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Everything posted by AKJonesy

  1. I agree. We are in our early 60s but I admit, I still felt the pressure. The hardest part was not really knowing all of the options even though there has been a significant amount of information shared by cruisers. That is why I went into great detail and hope that my information will help someone else. IMHO the CDC is against the cruise industry and the cruise industry needs to help out it's cruisers as we have been helping support them. I also forgot to mention we did not have insurance for our trip, and I will reconsider that for the future and that forced us to jump through hoops to get these tests done. Two days is cutting it too close IMO.
  2. On our recent HAL cruise to Alaska (September 2021) we did not have time to pre-purchase soda or wine. However, in Ketchikan, I wanted some Coca Cola. When I disembarked in Ketchikan I asked at security if I could bring on soda and the answer was yes, but only in cans. I found a vending machine after finding that the nearby stores only had plastic, which could not be brought on board. I know this does not answer your question entirely. But yes, soda in cans is allowed. However, I only purchased 2 cans. No problem.
  3. I will tell you my experience for testing under the new 2 day requirement. First of all, there was significant chatter from many cruisers regarding the updated testing requirements from 3 days to 2 days. What I read from other cruisers, the 3 day (vs 72 hours) seemed sufficient to obtain testing. When the 2 day requirement happened, you could read all of the concerns and people booking several appointments to assure results were received on time for embarkation. That is what we did. We booked our appointments Thursday for our Saturday embarkation at Walgreens. We booked our appointments through their on line portal. We received confirmation of our appointments and a reminder on the morning of. When we arrived for our appointments and waiting in the drive through, no one came to the window. No one answered calls in the pharmacy, so we ended up calling the store. It was told to us that pharmacists were not there and no one would be available until 4pm which was after our flight departure. The Walgreens test was the Rapid Test. We proceeded to the airport where we knew PCR testing was available and that was our second planned test anyway. However, due to the shortage of Rapid Tests and the raging Delta Variant, we were told there was no guarantee to get the results in 48 hours. But, this is what we had to work with. At this point, I started thinking of a 3rd option at SEATAC for the XPress testing and while waiting for our flight to SEATAC. I also made a call to HAL explaining what happened and was concerned that even booking two testing appointment would not assure our ability to receive a result by embarkation. At that time I was assured by a MANAGER at HAL, that due to our circumstances and the fact that we could prove we had appointments but no results, we would receive testing at Pier 91. After that call, and after 4pm, I contacted the pharmacist at Walgreens explaining that Walgreens put us in a bind and could they send an explanation as to why they did not conduct the test even though we had a confirmed test time and a confirmed reminder. The pharmacist happily did that and we received an email explaining what happened. With that I felt a little better. On Friday, I went back to SEATAC to check out XPress testing since we were staying at a SEATAC hotel, I simply walked back to the airport. Upon our Thursday arrival they were closed. I was able to talk to XPress testing about booking a time OR we could simply walk up. From what I witnessed at 8am, there was already about 10 people in line (combined) for testing. Since my husband was not with me, I booked a noon appointment Saturday figuring we could proceed to the Pier and have results before the ship departed. Fortunately, both of us received our negative PCR tests. Mine came first and my husbands came about 12 hours later. It was nerve wracking to go through this, but in the end it was worth it for us. I do believe there are testing options. You just have to be willing to get over the sticker price of that last option. Hope this helps.
  4. I hope your seas are calmer than ours last week. I know it was beautiful for embarkation for you in Seattle on Saturday. Hope it stays the same. Smooth sailing.
  5. THURSDAY, SEPT 23 This will be my last report. First, good luck to everyone today knowing all of you are testing. In hindsight, it was all worth it. We had a great time so far even though we missed Sitka. So I will revise a post regarding my fav restaurant which is Tamarind hands down. Pinnacle was good but food so rich and Tamarind lighter and perfect flavors. In terms of wifi off ship...in Juneau the library is steps from the ship. In ISP great wifi free on the bar right when you get off the long gangway. When you get off the ship in ISP walk down below the long gangway and check out the tidal pools if the tide is low. We saw a lot of critters. You won't have much time because there won't be light for long. I can't report from Ketchikan yet because I am waiting for a lull from the wind and rain. If I think of anything else before leaving the port, I'll get back on and report. Don't forget on Friday to get that health questionnaire done. Have a great time.
  6. Tuesday, Sept 21 ISP was awesome.. wish we had more time here.. Hoonah not available to walk in due to covid outbreak last few days.. NPS and Tlinket talks fantastic.. captain announced we will not goto Sitka due to even higher winds and waves from when we came up so we are staying in around the islands until morning when we have to pop out to Pacific for three hours then we will be heading up to Ketchikan. Food has been very good. Pinnacle lunch is a bargain at 15 each plus we get Mariner discount on top. I will say the Pinnacle food is extremely rich so go hungry. Tomorrow night we are going to Tamarind. Glacier Bay was beautiful and we got some peaks of sun. Already got our disembarkation paper work. Navigator is awesome with loads of info.
  7. Monday, Sept 20 JUNEAU Embarkation was pretty quick. Outside of the pier building I did notice scooter rentals...just an FYI. The bus picked us up from Coast Hotel and it was all a breeze. Once inside the pier we had our papers or device in hand for check in. We went thru 2 check points.. The second was to show and take photos even tho we uploaded to Navigator app. There is good wifi in the port building.. Our room was ready and very nice. We had nice weather at port then drizzle when sailing away. In Port Angeles, WA the pilot disembarked with the full moon behind. There was a lot of hustle and bustle on board as passengers re-acquainted themselves with being back on board. We headed to Pinnacle to make reservations and we could make them for all specialty dining. We did this on board to ensure we could apply to our large OBC. I am glad we did get reservations because they filled up fast so do this right away. It is clear HAL is squeezing every inch they can into upgrades. Cabanas are on one side of the Lido pool not allow a lot of space to walk. Private cabanas are also available on deck 10 above the pool. Would I consider it? Probably if we did not have a balcony room. Speaking of balcony, this is the first time we were in balcony room and they are smaller than the Oceanview which we normally had. But still, there is good space for everything. Get ready for upselling when you sit down to eat in Lido. When we reached the Pacific Ocean it became a little rough and got worse with 20' swells. I was on my back most of Sunday. Once we got back into the channels on Monday, it was smooth. We saw lots of marine life...mostly in the morning. In Juneau, a must see is the tram. If you go,walk up the trail about 100 feet or so to the overlook. Do this even if it is raining. Last stop was Red Dog Saloon and we were entertained with a guitarist there and a great vibe. The library has wifi.
  8. Saturday, Sept 18 Cruise Day finally! Thank you for all of the well wishes. Well, GREAT NEWS...hubby got his negative results. What a nail biter. In a few hours our transfer will pick us up. All of the paperwork triple checked. I printed out everything at the business center here at the hotel. It poured this morning but the sun is peaking out! Yup, this is our view but it is so quiet at night. Just in case the wifi is not good at port or on ship, I will let you all know how it goes from our first port.
  9. Friday, Sept 17 continued This morning was a bit drizzly so we had our breakfast and went to gym. Around noon we grabbed the tram and went to Pike's Market. It was nice to see the market still doing well but did not like seeing some of the characters on the street. We sampled some of the food, grabbed a flight of beer at Pike's Brewing and headed back to SeaTac area stopping for a light dinner at Spencer's. Hubby's PCR test still not here so hoping we wake up and find it there. We are scheduled for Seattle Express pick up around noon tomorrow. Round trip pp is $35 to Pier and back to SeaTac concluding cruise. Keeping my fingers crossed.
  10. Thursday, Sept 16 and Friday, Sept 17 - The testing is proving to be stressful. We had our 2 DAY Rapid Test in Anchorage prior to boarding flight to Seattle on Thursday. We showed at Walgreens for our morning appointments. No one came to the drive through. We called and called and then was finally told the pharmacist doesn't do these tests until 4pm. We have confirmed tests through the Walgreens portal specifically for that particular location. So, just because you book through the Walgreens portal doesn't necessarily mean that you are getting a test. At 5:52am Thursday, we received a confirmation of our tests. On to plan B for testing. We headed over to ANC airport where we knew Capstone was doing PCR testing. We had seen that there were no Rapid Tests available due to a nationwide shortage. We had our tests done at 11:00am Thursday. Off to wait for our flight. In the meantime, I call HAL somewhat in a panic as I frantically found now NO Rapid appointments in Anchorage or Seattle available. The woman on the phone, who was NOT familiar with the testing at the pier, did look up the policy, and sensing my panic, she got in touch with a manager. I was told that if I can prove that I attempted to get the first test and then did the second test but did not receive the test in time for embarkation, that I would get a test at the Pier. This is exceptional. So, I felt a bit of relief. Arriving at SeaTac, I popped down to Xpres Check for yet another covid test, but they were closed by the time we arrived. Just so you know, they are open 8-6. There are two lines; one for appointments and one for walk ups. So, once we got to our hotel in Seattle, I filled out the documentation on line and booked an appointment for Saturday morning...just in case. I popped over there this morning, since our hotel was a SeaTac and found the lines to be reasonable. I expect that between getting in line and getting the test results would probably be two hours. So, that is the plan for tomorrow if hubby's test does not come back. We will go first thing. At least we have the 3rd back up. Who would know this was going to be so stressful. We are staying at the Coast Hotel. I booked this hotel two months ago for a super price. The hotel is spotlessly clean, and the staff are friendly and helpful. I asked to have my documents all printed out and there are a couple of options by sending the docs to them or printing in the business center. The breakfast now comes in a paper bag, but we were not expecting breakfast. Although, it was nice to have coffee first thing. Last night we went out for Thai one block from hotel and the restaurant and service were exceptional. It was extremely pleasant to enjoy this meal in a place with no excuses. They were on top of it. Once we get the hubbys test results we will book SeattleExpress for our transfer on Saturday at 12:30pm. We board at 1:20. Keeping fingers crossed now that hubby gets results and we don't go over to SeaTac tomorrow morning for rapid test. It's a bit miserable here today with rain forecasted all day. We planned to go to Space Needle but don't know now. We'll take the Tram and Bus combo there which is super simple.
  11. I agree. MSM is all in for headlines and advertising dollars period...IMHO
  12. At the ANC airport at the Testing area, the sign said that due to a nationwide shortage, there are no quick tests available. They only offered the PCR test and said the results are USUALLY available in 24-48 hours.
  13. @LAFFNVEGAS Our cruise is Saturday. Would you mind commenting a bit more regarding Gala? I am starting to pack now and would like to know what people are wearing to the event. Also, you mentioned upsells for MDR dining. Were there upsells for the Gala nights? Thank you, and it has been great to read your posts.
  14. Some predictors of the Delta Variant say that mid October will be the peak in the US. Based upon that, we could see testing continue until after this variant has subsided. IMO.
  15. There are a couple of youtubers and cruise radio is on YT as well. So far, there are some delayed starts and some shortened itineraries on various cruise lines, but nothing yet reported on HAL that I've heard of (other than the two day testing change from 3 days). However, if I hear of our cruise being canceled, I would not be shocked considering the high number covid cases everywhere. Keeping fingers crossed.
  16. If you can get a aft stateroom, I would do it. There can be a little more motion back there if the seas are rough. There is some vibration usually when coming into a port when the ship has to maneuver getting into the dock, etc. Stay away from the higher deck under the pool. The deck chairs get dragged around in the evening and very early in the morning. Otherwise, I would go for it. I don't find walking to the elevators a problem, but I have no mobility issues.
  17. You are absolutely right. This whole testing thing is not easy at all. Another issue that many people have said is that they have an appointment but then it's canceled because they don't have enough tests. We are going to try and nab a morning appt. in Anchorage at Walgreens three days before vs worrying about the 72 hours (unless CDC then HAL changes the testing time) just so that we can try to avoid any issue of running out of tests. Then, I think we will try and pop over to ANC since we're going to be in Anchorage anyway and talk to them about testing. If we can do both; we will. Out here in Wasilla, they have actually been closing testing at Capstone because so many people are getting testing. I'm assuming this is due to DV and the high number of infections now present in the state. Who knows what will happen in a few weeks? We'll know what we know when we know it! 🙂 Thanks for your information.
  18. I use two different reputable online agencies and have always beat the HAL price. I also notice that on many (not all) of the cruises the closer to the cruise date, the better fares have been in particular categories. On top of that, a good bargain is often times the obstructed H and HH categories which you can generally find in good places on the ships and not where the noise areas are. We are more interested in being on the Promenade deck anyway so we don't mind the obstructed view and it does bring in a lot of natural light to the room.
  19. I am wondering if we are going to see some changes w the Delta Var raging. I see they closed the Santa Barbara port to cruise ships in CA. I also see that Alaska's Covid numbers going up and Juneau and Sitka are back to 50% plus masks indoors. Now we also see the EU removed the US from it's safe list. Wish now I would've been on that first cruise to Alaska. Still hoping it goes in a few weeks, but who knows.
  20. Have you checked how the testing works at FAI? That is, what kinds of tests available, what cost, and how quick for results? I'll be departing from ANC to SEA to start my cruise. Just curious because I am hoping that I can do the Walgreens test in ANC 3 days before, but like everyone, am looking for that backup.
  21. Log out and back in. I just accessed the roll calls and they are working. Clear cache on your device may help also.
  22. Hmmm and someone said this thread wasn't necessary. I'm sorry. I am just being very naughty today. 😈 Thanks everyone for the great information and MANY of us will find this extremely helpful for our upcoming cruises.
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