What can you recommend?
After talking about it for several years, my husband and I have finally booked a vacation in Alaska. We’re going for two weeks in the beginning of June.
Our 2-week trip will have three parts:
- Five days on land, starting and ending in Anchorage. We’ll be spending two nights in Anchorage with some friends before taking the train to Denali. We have two nights there in the park before returning to Anchorage.
- One week on Radiance of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (ironically, the only one we’ve ever been on) with a southbound cruise to Vancouver, BC. The itinerary includes Seward (our starting port), Hubbard Glacier (cruising), Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, Inside Passage (cruising), and Vancouver (our ending port).
- Three days in Seattle, visiting with Mike’s cousin.
What Should We Do Each Day?
I’d like to hear from experienced Alaska travelers (or residents) about the kinds of day trips, activities, and/or tours they recommend — or think we should steer clear of.
Mike and I are relatively active people who prefer activities that require us to get out and move around. We don’t want to sit on a motorcoach (i.e., a bus) for more than 30 minutes and will do it only if there’s no other way to get where we need to go. We don’t like events that are orchestrated, like lumberjack shows and indian village dance revues. We prefer activities that don’t attract a lot of families with small kids or less active participants. While we understand the importance of scheduling, we don’t like tours that rush us around from one place to another or tours that expect you to sit around waiting for an activity to begin.
I want to enjoy one or two or three activities each day and get back to the hotel or boat feeling exhausted and as if I’ve seen more than I can comprehend.
We are on a budget, so we can’t afford to drop $500 per person each day on entertainment. (I’ve seen some of the pricing for package tours and it’s scary.) Although we don’t mind dropping a bunch of money on a really special trip, we can’t do it more than once or maybe twice. And it would have to be very special.
I prefer working with small tour operators rather than the big ones that the cruise ship companies use. They usually offer more personalized service and, because they don’t have to cut in the cruise lines, they’re more affordable. (In Sedona, for example, I always put my passengers on a Jeep with Earth Wisdom instead of Pink Jeep Tours because I don’t like my passengers to feel “processed.” Ditto for Maverick instead of Papillon at the Grand Canyon.) That’s not to say that I won’t work with a bigger tour operator, but I certainly don’t want to be “one of hundreds” on a tour.
Some of the things we’re interested in include:
- Salmon fishing (if we can bring our catch home)
- Air tours (helicopter and/or seaplane) if they include ground activities.
- Whale watching (although I think we’ll get enough of that from the ship).
- Hiking or biking if not too strenuous. (I’m active but still out of shape.)
- Nature observation and photography.
If You Have Suggestions, Please Help!
Although I can wade through a pile of tourist literature both in brochures and on the Web, I was hoping for activities that the average tourist doesn’t participate in. That means I need suggestions.
What have you done on an Alaska vacation? What do you think we might like? Don’t keep it a secret! Use the Comment link or form to share it with us. I need your help!