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Gardyloo

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  1. Moonrise over Tierra del Fuego on Buenos Aires - Valparaiso cruise Cape Horn Portofino, Italy, on Mediterranean cruise Hubbard Glacier, Alaska On the equator, mid-Pacific Ocean, on a freighter cruise between Auckland and San Francisco If interested, here's a trip report (20 years old) on the freighter cruise. They're still quite similar. http://gardyloo.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Across-the-Pacific-on-a-Freighter.pdf
  2. Time to the airport from Pier 91 - around half an hour. Additional drive time from airport to Boeing plant (compared to from downtown) also around half an hour. So maybe an hour all in. If you can get away from the pier quickly, it should still be quite doable. It's all in the numbers.
  3. Drop-off charge? You bet, but shop carefully. You'll find quotes all over the map. The easiest (National/Alamo/Enterprise) is not necessarily the cheapest, nor even the quickest. Be sure to add the cost of getting to the airport from the cruise terminal (AM) or from downtown (PM) when doing the math, and remember you're dividing by two couples.
  4. Let's assume you can be gone from the pier by 9:30 (should be easily doable) and at the rental car office by 10. Drive time to Future of Flight/Boeing tour center - 40 minutes (could be less.) Wait time before plant tour, say 30 min. Tour, 90 min. Total elapsed time from car pickup, 160 min (say 2 1/2 hours) Lunch in Mukilteo, 10 minutes from Boeing plant, 1 hr. Drive to airport from Mukilteo, say 1 hour Gas up and car return, 20 min. Shuttle to terminal from rental car facility, 10 min. Total elapsed time from Boeing tour, 2 1/2 hours. So five hours all in, which means if you start at 10 you'd be back at the airport by 3. I'd definitely give the airport more than 1h 20m; the security lines on cruise days can be hellish. If you feel pressured, you could skip lunch in Mukilteo and just head back to the airport area after the Boeing tour. Maybe head down to Salty's at Redondo for a late lunch or decompression drinkies before heading back to the airport. Map, showing the various places: https://goo.gl/maps/57zHxuzme5KwNfji7 Mukilteo lighthouse Mukilteo lunch: https://www.ivars.com/locations/mukilteo-landing or https://diamondknot.com/brewery-and-alehouse Salty's: https://www.saltys.com/south-seattle/
  5. Here's a possible suggestion for a day with a car - Start with Fishermen's Terminal. This is the base of Seattle's and a big part of Alaska's fishing fleet, including some of the Bering Sea crabbers. There are a couple of terrific restaurants (my favorite is the Bay Cafe) where you could get a late breakfast or early lunch, then walk off the carbs along the piers and jetties past all the boats. Just up the road from Fishermen's Terminal are the Ballard locks. You can watch the boats transitioning from Lake Union (fresh) to Puget Sound (salt) and there's a cool underwater viewing room where you can watch salmon heading home to spawn (through the fish ladders.) From there, you could head up to the zoo; Seattle's is very good and easily visited. Leave the zoo and visit the Fremont Troll, then get some fresh air at Gas Works Park. If you still have time and energy, drive past the University campus and over the Montlake Bridge to the University of Washington arboretum, with it's fabulous Japanese park. Then maybe a beach break at Madison Park on the Lake Washington waterfront, then back to your accommodations. This is a terrific outing. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/AYsPcGPint81fFvy9
  6. More responses than you can count on the West Coast board - https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/315-west-coast-departures/
  7. National, Alamo and Enterprise (same company.) They'll shuttle you to their downtown location, in a parking structure across the street from Macy's. If you're dropping at the airport, do some price comparisons with other rental companies, even though it might require you to take a taxi or Uber from Pier 91 to their rental location. The all-in price (taxi plus car) might be cheaper than the Alamo/National/Enterprise vehicle.
  8. Gardyloo

    Inside Passage

    On routes to Vancouver they all transit the inside passage. Some mention it in their marketing materials, others don't. You'll see plenty. The "inside passage" is just a term for the sheltered waters that extend up the east side of Vancouver Island then between various islands and parts of the mainland from northern BC through southeast Alaska. Round trip cruises from Seattle travel on open ocean to the west of Vancouver Island, so when they refer to "inside passage" in their itineraries they're typically referring to the parts north of Vancouver Island. This what it looks like just north of Vancouver. That's Vancouver Island in the background; the picture is taken from the BC "Sunshine Coast" looking west.
  9. Going east from North America (over the Atlantic instead of the Pacific) also makes flight times shorter as you're typically assisted by tailwinds (which become headwinds going west.) Finnair (member of Oneworld, partner with American and British Airways) flies from New York to Singapore via Helsinki, with flight segments of roughly 8 hours and 11 hours respectively. (JFK-HEL-SIN is 9878 miles as it follows a more northerly route.) Finnair frequently offers good prices in business class on this route; usually around US$2900 from JFK, US$2500 from Toronto or Montreal (if you can get to Canada cheaply.) They also offer a free stopover in Finland in each direction; if you haven't been to Helsinki you'll probably find it to be a terrific city. This is also a case where having some sort of some multi-year "master plan" might be useful; see my thread on round-the-world travel - https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2664295-about-round-the-world-air-tickets/ - in this regard.
  10. With the alliance products you have to book in the same class of service. With some non-alliance agents such as Air Treks - https://www.airtreks.com/ - you might be able to mix and match, but I doubt it would save you very much money. One thing to emphasize (that I don't think I made very clear above) is that alliance RTW tickets can be changed at low cost. Date changes (same route, just a different date) are free, as are simple changes in carrier (e.g. switching from British Airways to Cathay Pacific on London - Hong Kong.) Changes in overall itinerary, or adding or subtracting stopovers, costs a flat fee of US$125 for any number of changes at once (plus any adjustment resulting from different departure or airport taxes, fuel surcharges etc.) Other products such as those issued by non-alliance entities can have much more restrictive change provisions.
  11. An Uber from the pier to the nearest Avis office ought to be $10 or so, and things might end up cheaper overall if Avis beats the Alamo/National/Enterprise rate. I'd also make sure the kiosks at the cruise terminals are even staffed after the summer season ends.
  12. I would take a town car or Uber/Lyft from the airport to the hotel. As your body clocks will still be on eastern time, I'd suggest hitting the Pike Place market as early in the morning as you can on Saturday. Go there for breakfast (places open at 6 - 8 AM) then walk around watching the merchants set up for the day. Visit the "original" Starbucks (it isn't) if you must, but plan to be gone from the market by 10:30 at the latest, after which the crowds will become horrific. If you want to visit the Space Needle and Chihuly, try to get them out of the way the same morning. You can walk from the Pike market to the monorail station at Westlake in around 5 minutes; the monorail will drop you more or less at the foot of the Space Needle (also the Chihuly exhibit.) Again, by late morning things will be getting crowded there, too, so be prepared for some delays. Now having said that, I'll just express a personal opinion as a resident. The Space Needle is extremely overpriced, and like many view points around the world, one downside is that you can't see the Space Needle when you're IN the Space Needle. Seattle is a city of hills and water bodies, and there are umpteen places where you can get fabulous views of the city, the mountains, bays and lakes... for free, and without having to brave the crowds all shoving their money at the ticket-takers. For the $70 or so that you'd pay for two tickets, you could ride around town in an Uber for quite some time, visiting other viewpoints, or places outside the downtown area that offer terrific sightseeing and a chance to see parts of our city that many visitors miss. Anyway, assuming you hit Seattle Center (Space Needle, Chihuly, MoPop museum) that morning, here's what I'd do for the afternoon: Call an Uber to pick you up at Seattle Center and have them take you to the ferry dock downtown. Board the West Seattle Water Taxi which will take you across Elliott Bay to Seacrest Park in West Seattle. Right on the dock is a very fun cafe/bar, Marination Ma Kai, featuring fun Hawaiian/Korean food (Spam musubi, loco moco, kalbi sliders, etc.) and excellent drinks in their outdoor patio. Put some carbs in your belly, then walk them off along the fabulous waterfront pedestrian/bike path that runs 2 miles from the dock around Duwamish Head to Alki Beach. (You can also rent bikes or kayaks next door to Marination.) You'll pass Scuba divers getting into their gear, watch passing freighters and ferries, and eventually pass the volleyball nets and kids playing in the sand, until you get to our own wee Statue of Liberty. Hopefully the Olympic mountains will be in view, too. There are numerous cafes, fish and chips stands, pubs etc. facing the beach. You can walk back to the water taxi dock, or there's a free shuttle bus (details on the water taxi website, above.) Then back downtown. If you're knackered by this point, go back to the hotel for a nap, then have dinner someplace downtown. If you still want to see some more things, then my suggestion would be to walk from the ferry dock through Pioneer Square to the International District, Seattle's Asian hub (not just Chinese, but Japanese, Korean SE Asian etc.) The target here is Uwajimaya, a fantastic pan-Asian grocery and department store. Play "name that vegetable" in the produce section, ogle one of the best fish markets in town, have a snack or a meal in the cool Asian food court (stalls with Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Hawaiian... food) and maybe buy some weird Japanese snacks for the cruise or the flights (or even some wine for your cabin.) Uwajimaya is part of Seattle's soul, and IMO is a "don't miss" place. From there you can walk a block to the International District light rail station (get off at Westlake for the Sheraton) or for around the same money, just Uber back to your hotel and go splat. Here's a (walking) map of this day, not counting the monorail and Seattle Center option - https://goo.gl/maps/xdL4tVtm6hVg87i3A Sunday morning (pre-cruise). If you're up early and didn't do the Space Needle etc. before, then you could do it now. Same idea on timing - earlier is better. Or, you could repeat the previous day - hit the Pike Place market for breakfast, buy some flowers for your cabin on the ship, then back to the hotel and off to Pier 91. Read the various threads about Pier 91 logistics; I wouldn't try to get there too early. Or, you could walk a few blocks from the Sheraton to the Top Pot Doughnuts "flagship" store, then walk off those carbs past the Amazon Spheres (aka "Bezos' balls") back to the hotel. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/JRDcd22RVzKDHMeu9 . Then it's north to Alaska. Return day: I would rent a car for the day. National, Enterprise and Alamo (same company) have kiosks at the cruise terminals; they will shuttle you (and bags if you have any) to their downtown office to pick up the vehicle. Or, an Uber from Pier 91 to any number of other car rental locations will be cheap (and the total might be less if the daily rate is cheap enough to cover the Uber cost.) In any event, I'd look at a plan for the day something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/jGY1MvU5UdpHHyvU8 This would take you to Fishermen's Terminal, home of Seattle's and much of the long-distance Alaska fishing fleets, including some of the big Bering Sea crabbers. Have breakfast at the Bay Cafe or Chinook's, both with terrific views of the moored fleet. Burn off some carbs by walking around the piers. (This might be a second breakfast if you've eaten on the boat before disembarking. Life is tough 😉 ) Then get in the car and drive across the Fremont bridge and visit the Fremont Troll. From there, head east along north Lake Union to the University of Washington, then head north along Lake Washington to Kenmore and Bothell at the top of the lake. (Note you can also use the WA 520 toll bridge across Lake Washington. The toll is collected electronically; the rental car company will just add it to your bill (around $4 tops.) The target is the cluster of wineries in Woodinville. The map shows Chateau Ste. Michelle, but there are numerous wineries nearby. (It's important to note that these are wineries, not vineyards. The grapes are grown in eastern Washington, on the other side of the Cascades, so it's not Napa.) From Woodinville, you'll travel east into the Snoqualmie Valley. Wind down the Novelty Hill Road to the valley floor, then navigate to Carnation Farms, the original home of Carnation milk. Then head south down WA 203 through the town of Carnation to Fall City (farm stands and nice scenery along the way) then follow WA 202 up to Snoqualmie Falls. See the falls (there's a trail down to the lower falls, quite spectacular) then, if you're peckish, head into "downtown" North Bend for a piece of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee at Twede's cafe, make famous in the Twin Peaks TV show. By now it's probably mid- to late afternoon. If time permits, hop on I-90 and WA 18 and head to downtown Tacoma. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass (free) is next to the Museum of Glass (not free) and both are terrific. From there, follow the coast north a few minutes to Salty's at Redondo, a waterfront restaurant and bar. Cool your heels, maybe watch the sun decline toward the Olympic mountains, then make your way north to the airport. Drop the car, shuttle to the terminal, bye-bye. This would be a full but far from grueling day; hopefully you'd have stored up plenty of oxygen for the forthcoming red-eye home. All just suggestions, of course. Should be the same, or maybe $5 more as it's a bit farther north.
  13. Welcome to CC! My suggestions given your ports of call (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria I believe) - Ketchikan - city bus ($2) to Totem Bight State Park for totem poles, Tlingit longhouse, rain forest walks. Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier (ship's tour or independent - available on shore) and/or Mt. Roberts tram + short hikes. Skagway - rent a car (Avis) and drive up into the Yukon. Stop at the Carcross Desert, Emerald Lake overlook, and the Robinson Roadhouse, an old ghost town that you'll probably have to yourselves (except for some angry ground squirrels.) Map - https://goo.gl/maps/5V89ASctuxqBPTw4A . Don't forget passports. Victoria - Walk around the Inner Harbour, visit the Royal BC Museum if they're open. Ignore the tours to Butchart Gardens unless you have a lot of money you want to get rid of. Totem Bight Mendenhall Glacier Carcross Desert Robinson Roadhouse Victoria Inner Harbour
  14. Here's an imaginary map showing an approximate route - https://goo.gl/maps/JMbF5PMpM53Sq1y87 You MUST add at least 20% (30% probably more realistic) to the time estimates for any parts that involve metropolitan areas like LA or SF, or which involve scenic or secondary (2-lane) roads. Some general notes... 1. "LA" is twice the size (in area) as Greater London. So where you start in LA makes a huge difference, because just getting to the edge of the metropolis can take hours. Imagine if you were driving from, say, Canary Wharf to Manchester, v. starting in Wembley. Now double the difference. And remember Google's estimates are "wheels turning," without stops for snapshots, nature breaks, fuel for cars or people, etc. 2. As stated, the queues for entry into Yosemite NP can be very long. And if you don't have accommodation in the valley booked long in advance (months, up to a year) you're likely to be out of luck. 3. There's so much to see along the coast that, while Yosemite is spectacular, with a short amount of time you might consider passing on Yosemite and staying on the coast instead. Google the places on this map - https://goo.gl/maps/TRBs6ih9obVkbuZi9 . Save Yosemite for some time when you can add some days to explore the gold rush country along California Hwy 49 (named for the 1849 gold rush and the "49ers") - a string of marvelous historic towns, surrounded by rushing rivers, vineyards etc., and close to stands of giant sequoias in the Sierra foothills. This is a stunning visit in the spring, when all the famous waterfalls in Yosemite are full of water (vs. trickles or even dry by September/October.)
  15. It's because Seattle hotels during cruise season can and do charge whatever the market will bear. He who hesitates is toast.
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