Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

Posts posted by kennystwin

  1. 3 hours ago, home-mom said:

    Supposed to be back to normal September 1, 2021. 

    September 1, 2021 will have the return of the Summit round trip loop. No getting off the train. No bus one-way train the other. No continuing into Canada. Those will return after the Canadian border reopens, hopefully next season.

  2. It's always safest to be there the day before, but I've done several day of cruise flights before and have never missed a cruise. (I have decades of business travel experience so I have experienced all sorts of disruptions.) I have three recommendations that may help:

    1. Have a plan B, C, and D. Make sure you consider multiple carriers and multiple airports. If you are going to have to make connections, have a plan B, C, and D for those as well.

    2. Book through Carnival's Fly2Fun. They offer some promises of protection, but reviews are weak. Still, if you need help, it's better to work with someone that understands making a cruise. (Not Carnival, but HAL did a great job moving me to another carrier after a weather cancellation a few years ago. The original carrier was only interested in getting me on a later flight).

    3. Look at travel insurance options to see what coverage would be available if things go south.


    Odds are things will run pretty much as planned, but be prepared.

  3. I lived in Alaska 3 years, travelled a lot and still go back whenever I can. There is still a lot of the state on my bucket list. If you are taking the "basic" 7 day cruise, I would definitely include Glacier Bay for the best glacier experience. I would also encourage you to include Icy Strait Point (Hoonah) or Sitka for a real Alaska experience. (Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan are great towns, but cruise ships really change their character. There you will most likely be dealing with seasonal employees who really don't have a clue about life in Alaska. The Diamonds International in those towns is just like the ones in Cozumel or St. Maarten. In Hoonah and Sitka, you will meet real Alaskans who live there year round and love talking about their towns and lifestyle.)


    If you have more time, do a one way cruise to Seward or Whittier and do a DIY land trip. You could easily spend another week on the Kenai Peninsula and visit Seward, Homer, and Girdwood before getting to Anchorage. And of course there's Denali (and Talkeetna) - 3 or 4 days minimum. 


    Do as much as you time and budget will allow. No matter what you decide, you will constantly be surrounded by breathtaking beauty and abundant wildlife.  

  4. Since you are on Carnival, it will be doing Tracy Arm Fjord on day 3. There is an optional excursion there that may get you another option for whales, bears, and glaciers. At the cruise ship enters Tracy Arm, you will transfer to a smaller excursion ship which takes you up close to the glaciers as well as gives you a better opportunity to see whales, bears, and other wildlife. There are of course no guarantees, but the small vessel can get up close as conditions warrant. 

  5. On 7/21/2021 at 6:17 PM, candasun said:

    DH and I are booked on a guarantee balcony under a casino deal this november. On my cruise manager it says 2 twin beds and will not let me edit it. Should I be worried or just wait and see what room is assigned right before the cruise? Sorry to hijack but this is a first time booking a guarantee cabin for us as well.


    I had the same thing for my upcoming Alaska cruise. I booked a GTY. The planner showed the TBA cabin and wouldn't let me edit the bedding. After I got my cabin assignment, I was able to  change it to a king. Piece of cake.

  6. When travelling solo, I usually request solo dining so I don't become that out-of-place solo with a group of couples (I've been one of the couples before and felt sorry for the solo guy they seated with us). On my last solo cruise on Inspiration just before shutdown, it worked better than I could have imagined. I had the best waiter and service ever. I'm a bit of a foodie and the waiter picked up on that. He dismissed the assistant waiter and did everything for me personally. He would bring unordered extras and my wine glass was never empty. Since I was solo, the pace of the meal was all about me. Best service ever! (I followed up with a personal tip and acknowledgement in the survey).


    I'll be on the Miracle in a few weeks and keep my 2-top request (that was the protocol when I booked). If it is not working out for me, I'll certainly go to the Maitre d' and work something out, but I'm really hoping my solo dining works out well again.

  7. I did a land trip to Alaska in May and will be cruising in August. The labor shortage is real for anyone dependent on seasonal workers. Plus, I suspect it will be worse in the cruise ports as they can only commit for 6-8 weeks for the seasonal workers vs. all summer for the land destinations. Like everything else now, things will be different this year and that applies to the excursions as well. I suspect that even scheduled/committed excursions will be cancelled if the planned seasonal workers don't show. Be flexible. Expect changes.

  8. I currently have 18 VIFP points(Red) and am booked on a 7 day cruise in August which would bring me to Gold (25 points). When I pull up my booking summary, it already shows me as Gold! It doesn't do me much good, but for someone moving up to platinum, it should be on your boarding documents for priority check-in, etc.


    I'm not sure how far out they would move you up, but check your booking summary and see if it's there.

  9. I took the Carnival transportation from LAX to Long Beach in February 2020 and they told us on the bus we could go straight to check-in and tell them we were on Carnival transportation. Nobody asked about my check-in time and I just boarded. No problems. If they did decide to crack down now, there is at least a nice park area in Long Beach to make the wait nice.


    In a couple of weeks, I'll be going out of Seattle and I imagine things will be different. I'll be taking Carnival transportation again (a bargain for a solo traveler) and I imagine the bus will pull right up to the terminal and there will be no place to go but in. If they wanted to restrict entrance, I imagine they could be checking vehicles and turning them away before entering the terminal (there is a shared ride lot a short walk from the terminal they could use to manage the early arrivals). We won't really know how it will be managed until cruising actually starts.

  10. It's not an extension cord, but I've been cruising with this clock for years with no issues:





    Besides being a clock (not found in any cabin anyway), the 2 power ports are surge protected (I generally have my computer plugged there) plus the USB port for my phone. It's got a 6 ft. power cord to give you a little stretch. Works great for personal electronics, but if I needed something for a CPAP or other medical device, I'd try to prearrange that with the ship.

  11. Procedures do vary by airport. Make sure you have the day of travel phone number from the web site. I flew into LA pre pandemic and needed to chase them down (multiple terminals plus multiple terminals per airline made it tricky, but it all worked out fine). 


    As others have noted, taxis/Uber/Lyft will always be quicker and generally cheaper for a couple, but when I'm travelling solo, the cruise line busses can be a better value. After decades as a frequent business traveler, it's pretty tough to get me in a situation where I'm stressed. I don't mind doing day of cruise travel but I'll be prepared with lots of flexibility and multiple backup options if something goes wrong. 


    One unadvertised benefit that the cruise line bus may have: On my last trip, they announced on the bus that since Carnival managed your port transfer, you could ignore your assigned check-in time and check in right away. That wasn't an issue on that cruise, but I see it could be a big plus if that's offered in the future as I expect check-in times will be more tightly enforced. 


    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.


    Car rentals in Anchorage in 2022 should be fine (2021 is sold out) and I would plan on a round trip rental from Anchorage. One ways  to Seward are limited and have expensive drop off charges.  You can either take a shuttle to Seward (it can include a stop at the wildlife center in Girdwood) or the Alaska Railroad. Getting around Seward without a car is pretty easy as they have a free shuttle plus a lot of the town is very walkable. I'd definitely plan a Kenai Fjords cruise in Seward for both wildlife and glaciers. They are well scheduled around the train and cruise schedules so you can do it all in a day.


    As to the touristy nature of the the sled dog tours, I think they are only modestly so. These are real Iditarod mushers and their dogs and they would be out running them anyway. They found a way to make a little extra money and promote the sport while training the dogs. It's a win - win for them. (For the real experience, come in the winter.)

  13. 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 be prepared.

    - As much as I love Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway (really I do), the character these towns are totally dominated by the cruise ships: each can handle 5 ships a day and 20,000 people a day totally changes the town. You'll find Diamonds International, etc. just like you do in Cozumel, St. Maarten, etc. For a chance to see "real Alaska", Icy Strait Point and Sitka offer you a little more perspective on the history and culture of Alaska while interacting with year round residents, not the seasonal workers you'll find in the other towns.


    HAL has an itinerary that looks appealing to me, but there are other options that may fit your needs as well. With all the late planning and dropping the Victoria requirement, I'd be flexible for more changes, possibly adding ports,  as the summer moves on.



  14. 2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

    Lots of good points here (about the CDC and CLIA) but count on me to be somewhat of a contrarian :).  I spent nearly forty years in the government helping to regulate the healthcare (primarily hospital) industry.   .....


    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 cases on board. More cruise lines are planning to start up (outside the US of course) and pretty soon, we'll have more experiences to add to our post-COVID cruise knowledge while the CDC continues Operation Snail Pace. My guess is the cruise industry's knowledge will exceed the CDC's knowledge by the summer (they really probably already have). Instead of publicly "giving up", they will simply let the current orders expire on schedule and US cruising will begin November 1.

  15. 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 you can). I've seen lots of glaciers, but a day cruising Glacier Bay can be very special. If you make it to Skagway, you can immerse yourself in Gold Rush history. Likewise, Sitka has roots as both the Russian an Territorial capitol of Alaska, perspectives you don't get from the interior.


    - Avoid any cruise line excursion or any "big bus" excursions from the pier. Your tour guide will likely be some college student from Iowa or such reading from a script. Your husband will be have no tolerance for explanations of Alaska from someone who has never spent a winter there. Instead, search out small tours run by year round residents. Tripadvisor and google are your friends,


    - Wine. I love my wine too, but the selection in ports are limited. The cruise lines generally have good wine programs so enjoy it onboard. but,


    - Beer! Alaska has lots of great craft breweries. (I was planning to hit many of them up on my cancelled cruise last year and plan to make them a focus on the cruise I have scheduled next year. I hope they survived the pandemic). The best part is talking with the proprietors. These are people living life large: making a living brewing beer in Alaska. It's hard to imagine anything better.


    - Bars. Alaskan bars are unique and it's a great place to sit down and have a conversation with real Alaskans. My experience in Alaska is everyone has a story and it is best told with a drink. You husband will likely be welcomed and feel right at home. In Ketchikan, the Asylum comes to mind. There are lots of bars in the ports and there will be lots of tourists, you may need to search out a "dive" that may not look appealing to the tourists, but the locals will be there.


    - Food. When cruising Alaska, I pretty much live on salmon and halibut - you can't get it any fresher. Around the cruise docks, it will likely be more expensive, but still fresher than you can get in the lower 48. Ask a real local (if you can find one) for suggestions. (I may get flamed for this, but I avoid king crab legs. Don't get me wrong, I love king crab, but the king crab season is November - January so any king crab you get will be frozen. I can get the same crab at home at Costco. The Dungeness however, should be fresh if you want crab.) 


    - Quirky? My son in law went snorkeling in Ketchikan a few years ago and recommends it.


    Hope this helps!


    1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:
    1 hour ago, logan25 said:

    Which recent instances aboard cruise ships?


    I remember Hurtigruten during the early days.  What am I forgetting?


    TUI (German line) had at least one recent outbreak. I think MSC also did.




    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 about disease spread, testing, treatment, etc. Plus we have highly effective vaccines which will certainly have a major factor moving forward. But the cruise lines are still waiting on guidance from the CDC on test cruises which supposedly are a gateway to starting back. Guidance on vaccines like "All crew members will be vaccinated" would be a start.


    I'd like to complement the Cruisehive article above for a factual presentation of theses cases. As the article points out, there will continue to be cases detected aboard ships, but the cruise lines and their medical personnel have the resources and processes in place to address these cases without shutting down the cruise. The CDC could learn a lot from the the processes in place in Europe.

  17. 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, but I thing this fits perfectly with the No/Low Frills Alternative title.

  18. 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 course, with the cruise season shut down, it may well be a good time to do a land trip. After my cruise was cancelled last year, I took advantage of really cheap airfares to fly to Anchorage and do a land trip instead to visit Seward and Girdwood where I lived decades ago. Yes, I had to be tested before I left and bring my negative results with me. Yes, you need to honor the state's health mandates, but Alaska is the best place in the world to practice social distancing! I had a great time! If the airfares remain cheap/reasonable, it will probably be a better value.

  19. 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 stragglers. There are lots of year round residents still around (coastal bald eagles, orcas, otters, etc.). Bears and moose may be particularly active as they bulk up for winter. One big benefit no one mentioned: no mosquitos!

  20. 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.

  21. 29 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

    They could make their own rules, as Hawaii does, requiring testing, or now even vaccinations, so that tourism can exist.

    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.

  22. 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 the halibut!

  23. 25 minutes ago, pc_load_letter said:

    I wonder if you could just stop in VA (for the night lets say) and not allow passengers on or off to comply with the PVSA?

    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 flagged ship with probably a lot of unintended consequences.

  • Create New...