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Old Aug 24, 17, 4:40 pm
  #11  
Gardyloo
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: SEA
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Posts: 10,230
Originally Posted by A1pax View Post
Thank you, Gardyloo, for suggesting the one-week itinerary land tour around Alaska (after the one-week cruise from Vancouver to Seward) - much appreciated.

I have read some trip reports on Alaska and most were done by car. We had a bad experience with Hertz in Australia a couple of months ago and it put me off for using it again. The car rental industry needs reform!

Hubby prefers train travel. But, I will show your suggested itin to hubby and convince him that a driving holiday gives us flexibility in reaching places. We have car insurance cover from the UK Amex Plat card.

Hubby has mapped out an itin based on train travel as below. I have been busy reading reviews on trains, hotels and tours.

Day 1 - arrival by cruise ship in Seward (ship docked 4:30am). Hubby wanted to stay in Seward overnight to find our feet on land again! - to check out the town and sealife centre.

Day 2 - take the Kenai Fjords cruise (agree with you on this). In the evening take the Coastal Classic train from Seward to Anchorage. Overnight in Anchorage.

Day 3 - take the Denali Star train from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Overnight in Fairbanks.

Day 4 - take the Artic Circle drive tour (over 13 hours). Crazy I know. Read reviews and some loved it, others said it was not worth the time and money! Overnight in Fairbanks.

Day 5 - take the Denali Star train from Fairbanks to Denali. Take the half day bus tour of Denali. Overnight in Denali.

Day 6 - take a different bus tour (all day) deep into Denali. Overnight in Denali.

Day 7 - take the McKinley Explorer train from Denali to Anchorage. Overnight in Anchorage.

Day 8 - take the Glacier Discovery train from Anchorage to Whittier - do the William Sound glacier? and stop along Girdwood, Portage? Overnight in Anchorage.

Day 9 - fly Anchorage to Seattle then to LAS and LHR.

One of the problems with train travel is how to get from the train stations to the accommodation places? I did read reviews of a nice B&B in Denali, but they don't recommend staying there without a car!

What do you think of hubby's train itin?

Thanks again, for the pointers in your suggested itin.
I understand people's reluctance to rent cars, but IMO Alaska is an exception. The mainline Alaska Railroad route from Anchorage to Fairbanks via Denali - just my view - is actually pretty boring. Driving is very easy in Alaska, and because so much of the scenery is off the highway (and off the train route) the car gives you the flexibility to stop, make short detours, all that.

Between Seward (and Whittier) and Anchorage, the train follows the road quite closely (a few areas where they diverge) and both are scenic. However driving gives you the option at stopping - for example a short side trip to the historic mining village of Hope on the south side of Turnagain Arm, or at the Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, or in Girdwood... places and activities the train rolls right past.

Try this as a thought experiment - car from Seward to Anchorage, train from Anchorage to Denali and back. Skip Fairbanks, but allocate the money you'd spend on the "arctic circle" tour (just me, but yuck) on a visit to an actual Inupiat Eskimo village north of the arctic circle?

You can fly return from Anchorage to Kotzebue for around US$330, or (since this is FT) for 15,000 BA Avios (7500 each way.) Kotzebue is located on an arm of the Arctic Ocean some distance north of the arctic circle. It's an important Native village with decent visitor accommodations including a modern hotel across the street from the beach - http://www.nullagvikhotel.com/ . In Kotzebue in June you'll have 24 hours of sunshine, you can visit a native fish camp down the coast, visit the local museum, and get a feel for life as it's lived in the arctic. It's way better than seeing some sign on the side of the road (through the clouds of mosquitoes) saying you've crossed some invisible line on a map, or at least it is in my view.

The hotel in Kotzebue will cost about the same as one in Anchorage or Fairbanks, you won't need a car, and you'll come back having seen a face of Alaska missed by 90% or more of the people who visit.

Just a suggestion.
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