Exploring the Land
Land and sea cruise tours are popular for Alaska. It’s such a big state. Loads of coastline for the “sea” but all that amazing interior. Some of it is really the last frontier. Look at all the TV shows. There’s Alaskan Bush People, Edge of Alaska, Life Below Zero, Alaska State Troopers, Wild West Alaska and the list goes on. Proof that Alaska is a fascinating place that has captured our imaginations. There was even a show about the Alaska Railroad. That’s how we planned to travel to Denali National Park, by train.
All Aboard the Princess Alaska Railroad
When you watch the Shows about Alaska, even the documentaries, the rail passengers are all seated in spacious rail cars, smiling and having a great time. On our itinerary we were arriving in Whittier in the morning but not boarding the train until the afternoon. There’d be time to explore this little town where everyone lives in one big building! Much of the ride would be at night since it was a 9 1/2 hour trip. That wasn’t what happened. We arrived in Whittier in the morning but we were sent immediately to the train. The seating was bench seats that faced each other with a table in between. Everything was bolted down so you couldn’t push back or move the table to get comfortable. With our carry-on luggage and bulky coats the seating was cramped. But it only got worse. Turns out that the seating wasn’t for 2 people. It was for 4!
The long and crowded ride
Our 9 1/2 hour trip actually turned into 11 hours. I did get a few photos and crawled over our seatmates a few times for bathroom breaks, a visit to the dining car and just to stretch my legs. The scenery was magnificent but it was hard to enjoy it when there was no room to turn around for a look. We had dome windows but it didn’t take too long to dampen any enthusiasm for looking out. This was very disappointing. Nothing like the experience we were told to expect. I found out after the fact that there is a commercial passenger train that goes to Denali but we weren’t on it. This train is owned and operated by Princess Cruise Lines. They packed us in like sardines so they could make a bigger profit. I can’t recommend this part of the journey.