|Celebrity 10 Night Talkeetna Treasures Tour|
I recently had the opportunity to travel on the Celebrity Millennium and take part of their 10 night cruise tour called Talkeetna Treasures. We flew into Anchorage on July 24, 2018 and the trip ended August 3, 2018.
From the moment we landed at the airport, Celebrity was there to assist. They gathered all of our luggage, and each day delivered it to our next destination, and we never had to handle our luggage until it was time to disembark off of the ship.
The first night we stayed at the Anchorage Marriott. When we arrived, everyone from the coach bus that was taken from the airport to the hotel was divided into different groups with a different tour guide. Once we knew who our tour guide was, he met with us as a group and explained all about the next three days with our land tour, including how we could sign up for additional tours, the order of things, times to be ready each day, and what to do with our luggage to make sure it arrived at our correct destination. The Marriott rooms were very nice and spacious, and the hotel was nice as well.
The next morning, we had to have our luggage outside by 6:30 am, and had to be on the bus by 7:30 am. We were taking the coach bus to Talkeetna train depot. Getting breakfast was king of hectic, because the buffet area seemed to be where everyone went all at the same time, and it was not big enough to accommodate the large crowds that they had. While on land, no food is included, so be prepared for the extra expenses, and food is very expensive in Alaska!
The bus ride was beautiful, and our tour guide, Kip, and bus driver Penny, pointed out many things along the way. It took us about 4 hours to get to the Talkeetna train depot. Once the train arrived, we were able to board the Wilderness Express, which took us to our final destination of the day, Denali. We rode in a glass domed train, which offered magnificent views of Alaska along the way. There were many rivers and mountains to view. The guides on the train were very entertaining, and told stories, as well as pointed out sites as we passed them. There was a dining car on the train, and they broke us off in groups to have lunch. The service was wonderful, and the food was great as well. There also was a full bar on the train.
Penny, our bus driver went ahead while we were on the train, and she met us at the train depot in Denali. She took us to our hotel. We were switched from the Denali Park Village to the Grand Denali Lodge because the Denali Park Village was oversold. They offered us a complimentary breakfast the next day for the inconvenience. The view from the Grand Denali Lodge was unbelievable. The lodge sat on top and on the side of a mountain. The rooms were small, but they worked for just one night. We were very close to the entrance to Denali National Park which was a plus, as the Denali Park Village hotel was further away. After we checked into our room, we opted for a scenic float down the Nenana River. We were picked up at our hotel from the rafting company bus and taken to their location. They suited us up in drysuits and boots and took us to the river. It was an awesome float trip down the river, taking a few hours to complete. We did go over some rapids, but they may have been only class I and II. Our guide was awesome, and fun to talk to. The funny thing to me was we were just getting off the water at 10:30 at night, and it was still daylight!
The next morning, we were picked up by a guide who was taking us to Denali National Park. We opted to do the included Natural History Tour that was only 4 hours instead of upgrading to the Tundra Wilderness tour that lasted 8 hours. It was a beautiful tour and we got to be part of the 30% club who saw the crest of Denali mountain, but unfortunately, we didn’t see any wildlife. The people who upgraded to the Tundra Wilderness tour did see plenty of wildlife, but they also had to depart at 5:00 am to get started! Because of our change of hotel, the guide went to the incorrect lodge at first to pick us up, resulting in him getting a later start to us. He still gave us the full four-hour tour, but then when the tour was over and we were allowed time for lunch, we were rushed out of the restaurant area because the coach busses had set times they needed to arrive at the next hotel.
We departed Denali National Park for Talkeetna on our same coach bus. Again, along the way our guide talked to us about what we were seeing, and shared his knowledge for Alaska, as well as other places he had travelled.
In Talkeetna we stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. This lodge was beautiful and had gorgeous views out back. The rooms were a nice size as well. The only downfall to this lodge was there was no air conditioning. The windows opened, and they offered several fans for the room. When we were there the temperatures were in the 70’s, and at night maybe got down to the low 60’s so we were a little warm sleeping that night! Our bus driver, Penny, offered to drive us all into town. We had dinner reservations at Wildflower Café. This place was amazing. We sat outside during dinner and it was very comfortable. The town of Talkeetna was very cute and quaint, with many shops, bars and restaurants. Since we arrived later than expected, we didn’t get to browse many shops, as they were all closed, or closed by 7:00 pm. We did walk the downtown streets a little. Once back at the hotel, we were able to sit on the back porch and enjoy the scenery for some time, as it was still daylight out!
The next morning we boarded our coach bus, which took us back to Anchorage for a few hours to wander the downtown, shop and have a quick lunch. Then we were on our way to the Alaska wildlife conservation center. This place was very enjoyable, and we did get to see quite a bit of wildlife that they have rescued and are caring for now. We were there for a few hours, then continued our drive to Seward to board the cruise ship. This part of the drive was incredibly beautiful, and very different from what we had been seeing the first three days because this was on the coast. Once we arrived at the port, Celebrity made sure our luggage arrived in our cabins, and all we had to do was get off the bus, check in at the pier and board the ship. It was a very easy seamless process!
Celebrity Millennium was a very pretty ship. The staff was amazing and waited on you hand and foot. The rooms were adequate size for a cruise ship. We stayed in a 2B category, which was on deck 9 forward. We were very close to the forward elevators, which was convenient, except so much seemed to be located aft, that we felt we were walking a lot.
Our itinerary included sailing through Hubbard Glacier, and stopping in Juneau, Ketchikan, Icy Straight, Skagway, and ending in Vancouver.
When we sailed through Hubbard Glacier we had the privilege of watching it from the helipad. The captain and his crew were very knowledgeable in explaining everything regarding our surroundings, and once the glacier was in view, it was amazing. The captain turned the ship in a clockwise direction twice so all passengers no matter your location, were able to view the glacier.
While in ports, we purchased our shore excursions through Shore Excursion Group. All of them went very well, with no problems. In Juneau we went whale watching and stopped and saw Mendenhall Glacier. In Ketchikan we flew on a seaplane over the Misty Fjords, and in Skagway we dog sledding on a glacier that we got to by helicopter. In the afternoon we did an hour tour from Celebrity up the Klondike trail that was very informative and a beautiful ride.
The little time we spent on the ship during the day we found plenty of activities to do. You received a daily guide letting you know the activities for the day. Evenings were the same, as there was always a show to see, or Celebrity Life Activities going on. There was a lounge at the front of the ship that offered music and dancing in the evenings.
Dinner was our favorite part each night as the staff were so accommodating. We always had a check in from the restaurant manager, as well as the bartender and wine sommelier and both our waiters. They knew our names, remembered the drinks we liked, and even made special meals that were not on the menu for one of our children. The food was very good. The buffet always had plenty of selections to choose from. One evening we ate at Tuscan Grille, and the food was amazing. This was the best steak of the week!
I would highly recommend Celebrity for your next cruise tour of Alaska!