Thanks to the Chena River, which runs right through the middle of town, Fairbanks, Alaska is a great place to take a dining cruise. As you might expect of a modestly sized city of 32,000 residents, there is only one company/boat, Sternwheeler Tanana Chief, that offers these dining cruises – more precisely brunch and dinner cruises – but they are offered regularly, so there are plenty of river-based dining opportunities. Below is an overview of all the relevant details of the dining cruises in Fairbanks.
As you might have guessed, Sternwheeler Tanana Chief operates a sternwheeler (a type of river paddle boat) that is called Tanana Chief. The Tanana Chief is actually a replica of an older ship of the same name that was the first sternwheeler to operate on the Tanana and Chena rivers. The original ship operated around the turn of the century, so a ride on the Tanana Chief is as much a historical experience as it is a dining occasion. The dining cruises take place on the Chena River, which joins the much larger Tanana River right after it passes out of town and past the airport.
The dining cruises offered by Sternwheeler Tanana Chief are quite straightforward. The main offering is a dinner cruise that runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6:45 PM. The meal consists of prime rib, king salmon, potatoes, fresh vegetable, dinner rolls, two salads, and dessert. The standard adult ticket price is $54.95, but the children’s ticket (for those in the 4 to 12 range) is 25 percent less, and there are also discounts for Alaska residents, senior citizens, and members of the military. It is perhaps worth mentioning that you can ride the ship without eating a meal – the dinner cruise doubles as a sightseeing cruise – and the price for doing so is $24.95, with the same discounts as listed above.
The brunch cruises are offered less frequently and are only available in the summer. They run from June through August on every other Sunday and depart at noon. The brunch features chef-carved ham, scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast sausages, American potatoes, biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit. Champagne is also in the mix somehow, or else the company just wanted to be radically misleading by calling their fortnightly offering the “Champagne Brunch Cruise.” Tickets are $37.95, and once again the discounts for the dinner cruise apply to the brunch cruise. Apart from these regular offerings, the company periodically offers a specialty cruise that is a little different from the standard brunch and dinner cruises. In the middle of July, for example, there is a prime rib lunch cruise, and it is only offered once. These specialty cruises are worth considering if you are interested in taking a cruise on the Tanana Chief.
And if you are interested in taking such a cruise, you should visit the Sternwheeler Tanana Chief website. You can’t book the tickets directly online, but there are numbers listed online that you can call to make a reservation, and there is also an email function that allows you to write a message directly on the website. If you want to take a dining cruise in Alaska, but not in Fairbanks, perhaps one of the dining cruises out of Seward, several hundred miles to south on the coast, will appeal to you.