I know what you’re thinking – you’re wondering what this ‘other’ stuff is all about. Because, after all, I DO live in Alaska. So why the ‘other’ again?
Because after several years of working in the travel industry in Alaska I came to the conclusion that that’s really what most people think of this place. As in, people hear the word “Alaska” and they think of polar bears and Anchorage and Denali National Park and the Alaska Highway and maybe the northern lights. And oh, that other place with all the islands that the cruise ships go through on their way to Anchorage…
See what I mean?
To be fair, some of you probably weren’t thinking about that at all. You were thinking about that nasty looking crack in the ice, weren’t you? (it looks worse than it is)
This suspicion of mine started when I was a college student and I took a summer job answering the phones for the state ferry system. I quickly realized that there are tons of people that want to come to Alaska that don’t want to do it on a cruise ship. They look at a map and they start figuring out how long it will take them to drive up here and back and they quickly realize that after all that driving they won’t have any vacation time left to actually have their vacation.
So they call the ferry system. And they learn that it’s not just an extended version of the commuter ferries they might have used or at least seen in the movies. It might take them days to get where they want to go and they might have to change ferries and maybe even spend a night or two in a town they didn’t intend to visit in the first place. To make things worse they find out that sometimes the ferries arrive or depart at really odd times – like 2:45 am.
And the ferry doesn’t even go to Anchorage!
So I can see why so many people decide to just skip Southeast Alaska entirely. The same goes for the ones that decide to just take a cruise ship – it’s seductively easy to just be quickly shuttled through Southeast while having carefully scripted ‘Alaskan’ experiences along the way. But my feeling is that they are missing out on one of the most unique places on Earth. And even the ones that do travel through Southeast like the locals do (by ferry) often don’t stop to look around much. In fact, they often only stop if the ferry routes force them to…
What I want is for you to come TO Southeast Alaska – not just THROUGH it. Even if you are dead set on going to Anchorage and Denali I invite you to take an extra couple of days and really experience some of what we have to offer. Yes, getting around can be tricky but that’s just one of the things that makes this place so special. If you get off the beaten path (and that’s not hard to do!) just a little bit you’ll see things you can’t see anywhere else.
What I hope to be able to do is to package the best of both worlds: to take the abundant (and affordable!) tours that exist here because of the cruise ships and combine them with local travel (by ferry and air) to give independent travelers a truly unique experience. And then I can simply connect them (by water, air or road) to the rest of Alaska.
For now I have nothing to sell – I am just giving information. My hope is that by doing so I will be able to fine-tune my approach. So really, if you are trying to plan a trip here and you have questions then I want to hear from you. And if you are a travel agent or a tour operator with questions then I definitely want to hear from you.