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The headline reads:

Cruise lines to cut Alaska passenger lists by 100,000 By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK
[email][email protected][/email]

Published: March 26th, 2009 09:45 PM


Several cruise lines plan to slash their Alaska itineraries in 2010 with the net result that communities from Anchorage to Fairbanks could see a 25 percent reduction in cruise ship visitors.
Due to the combined cuts, roughly 100,000 fewer cruise passengers will spend time in Southcentral Alaska, out of the 400,000 passengers who typically visit Railbelt communities each summer, said Ralph Samuels of Holland America Line.
Railbelt communities should brace themselves for a serious financial pinch on airlines, restaurants, hotels, car rental companies, RV rental companies and tour operators, said Ron Peck, president of the Alaska Travel Industry Association.
MORE STORY @ adn.com/
Very interesting. We finally have something approaching realistic figures to gauge the anticipated tourism downturn in this part of Alaska due to the recession. These are sufficiently large numbers to have quite a negative impact on the Alaska tourist-related economy this season. Whether or not it has all that much of a negative effect here at the CRD in south central Alaska remains to be seen, but this is not exactly encouraging news.

This year I have a tentative deal with the local Princess Hotel which indicated it would direct their interested tourists this way for one of two scheduled train runs I said I would do if they provided enough people to make it worthwhile. If that works out, the CRD will not be impacted in any noticeable way by the projected downturn in tourism. Based on the conversation I had with the manager at the hotel at the end of the last season I went ahead and vastly enhanced the railroad rolling stock here and ordered a considerable amount of extra track to enhance a smooth-working model railroad that absolutely must perform if large numbers of people are to view it.
 

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Here is one of several shots of the type of cruise ships we are talking about. These ships absolutely dwarf the small Alaskan coastal towns where they dock.
Here is one of them towering over downtown Ketchikan where I grew up. This was the location of the old Alaska Steamship dock. Hard to imagine that one day these giants would dock here.
click image for much-larger one

 

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We've been to your neck of the woods twice--on Celebrity Infinity and Island Princess--and heartily recommend Alaska as a must-see destination. As for the reduction of visits by both Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships, I don't know if it's the economy or a reaction to those additional port taxes. I've seen a poll on one of the cruise sites and opinion seem to be equally divided on what's to blame. In our world, Lahaina Maui is no stranger to cruise ship crowds, although the most we get are two ships at a time. It fills out the streets a bit, but some of the merchants like it and as one who generally favors tourism, I don't object. One day, we found a couple wandering around without a clue as to where things were, so we gave them a ride to the local mall and they sent us a nice note of thanks.

In the Caribbean, on the other hand, things are a bit different. In St Maarten, we had four large shisp, each capable of holding around 3,000 passengers, docked at the same time. Suffice to say the streets were a mess.

Sure would like to see your railroad, though.
 

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So far in the last few months I have had three separate inquiries from LS enthusiasts who are interested in visiting Alaska. Accordingly I have some advice for those of you contemplating visiting this state.

First, Alaska is very large. For purposes of most of you, there are two Alaskas. We have the southeast where I grew up. Click the Google map below to see the relevant points of interest.



If you choose to enter Alaska by means of the southeast panhandle, you will be traveling either by the state-owned Alaska ferry system or by one of the cruise ships. The ferry system can be accessed from either Bellingham, Washington or Prince Rupert B.C. (see map). This gives you the advantage of being able to take your vehicle on board. However that is a costly option and the ferry does take a lot of time working its way through. This is not a bad option if you wish to visit any of the communities I have pin-pointed. Be aware that the Alaska panhandle is a rain forest. Where I grew up the average rainfall was 161 inches annually. It topped out at 201 one year. You can do the same trip by means of one of the cruise lines that travels this area, but that option also tends to be costly.

The cruise ship Zandaam makes its way through the narrow channel near Juneau. Click for larger image.


At the northern end of the panhandle you have two options. One of them is taking the White Pass trainride to Carcross from Skagway. However, that is as far as it goes. You still have to return to pick up your vehicle to make the run from Skagway to Whitehorse and beyond. Or you can offload at Haines and take the road through Canada to Haines Junction and on through to Alaska by means of the Alcan Highway.

Most cruises to Alaska only go as far as either Skagway or Juneau, then turn around to return to the states. Thus many visitors never get to see the "real" Alaska which is the interior.


If you do take the road option from Haines or Skagway you will travel through Northway Junction to Tok Junction, which is about 94 miles from the border crossing. There you have two options: Either continue north to Fairbanks or head west toward Anchorage. Either way will eventually lead you to Denali Park and the Alaska Railroad, but only the westerly route to Anchorage will bring you through my area--the Copper Valley--unless you intend to do a full round trip and return to the states by means of the Alcan.


If you have any specific questions about the panhandle route, please feel free to ask.

Okay. That is option one--the spendy one (relatively speaking). Now for option two.
 

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Didn't people used to worry that Alaska would divide and leave Texas the 3rd largest state in the Union?
 

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Posted By Torby on 04/03/2009 4:33 PM
Didn't people used to worry that Alaska would divide and leave Texas the 3rd largest state in the Union?

At one time we were also the smallest state, having less people residing here than in Wyoming until after the pipeline construction.
 

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Instead I recommend flying to Anchorage from Seattle (or some other airport where you can get a favorable rate) and then renting a car so you can see the REAL Alaska. Click image for larger one
 

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Hopefully by the time we hit tourist season, THIS activity will have subsided !
Mt Redoubt on March 31
 

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My wife and I traveled to Alaska for our 25th wedding anniversary. We didn't want to see things from the deck of a cruise ship and read an article in an RV magazine about a company called Alaska Highway Cruises who arrange tours using a motorhome on land combined with a cruise. Though we are experienced RVers no one else in our group was and had few problems.
We arrived in Anchorage several days early, rented a car and traveled to Seward where we took a fabulous Kenai Fjords boat tour, walked on a glacier, stayed in a B&B and thoroughly enjoyed things. On return to Anchorage we got our motorhome and visited Denali, Fairbanks, Alaska Hwy to Whitehorse then the beautiful drive over the mountain to Skagway where we rode the WPY railway. All told we traveled 1200 miles in the motorhome in a week and the big advantage was not having to return to our starting point. Campsites are pre-arranged but you are free to go where you wish each day. A copy of the "Milepost" guidebook is provided detailing all the attractions along the route and where to find them-indispensable for Alaska travel.
Traveling the Lynn Canal in a smaller boat we arrived in Juneau where we toured a bit then boarded a Holland America cruise ship for the voyage to Vancouver via Glacier Bay and Sitka. In Vancouver we rented a car for some sightseeing and the drive to Seattle for our flight home a couple of days later.
It was the most wonderful trip we have ever taken, though not inexpensive, and we remember details to this day, a number of years later. I did a google search to find Alaska Hwy Cruises is still in business and highly recommend this method of seeing our 49th state to all.
Have fun,
Tom
 

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Posted By Tom Bowdler on 04/04/2009 3:57 PM
My wife and I traveled to Alaska for our 25th wedding anniversary. We didn't want to see things from the deck of a cruise ship and read an article in an RV magazine about a company called Alaska Highway Cruises who arrange tours using a motorhome on land combined with a cruise. Though we are experienced RVers no one else in our group was and had few problems.
We arrived in Anchorage several days early, rented a car and traveled to Seward . . .
It was the most wonderful trip we have ever taken, though not inexpensive, and we remember details to this day, a number of years later. I did a google search to find Alaska Hwy Cruises is still in business and highly recommend this method of seeing our 49th state to all.
Have fun,
Tom

Now THAT'S the kind of trip I highly recommend. Way to go! AND you had a great time doing it that way--far more so than had you taken one of those package tours or simply taken cruise ships through southeast AK.
 

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if you need a nice and cosy place to stay while in anchorage try out susitka place. quiet and with a great view over the inlet. from there it's only a 10min walk to the skyline, maybe 15-20 minutes to the railroad station.
 

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here are the routes of my different trips to alaska

kamloops (bc)-prince george-smithers-whitehorse-skagway-whitehorse-tok-anchorage-tok-dawson-watson lake-dawson creek-prince george-kamloops

kamloops (bc)-prince george-smithers-whitehorse-skagway-whitehorse-tok-fairbanks-anchorage-homer-anchorage-glenallen-tok-dawson-watson lake-fort nelson-edmonton-jasper-banff-kamloops


anchorage-copper center-mc carthy-copper center-anchorage
this was in 2004 when i visited ron.
 
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