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ace1zoe2

OCD Planner's Live ALASKA Photo Trip Report 16 day Cruise Tour aboard Radiance

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Our cruise will end in Vancouver. Our flight isn't until 10 pm. Does anyone know where can we store our luggage at the airport so we can spend the day in Vancouver. We will try to use 2 carry-ons and two back packs, but need a place to store them.

 

Nana,

 

I'm not sure where you can store the luggage. You didn't say what cruiseline or airline you are using.

 

If it is RCI they have a luggage valet service they offer for some airlines. Friends who traveled with us to Alaska last time used the service. I think it's like $25 per person, they tag your bag and transfer it to the airport for you. You never see your bags, after you put them out the night before, until you arrive at your final destination. They said it was awesome and that they would definitely do it again.

 

That's one idea. There also might be a storage locker at Canada place or (just throwing out ideas here) you could take the skytrain to the airport and check your luggage in then take the skytrain back in to the city for the day?

 

I'm sure someone else can offer more options. You might want to post this question on the Alaska boards also. There are a lot of veteran Alaska cruisers as well as Alaska residents who will help you.

Edited by ace1zoe2

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Thank you so much for your review. You have me hooked and we may do an Alaskan trip in the future. My husbands father spent some time in the Miliatry there and my husband would like to visit Alaska.

 

I am confused about a couple of things.

 

1. Are you going to Fairbanks on your own for a day and then meet up with the cruise tour?

 

2. You talk about the Tourbook coupons and the e-line book. So you can still do your own tours even though you are on the cruise tour part? Do they provide the transportation only and you still have to do excursions?

 

3. I was looking at the RC vacation planner book and there are several packages #. Is the one you are going on #13?

have a great trip!

Edited by irishgal432

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Thank you so much for your review. You have me hooked and we may do an Alaskan trip in the future. My husbands father spent some time in the Miliatry there and my husband would like to visit Alaska.

 

I am confused about a couple of things.

 

1. Are you going to Fairbanks on your own for a day and then meet up with the cruise tour?

 

2. You talk about the Tourbook coupons and the e-line book. So you can still do your own tours even though you are on the cruise tour part? Do they provide the transportation only and you still have to do excursions?

 

have a great trip!

 

Irishgal, it is definintely confusing at times :eek:

 

1. We fly in to Fairbanks, that's where our cruise tour leaves from. We are going a day early to see Fairbanks. We have a late flight so if we didn't go early we would get there, sleep, get up & leave on a train the next morning headed to Denali.

 

2. There are lots of "different" cruise tours, even on the same ship sailing date there are like 14 different cruise tour options (7 pre / 7 post cruise I believe).

 

3. We are on cruise tour #13 pre-cruise. The tour provides all of our transfers - airport to hotel, hotel accommodations, all of our travel (the Wilderness Express domed railcar for 3 different trips and motorcoach for the final two trips), 3 different excursions along the route (Natural History Tour in Denali, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center & 3 hour Kenjai Fjords Resurrection Bay Cruise), then transfer from final hotel to ship.

 

We will actually be ditching the NHT and taking the Eielson Shuttle further in to Denali after reading the Alaska boards and finding out the NHT is basically worthless.

 

The other days are open for purchased tours which is where the e-zine comes in. If you know the times you will be at each stop, then you can book independent tours.

 

The majority of the Toursaver coupons I used, will be for my port days during the cruise the second week. However, I did use a few in Fairbanks the first day and plan to use one in Seward the night before we board the ship.

 

The Toursaver coupons would also work well for someone doing a DIY land tour on their own.

 

Hope that makes it a little clearer.

Edited by ace1zoe2

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I will definitely call RCCL and inquire about the luggage transfers!! I really want to do Skytrain either coming or going. Maybe my fashionista girl friend and her hubby would go for that.

Thanks for that tip!! It might even cost less than a taxi.

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According to the website, you must book the Luggage Valet service on the ship. Will definitely do that, even if we do not ride the train. Easier to just take our backpack and Vera along with us and let RCCL handle the big bag. We will have it prominently marked with our airline, destination and flight # before we let it go.

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Hopefully my last post got you excited about saving the big bucks! This post will be in regards to airfare and ways to save when traveling to/from Alaska:

 

 

Use your EXISTING FREQUENT FLYER POINTS!

 

I used mine on our last trip so this option was not available to me for this trip. However last October hubby & I flew non-stop both directions from Dallas to Montreal & from NYC to Dallas for $5 each for our Canada/New England trip.

 

Get an ALASKA AIRLINES CREDIT CARD!

 

I considered this another "investment" for my Alaska trip. I also found this valuable information on the Alaska boards here on CC. For a $75 annual fee you can get the premier Alaska Airlines credit card. Why would you want to pay a fee to get a credit card, you ask? I will tell you! To save HUNDREDS of dollars!

 

Just so you don't think I'm crazy, let me explain my thinking. I got this card for one reason & one reason only... to SAVE MONEY :) But I had to "invest" $75 first to save $650 on just this flight by using a $99 companion fare you receive when opening the card... and as an added bonus they gave me enough points that one of us can fly for free (ok so not actually free, but something like $10 or $15 each way total cost) on their airline or any one of 12 airline partners!

 

I had been watching flights for several months and the cheapest flight I had found was $1300 including taxes and fees... and that was PER PERSON! Remember, we are flying all the way to Fairbanks, not just Seattle. Then one day I was reading the Alaska boards and came across a thread about the PFD sale... what the heck was a PFD sale? I thought...I had to find out, so I read more.

 

Turns out PFD is the abbreviation for the Permanent Fund Dividend. For eligible Alaska residents (must of been here for a year and attest that you are staying) and they file every year for this benefit. Then on a rolling five year average, they take the earnings from the Transalaskan Pipeline royalties, and divide by the eligible residents and Alaskan citizens get a check (which is federally taxable, no state income tax there) So, with all this additional money, lots of companies put out things for sale. Heaven forbid, you should see the lines at Costco and Sam's :D info provided by Susan in Anchorage :)

 

So every October Alaska has a big sale! That thread is where I learned about the Alaska Airlines credit card. You get the card thru BOA and you pay $75 on your first bill. For opening the account you receive upfront (before you even spend a dime on the card) a coupon code for a $99 COMPANION FARE and 25,000 frequent flyer miles! I watched in October for the sales and finally found a flight for $754.69 pp plus fees for a total of $844.09 (this was a savings of $450pp from what I had seen up to this point. So I booked our flights using the $99 companion fare which with taxes & fees came out to $210.09. So for a total of $1054.18 we had flights from Dallas to Seattle to Fairbanks with a return from Vancouver to Seattle to Dallas. I saved $1600 over the best deal I had been able to find (on any airline) up to that point.

 

As an added bonus I have 25,000 points plus what we both will receive for our flights (they are combined under one number) plus the points for the purchase. I already have enough points that one of us can fly for $15 each way using American Airlines from Dallas to Orlando or Jacksonville to visit my daughter who is moving in 3 weeks.

 

I paid the card in full as soon as I got the bill and I will cancel the card before the next annual fee posts. So my $75 "investment" saved us $635 off the price I booked at, plus I'm getting an almost free flight ($25-$30) to Florida which would have cost me at least $250-$350 on a good day.

 

And Alaska Airlines is one of the few airlines that allow you to track your flight cost and if it goes down they will credit your card or give you future credit on another flight.

 

Okay... so you're opposed to getting a credit card to save money? Another option for you might be a price tracking service like YAPTA. You can input your flight information find the exact flights you want on one or more carriers and dates and they will track the price for you. You can set a point at which you want to be notified and they will send you an email so you can book at a lower price. I have had luck with this in the past.

 

I'm sure there are other ways that you can save on flights and I know others will chime in with their suggestions. There are all kinds of websites like expedia, etc. to compare prices to find the best deals.

 

Let me know what you think of my money saving strategies so far! I still have more for you coming up later today... but now I have to go to work :)

 

8 MORE HOURS & VACATION OFFICIALLY BEGINS!

 

Is the $99 companion fare good for both legs of your trip since you are leaving from different airports, so it cost you a total of $99.00 +taxes for Dallas to Fairbanks and Vancouver to Dallas or $99 each leg?

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Is the $99 companion fare good for both legs of your trip since you are leaving from different airports, so it cost you a total of $99.00 +taxes for Dallas to Fairbanks and Vancouver to Dallas or $99 each leg?

 

No, it was one total charge of $99 plus taxes and fees which covers both legs of the trip. The invoice shows passenger 1 @ $754.69, companion $120.69, taxes & fees of $178.80 (for both), total $1054.18. It was booked as a "multi-city" flight.

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You are my hero!

 

Thanks for the compliment. Makes me feel like all my mad researching skills paid off! ;)

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I just realized that you are responsible for me booking my Brilliance Canada/NE cruise. :) After reading your review, I decided that I would be celebrating my 50th Birthday on the ship.

 

I was able to snag 9256 on the first day of opening bookings. Woohoo!

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I just realized that you are responsible for me booking my Brilliance Canada/NE cruise. :) After reading your review, I decided that I would be celebrating my 50th Birthday on the ship.

 

I was able to snag 9256 on the first day of opening bookings. Woohoo!

 

Awesome! You will have the best time! That is one of my favorite cruises we have done to date. I loved every single port.

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Becci, thanks for you're input... I took some time after work today to do the pre-cruise ritual... You know, ladies... The important stuff! Let's say it, all together now..."MANI/PEDI/CUT & COLOR!" :)

 

I also agree about Alaska under the Ports of Call forum... There is a wealth of information there!

 

 

Looking forward to your blog! We leave 3 weeks from today and are doing our own land tour before boarding Celebrity Millennium. I'm starting my pre-cruise ritual on Saturday with a cut & color. I've got so much OBC, that I'm waiting until we get on board ship and I'll do a mani/pedi with my mom.

 

As for packing - I LOVE getting all dolled up on formal nights and I'm such a clothes horse, I don't think I'll ever be able to go for 2 weeks with just a carry on! This trip will be interesting in that I'm actually planning on wearing things more than once - I NEVER do that! At least by doing that, I can keep the luggage down to maybe 2 checked bags and some backpacks. Hubby is a Platinum Delta member so he gets free checked bags plus IIRC passengers flying first class also get free checked bags so we are covered either way.

Edited by olemissreb

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Looking forward to your blog! We leave 3 weeks from today and are doing our own land tour before boarding Celebrity Millennium. I'm starting my pre-cruise ritual on Saturday with a cut & color. I've got so much OBC, that I'm waiting until we get on board ship and I'll do a mani/pedi with my mom.

 

As for packing - I LOVE getting all dolled up on formal nights and I'm such a clothes horse, I don't think I'll ever be able to go for 2 weeks with just a carry on! This trip will be interesting in that I'm actually planning on wearing things more than once - I NEVER do that! At least by doing that, I can keep the luggage down to maybe 2 checked bags and some backpacks. Hubby is a Platinum Delta member so he gets free checked bags plus IIRC passengers flying first class also get free checked bags so we are covered either way.

 

Thanks for following along & taking time to post. It's get that you get free checked bags. If mine were free & might possibly check one bag ;)

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Don't forget the other coupon book: Northern Lights. I found this has more restaurant coupons than Toursaver. I purchased 2 books of each and just between my Denali hotel savings & the savings on the rental car, I've paid for all 4 books!

 

Since you aren't doing this, I thought I'd add a savings tidbit: join the frequent renters club (Avis's Wizard program for instance) for your fav car rental place. We saved I believe about $600 just because DH has a Wizard Club number - and that was for a 1 week rental of a Standard SUV. Also - price out the different rental sites and see what the price difference is. We saved a couple hundred by renting from a downtown Anchorage location as opposed to at the airport.

 

One other money saver: use those frequent stay points! We are staying at the Embassy Suites in Anchorage for 2 nights for FREE! Prices I have seen for that hotel were right around $300/night. Also, if you don't have enough points, consider buying points. We did this for the Holiday Inn Express in Seward and it still came out cheaper than paying the AAA rate (by about $50, not super significant, but enough for a few pints of beer!).

 

Bet you can tell I'm the OCD planner in my house huh? And yes, I too have a binder (AKA bible)!:):D

 

Oh and that frequent flier mile suggestion is GOLDEN! 5 of us are flying first class from Atlanta-Minneapolis-Anchorage and then Seattle-Atlanta for a whopping total of $37.50!!! And if you fly Delta, the frequent flier miles no longer expire! Guess who'll be hoarding miles for our European trip in 4 years???

Edited by olemissreb

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So, now we’ve covered how to save money by PLANNING EARLY, using TOURSAVER COUPONS (and/or Northern Lights coupon book), how to save on flights with ALASKA AIRLINES or frequent flyer points and by using a price tracking service.

Olemissreb beat me to a few of my next tips and tricks :p

HOTEL POINTS - since our hotels are covered in the price of our land tour I wasn’t planning on paying for a hotel, other than the first night at a non-branded hotel. However, Alaska Airline kept moving up my flight time on the return trip to the point of us not being able to get off the ship, thru customs & to the airport in time to make the flight. Finally we either had to take an overnight flight or fly the following morning. We chose to sleep in a hotel & fly the next day. Luckily, we had HOTEL POINTS with Marriott! We used them for a free night’s stay in Vancouver. Instant savings of $220 and that was before hotel taxes were added!

CAR RENTAL PERKS – we have rented cars in 2 ports during our cruise and in Fairbanks the day before our land tour starts. We also belong to the Avis/Budget rapid rewards program and were able to save on our rental car. After a certain number of rentals you can receive free rentals.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CREDIT CARD – We got this card on our first RCI cruise in 2008. We use this card just like a debit card. Anything & everything that we can purchase with this card, we do. That includes our monthly electric bill, water bill, car insurance, house insurance, directv, internet, groceries, gas, and any daily purchase we would or could use cash or debit card for. I would pay my mortgage with it if they would let me :D. Every other week, on payday, we pay off the balance. So far we’ve used points to book a 7 night cruise in a balcony FOR FREE, a 4 night oceanview room FOR FREE, then we paid $100 to upgrade to a balcony, and we upgraded this cruise from a balcony to a Junior suite FOR FREE. I still have points accumulating as I write! Every dollar spent is worth 1 point, RCI purchases are worth 2 points and they have events during the year where you can earn more for certain things. You receive 10,000 points when you open the card which is worth $100 onboard credit. If you pay off the card monthly you pay no interest, so it’s like FREE MONEY when you cash in your points.

NEXT CRUISE CERTIFICATES – this is RCI’s future booking certificate. You can purchase these onboard your cruise for $100 per certificate. It never expires. When you get ready to book your next cruise you use this certificate and it allows you to pay only a $100 deposit (which you've already paid for one person when you bought the certificate) per person instead of the normal $250 per person for 7 day or $450 for 9 day or longer cruise. Then RCI gives you onboard credit ranging from $50 for 3-4 day cruises to $200 for 14+ days. We never go less than 7 days & you get $100 OBC, for 10 days or more you get $150… that’s FREE MONEY TO SPEND ONBOARD for drinks, dinners, excursions, spa appointments, gift shops, pictures… whatever you want to spend it on!

PRICE DROPS! – RCI will lower the price of your cruise, any time up until final payment dates if you catch a price drop and call them. (Tuesday sales & sales posted for New Bookings only do not qualify) On our last cruise we caught 2 price drops within the first two weeks after we booked our cruise. We ended up saving something like $900 on our cruise, just by watching. On a previous cruise I got $500 credit to my balance & $100 on each of my kids 3 rooms. Just 2 weeks ago I caught a $100 price drop for my friend's cruise next February. It doesn’t always happen… but when it does, it’s just like FREE MONEY that I didn’t have to pay to cruise! There are two ways to watch for these… 1st the old fashioned way – by going onto the website EVERY DAY and doing a mock booking to see if the price has changed. That’s the way I did it for 4 years. Finally this year I found out thru a cruise critic board, that there is a website that will do all the work for me for .99 per cruise. I can’t mention their name here but you can google it using something like cruise price tracker and it should show up for you. You can track up to 5 cabins on the same cruise for the same .99 – so say you’re in a balcony paying $850 and a junior suite drops in price to $859 you would be notified (if you’re tracking it) and you could call and upgrade for $9 per person and get double cruise points! Or say you're balcony drops from $850 to $650, you could call & instantly get $200pp refunded or applied to your balance!

CROWN & ANCHOR MEMBERSHIP – this is RCI’s rewards program for repeat cruisers. You earn 1 point for each night you cruise. There are different levels of membership and each adds on a few more perks. The best perk being the BALCONY DISCOUNT when you reach platinum at 30 points. You get $150 off the price of a balcony stateroom for 7 nights. The discount goes up with each level you reach. THAT’S FREE MONEY towards the price of your cruise that you don’t have to pay! Also upon reaching Diamond you get free drinks & appetizers in the diamond lounge nightly thru the dinner hours. There are lots of perks you can read about on their website here: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/cas/aboutprogram.do?cS=NAVBAR&pnav=6&snav=3

SAVINGS CERTIFICATES – another perk of the C&A membership are the quarterly savings certificates that RCI offers. There are probably 20 or so cruises/dates that are on each quarter's list and if you happen to be booked on that cruise, or book that cruise you can take advantage of the certificate & get anywhere from $50-$250 off the price of your cruise – again FREE MONEY!

REFER A FRIEND - RCI also has a refer a friend program. If you invite some on your same cruise who has never cruised RCI before you get $25 OBC. My next upcoming cruise in February 2014 I invited 2 friends to help me celebrate my 50th birthday and I will get $50 in OBC - enough to buy a round of drinks for the 6 of us with FREE MONEY!

PRIVATE EXCURSIONS - this doesn't apply to Alaska, but anywhere else we've ever cruised, you can book your own excursions (not thru the cruiseline) with private vendors and save as much as 50% or more! Just do your research on CC for reviews. Some require a certain number of guests and if your party isn't big enough, you can recruit fellow travelers on your Roll Call thread.

Ok, that's all I've got for now... Now let me hear your ideas for saving.

Edited by ace1zoe2

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ace1zoe2, Thank you for all your information, will be following along as you go. We are booked for a cruisetour in August of 2014 and looking for any money saving tips we can find.

 

I research everything to death and my family makes fun of me but who do they call when it is time to go? ...Me. Loving that I am not the only OCD planner out there.

 

Thanks for the tip on Alaska Airlines already pricing and their prices are much better to start than anybody else, coming from the east coast. Can't book flight for a few months but definitely will look into the credit card. Will definitely look into the coupon books as well. I did notice the following "The Companion Fare Discount Code is not valid with multi-city shopping" on their web site but you did not seem to have a problem. Thanks again for all your research as I will be using it for my first trip to Alaska.

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Awesome, awesome info!! Thanks so much for taking the time to document all your great finds! I've taken enough notes to fill a page and you haven't even left yet!

 

- Leslie

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ace1zoe2, Thank you for all your information, will be following along as you go. We are booked for a cruisetour in August of 2014 and looking for any money saving tips we can find.

 

I research everything to death and my family makes fun of me but who do they call when it is time to go? ...Me. Loving that I am not the only OCD planner out there.

 

Thanks for the tip on Alaska Airlines already pricing and their prices are much better to start than anybody else, coming from the east coast. Can't book flight for a few months but definitely will look into the credit card. Will definitely look into the coupon books as well. I did notice the following "The Companion Fare Discount Code is not valid with multi-city shopping" on their web site but you did not seem to have a problem. Thanks again for all your research as I will be using it for my first trip to Alaska.

 

Soon2bmtnest - I LOVE your screen name! We are finally empty nesters & can afford to travel now and are enjoying every minute of it.

 

I wasn't smart enough when I made up my screen name so many years ago & didn't realize everyone would be seeing it! Mine is my two dogs Ace our first, thus the name) and Zoe (our second).

 

The rules on the companion fare could have changed since I booked but it let me use multi-city at the time :)

 

Thanks for posting and following along. Feel free to comment or ask questions as we go along!

 

I just did my online check-in for our flights! This time tomorrow we'll be in the air on our way :D

Edited by ace1zoe2

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Awesome, awesome info!! Thanks so much for taking the time to document all your great finds! I've taken enough notes to fill a page and you haven't even left yet!

 

- Leslie

 

Leslie,

 

Glad that I can be of help. As much as I have read & researched I should be able to help half the world!

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I just realized that you are responsible for me booking my Brilliance Canada/NE cruise. :) After reading your review, I decided that I would be celebrating my 50th Birthday on the ship.

 

I was able to snag 9256 on the first day of opening bookings. Woohoo!

 

Just in case anyone else is interested in Canada/New England here is my review from Oct/Nov 2012 of our 14 night adventure! There are tons of pictures and lots of details to help you plan!

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1769976

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Pre-cruise planning:

 

After further research I found out that the Wilderness Express domed train is just a Royal Caribbean car attached to the Alaska Railroad's daily service. I was able to go to the railroad website and find the schedule. This allowed me to know what time we would arrive at Denali, Talkeetna & Anchorage. You can find the schedule here:

http://alaskarailroad.com/Transit/Schedules/tabid/98/Default.aspx

 

I was able to book a Segway Tour in Anchorage. We decided to ditch the much inferior National History Tour that came with our cruise tour and opted instead to pre book the Eielson Shuttle at Denali park which will get us much further into the park and give us a better chance to (hopefully) see some wildlife and georgeous scenery. Somewhere in the mix we're hoping to book a white-water rafting trip thru RCI at one of the stops.

 

I will give you complete tour information, including costs, websites, pictures and my review in the report for the day we do each of them.

 

So even though this cruise tour is by no means inexpensive, I was able to save quite a bit with the Airline credit card, the Toursaver Book, Marriott points and booking rental cars way in advance for DIY tours in Fairbanks, Skagway & Juneau.

 

We choose to fly in a day earlier than when the cruise tour begins since the flights arrived so late at night. Otherwise we would get in bed around midnight (3am our time) and have to be up and on the train by 8:15am the first morning which would give us zero time to even see Fairbanks. I don't know about you, but IF I'M GOING TO FLY ALL THE WAY TO FAIRBANKS, I AT LEAST WANT TO SEE THE PLACE! And trust me, I have the full day scheduled. LIFE'S SHORT AND WE CAN SLEEP LATER!... we've got a lot of ground to cover and not much time!

 

By the way, if you haven't already figured it out.... I'M ONE OF THOSE PACK-IN-AS-MUCH-AS-YOU-CAN-POSSIBLY-SEE-AND-DO-IN-ONE-DAY type of travelers. And by default, my husband is too. I figure we might never get a chance to go back to a place again so i have to try and see and do as much as i can while I'm there. We can always rest when we get home and until then, that is what sea days are for.

 

We are staying at PIKE'S WATERFRONT LODGE in FAIRBANKS, which is the hotel RCI is using for the cruise tour, so we'll be there for the first two nights. It is a short trip from the airport and really close to our 3 hour Riverboat Discovery Tour that we will be doing at 9am the first morning.

 

Tomorrow is the big day! Our flight leaves Dallas at 1:45pm. I hope to keep up daily with the details and pictures as long as I can get them to upload fairly quickly.

 

Hope you'll stay with me & let me know if you have any questions along the way.

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REFER A FRIEND - RCI also has a refer a friend program. If you invite some on your same cruise who has never cruised RCI before you get $25 OBC. My next upcoming cruise in February 2014 I invited 2 friends to help me celebrate my 50th birthday and I will get $50 in OBC - enough to buy a round of drinks for the 6 of us with FREE MONEY!

 

 

 

I totally forgot about the Refer a Friend Program!! Hopefully we will be able to get the $50 too (awaiting info back from invited guests). Thank you very much for mentioning this. There are 6 of us "Girls" going on our cruise and this would be a lovely way to start the celebrations!!

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Just in case anyone else is interested in Canada/New England here is my review from Oct/Nov 2012 of our 14 night adventure! There are tons of pictures and lots of details to help you plan!

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1769976

 

I was scrolling through the page and wa-la. There is the link. I was going to try to find it. Your review is why I have scheduled our next cruise to NE/Canada.

 

Thanks for this review. Look forward to your adventure in Alaska.

 

Now off to re read your Canada/NE review and do my initial research.

Safe travels tomorrow.

Edited by luvscruising2007

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I totally forgot about the Refer a Friend Program!! Hopefully we will be able to get the $50 too (awaiting info back from invited guests). Thank you very much for mentioning this. There are 6 of us "Girls" going on our cruise and this would be a lovely way to start the celebrations!!

 

Tkaklita,

 

Glad that I could jog your memory and hopefully get you some onboard credit - that's MORE FREE MONEY!

 

It sounds like you've got a great girl's trip planned... hope you have a great time!

 

Happy Sails :)

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