Thursday, September 13, 2012

Alaska - Days 5-7

We left very early in the morning on Day 5 to head from Denali National Park to the Copper River Princess "Wilderness" Lodge.  It was quite an uncomfortable ride as much of it was on the Denali Highway, an unpaved gravel road.

This was something I wasn't prepared for as we spent 9 hours on the bus!!   It made me realize that I hadn't paid enough attention during the planning phase of this trip and made me think of several key travel points to remember when planning for future trips.
1.  How am I getting from Point A to Point B?
2.  How long will I be on the bus or train?
3.  What do I really want to see when I get there?

I was very disappointed when we got there.  I'm not sure what I had hoped to see, but the location, while beautiful, was very REMOTE!!  I just did not pay enough attention to the word "Wilderness" in the brochures, because we were in the middle of nowhere for 2 nights!   With cold, rainy weather and most of the local tours costing $200 or more per person, plus several hours again on the bus,  we decided to just stay in the lodge and read.
Another important point I seemed to miss in the Princess brochure was that a large part of the Alaska land adventure is hiking and spotting animals in their natural habitat.   But the one day we decided to go for a walk in the Copper River area, there was a bear sighting, so I definitely stayed in.  One of our fellow travelers ventured out and had a run-in with the bear.   I could feel her fear as she recounted her bear sighting to us.    

On Day 7, another 8 hours on the bus to Whittier to catch our cruise ship, the CORAL PRINCESS!  I was excited about that as this was my first ocean voyage!  I was really impressed with the size of the ship, standing at over 16 decks high.

Princess Cruise lines strongly suggests you pack one suitcase for land travel and one for the cruise ship which they will store for you.    That worked out great as I only had to lug one suitcase around.

Princess tours excelled in organization.  As soon as we arrived at a new hotel, we received an info packet with  info on the area, available tours and luggage tags.    They would deliver and pick-up your luggage right at your door.

TRAVEL TIP: If you're willing to eat early, the up-scale restaurants at the Princess Lodges all offer several early-bird dinner selections at significant savings!

If Alaska is on your Travel Bucket List, I would strongly recommend only 3 days on land seeing Mt. McKinley and Denali National Park!

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