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iujen94

Seward to Anchorage - Alaska Railroad vs rental car - pros and cons?

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We have a cruise in June ending in Seward, arriving at the port at 5am.  I'm debating between taking the Alaska Railroad (Adventure Class - GoldStar Dome is sold out) to Anchorage (train would leave at 6pm and arrive Anchorage around 10pm) or renting a car and driving ourselves.  The cost of the train vs rental car is almost the same (rental car is very slightly cheaper).  I'm curious if anyone has thoughts on the pros and cons of the Railroad vs driving ourselves?  In particular, I'm wondering if the route of one is particularly more scenic than the other?  Other thoughts??

Thanks!!  

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The train and highway parallel each other much of the way with the exception being the train also travels through the Placer Valley past Grandview and Spencer Glacier. So the edge of being scenic would be the train. Both travel along Turnagain Arm which is one of the most scenic drives in the state.

 

The advantage of a car is that you can stop along the way and there are many areas of interest.  My preference would be the car while having a plan to explore the area. Portage Glacier, Begich Boggs Visitor Center, Wildlife Conservation Center, unlikely but possible bore tide, dall sheep along the cliffs, particularly near Windy Point, Potter Marsh. Since you’d have the car a drive up to Glen Alps affords a fantastic view of the Anchorage Bowl.

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Both are scenic. I would chose the rental for the flexibility it gives you. But either way is great.

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If you'd rather not drive ... we have taken the cruise booked train transfer that left Seward at 7:30am and arrived right to the door of ANC at 11:30am. It was an amazing 146 mile guided trip...however you must book this directly with the cruiseline as a transfer and have a flight leaving from ANC no earlier than 2:30pm  if departing cruise end day.

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We booked a transfer for our May cruise through RCI. It took over 45 minutes to get it through the head of the person doing the booking all the flight info. Just make sure to have all that info at hand when booking the transfer. What Ashland suggested should work very well. They did verify that the flight info you give them does really exist but not if you are actually booked on the flight.

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10 hours ago, masterdrago said:

If you decide to rent a car, here is the Bore Tide schedule. You want to look for the one with the largest negative number like June 16th 3:49pm @ Beluga Point or 4:49pm @ Bird Point.  http://www.alaska.org/advice/alaska-bore-tide

 

We actually saw beluga whales off Beluga Point when we drove by. It was fast, and we just saw them surface for air, but we saw them. I'm not saying it always happens, but we were lucky.

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We've done both....the train and driving ourselves. Both are scenic routes. The train gets the edge for comfort and stress free travel, and the car gets the edge for flexibility.

 

Seward is a neat, quirky little town, though, and I have always enjoyed spending time there. One of my all-time favorite Alaska excursions is the Kenai Fjords boat trip out of Seward. If wildlife is of any interest to you, you'd have time to do a 6-hr. National Park cruise, whether you choose the train or car. A good chance to see whales, stellar sea lions, puffins, otters, in addition to glacier viewing.  Something to consider if you still have a few bucks left after a week in Alaska!

 

 

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We are hoping to see them there when we do the Bore Tide the day after we arrive in Anchorage on our DIY pre-cruise land tour. I've read that the dates we are there may be too early unfortunately since the Belugas follow the salmon mid July through August. For us, renting a car was the most practical thing since we can move at our pace.

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19 minutes ago, Tricia724 said:

We've done both....the train and driving ourselves. Both are scenic routes. The train gets the edge for comfort and stress free travel, and the car gets the edge for flexibility.

 

Seward is a neat, quirky little town, though, and I have always enjoyed spending time there. One of my all-time favorite Alaska excursions is the Kenai Fjords boat trip out of Seward. If wildlife is of any interest to you, you'd have time to do a 6-hr. National Park cruise, whether you choose the train or car. A good chance to see whales, stellar sea lions, puffins, otters, in addition to glacier viewing.  Something to consider if you still have a few bucks left after a week in Alaska!

 

 

 

We actually have the Kenai Fjords cruise booked. But I’m starting to second-guess, as we’ve got two active teen boys, who may have had enough “sitting and watching” by the end of the week. The flexibility of a car sounds like just the ticket. That way we can do some sightseeing, but if the boys (or we!) are ready to move on, then we can. 

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2 hours ago, masterdrago said:

We are hoping to see them there when we do the Bore Tide the day after we arrive in Anchorage on our DIY pre-cruise land tour. I've read that the dates we are there may be too early unfortunately since the Belugas follow the salmon mid July through August. For us, renting a car was the most practical thing since we can move at our pace.

 

The belugas also chase the hooligan in the spring so there may be sightings when you’re in Alaska. They’re a bit anticlimactic as most of the time you just see a little white hump from a distance that sometimes can be confused with a white cap.  This site shows previous sightings.

https://www.cookinletbelugas.com/cibw-sightings

 

If the tide is high a good stop is the parking area at Twenty Mile River.  The belugas swim under the Seward Highway bridge here and it’s a good spot to get a closer look.  There’s a much better chance you won’t see any but certainly worth a look.

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We booked a Celebrity excursion which includes the fjords boat, Seward tour, lunch, and bus to the Anchorage Airport. I priced it out and it's comparable to booking it on my own. I'm hoping by doing it all under the Celebrity umbrella things will go smoothly. 

 

I should probably come up with a plan B, just in case. We don't have to be at the airport before midnight so we have plenty of time to get there. 

 

 

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On 4/11/2019 at 8:11 PM, Ashland said:

If you'd rather not drive ... we have taken the cruise booked train transfer that left Seward at 7:30am and arrived right to the door of ANC at 11:30am. It was an amazing 146 mile guided trip...however you must book this directly with the cruiseline as a transfer and have a flight leaving from ANC no earlier than 2:30pm  if departing cruise end day.

We are debating driving or taking the train.  My husband and I took the train from Anchorage to Seward years ago on a previous cruise.  Do you recall about what the cost was with the cruise line?  Thanks!

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On 4/11/2019 at 10:07 PM, masterdrago said:

If you decide to rent a car, here is the Bore Tide schedule. You want to look for the one with the largest negative number like June 16th 3:49pm @ Beluga Point or 4:49pm @ Bird Point.  http://www.alaska.org/advice/alaska-bore-tide

 

@masterdrago, we've decided to drive, and trying to catch a glimpse of the bore tide is intriguing.  Question that you may or may not be able to answer - the link you sent (thank you!) has a list of the "best" bore tides in 2019.  Unfortunately, our date (June 21) isn't on that list, but it's just a few days off, so I'm hoping that we could still see the bore tide, it just won't be as dramatic?  I've poked around all over online, but can't figure out how to figure out when the bore tide would be visible from Bird Point and Beluga Point on June 21.  Any chance you could help me figure that out?  

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What you want to know is what time the low tide is on the date of interest. There are many places to get that info. I've used https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/tide_predictions.html?gid=1391#listing.

The attached image is of the chart produced by that source for Fire Island, Cook Inlet. You can find it with a find command on that page. The you can make daily and calendar plots. Add about 2.5 hours to the low tide time for Bird Island (from info on the page you noted). June 21 is not on that page because the differential between high and low tide is not very large. Therefore not a large bore tide is produced. The tide table indicates that the extreme of -3.44 on June 17th at 1:59pm gives the best for the month (biggest tidal swing). Days adjacent to the 17th are good also as indicated in the alaska.org page. The 21st shows only a -0.06 foot low tide.

tide fire island june 2019.jpg

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23 minutes ago, masterdrago said:

What you want to know is what time the low tide is on the date of interest. There are many places to get that info. I've used https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/tide_predictions.html?gid=1391#listing.

The attached image is of the chart produced by that source for Fire Island, Cook Inlet. You can find it with a find command on that page. The you can make daily and calendar plots. Add about 2.5 hours to the low tide time for Bird Island (from info on the page you noted). June 21 is not on that page because the differential between high and low tide is not very large. Therefore not a large bore tide is produced. The tide table indicates that the extreme of -3.44 on June 17th at 1:59pm gives the best for the month (biggest tidal swing). Days adjacent to the 17th are good also as indicated in the alaska.org page. The 21st shows only a -0.06 foot low tide.

tide fire island june 2019.jpg

 

With such a low differential, is it not even worth our time to try to catch the tide that day?  It’s tbe only day that’s even a possibility for us to catch it, unfortunately. 

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8 minutes ago, iujen94 said:

 

With such a low differential, is it not even worth our time to try to catch the tide that day?  It’s tbe only day that’s even a possibility for us to catch it, unfortunately. 

We have similar issue in a few days. The only practical day for us to do the Bore Tide is the 17th at -3.15'. The following 3 days have -4' so would be better. I tried all kinds of shenanigans to make the days work for us but, no joy. I agree, June 21 is not good.

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