Alaska Land Tours

Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When most people think of traveling to Alaska, they think of a cruise departing from Seattle, Vancouver or Anchorage. Many of our land tour operators offer a land tour to Alaska, A cruise can be added to some and others are just a land tour. Insight's Jewels of Alaska can be booked as a 7 day land tour or a 14 day cruise/tour. This tour starts in Anchorage with sightseeing, then on Day 3 the motor coach takes you to Talkeetna to board the Alaskan Railroad train to Denali National Park. Then back to the motor coach for a scenic journey to the town of Girdwood at Mount Alyeska. A glacier cruise is offered on Day 6 and Day 7 you return to Anchorage to fly home or board your cruise ship.

Collette offers a 13 day journey, round trip Anchorage with a land only tour. It visits Whittier for a little cruise on Prince William Sound then an overnight in Tok, before traveling to Whitehorse, the capital of Canada's Yukon. Skagway is the next stop and Dawson City. A stop in Chicken, Alaska brings on a chuckle before arriving in Fairbanks. Then on to Denali by dome car train for two nights. The relaxing ride back to Anchorage is by motor coach, where your tour ends.

Trafalgar proudly presents Majestic Alaska with the option of an Alaska Cruise. Their land tour starts in Fairbanks for two nights, then on to Denali for two nights and the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage. Their land tour is 8 days with a 14 day combination cruise/tour.

Globus's 9 day land tour starts and ends in Anchorage with a stop in Valdez, Fairbanks, Denali National Park and back to Anchorage, where you can board your Alaska Cruise and make your vacation 16 days. They also offer Nature's Best, which is a seven day land tour starting in Fairbanks, visiting Denali National Park, Talkeetna and Anchorage, where you can board your Alaska Cruise ship, making this cruise/tour a 13 day vacation.

Cosmos offers their 8 day Alaskan Adventure starting in Fairbanks, traveling to Denali National Park and ending in Anchorage with the Alaskan Railroad train. This land tour can also be combined with a seven day Alaska Cruise. Alaska and the Yukon is also offered by Cosmos for 12 days starting and ending in Anchorage. This tour will take you to Valdez, Tok, Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, and Denali National Park and back to anchorage. Most travelers will think about this tour in the early summer months, but it is unique in operating August 9 -30 for the start of fall foliage in that part of the country.

Alaska Whale Watching

Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Last year I went on an Alaska cruise, and although most of family was able to see wildlife throughout the trip, I always seemed to just miss the whale jumping out of the water or the bear eating on the side of the road. Very disappointing to go all that way and not see wildlife.

The ship usually has a naturalist throughout the cruise spotting wildlife, so make sure and listen out for this, and go on deck - don't try to see everything from inside the ship. It is warm, but you tend to miss all of the action. 

Here's a list of list of popular whale watching tips to keep in mind to improve your odds of seeing whale while in Alaska.

  • Take a good pair of binoculars.
  • Choose clear, calm days.
  • Look for the blow of a whale, which is the cloud of spray or mist that appears as the air is exhaled through the blowhole. This is usually how whales are first seen.
  • If you are a first time whale watcher, you may want to consider motion sickness medications. A good breakfast is key! Very often people will go on their first whale watch fearing they may get sick. They will skip breakfast thinking that no food in their stomach means they won't get sick. In fact, the opposite is true. An empty stomach produces acids and, in turn, can actually make you sick. Eat a good carbohydrate breakfast.
  • Keep Warm! It is always colder on the ocean than on land.
  • Don't forget the sunblock! Water reflects and magnifies the sun rays.
  • Bring extra batteries and film, or a picture card, for your camera.

Alaskan Cuisine

Posted on Monday, May 02, 2016

Alaskan Cuisine

Alaskan Cuisine - what types of food can you expect when traveling to Alaska

  • Try Valdez Moose Stew, Roast Caribou, Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Cakes and a wide range of recipes using oysters, salmon, cod and halibut. Salmon or seafood chowders are mouthwatering!
  • One good Alaskan feast is Wild Salmon grilled on an open fire served with salads and rice which you'll find offered at Salmon Bakes around the state.
  • Berries are very popular for jams, jellies and cooking with meat and fish. Wild Salmonberries, Lingonberries, Blackberries, Rhubarb, High Bush Cranberries and Black and Red Currants are just some of the 50 species of wild fruit that grow here. Try berry cobblers and unique jams.
  • Be sure to try some Alaskan sourdough bread, made famous during the Gold Rush.
  • For the more adventurous try the popular street food - reindeer dogs.  They often are served wrapped in sourdough bread. For the bold you can try Mutuk, which is whale fat and skin frozen together and then eaten raw. Muktuk is not found in many restaurants, but when you do it is usually served hot & pickled.
  • Another unique food in Alaska is Aqutak aka as eskimo ice cream.  This is not ice cream as we know it.  They use back fat of moose, reindeer, seal or caibou along with snow or water and then lots of fresh berries. It is eaten as a dessert, snack or spread. A similar recipe is used with eel to make ell akutaq. 

Alaska certainly offers a wide range of exciting things to see and do. It's unique in the world, an amazing and wild place which should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

The Alaska Experience

Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2016

Get in touch with the real Alaska with a variety of entertaining and educational experiences on board and ashore. These are just some of the many options geared specifically to Alaskan culture, cuisine and nature to enjoy during your cruise.

Culinary

  • Culinary demonstrations featuring typical Alaskan dishes are featured on most ships. Many have dedicated culinary centres where you can cook side by side with the chefs while big screens display the process close up so the audience doesn't miss a thing.
  • Alaskan dishes are on the menus designed by the cruise line's celebrity chef.
  • Culinary and wine experts give classes and demonstrations on board Seven Seas Navigator's Food and Wine theme cruise: 14 nights, May 26, 2010, San Francisco to Vancouver via Alaska.
  • The Wild Alaska Culinary Extravaganza at Icy Strait Point is an example of the culinary excursions found in many ports. Learn how to prepare and cook local seafood, including salmon, halibut and Dungeness crab then enjoy a feast.

For the Kids

  • Park rangers bring Glacier Bay and the Alaska wilderness to life for kids and teens in Princess Cruises' Junior Ranger and Teen Explorer programs.
  • Kids and teens explore Alaska in a meaningful and enriching way with the Club Mariner Youth Program aboard Seven Seas Navigator.

Lectures and Commentary

  • In Glacier Bay and at Hubbard Glacier, park rangers will come on board to give an informative narration during your visit to the tide water glaciers.
  • Attend lectures and slide shows given by the on board naturalist or historian throughout your cruise.
  • The on board naturalist may also give a commentary at important parts of your voyage. Two popular places are when passing a sea lion colony or traversing the Grenville Channel, the narrowest part of the Inside Passage.

Local Entertainment

  • Check the daily program to see if local entertainers are coming on board. Libby Riddles, the 1985 Iditarod sled dog race champion and first woman ever to win the famous Anchorage to Nome trek, has been visiting the ships of Princess Cruises for the past nine years.
  • Russian dancers from Sitka and gold rush entertainers from Skagway may also entertain you.

Shore Excursions

  • Well informed guides teach you about Alaska on shore excursions from your ship. There's a wide range of excursions which immerse you in the culture and history of Alaska. Check these out at your cruise line web site where you'll find descriptions and details and you can book ahead of sailing.
  • With Holland America Line's Cruise With Purpose you'll have a chance to be a research biologist in the wilds of Alaska. This exclusive wildlife and research tour from Juneau is offered in conjunction with Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and the Marine Conservation Alliance.

Hiking in Alaska

Posted on Friday, March 04, 2016

Hiking is an excellent way to experience Alaska. Well marked trails are found near towns and guided hikes by park rangers or private companies are easily found. Excursions from cruise ships escort you from your ship to the hiking area and back.

• Juneau provides some of the most easily accessible hiking trails. o In town, go to the top of Mt. Roberts by tramway to find the nature centre and several well marked trails with spectacular views. o Hop the shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier. There are numerous walks in the area and park rangers offer guided hikes daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the summer. o Guiding companies and cruise ship excursions can take you to Douglas Island for a walk through the forest to the beach. (The bird watching is excellent here.)


• Denali Park has a series of trails near the park entrance. Ranger led Discovery Hikes provide an excellent introduction to Denali. (Sign up at the Visitor Center.) On these 3 to 4 hour hikes in the backcountry wilderness, expect uneven terrain and small stream crossings.

• An area very popular with serious hikers, is The Wrangell St. Elias National Park, the largest National Park in the U.S. which includes 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the United States. Rugged and natural, this park offers backpackers a challenging experience in the backcountry. Contact the Park Service for a list of licensed guides.

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