Alaska from sea, air and land
I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to travel the globe. My feet have walked across the desert land of the Middle East, the sandy beaches of the South Pacific and the historical landmarks of Europe. However, out of all my experiences, none of them came close in comparison as my trip to Alaska courtesy of Princess Cruises. The views alone were breathtaking but the experience would not have been complete just basing my trip on the sights and sounds. What made this trip grand were the ship’s fantastic amenities, the lavish ports and Alaska’s amazing wildlife; all of which were part of the icing on the cake!
When you take an Alaskan cruise it is not just about the time spent on the ship. For me, the true treasures are the land treks across the rich and beautiful Alaskan inside passage and Alaskan gulf. However, the ship is not something to be overlooked.
Even if you have never been on a cruise, you should know that the excitement that comes with boarding the ship is that of the amazing dining you are about to enjoy. The menu would change everyday and the staff was always more than happy to accommodate your changing needs as well. The wait staff and chefs could accommodate everyone from the cookie monster to the pickiest of eaters! Whether it was the traditional dining room, the anytime dining room or the specialty restaurants (amazing Italian and New Orleans cuisine) it was done up to complete elegance with the perfect comfort. Check out my interview with the ship’s Executive Chef, Thomas Ulrich.
The Shangri La of comfort came when we hit land. That’s right. You get off the ship and stay at a lodge on land. Each lodge I visited was more perfect and quaint than the last. As I spent several days on land I simply cannot do each lodge justice in one sentence. However, try to imagine the perfect weekend get-a-way at a lodge in the mountains you have been planning for weeks. Now, take that weekend and extend it to several lodges for several days and place them all in picture perfect scenery. It’s absolute bliss. Coupled with a glass of wine, my Alaskan adventure was indeed paradise.
The Denali Princess Lodge is just one mile from the entrance of the Denali National Park, which is astonishing untouched wilderness home to diverse (and adorable) wildlife. This stop is complete on every cruise tour and offers at least two nights at a lodge in the park and is perfect for families too.
On the south end of Denali Park is the next stop on my land excursion at the Mt. McKinley. Experience the highest peak in North America from the Mt. McKinley Lodge. This is the optimal place to relax and unwind, that is, if you’re able to. If you’re anything like me, my excitement levels were too high to sit still I just had to get out and enjoy the gorgeous land surrounding the lodge and take in the truly magnificent views.
My final lodge stop was at the Kenai Princess Lodge which is in the Kenai Peninsula known as “Alaska’s playground”. I definitely found out why Kenai received that nickname because it sincerely is the place to be to have fun—especially if your passion is outdoors. Fishing, whale watching and kayaking are just a few of the opportunities there are to jump in and experience what Alaska is known for.
When in Alaska it’s an absolute must to see land by air. The Helicopter Glacier Landing Tour and Dog Sledding Tour atop the Glacier were two of my favorites! I was also fortunate enough to fly by seaplane, ride an ATV through the lush forests and practice the art of equestrianism on a guided horse riding tour.
I recommend saving the best for last and indulging in a pampering spa treatment on-board. After the excitement of any of the excursions, spoiling your tired body with a luxurious moment at the spa is exactly what you will need. Recharge your inner power while getting spoiled at this prestigious spa. I opted for the Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap followed by an hour massage and left the spa feeling rejuvenated and oh so relaxed!
There is honestly only so much that can be written about Alaska. Take it from a world traveler; this is something that must be experienced firsthand.
About the Author: Marybeth Bond, the Gutsy Traveler, National Geographic author of 11 travel books, featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of the Online Travel Magazine www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to CNN, CNN Airport Network and CNN.com Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked two months across the USA, traveler to over 90 countries, media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.