Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAR-APR 2018

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Princess' award-winning on-board program, North to Alaska, includes unique Alaskan-inspired onboard enrichment, entertainment and food and beverage offerings, as well as exclusive Discovery Channel and Animal Planet recommended shore excursions that are part of the cruise line's Discovery at Sea partnership. Very popular is "Cook My Catch," a unique culinary program allowing guests to return from select Princess fishing excursions and have the chef prepare their very own catch of the day. Our trip commenced in Anchorage, where we stayed our first night before heading by motor coach to the McKinley Princess Lodge, stopping along the way in the town of Talkeetna (population 772) for our first excursion, a Talkeetna River Float. While we were bundled in multiple layers, our guide seemed to take the 42-degree day as a heatwave, as he sported flip flops and shorts. Midway through the ride we were serenaded by a local man playing the banjo at the river's edge, just one of many colorful characters we encountered throughout our vacation. Situated on 146 acres inside Denali State Park, the 460-room Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge is the only cruisetour hotel within sight of Mt. McKinley, North America's highest peak. Denali is so big that it creates its own weather, meaning that its peak is shrouded by clouds one- third of the time. To alert guests when weather conditions are ideal for viewing, the lodge sounds a "Mountain is Out" call. The property's newly opened, one-of-a-kind 500-square-foot treehouse, constructed by Pete Nelson of Animal Planet's show "Treehouse Masters" is the ideal spot to take in the view. Our visit fortuitously coincided with an ideal time to view the Northern Lights, and we quickly discovered that like the weather, the aurora can be unpredictable. Rather than stay awake all night staring up at the sky and waiting for the light show, we listened for the lodge's Northern Lights alert before bundling up and heading outside to be transfixed by the otherworldly bands of green light. We continued our journey by motor coach for the two-hour drive to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. Along the way, we travelled through an amazing landscape of snow-capped mountain peaks, fast-flowing streams and trees with yellow foliage so vibrant they appeared to be alight. e 656-room lodge is located in Denali Village, just one mile from the entrance to the six-million-acre Denali National Park. When weather conditions cancelled our planned glacier landing flight, we substituted an exhilarating ATV tour of a dry glacier, which quickly abated any disappointment I'd been feeling over the aborted flight. Back at the lodge during a pre-dinner cocktail reception, a friendly riot nearly broke out when everyone scrambledto hold the evening's honored guests: a pack of sled dog puppies. 34 slmag.net

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