A Princess Alaska Cruisetour offers a front row view of the natural wonders of our wildest, woolliest state.
When most people think of Alaska, they don’t envision flowers and rainbows. But according to naturalist Michael Modzelewski, summer in The Great Land is saturated with brilliant color.
“Alaska intoxicates all the senses,” says Michael, an adventure guide and journalist who has been described as the John Muir of our times. “There are lots of rainbows and hundreds of wildflowers: chocolate lilies, forget-me-nots (the state flower), fireweed, even an orchid, the fairy slipper. The air is so clear that people say they feel giddy, playful, like kids again.”
A cruise is the ideal introduction to North America’s last great wilderness, and Princess — recently voted Alaska’s best cruise line by Travel Weekly experts — has been transporting travelers along its coastal waters for three decades. Now Princess has built its own wilderness lodges, rail cars, and motorcoaches to create seamless cruisetours that combine the best of sea and land. Its sterling reputation ensures the best berths for docking, attracts the finest entertainers and ScholarShip @ Sea speakers, and retains the most attentive guides and crew.
“Princess has such a great reputation because they go the extra mile,” says Michael. “Their people have a real sense of pride in what they do, anticipating guests’ wishes with services and facilities that deliver unforgettable Alaska experiences.”
Modzelewski, who described his life on a wild northwest coast island in Inside Passage: Living with Killer Whales, Bald Eagles, and Kwakiutl Indians, is an enthusiastic sharer of Alaskan lore and one of Princess’s most popular onboard personalities.
“Princess attracts travelers from all over the world,” he says. “We average probably thirty countries on every trip. People have a great time. Many come back again to bring kids, parents, friends. Cruises often fill up a year ahead.”
On land, Princess extends its passenger-pleasing planning to motorcoaches, trains, and lodges. Two of Princess’s five custom-designed lodges provide entree to the six million acres of majestic Denali National Park. Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge is located on McKinley’s south side near Talkeetna; Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge sits high above the Nenana River near the park entrance. Built with hewn logs, native stone, and huge windows, these rustic inns offer vistas of snow-capped mountains from decks and dining halls.
“Denali is the best place to see the big mammals,” says Michael. “It’s common to see grizzlies, moose, Dall sheep, and caribou. Sometimes bears come right up and peer in the windows of the bus. There’s no cuter animal than a baby moose — legs up to their chin and eyelashes about four inches long.”
Three other Princess wilderness lodges are also scenically sited on Alaskan rivers: on the banks of the Kenai south of Anchorage, on the Copper River near the entrance to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and by the Chena in Fairbanks.
“No picture in a brochure can convey what Alaska is really like, declares Michael” “Alaska is one of the last places on earth where entire ecosystems are still intact. It’s a place where you can reconnect with unspoiled nature in all its pristine grandeur.”