Replies: 4 - Last Post: May 28, 2013 9:23 PM Last Post By: FelisPardalis
May 16, 2013 5:11 AM
AlaskaHi two active 55 plus lady travellers hoping to spend time in Alaska including Fairbanks, possibly arctic circle flight, northern lights, inside passage looking ?August/September 2014 3-4 weeks will be in Vancouver prior to trip. Not sure best way to go
Thought some part inside passage cruise any suggestion? Not good in rough conditions- what are the weather conditions like cruise ships or local ferries??
Also Northern lights - any good suggestions?
Train travel any comments??
Any good tips experiences you could share to help with planning?
May 16, 2013 6:25 AM
1Since you are thinking of including a flight near the Arctic Circle, I will assume that you can afford hotels and not hostels in your budget?
You will have difficulty seeing the Aurora Borealis during the summer months because the sun does not set until after 11 p.m. and then rises at about 4 a.m., depending how far north you travel. January is the favorite month for viewing the Aurora. If you do keep watch at sunset, you might see faint colors -- mostly greens -- in the northern sky. It is not predictable.
Holland America and Princess Cruises are popular for cruising along the Inside Passage. Take one that includes Glacier Bay and ends in either Whittier or Seward, then train ride to Anchorage. If you are on a tighter budget, the Alaska Marine Highway ferry can be quite comfortable. It leaves from Bellingham, Washington, at about 6 p.m., then spends that night passing Vancouver Island. The next morning, the ferry crosses Queen Charlotte Straits, north of Vancouver Island, and the crosswise ocean current rocks the boat -- I got seasick because I had not taken my Dramamine. During its northward sailing, the ferry stops at Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersberg, Sitka, Juneau, and Skagway. You may opt to stop for several days at any of these ports, then catch another northbound ferry to continue your trip. In Juneau, you would have the option of taking a flight to Gustavus to go on a cruise in Glacier Bay. In Sitka, you could explore Alaska's Russian history since that was Russia's capitol of Alaska before selling the territory to the USA.
In Skagway, there is a lot of Gold Rush history, with plays and preserved historic buildings, including the brothel. You may either take a bus from Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to fly to Anchorage, or take the boat-taxi back to Juneau to fly to Anchorage.
The Holland America and Princess cruiseships give the option of staying at the Alyeska Prince Hotel in Girdwood/Alyeska Ski Resort, which is 40 miles south of Anchorage surrounded by the Chugach Forest. There are shuttlebuses from Girdwood to Anchorage, Seward, and Homer. There is a taxi for transportation around the village of Girdwood. Or, you can easily walk everywhere, and take the taxi back uphill.
In Anchorage, I recommend the Millennium Hotel, 5 minutes from the International Airport and close to two excellent parks with lots of wildlife, including bears and moose. The Alaska Railroad train goes from Seward and Whittier (pick up and deliver cruiseship passengers) to Anchorage and north to Fairbanks, past Denali National Park. The Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is at the entrance to Denali National Park. There is also a Princess Lodge in Fairbanks.
I do not recommend flightseeing around the Arctic Circle -- not that impressive. I do recommend the bus tour from Fairbanks over the Arctic Circle to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean. You would need to spend the night there and return the next day. There is flightseeing around Denali Peak out of Talkeetna. A flight and overnight in Nome would also be exciting.
Edited by: trekker502
May 16, 2013 8:42 PM
2You can see the lights in September, although until late in the month there's really not much darkness, and the displays I've seen have been limited. Just wait for a clear night, stay up until it's completely dark, and study the sky. In August, probably not unless you're lucky fairly far south (i.e. away from the longest daylight and twilight).
OP, you're not really saying what you like to do or see (except the aurora). Nor are you stating anything about your budget. That makes it difficult to get very invested in making lots of suggestions. Have you looked at a guidebook?
Hope that's helpful.
May 17, 2013 3:00 AM
3Thank you Mark and Trekker
You guessed it our back packing days are in the past. But happy with mid range accommodation.
Yes have a lonely planet but sometimes it is good to hear about other peoples experiences. Particularly re ship travel - how rough would it normally be in Aug/Sept?
Thank you Diane
May 28, 2013 9:23 PM
4I haven't read much of the other responses, but I do want to let you know that you'll be able to see the northern lights in mid-September as I did on a road trip I did around Alaska many years ago. (DO NOT drive a vehicle on any sandbars along the Chena River even if you believe they are frozen solid because they are not!) You'll want to give yourselves a few days at a place outside Fairbanks (city lights diminish the effect). Chena Hot Springs is one such place. You'll also probably want to go see the Arctic Ocean, which you will not be able to do after the main tourist season is done. Maybe flying in and out of Fairbanks is a solution. A drive along the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse is spectacular in Yukon and Northern B.C. and you'll be able to stop off in Haines, which gets my vote for the most picturesque town on the road system and the Haines Cutoff puts you right in the alpine tundra at its most beautiful. Have fun.
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