Cruisetour – Alaska (Part 2)
This is a continuation of Part 1 of the Cruisetour in Alaska, which was posted yesterday. In this video, you will see more of Hotel Alyeska, as well as the other three hotels that I stayed in: Talkeetna Lodge, McKinley Village Lodge, and Pikes Waterfront Lodge. Here you will see Mount McKinley in all it’s glory – did you know that I am part of the 30% club? That means only 30% of the people who visit Mount McKinley get to see it, as often it is shrouded in clouds or fog – yet on this occasion, Mount McKinley was clearly visible. Also, you will see Denali Park, and footage of the Grizzly Bear sighting.
Now, I will add further comments about Day 2 through Day 4 of the cruisetour right here, instead of listing all the days out one by one. As you know, I stayed at the Alyeska Resort & Hotel on Day 1, and when I awoke the next morning, I went on the tram to take a look at where the skiing takes place in this wonderful resort. I already showed you the pictures in a previous post, and many more are included on the videos than what I can enclose here in this post. Therefore, I will start with what happened when we left Alyeska. We went to the Conservation Center, which is where I saw the Black Bear, and other animals. From there, we went to Anchorage, and the most notable thing about Anchorage from what I remembered was that it is a city with a lot more choices of shopping and restaurants than you will find in other places such as Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Talkeetna, etc. There was a market that had really good salmon quesadillas, and I would highly recommend trying one of these if you ever get chance to visit. Here are some of my pictures of Anchorage:
We then left Anchorage after about three hours or so, and headed for Talkeetna Lodge which overlooks Mount McKinley.
I am pretty sure that the tour guides or someone told us that Mount McKinley is the tallest mountain from base to the top (the peak) – so it is pretty spectacular. However, it was sad to hear that just before the day we were there, someone had a fatal fall from it. Something so spectacular can also be so dangerous, unfortunately.
I took the photo below with my I-Phone, and at times it is really hard to distinguish which is Mount McKinley, but it looks as though it’s where the third bump is (more towards the right of the picture). With my regular camera, I took the other pictures below of sunset in the vicinity, but they weren’t directly over Mount McKinley, but sunset is sunset I guess, and it doesn’t really matter where it is as long as it’s enjoyed. What is notable to mention is that sunset started at about 11:30 pm, and lasted until 2 am or so. It stays light until very late in certain parts of Alaska, and this seemed to vary as we traveled from place to place. Also, it was light very early in the morning too, so there were very few hours of darkness, especially at Talkeetna Lodge. It was so unusual to see sunset so late at night, and who can go to sleep when you can stay up until 2 am just appreciating the sunset over Mount McKinley?
You can take a flightseeing excursion over Mount McKinley, and you can actually even land on it. We saw so many flightseeing tours, and here are some pictures of planes flying close by:
Leaving Talkeetna, I took this picture:
We arrived at our next stop, where we would spend the night prior to visiting Denali National Park
That’s me (Davinder) at McKinley Village Lodge
Then we set off in the morning really early at 5:30 am or so for Denali National Park. This meant that I had to wake up at approximately 4am – another early morning! I barely had time to grab something from the coffee shop in the lobby. They gave us lunch boxes on the bus as there are no cafes or restaurants in Denali, and you have to be very careful with food. You even have to make sure that you don’t put anything in the trash cans that has any trace of food, this is for the benefit of the animals – so that they don’t associate food with humans. All food has to be consumed on the bus, and disposed of in special trash containers within the bus, and then the bus personnel see to the proper disposal of it. I think our sandwiches were reindeer meat, and there was some type of crackers and raisins, and a bottle of water.
Our tour of Denali, which was a 7 hour tour because it was the upgraded Denali Park Tour, cost an additional $58.25. The included Denali Park Tour does not go deep into Denali, and I believe it only lasts about two and a half hours. However, it was highly recommended to get the upgraded tour, and I’m glad that I did.
Here are some pictures, I’m not going to show too many as again, you can see them in my video or a previous post. The first picture shows you the bus that takes you into Denali National Park. My most personal prized picture of Denali is that of the Grizzly Bear, and I also got it on video.
This is some of the landscape within Denali:
Now, I should give you a little background on Denali. This park was put into place after much lobbying to Congress from the efforts of early conservationists such as Charles Sheldon, who fought to preserve Denali. Did you know that some people refer to Mount McKinley as Denali, while others just wish to call it Mount McKinley? The native name for it is Denali. In fact, the park was first named Mount McKinley National Park, but it was renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. Did you know that cars cannot go deep into the park? I believe only a certain number are given a permit to enter the park, but they are only allowed to go up to a certain point. By riding the tour bus, we are all helping to protect Denali’s wilderness ecosystem. Denali is an important park, because the animals within it are respected, and have a safe area to roam around. I like bears and appreciate the idea that there is a place for them where they are protected, and won’t be hunted or slaughtered, but I guess the same goes for all the other animals there who are all important to one another’s existence. Anyway, I didn’t mean to go off into talking about something that I don’t know a lot about, but I do appreciate what they are doing in Denali.
After we finished our tour of Denali, we headed to Fairbanks, and the Pikes Waterfront Lodge. This was to be our last stop and our last night in Alaska.
I have finally finished the posts and videos on Alaska. Well, until next time……I wish you a very pleasant week ahead, and a happy summer!
Cruisetour – Alaska
Join Davinder on her 4 day cruisetour of Alaska, which started in Seward at the end of the 7 day cruise from Vancouver to Alaska.
Day 1 of the Cruisetour was busy and very memorable with visits to the SeaLife Center, a Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise (where Davinder saw a whale, at least a glimpse of a whale), and a wonderful trip on the Wilderness Express train where she saw a Bald Eagle. The day finished with a stay overnight at the beautiful Alyeska Resort and Hotel, which is one of the best ski resorts in Alaska.
How is a cruisetour different to a shore excursion?
A cruisetour is different to a shore excursion, because the latter is available as an optional trip during a cruise ship’s port visit, while a cruisetour, is a trip you can make either prior to your cruise or after. You can take cruisetours virtually everywhere you embark on your cruise, or disembark, so next time you think of a cruise whether it’s from Venice, Rome, London, Miami, Vancouver, or any other port at all – think about a cruisetour, and you will get to see more of that particular place. A cruisetour allows you to visit different places, and to see them in greater depth. Transportation is included, as well as accommodation, and some meals. Most cruisetours are run by cruise lines, so it makes sense to book them along with your cruise. You should always book your cruisetours prior to taking your cruise.
I took a post-cruise tour, which started from Seward, which was where the Vancouver to Alaska cruise finished. Also, just something to note…..I would never have seen bears during my cruise – even on the shore excursions that I took (however, there are some excursions where there is a chance to see bears), and since I love bears, this cruisetour made it worthwhile to me, especially when I saw the Grizzly Bear in Denali Park. The Black Bear that I saw even though it was in a Conservation Center, was also another highlight of my cruisetour, as was the Wilderness Express train, and my stay at the Hotel Alyeska. I also enjoyed seeing Mount McKinley. Therefore, as you can see – you would not be able to experience Denali Park, Mount McKinley, the Wilderness Express train, Mount McKinley, or Hotel Alyeska without going on a cruisetour, unless you fly to Alaska just specifically to experience these places. I hope this explanation has made it a little clearer to you as to what a cruisetour is, and sometimes it is more difficult to write about it than to show it in a video, so I’ve attempted to explain it in a video that I made – please see the next post, and I will also put a link here: Cruisetour – Alaska
Anyway, to continue my recount of the cruisetour, I have included some pictures below. The bus was right outside the cruise ship, waiting to take us on the next adventure.
We then went to the SeaLife Center (I showed you some pictures of the sea lions and seals in a previous post), here are some pictures of the actual Center
We then went back by bus to near where the cruise ship was docked to catch a Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise. This is where I caught a glimpse of a whale, you can see that in my video that I will post at the bottom of this page. Here are pictures of the port of Seward:
Now, for the highlight of the cruisetour, or at least my favorite part – the Wilderness Express train – you just have to experience this train. It has two levels, and has a glass dome, which makes for excellent viewing. You can see the wildlife of Alaska as you zoom on by, we saw caribou, and bald eagles (you will see the bald eagle on my video, didn’t get a picture of it, just video footage).
That’s me – Davinder – both outside the train, and on level two of the train in the glass dome portion of it. Everybody else had gone downstairs to eat.
Here I am with a fellow CruiseOne franchise owner and his wife, and another travel agent.
Have you ever delved into your food, and then realized you should have taken a picture first? Well, this halibut was so good, that I could not resist, and I took the picture too late. I probably should not even include this picture here, but I promise this was just about the best dish of food I had during the whole trip to Alaska – it was delicious!
I’m not sure if I showed you this picture of the caribou, but we saw these from the train.
Well, if they could make a song and sing it to the tune of “Welcome to the Hotel California”, they should do it for the Hotel Alyeska. Welcome to the Hotel Alyseska, it’s a lovely place. We arrived at this beautiful hotel way too late, it must have been at about 9pm. The next day we had to leave at around 11 am, and that certainly was not fair. I just loved this hotel. It is simply beautiful, and I could easily stay here for three or four days at least, a visit of one night is not worth it. It has so much atmosphere, and words cannot describe it – both inside and outside of the hotel, it is exquisite.
It was snowing when we arrived there, and this was on Friday, May 18th. The Hotel Alyeska is one of the best ski resorts in Alaska. It is a very popular place, and rightly so.
The next morning, we took a tram up to where all the skiing takes place, and there was so much snow.
Out of the four hotels that I stayed in during the four day cruisetour of Alaska, the Alyeska Resort was undoubtedly the best. It is just magical.
Goodbye, Hotel Alyeska and the Wilderness Express train. I wish I’d had more time with both of you – you were both part of my most incredible experiences of the cruisetour, and both occurred on Day One of the four days. I’m glad that I captured you in photographs and video, as now I will always remember you.
Wildlife Pictures Taken in Alaska
Here are some of my pictures of wildlife taken in Alaska after the completion of the recent Radiance Of The Seas cruise in May, 2012. On May 18, 2012 our cruise ship finished the 7 day cruise in Seward, Alaska and we got on our post cruise tour, which was hosted by Royal Caribbean. There’s a difference between shore excursions and cruise tours. The excursions allow you to see the ports that the ship visits, while the cruise tours allows you to see more of a particular area or country better. For example, our cruise tour started in Seward, and then we went to Girdwood, Talkeetna, Mount McKinley, Denali Park, and Fairbanks. By way of the cruise tour, we were allowed into the wilds of Alaska.
This particular post is not in sequential order of the cruise tour visits, as I mainly wanted to show the wildlife viewing opportunities. This Grizzly Bear was an amazing sight to see, and was out in the wilds of Denali Park, which was part of our 4 Day cruise tour hosted by Royal Caribbean. However, personally, I prefer the Black Bear that I saw at a Nature Reserve. I just love bears, and I guess Black Bears are one of my favorites, along with koala bears. There is a lot of history behind Denali Park, and we really need to treasure places that are out there that protect wild animals, and also allow us to view them as safely as possible.
I’m not very good with certain animals, does anyone know if this is moose or bison?
Not really wild life, but just had to include this picture here:
Dall Sheep scattering up mountains
Well, if I can’t tell the difference between bison and moose, I also can’t tell the difference between sea lions and seals. This second picture (below) was taken at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska where the cruise ship docked at the end of the 7 day cruise. It was easier to see the sea life closer in this setting than it was in the wild in the picture above which was taken when we were on a boat tour with Kenai Fjords Tours on the same day after the cruise had finished. Both these excursions were part of our 4 day cruise tour, which had just got started from Seward.
The boat tour had been really enjoyable and we actually saw whales – I think I have got video coverage of it – too hard to get on camera. Denali Park is also an extremely important experience. So, as you can see if there is any one reason to go to Alaska (other than the mountains, the snow, and the ice) – guess what it is? It’s for the wildlife! Go just to see the wildlife, and you won’t be disappointed.