If you’re looking at this, you might be planning an Alaskan vacation. If you are, I’m jealous. It’s so beautiful there and I would 100% recommend that you go! Ok, now that we’ve got that decided, I wanted to make a few blog posts about my trip to Alaska in the hopes of providing some much needed info to anyone planning their trip. Yes Alaska is in the US, but its kind of an entirely different world. Its hard to know what to expect, so hopefully I can give you a few ideas.
MY TRIP: A SUMMARY
A quick summary of my trip: I did a 7-day Alaskan Cruise with Princess, along with 4 days on land in Princess resorts beforehand. A quick note: if you are doing a cruise and considering adding on a land portion, I 100% recommend you do the land BEFORE your cruise. Its pretty tiring and its nice to get the tiring part over with before getting to relax on your cruise.
So to start with we flew into Anchorage, then took a bus to the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, then the Denali Princess Lodge, then a train to Whittier, where we boarded our ship, the Star Princess. On our cruise we first went to Hubbard Glacier, then Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, and finally Ketchikan. Our cruise ended in Vancouver, where we spent the day, before flying back to Raleigh that night.
So that is just a brief rundown of our trip, because I know there are so many different options when it comes to booking a cruise or vacation like this. In this post I wanted to go into a little bit more detail about the land portion of our trip, and specifically the excursions we did in each location.
Unfortunately it rained the entire time we were in Anchorage, so I don’t feel like I got the best experience there. However, we did walk around a little bit and did a little trolley tour, which was a good way to learn about the city, but not get rained on. Of course it wasn’t raining the day we had to leave, but we did take advantage of the sunshine by going to Resolution Park, a little scenic overlook to eat out breakfast. If it is nice while you’re there, I would definitely recommend this spot!
Our next stop was the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, which was about 45 minutes from Talkeetna. Here we actually did two excursions. The first was Horseback Riding, which was a lot of fun! We went to a little stable on the property and did a trail ride with maybe 5 or so other people. Not being a horseback rider myself, I was a little stressed out a first because the horses weren’t super cooperative, but once we got going it was really relaxing. If you ride horses in your non-vacation life I don’t know if I would recommend this excursion for you, since there wasn’t anything particularly Alaskan about it, but it was a fun experience nonetheless!
The next day we did one of my favorite excursions of the trip: Dog Sledding! For this excursion we took a bus to the teeny tiny town of Talkneetna, where the dog sled kennel is located. At this kennel, the musher and dogs had raced in multiple Iditarod races, and came in 16th last year! After learning a little bit about dog sledding, we went out to the dog yard. As an animal lover (especially dogs) I wasn’t super thrilled with the way the dogs were kept, but after seeing just how much energy these dogs have, I understood it a little bit more. Plus, the musher explained that there are over 50 vets on the race and the dogs get treated better than the people! The musher picked which dogs would be working that day, and then we got pulled on an ATV! They explained that this is how they train the dogs when there’s no snow on the ground. They do turn the ATV on and drive it, so the dogs aren’t pulling the full weight, but you can tell they are pulling some because their leads were always pulled taught. This was honestly such a fun experience! After we were done sledding we got to pet all of the dogs and, the best part, hold one week old puppies!! Now I know they have these excursions in multiple destinations on the cruise, and I can only speak for this particular one, but I would highly recommend doing this! It was so cool and probably a once in a lifetime experience!
From Mt. McKinley we took a bus to the Denali Princess Resort. This resort was HUGE and only about 15 minutes away from the entrance to Denali Park. We were told that Denali (Also called Mt. McKinley) was directly in front of the resort, and that there is a beautiful view, but unfortunately it didn’t come out of the clouds for us. Fun fact: only about 30% of people that visit this area actually get to see Mt. McKinley.
I believe there is a free short tour of the park from the resort, but we opted for the Denali Explorer (I think that’s what it was called) tour. This tour brought us 62 miles into the park, rather than just the 20 miles you go on the free tour. Unfortunately it was a pretty dreary day, so again, we didn’t get to see the mountain, but we saw pretty much everything else. Going so far into the park allows you much for time to spot wildlife, and see all of the different terrains across the 6 million acre park. Like I said, we saw pretty much everything else besides the mountain; moose, bears, caribou, goats, birds, all of it! The first thing we saw was two moose right at the side of the road, and they ended up walking right in front of our bus. It was honestly insane how large they were! The trip was long (8 hours total) but it was really an amazing experience, and felt like we were really experiencing Alaska!
The next day we boarded the train for the 10 hour ride to Whittier, where we boarded the ship. In my next post I’ll talk about all of the excursions we did during the cruise.
Let me know if there is any other information that you’d like to know about my trip! If you’re currently planning a trip yourself then I hope you have an amazing time!