Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > America - USA > Alaska
Reload this Page >

August 2018 - post cruise visit to Denali and ANC flight

August 2018 - post cruise visit to Denali and ANC flight

Old Dec 2, 17, 7:36 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco
Programs: GM on VX, UA, AA, HA, AS, SY; Budget Fastbreak
Posts: 4,644
August 2018 - post cruise visit to Denali and ANC flight

Hi! We have a family AK cruise that starts in Vancouver and ends near ANC a week later. Exciting!!
we want to go to Denali and also wondered what else to consider. Cruise ends on a Thursday - what else should we do if we fly home on Monday or Tuesday?
Itll be our first time ever to Alaska.
All suggestions are greatly appreciated. And what do we need to know or consider?
gaobest is offline  
Old Dec 3, 17, 7:46 am
  #2  
Moderator, OneWorld
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: SEA
Programs: RAA RIP; AA ExEXP
Posts: 10,208
Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
Hi! We have a family AK cruise that starts in Vancouver and ends near ANC a week later. Exciting!!
we want to go to Denali and also wondered what else to consider. Cruise ends on a Thursday - what else should we do if we fly home on Monday or Tuesday?
Itll be our first time ever to Alaska.
All suggestions are greatly appreciated. And what do we need to know or consider?
If your cruise ends in Seward (everybody except Princess) do a Kenai Fjords cruise while you're there, spend the night and travel to Anchorage on Friday. Depending on how many there are in your party, I'd rent a car for one day (VERY high one-way rates, but worth it) and stop en route - maybe at the wildlife conservation center at Portage, or maybe for a short time in Hope, an old mining village on the south shore of Turnagain Arm. If your cruise ends in Whittier, do a "26 Glacier" cruise (a couple of operators) before also getting a one-way car for the drive to Anchorage. Note Hertz is the only show in Seward and Avis in Whittier, and book ASAP as they have bupkis for inventory.

Drop the rental car in either case and get a new car. (This will save you a fortune.) On Saturday drive up to Denali. On Sunday take the shuttle bus into the park interior as far as the Eielson visitor center, then back to your lodgings. On Monday return to Anchorage and take either a late flight south, or overnight and fly out on Tuesday.
Jaimito Cartero and Xlr like this.
Gardyloo is offline  
Old Dec 3, 17, 8:36 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Vietnam & USA
Programs: Delta PM
Posts: 438
When in August? The weather is significantly different from beginning to end.
wxman22 is offline  
Old Dec 3, 17, 10:02 am
  #4  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,880
Originally Posted by wxman22 View Post
When in August? The weather is significantly different from beginning to end.
Indeed. Beginning of August is practically the peak of summer. End of August and you'll see fall colors in some parts of Alaska. (Though that's probably my favorite time of year to visit Denali).

Back to the OP's question...are you in a time crunch? Do you have to leave on Monday or Tuesday? If not, Alaska has so much more to offer than just what the cruise experience will get you. I lived here for 17 years and still come back about two months each year and never run out of amazing places to see and go. You can easily spend a week just on the Kenai peninsula after getting off your boat, and three days in Denali is better than two. Fairbanks has much to offer as well.

Assuming you absolutely do need to leave on Tuesday or Wednesday, Gardyloo's suggested itinerary is about as good as you can probably make it.

If your trip is near the end of August, consider setting aside half a day or so to stop by the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. The giant vegetables (world-record 100-pound cabbages are the specialty) are worth checking out, and although it's not large by state fair standards, it's still a fun look into local culture.
jackal is offline  
Old Dec 4, 17, 12:12 am
  #5  
Xlr
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: San Francisco, CA
Programs: Amex Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve
Posts: 739
I'd also recommend the Kenai Fjords cruise. We did that this year and had an excellent time.

Sidenote: If you do not have an annual NPS pass, I'd recommend purchasing one. It is an excellent deal.
Xlr is offline  
Old Dec 5, 17, 12:35 pm
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco
Programs: GM on VX, UA, AA, HA, AS, SY; Budget Fastbreak
Posts: 4,644
Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
If your cruise ends in Seward (everybody except Princess) do a Kenai Fjords cruise while you're there, spend the night and travel to Anchorage on Friday. Depending on how many there are in your party, I'd rent a car for one day (VERY high one-way rates, but worth it) and stop en route - maybe at the wildlife conservation center at Portage, or maybe for a short time in Hope, an old mining village on the south shore of Turnagain Arm. If your cruise ends in Whittier, do a "26 Glacier" cruise (a couple of operators) before also getting a one-way car for the drive to Anchorage. Note Hertz is the only show in Seward and Avis in Whittier, and book ASAP as they have bupkis for inventory.

Drop the rental car in either case and get a new car. (This will save you a fortune.) On Saturday drive up to Denali. On Sunday take the shuttle bus into the park interior as far as the Eielson visitor center, then back to your lodgings. On Monday return to Anchorage and take either a late flight south, or overnight and fly out on Tuesday.

This is great info! We appreciate it.
what other suggestions would you suggest if we had a few more days? Should we spend more days in Denali?

Thank you to everyone for your posts. Some more info...
ive checked our dates - it's Silversea cruise company
we end during first week of august
we end in Seward and cruise offers a ride to Anchorage.
gaobest is offline  
Old Jan 15, 18, 1:34 am
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco
Programs: GM on VX, UA, AA, HA, AS, SY; Budget Fastbreak
Posts: 4,644
Thanks again for tips and encouragement
we will spend a few days in Denali area
after Denali we will stay in anchorage a couple days. What are your favorite things to do in anchorage and do we need a car? Is anchorage a place where any number of days is good? I've never been to Alaska and won't have time for everything. It would be nice to kick back in anchorage before we fly home and back to work.
gaobest is offline  
Old Jan 15, 18, 4:55 pm
  #8  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,880
Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
Thanks again for tips and encouragement
we will spend a few days in Denali area
after Denali we will stay in anchorage a couple days. What are your favorite things to do in anchorage and do we need a car? Is anchorage a place where any number of days is good? I've never been to Alaska and won't have time for everything. It would be nice to kick back in anchorage before we fly home and back to work.
Anchorage's main claim to fame is that it's 10 minutes from Alaska.

I jest a bit--there are several things to do, but the best parts of Alaska are not inside the built-up area of Anchorage.

Still, if you feel you can't leave town, here are my top three suggestions for Anchorage:

  • Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center (discounted combo ticket available with Native Heritage Center)
  • Hike in Chugach State Park; the Flattop Mountain trail is the most popular in the state and has fantastic views but can be crowded on a warm summer weekend, and there are many other trails in the area ranging from a short loop to the Glen Alps overlook to multi-day hikes
fti posted someone's fantastic list once in response to someone's assertion that "there is nothing to do in Anchorage." See post #2 in Things to do in Anchorage
jackal is offline  
Old Jan 16, 18, 10:17 pm
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco
Programs: GM on VX, UA, AA, HA, AS, SY; Budget Fastbreak
Posts: 4,644
Thanks! Good to know.
Whats easy to do outside ANC while staying in anchorage? Is a car necessary?
im just so new to Alaska. So lots of newbie questions :-)
gaobest is offline  
Old Jan 19, 18, 10:10 am
  #10  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,880
Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
Thanks! Good to know.
Whats easy to do outside ANC while staying in anchorage? Is a car necessary?
im just so new to Alaska. So lots of newbie questions :-)
Easy day trips possible:

McHugh Creek/hiking
Beluga Point/Bird Point/Turnagain arm views (beluga whales, bore tide)
Girdwood/Alyeska/Winner Creek Trail/cable car up the mountain
Whittier/26 Glacier Cruise
Portage/Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Palmer
Hatcher's Pass/Independence Mine
Matanuska Glacier
Seward/Exit Glacier/Kenai Fjords cruise
Hope/gold rush history

Sure, you can stay in Anchorage and pick things off the list in fti's post I linked to, and the ANHC is truly a fantastic gem (as a way to get a peek into a unique culture that you otherwise won't have much chance to interact with), but I think experiences in Anchorage tend to be less unique and memorable than getting out into Alaska itself. JMHO, though.
jackal is offline  
Old Jan 20, 18, 1:09 am
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco
Programs: GM on VX, UA, AA, HA, AS, SY; Budget Fastbreak
Posts: 4,644
Will we need a car for these trips out of anchorage?
we will travel as such:
3 days in Vancouver (YVR) - no car
week cruise
4-day post-cruise trip to Denali with cruise company (includes a night in Aleskya)
2-3 (?) days in anchorage. We may prefer to do very little in anchorage because of the previous 2-ish weeks of travel. Then we fly home.

So we may prefer no car but if necessary would get one.
gaobest is offline  
Old Jan 20, 18, 1:46 pm
  #12  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,880
Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
Will we need a car for these trips out of anchorage?
we will travel as such:
3 days in Vancouver (YVR) - no car
week cruise
4-day post-cruise trip to Denali with cruise company (includes a night in Aleskya)
2-3 (?) days in anchorage. We may prefer to do very little in anchorage because of the previous 2-ish weeks of travel. Then we fly home.

So we may prefer no car but if necessary would get one.

Seward can be done as a round-trip from Anchorage on the Alaska Railroad, and the layover time in Seward of about 6 hours is intentionally designed to work well with most of the half-day Kenai Fjords cruises. Having a car will let you sleep in and get to bed earlier (it's about a 2.5-hour drive versus a 4+-hour train ride each way) and/or let you stop en-route at interesting views and destinations, spend more time seeing things in Seward (like Exit Glacier and the Sea Life Center), take a longer cruise that sees more things, etc., but it is quite possible (and, indeed, a very pleasant and scenic train ride) to do a day-trip to Seward without a car.

Pretty much all of the other options require a car, though there may be some paid shuttle/coach options to some other destinations, though I doubt the times will line up particularly well for sightseeing on a day trip. http://www.alaska.org has a good collection of knowledge on this topic (click the "transportation" section).

Apologies, but the concept of spending time in a place but not wanting to actually go out and see things is foreign to me. At the price of hotels in ANC in the summer, if you don't intend to maximize your time while there, my view is that you might as well just go home early and save your $150-200/night. But that's me speaking as someone who regularly embarks on journeys that last two or more months (I think I was home a total of maybe three months last year), so my need for a "rest/recoup day" doesn't hit me until I've been on the road solid for at least a month. A two-week trip is too short to waste any time in! That said, I understand desiring to allow a slower pace at the end of the trip, and as mentioned in my previous post as well as the one I linked to of fti's, there's no shortage of things to see in Anchorage, and many of them are quite enjoyable.

I would suggest, though, that choosing to "do very little" in Anchorage during your expensive time there is not the best use of the short time you've allotted to see one of the most amazing destinations on earth--if you choose to stay in Anchorage for that time, at least spend your time there productively (depending on your activity level, that can be anything from amazing hikes even within the city limits to several museums and cultural experiences located within walking distance of hotels downtown. If you do choose to do Anchorage car-free, the public transportation system is not terribly useful, but Uber, Lyft, and taxis are readily available (907-222-2222 is the number for the largest taxi dispatcher in the city), and there are free shuttle options to both the Alaska Native Heritage Center and paid shuttle options to the Glen Alps/Flattop trailhead area from downtown.

Last edited by jackal; Jan 20, 18 at 1:57 pm Reason: typo
jackal is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread