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About Middleager

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  1. We had used our Canadian CC's at many shops in Cairns and Sydney, no problem. As for taking train in Sydney, if you don't have opal card, you can use a CC that has Wave technology, and most CC's these days would have that. We took the train 2 nights ago, to the Circular Quay station. At the entry station turnstile we waved a CC, and at the Circular Quay station exit turnstile we waved the same CC. It automatically calculates your charge. So, if you don't have opal card, no problem to just use a CC. But we'll probably use uber ourselves. This morning I checked the price of uber at a bit after 10am (forgot to check earlier) and it would've been AUD$33 from Marriott hotel (by Circular Quay) to airport. I don't know what the cost would be at say 8am, morning rush hour time. The big difference is the uber car comes right by the OPT. You just come out of the terminal and the road is right there, so you don't need to lug the luggages to the Circular Quay station. This morning while pushing our wheeled luggages, several times a wheel would get stuck in the holes of the brick road. For my wife and I, taking the train would be AUD$39. Even if uber is a few dollars more, we'd still take uber for the convenience.
  2. I forgot if NCL does this. On Carnival ships, you can go to the casino and they'll punch a hole and give you a free lanyard to clip the card.
  3. Yap. That's why we planned to take the train right in the beginning.
  4. It's a much longer driver from Whittlier to Denali. It's only 2 more hr from Denali to Fairbanks. Fairbanks is not about North Pole/Santa, that is just something for 45 min. or 1 hr if people want to add that on. There is much more to Fairbanks than the short list I provided. The drive between Denali to Fairbanks is also much more scenic than before Denali. Also in Denali, as others have pointed out, there's no need to take bus tours. You can take the bus yourself. Parts are free (including going to Dog Kennel and dog sledding demo) and parts for a charge but well worth it.
  5. We took the Major Marine 7.5hr Kenai Fjord cruise, also from Seward. They picked us up from cruise terminal to their office. We left our luggages with them and they checked into the train for us. We saw many humpback whales and other wild life, and went really close to two tidewater glaciers. The salmon and prime rib buffet was really tasty. It wasn't cheap but we used one Toursaver book coupon to save $50/p for the 4 of us (yes, $200 total saving) There was a Park Ranger on board, who explained many things to us. It was great to have such a resource onboard, to ask questions and learn a lot.
  6. After your Vancouver to Anchorage cruise (you mean to Seward cruise, then you'll get to Anchorage?), won't you be flying out of Anchorage rather than Seward? It's a good idea to rent a car. After Denali, you can drive to Fairbanks. There are many things you can do at Fairbanks: * Morris Thompson Cultural Center. Lots to see, including films and sometime cultural performances. Take a pic at the Antler's Arch outside. * Drive 8 mi. north to see a section of the Alaska Pipeline. * Drive 15 minutes east to North Pole. Mail a postcard from North Pole. Can do that at the Santa Claus House (where post cards to Santa, mailed from US, is processed) * University of Alaska Fairbanks. On Wed., there's a free tour of the Geophysics Institute. Or museum of the north. * Chenai river cruise, or just stroll round riverside * Pioneer Park and others
  7. In Seward, after disembarking NCL Jewel in the morning, we took the Marine Major 7.5hr Kenai cruise. We went to two tidewater glacier up close. Also saw many humpback whales breeching. We went mainly for the glaciers and scenery, and was really thinking about the wild life, but it was a pleasant surprise to see so many whales. (We also had the Toursaver book, so booked 4 of us at $50/p off)
  8. We have a Toursaver coupon for buy-1-get-1 for Mt. Roberts, and was thinking to use it. The tram does not go up very high. We also saw it surrounded by cloud. Since we cannot see it up there, we decided not to go up there as we know we won't be able to see down.
  9. That's exactly the way we did it, from the same hotel. There was NO congestion walking through main doors of Canada Place. No waiting at the elevator. The elevator has clear button for the Cruise level. Of course we didn't use the ramp. It's NOT good, with luggages. With the downward slope of the long ramp, you'd need to constantly exert force to hold on the luggages with wheels so they don't run away from you. The ramp surface is not smooth but has a lot of indentation (for traffic to not slip) so it's not an easy smooth walk down. The ramp is also outside and if it's hot, you'll be sweating lots by the time you get down the ramp. Walking inside Canada Place, on level smooth floor, with AC, and elevator (still with AC), no congestion, no need to exert force to prevent run away luggages, is a no brainer. But if someone wants to do it the much hard way, and possibly needing to deal with traffic hazard (it's a car ramp, not a walkway) sure they can do that.
  10. After disembarkation in Seward, we took the 6pm train from Seward to Anchorage 10:15pm. It was scenic. The 1st class seats are at the front of the train, sitting on the 2nd level with domed/open glass, and eating at the 1st level. We bought the economy seats. There is also a domed section on the 2nd level, for people to go sit there, supposed to be 20-min max, but two ladies sat at the front from beginning to end. We moved to the last car as there was lots of seats. Can take pics from the railing at the back,and get good pics of the train winding around some good scenery (can't get that type of pics in the 1st class seats)
  11. We just came back from a Vancouver-Seward cruise, and 3 days in Anchorage, Denali, Fairbanks, and flew out of Anchorage. The train ride from Seward to Anchorage is scenic. From Anchorage we rented an SUV (Alaska 4x4 rental delivered to Anchorage train depot, plus we got 1-day discount with Toursaver coupon), and drove to Denali/Fairbanks and back. We took one day driving Anchorage to Denali NP, we went to the Dog Kennel and saw Dogsledding demo, drove to the end of where car is allowed, and took a short trail. Then to Fairbanks that night. It didn't get dark, even at midnight at Fairbanks (July 17). At Fairbanks it was convenient to have a car. We went to Morris Thompson Cultural Center, watched films, toured the cultural/history exhibits, felt furs, etc. Took pics at the Antler's arch. Then went to North Pole, mailed post cards from Santa Claus House. To U Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysics Institute for free onsight tour (really interesting). Drove to see the Alaska Pipeline (8 mil north of Fairbanks), then to the Carlson to see the Eskimo Olympics. We then toured Pioneer Park, took pics in front of an old steamship, then at the train museum, etc. That was during the day before we drove back to Anchorage (and stopped at several view points trying to see Mt. Denali and only really saw it once). Without driving ourselves, we couldn't have seen all these. Last day at Anchorage, we toured downtown, saw more films at the Federal Building/visitor center. Then went to Earthquake Park, then the pound just north of the airport, had good views of the float planes arriving and taking off (it's the world's busiest floatplane airport). Did these before returning the car and flew out of Anchorage. The train ride between Anchorage - Denali -Fairbanks would not be too scenic. I also took the train in the Canadian Rockies before, what a big mistake. After that experience (train in Rockies), we always drove in the Rockies, get to stop at many places, hike and see things at your own pace.
  12. Another vote for the Chilkoot 7.5hr bus/train combo to Yukon, Emerald Lake, etc. Took the bus on the way up, sit on the right, then train on the way back (and sit on the right).
  13. We stayed at the Marriott hotel and walked with our luggage to Canada Place, just 10 days ago. Don't go to the ramp at the right side. You can walk in the big front door, take the elevator at the right, down to CS (Cruise) level, then go drop off your luggage for your cruise. After that, there're people directing you to security and check-in for your cruise.
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