2 nights in Denali (and skipping Mt McKinley). I'm reading that Mt McKinley is only visible 30% of the time so I'm not sure if the night stay at the lodge is essential. I think I'd rather spend two night in Denali.

 

Now, I don't even know if Princess allows this kind of customization of the tour, but I wanted to ask the question here first since I have read so many great advice on this board before:

 

Would you rather spend 2 nights in Denali? Am I going to regret not going to Mt McKinley (and Talkeetna)?

 

And in Denali, would you rather do the Tundra Wilderness Tour or do the tour on your own on the shuttle bus? Or is the included Natural History Tour enough in your opinion?

 

Thank you in advance!

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I have not done a cruise tour with princess before but I did research them a bunch before deciding to do my own land for our southbound cruise next summer. The biggest complaint I found was not nearly enough time in Denali. I did notice there is this cruisetour: Denali Explorer- Tour DB3, starts in Fairbanks (1 night) but does 2 nights in Denali, giving you an entire day there without changing hotels or anything. A friend's mom just did a cruise tour (on HAL) and had one night in Denali. Said it was the worst part of the trip- spent so much time getting there and back and the short amount of time there was a huge disappointment, as it wasn't nearly long enough.

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I realize this doesn't work for you but I prefer two days at each lodge. You are correct about the mountain being "shy" when at McKinley Lodge. We were fortunate to have all the clouds go away on our last day there but there was a couple in our tour group who were there for the fifth time and this was the first time they had seen the mountain come out from behind the clouds. Naturally we were getting ready to leave and I only had my phone to take a picture so it doesn't do justice to the mountain. It's pretty impressive in person. Most tall mountains are grouped with other mountains but this one sits all alone and comes up from a flatter area so it's really impressive in person.

 

 

enhance

 

 

As for the Tundra Wilderness tour: YES. Make the change. The Natural History Tour barely goes into the park. You likely won't see any wildlife on that one.

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Thank you for your responses. I'm going to try and spend two nights in Denali. From what I gather, the montain should be visible from there also?

 

For Denali, is the additionnal expense of the Tundra Wilderness tour worth it or should I should use the shuttles in the park? If going in July, are the shuttles going to be full?

 

Thank you!

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I lived 4 years in Alaska and I can tell you this...your chances of seeing the mountain are better on most days from the Talkeetna Turnout (across the street from the Talkeetna Lodge) than from being in Denali National Park. The bus tour farther into Denali is a one day trip that I recommend. There is a turnaround point that no one can go beyond (except in September if you get picked in the lottery), but the ride is exciting and the views are spectacular! Seeing wildlife is always hit an miss. You are as likely to see moose walking down 3rd avenue in Anchorage as you are in Denali. Either way, enjoy. July is a great month!! Bring some covers for your eyes, because it's pretty light near Denali during the night sky.

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We did the land tour staying in Denali and did the Tundra Wilderness tour. The wilderness tour is worth the additional cost. We left the hotel at 5:30 AM and got to see the mountain in the morning before the fog rolled in. Our tour was the only one to see the mountain that day. We were also lucky enough to see the mountain the next day as we were leaving to board the ship. Enjoy your trip.

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When we did our land tour I insisted on 2 nights at each lodge. Did get to take the Tundra Wilderness tour but decide early and sign up as soon as possible as it fills up fast. It is about 9 hours on the bus with several stops. They do provide a snack and you can get a lunch to go in the Denali Lodge or get a Subway sandwich the night before across the street. McKinley lodge did not have mush to do so it was a bus ride into Talkeetna for sight seeing. Also do the land portion 1st then the cruise. Have fun.

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I love visiting Talkeetna. Yes, it's a funky little tourist town but we go to the Denali Brewing Company brew pub. (My wife always buys another Talkeetna coffee mug in one of the shops as well. :*) Wonderful beer. Last year we did a 7 week camping trip that took us all the way up to Fairbanks. We stayed in a lodging once a week or so (sometimes less) and had a B&B outside of Talkeetna. Wow. Not only did we do the brewpub in Talkeetna but found that the actual brewery was a short distance the other way from our lodging. They don't (or at least didn't at that time) do food but they did serve beer. We sat outside and sampled a number of wonderful beers. I dearly wish we could get their beer here at home. Next May when we do another cruise tour we will be sure to go back to Talkeetna. :cool:

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Hello everyone!

 

I will be a first time cruiser next July in Alaska (booked the Coral SB Anchorage to Vancouver... SO EXCITED!). I have a 3 year old and this will be my first real vacation in a while (my son will be staying home with his dad). Because of that, I couldn't manage to go away for more than 10 days and decided to book the Denali Explorer land tour before the cruise. I wanted to see the most in the shortest time, and also wanted the peace of mind of having all the travel and accomodations sorted out without me planning everything (for once!).

 

I'm now having second thoughts about the land part though. The itinerary is:

- 1 night in Anchorage

- 1 night at Mt. McKinley Princess lodge

- 1 night at Denali Princess lodge (Natural History tour included, but possibility to upgrade to Tundra Wilderness tour from what I gather)

- Train from Denali to Whittier for the cruise.

 

I'm wondering if it would be wise/possible to change it to 2 nights in Denali (and skipping Mt McKinley). I'm reading that Mt McKinley is only visible 30% of the time so I'm not sure if the night stay at the lodge is essential. I think I'd rather spend two night in Denali.

 

Now, I don't even know if Princess allows this kind of customization of the tour, but I wanted to ask the question here first since I have read so many great advice on this board before:

 

Would you rather spend 2 nights in Denali? Am I going to regret not going to Mt McKinley (and Talkeetna)?

 

And in Denali, would you rather do the Tundra Wilderness Tour or do the tour on your own on the shuttle bus? Or is the included Natural History Tour enough in your opinion?

 

Thank you in advance!

 

You won't be able to customize the tour you booked to suit yourself. You may be able to switch your booking to a different Princess tour that better suits your desires about 2 nights at Denali.

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If you have a full day in Denali I highly recommend the shuttle at least to Eielson.... you have to get yourself to the transport center and bring your own food for the day.

 

If you plan to take the shuttle you can get reimbursed the amount of the tour that is included whether it is the Natural History Tour or the Tundra Wilderness Tour. I've been told this is frequently done by folks who want to take the shuttle for substantially less money.

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Fairly certain that the only way that you would be able to upgrade to the Tundra Wilderness tour would be to spend two nights at the Denali lodge. You will probably get there too late to do the longer tour but this may vary depending upon the timing of your trip and hours of daylight. You cannot see the mountain from the Denali lodge but can see it (if she's not hiding and she was hiding both of our visits there) from the McKinley lodge.

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Audrine, good questions. My DH and I are booked on the Coral, July 3 sailing with a 3 day land tour prior. It sounds like the same as yours. I appreciate everyone's comments because we are coming from Florida and know we are trying to shove a lot of vacation in a short time.

 

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Since it "may" not be possible to change your itinerary to have 2 days at Denali lodge so you could take the Tundra Wilderness Tour you may want to see if you can be reimbursed for the Natural History Tour (I have been assured by others here on CC that this is frequently done) and then take the shuttle which can get you quite a way into the park.

 

I would suggest that you look at these two web pages for information on the shuttles available and for the full bus schedule. Both are National Park web sites.

 

https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/visiting-denali.htm

 

https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/courtesy-shuttle-buses.htm

 

Note: I found these to sites by simply Googling "denali shuttle schedule"

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If you go into Talkeetna for the day locate the Ranger station. This is where all who are going to climb Denali MUST check in and out. They have a very interesting 20minute film about climbing the mountain. They also will answer many of your questions for you.

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If you go into Talkeetna for the day locate the Ranger station. This is where all who are going to climb Denali MUST check in and out. They have a very interesting 20minute film about climbing the mountain. They also will answer many of your questions for you.

 

Yep. They have a listing there of all the folks currently climbing the mountain. It was interesting. Good call. I had forgotten about the Ranger Station.

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I love visiting Talkeetna. Yes, it's a funky little tourist town but we go to the Denali Brewing Company brew pub. (My wife always buys another Talkeetna coffee mug in one of the shops as well. :*) Wonderful beer. Last year we did a 7 week camping trip that took us all the way up to Fairbanks. We stayed in a lodging once a week or so (sometimes less) and had a B&B outside of Talkeetna. Wow. Not only did we do the brewpub in Talkeetna but found that the actual brewery was a short distance the other way from our lodging. They don't (or at least didn't at that time) do food but they did serve beer. We sat outside and sampled a number of wonderful beers. I dearly wish we could get their beer here at home. Next May when we do another cruise tour we will be sure to go back to Talkeetna. :cool:

 

Since you are a fan of the beer from Denali Brewing Company, you would certainly like the beers offered by Alaska Brewing Company. Assuming you are in California (I think I saw that on your post), you should be able to find their beers at a local distributor. I highly recommend them!!

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FWIW to those following this thread. I have an HB4 Cruisetour 2 nts Fairbanks, 2 nights Denali booked for May 2019. I booked the day 3 for Free opened and I was told upsell to the Tundra Wilderness Tour was NOT showing as an option at that time, but to check back. This thread reminded me. I called Princess this morning to find that I COULD upsell to the Tundra Wilderness Tour for $70.00. 2 time choices 9 am or 10 am. I am very happy :)

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Since you are a fan of the beer from Denali Brewing Company, you would certainly like the beers offered by Alaska Brewing Company. Assuming you are in California (I think I saw that on your post), you should be able to find their beers at a local distributor. I highly recommend them!!

 

Alaska Brewing Company beers are fine. We drink them on Alaska cruises and were fortunate to find a supply in one of the Lido bars on our Circle Caribbean cruise last March. (The ship had been doing an Alaska itinerary before that.) They just aren't in the same category as Denali Brewing Company beers.

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Alaska Brewing Company beers are fine. We drink them on Alaska cruises and were fortunate to find a supply in one of the Lido bars on our Circle Caribbean cruise last March. (The ship had been doing an Alaska itinerary before that.) They just aren't in the same category as Denali Brewing Company beers.

 

I appreciate that feedback. I still have friends in Anchorage, so I think a care package to SC with an assortment of Denali Brewing Company beers is in order. CHEERS!!!!

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I appreciate that feedback. I still have friends in Anchorage, so I think a care package to SC with an assortment of Denali Brewing Company beers is in order. CHEERS!!!!

 

Ohhh... Have a Chuli Stout (the regular one - not the barrel aged coconut one) for me, a Slow Down Brown and a Single Engine Red for my wife and a Big DIPA for both of us. :D

 

https://denalibrewing.com/category/beer/

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Since it "may" not be possible to change your itinerary to have 2 days at Denali lodge so you could take the Tundra Wilderness Tour you may want to see if you can be reimbursed for the Natural History Tour (I have been assured by others here on CC that this is frequently done) and then take the shuttle which can get you quite a way into the park.

 

I would suggest that you look at these two web pages for information on the shuttles available and for the full bus schedule. Both are National Park web sites.

 

https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/visiting-denali.htm

 

https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/courtesy-shuttle-buses.htm

 

Note: I found these to sites by simply Googling "denali shuttle schedule"

Thanks we are very familiar with the http://www.npa.gov/ website as we camp a lot. We will look at it. We get torn between RVing and cruising....

 

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Thanks we are very familiar with the www.npa.gov/ website as we camp a lot. We will look at it. We get torn between RVing and cruising....

 

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My wife reserves summer for camping. Always. We did a 7 week trip last year and have done a 4 week trip this year. We are taking another one week trip very soon as we just "need" to get in one more camping trip before the weather gets nasty. We don't have an RV though. Here's a picture of our "big rig". :D

 

enhance

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My wife reserves summer for camping. Always. We did a 7 week trip last year and have done a 4 week trip this year. We are taking another one week trip very soon as we just "need" to get in one more camping trip before the weather gets nasty. We don't have an RV though. Here's a picture of our "big rig". :D

 

enhance

I love it but you and you wife must handle camping better than us. I guess we do flaming as they put it. However, in all honesty my husband works from home or the RV full time so we do have a class A, the smaller one 36 ft. Thoight about driving to Alaska, but problem would be whe we went on cruise who would watch the cats? At least lea ing them here with a house sitter works.

 

Anyway see your posts all the time and appreciate the info. My DH and I honeymooned in Alaska and our really looking forward to going again and seeing Denali.

 

We actually got a fantastic deal on EZ air for the return trip but since they were restricted we cant do our departure tickets by EZ air. Interesting gliche. However no biggy just going to do it independently, when the price is right.

 

In the meantime going to be heading to Alburqueque in our camper to see the big Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Take care.

 

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