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Island Princess Northbound, Just Back


jdl2

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I just got back from the Island Princess northbound and landtour 4. I also did Island Wings/Misty Fjord with Michelle, Coastal Helicopter's glacier/dogsled combo and White Pass train/bus combo to Whitehorse.

I know there hasn't been much info on the Island Princess and I will try to write a review later when I get more time.

Until then....... Does anyone have any questions?

 

I will be happy to answer them for you!

Joe in Colorado

 

A couple of notes:

1) Be prepared for a LOT of smoke from all the forest fires, 53 in Alaska alone, we were delayed getting into Fairbanks because of it, and the Mendenhal Glacier helicopter/dogsled excursion and White Pass to Whitehorse tours were very hazy because of them. We even smelled it inside our plane.

2) There was no sign of the Norwalk Virus anywhere (except hand sanitizing stations).

3) Do not do less than the Eielson shuttle in Denali.

4) If Alaska is a once in a lifetime, or a decade type trip, use Princess for your excursions and landtours, I found that almost every time we paid less, we got less. Princess tours are first class and eliminated all of your worries. Their coordination and baggage handling was amazing.

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I am just starting to research the land portion for my Alaska cruise next June 2005. Can you please go into detail on how Princess handles your luggage on the train and motor coaches. Also which land tour did you take? Princess has so many to choose from. Gets kinda confusing.

 

Thanks so Much!!

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Ruetundra, you can make a short list of the land tours by trying to maximize time spent on the Midnight Sun Express (train). It's much nicer than traveling by bus.

 

I suggest taking the land tour first, then cruising southbound. You'll get the longest flight out of the way first if you go that route. Also, the pace of the land portion is a little more hectic, so finishing with the cruise makes for a relaxing finish to your vacation.

 

When you get to Alaska, you can send bags with clothing you'll need only on the ship ahead, and just take what you need for the land portion. Everything on land is casual, so ditch the formal wear, dress shoes, etc. They'll meet you on the ship. Just like on the ship, when it's time to move from place to place, you'll set your bags out and they will be transported to your next destination while you spend the day touring. You will be very well taken care of.

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Thanks Spongerob, I have heard so many bad reviews lately on the Princess Land portion that I was thinking something was wrong with Princess. But they have so much to offer. Have you done the land portion lately? What time of year have you gone? Which lodge did you stay at? We know we want the 6-8 hour wilderness tour in Denali.

 

Sorry for so many questions. I found this new board awesome for all my research.

 

Thanks!!

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Actually, we went three years ago, almost to the day, for our honeymoon. (Note to self: Anniversary in two days!!!) We stayed in Anchorage for 2 nights, 2 nights in McKinley doing almost nothing while enjoying a two-room suite (awesome), and 2 nights in Fairbanks. Overall it was pretty good. The only day I didn't really like was the transfer from McKinley to Fairbanks via Denali. I could have done without the short trip into the park and the umpteenth recitation of "The Legend of Sam McGee" by the bus driver.

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I just did the land tour in late June. We stayed at Mt. McKinley Lodge 2 nights, Denali Lodge 1 night, Pike's Waterfront (Fairbanks) 1 night. I'd recommend McKinley Lodge over Denali for the longer stay if you are debating between the two. At first, I thought I'd want more time at Denali to allow for more excursion time. Now, having done it, I'm glad our 2-night stay was at McKinley. It is more remote, so there isn't as much to "do" there, but that can be a good thing. The lodge is the nicest of the three we stayed in -- good sized room; beautiful setting only 41 miles from the mountain; decent food. Good decision on the 6-8 hour Denali tour. We were so glad we upgraded to that. The shorter version doesn't get you very much. Good luck with your planning!

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Ruetundra,

I did tour #4, because I wanted a sampling of Fairbanks, Denali, McKinley and Anchorage. The only thing I would change next time is Fairbanks. I wanted to see it, but other than the M/V Discovery River Boat, I felt it was a waste of time for one day.

 

If you go with a Princess Land Tour, you have no luggage worries, it is in the room for you when you get there. The only exception to that is you can only have carryon size bags (1 each) on the train to Denali Princess Lodge (it must fit under your seat).

 

I disagree with SpongeRob about which to do first. I loved traveling north, watching the scenery build with each mile, climaxing in Glacier Bay and College Fjord and the interior of Alaska.

 

Also I disagree with Saxygirl, I would have liked to spend much more time in Denali National Park. I did the 8 hour Eielson Shuttle one day and had no time to explore another day. On that trip we saw eagles, falcons, Dall sheep, 130 caribou, 5 wolves and various other animals.

At McKinley Princess Lodge, there were few excursions that interested me. We did a float trip and it was actually pretty boring, but then again I am from Colorado, so I get to see those type of rivers all the time. You might like McKinley better than I, but it is an hour each way from town (Talkeetna) and a lot of the excursions start there. The one excursion I would do from there, if Denali is visible, is a flight seeing tour. Unfortunately, only 25-30% of the visitors get to see it.

 

So in summary, if you are more active, I would vote for more time in Denali. If you want to more solitude (if you can call a 400 room lodge solitude), then spend more time in McKinley Princess Lodge.

 

Joe

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Thanks Everyone for all your wonderful replies. I found out (thru these boards) that the Princess website has excursion you can look at on-line. I printed out the brochure last night and spend way too much time reading them as I didn't get to bed until after 12:30. I have to get up at 4:45 to commute into work.

 

The exursion brochure is going to help alot, along with all the people here on the boards.

 

Have a good evening

Shelly

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I'm not sure I understand do you send just the cruise stuff ahead when you are on the land portion and keep a big bag of stuff for the land? Is the carry on for the train just what you want on the train and they bring the big bag to the lodge when you get there. I could never make it through 5 days with just a carry-on. Man just the shampoo/make-up hairdryer etc fill a carry-on.

:confused: Stella RN

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It depends on your itinerary for the specifics, but in our case, when we arrived in Fairbanks all of our bags were already in our rooms. Then like on the ship you put your bags out by a certain time, keeping one carryon each for the train to Denali Princess Lodge. That is the only night with only your carryon. We left the next day for McKinley Princess Lodge and ALL of our bags were in our room when we arrived. Basically there is not baggage space other than your carryon for the train, so they transport them separately.

Hope this helps, it is really easier than it sounds.

Joe in Colorado

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