I did something today that I swore up and down I would never do, but here I am...creating my first YouTube video.
Now don't get all crazy, it's all just for fun! I wanted to do this to share with you guys more than just pictures of our trip to Alaska! Pictures are beautiful, but will never do the whole trip justice. In fact, the video doesn't really do it justice either. But I promise it's better than the pictures!
I'm still in a slight depression that we aren't still there, but making this video kinda eases the pain of being back home!
As always thanks for reading, and this time thanks for watching! I had fun making this video, and maybe I'll do more like this one. :)
Yay for part two of our trip to Alaska! Last post I told you all about the cruising portion of our trip, and today I will go over the land portion! If you missed my last post, you can find it here.
Before we booked this trip we did LOTS of research. We were able to find lots on what to pack and what excursions to do, but not a whole lot of information about cruisetours. I am giving these reviews in hopes it will help those who are thinking of taking a vacation to Alaska in the future!
Here's an overview of the places we went for the land portion of our cruisetour, and what we did each day:
Day Eight: Train from Whittier to Denali
After two straight days of cruising, it was finally time to disembark the ship and start our land tour! As much as we loved the cruise, we were definitely ready to explore the land. We disembarked in Whittier (close to Anchorage), and boarded our train right outside our ship. The train was a two story train with a dining room downstairs. We had assigned seats at booths with tables, similar to a restaurant. We sat with two lovely ladies from Virginia who were such fun to sit with! The best part of the train were the full length windows, because you got to see all of the scenery on both sides of the train. Our train ride was LONG...almost ten hours. Luckily, you could get up and walk around the train and go outside between the cars. We didn't see too much wildlife, but I've heard that's pretty unusual.
We arrived at the Denali Princess Lodge at about 6:00, and were SO pleased with the lodge! The only drawback is there was no air conditioning in the rooms, but the weather was pretty cold and rainy so it didn't affect us much. After our train ride we didn't really want to do much, so we went to dinner and went straight to our room to relax!
Day Nine: Denali National Park
We had a jam packed day planned for our day in Denali, which is one of the most beautiful forests I have ever seen! We started the morning with a prior purchased zip lining excursion through Princess. This was by far my favorite excursion we did! The value for money was unmatched! They picked us up from our lodge, gave us an ATV ride where we drove 3 miles into the forest, and rode eight zip lines with suspension bridges and climbing! It was incredible! Just look at the forest we got to zip line over (and that photo is a VERY small portion of the views we got). Oh, and there's an awkward selfie for you. You're welcome. :)
After our morning zip line tour, we grabbed some lunch at the lodge and headed straight to a natural history tour of of the park! The tour was actually included with our stay, so that was super nice! The tour beyond exceeded our expectations. We actually thought the tour would be kinda lame to be honest, but it was incredible! We toured on school buses, which was very nostalgic :).
The tour was about five hours long, and it was a very interesting, informational tour! We learned a lot of history about the park, and about the Native Athabazkan culture. There were a few stops made along the tour, including a small cabin that the dog mushers (dog sledding) use during their crazy races. Even though it was pouring rain outside, we still saw plenty of wildlife! Look at the moose!
Our tour ended around dinnertime, so we spent our last evening in Denali at our lodge. We walked around a bit, grabbed some dinner, and went to our room to enjoy our beautiful view!
Day Ten: Arrival to Fairbanks
We departed Denali this morning and boarded a tour bus to Fairbanks. I was a little sad to leave Denali, but was excited to see what Fairbanks had in store for us! We made a stop at a dogsled camp on the way, where they gave dogsled rides and had puppies to play with. Of course you could find me with the puppies!
We arrived at the Bear Lodge at about noon, and didn't have much planned for the rest of the day. We found Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum nearby, and decided it was worth a shot going to.
You guys. This is the most underrated, amazing museum I have EVER been to! There were over 80 cars in the museum...owned by one freaking owner. ONE OWNER. Every car was from the 1930's or older, even having one from the 1890's! Every car was either mostly original, or restored to look exactly like the original. All of the cars (except for 2) ran and drove perfectly! How cool is that? To top it all off, the owner's wife appeases the women by showing off vintage fashion pieces from that time. Again, all original pieces. Seriously, coolest museum ever! If you ever get the chance to go to Fairbanks, make sure you stop by!
The rest of the day was kind of low key. We walked around a wildlife sanctuary for a bit, but there were so many mosquitoes I could hardly take any good pictures (just picture me squirming every time one came near me). We had spent a lot of time in the museum, so we just grabbed dinner after our walk and went back to the room. We were exhausted, and had another full day ahead of us!
Day Eleven: Fairbanks
We had another jam packed day today, and the best part about it? It was all included in our stay again! We started the morning with a riverboat tour, where we saw all of the beautiful houses along the river. We also made a stop along the way to see some domesticated caribou, and to walk around a Native Athabazkan village. It was really cool! Look at the size of the antlers on that thing!
After our riverboat tour we boarded a train to tour the Gold Dredge 8 and pan for gold. The dredge is HUGE! It's way bigger than you would expect it to be. We actually did find $52 worth of gold while panning, so we struck it rich!
We got back to our lodge in the evening. We grabbed some food for dinner, and took the rest of the night to relax. Tonight was our final night of our vacation and we had very long day ahead of us!
Day 12: Homeward Bound
The final day of any vacation is always the worst, because reality sinks in that your trip is over. We were ready to come home and sleep in our own bed, but I could have stayed in Alaska for a lot longer than two weeks. Our flight wasn't until midnight (Fairbanks only does red-eye flights), and our checkout time for our lodge was at 11 AM. This had to have been the only part of the whole trip that was pretty inconvenient. Luckily they took all of our luggage to the airport for us that morning, so we didn't have to lug it around all day. The only problem was that our lodge was in kind of a weird spot. It was about 25 minutes from downtown, so there wasn't a whole lot to do within walking distance. We spent a lot of time at the lodge and the airport, which wasn't all that fun. To top it off, our flight had a 3 hour layover in Seattle at 3 AM, so we were in for a looooong day. We finally made it to Las Vegas at 9:30, then drove home to St. George. What an exhausting day!
Overall Thoughts of Land Portion:
We had a fantastic time in Denali, and truly have no complaints there. I loved the Princess Lodge, despite all of the negative reviews it had online. There was plenty to do nearby, and our excursions were fantastic!
If I were to do our vacation over, I probably would have skipped Fairbanks entirely. We enjoyed our stay there, but our lodge wasn't the greatest, and wasn't in a good location at all. Fairbanks was the only city we went to that didn't feel like Alaska anymore. It just felt like a regular, small city. Besides the auto museum, there isn't a whole lot to do there. If I were to go somewhere else instead, I probably would have chosen Anchorage or Mount McKinley.
Cruise vs. Land:
If I had to choose between doing only cruise or land, I would hands down choose cruising. It's is much less stress, you don't have to pay for each meal, and there is always some sort of entertainment going on.
Having said that, I do thing the cruisetour is definitely the way to go if you can! Spend the extra money to see the inland. Everything is still planned out for you by the cruise line (including your luggage), and you get to see so much more of Alaska. The inside passage is such a small portion of what you get to see on the land portion. Plus, you can see a lot more wildlife off the ship than on the ship, which is always a bonus.
I hope this super long review was helpful for those who are thinking about taking on Alaska. I've said it once and I'll say it again, if you EVER get the opportunity to come to this magical place, take it and run with it! This was the most incredible trip I have ever been on, and am so thankful we were able to go to a place like this for our honeymoon.
Until the next one! Thanks for sticking with me through the end of this one!
For those who don't already know, we took a 2 week trip to Alaska for our honeymoon. We delayed our honeymoon a bit because, well, you can't really go to Alaska in March on a cruise ship (unless you want to end up like the Titanic). We are finally back from our 2 weeks in paradise, and the reality of us coming home has hit us HARD. Alaska was the only vacation I've ever been on that I wasn't ready to come home at the end. I could have stayed there forever....well at least until the snow hits.
I wanted to give a detailed overview of our trip so it can help those of you who may want to travel there someday...and you really should travel there someday.
Before I go into all of the details, I want to give a brief overview of the way we did our trip. We decided to go on a cruisetour. If you don't know what that is, half of the vacation you are on a normal cruise ship. After that you disembark and tour different portions of the inland while staying in hotels/lodges. We had only been on one short cruise to Mexico through Carnival which was fun and all, but not really our ideal trip for a honeymoon.
We did months of research before booking this trip, and decided the best value for money was through Princess Cruise Line. We decided to do the cruise portion first (northbound), and the land portion second. You can choose either way, but typically the land first (southbound) is more expensive.
To keep this post from being too long, I am going to split it up into two parts. Part one will be our cruise portion, and part two will be our land portion. I will give all the deets of what I though of each portion at the end of each post. :)
Here's an overview of the places we went for our cruise portion, and what we did each day:
Day One: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Our first day we flew in bright and early into Vancouver, and went straight to the ship. Our transportation and luggage were both taken care of by Princess, and we actually booked our flights through Princess EZ Air too. They seemed to have the cheapest prices (surprisingly), and you are guaranteed to get on the ship if there is a delay in flights. The boarding process was very smooth. We were on the ship within 2 hours of landing at the airport, and it's a 45 minute drive from the airport to the ship. I wish we could have spent an extra day in Vancouver, because it looked like a really cool city (possible future vacation?). Our luggage was in our stateroom by the time we got on board, and we spent the rest of the day scoping out the ship and relaxing since it was pouring rain outside.
Day Two: At Sea
Day two was a very relaxing day. As much as I wanted to sleep in, I was actually awake by 6 AM due to the time change and it being extremely light outside. It never gets dark in the summer in Alaska, and the further north we went the more daylight lingered around.
We were at sea the whole day, so we got ourselves some fancy drinks, splurged and got a couples massage (thank goodness for on-board credit), and dressed up for our for first formal night dinner. The weather was a little better, so we spent quite a bit of time outside.
There were lots of events to go to after dinner, so we decided to go to the comedy show. The comedian was Carl Strong, and he was absolutely fantastic! He kept it clean for the most part, but still had us rolling on the ground! He did such a great job that he actually did another unplanned show due to popular demand!
Day Three: Ketchikan
Our first stop was in Ketchikan, which is Alaska's first city. In my opinion, this was probably my favorite town we stopped in. I'm sad we weren't able to stay at this port longer. We were only there from 6 AM-2PM. We didn't have any excursions planned for this port since we were there such a short time, so we spent the day exploring the town. It was small of a town to walk around by foot, so we didn't need to worry about transportation. It definitely has an old, fisherman style to the town. We found some trails to explore, and found a cool restaurant/bar to hang out in too. Seriously, such a cool place!
Day Four: Juneau
Our second port and fourth day was in Juneau! We had a lot of time in this port (we were there 12 hours), which was a great thing because there is a lot to do here! This was a close second to Ketchikan. We had booked our excursion for Juneau through Princess prior to our vacation, so it was nice to have our day kinda planned out for us. We spent the morning going river rafting and got some really cool views of the Mendenhall Glacier (which is HUGE). Photos will never do glaciers justice. They are super fascinating and absolutely beautiful in person. As for river rafting, we had a blast! It wasn't anything crazy, in fact a lot of the time we were scenic floating so you could have your camera to take photos and videos. It was such a beautiful ride.
After our ride, we grabbed lunch on the ship and walked around. We rode a tram that gave us magnificent views of the town, and lead us to some hiking trails.
We took a five mile hike to the top of the mountain, where we found lots of cool trees and incredible scenery. It wasn't a super hard hike, but it was definitely steep. We were thankful it was raining the whole time to keep us cool. The hike was totally worth it, I mean look at the view! We even found snow!
Day Five: Skagway
Our third and final port off the ship was in Skagway. We had our excursion planned prior to porting again, so most of the day was planned out. We took a scenic train ride up to the White Pass Summit, and it was incredible! We didn't see any wildlife (surprisingly), but the scenery took my breath away. It was raining all day again, so it was nice to be indoors. The train actually broke down while we were on there, and it took 40 minutes to get it running again. So we got to see some of the scenery several times, which was nice! The train ride took up the majority of the day, so we walked around town a little bit (there wasn't much to see), and headed back to the ship after our train ride.
Day Six: Glacier Bay National Park (Scenic Cruising)
By the time day six came around, we were super pooped. We decided to sleep in and get going on our own time, since we were cruising today. Words can't express how beautiful it was scenic cruising through Glacier Bay! Look at the size of that glacier! Photos will never do the real thing justice, so you will just have to go see it yourself!
Day Seven: College Fjord (Scenic Cruising)
Our final day on the ship was another day of scenic cruising through the College Fjord. We weren't at the actual College Fjord very long, but in my opinion I thought it was even more incredible than Glacier Bay! The ship was stopped perfectly so you could get a panoramic view of all three glaciers. It was one of the most beautiful things I saw on the whole trip! Since it was the last night on the ship, we got dressed up again for dinner as it was the second formal night on the ship. We were definitely ready to get off the ship after two days of cruising, so it was good that we were disembarking in the morning.
Overall Thoughts of Cruising Portion:
The cruise really was outstanding, and I really have no complaints about it! The staterooms were nice and clean, and although the interior of the ship is a little outdated it's still classy and beautiful! We could not get over how amazing the service on the ship was. Everyone was happy to be there, and was immediately there to serve you as soon as you sat down no matter where you were sitting.
Our favorite part of the day was dinnertime, because we chose anytime dining and were able to sit with new people every night. It was so fun to get to know new people, and an even bigger bonus that most of the people we sat with were Australian! It was interesting to learn things about their country and what their culture is like.
I will put a small disclaimer that we were most definitely the minority in age on the ship. In fact, we were probably the youngest people on the entire ship. Alaska isn't really the first place 21-year-olds
decide to take a vacation, and it's kinda pricey for people our age. We knew long before we booked our vacation that it was going to be mostly and older, retired crowd. We didn't mind at all! Older folks make great company. :)
The food was fantastic. The drinks were fantastic. We had a blast! Although it was only our second cruise, we were so impressed with Princess Cruises. Overall, I have zero complaints.
As for the land portion of our cruise, I'll write that in a separate review. I think this one has been long enough! And if you've stuck with me to the end of this one, thank you! I hope it was informational.
See ya in the next one!