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Everything posted by kennystwin

  1. I would plan on renting a car in Anchorage for a few days and do Denali/Talkeetna for a couple of days. Yes, Denali is worth it but, due to weather, only about 30% of visitors get to see the peak. You will most likely see wildlife on the bus through the park. A little flexibility might help you out. From Anchorage, you can drive down to Girdwood (the town itself, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center) or Whittier (26 glacier day cruise on Prince William Sound). The drive down the Turnagain Arm is lovely. It may take you 2 hours to go 40 miles if you take advantage of all the scenic turnoffs.
  2. From a former Alaska resident who gets back as often as I can, my thoughts for your possibly once in a lifetime trip this September: - Glacier Bay is a must for the best glacier experience. You'll have secondary opportunities to cruise by (Hubbard, Dawes, etc.) or as excursions in port (Mendenhall in Juneau, easily accessible and affordable; Taku Glacier and lodge via floatplane from the pier in Juneau). - Don't fret the weather in September. I've done it before and lucked into great weather, but you are travelling in a rain forest in Alaska: cool and wet should be expected so b
  3. Hlitner did a great job explaining the the mess at CDC which is halting cruises in the US. I refer to it as "Operation Snail Pace". What little has been published addresses early scenarios such as the Diamond Princess. So much has advanced in COVID testing, treatment, and of course, the vaccines that really isn't addressed in the published CSO. Meanwhile, the cruise industry has been sailing under other guidelines in other parts of the world with with some success. MSC, RCI and others have implemented their own procedures and are developing a pretty good track record of dealing with COVID case
  4. I lived in Alaska decades ago (Girdwood) and go back as often as I can to for both cruises and land trips from Anchorage (to Seward, Homer, Girdwood, Talkeetna, etc.). And I've been in winter too for the Iditarod. One of the things I strive for is to see "Alaskans being Alaskans". A couple of points: - Southeast is very different from the interior, so be open to these differences. The native cultures are very different from the interior, so spend some time exploring those (Totem Bight State Park and Saxman Village in Ketchikan come to mind, but take the local bus if y
  5. Alaska just opened up vaccinations to everyone over the age of 16: https://gov.alaska.gov/newsroom/2021/03/09/dunleavy-announces-covid-19-vaccine-available-to-all-alaskans/ Alaska will probably be the safest place to be this summer! Now we just need to get the cruise ships there.
  6. https://gov.alaska.gov/newsroom/2021/03/09/dunleavy-announces-covid-19-vaccine-available-to-all-alaskans/ Alaska is leading the country and making vaccinations available to all Alaskans age 16 or older. Alaska may well be the safest place to be this summer! If we could just figure out a way to get the cruise ships there...
  7. TUI (German line) had at least one recent outbreak. I think MSC also did. https://www.cruisehive.com/cruise-ship-covid-outbreak-swiftly-dealt-with/47010 The Hurtigruten incident was last July which would seem to be recent by the pace at which the CDC is operating with their Conditional Sailing Order. As I read it (and I don't claim to be an expert by any stretch), the CSO addresses the issues we were bringing up in the beginning of the pandemic, cutting cruises short and returning passengers and crews safely to their homes. We know a lot more now
  8. Yes, Alaska some really great beers. (I DO like IPAs and the No Woman, No Cryo from Girdwood Brewing tops my list. But I digress.) When visiting a real Alaskan Bar (an activity I highly recommend). you will find the locals often drinking "the cheap stuff" (PBR, Bud, Coors, etc.) while the tourists are drinking "the good stuff" - Alaskan craft beers. It all boils down to economics: the PBR is probably $2-$3 while the Alaskan beers will $5-$6 or more. If you're hanging out there year round, your beer budget goes a lot farther with PBR. I was afraid this thread was getting off topic,
  9. The AMH would be a feasible way to see southeastern Alaska this year. As others have noted, it's not cheap (especially if you want to bring your car), facilities are meager, and service is minimal, especially by cruise ship standards. Some other benefits include getting to towns not visited by cruise ships (I'm thinking Wrangell or Petersburg - though tourist services will be minimal). The best part will be getting to see "Alaskans being Alaskans". You will meet real people, share real stories, and get a real appreciation for life in Alaska. Cruise ships just can't do this. Of cour
  10. I've done a couple of September cruises (like you say, a great value) and have lucked in to good to spectacular weather. As with any cruise in Alaska, prepare for constant rain (it IS mostly rainforest) and celebrate the good days. Yes, there are lots of good sales in the ports. Most of the excursions are still on, certainly all those run by year round residents who you should want to support. A vendor that depends on college student labor from the Lower 48 will probably be cutting back. As to the wildlife, the migratory species (whales, birds) may be leaving or gone but there will be a few st
  11. Ditto to everything Grandma7 said. BBKing is my favorite music venue at sea. YMMV The biggest difference I sense between the 2 lines is the heavy class distinctions on Celebrity. Depending on your class (regular, concierge, aqua, suite) you will access to different bars, restaurants, services, etc. on Celebrity. Except for some perks associated with the Neptune Suites and a weak attempt with their Club Orange, HAL guests can pretty much expect the same quality product.
  12. Alaska already has a strict testing for travelers policy https://covid19.alaska.gov/travelers/. If you arrive by air today without a negative test from the last 72 hours, you will be tested at the airport (at your expense) and be expected to quarantine until you get results. I suspect that when cruising returns, the cruise lines will initially have similar policies.
  13. After my Alaskan cruise was cancelled last year, I took advantage of crazy cheap airfares for a land based trip to Alaska. Flew to Anchorage and spent a week in Seward and Girdwood (old haunts - I lived there 40 years ago). Had great weather and a great time. Had to have a negative test to get into Alaska and social distancing there is a snap so easy to stay healthy. None of the usual summer tourist crowds. Plenty of hotel/Airbnb bargains. Now that the 2021 cruise season in Alaska is cancelled, I may "have to" plan another land trip and head to Homer this time. I can already taste
  14. Cruise lines used to get away with these "technical stops" but the government cracked down on those. (I remember a cruise from San Diego to Hawaii in 2003 that stopped in Ensenada late at night just long enough for the Captain to sign the log. Those days are gone.) A technical stop in Canada won't work as Canada has closed their waters (not just the ports) to cruise ships. I suspect ships leaving Seattle might have to work to avoid Canadian waters passing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The US government could suspend the PVSA altogether, but that would open up US water to any foreign fla
  15. It looks like they are already beginning to shut them down. The 2021 Freedom cruises are still listed on the web site, but you can't book them. I've been watching a casino deal recognizing there was a high probability of cancellation (I would be happy with the $600 OBC), but that can't be booked now.
  16. As others have mentioned, Alaska is all about the itineraries. When I just looked them up, Eurodam includes a day in Sitka plus a stop at Icy Strait Point after Glacier Bay. Princess includes a stop at Skagway instead. All of these stops are great and each has its own culture and personality. Sitka and ISP are definitely 2 of my favorites, but Skagway offers an important glimpse into the Gold Rush. Note that Skagway routinely handles 4-5 ships at a time, including mega-ships, so the crowds will also play into the Skagway personality. Pay attention to the times in port as well. Both show Ketchi
  17. I recommend you check out Sitka Wildlife Tours. I went with them last time I was in Sitka and had a great time. Locally owned and operated. Bruce, the owner, greeted me after I got off the bus from the ship and made some recommendations to spend my time before the tour. Our driver/guide was a Sitka native and seemed to know everyone in town as we went around. Besides the sights, a lot of colorful insight into life in Sitka.
  18. I certainly wouldn't be jumping through hoops to comply with CDC rules. They will have a new director in a couple of weeks there will likely be a lot of changes (if only for the sake of change). I hope/trust that Carnival Corp. or at least HAL are working on plans to vaccinate and redeploy their crews but they are likely far from setting any dates.
  19. Not usual with the financial call but definitely a business update: I would love to see them announce a corporate wide restart plan which includes vaccination and redeployment of crews. Definitely some operational good news to offset the financial bad news.
  20. The Denali Park Road is within Denali National Park well north of Anchorage and is now open. The road from Anchorage to Seward is the Seward Highway which is definitely open. It provides vital access to the Kenai peninsula. Alaska remains shuttered to interstate and international travellers, but the locals are having a blast this year enjoying the state tourist free. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/15/856171287/while-the-tourists-are-away-alaskans-will-play Also, the Alaska Railroad is planning to resume some operations July 1. https://www.alaskarailroad.com/passenger-information
  21. I was supposed to be boarding the Noordam in Seward today after spending a few days enjoying Seward and the Kenai Fjords National Park. (I lived in Alaska decades ago, still miss it terribly, and go back whenever I can.) Instead, this morning I listened to Governor Dunleavy's Friday COVID press conference so I could follow what's happening in the state. They extended the mandatory quarantine orders until June, but are reevaluating it daily as they gain experience opening up other parts of the state. I'll consider a land trip once it's safe to do it. Social distancing in Alaska isn't hard to do
  22. The land tours definitely aren't happening. The providers are dependent on seasonal workers that won't be coming for the potentially shortened and shrunk season. With all the uncertainty, there is no way anyone could even offer them contracts right now. Princess and HAL (the 2 biggest Alaska land tour providers) cancelled all their land tours first and tried to maintain limited, late season Seattle round-trip cruises before abandoning them as well.
  23. It's finally official: https://www.hollandamerica.com/en_US/news/coronavirus-travel-advisory.html - All cruises through June 30 are cancelled. - All Alaska cruises on Maasdam, Westerdam, Noordam, Oosterdam, and Volendam are cancelled (leaves Eurodam and Konigsdam after July 1). - All Land+Sea is cancelled. Now we can plan accordingly and choose our refunds (cash or FCC).
  24. Amsterdam is doing Canada/New England this summer and N. Amsterdam is in the Mediterranean.
  25. That leaves only the Eurodam and Konigsdam doing the 7 day round trips this shortened season. These are the 2 largest ships planned for Alaska this season. Seems like a maximize revenue/minimize expenses strategy. I imagine they will be trying to move cruisers from the cancelled ships to these cruises. No northbound/southbound cruises so no Land+Sea journeys. I've been expecting problems with the land portions which are heavily dependent on seasonal workers who likely won't make the shortened season. It is still wait & see for the July cruises. Canada will be open (
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