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I'M BAAAACK!!! ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS TRIP!!

Discussion in 'Alaska & Pacific Northwest Ports' started by roberta2, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. roberta2

    roberta2 Guest

    I am just back from Alaska - WOW is one of the ways to explain it - unbelievable, tremendous, gorgeous, beautiful. Everything was just about perfect. The best weather they have seen in a while - gorgeous - no rain at all - cool - sunny sometimes a little cloudy. Statendam was perfect - everyone was great, courteous, prompt, willing to please. Went on 10 day trip - after Juneau got on the bus to Denali (ONLY MISTAKE ON THIS TRIP) - 9 hour ride!! Found out later that we could have paid about $90 more to ride the train - would have definitely gone that way. Holland has "missed the boat" on their land business - very unorganized and we were left out to dry at times trying to get to excursions in Denai (stayed at the McKinley Village) - I don't think the McKinley Chalet had the same problems!!
    f course being on the bus we got to see Mt. McKinley - it was OUT - beautiful. The excursions we went on were great - went on Historic tour of Ketchikan, on our own in Sitka - walked the town and saw the Raptor Center, Haines - Canoe trip to Davidson glacier - fantastic - people were wonderful - great sights, Juneau - evening Whale watching tour - GREAT. and also helicopter ride to Mendenhall glacier - everybody should do that one. I am still in awe about all of this - took millions of pictures. Denali - horseback riding on the Tundra, and white water rafting - UNBELIEVABLE - I am still in awe about all of this - took millions of pictures. Anybody have any questions - let me know - I can talk forever about this trip!! Thanks for everybody's advice - it was well worth it.
     
  2. halfdome86

    halfdome86 Guest

    Don't forget to post some (not all million!) photos.
     
  3. talltexan

    talltexan Guest

    Glad you had a nice time! We're headed there end of July. Did you say you were on HAL? What ship?

    I'm still trying to figure out what shore excursions to arrange for our family. Can you expand a little on the "issues" you encountered in Denali? (other than the long bus trip - no explanation needed there) If I can avoid something you warn me about, your suffering will not have been in vain!

    Thanks!
     
  4. roberta2

    roberta2 Guest

    We were on the Statendam - great ship - wonderful crew. Really the only problem was the bus trip - pay the extra $90 or so and ride the train instead - Holland offers this as an upgrade (we understand). We stayed at the McKinley "Village" - another Holland staple. Very nice - but there was no Holland representative" in the lobby greeting you when you arrive or standing by to be sure everyone is on track with their excursions. The desk staff was left to help you figure everything out and always had to call the excursion people and see why you weren't being picked up at the "designated time" for your excursion. Our horseback riding tour was supposed to be for pick up at 5:30 and we didn't get everything settled and at the place until 6:30-6:45 p.m.!! This was after the 9 hour bus ride!!! Another tip - don't be alarmed if you are riding with someone and they stop and pick up a hitchhiker!! This is common place in Alaska - but shocked me!! We had a van full of tourists going to an excursion and this guy stops in the middle of the road and picked up two kids with backpacks on!! They were very nice but it kinda put everyone out in the van - we were full before we picked them up - then he went off our route to drop them off. No offense to anyone - we just don't do that here in New Orleans!! But in Alaska - you do what they do!!! Anyway - i am rambling . Just be sure you stay after the hotel desk staff to check on your excursions for pickup. Any questions about the excursions - let me know - ours were all great !!
     
  5. talltexan

    talltexan Guest

    Thanks roberta, good to know. Our CruiseTour already includes the train, and I noticed that only some of the tours include a Tour Director to meet you in Denali -- and ours is also NOT one of them, but at least I'm forewarned. I do have some other questions, since you offered! : )

    In spite of the extra daylight, I am concerned that the tours begin so late in Denali. Like New Orleans, Texas is in the Central Time Zone --- a four hour difference. So here I am looking at excursions that will last into the wee hours ("body clock" time) and wondering if my preteens will be able to enjoy them. But then, who am I kidding? They can probably last longer than me -- I'll be the one tired, grumpy, and with a migraine! Seriously, how did the time change feel for you? Also, the horseback riding is one of the options we're considering -- how was it once you FINALLY got there? Did you have time to do anything else while in Denali? We have "Double Denali", however the second day seems to be given only to the HAL Tundra Wlilderness Tour, with no other activities offered that day through HAL. Are there tour companies offering excursions at the hotel besides the ones HAL sells?

    Thanks so much!
     
  6. Chippsetter

    Chippsetter Guest

    Glad you enjoyed our fine state. I have been here almost 40 years and still have not seen or done it all.
     
  7. talltexan

    talltexan Guest

    One more question, roberta --

    "9 hour bus ride"......... was that round trip hours or one way?!!
     
  8. Chippsetter

    Chippsetter Guest

    The bus ride would have been from Anchorage to Denali and that would have been round trip. There is no road out of Juneau.
     
  9. roberta2

    roberta2 Guest

    My mistake - i am still reeling from everything - you are right - the bus trip started in Seward!! For some reason i keep wanting to make Seward Juneau - never got to really see Seward. Yes the trip was 9 hours one-way!! It was a nice scenic ride - saw the mountain sheep on the side of mountains and even got to see Mt McKinley when we got to Denali - otherwise we would have never seen it due to the excursions and such when we got there - Mt. McKinley was supposedly on the other side of something!! The time difference did get to me somewhat. I sometimes was wanting to go to bed at 8:00 Alaska time - but of course did not. You don't want to go to bed sometimes - afraid you are going to miss something the ship passes by during the "night"!! My body clock had me waking up at 3:30-4:00 a.m. though!! But most of the time I just got up and enjoyed the beautiful sight going on past me!! Sometimes peeked out during the night too!! You are so hyped up by everything you will be fine with it - now when I got home I was totally exhausted!! I don't think I have still caught up!! Your pre-teens will be fine - and I didn't get one migraine!! We even made sure we went to the shows after dinner - a MUST!! I did miss one though - just too much that day. We took short naps sometimes when done in port!!The Horseback riding was great fun. Tiring though - my horse kept wanting to stop and eat and I had to keep pulling up on the reins and giving him a slight kick!! There are bugs out there too - someone had brought repellent and it helped a lot. Be sure to wear jeans or pants too - the horses like to rub on anything they get close to!! The late excursions will be great - and you will need that extra day - we arrived one evening - went horseback riding, ate late, had to be out of the room by 11:00 a,m next day - while we were on white-water rafting - left everything at the front desk!! - not very convenient - no one was happy about that and then we left on the train about 4:00. Everything in Denali seems to take a long time too - transporation, getting from place to place, etc. No other excursions - that I know of but someone here must know. Be sure to watch your time on your coming in and leaving days!! That was one of our mistakes with the horseback riding on the day of arrival - but HAL let us book it!! Any more let me know. I am just bubbling with everything - don't know if i will ever settle down!! I am still looking at the internet at Alaska stuff and information!!! No other time for anything but a little shopping - really would have liked to tour around or something else - just not enough time there!! Oh - train from Seward to Denali also takes about 8 hours - they tell me - just a lot nicer than the bus!!
     
  10. roberta2

    roberta2 Guest

    Chippsetter - David - I am soooo jealous! We didnt' get to see Anchorage - but I am sure it is great. My work has an office there and wish i had could move there!! Alaska is just fantastic - people here just don't understand how nice it is and the people are unbelievable - very different (nice wise) than the "lower 48"!!
     
  11. talltexan

    talltexan Guest

    Thanks for all the data, you've been a great help!

    Let us know if you get a chance to post your photos.
     
  12. roberta2

    roberta2 Guest

    I'll have to look and see if I can figure that part out!!!
     
  13. justqreus

    justqreus Guest

    Thanks for all the info. I'm excited that you are so thrilled about your trip!! We're going in 2 weeks! Looking forward to your photos (again, not ALL of them!)
    Joyce
     
  14. Bogart

    Bogart Guest

    What's the Stattendam like? I've read reviews that it's pretty shabby. Was there a naturalist on board? Did you go to any of her/his talks? How were they?

    I've taken the train to Denali and it's fantastic! They had a tour guide/college student in each car who would point out sights, and help keep kids entertained. Then we were serenaded by the porter!!
     

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