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Day 8 Diamond Princess Alaska Cruise - Journey on the McKinley Express

Alaska CruiseTour . 2012 . Sep 22

The Diamond Princess reaches Anchorage on schedule. In the wee hours of the morning on 22 September 2012, we got up from the warm comfort of the Diamond Princess and made our way to one of the dining rooms allocated to us as the gathering point for disembarkation.   This marks the beginning of our land tour across Alaska.

Through our interaction with other passengers during the Day 2 afternoon tea, we learnt that about half of them will not disembark at this last Alaskan stop at Whittier.  Instead, they will continue their journey across the Pacific Ocean, bringing them to Japan, Tianjin (China) and finally to Singapore (!!) in a one-month journey!  If only we could be away from work for that long, we would take that option too...

A packet containing our disembarkation information was sent to our cabin 2 days before.  In it were instructions on the gathering time and venue, and the luggage tags.

There are 2 types of luggage tags: – ‘Join me Tonight’ tags, meaning that the luggage will be delivered to our accommodation for our first destination (McKinley Princess Lodge); and “Join me in Fairbanks” tags, meaning that those luggage will only meet us at the final destination (Fairbanks) of our 3 day land tour.   The luggage were to be placed outside the cabin by 9pm the previous night for collection.

The stormy weather of the previous day at College Fjord gathered strength over the night, and it was a wet, cold and miserable morning as we trudged across the linkway to board the McKinley Express to bring us to McKinley Princess Lodge.   Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, parts of the rail road were closed for safety reasons.   Therefore, arrangements were made for us to take the McKinley Express only to the town of Wasilla, where we will transfer to a motor coach to bring us to  the McKinley Princess  Lodge.

The 7 day cruise on board the Diamond Princess had been so memorable and enjoyable, we were quite reluctant to leave it!  From the McKinley Express, we could only look at our home for the last 7 nights longingly from a distance and hope that we would have a chance to take a cruise on it again.

We were pre-allocated table 20 in one of the carriages of the McKinley Express.   Fortunately, we were the only couple occupying the 4-seater and so we had plenty of space for our belongings.

Mosquitoes in Alaska! They are much larger and more aggressive than the ones in Singapore.

The Dining Menu on board the McKinley Express.  After 7 days of eat-all-you-can dining on the Diamond Princess, it feels strange to see a price tag for each food item here.  But at least, the prices here are not exorbitantly expensive.

The sky lightening up as we wait for other passengers to board the McKinley Express.

Off we go, and goodbye to the Diamond Princess!

Glaciers and waterfalls are available just seconds after leaving the train station.  You might want to get your binoculars ready for a clearer view!

Rivers, lakes and large plains of grasslands as we train travels north towards Wasilla.  It continued to drizzle for most of the morning.

The panoramic window of the McKinley Express optimizes the wild-life watching experience, but because of the wet weather, most wildlife were not out in the open.   At some point, the McKinley Express passes by the Pacific Ocean.  Passengers seated on the left hand side of the carriage have a fantastic view.

Plains soon became waterlogged after so much rainfall.

Passing by several small towns.

Saw some Princess coaches along the way too..

Alaska Railroad Corporation

 The ULU Factory..

Love the sight of the beautiful trees in autumn.

Storm clouds start to gather again.  The rivers and lakes are already over-flowing with water.

After all the rain, we get to see a rainbow across the plains of Alaska! Maybe there is sunshine after the storm after all! :) The rainbow also brought back beautiful memories of our trip to Niagara Falls where we saw rainbow at the Falls.

Our order of a hot beverage.  There is no designated carriage for a café.   You can place the order with the service staff when they come back and they will bring your order to you.  Payment is by credit card only.

Approaching the city of Wasilla

Princess Cruises motor-coach already waiting for us at the bus bay.

A last look at the McKinley Express.

Upon boarding our allocated bus, we were pleasantly surprised and very impressed when the coach-guide issued us an envelope containing our check-in information at the McKinley Princess Lodge, our room numbers and room keys, as well as the luggage tags for the next destination (Denali)!!  What great pre-emptive service! This means that we can proceed straight to our room after getting off the coach at the McKinley Princess Lodge.

Overall, we find the McKinley Express to be a comfortable and memorable ride.  In comparison to the famous Glacier Express in Switzerland which we had the privilege to experience a few years back, we find the McKinley Express much more enjoyable, with wider seats and aisles, more leg space, much more affordable food, and clean carriages.  Join us next as we arrive at the McKinley Princess Lodge.

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  1. Interesting that your ride is called the McKinley Express, while the one we were on was called Denali Express. I guess the cabin is still the same, just the location of stop!


  2. Hi Alpc,

    Thanks for visiting again!

    Maybe u r right! :)


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