Here Comes The Sun – The Norwegian Sun!

norwegian-sunNew for 2013, Norwegian Cruise Line has deployed the Norwegian Sun, to what we believe is the best cruise itinerary that can be offered in Alaska – a 7-day Gulf of Alaska cruise. The Norwegian Sun’s northbound and southbound cruises do not travel to all of the same ports. The Northbound cruises from Vancouver travel to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Hubbard Glacier before arriving in Whittier. The southbound cruises from Whittier travel to Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, and Ketchikan before arriving in Vancouver, BC.

The primary difference is that the northbound Norwegian Sun cruise includes a visit to Glacier Bay National Park whereas the southbound cruises include Icy Strait Point. Icy Strait Point is located on Chichagof Island, about 1.5 miles away from the town of Hoonah. Icy Strait showcases the local native Tinglet culture in addition to the many of the typical shore excursions found in other Alaska ports such as saltwater fishing and whale watching excursions. It’s hard to imagine beating a trip into Glacier Bay National Park on a cruise ship, but Icy Strait Point has an excellent reputation so both cruise itineraries are bound to be well received by cruisers. (more…)

2013 Alaska Travel Photo Contest

iPad_PFV_PFVLF_Springboard_Alaska Tour & Travel’s Photo Contest is back for 2013. Over the past few years, we have been able to share over 1500 photos of Alaska submitted to us by residents and visitors. Each year we award the Grand Prize to the photographer that submits the best photograph depicting Alaska’s spectacular wildlife, scenery, people or adventure. This year’s Grand Prize Winner will again receive a 32 GB Wi-Fi iPad valued at $599.

2013 is our 5th Anniversary for our Photo Contest. To celebrate, we will offer a 2nd Prize – a 16 GB iPad mini for the winning Alaska Railroad themed photo. The Alaska Railroad photo selected to win must depict passenger travel on the Alaska Railroad, its dome cars, trains traveling in Alaska, or even activity at rail depots.<--more-->

Fall Colors at Riley Creek by Jeff BellLast year’s Grand Prize winner was Jeff Bell from Weatherford, Oklahoma who’s photo Fall Colors of Denali impressed the judges with its colorful scene of popular and accessible Riley Creek near the entrance to Denali National Park. You can view all the photos submitted in past years on our Alaska Tour & Travel’s Photo site.

The contest is open to visitors and residents alike. To enter, photos must be submitted by email to photos@alaskatravel.com in a jpeg (.jpg) format, with a maximum file size 3 mb no later than October 31, 2013. Please include a brief description of the photo along with your name and hometown. We will post select entries on our Photo Contest Gallery at AlaskaTravelPhotos.com. Be sure to read all of the contest rules here!

Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour – Lunch or Snack?

denali-wildlife-tour-busOne of the most common questions we receive regarding the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park is if lunch is included. The Park concessionaire that operates the tour calls the meal a “small snack.” Each year we inquire what the snack includes as it can change. Often, when we advise visitors to arrange for a box lunch from their hotel before they go we later hear back from them that the snack was a lunch and why did we tell them to purchase a box lunch for the trip? The reality is that whether you will need additional food on your tour depends on your appetite and what you ate for breakfast or lunch before you depart on either the morning or afternoon tour. (more…)

A Visit to Fairbanks’ Antique Auto Museum

Calling all antique car enthusiasts; Jay Leno is not the only one who has an impressionable car collection in his garage! Recently on a trip to Fairbanks my family and I visited the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. This is a great activity for families, as well as those visitors that are interested in early 20th century post-Gold Rush Alaska history, or just love old cars!

kh7bWith more than 75 exceptionally rare and beautiful antique cars on display in North America’s northern-most auto museum, the Antique Auto Museum is a great addition to any visit to Fairbanks. The museum shares stories and hardships faced by Alaska’s automotive pioneers. Alaska’s pioneering motorists faced many challenges like severe climates as well as horrendous road conditions. From pre-1900 horseless carriages to magnificent ’30’s classics, nearly every one of the autos are in running condition. (more…)

Alaska Tour & Travel Staff Runs with the Reindeer

reindeer-runningThe Running of the Reindeer is one of Fur Rondy‘s newer events – having been part of the Fur Rondy for six years and has become one of the Festivals most popular events. An Alaskan twist to Spain’s “Running with the Bulls” event, over 2000 Alaskans dress up in furs, crazy homemade costumes and antlers. The reindeer come from a farm located just off the Glenn Highway in Butte, Alaska. Before the first year, questions arose as to how the reindeer would react in the big crowds and how are they going to get the reindeer to run the few blocks down Anchorage’s 4th Avenue. Fur Rondy organizers decided to use thirteen reindeer. After much thought the farm decided that if they put one female at the end of the race in a pen that naturally the twelve males they were using would run towards her. It worked! (more…)

Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous Festival

fur-rendezvous-downtownLets Rondy! Seventy-seven years ago when Anchorage had less than 3000 residents, three friends got together and decided to create a 3-day winter festival to coincide with a customary time that miners and trappers came into town with their goods to sell or trade. The friends all recognized that winters were difficult on fellow Alaskans. After-all, the cold winters and significantly more difficult traveling conditions resulted in residents suffering from cabin-fever, a common syndrome for Alaskans who tended to stay indoors and didn’t have the opportunity to socialize or exercise as much during the long, dark winter months. Alaska didn’t have all the modern conveniences that we do today! So on February 15th-17th, 1935 a 3-day festival called Fur Rendezvous was created. Early Iditarod events included hockey, skiing, basketball, boxing and a children’s dog sled race. Many residents also showed up for the parade and city bonfire. Through the years after the initial Fur Rendezvous new events arose and the event became more and more popular. Since then the Fur Rendezvous, also known as Fur Rondy, has earned a national and international reputation for being one of the best winter events in the world. (more…)

Alaska’s Iron Dog Race

iron-dogOne event that my family and I look forward to each year is the Iron Dog sled race. The Iron Dog race is the world’s longest snowmobile race. This is a uniquely Alaskan event that takes place each year just before the Iditarod race. It is 2000 miles and the most difficult and challenging off road snow machine race in the world. It starts at Big Lake just north of Anchorage off the George Parks highway. This year we saw just about 40 teams depart for Nome. The trail follows the coast up to Nome, Alaska and then they turn around and head back to the finish along the Tanana/Chena Rivers into Fairbanks, Alaska. The current record for the race is 37 hours and 19 minutes in 2009.

Drivers compete in two man teams and are required to take three six hour breaks on their way from Big Lake to Fairbanks with a mandatory 48 hour rest in Nome as well. Racers endure temperatures as cold as -57 below zero and that’s not with the wind chill factored in. It’s so cold that the racers will put duct tape around their eyes to prevent frostbite as they are going at rather high speeds. Past racers have described the race and trails as a grueling bone-numbing, face freezing charge North. (more…)

Kenai Fjords National Park Day Cruise Options

aialik-glacierOne of the most popular national parks in Alaska is Kenai Fjords National Park. Located about 130 miles south of Anchorage, it is easily accessible by car, bus or train. Seward is the small coastal community located at the entrance of the park. From Seward you can take a day cruise out to see all the park has to offer. Kenai Fjords National Park is known for great marine wildlife viewing, such as whales, sea lions, otters and more! Also, not to be missed on these cruises are the glaciers.

There are two types of cruises offered out of Seward: “National Park” cruises that go 110-120+ miles round trip and shorter “Resurrection Bay” cruises that go about 55 miles round trip. It is important to understand that the longer the cruise the better chance you have to see wildlife as well as additional tidewater glaciers. It is also helpful to know that two companies operate Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay cruises – Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine Tours. Both companies have good reputations so choosing what company and what cruise to take really comes down to identifying which cruise is best for you based on your own preferences and schedule. (more…)

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