The Travel Factory Blog
As many of you know, I've had the privilege of escorting groups to Alaska for the past 25 years....we started out calling our group “The Travel Factory Gang”, and have kept that moniker for all our other groups since.
I did a quick count this week of the number of guests we've had as a part of the Alaska Gangs, and it numbered over a thousand people. Probably 100+ more made reservations but for some reason or another could not make it with our group, but traveled later on their own.
We started out with Norwegian Cruise Line doing only the Inside Passage, 7 days out of Seattle. Then I had a little experience with Holland America when I was working on my “Alaska Destination Specialist” certification. Then the next year I thought I'd try out Princess. Why? Well, I was impressed with the way Princess presented Alaska, especially on the land portion. Also, they constructed their own lodges for their guests, and introduced the prototype passenger rail car with 360 degree visual.
So we tried cruising north with a 3-night land package, then doing a 4-night package the next year before settling on a 5-night land package and a 7-night cruise going south to Vancouver. We discovered when cruising north, that you had to fly back from Anchorage, and those flights left around 9PM which put you back at DFW around 5-6AM the next morning. Driving back to Abilene was pure torture and kept us from doing that again.
Early on we also tried the train transportation between Fairbanks, Denali Lodge, McKinley Lodge, and Anchorage but determined because of feedback and on our own interest, changed our transportation model. So the past 15 years or so we have bused from Fairbanks to Denali, bused from Denali to McKinley, then taken the train for the 3-hour plus journey from Talkeetna to Anchorage. That is the best way to get a good understanding of the Interior and Inside Passage of Alaska.
For some reason or another, Princess decided to not offer that schedule in 2020; instead for the 5-nighter, they will do two nights in Fairbanks, one night in Denali, and two nights in McKinley then train everyone 5-6 hours down to Whittier where the ship will be waiting, but it will be about 6PM!!.
Missing the Anchorage stop is in my opinion a mistake. It's the largest city in Alaska, a very clean and inviting downtown area, with all kinds of good eating places. In addition the accommodations at the Captain Cook's Hotel always said a lot about the Princess quality culture. On the way by bus to the ship we always stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where if you had not seen any Alaska animals yet, there you are among every animal in Alaska....just a great hour and a half visit.
Anyway, even though we do not have a Travel Factory Gang scheduled, we will still advise and sell the Princess product. Interestingly we have not found another cruise line that has that same land package......some that are similar, but most leave out the Anchorage experience. So, about the first of July next year I'll pine for the deep-fried halibut and berry cobbler with ice cream at Humpy's wild and crazy beer joint.
All the agents at The Travel Factory have loads of experience selling the Alaska product, so give us a call to visit our 49th state and see some of the nations most beautiful scenery ever created.
Call us at 698-1421 or visit us eye-to-eye at 4150 Southwest Drive in south Abilene.