Riverboat Discovery in Faibanks, Alaska–
What it is…a three hour trip on a sternwheeler on the Chena River. Has three main components: a plane taking off and landing on the Chena river (watch from the boat), a dog mushing informational and demonstration (a float-by on the Port side of the boat), and a stop at an Athabaskan Fishing camp/village (it is on the Stern side but you get off the boat anyway). This is a popular stop for tour groups such as various Alaskan Cruise Ship customers so bus loads of people are there.
What it is like, the good…1) It was a beautiful sunny day, we were up on the upper open-air deck of the boat most of the time, 2) it was as well choreographed as could be done for a large number of people, 3) they allowed everyone off the boat to inform and give demonstrations about life in an Athabaskan fishing camp/village for a half hour then you can wonder around on your own and observe things at your own pace for a half hour albeit along with a few hundred others. The boat was clean and the staff efficient.
What it is like, the not so good…1) the boat holds 1000 people but they are only licenced for 900 people and usually don’t take more than 750 people, 2) there were 460 people on board today (because it is early in the season), very crowded, 3) so many folks trying to see and take pictures at the same time was difficult.
We are glad we went using the half price ticket (it is not worth over $100 for two). We do recommend going with the knowledge that it will be crowded. If it is a beautiful day as it was for us, it is nice to be out on the water. This is a very commercial tour. They sell everything from food and drink to canned salmon and there are gift shops.
If you have a coupon, use it. Come at least a half hour early and if the weather is good that day, immediately go up to the third deck to the the front seats near the middle aisle (everyone wants these seats). Know that folks will come to stand in front of you to take pictures so be prepared to stand and jockey for position a little to get a good picture. There are lots of mosquitoes at the village so be prepared. They do have a free RV parking area and a free car parking area. Before or after the boat tour, try the -40 degree room (it is free but they want to sell a picture to you of you in the room). It is a good idea to call and make a reservation. Bring your patience, there are lots of people and some are a little testy.