Immerse yourself in the best of Alaska!

Mayville State President’s Column for Traill County Tribune

September 9, 2017

 Immerse yourself in the best of Alaska!

 

My wife, Debbie, and I are very excited to be tour hosts for the MSU Foundation and Alumni Association’s first-ever alumni and friends trip to Alaska next summer. We’ll be departing July 20 and returning July 31, 2018. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to host an amazing Mayville State trip to Norway last summer and are thrilled that we will be hosting an alumni and friends group in magnificent Italy later this month. The Alaska Cruisetour in 2018 is sure to be an over-the-top experience as well.

Our Alaskan adventure will begin in Vancouver, British Columbia and end in Fairbanks, Alaska.  While in Vancouver, will get a chance to check out Vancouver’s Gastown district, a refreshing mix of old and new with cobbled streets, quaint courtyards, and Victorian-style buildings. No tour of Vancouver would be complete without viewing world-famous Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in Canada. This spectacular spot in the heart of the city is actually a rainforest, teeming with wildlife, magnificent trees, and fragrant blossoms.

After the tour of the city, we’ll transfer to the pier for embarkation aboard the Star Princess cruise ship, which will be our home for the next seven days. The Star Princess features relaxed ambience as well as tantalizing dining options, and incredible features. We’ll be journeying along the Alaskan coastline. Our first stop will be Ketchikan, Alaska’s “First City.”

Alaska’s capital, Juneau will be the next stop along the way. Juneau is famous for gold and government, and also its breathtakingly beautiful glaciers and stunning views of both water and mountains. Travelers in our group will be able to choose from a variety of shore excursions or explore on their own.

Day six will be spent in Skagway, the gateway to the gold fields for the thousands who flocked to Alaska and the Yukon with the hope of striking it rich. Today, Skagway has fewer than 1,000 residents, but it retains the flavor of the gold rush era. We’ll be immersing ourselves in the natural beauty of this dramatic land on a shore excursion featuring the “Scenic Railway of the World,” the sensational Yukon Suspension Bridge, a drive down the historic Klondike Highway, and lunch amidst the flora and fauna of Jewell Gardens.

We’ll be doing some scenic cruising on days seven and eight. Glacier Bay National Park boasts some of the world’s most spectacular tidewater glaciers, such as Margerie Glacier, which often drops colossal chunks of ice into the sea. During the cruise, park rangers will join us on the ship to share their knowledge of this amazing place. Some of the wildlife we might see includes humpback whales, sea otters, porpoises, harbor seals, black bears, mountain goats, bald eagles, and large colonies of seabirds. The scenery will be awe-inspiring.

On day eight, we’ll be cruising College Fjord, which is in the northwest corner of Prince William Sound. The fjord and its glaciers were named after prestigious east coast schools by the college professors who discovered them. Stretching for miles, these massive rivers of ice tumble down from mountains and through valleys, dipping into the pristine waters of the fjord. We’ll see glaciers calving or dropping enormous pillars of ice into the sea, cracking and landing with a thunderous splash. During the summer, it’s not unheard of to catch a glimpse of one of the area’s 40-ton humpback whales feeding in the waters of the fjord.

Our cruise will come to an end on day nine of the tour, when we disembark at Whittier, 65 miles southeast of Anchorage. We’ll board princess’s Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service, which provides a fabulous beginning to an incredible journey with magnificent scenery and friendly service all along the way. We’ll spend the night at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and have the opportunity to explore Denali National Park the next day.

Fairbanks, Alaska’s “Golden Heart city” will be our destination on day 11. There will be a riverboat cruise down the Chena River and an opportunity to experience Gold Rush history, native culture, and colorful Alaska lifestyle of bush pilots, dog sledders, and native artisans.

The final day of the tour will be spent exploring in Fairbanks, the second largest city in Alaska. The city is the hub of the region known as Alaska’s Interior. Since we’ll be visiting in the summer, we’ll experience nearly 24 hours of light daily while in Fairbanks. We’ll transfer to the airport for the return flight home late in the evening of July 31.

This adventure is open to all Mayville State University alumni and friends, and we’d love to have you join us on this trip of a lifetime! If you’re interested and would like to be added to our list of potential travelers, please go to www.mayvillestate.edu/alaska and fill out the interest form, and we’ll keep in touch with you. While you’re there, you’ll have an opportunity to view and download the detailed itinerary, along with cost information and the registration form. We encourage you to fill out the registration form and send it to Brekke Tours and Travel as soon as possible, and not later than Sept. 30. Space is limited and reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity!

Brekke Tours and Travel of Grand Forks is coordinating all travel arrangements for the Alaska trip. If you have questions, you may contact them at 1-800-437-5302 or tours@brekketours.com, or you may contact our Office of Alumni Affairs at 701-788-4750 or alumni.mail@mayvillestate.edu.