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Whimsy88

Complete Newbie looking for help with Seattle/Vancouver stay pre-Alaska cruise

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DH and I are booked on the NCL Jewel in July 2019 - Northbound Alaska from Vancouver. Alaska is a bucket list item for both of us, but we are DEFINITELY on a budget since we are paying for 2 kids in college! Some preliminary investigation of flights looks like it's going to be cheaper to fly into Seattle from our region and then do the Amtrack train up to Vancouver. Planning to fly in 2 nights before - spend the remainder of the day and that night in Seattle, then the train next day and hotel overnight in Vancouver before boarding the ship. We have never been to either city. We have a few sites we would like to see (Pike Place being one), but no specific plans in either city. We enjoy walking to explore. Looking for suggestions of budget friendly hotels/areas to stay with minimal additional transport costs. We appreciate the help.

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Vancouver accommodation - go book the YWCA Hotel. Private room, regular hotel style with en suite private bath and double or 2 single beds runs about US$120 this year; if you don't mind sharing a bathroom with the folks next-door Jack & Jill style you can save more, and a bath down the hall yet more. Location is unbeatable for the price - even pretty crappy airport hotels are more expensive, and they come with transportation costs to get downtown, whereas the Y is right in Yaletown, easily walkable around downtown.

 

Seattle - if you can tolerate the heat there are some older non-AC hotels downtown and Seattle Center that might work. We've used the Mediterranean Inn for Fall/Spring stays (I demand AC in summer even over here in the not-too-toasty PNW) and been very happy - nice roof deck, walkable to downtown and ideal for Seattle Center attractions like the needle/chihuly/music & scifi museum. Many others have mentioned the Moore Hotel in Belltown positively. Probably still cheaper to be out at Seatac and using LINK to come downtown though ($3 and ~45mins each way) - if you are traveling 'time-rich but cash-poor' on this trip that's the way to do it, but since you only have a day I'd carefully balance the wasted time on travel to and from hotel against the savings before deciding.

 

What to do? Free walking tours, smaller museums, using combo tickets to reduce overall spend if there are some bigger attractions you really want to do. Check local websites, like vancouverisawesome, local newspapers, local tourism board websites for events - there are always tons of things going on through the summer months across the whole PNW, many are totally free, just a couple of bucks, or you can donate canned goods to food drives for entry (especially things where the event is based around buying stuff when you are inside, like food truck festivals, beer tastings etc.)

 

Outdoor things - parks, art displays - are a huge value if you enjoy walking around. Lots of folks recommend seeing the 'other half' of the Gold Rush NPS site in Seattle before cruising up to Alaska. The two most definitely-Vancouvery things around are free - Stanley Park and the Seawall (plus all our other parks too). Both cities have tons of public art - heck, we've got an actual Dali sculpture just standing on the street in Vancouver right now!

 

A good guidebook is well worth investing in - check Rough Guide, Lonely Planet etc. out of your local library to see whose writing style you grok the most, and consider buying your own copy from Amazon to take with you. Since prices are usually out of date immediately in print books, it's the historic background stuff and geography that's actually most useful - a second hand copy of the previous edition of a book that just got a new version put out is always a steal, and except for things that have happened between the dates of the two volumes remains totally relevant!

 

Dining - food trucks, casual eateries, bars are all over with a wide variety of menu styles, so you don't have to drop major coin to eat well in either city. 'Ethnic food' is often better value - Vancouver is one of the best places to eat Chinese food in the world, but if you like Mexican I'd do that in Seattle, it's much harder finding the good stuff up here! Accommodation with a fridge or even better a shared kitchen enables very practical and cheap breakfasts and packed lunches to save your pennies for dinner & drinks. Happy Hour deals are also a great way to try fancier places for a hefty discount.

 

Very general advice I know - aside from your budget being tight, I know diddly-squat about you guys! TripAdvisor is a much better place for 'first cut' decision making than asking advice of individuals here - work your way down the Best Of lists, see which spots you both like the sound of, make a list of too many things and THEN come back and ask for pros and cons of X place vs Y place. That's the sort of thing us locals are a good resource for - if you simply did what I think is best for a day in either city you'd end up drunk, uncomfortably stuffed full of food, and possibly bored out of your gourd unless you really like art and museums;-)

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Thank you, Martincath - that is actually incredibly helpful advice. We'll keep investigating options and may pick your brain some once we've narrowed things down!

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Listen to martincath, he does know the area well. Also consider renting a car and drive over the border from Seattle to the cruiseport in Vancouver. Very easy drive.

 

Enjoy.

 

Jimbo:)

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I looked briefly at airfares from both AVL and CLT to both Seattle and Vancouver, and while I don't know your dates, it might not be much - if any - cheaper to fly to Seattle then make your way up to Vancouver. Depending on the dates, Vancouver is anywhere from $30 to $75 more per person for one-way flights, or around $80 - $100 on "open-jaw" round trips (NC to Seattle or Vancouver, Anchorage to NC.) Compare that to, roughly, $60 from the Seattle airport to downtown, $250 for a basic hotel for the night, $10 cab to the train station in the morning, and $60 (guessing) per person for Amtrak to Vancouver. Your call, of course.

 

One thing I'd look at that might have major savings would be to skip Amtrak, but get a car at the Seattle airport, drive it into town to do the sightseeing (plenty of parking lots and garages near the main attractions) but then leave town and spend the night up the road toward Vancouver. You'd save a fortune on hotel costs, and you wouldn't have to get up at OMG o'clock to get to the train station for the morning train. Instead, you could drive to the border and get there well before the morning crowds come up from Seattle, then when you get to Vancouver you'd drop the car (ideally within the 24h limit for a one-day rental) and get on with your touring. I'd do the numbers.

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^Very sensible suggestions from GL - Amtrak is a nice ride and good value, but unless you actually WANT to do it because you enjoy nice train rides, there's a very good chance you can save money by looking at alternative ground transportation options even if your flights do cost significantly less to SEA than YVR.

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Lots to consider. We really like the idea of the train just because it would be a new experience and DH could sightsee too instead of having to drive. Plus we would like to see a bit of Seattle too since neither of us have been. We'll see how the numbers play out. But all this info is very helpful!

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We went the other way, being from Canada, it was super cheap for us to fly into Vancouver and take the train down to Seattle for our cruise.  It is a lovely trip and we quite enjoyed ourselves coming down.  However, we learned we were fairly lucky to be on time coming into Seattle, especially when we were delayed about 2.5 hours (if I recall correctly) returning to Vancouver after the cruise.  We finally got to our Vancouver Airport Hotel just after 1am and had to be up at 4:30am for the flight home.  So, if you do the train, don't schedule anything too tightly with the timeline as delays are very common.  It is a very nice ride, though.

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I have stayed at the Moore hotel twice and will be staying there again next year - while an older hotel property it is well maintained and only a couple of block from Pike Place Market and Westlake mall which has a rail link from the airport and where you can catch the monorail to Seattle Center and the Space Needle.

Book the hotel as soon as possible as it sells out quickly.

Cheers!

Dennis

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We are senior so money and less hassel are our top priority.

 

Alaska cruise planned for Aug 26th on Norwegain Jewel out of Vancouver.

 

Overnight at air port hotel which provides a free shuttle. Looks like NCL is offering Holiday Inn  at the Vancouver Airport for $110.

 

Cruise day return to airport via free shuttle and pay for NCL transfer to port  (they are quioting $15 each) or take a taxi to port probable around $45.

 

I am still evaluating our options

Edited by Seawoff
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