Alaska Journals

Alaska the Beautiful

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A June 2006 trip to Alaska by ramcgraw

Travel Photo by IgoUgo memberMore Photos
Quote: To see the most of Alaska, a cruise with land tour is your best ticket. Each port gives a unique glimpse of different aspects of Alaska and its history. The land tour portion allows you to access true wilderness areas.

Alaska the Beautiful

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Overview

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Alaska is packed with so many unique opportunities that it is hard to pick one to begin with; therefore I will list things in the order that I experienced them. Cruising with Royal Caribbean was a treat. The rooms are very pleasant with modern decor and amenities. We had a balcony in our state room which is a must for an Alaska cruise. Our first event was cruising into Tracy Arm Fjord to see Sawyer Glacier. We sat on our balcony sipping hot cocoa as we passed amazing scenery including waterfalls, icebergs and seals. The glacier itself was very pristine showing beautiful streaks of blue color. Our next day brought us to Skagway, our first port of call. Skagway offers the White Pass and Yukon Rail off...Read More

Denali Natural History Tour

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Attraction

Denali Natural History Tour Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
The tour begins with a short stop at the Wilderness Access Center to view a 20 minute film about the beginning of the park. The film uses many original photographs and film clips from the early 1900s. It also has interviews with some of the people who first enjoyed the park. We then boarded our bus to continue driving into Denali. The bus driver provided details about the park, as well as flora and fauna. We stopped anytime we saw an animal for pictures and viewing. We saw a beaver lodge (but no beavers), a moose, and some people saw a bear (it was moving pretty fast). Our second stop was the Savage River cabin. We looked around the cabin and heard the story of a sourdough woman who left her easy life...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 14, 2006

Denali Natural History Tour

Denali, Alaska

Quote:
The Sheldon Jackson Museum is a small building on the campus of Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska. The campus sits slightly outside the main shopping district of Sitka but is well worth the extra walking to get there. You can also get a day pass on the city bus which drops at this location as well. Sheldon Jackson was a missionary who is credited with introducing Christianity to the natives of Alaska. He is also credited by some of obtaining priceless artifacts representing the different tribal groups of Alaska underhandedly. These artifacts are what the museum that bears his name show. It is a wonderful collection of all sorts of ancient pieces. The price of $4/person is well worth it to se...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 14, 2006

Sheldon Jackson Museum
104 College Drive
Sitka, Alaska 99835
(907)747-8981

Quote:
The New Archangel Dancers are a group of women dancers who perform authentic Russian dances in costume. There is no need to buy tickets in advance, just show up 15 minutes before a show and buy a ticket. The show is about 40 minutes long with two acts. The dancers perform several different types of dances and one member explains each dance before it is performed. The group is all women simply because when they started it, the men of the town refused to participate, and now that it is a popular group that gets to travel the men are not allowed to participate. There are several costume changes throughout the show as well as several different dances. During the intermission, the Alaskan state song was pe...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 14, 2006

New Archangel Dancers
Harrigan Centennial Hall
Sitka, Alaska 99835
(907) 747-3225

Denali National Park & Preserve

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Attraction | "Meadow View Trail"

Denali National Park & Preserve Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
We started our hike at the visitor's center help desk. They have maps of the surrounding trails and will point you to the trailheads. The trail is well established with gravel most of the way so you don't get too muddy. The trail leads for a short distance through fairly flat land until you cross the park road. After crossing the park road, you will gradually gain elevation to the point where you can look down on a meadow. Many trails branch off, so pay close attention. On the trail, we saw many beautiful flowers, including lupines, wild roses, and bluebells. We also saw bear and moose scat also known as poo! Someone asked me how I knew and it was basically an educated guess based on what I know about...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 14, 2006

Denali National Park & Preserve
Alaska Route 3/George Parks Highway
Denali, Alaska
(907) 733-2231

Sitka National Historical Park

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Attraction | "Sitka National Historic Park"

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
We arrived at the park on foot and short of time. We bypassed the inside museum in favor of seeing the totems and walking through the park. The park consists of 15 different poles including totems and memorial poles. Totem poles are carvings that tell a story. I read somewhere that the old phrase "low man on the totem pole" is inaccurate because the lowest spot represents the most strength. The beginning of the story is the bottom of the totem and the top is the end. The totem trail leads from the visitor's center outward along the coastline. Even on a rainy day it is possible to see the cruise ships docked in the bay. It provides a good photo opportunity if you are a cruiser. The path continues from...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 18, 2006

Sitka National Historical Park
106 Metlakatla Street
Sitka, Alaska 99835
(907) 747-6281

Sitka Rose Gallery

Attraction

Quote:
The Sitka Rose Gallery was listed in my travel guide as a store to visit in Sitka. It was not suggested by the cruise line and did not appear on their map. However, I think this store was a gem. It is located in a Victorian style house that sits slightly back from the main street. It is at the end of the shopping district but well worth the walk to see their treasures. The gallery has beautiful original pieces as well as prints. The sales associates are helpful and knowledgeable. The artwork contained within the store represents Alaskan artists. We bought a print from an artist located in Juneau. The artwork includes prints and pictures but also includes beautiful sculptures and scrimshaw work. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 18, 2006

Sitka Rose Gallery
419 Lincoln St.
Sitka, Alaska 99835
(907) 747-3030

Quote:
The Wildlife North Art Gallery features only one artist: David Totten. I am not a fan of wildlife art but I purchased two prints because his artwork is so beautiful. His medium is pastels. Each print is part of a limited edition series and is numbered and signed by the artist. The artist also puts his real signature on his prints. The details of the colors even on a print is wonderful. The prints vary in price but are reasonable. The pieces I purchased were $35 and $45 unframed. They will ship your purchase but we chose to carry ours. If you are in this town, I highly suggest viewing his art in his own gallery. You can also visit and order from his website at http://www.davidtotten.com but it is hard ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 29, 2006

Wildlife North Art Gallery
Main Street
Talkeetna, Alaska 99676
(907) 733-5811

Corrington Museum of Alaska History

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Attraction | "Corrington's Ivory Museum"

Quote:
The Corrington's Ivory Museum is a museum and gift shop. We only had time to see the gift shop unfortunately. The shop contains many different items representing Alaskan artists. We found a totem pole here that we shipped back home for reasonable price. The totem is hard carved, about 12 inches tall and tells the story of the Raven discovering humans on earth. The price was a little lower than we saw in some other places at $178. It cost us $21 to ship it home with insurance, and it arrived the week we got home. There are many different pieces in this store, most representing Alaskan artists. They had a very nice selection of carved antlers here as well. The prices were comparable to others we saw at ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Corrington Museum of Alaska History
5th and Broadway
Skagway

Flight seeing with Glacier Landing

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
If you want to guarantee you will see Mt. McKinley during your visit to Alaska, you should sign up for a flight seeing tour. We signed up for one through the cruise line for flight seeing with a glacier landing from Talkeetna. We flew with an outfit called K2Aviation in a 10 seater plane. The cost was approximately $300 per person and the flight was approximately 90 minutes including the glacier landing. We were offered boots to wear on the glacier which we chose not to use. The traction on our own shows was better than the boots but we didn't realize that we would be walking on freshly fallen snow sinking up to six inches with each step. So, I suggest the boots if you want to keep the snow out of ...Read More

White Pass Rail and Trail Camp Adventure

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
We began our adventure by boarding a tour bus at the dock next to our ship. The tour bus took us through the small downtown area of Skagway, Alaska and out toward the White Pass. Within 15 minutes, we stopped at our trail camp, Liarsville. Liarsville was a camp where newspaper reporters waited for miners to return from the Yukon gold fields (500 miles away in Canada). The reporters figured it was just too hard to climb over the mountains and actually get to the Yukon, so they wrote their stories based on people returning from the gold fields—hence the name Liarsville. Hot cider and cookies were provided at the camp which has several small buildings to explore. Beside the buildings and gift shop, a h...Read More
Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Icy Strait Point, Alaska is a unique port of call on a cruise ship itinerary. It is a place to explore a more natural and unpopulated Alaska. The docking point is just that, a dock. There are a few restaurants, small shops, and an old cannery you can tour. The town is actually called Hoonah and is a couple of miles from the dock. Free shuttles run to and from the town regularly. We went on the Forest and Nature Tram which is a 2 hour tour of the temperate rain forest with narration on the culture, geology, flora and fauna. The tour costs $43 per person and meets directly behind the port stores. The tram has a top cover but open sides with seats 4 people across. The trail was built especially for th...Read More
Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
My husband and father took this adventure rather than I, but I decided to write up what I heard from them and saw from their pictures. So this is a second hand account. The cost for this excursion is $184 per person plus $30 for Alaska fishing license and salmon stamp. The fishing is catch and release. The fish are not allowed on the boat unless you are going to pay to have them processed and shipped home. The boat holds 4 passengers and one captain. The boat leaves directly from the pier where the tender boats put you ashore from the cruise ship. This particular tour is one to book early because it booked up rather quickly. My father-in-law tried to get on this tour about 3 months out and it was al...Read More

Cruising Tracy Arm Fjord

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Tracy Arm Fjord was a surprise on our agenda to Alaska. We missed the port of Juneau due to communications issues with the U.S. Coast Guard so we spent the day in Tracy Arm Fjord instead. Most of us were not too disappointed in missing Juneau after seeing the Fjord. It is best to have a balcony room for seeing the fjords and glaciers in my opinion. It offers privacy, a windbreak, a close restroom, and a room to warm up in if necessary. Of course, you can go out on deck as well but I preferred the balcony. There is room for 4 people to comfortably sit on the balcony at any given time. The fjord is beautiful with icebergs floating peacefully by and waterfalls gushing with tremendous force down the m...Read More

Cruising Hubbard Glacier

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
The last full day of our cruise we had the opportunity to cruise Hubbard Glacier. The ship goes into the fjord and and gets very close to the glacier and then turns the boat around several times for optimal viewing from anywhere on the ship. I was afraid the experience would be less or similar to what we had seen in Tracy Arm Fjord (see journal of same title) but I was pleasantly surprised. We were so close to Hubbard Glacier that you could view and hear icebergs calving off the glacier. The sound is referred to as white thunder which is appropriate. The icebergs begin to release air that may have been trapped for millions of years and you start to hear a snap, crackle and pop sound. This is referre...Read More
Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
The staterooms are great. They are smaller than some cruise ships I have been on, but the modern decor and comfort of the stateroom is much better. The balcony in our room was private from other rooms and great for watching the scenery and glacier cruising. The room has plenty of storage space and closets and our empty luggage even fit nicely under the bed. The windows have heavy curtains to block out the Alaska sun. (We didn't see night for 11 days.) The TVs in the stateroom are interactive allowing you to order room service, book excursions and check your bill onboard. The service by our steward was flawless. The only problem with the stateroom is the tiny shower. It works fine but it is a lit...Read More
Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
We enjoyed the Colony Club and Schooners Bar on the 6th floor. Both have windows looking out on the ocean for beautiful views. They are decorated in a nautical theme with beautiful woodwork representing the hull of a ship. The Colony Club is where Bingo was played most days and some type of party was held with music for dancing most nights. The Schooner's Bar has live, musical entertainment most evenings before dinner. It was great meeting place for cocktails before or after dinner. We spent some time in the casino (6th floor) but I was disappointed because it is one of the smoking areas on the ship which made it difficult for me to enjoy. There are as low as penny slot machines but I thought the...Read More
Quote:
As with most cruise ships food is available all the time. There are two main places to eat - the Cascades Dining Room during specified hours on floors 4 and 5 and the Windjammer Cafe - a buffet on floor 11. We ate in both the dining room and cafe for breakfast and lunch but only in the main dining room for dinner. The offerings in the dining room are the same menu for breakfast and lunch each day with most traditional breakfast foods offered and a variety of salads, sandwiches and pastas for lunch. We preferred the cafe for breakfast and lunch because it is fast and offered variety each day. Another dining option is the Seaview Cafe which is a short order cafe. There is limited seating but the foo...Read More