Princess Visitors To Travel On Buses To Denali, Fairbanks and Kenai This Summer

Land-Locked Cruise Ships Will Be Using Buses This Summer In Alaska  Land cruisers will have Riverboat Discovery as Fairbanks option. (Bearfo...

Land-Locked Cruise Ships Will Be Using Buses This Summer In Alaska 

Land cruisers will have Riverboat Discovery as Fairbanks option. (Bearfoot photo) 

Gray Line of Alaska To Help Move Visitors Between Princess Hotels In Three Alaska Roadside Towns 

Escorted & "Customizable Independent Tours" 
Those of us who have been in tourism for a long time clearly remember the days – not so long ago – when all tourism was "land based." We remember the independently-operated buses coming up north from places like Michigan, full of small-town visitors who had been trucked north over the Alcan, on a month-long trip to  Alaska. 

Busloads of travelers from Japan, Korea and Germany cruised Alaska. Traffic was so heavy that in the 1980s and 1990s, large dining areas were installed in local Alaskan restaurants to accommodate the bus crowds. 

With issues about travel safety and U.S. restrictions saying that the foreign-flagged cruise ships must stop at Canadian ports (and the Canadians saying that they're too worried about Covid to let that happen) the cruise companies will be putting a renewed emphasis on Alaskan land tours.

Holland American and Princess announced not long ago that the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel, the McKinley Chalet Resort at the Canyon in Denali, and the Kenai Princess in Cooper Landing will all be open this summer. A website called Travel Pulse says the hotels will be open from May 28th to September 6th. Buses will be enlisted for the trips. 

This change is big news. Over the weekend of March 6th, 2021, a travel website called The Points Guy talked about it extensively:

In an unusual move that points to just how much the coronavirus pandemic has turned the cruise world upsidedown, Holland America and Princess on Thursday jointly announced they would offer land-based tours to the 49th state for the summer that don’t have anything to do with cruise ships.

The tours, which are new for the lines, will include stays at lodges and hotels that Holland America and Princess own in Alaska and draw on other land-based touring infrastructure that the companies own in the state, such as the bus-tour company Gray Line Alaska.

The two lines, which both are owned by the same parent company, normally use these assets to operate land tours of Alaska that are designed as add-ons to cruises. They are paired with Alaska cruises to create “cruisetours” that typically include seven days of Alaska cruising with anywhere from two to five days of overland touring around the state.

Attractions being promoted in the three areas include the Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks, the Aramark Tundra Wilderness day-long bus trip into Denali Park, and the Portage Glacier Cruise on the way to the Kenai. 

Denali Park tour bus. (Denali Summer Times photo) 

According to Travel Pulse, "optional tours such as flightseeing around the mountain, river rafting and more will be available to book at each hotel property." 

Holland America's escorted tours to Alaska start at $2,599 per person. 

Three "unescorted tours" will run five to six nights and start at $1,699 per person.

Word is that both escorted and unescorted tours will include "most meals," "some sightseeing," a place to stay over night, and Alaska Railroad travel. 

The "escorted tours" (not surprisingly) include a tour guide. 


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