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KikiKruiser

Holland America Alaska Cruise Tour Questions!

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Questions for anyone who has done an Alaska Cruise Tour with Holland America:

Did you buy the Meal Plan for the land portion?  Did you dine in the hotels or get vouchers for restaurants?  Food quality?  Most importantly, did you think the Meal Plan was worth the cost?  I’ve got a quote of $998 for 2 people for the land portion of the Seattle Triple Denali cruise tour. TIA for your insights!

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We did not buy the meal package as it was easy to find places to eat throughout the land portion.  We certainly did not spend anywhere near that amount of money.

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1 hour ago, KikiKruiser said:

Questions for anyone who has done an Alaska Cruise Tour with Holland America:

Did you buy the Meal Plan for the land portion?  Did you dine in the hotels or get vouchers for restaurants?  Food quality?  Most importantly, did you think the Meal Plan was worth the cost?  I’ve got a quote of $998 for 2 people for the land portion of the Seattle Triple Denali cruise tour. TIA for your insights!

 

Just completed the Triple Denali in June and did not have the Meal Plan but I did have the plan two years ago.  I spent $149 in June for my meals, mostly at the Karsten's House in the Resort with dinner at Humpy's in Anchorage.  I had the continental breakfast each day, two lunches in the Karsten's House, and three dinners (all huge portions with the fish & chips highly recommended).

 

To make the Meal Plan work, you have to eat the most expensive salads, entrees, and desserts on the menus.

 

There is a Subway across the street from the McKinley Resort Main Lobby as well as several pizza places.

 

I do not recommend the meal plan after experiencing both alternatives.

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We did just a Double Denali without the meal plan, and were glad we didn't buy it. Many times we did not feel like eating a big dinner, and that is where most of daily allowance is allocated.  Food is expensive in AK, but not as much as the meal plan costs.  

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11 minutes ago, Crew News said:

I spent $149 in June for my meals, mostly at the Karsten's House in the Resort with dinner at Humpy's in Anchorage.  I had the continental breakfast each day, two lunches in the Karsten's House, and three dinners (all huge portions with the fish & chips highly recommended).

 

Thanks for the info. We are leaving in 2 1/2 weeks for our land portion and have another question: how far is the walk from the main Chalet building to Karsten's? We're not sure where we will be staying (looks like a lot of buildings at the resort), but that info would give us an approximate idea of how far everything is apart.

 

Thanks, Penny

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30 minutes ago, PSR said:

 

Thanks for the info. We are leaving in 2 1/2 weeks for our land portion and have another question: how far is the walk from the main Chalet building to Karsten's? We're not sure where we will be staying (looks like a lot of buildings at the resort), but that info would give us an approximate idea of how far everything is apart.

Karstens is probably about 100 yards downhill (and a fairly good grade) from the main building. There is a shuttle that runs around the property that will take you to both. (This is based on my experience from two years ago.)

Prospector's Pizza is directly across the highway from the main building, and their food is pretty good. We enjoyed the elk meatball and reindeer sausage pizza. Happy trails! 

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16 minutes ago, kwb101 said:

Karstens is probably about 100 yards downhill (and a fairly good grade) from the main building. There is a shuttle that runs around the property that will take you to both. (This is based on my experience from two years ago.)

Prospector's Pizza is directly across the highway from the main building, and their food is pretty good. We enjoyed the elk meatball and reindeer sausage pizza. Happy trails! 

 

Thanks for the info. We may walk there and take the shuttle back if we're near the main building. I've also heard about the pizza place and that may be an option. It actually looked pretty close in the photos on Google Maps.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, PSR said:

Thanks for the info. We may walk there and take the shuttle back if we're near the main building. I've also heard about the pizza place and that may be an option. It actually looked pretty close in the photos on Google Maps.

It's not much of a walk to Prospector's, maybe 150 yards from the main building, straight across the highway (and there's a traffic light to help you cross). We liked it: the clientele looked like mostly locals, not tourists like us, and lots of historical photos on the walls. 

Edited by kwb101

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Posted (edited)

Sounds good! Thanks😋 !

 

Just thought of another question: do people tip the shuttle drivers?

Edited by PSR

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We just returned from a Double Denali  on Aug 1. The meal plan is a 100% HAL ripoff. There are plenty of good meal options at a fraction of the cost.  Depending on where your room is at the McKinley Chalets, Karstens  is close. We were lucky enough to get into the brand new Ridge View building for our room. It was a level walk to the  Denali Square and Karstens of maybe 100 yards. The shuttle buses run every 15 minutes and I didn't see anyone tipping. We had dinner one night at Karstens and the second night at Prospectors Pizza both were excellent and not very expensive. If your have the Tundra wilderness tour, the snack box that comes with it is ok, but you can buy sandwiches to take with your at Subway across the street from the resort. The Mc. Chalets wants $15 for a lunch box, which is way to expensive.

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We did the Triple Denali trip 5 years ago. We did not do the food plan...thank goodness. It was crazy expensive. The people that we talked to that had it said it was way too much food for every meal. Everyplace we went had meal options close by. Sure they were kinda expensive but you could control the cost and the portion size. Sometimes we only wanted a bowl of soup. Several places we shared a meal. I figured we spent about 1/4 what that food package would have cost us. In Denali we used Subway for breakfast sandwiches and also grabbed a sandwich to have on one of our tours. We also got to try some local places that the plan people did not. 

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14 hours ago, PSR said:

 

Thanks for the info. We are leaving in 2 1/2 weeks for our land portion and have another question: how far is the walk from the main Chalet building to Karsten's? We're not sure where we will be staying (looks like a lot of buildings at the resort), but that info would give us an approximate idea of how far everything is apart.

 

Thanks, Penny

Penny are you on Westerdam Sept 1? we are also doing a land tour first but only one night in Denali.

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It's also an easy walk or shuttle ride to the Princess property up the road.  More dining choices.  We had a couple dinners there on our triple Denali a few months ago.  We did much better without the meal plan.  

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18 hours ago, KikiKruiser said:

Did you buy the Meal Plan for the land portion?

No, we didn't.

 

After looking out our planned itinerary for the land portion, including excursions booked, we found that most days we had either lunch or dinner included.  And, since we're not big eaters, the first stop (Whitehorse) we went to the grocery and purchased sodas, cheese, crackers, peanut butter, fruit, sweet rolls, trail mix, to make our own meals for those days that we just needed a little something more.

 

We did buy a couple of meals at the hotels during the trip, and, while a bit costly, the meals were huge portions.  We learned to only order one meal with, maybe, an additional side, for the two of us.

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A caution on getting a lunch on Tundra Wilderness Tour day: if you decide to get a box lunch (or just a sandwich) at the coffee bar at the lodge, be sure to order the day before. We didn't, and got sick with a less-than-mediocre vegetarian sandwich. The snack box on the bus was tasty, but no substitute for a box lunch. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, kwb101 said:

if you decide to get a box lunch (or just a sandwich) at the coffee bar at the lodge, be sure to order the day before.

 

How would this help prevent illness? Do you think the one you got might've been leftover? Also, isn't there a long line to pick up the sandwiches/box in the AM? Would rather just go with the included snack box, but the consensus seems to be that the snack isn't enough.

 

P. S. Thanks everyone for the other dining ideas and the tipping information .

Edited by PSR

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7 hours ago, lv2teach said:

Penny are you on Westerdam Sept 1? we are also doing a land tour first but only one night in Denali.

 

Yes, many times to Alaska cruising, but never a land tour.

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, PSR said:

Would rather just go with the included snack box, but the consensus seems to be that the snack isn't enough.

If the box is the same as when we went, it would depend on what your eating habits are.  For us, we had breakfast before we started out.  The box was plenty to get us through the 8 hour tour (really closer to 9).  But it's just a snack box, not an actual lunch.  As in chips, jerky, cookies, cracker/cheese.  We also got a bottle of water, but we had brought a couple of sodas with us, as well.

 

Hmmm... have to go see if I took a picture of it.

Edited by Shmoo here

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5 minutes ago, Shmoo here said:

If the box is the same as when we went, it would depend on what your eating habits are.  For us, we had breakfast before we started out.  The box was plenty to get us through the 8 hour tour (really closer to 9).  But it's just a snack box, not an actual lunch.  As in chips, jerky, cookies, cracker/cheese.  We also got a bottle of water, but we had brought a couple of sodas with us, as well.

 

Thanks for the snack box ingredient info. We are also planning on doing breakfast first if possible. On vacations we usually just have a large breakfast and then dinner, skipping lunch except for some snacks (chips, etc.). So the box might be enough. I am dreading the early mornings on the Denali days, since I am a late riser, normally....😐

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, PSR said:

 

Thanks for the snack box ingredient info. We are also planning on doing breakfast first if possible. On vacations we usually just have a large breakfast and then dinner, skipping lunch except for some snacks (chips, etc.). So the box might be enough. I am dreading the early mornings on the Denali days, since I am a late riser, normally....😐

I didn't take a picture, but I did a google search and found this

Image result for denali tundra wilderness tour box lunch

Not exactly what we had, but close. 

 

It can vary a bit:

Image result for denali tundra wilderness tour box lunch items

Edited by Shmoo here

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We were in Westmark Hotels in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, and Anchorage and of course we were at The Denali Lodge.

 

I love eating BIG meals, thus the meal plan was a great idea for us.  

 

The expensive items on the menu such as porterhouse and rib-eye steak, prime rib, and Alaskan crab were my favorites.

 

Large salads and HUGE desserts were much appreciated.

 

Gratuities / Taxes were included in the meal.

 

A smaller sized menu was served aboard the Dome Train .

 

Having the restaurants in the hotels and close to the Denali Lodge made it more convenient for us and saved us time .

 

Buffet breakfasts were delicious with many varieties of food and plentiful.

 

The tour guide gave us printed info regarding gratuities for the bus drivers.

 

We were the only folks on our tour who had purchased the meal plan.

 

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1 hour ago, PSR said:

How would this help prevent illness? Do you think the one you got might've been leftover? Also, isn't there a long line to pick up the sandwiches/box in the AM? Would rather just go with the included snack box, but the consensus seems to be that the snack isn't enough.

Sorry,  I wasn't clear: we tried to get a box lunch for each of us the day of our Tundra tour, but they were sold out. We had the chance to order the day before, but didn't. If we had, we'd have picked it up the morning of the tour. The sandwich we did get was fresh, just not what we wanted, although we tend to eat just about anything. 

The snack box had several yummy items in small quantities, but not enough for a meal, and with quite a bit of starch and carbs. Hope this helps. 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, kwb101 said:

Sorry,  I wasn't clear: we tried to get a box lunch for each of us the day of our Tundra tour, but they were sold out. We had the chance to order the day before, but didn't. If we had, we'd have picked it up the morning of the tour. The sandwich we did get was fresh, just not what we wanted, although we tend to eat just about anything. 

The snack box had several yummy items in small quantities, but not enough for a meal, and with quite a bit of starch and carbs. Hope this helps. 

 

Thanks for the explanation...now I get your point. Will have to think about the options. 

 

P.S. to Schmoo: thanks for the snack box pix! Too bad we can't get 2 boxes each...that would probably be just right!

Edited by PSR
update

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Wow - thanks everyone for all this info!  Sounds like the meal plan is not super-popular... at $998 for 2 people for the Triple Denali (2020 pricing)  there's a lot of hesitation at the cost, even with Alaska food prices being higher.  And the snack boxes look like carb overload!!! :-)

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11 hours ago, PSR said:

So the box might be enough. I am dreading the early mornings on the Denali days, since I am a late riser, normally...

The Tundra tour start times are given out randomly and start at 5:00am. When we arrived at Denali we found we were on tour  number 3 departing at 6:00. With two early departures already that week we just did not want to have to get up once again at 4am. I went to the HAL customer service desk and got switched to tour number 24 departing at 9:20. This was so much better and we were back at the hotel at 5pm. We had the D5C cruise land tour and we had to disembark in Seward at 6:15 to catch the cruise train to Anchorage. The next morning we had to check out of the terrible Westmark Anchorage hotel again early to catch the early cruise train to Denali. Three early mornings in a row was just too much while on a vacation which is why we changed our Tundra Tour time.

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