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Posts posted by Tricia724

  1. I've never been to Anan, but I have taken two fly-in bear viewing trips to Katmai and walked and sat along the streams watching brown bears fish. I've also gone bear watching during the polar bear migration. Those trips were my best excursions EVER. I have pictures of bears framed and hanging on my walls like they were family members. I don't know what it is about seeing bears in their natural environment that is so appealing to me, but it is a trip you don't forget. Obviously I'm not the most objective person here.


    We spent a bundle to see those bears, but that was our choice and one I would make again. Normally we spring for a nice balcony cabin on our regular cruises, but in Alaska, we book an inexpensive obstructed view cabin and spend the rest of our money on excursions.


    In the end only you can decide what is more important to you. I usually sit down with a pen and paper and list all my options and give each of them some thought and rank them according to my interest level and budget and time constraints. It usually becomes clear to me which direction to go. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  2. There are a lot of people who do not see Alaska as an adventure....they see it as "somewhere different to go." They don't want to tour around and see Denali and go bear watching. They just want to take a cruise for a week and have a good time. They'd really rather be in the Caribbean but someone told them they should try a trip to Alaska, so here they are. Of course, they are going with their favorite cruise line. At least they know what to expect on the ship. I've had this explained to me more than once.


    Most of my friends don't understand at all why we keep returning to Alaska. They are not interested in wildlife....the local deer are wild enough for them. They aren't even interested in our pictures when we return. Can you imagine someone who wouldn't want to see some nice moose pictures??? :D


    Life is short. Everyone should do what works for them. I'm glad there are so many choices.

  3. We have changed our approach to cabin selection on our Alaska cruises, too.


    Normally when we cruise, we want a balcony cabin with as much space as we can get, but when we go to Alaska, we're there for the land touring and the cruise is secondary. In fact, we think of it as transportation down the coast.


    I had an unpleasant cruise in a tiny inside cabin years ago and won't risk it again, but what works for us is booking early enough to get the least expensive obstructed view cabin with easy access to the promenade deck. These cabins at least let in some light and we are just steps away from the largest balcony on the ship.


    Don't get me wrong....if we could get a nice balcony cabin at a great rate, we'd grab it, but $1,000 extra isn't worth it to us for a cruise we've taken many times. That money will pay for our car rental or will cover several excursions or will cover a couple of extra days at Denali.


    Funny thing, traveling in the "cheap seats" doesn't make me feel cheap....it makes me feel like a good shopper.

  4. You have been on CC for almost 15 years. Not sure how long you have been reading the Alaska forum, but not once since I started reading it have I ever, ever read of someone posting about going to "the" north pole above the arctic circle. I would make a large bet with anyone who really doubts the OP's intentions :D


    Maybe that's because I'm currently planning my trip next year which will include trips to Nome and Coldfoot and I'm a little fixated on the northern north and that thought was in the front of my mind when I replied. Or maybe my trips to Antarctica and Churchill have deluded me into thinking that other people actually want to go to cold places, too. Or maybe I've been watching too many Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.


    You're right, I've been here a long time and have been on and off the Alaska boards for years reading, learning, and often being entertained. One thing I have learned after 15 years on Cruise Critic is to never assume I understand what people want to know. Half of the people don't even know what they want to know. And some of the people who think they know something don't always know it.


    So stay tuned for more inane comments. I've got hundreds of them.:D

  5. I'm wondering just exactly what you mean by wanting to visit the "North Pole." Do you mean you want to go north to the Artic Circle, or do you want to visit the small community of North Pole?


    If you're talking about the "North Pole" that is in the Fairbanks area, I fear you may be disappointed. On our first trip to Fairbanks in 2005, I couldn't wait to go to North Pole. I'm a Christmas fanatic and an ornament collector, and I thought I would find some unique Christmas decorations there. Didn't happen. We were there the first week in June, and it was unusually hot for Fairbanks. Imagine my surprise when we went to Santa Claus House in North Pole and found Santa walking around in his undershirt. Yep, a wife beater. Not a great memory. Not only that, but I didn't find anything there that I couldn't find at home. I did order a couple of "Letters from Santa" to be sent to youngsters in the family, but you can do that online without having to visit the store.


    If you have a rental car, like we did, it's not much of a trip and can satisfy your curiosity. Otherwise, I'm not sure it's worth too much time or expense. JMHO.

  6. ....Seems like they are trying to get back some of the OBC they gave with the recent promotions....Laura


    I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head!


    I have read post after post from cruisers who have buckets of shipboard credit, much of it from Celebrity, some from other sources. I think a lot of people look at "credit" differently than they do if they have to cough up the bucks. A lot of these upcharges for drink packages and specialty restaurants will be paid for with cabin credit by people who feel like they have free money and won't hesitate to spend it.


    For most of us, though, it really isn't "free." We have two cruises booked on Silhouette in July, and both include the 1-2-3 and some additional credit from our TA. My personal feeling is that we have just paid for the packages up front, because we could have done similar itineraries in similar accommodations on other lines for far less. For many reasons, we chose to sail Silhouette, and we are satisfied with that choice and the price we paid, but we have no delusions that the extras we are receiving are "free."


    Celebrity is experimenting with many pricing models right now to maximize profit. They have done a great job selling their passenger base on drink packages and specialty restaurants. Now they are tweaking prices to see just how far they can go before the bottom falls out. It's a business, so I can't fault them for trying to make money....but as a cruiser, I'm starting to get annoyed with all of the money grubbing. I've always felt their drinks and specialty restaurants were out of line pricewise, and it's getting worse.


    Bistro on 5 was a nice alternative to the chaotic buffet on embarkation day, but a couple of trips there on Eclipse were lackluster experiences in both food and service. Since I don't believe in rewarding bad behavior, I doubt we'll pay extra money for more of the same.

  7. This is a little off-topic, but I'm wondering ... are we allowed to privately request information about a TA from another cruisecritic member? I know we can't post this kind of stuff, but I don't currently have a TA and I like the sound of Steve's agent!


    Here are the rules:


    There shall be no third-party recommendation (whether positive or negative in tone) of travel agencies on any forums within Cruise Critic. General discussions regarding the TYPE of AGENCY to be used to purchase a cruise will be allowed, as long as no recommendations for any source of purchase are posted.


    Touting of your personal cruise agent or cruise line "personal cruise consultant" (or any other venue by which you purchase a cruise) is not allowed on our message boards. Postings that contain "tell them John sent you" will be removed without notice.


    This means you should not ask about someone's travel agent, nor should you respond in kind. Offering to email someone your travel agent's name or info is also not allowed, nor is asking members to email you for the information.


    It also means you cannot post links to travel agencies, no matter what the specific reason.


    Cruise Critic will remove violations of the "third-party recommendation" guideline without warning. Additional posts will result in permanent suspension of your posting privileges.

  8. For information and opinions on itineraries, you might want to hop on over to the Alaska Board under Ports of Call. There are a lot of knowledgeable posters there who will give you plenty of food for thought. I'm guessing you'll find that most of them prefer the north/southbound sailings out of Seward or Vancouver rather than Seattle for the scenery.


    I've done Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, and Tracy Arm at one time or another. My personal favorite is Hubbard Glacier....something about that big wall of blue that is very impressive. I enjoyed Tracy Arm more as an excursion in a small boat because you can get much closer.


    Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. A cruise to Alaska is a wonderful way to celebrate.

  9. I went onto the website yesterday to look at some shore excursions for our cruises. Like many of you, I also got the pop-up survey option to give them feedback on using their website.


    I thought....finally, I get a chance to tell them how frustrating it is to try to use this Mickey Mouse website.....so I clicked "yes".....I will take the survey. Immediately a blank screen came up that said something like: "Sorry, an error has occurred."


    I laughed out loud.

  10. For me, HAL's nightlife decline began when they replaced the live music in the Crow's Nest with canned music and DJs. We loved going up to the Crow's Nest after the late show for a drink and to enjoy some music, and when they had a lively combo, there seemed to be some activity.


    Once the live music became a DJ who played music no one over 25 ever heard before, let alone dance to, the attendance seemed to go south. I know we went south....back to our cabin. On our last HAL cruise, we went to the Crow's Nest for "Back to the 50's," and I'm telling you I lived through the 50's and never heard some of that music before. Same thing happened on "Country Music" night. Not sure what country they were talking about, but it wasn't anything we knew. People baled out in droves.


    Another problem on HAL is that all of their entertainment takes breaks at the same time. So people who leave the dining room or showroom often find there is no live entertainment anywhere. We have gone from the Explorers' Lounge to the Ocean Bar to the Crow's Nest only to find totally dead rooms. So it's either make a contribution to the casino, sit in an empty room by yourself and hope an entertainer will appear, or go to your cabin.

  11. Hmmm. I wonder whether the new point system for Galapagos is retroactive. We went in 2013 and did the 11-day cruisetour. For my $5,200, I received a whopping 30 points. We're getting closer to Elite Plus, too, so the extra points could make a difference down the road.


    I'll have to give Captain's Club a call one of these days. If anyone has checked lately, let me know how you made out.

  12. We sail HAL and Celebrity and enjoy both for different reasons. Both cruiselines do some things well, and depending upon individual needs or preferences, sometimes it's the small things that count the most.


    I prefer HAL for their Indonesian staff, room service...particularly breakfast...and their laundry service.


    I prefer Celebrity for the ambiance and layout of the ships. And most of all, I love blu.


    HAL gives us better itineraries; Celebrity gives us more perks.


    Celebrity definitely wins out with their smoking policy. It's my least favorite aspect of HAL. Usually it doesn't bother me, but depending on the demographic onboard, it can be annoying, especially since I spend time in the casino.


    Food and entertainment can be alternately good or mediocre on any ship or any cruise or any cruiseline. No one hits a home run every time, so we don't consider one bad experience a deal breaker. There are so many variables in cruising that each cruise is an adventure in itself. The fact that we keep coming back says that it works for us.

  13. Does the person who recommended that auto tips be removed know the effect this has on the staff? When auto-tips are removed, the supervisors assume that it's because someone on the staff has provided unsatisfactory service.


    Staff know immediately when tips have been removed. They receive a list showing who has pre-paid (all on Select Dining or those from traditional dining who chose that option), who is having the daily charge on their SeaPass, and who has removed the tips.


    Supervisors come down hard on servers where more than one of the passengers in their station take away the tips.


    Such bad advice, from someone who purports to be a TA would make me suspect of anything else he tells you.


    Exactly what I was about to say. For the people who think that by removing the auto tips and giving directly to deserving employees, you may, in fact, be hurting the good people rather than helping them.


    The cruiseline assumes that you are removing tips because you are unhappy and this onus automatically falls on the employees not providing proper service. Once you remove the tips, the employees are required to turn in any monies received from you to the tipping pool where they will still receive only their prorated amount. If you leave the auto tips in place, any additional money you give an employee is his/hers to keep.


    It's not the employees' fault that the company has disrespected/overcharged you. Removing tips will not hurt the cruiseline a whit, but it will hurt the people who have tried to make your journey pleasant.


    If by removing tips you are trying to make a statement....that will certainly happen. The only thing is it may not be the statement you were trying to make.

  14. I could only find one cruise in September that was for 9 days, so if you are on the September 24 cruise, there are lots of good Aqua cabins available. The A-2 cabin we had on Eclipse that we loved was 1529, and it is available. It is forward and under the acupuncture rooms or changing room of the spa which is closed at night and quiet during the day. We never heard anything.


    In the aft section there are 6 or 7 A-2 cabins available, including the cabin we have booked for our next two cruises, 1631. All of these aft A-2s have cabins above them.


    There are also many A-1s available, but most of them are under the pool deck. Go for the A-2, save $100, and you won't have to worry about pool chairs scraping across the deck.


    Happy Anniversary, and I hope you have a great cruise.

  15. We love the Lawn Club too - best steak in the ship - and were there on a chilly night on a Transatlantic. They had outside heaters and also provided plenty of warm blankets. That added to the atmosphere.



    Kinda sounds like fun. I think I'm wary because we were on a Princess ship in October and ate at their specialty grill (indoors), and it was so cold my teeth chattered. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I don't remember whether I liked the food or not, but I know I didn't like the cold air blowing on me. And it wasn't just us....most of the restaurant resembled a meat cooler.


    It's nice to know that Celebrity is prepared. If we spend $100, I want to relax and enjoy it.

  16. Does it get very windy up there? We'll be doing the Baltic on Silhouette this summer and evening temperatures may be cooler. I'm thinking I'd like to try dinner sometime, but not if it's really breezy.

  17. We are booked on b-t-b European cruises for the summer, and yesterday I was curious about how many cabins were available for these trips. One cruise is selling well, and the other has many cabins still available.


    I discovered on both trips, the inside cabins are almost completely sold out and are on guarantee basis. Most of the oceanview cabins are likewise not available and on one cruise, even the fully obstructed and partially obstructed cabins have sold well.


    At first I was surprised because I figured with the 123 AI more of the CC and above cabins would be gone, but with the higher cost of these cruises, expensive airfare to Europe, and the fact that it's summer and people are traveling with their families, it makes sense that the lower cost options are more attractive.


    Everybody should do what works for them. It's a good thing that there are lots of options. It would be a mess if we were all fighting for the same cabins.

  18. Something that I consider an advantage that others may not is that the Aqua cabins are limited to two people, so no 3rd and 4th occupants to add to the traffic flow and noise factor. There are never any guarantees that you won't have a noisy neighbor, but with fewer people living on your deck, the odds are better for a quiet cabin (unless you book one under the pool deck or gym -that's a different kind of problem.)

  19. The beauty of these boards is that, not only do you find specific information on your particular cruise, ship, or cruiseline, you learn a lot about the ins and outs of cruising. You learn the questions you should ask, who you should ask, and when you should ask. You get a good cross section of opinions that allow you to make informed decisions. You get the benefit of years and years of experience in an easy to read format. And it's all free. Thank you to everyone who participates.

  20. Call the Celebrity Special Needs Access Department. They deal with guests who have medical issues and may be able to help.


    They were able to supply us with distilled water a few years ago. There were a couple of gallons in the cabin when we arrived, and our cabin attendant told us to just ask him if we needed more.


    The telephone number is 1-866-592-7225.

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