Princess Cruise hosted my wife, Denise, and I on an unforgettable land and sea Cruisetour of Alaska! Day one consisted of a riverboat tour on the Chena and Tanana Rivers!
Our two week adventure began at the Fairbanks airport. We arrived around 2:30 a.m. and it was still daylight outside – that was a new experience! Someone from Princess Cruises greeted us and took us to the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge for a good night’s rest. After breakfast, we headed to the river and boarded a sternwheeler riverboat. Experiencing Alaska from the vantage point of a riverboat proved to be a terrific way to get a glimpse of how people in Alaska live today and how the native Alaskans lived long before the land was settled.
Piloting a riverboat was a Bucket List item for me and fortunately the captain let me take the wheel for about a mile. Of course he didn’t leave the deck and he kept close watch on my every move. Nevertheless, I had a blast!
Along the way we stopped to explore an Athabascan fish camp where we learned how the Athabaskan mastered the art of smoking meat and curing animal pelts to survive the cold winters.
For some reason, the camp had on display a vintage snowmobile with a dogsled in tow. I snapped this photo because I thought it looked cool. Im sure one of the guides explained it but I was lagging behind the group in hopes of sampling some of the smoked salmon – which I did – and it was amazing!
Still lagging behind the group, I happened upon a large pen that housed a couple of reindeer. These were the first real ones I had ever seen. I had no idea that their horns were so fuzzy! Interesting fact: both male and female caribou have antlers!
After re-boarding the riverboat we headed back down the river and stopped in front of a kennel that trains future Iditarod champions. We were able to watch a demonstration from the deck of the boat and were so impressed by how smart and strong those dogs are.
One interesting fact we learned on the riverboat was that one out of 58 Alaskans own a plane. It was so cool watching bush planes take off and land on the river.
Houses along the river proved to be quite interesting!
…others decorate their roofs with tires.