Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 9

Another early morning. The luggage had to be in the hall outside our room before 6:00 a.m. We were up about 5:30 a.m. We caught the bus to the train depot at 7:15 a.m.

We are traveling as part of a Princess Cruise land tour. Princess had four railroad cars on the end of the train. Each of the cars was double decked with skylight windows on the upper deck; the railcars looked brand new. There were only 15 guests onboard. I think that there may have been almost that many Princess employees. They said that they were picking up more than 80 people at Denali and would be filling up the four cars.

We had nice breakfast in the lower level of the car. I enjoyed the rail trip from Fairbanks to Denali. The first half of the trip was fairly flat. We saw several moose cow and calf pairs.

As we got closer to Denali the terrain got steeper and we started up the Nenana River Canyon. The scenery got better and better. Stopping at the Denali Train Station, a Princess Outfitter got on board and gave us a package that included our room key. We are staying at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.

We had lunch at the lodge. Service at both the Princess Lodges in Fairbanks and Denali was not good. At Denali, it was particularly bad. They appear to use a lot of Russia staff whose command of English is limited.

We ended up spending the late afternoon going on a ATV excursion north of the park near Lake Otto. It included a climbs to a couple of great vista points and a long run down a river bed. Jack had a great time, while Sharon ended up getting very wet.

In hindsight, we made some tactical errors in our planning for Denali. We did not do enough research. We should have focused more on the park and hit the park hard when we got there on Sunday afternoon.

We had a Father’s day dinner at King Salmon Restaurant at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. Sharon had a salmon salad, while I had a halibut and risotto. This may have been the best dinner I had on the trip.

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