Friday, September 26, 2014

Go Your Own Way... Alaska by Land + Sea

We have all heard tall tales of prospectors carving their path through the Canadian Yukon during the 1890's gold rush... well now it's your turn. But instead of lugging a thousand pounds of provisions up the Chilkoot Trail, you can do it in luxury and style by taking a Holland America Line-- Alaska Land+Sea Journey.

On this adventure you will be granted an all access pass to Denali National Park as well the opportunity of experiencing the mightiness of Mt. McKinley up close and personal. On this one of a kind cruise experience -- not only will you have the possibility of spotting whales, sea lions, and dolphins... but also take in the likes of grizzly bears, moose,  and elk.

As we all know the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, soon they will be evaporated, dried up and gone. It's time to gather the whole family together and see the glacial ice mass before it's too late. This is no ordinary vacation... this is a bonding experience that will last a lifetime--

Getting There--

It is wise to arrive in Anchorage, your city of embarkation, a day or two early. Your body will need to have time to adjust from a long flight-- pretty much guaranteed, no matter where you depart from...

Thankfully the Anchorage International airport is well thought out and very navigable. Outside of baggage claim they even run a municipal bus system-- on the hour-- that will get you to the hotel district for a mere $4.50. Taxi's are very affordable as well... a short 10 to 15 minute  jaunt into the city will only set you back-- $25.00 and that includes a gratuity.

Where to Stay--

With overnight stays at the Westmark Hotels in Fairbanks AK, Dawson City and Whitehorse YT--  you'll become familiar with this hotel brand. Seeing that their parent company is the same as that of the Holland American Line-- the property is what you would expect from a hospitality driven enterprise-- tidy, outfitted with comfortable beds and have an exceptionally conscientious staff.

Another nicety they offer is a wake- up call for the Northern Lights. If any of their staff spies the aurora borealis throughout the dark of night-- The front desk will give your room a ring-- so you can grab your camera and snap a few photos of the dramatic spectacle of nature.
For a treasured experience, Air Denali-- not only offers a flightseeing tour of Mt. McKinley-- the highest peak in North America-- but they also will land on a glacier near the summit. Nowhere else can you take in unspoiled and unfettered views of the mountain top unless of course you are an avid climber.
The sturdiness of their planes lend themselves to your confidence, although the pilots self deprecating humor gets a little tired--- But considering the chatter over the headset sounds so cool, you forgive the staleness of their corny jokes.

Also, don't pass on being one of the proud-- the select few that venture in to the Article Circle. You'll even walk away with a certificate to prove you made it this far north.

Upon your arrival in the tiny community of Fort Yukon, don't expect to be greeted with much fanfare from locals... They aren't the most all-embracing of outsiders, but then again who would want to feel like they are put on display as a tourist attraction--

Nevertheless, you made it to the Arctic Circle and a village so remote that it is accessible only by plane and river transportation-- with no roads leading in or out.

Don't forget the mosquito repellent.
Take a peaceful 7.5 hour train ride slicing through the pristine Alaskan countryside on the domed rail cars of the McKinley Explorer.  A half hour of out of Anchorage, there's the possibility of sighting Mt. McKinley-- weather permitting of course.
Take in some good eats on white table clothed tables as your dining car swiftly rambles along the railway. The tasty cuisine is delightful and the service is welcoming and gracious.
Hop aboard the White Pass and Yukon Route,  a train ride that careens past mountain rock pools, scenic gorges and dramatic waterfalls. On this unforgettable train ride experience you will journey along virtually the same path that the Yukon prospectors originally summitted during the 1890's gold rush.
This wildly popular pleasure trip lasts a surprisingly quick 3.5 hours and will allow for some memorable photographs-- provided you will brave the whirling cold and stand in-between the cars as they bump and whisk down the tracks.
On much of the Holland America Land + Sea Journey you will be shuttled from place to place on a narrated luxury coach. You'll feel like a Rock Star of the Canadian Yukon-- being on the tour bus and living out of a suitcase.

Sure many mornings you will be leaving at the crack of dawn, but your meticulous tour host will always see that the shuttle picks you up and arrives on time. As an added bonus-- it's as though they have like invisible luggage Sherpa's-- simply leave your belongs outside your room and poof they're gone... Only to reappear the next day upon your arrival  and inside your new hotel room--
And a Cruise Ship-- for Good Measure

Once you arrive at the Cruise Ship terminal in Skagway and board the ms Zuiderdam, you will feel like royalty. All of the ship's crew will be scurrying and working to ensure your voyage is the best possible.
Often times on cruise ships you can't help but hear the murmur of other passengers complaints-- People complain about the weather-- People complain about the food-- people complain about their health... Well on Holland America Line--you will hear no complaints. The staff performs at such high standards and with such gladness in their heart-- you can't help but be amazed.

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