Wednesday, 15 August:
After an early breakfast, we left the ship for the last time and boarded the Princess Tours Ultradome rail cars, taking us on the 9-hour trip direct from the ship to Denali National Park.
On the way we went through the Whittier Tunnel (or the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to give it its’ correct name). What an experience. It is the second-longest highway tunnel and the longest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America. We saw many parked cars waiting for their scheduled access times at each end. It is a single highway lane with the railway tracks slightly beneath the surface of the road.
We hadn’t heard of this tunnel before, and as we made the 10-minute journey, it was mind-boggling to think that we were travelling in a single lane designed for motor vehicles and trains travelling in both directions.
The countryside is lush and green. We’ve left the rain behind and we really enjoyed the experience of travelling on a luxury train with attentive staff, lovely food and gorgeous scenery. We even saw some moose along the way.
Arrived at our accommodation, the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, which was in a lovely setting. Warm and comfortable, but the mattress and pillows a bit too hard for my liking.
That night we went to a theatre restaurant in the grounds. The waiters doubled up as entertainers. The entertainment was reasonably good, but the food was average. Not particularly hot and with our waiter so busy on stage, when we looked around we were the only table to miss out on a pot of coffee.
However, after being away for so long, if we’ve only had these couple of minor inconveniences to complain about, I think we’ve been pretty lucky and the scenery next day more than made up for it when we went on a tour of Denali National Park.