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My boyfriend and I are planning on heading up to either Seward or Denali to work the 2009 summer season. I want Denali, he wants Seward. Can you write to me if you’ve worked in either of these places and give us advice? We’re both waiters. I also work in hotels in Vegas in the Convention department so I have experience in admin and working with convention/meeting clientele. Both of us drive, both of us love to hike and take photos and love wildlife. What are the best areas to work to make money? Where is the best place to live? Who has good employee housing – who has crap employee housing? Is it better to rent an apartment for the season? Do you recommend taking a car if so do you recommend driving or taking the ferry system from Washington.
We want to make good money and as neither of us have ever been to Alaska – we have a lot of questions. What can we expect to make – money wise?
Once we’re there what will we need to bring with us? I know some employee housing and cabins don’t have showers or kitchens.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Not for nothing, but i didn't see any lack of business in Seward this summer. The glacier cruises that we booked for were full dang near everyday.

Again these are just my personal opinions about working in Alaska based on my experience. And I am done with the corporate scene. Not nearly enough money for the hassle. Most places like that pay anywhere from 7-10 bucks and hour. You can make WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAy more than that living in your own place without some smelly room mate from lord knows where. And working for a locally owned business.

And again why move all the way to Alaska to be a housekeeper for 7 bucks an hour and then your employer takes most of that for room and board? And then you only have one day off a week, with no real way to get out and see Alaska.
I'm not debating who to work for, just giving some info about the areas. I think your assertions are a little too general as well. Most places pay quite a bit more than $7/hour and housing and meal plans are very affordable. I'm only going on your number of $1,000 a month for rent. Where I am at you get housing, food, and internet for $450 per month. Different experiences for sure, but worth noting. Over the course of a 5 month summer, that's $2500 extra for rent, and who knows what the grocery bills are. From a purely economical point of view, the included housing and meal plans are a great way to go. And it is a little unfair to compare what a person makes as a server at one place to a housekeeper at another. Servers at most places in the Denali area are going to make quite a bit, just like in Seward. And I would argue that the large companies offer just as good if not better opportunities to see Alaska. When I was working seasonally for Princess, I had free access to the train system from Anchorage to Fairbanks, $25 hotel rooms in Denali, Talkeetna, Kenai, Fairbanks, and Copper Center, and large tour discounts on flight seeing, river rafting, etc. Even the Kenai Fjords cruises out of Seward.

As for tourist info, I'm just speaking from the info I have working for the largest cruise company in Alaska. 2009 is going to be a challenging year in terms of bookings. Yes 2008 was busy, but not as busy as 2007 for most people in Alaska. I fear 2009 will be no different.

As you said, this is just my story from my experience. I don't think a person goes wrong either way, you just need to examine what it is that you are looking for as an individual and where you can get a job. My Seattle based company employees hundreds of Alaskans, and supports lots and lots of locally owned businesses. Boths ways of working in Alaska are great and good options.
Whats on the spit in homer mean?
i worked for aramark at the mckinley chalet, and i must say, it was the worst experience ever. i worked at the courtyard cafe as a server and made no money. i ended up leaving after two months because, even though i was enjoying the hiking and whatnot, i needed money. if you do end up there, work at the nenana grill. it's more fine-dining, and the money is better from what i hear. but overall, if you can, stay away from aramark. they treat their employees like crap.

they do offer food and housing, and i believe it's like $10-$15/day. the rooms are small and none of the them have private bathrooms. i was a good 100 yards from the toilet, and you share it with hundreds of other people. in addition to that, the thing that really grated on my nerves was when they threw a third person in my room because they over-staffed. she slept on the floor and there was no space to get in and out of the room, let alone move.

there are lots of resorts there that aren't aramark, like the princess lodge. i got a 2nd job there briefly and enjoyed it much more than the chalet.

denali is five hours from anchorage, and two hours from fairbanks. if you want to get away from the place that you'll soon consider hell, i highly recommend bringing a car. also, the resorts are outside of the park, so a car is nice if you want the luxury of going in and out as you please. though, i think the tourist shuttles are free for employees, but those can be annoying.

on a more optimistic note, the park is really gorgeous and teeming with wildlife.
i will agree with Rick about his company...I actually had a few of the folks who worked for your resort come down to Cooper Landing and I hired them, and they all said that particular property was great at getting people around, as well as some great deals on cruises.

I think it's to each their own you know? Like i said I have done both, and just prefer to work for privately owned company. Now that's not to say that you can't have a bad time there either. Ask anyone who worked for me this past summer and they and I can tell you some stories about our owner that would BLOW your mind. Live and learn right?
I worked Denali last summer and will be up again this summer so my vote is def. Denali. I work for princess and I have no real complaints. The cruise discounts after you finish your contract are really good. Denali has so many opportunities for F/B it's not even funny. So many restaurants and places that are looking for part time help that as long as your not an idiot you can make some money. The only problem is most people give it right back at the bar. The climbing/hiking in this area is so abundant that i havent even finished what i set out to do from last year. We got lucky and had a security guard that was a climbing instructor in the marines and brought all his gear so we would do rappelling in the park. so if outdoors and hiking is what you want to do on your days off then yes Denali is your palce. I can say that travel while working for princess is good. space available on the train to anchorage, weekly shuttle to fairbanks and plenty of people that get beaters for the summer and let others use as long as they put in the gas. I have some photos of employee housing for princess as well shoot me an email and i can answer some more questions. Hope it helps!
I work for Princess just like Rick and wanted to put my two cents in about your possibilities in Seward. I work at the Rail Division for Princess and we have a small operation that is run out of Seward. We house about 10-15 employees in Seward during the summer and all of those employees in Seward are Food and Beverage people. Our employees work long hours (lots of overtime) on the train. My other suggestions in Seward would be to take a look at Kenai Fjord Tours and maybe Renown Tours. I have only been on these tours during the summer but have really enjoyed them. They are well run and put out a great product, I don't know what they are like to work for though
if u and your boyfriend or going to work for denali u wil have an good chance of being in the 900 rooms which is alot better then the 100s u have your on bathroom and u will have cable tv there there is another room across the hall there which share your bathroom u can tell if someone is in there they will lock the door going into your rooom dont know why she was having problem there between the both of u u guys can save alot of money u dont have to go to fairbanks all the time some of the people i know that went there every week i think i went there about 3 times that whole summer i was there and that was just to stock up on stuff it is wise tohave car but they tell u from a get go there not a walmart there on every corner i didnt care about going to the movies or going to walmart doing the time i knew it will it be there when i get back and i can catch up on the movies when i get home on dvd
I was just going to throw out there that while I too suggest working for a locally owned place anywhere in AK if possible, it's sometimes hard to do unless you have an "in" and it might require getting another job at one of the big guys while you wait (and pester the management) for an opening.

That being said, I worked for the Alpenglow Rest. in Denali in 2004 and 2007 and am considering the possibility of going back. I lived in the housing at the Bluffs which from everything I hear is a much better place to be than the Chalet housing, and I found it adequate though our employee dining room was up a very steep switch back path up a mountain. (I was in the best shape by the end of the year!) Couples housing is particularly tolerable since you won't have to share a room with a stranger, and will have a suite style shared toilet and shower with a sink/mirror in your room.

Though I never personally had too much trouble with Aramark, I may or may not work for them again. I know the owner of the Salmon Bake and will likely end up working there and will secure either a cabin in Healy (ot much available, most of it dry,) or my boyfriend and I might buy a camper to park somewhere. The biggest reason I won't do the employee housing again is because I miss having a kitchen and being able to cook!

If you choose Denali, I definitely agree with those about finding a beater car after you get here. They're fairly easy to come by, and will make your experience easier and more enjoyable, even though they aren't necessary. Most of the people I know who did this ended up paying for the car by "renting it out" to other people when they were working!

After the season ended in 2007, I moved to Girdwood which is another great little town. The hotel here is basically the starting point for anyone who wants to be here, but there is other work available sometimes. Housing can be high, but camping in the woods in the summer is super easy with a laundromat and public wash facility and lots of rain water. Employee housing at the hotel is also pretty decent, and I love the acessability of this place and the fact that if you want to go rafting or fishing or hiking or climbing or kayaking or whatever, it's right at my doorstep. (And in the winter, TONS of snow and a great ski mountain.)

Have never been to Seward but I hear it's nice. Don't go to Whittier!
What up Drinkard!
Whoo! Grub! Where are you these fine winter days?
I'd try to avoid working for Aramark. They have a terrible reputation for how they treat their employees. The rent at their housing is way over the top for what you get, especially if you live at the Chalets.


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