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Northern Aurora

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  1. Since our OP is seemingly not interested in a suite I would suggest the aft Aqua Class stateroom number 1140. Great oversized balcony which is partially covered. Rear elevators make it so convenient to head down to lower decks. The Ocean View cafe is one deck below so very convenient for a bite to eat. Sunset Bar located just below, so again very convenient for a beverage.
  2. Prior to this recent development of Ward Cove all of the cruise ships docked parallel to the to the piers in downtown Ketchikan. One of the developers of this new Ward Cove facility is the Fairbanks family who owns the Riverboat Discovery and El Dorado Gold Camp. I would not be surprised if the WC dock will eventually include an extensive gift store or stores, dining venues and "experiences." The Riverboat Discovery facility includes a -40F chamber, and the fact that Ketchikan doesn't reach -40F may not stop them from building another one.
  3. As someone who lives about a two hour drive north of the entrance of DNP I've always thought that folks who don't go into the park as far as Eielson Visitor's Center cheat themselves. This closure introduces the question as to whether it is worth visiting Denali until the road opens the entire length, or at least to Eielson. So far there have been no local rumors about the plans for the backcountry lodges located in Kantishna. It is my understanding that they closed early last August when the road was closed at Pretty Rocks. There is a small air strip in Kantishna so guests could conceivably be flown in.
  4. I also think using a dining package for Sushi on 5 is not the best utilization of the package. We often dine at Sushi on 5 for lunch on sea days, and the cost for two (not each) is generally $25 to $28. We have the premium beverage package so any alcohol beverage is not reflected in that price.
  5. Both the Anchorage Daily News and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner are now reporting that the Denali Park Road will remain closed past mile 43 for the 2022 visitor season. Apparently there was a NPS announcement yesterday.
  6. The articles I have read indicate that the expectation is that NCL will indeed use the new Ward Cove facility in Ketchikan in 2022. At least one NCL sailing this summer docked there even though the facility wasn't totally finished. There were still some "finishing touches" to be completed. Since this facility is so new few folks have experienced it and can provide first hand reports.
  7. During the pre-covid era I think, if my memory is correct, that Celebrity did offer bingo, although we never participated. Is my memory wrong? Or possibly the ships are sailing at such a low passenger count they don't think they would have enough interest?
  8. We were on the Millennium in September on B2B cruises. We were in the same Suite and received two nice tote bags, plus two of the cheap ones.
  9. Oh dear. How much research have you done? Please check the thread at the top of this index page titled "2019 resources for planning a visit to Alaska." This lists websites all over Alaska which are helpful in planning a trip to our state. Virtually all of the local visitor and convention bureaus (ie "Explore Anchorage," "Explore Fairbanks," and so forth) have visitor guides to download. Between Whittier the attractions which come to my mind include the Indian Valley Mine (old gold mine), Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage Glacier cruise and the Beigich Boggs Visitor Center associated with Portage Glacier. And of course there is the Chugach State Park trail system. Others will chime in with more ideas. And Whittier itself can be interesting with day excursions on the water. Google the community for their interesting WW II history.
  10. In August we applied for each leg of a September B2B. On one leg the e-mail notice that the OBC had been applied to the reservation was received very quickly, but on the other leg we had to re-submit. Folks have been reporting a variety of experiences.
  11. There are so many options in the Anchorage area. I wonder if our OP has looked at the thread at the top of this forum index page titled something along the line of "2019 resources..." It lists websites for such entities as Explore Anchorage. Great number of ideas. As not to try to digress too much -- but our longest day in the air was in 2016 when we flew from Singapore to Dubai (seven hours), five hours on the ground in Dubai (I took a shower in the Air Emirates business class lounge facilities) followed by fourteen hours non-stop to Seattle. We stayed in Seattle for several days before flying on to Fairbanks.
  12. I would not assume that the Alyeska Resort has a shuttle from that little RR stop (really isn't a station) to the resort. The hospitality industry in Alaska was hard hit last summer due to the few number of J1 Visa workers. Instead of the normal amount of approximately two thousand J1 Visa employees the state had around two hundred. A drop from 2000 to 200. If the OP really wants to try to depart the railroad at that little stop they need to confirm directly the resort that a shuttle will exist next summer and will pick them up at that location. While we had more tourists in this state last summer than many expected, it still was a very rough season for a number of small businesses. If the OP considers the shuttle mentioned in post #18 they need to confirm with the company they still exist. And one final comment -- Girdwood is a place where most folks have their own vehicles and many of the visitors have rentals. The OP should also not make the assumption that Uber or Lyft will be available next summer in that location.
  13. We boarded the Millennium on September 17th, and the personnel who checked us in wanted to see both sides of the Covid-19 vaccine card.
  14. I've actually stayed at the Alyeska Resort. My memory is that rail road stop isn't anywhere near the resort. If our OP wants to stay at Alyeska, which indeed is quite nice, they need to reach out to the resort regarding transfer or shuttle services.
  15. We've done a series of South American itineraries on the Infinity and also on the Eclipse. I feel that the Infinity, the smaller ship, is a better fit for some of the South American ports. On both of those B2B2Bs Celebrity had speakers who presented programs on South America, often focusing on natural history. And while I am not into serious dancing it seems to me that there were Tango classes. Others will chime in with more information.
  16. Jim: I am also following along. When we boarded the Millennium on September 17th for our B2B that was the first time we had been on her since we were on that famous Vancouver to Yokohama TP followed by the cruise around Japan. For those who don't realize what I am referring to -- the itinerary was impacted not by one typhoon but by two. We met Jim and Iain on those cruises. In any event, it was stunning to see the changes to the ship. Some areas are very familiar, others different. I had to laugh at the photo of the new Alaska Air water containers. They made that change during the pandemic. Wine is now served in little cans instead of opening bottles and pouring by the glass. When we flew down to Seattle we were already seated in our first class seats as the main cabin was loading. A little girl asked her mom why everyone was drinking milk. They certainly look like school milk cartons. And our black seapass cards also weren't outside out door when we boarded. Actually no seapass cards. Had to retrieve them from the Retreat Lounge. Gerry
  17. Just a recommendation for a lovely mocktail -- the lovely sparkling minted lemonade. No alcohol, festive with bruised mint and very tasty on a hot weather itinerary.
  18. I've stayed at the Captain Cook but it has been years. But I have been in the restaurants and lobby on a frequent basis as it has a restaurant we like. The Captain Cook decor seems to be very 'heavy" to me and old fashioned. We've also stayed at the downtown Hilton and Marriott. And years ago I had to stay at the Anchorage Westmark when on business. The downtown hotel I really liked was a small boutique hotel then called the Voyager Inn. Its long time owner retired and sold the property, which went through several owners before Hickel Investments (ie, the Captain Cook) purchased it. We last stayed at the old Voyager in 2016 (owned at time by the Captain Cook) when we flew down to Anchorage for an Opera Anchorage performance. At that time it was still lovely, and since it was owned by the Captain Cook you could use the Captain Cook fitness facilities. Small hallways, but very large rooms. I checked the Trip Advisor reviews for both the Captain Cook and the old Voyager, and it appears to me that the old Voyager wasn't open this past summer. And some reviewers had booking issues with the Captain Cook. Alaska actually had more independent tourists this past summer than many business anticipated, and with problems obtaining J1 Visa workers there was a serious labor shortage in the hospitality industry. While we had been through Anchorage stopping there when we drive to Seward to Homer, we hadn't actually stayed downtown since we flew down for that 2016 three night trip. Anchorage has a serious issue with a large homeless population and the amount of pan handling is on the same level as San Francisco or Seattle. There is actually a patrol which tries to "sweep" the homeless out in the mornings. And their municipal assembly is trying to develop some plans for more shelter spaces. For those who decide to stay downtown just be prepared.
  19. Initially Celebrity had a test requirement for a negative covid-19 test taken 72 hours before embarkation. While we may live in the second largest community in Alaska there were only two testing sites which offered tests accepted by Celebrity and thought they could get us results before we flew out. At one facility the tests were $335 per person and the costs at the other site were $209 per person. When Celebrity changed their testing requirements to 48 hours before embarkation I knew we had an issue as there was no way we were willing to board a plane and try to find a testing site in Seattle. We totally rearranged our plans for our Alaska B2B cruises, and I ordered a six pack of the Abbott BinaxNow Covid-19 Ag Card tests from the company eMed. These proctored tests were easy to do, and at a cost of $150 plus the $37 FedEx shipping were a bargain compared to what we could find locally. I will be closely following the Canadian test requirements in the upcoming months, as I expect the situation will be fluid.
  20. We are in a similar situation. We are booked on a Celebrity Vancouver to Honolulu and then back to Vancouver B2B. Both my husband and I have been to Vancouver a number of times both on business and vacation, so would be satisfied to fly in the day before the cruise. I will not be surprised if we need to provide negative covid-19 test results to enter Canada. We just did a B2B on Celebrity, and their policy is to require a negative test result 48 hours before boarding, which we were able to satisfy with a proctored telehealth test. There were a number of Canadian passengers on both legs, and Celebrity provided, at Celebrity's expense, tests to allow them to easily re-enter their own country. It certainly will be interesting to follow how the cruise lines are going to handle testing protocols. I am also going to be following the CC forum for Canadians for their insight.
  21. One of our federal senators, Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced the bill allowing the temporary waiver to allow RT cruises out of Seattle without the prior required stop in Canada. The remaining members of our congressional delegation supported it, and it passed. This was the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act. Senator Murkowski has subsequently introduced a bill which, as I understand the reporting, would enact a more permanent waiver of the required stop in Canada. There has been no current media reporting of the status of that bill. Personally I was surprised that Alaska Tourism Recover Act passed and my crystal ball doesn't provide any insight into the more recent bill.
  22. We were on the September 17th and 24th cruises. I hope "cruise kitty" doesn't mind if I offer a few random comments of my own. We were in the same suite for both legs. We have been in suites on all of the M-class ships, and Luminae looked "normal" to us. We had been told that the suites were essentially totally booked, and the Luminae was as busy as one would expect in normal times. We had not been on the Millennium since the fall of 2018 when we did a trans-Pacific to Japan followed by a cruise around Japan. These were those two cruises which were impacted not by one but by two typhoons. While the Luminae decor is unchanged, the changes in many parts of the ship are dramatic and the ship looks great. The suite we were in was one we booked on the Millennium in 2017, and the changes were lovely. When you see the current look of the Millennium it is hard to believe that she is the oldest Celebrity ship in operation. Looks great. At 1:45 PM on September 18th Captain Ioannis addressed the ship. Someone reported covid-like symptoms and did indeed test positive. They were isolated. The next day, as we left Ketchikan, he again addressed the ship and informed us that the positive passenger and their traveling party were flying home at Celebrity's expense. In reading accounts from passengers on ships with positive covid cases it is clear that Celebrity is being pro-active informing the other passengers. Definitely prevents rumors from running rampant. It also seemed to me that more passengers on that first leg began wearing masks while onboard after that announcement. When we were in ISP on the first leg all of the restaurants were closed. Another passenger reported that she asked one of the shop employees, and was told it was due to the covid situation. They were open on what was our second leg (September 24th sailing). We didn't walk to the ISP compound entrance, but closing Hoonah to visitors doesn't surprise me. As covid cases rise a number of villages enter total lock down to folks not part of the community to deal with the pandemic.
  23. I again called (from Alaska) the Zenith shoreside concierge line this afternoon. Wait time was less than five minutes.
  24. We are generally one of the final few to depart as we rarely fly home on a disembarkation day. I never remember being asked to leave at 8:30 or so. Asking the remaining passengers to leave around 9:15 to 9:30 AM has been standard practice, but there may be someone who remembers a different experience or there was some very odd situation.
  25. While it may vary depending on the disembarkation port the latest a suite passenger could disembark on the Millennium on October 1st was 9:30 AM. We waited as long as we could and I think were the last suite passengers to disembark. Our luggage looked very lonely with their red Zenith/Suite tags.
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