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kennystwin

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  • Content Count

    24
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About kennystwin

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    DFW
  • Interests
    cruising!
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    HAL, RCCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Alaska

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  1. I'm on the Nieuw Amsterdam for the 5 day coastal from Vancouver to San Diego and just experienced the quickest embarkation ever. I checked out of my hotel at 11:00 (Day's Inn Vancouver, about 4 blocks away), walked to the Canada Place cruise terminal, dropped my bag, went through check-in, security, US Immigration and was on the ship at 11:27! No lines anywhere (well there were a couple of wheelchairs in line for Global Services, so I opted for the no waiting passport kiosks). Yes, we're the only ship in port, but I've never experienced anything as fast. A great way to start my cruise. I just had to share it! kennystwin
  2. It was wonderful to read your post and see you got to experience Alaska as you did. Yes, you are bombarded with spectacular beauty, but being able to let it reach past your eyes to your soul is so fulfilling. Your "zen" was the perfect description. I'm ready to go back (and I was just there in May).
  3. In Seattle, it's even better. The port of Seattle sponsors the Port Valet service making it free for you. Details here: https://www.portseattle.org/page/port-valet-enjoy-seattle-luggage-free I've used it a couple of times and it is great. Leave your bags out the night before docking in Seattle and you won't see them again until baggage claim when you're home. You can be among the first off the ship so you can head to Pike's Market, Chihuly, or any of the other great sites in Seattle. Head to the airport with boarding passes you received on the ship, through security (this can be time consuming) and you're on the way home without hassling with luggage. Great service!
  4. I may be wrong, but if you have been been using this TA for 20 years, but have never cruised, I suspect they are a business oriented TA doing mostly airlines, cars, and hotels (I dealt with TAs like this before I retired and the $50 airline reservation fee was pretty typical). I would be concerned that they may not have the depth of cruise experience to best serve you. Yes, they can certainly take over your reservation and process your payments, but they may not be as cruise savvy to handle things out of the norm. A cruise focused TA generally has direct relationships with the cruise lines to address any "weirdnesses" (unforeseen things always tend to come up), plus they have access to special incentives that might let them discount further. I would certainly be asking your new agent how many cruises he has booked any what lines he has actually cruised with to qualify him further. I cruised last year with a friend who booked through his long time business TA. Yes, he got good service (he had her cell # and got always got prompt responses). But if I had used my regular online, cruise TA, I would have gotten a ton of OBC with the rates he paid (and got nothing).
  5. As a former resident of Girdwood, Alaska (20 miles from Whittier as the crow flies), I'm very familiar with both towns. Yes, there is more to do in Seward. Whittier is a small town where everyone pretty much lives in the same building and there really isn't much to do in the town itself, so I wouldn't recommend spending the night there (if you could). But, you are at least an hour closer to Anchorage for hotels, flights out, or better, a chance to see more of Alaska. Also, Whittier is the gateway to Prince William Sound which is spectacularly beautiful (OK, this is Alaska and you will find breathtaking beauty at every turn). Both are on the Alaska Railroad lines for anyone looking for a rail based land tour. Looking at the 2021 itineraries (NA and Noordam), I see a couple of interesting things: - departures from Whittier are at 5:00pm (vs. 8:00 pm in Seward) which should provide more prime time to enjoy the sights (more glaciers) on sailaway - I noticed some southbound itineraries that include both Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay. It's rare to find itineraries with both today. - I saw Haines on the southbound itineraries as well. This would really add to any B2Bs where they tend to simply duplicate all the ports northbound and southbound. - Also, I see northbounds that include cruising College Fjord in Prince William Sound before docking in Whittier (lots more glaciers) If you really want to do something in Whittier, I'm sure there will be some offerings on Prince William Sound for fishing, wildlife watching, or glacier viewing. Plan on spending the night in Anchorage (or Girdwood!). I wouldn't say that Seward is any better (or worse) than Whittier. They are both great Alaskan towns that can do a good job handling the cruise ships.
  6. Keep in mind that the CBP clearance in Vancouver is unique. There is nothing equivalent in Montreal, Southampton or any other port. Much like the clearance done in Canadian airports for US bound flights, you are technically leaving Canada and entering the US since the rest of your ports on an Alaskan cruise are in the US. No need to show a passport at any intermediary stops, and when you get to Seward (assuming a north bound cruise), you can simply walk off the ship - no additional government clearance needed (no customs lines!!!). I did this last year travelling with friends and can attest there is a single, not well marked GE line with a single agent that did speed it up for me. There was no one in the line, so he was handling a non-GE traveller that apparently had some issues so I had to wait a few minutes for that passenger to get resolved before I could zip through. My friends were in the long "commoner" line, but it seemed to move reasonably quickly. They were cleared about 5 minutes after I was.
  7. First of all, check out the solo cruising board here on Cruise Critic some good ideas on solo cruising from lots of experienced solo cruisers.. Unlike other lines, HAL doesn't really have any standard programs for solos. Some crew member will be tasked with managing activities for solos (along with their other responsibilities) so you are at their whim for any solo oriented activities they offer. I was solo on the Eurodam in 2017 and had a great time, but the only planned solo event was a sea day lunch. As it turned out, there were 2 8 top tables set aside in the MDR at noon. Once those sixteen seats were filled, that's it. My table was mostly pairs (older singles travelling together) and there was one older, loud gentleman that dominated the conversations. Not what I was expecting. The other table had a more diverse group, real solos, and I wished I had sat there. Oh well. I asked if the solo lunch would be repeated, but it wasn't. I have heard of happy hour meet ups and the like on other cruises but none were offered here (I even went back and double checked my When and Where's to see if I missed anything, and I hadn't). But none of this detracted in any way from having a great cruise. And age is never an issue. With a few more sea days on your upcoming cruise, they may have more planned solo activities. Regardless, have a great time!
  8. You may want to consider using the Port Valet and taking a later flight flight out so you can spend some time in Seattle. Using Port Valet, you will be among the first off the ship (they have to clear everyone with checked bags through customs in order to release all the checked luggage). You can take a taxi downtown (sans luggage) and spend some time at Pike Place Market, have a nice brunch, and see the sights downtown. If the weather is nice (and it is far more often than the locals will admit), it can be spectacular here with sunshine, green spaces, mountains, water, etc. Great people watching, too. You can taxi on to the airport later or there is a train to the airport from downtown as well. There are other sights as well in Seattle if you want to make a day of it before flying home. We did this a few years ago and had a great time. We'll be on the Eurodam next month and are planning to do it again. We have a 2:30 flight and I figure we'll leave downtown around noon which will still give us several hours to enjoy Seattle and still make our flight easily.
  9. I paid $186.55 for the DFW-FLL outbound. Like you, I wound up using miles for the return on Delta. I forget what the return prices were that I was looking at, but it was for a mid-December flight and I was bumping into holiday traffic as well.
  10. I did my first solo cruise in December on a last minute (2 weeks out) deal. After researching a lot of options of airfare (multiple airports: DFW vs. DAL, FLL vs. MIA, 1 or 2 days early, even using frequent flyer miles), I wound up getting the best deal from the cruise line (HAL in this case) directly. I got a regular economy seat outbound for less than Delta's budget economy fare allowing me to have advance seat assignments, carry on luggage assurance, and frequent flyer upgrade opportunity. This was also a morning of the cruise flight with a connection - usually a risky option. However, when you buy through the cruise line, they give you a guarantee to get you to the ship which put my mind at ease. Plus I saved the costs of hotels which made for a really inexpensive vacation.
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