Alaska by Land with Royal Caribbean International, Part 1

Royal Caribbean International/Celebrity Cruises Alaska Land Tour, June 5-10, 2014

Having been on four inside passage cruises on both cruise lines it was nice to actually go on a land tour that I have booked many times for my clients.

Our land tour started with our arrival in Fairbanks on the late afternoon of June 5, 2014. Once you claim your luggage you are escorted to a seating area to await buses to take you to the hotels where you will spend the night. While on a tour with either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity you never have to handle your own luggage as it is handled by your director at every stop. Remember to pack a smaller bag for the tour as your larger bags can be kept on the coaches throughout the land tour.

We were lucky enough to spend the first night of this adventure at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge. This hotel is very rustic in style and is a throw back to the golden age of the gold rush. The hotel sits right on the Chena River. Next door is a great restaurant, Pike’s Landings, which is perfect for grabbing all of your meals. Depending on the time of the year, you can drive golf balls across the river and try to hit the “Love Alaska” sign, try and skip rocks across the river, sit by a fire ring and make S’mores, practice your putting, play bocce ball or just relax and do nothing but enjoy the beautiful scenery of Alaska. Rooms are very comfortable with French balconies and a very nice-sized bath area. This hotel is used usually when you only have one night in Fairbanks before arrival to or departure from Denali. The hotel is a short 10 minute ride to the airport. I really enjoyed the hospitality of every staff member here.

Next, we took the Riverboat Discovery for a four hour cruise up the river. We learned much about life along the river, had a flight plane demo, watched the dogs train for the Iditarod and made an informational stop to visit and learn about the history of Alaska’s native people.

After this very informational tour, we then went to Sophie Station for a hotel inspection and a quick lunch. This hotel is located in the “city” of Fairbanks and is used for those staying longer in Fairbanks. This hotel reminds me of Residence Inns with kitchens in each unit. The hotel is very close to shopping and restaurants.

After the hotel inspection we then hit the Alaska Highway for our 4 hour bus ride to Denali. The tour guides will keep you entertained with games and lots of information about what they are seeing outside of the windows. Before we knew it, we were arriving at our next stop, which was the Grande Denali Lodge. This beautiful resort sits on top of the mountain and boasts a breathtaking view.

One important tidbit. Regardless of what category you are booked in on the ship, all rooms at the hotels are assigned as guarantees, or run of house. In other words, a suite on the ship does not translate into a suite at the hotel.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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