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December 14, 2004

ALASKA LAND PACKAGE

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ALASKA LAND PACKAGE

In early September I travelled by land from Fairbanks to Denali and then on to Anchorage. It was a 5 night land tour escorted and packaged by Princess Tours (aka Princess Cruises).

I can not say enough about the weather we received on the land portion. It was the first week of September and it was sunny almost everyday. Plus, it was Alaska's fall and so the leaves were changing colours. Flying into Anchorage I viewed beautiful greens, red and yellows!

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I really recommend taking the flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks (or reverse). It offers an excellent view of Mt. McKinley! It looks so big peeking through the clouds as we flew by. You don't notice how high it really is viewing it on land because it is surrounded by many other mountains quite large as well.

Travelling with Princess Cruises on land in Alaska was fabulous. I stayed 2 nights in Fairbanks at the Fairbanks Princess Hotel, 2 nights at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and 1 night in Anchorage, at the Captain Cook Hotel.

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Spending 2 nights in Fairbanks is the way to go. This gives you one full day to take both of the tours (Riverboat Discovery Cruise & El Dorado Gold Mine Tour). The Riverboat Cruise was nice, but very long...I was shocked that 900 people fit on this paddlewheeler and it was full!

No matter how many nights you spend at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge or the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge a tour of Denali National Park is included. We took the 3 hour Natural History Tour. It takes you into Denali National Park where you learn about the flora and fauna. Wildlife is not always spotted on this tour, but the day we were there we saw dall sheep, moose and had a clear view of Mt McKinley.

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If you want to spend more time in Denali National Park a longer 6 to 7 hour tour is also available. It is called the Tundra Wildlife Search and takes you much further into the park with a better opportunity to view wildlife.

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The Midnight Sun Express Ultra Dome Railcars (Train) is fabulous. The dome windows are huge...much larger than Holland America's. Their wilderness lodges were excellent, especially the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. When we arrived the sun was shining and we had a clear view of Mt. McKinley...this is the closest lodge facing Mt. McKinley (Princess built the road to the lodge!). The hotels and lodges Princess uses are excellent and truly first class.

I felt there were more tours/activities offered from this lodge and they were more nature-oriented. During my two-night stay at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge I took a jet-boat safari cruise (where we saw bald eagles) took at Kayaking trip on a lake nearby (where I saw a beaver up-close) and went horse-back riding on nature trails (this I'd recommend for more experienced riders as the trails are hilly and sometimes hard to maneuver.

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The restaurants in their hotels and lodges are much similar to what you can expect on board one of their ships. Lots of selection from casual to fine dining. It's great.

The only thing I didn't like was that by the end of the 5 nights I didn't want to see another bus again! We bused to and from hotels, were taken on buses for the tours, etc. I was sure glad we took the train from Fairbanks to Denali and then again to Anchorage and would highly recommend taking the train as much as possible. Its the perfect way to see this great land!

Written By Denise Blackmore, ACC

Additional information about Alaska Cruises and Land Tour Packages are available through our website:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at December 14, 2004 09:14 AM
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