Bellingham, WA --> Pier 91: does this sound reasonable?

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#1
Bellingham, WA
175 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
My first ever cruise is coming up: Monday, September 11 -- HAL Amsterdam to Alaska. My original plan was to drive to Seattle on Sunday, stay with a friend, and head to the ship Monday via taxi/Lyft/whatever. Unfortunately, I screwed up my knee a few weeks ago -- I'm off crutches and walking is OK (slow) but driving is not possible.

So ... on to plan B: I've checked the available options, and the best appears to be Amtrak from Bellingham to King Street Station. It will arrive there at 10:55am if there are no delays. My cruise boarding time is 12:30pm, but my PCC said I could arrive as early as 11:30 with no problem. I have priority boarding, if that makes any difference, and I've also made arrangements for wheelchair assistance for boarding (I'll be fine once I'm on the ship as long as I can avoid stairs).

Here's what I see as the timeline:
-- Arrive King Street Station around 11:00am
-- Gather luggage and call Uber/Lyft or taxi (or whatever) -- pickup probably around 11:45 or so
-- Arrive at Pier 91 around 12 noon

I've checked the Port of Seattle schedule, and the Amsterdam is the only ship scheduled for Pier 91 that day. It arrives from the previous Alaska cruise at 7:00am, and will be unloading passengers. But there are no other ships to contend with.

The biggest risk I see is the possibility of a train delay. I have to be onboard by 3:00pm, so I think I have enough leeway in case of a problem.

Soooo .... does this sound reasonable? Any downside I'm missing? (and yes, I tend to overthink things sometimes -- )

Lana in Bellingham
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#2
1,981 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Completely reasonable and I think you'll be to the pier even faster than you expect.

The step up onto the train is no joke, but there are lifts at certain coach positions. Let the station agent know when you check in.
#3
Fl
938 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Where is the train that your catching in Bellingham coming from? We took the Empire Builder out of Chicago two weeks ago and arrived at King Street station 4 hours late. If there was anyone on our train attempting to make a cruise that they, they would not have made it. We built in two days as a safety factor.

Don
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#4
nw washington
300 Posts
Joined May 2014
Hi, I live in Bellingham as well and dh and I have used Amtrak several times over the years for cruising and have never had an issue, nice way to not deal with Seattle traffic/parking. You will probably be on board by noon, enjoy your cruise!

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#5
YVR & PDX
3,831 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Unlike most all other Amtrak services, southbound morning train has zero dependencies on any other service and it's a very short route for Amtrak. Starts in Vancouver BC, and all engines & rolling stock have been sitting overnight. Even an egregious delay on the northbound train the night before does not impact the southbound morning service. This is an even lower-risk proposition than the morning train northbound, which literally hundreds of pax use almost every cruise day in Vancouver since there's an hour extra padding in the schedule.

I'd have zero hesitation with this plan as a very safe Day Of method - although personally I'd still be inclined to do Day Before with overnight at that buddies house OP especially since there would be no extra cost involved other than host(ess) gift and possibly higher cab fare depending where your friend's place is...
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#6
Bellingham, WA
175 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Thanks, everyone! I just needed a sanity check, and you provided one. Really, my major concern is the history of land/rock slides around Edmonds, and those are completely unpredictable. If the worst happened, getting a cab/uber/Lyft from there wouldn't be the end of the world.

Decoy -- I hear on the Empire Builder. I've taken it at least 6 times to visit family in the Midwest, and it was NEVER on time. The worst was 8.5 hrs late getting into Chicago one year. Still, I love traveling by train.

2.5 weeks! :-)



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#8
YVR & PDX
3,831 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
^Agree, it's not the season for it. Also, after the extensive trackwork over the last few years, incidence of landslides has dropped significantly even in Spring when it's most likely.
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#9
Bellingham WA
598 Posts
Joined May 2013
I would not and have not hesitated taking the train from B'ham to Seattle day of. I have also used Bolt Bus from Cordata station. It would be easier to get a cab or Uber/Lyft from train station.

Enjoy your cruise and Alaska.
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#10
Bellingham, WA
175 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Originally posted by Robinsoncruiseso
I would not and have not hesitated taking the train from B'ham to Seattle day of. I have also used Bolt Bus from Cordata station. It would be easier to get a cab or Uber/Lyft from train station.

Enjoy your cruise and Alaska.
Thanks! I looked at Bolt Bus, but the scheduling seemed a bit wonky. Also, I'm more familiar with King Street Station, and, as you mentioned, the cab situation is easier from there. I live less than a mile from the Cordata station, though -- so I'll definitely keep Bolt in mind for another trip southward.

Lana in Bellingham
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#11
Whidbey Island, WA
837 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Take an airport bus from Bellingham to SEA-TAC then a Princess Transfer fom airport to pier. Minimizes the number of times you change modes of travel and have to schlep your luggage.

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#12
1,674 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
you could take Bellair charters to downtown then cab to cruise. Perhaps about the same but another option
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#13
Bellingham, WA
175 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Originally posted by WVBill
Take an airport bus from Bellingham to SEA-TAC then a Princess Transfer fom airport to pier. Minimizes the number of times you change modes of travel and have to schlep your luggage.

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Would Princess Transfer be operating on a day when there are no Princess cruises out of Pier 91? And would they be willing to transport a Holland America customer? That might be an option in the future.
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#14
YVR & PDX
3,831 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by ArtsyCraftsy
Would Princess Transfer be operating on a day when there are no Princess cruises out of Pier 91? And would they be willing to transport a Holland America customer? That might be an option in the future.
No, Princess transfers only happen on Princess cruise days (but I'm sure the poster meant 'an appropriate transfer for your particular cruiseline'). Personally though there's zero chance I'd ever add on the extra travel from downtown to and from Seatac when time was an issue, it seems an unnecessary risk and wouldn't even save any money.
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#15
WA state
2,897 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Originally posted by ArtsyCraftsy
So ... on to plan B: I've checked the available options, and the best appears to be Amtrak from Bellingham to King Street Station. It will arrive there at 10:55am if there are no delays. My cruise boarding time is 12:30pm, but my PCC said I could arrive as early as 11:30 with no problem. I have priority boarding, if that makes any difference, and I've also made arrangements for wheelchair assistance for boarding (I'll be fine once I'm on the ship as long as I can avoid stairs).

I've checked the Port of Seattle schedule, and the Amsterdam is the only ship scheduled for Pier 91 that day.
Yes, the Amsterdam is the only ship at Pier 91 on Monday so it won't be very crowded at all. Regardless of what your documentation says, you don't have to wait till 12:30 to board. The times given on your boarding pass are suggested only. You could board as early as 10:30am or so as the Amsterdam is a relatively small ship and it will not take long for all the passengers to disembark. I was going to say that if you can get to the King Street Station earlier than the 10:55 arrival you mentioned, I would do so as that would let you get to the pier earlier but it appears that is the earliest Amtrak arrival so I guess that's the only choice. Anyway, when you get to the pier, just let one of the people working at the pier know that you need a wheelchair and they'll get someone to bring one to you. The wheelchair pushers will all be over under the covered walkway between where the buses are located and where the taxis are located. Just to let you know, the people at the pier who handle the wheelchairs do not know about any prior arrangements that people often believe they have made for wheelchairs. That is not a problem however as there are pushers and chairs at the pier that will get you upstairs to check-in and then crew from the ship will take you from check-in onto the ship.

Hopefully, by the time your departure day rolls around, all this junk in the air will be gone from the rain we're supposed to get between now and Monday and it will be a beautiful day on which to start a cruise!

Hope you have a great cruise!

Tom
#16
Bellingham, WA
175 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Originally posted by Pierlesscruisers
... Yes, the Amsterdam is the only ship at Pier 91 on Monday so it won't be very crowded at all. Regardless of what your documentation says, you don't have to wait till 12:30 to board. The times given on your boarding pass are suggested only. You could board as early as 10:30am or so as the Amsterdam is a relatively small ship and it will not take long for all the passengers to disembark. I was going to say that if you can get to the King Street Station earlier than the 10:55 arrival you mentioned, I would do so as that would let you get to the pier earlier but it appears that is the earliest Amtrak arrival so I guess that's the only choice. Anyway, when you get to the pier, just let one of the people working at the pier know that you need a wheelchair and they'll get someone to bring one to you. The wheelchair pushers will all be over under the covered walkway between where the buses are located and where the taxis are located. Just to let you know, the people at the pier who handle the wheelchairs do not know about any prior arrangements that people often believe they have made for wheelchairs. That is not a problem however as there are pushers and chairs at the pier that will get you upstairs to check-in and then crew from the ship will take you from check-in onto the ship.

Hopefully, by the time your departure day rolls around, all this junk in the air will be gone from the rain we're supposed to get between now and Monday and it will be a beautiful day on which to start a cruise!

Hope you have a great cruise!

Tom
Thanks! One more question:
I've seen via Google Maps (satellite view) where the Taxi lane is located, so I understand the walkway you mentioned above.
My question: I'll have one 25" bag, one 21" carryon, and a smaller shoulder bag. Will the porter (or whatever they're called) take my larger (not carry-on) bag at that location -- where the taxi drops me off? Or will I need to get it across the walkway to hand over to someone inside the terminal building? And how will I know I'm giving it to the "right" person? Both bags will be tagged with the luggage tags I printed after checking in online.

Thanks again -- everyone here is so helpful to us nervous "cruise virgins." After I get this cruise under my belt, I'll be a lot less "wound up" and nervous.

Lana in Bellingham
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#17
WA state
2,897 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Originally posted by ArtsyCraftsy
Thanks! One more question:
I've seen via Google Maps (satellite view) where the Taxi lane is located, so I understand the walkway you mentioned above.
My question: I'll have one 25" bag, one 21" carryon, and a smaller shoulder bag. Will the porter (or whatever they're called) take my larger (not carry-on) bag at that location -- where the taxi drops me off? Or will I need to get it across the walkway to hand over to someone inside the terminal building? And how will I know I'm giving it to the "right" person? Both bags will be tagged with the luggage tags I printed after checking in online.

Thanks again -- everyone here is so helpful to us nervous "cruise virgins." After I get this cruise under my belt, I'll be a lot less "wound up" and nervous.

Lana in Bellingham
A porter will be available where you get out of the vehicle that brings you to the pier. They will have a bright orange safety vest on and will have a luggage cart with them. If you don't see one, don't worry, it just means that they are all already taking some other cruisers' back to the luggage area and one will soon appear. You'll know you've got the right person when you see that vest and luggage cart. (Good question!) (Since you live in the Seattle area, you may very well cruise again out of Pier 91, I'll pass on a tip for you in case you ever cruise out of that pier on a day when Holland-America and Princess are both cruising (Sat. or Sun.) When those 2 lines are there, Princess porters will all have bright green safety vests and H-A porters will all ave bright orange ones and neither will handle bags from the other line as they go to different sides of the pier. The same thing happens on Fridays when Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are there but I don't know which line uses which color on that day.) Another tip is that if something ever happens and you don't have a luggage tag for one or more of your bags for some reason, not to worry, as there will be a longshoreman clerk out in front of the building for each line that is sailing out of the pier that day and he/she will have a current passenger manifest that will have every passenger's name and stateroom number and he/she will be able to provide you with a luggage tag for your bag(s).

Any other questions, feel free to ask.

Tom
#18
Bellingham, WA
175 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Originally posted by Pierlesscruisers
A porter will be available where you get out of the vehicle that brings you to the pier. They will have a bright orange safety vest on and will have a luggage cart with them. If you don't see one, don't worry, it just means that they are all already taking some other cruisers' back to the luggage area and one will soon appear. You'll know you've got the right person when you see that vest and luggage cart. (Good question!)
...
Any other questions, feel free to ask.

Tom
Thanks again! This helps a lot. The Google Maps satellite view of Pier 91 shows a lot of detail and zooming in really gives a clear view of the taxi lane vs bus lane etc.

Now I just have to get the cat to the kitty "hotel" tomorrow and stop at the bank for some small bills, then finish packing -- I may have another question later, but for now I think I'm set.

Thanks again!

Lana in Bellingham
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#19
WA state
2,897 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Originally posted by ArtsyCraftsy
Thanks again! This helps a lot. The Google Maps satellite view of Pier 91 shows a lot of detail and zooming in really gives a clear view of the taxi lane vs bus lane etc.

Now I just have to get the cat to the kitty "hotel" tomorrow and stop at the bank for some small bills, then finish packing -- I may have another question later, but for now I think I'm set.

Thanks again!

Lana in Bellingham
Hope you have a great cruise!

Tom
#20
Bellingham, WA
175 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Just wanted to report back on the Bellingham Amtrak --> taxi --> Pier 91 thing.

It worked great!! The train was actually delayed 20 minutes between Vancouver and Bellingham, but that was the only schedule hitch. Got to the Seattle Amtrak Station around 11:20am, got my bag, found a taxi, and was off-loaded at Pier 91 around 11:45 or so. From there, it was a seamless transfer to the terminal, through the health form thing, up the elevator, to check-in/get card. I was in my cabin by 12:15 or so.

The return trip isn't quite so seamless, schedule-wise. It depends on how much you like cooling your heels in Seattle waiting for the northbound train (#516) at 6:50pm. There's an earlier northbound train, but it leaves Seattle at 7:45am, so totally NOT doable. There are also a few busses, but they don't take checked luggage -- carry-on only. No worries -- the Amtrak folks are fine with checking in early and stowing luggage if you want to wander around the International district or Pioneer Square. I got to the station at 9:30-ish, visited a few of my favorite shops in the are (I used to work just across the street from King Street Station when Amazon had offices there), then settled in and read until time to board, popping out for a bite of lunch.

So, for me, this will be the preferred transport plan for departures from Seattle cruise terminals.

(Oh, and I had a BLAST on the cruise! My first ever, it was brilliant! Can't wait until next summer when I get to do it for ** 38 days ** on Holland America's Voyage of the Vikings!)
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