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Alaska

"Seward's Folly" is today a travel treasure, thanks to some of America's most spectacular scenery. Highlights: Denali/Mt. McKinley, Glacier Bay National Park, native Alaskan culture in Ketchikan, Russian culture in Sitka, urban cool in Anchorage.

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Comment by EnLinea Media on June 23, 2011 at 12:41am
A Tripatini blogger planning an RV trip in Alaska has a couple of questions. Please click here to help. Thanks!
Comment by Mark Mattson on March 21, 2011 at 11:33am

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Comment by GreenGlobalTravel.com on February 8, 2011 at 3:04pm

Check out our story on exploring volcanoes in America, including Alaska's Katmai National Park.

http://www.tripatini.com/profiles/blogs/lava-love-exploring-americas.

Comment by EnLinea Media on January 19, 2011 at 9:18am
If you'd like to help a fellow Tripatini member with a question about theme parks in Fairbanks, please respond by clicking here.  Thanks!!
Comment by Tripatini on December 27, 2010 at 7:02pm
Top rated this past week on the Tripatini blog: a chilly but spectacular drive from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Skagway, ....
Comment by Stan & Ginger Duncan on May 29, 2010 at 1:48pm
Check out www.alderwoodretreat.com to get just a hint of how amazing the "Outback of Alaska" can be!
Comment by Stan & Ginger Duncan on January 14, 2010 at 10:48am
We are very excited to be participating in the Go Green Expo in Los Angeles later this month. Come by Booth #310 between January 22 & 24 at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 1201 South Figueroa St., South Hall J, and watch some terrific video of the eco-adventures we offer at Alderwood Retreat. Naturalist guided hikes, guided sea kayaking past bird rookeries and sea otter colonies, marine tours to see porpoise & whales, voluntourism projects like cleaning up our outlying beaches, historical & cultural tours, cooking classes, and SO much more are all available at our eco-lodge in the pristine Alaskan wilderness on Kodiak Island. This show is oriented by & for people who care about taking care of the environment, so there'll be lots to see! The first folks to e-mail us will recieve free passes into the show!!! Hope to see you there!
Comment by Nancy Jaeger on September 17, 2009 at 12:02am
Alaska has indeed had bargain prices this year. It is an awesome and beautiful state. I think if I had gone there many years ago, I would have stayed.
Comment by David Paul Appell on April 28, 2009 at 8:48pm
Anybody see this recent piece in the Wall Street Journal about upcoming bargains in Alaska this season?

Alaska Fights a Tourism Cold Front
Cruise lines and resorts offer steep discounts; missing a 'Palin effect'
By CANDACE JACKSON

Travelers hunting for the biggest vacation bargains should look north, to America's last frontier.

In a travel industry rife with discounts, it's hard to beat the ones coming out of Alaska this year. Princess Cruises has a seven-day Alaskan cruise this spring for as little as $299 a person, more than 30% off last year's comparable rate. Camp Denali and North Face Lodge, two wilderness resorts in the Alaska Range, are offering 25% off rooms and cabins, which start at $1,425 a person for three nights, including meals, activities and use of fishing and other gear. Luxury cruise operator Regent Seven Seas Cruises, known for small, all-suite ships and balconied cabins, is offering 50% off nearly all Alaska itineraries, plus throwing in free excursions, such as dry-suit snorkeling in Sitka or a rainforest bike tour in Skagaway, and free airfare from 22 U.S. cities.
Some travel companies were expecting a strong season for Alaska after Gov. Sarah Palin's turn in the presidential-campaign spotlight; local tourism marketers were hoping that a "Palin effect," plus Alaska's 50th anniversary of statehood in 2009, would lead to a big bump in tourism. But on the eve of the May-to-September peak tourism season, some hotels, cruise lines and tour operators in the state say reservations are down as much as 50% from last year.

"Our early season indicators were exciting," says Ron Peck, president of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, in Anchorage. Now he expects a 10% to 20% decline in leisure visitors. While other U.S. destinations are adjusting to the economic downturn by redirecting marketing efforts to nearby states,
Alaska doesn't have that option. "Even if we got everybody from Yukon to come to Alaska it still wouldn't make a heck of a difference," Mr. Peck says of the neighboring Canadian territory, population about 30,000. "The bottom line is that we're projecting this season to be grim." The association is promoting all the new deals on a recently launched Web site, alaskashottesttraveldeals.com.

Alaskan resorts and cruises that were fully booked by this time last year are slashing rates and throwing in extra enticements, like free glacier tours and salmon bakes. Alaska Airlines is pitching in with a 15%-off special on flights from the lower 48 states to cities like Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. The Waterfall Resort, a 40-minute floatplane ride from Ketchikan, is offering free round-trip airfare on certain dates from any Alaska Airlines gateway city, including Seattle and Chicago.

The Waterfall, a 28-year-old sports fishing lodge where guests can spot orcas while fishing for king salmon, halibut and red snapper, is usually 85% booked for summer by February; this year, there's still plenty of room. With overall bookings down by 30%, the resort is offering $900 off rates that start at $3,975 a person for three nights (including meals and fishing excursions but not airfare). In the past, "we haven't had to go to that extent," says Chuck Baird, the resort's director of marketing. In addition, the resort is lopping two weeks off its summer season, opening June 7 and closing Aug. 17.

Further north, the Knik River Lodge hopes to supplement lackluster summer bookings by attracting more day trippers. It is running more shuttle buses from nearby Anchorage and offering activities like dog-sledding tours over glaciers. The resort, with private cabins in a glacial valley, is offering a free tour of the Knik Glacier to guests staying at least two nights between May 15 and June 15. And it is running discounts such as 50% off the second and third nights for spring and summer stays booked by April 30.

Last summer, 1.7 million people visited Alaska, flat compared with 2007. But this year, responses to the annual tourism-marketing mailer, which featured Gov. Palin, were up 20%. At least one tour operator, Authentic Alaska Tours, has created a Sarah Palin-themed tour: Its one-hour "Wasilla Cultural History" tour explores the governor's former high school, Wasilla City Hall and snowmobiles used in the Iron Dog race her husband competes in.

Geri McCann, the tour-company owner, worked at a city museum in Wasilla while Gov. Palin was mayor and says she knows the Palins personally. "She put Wasilla on the map," Ms. McCann says. "If there's a market, I'm here to meet the need and give a positive impression of who she is." So far, she hasn't had any takers.

With nearly two-thirds of visitors to Alaska spending at least one night on a cruise ship, the state's $1.45 billion cruise industry is critically important to tourism. But operating in Alaska has become less profitable for cruise companies, as prices have come down. The average price of an Alaska cruise fell between 20% and 40% this year, says Tim Conder, a senior analyst with Wachovia Capital Markets -- a steeper drop than in other popular destinations. Last year, 7.5% of cruises world-wide were in Alaska, a share that is likely to shrink as the industry deploys ships to the Caribbean and other more-profitable regions.

The upshot is that some eye-popping discounts are available to Alaska as companies become motivated to fill ships. Cruise West is offering 25% off many departures, including a 12-night Coastal Odyssey trip aboard a 120-passenger ship, sailing through seaside rookeries with the chance to see sea lions and puffins; the undiscounted price is $8,049, including meals, excursions and a $200 on-board credit. Celebrity Cruises has a second-passenger-free promotion starting in May, effectively knocking 50% off the total cost. "If somebody's ever thought of taking a cruise, now is the best opportunity," says Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity's senior vice president of sales.

Holland America has seven-day Alaska cruises starting at $449 a person, and it is offering up to 50% off land tours, including one of Denali National Park and Preserve. The company has eased its booking rules, cutting nonrefundable cruise and tour deposits in half. "We know that it's a tougher decision for people this year," says Linda Springmann, vice president of Alaska marketing and sales.

Cruise operators say European bookings are lackluster, too, as Americans look to avoid air travel and stay close to home. Celebrity Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have similar discounts on some Mediterranean and Baltic Sea itineraries. Club Med is offering 50% off for the second guest at its all-inclusive resorts in Europe booked by April 30.

For those who can't commit to Alaska this year, it's possible the slowdown -- and the discounts -- will continue next summer. Alaska Sea Adventures, a custom yacht charter company, has a $500 discount off a handful of sailings this summer, like an eight-day whale watching trip in July, and it is extending the deal to 2010. "We're not seeing the number of inquiries for trips that we typically see," says Dennis Rogers, the company's owner and ship's captain. "Next year for us probably presents a bigger challenge."
 
 
 

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