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Amtrak from Vancouver to Seattle


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Hi, 

I had several questions about taking the Amtrak from the cruise port to Seattle.

1) Do we need to show a negative covid test?
2) We are on the Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas and we dock at 7:30am. The train available on that day is 11:30am.

Do you think we will make it in time if we take the luggage off the cruise ship ourselves? 
3) Is there a possibility of renting a vehicle and driving to Seattle? 

TIA! 

 


 

 

 

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Are you sure that it is a train and not a bus. You don't mention your travel date but at this time Amtrak is only running buses between Vancouver and Seattle.

In the past when they did run trains it was an early morning departure.

The Train station where the bus would also depart from is only a couple of miles from the cruise terminal - about a 10 -15 taxi ride so yes it would be possible to make an 11:30 departure.

Renting a car can be very expensive as you may have to pay a penalty for a one way rental. Plus keep in mind that the regular car crossing at Peace Arch can have waits of up to one to two hours while the bus using a different close by crossing that is designed to handle buses.

Can't help you on the negative Covid test - you are returning to the US so you need to check there regulations.

Hope this helps

Dennis

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12 hours ago, Urban trekker said:

Are you sure that it is a train and not a bus. You don't mention your travel date but at this time Amtrak is only running buses between Vancouver and Seattle.

In the past when they did run trains it was an early morning departure.

The Train station where the bus would also depart from is only a couple of miles from the cruise terminal - about a 10 -15 taxi ride so yes it would be possible to make an 11:30 departure.

Renting a car can be very expensive as you may have to pay a penalty for a one way rental. Plus keep in mind that the regular car crossing at Peace Arch can have waits of up to one to two hours while the bus using a different close by crossing that is designed to handle buses.

Can't help you on the negative Covid test - you are returning to the US so you need to check there regulations.

Hope this helps

Dennis

 

We are considering flying into Seattle and then taking the bus or train to Vancouver for our July cruise on Serenade. I'm trying to figure out some of the logistics of doing this and whether or not we should try it. I hope you don't mind me asking you some questions.

 

What is the best way to get from Sea Tac Airport to the Amtrak Station? In the past, we've taken the light rail from the airport to downtown Seattle. Just not sure if that would be an option here, or if there is a better way (taxi, Uber, etc).

 

If we decide to go this route, how far in advance should we buy the tickets? I'd purchase them now if I was sure that the train wouldn't reopen.

 

Thank you for any insight!

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, erinsmom03 said:

...In the past, we've taken the light rail from the airport to downtown Seattle. Just not sure if that would be an option here, or if there is a better way (taxi, Uber, etc). ...

 

If we decide to go this route, how far in advance should we buy the tickets? ...

If you've previously used the light rail with suitcases, then getting to Amtrak is trivially easy this way as the nearest stop is extremely close - even having to loop around via Weller or Jackson Street (obviously you can't walk over the railway so have to cross it safely!) to the station entrance, the distance is less than a quarter mile. This link should take you to a Google map with the destination right at the main station entrance.

 

As early as possible is a good rule of thumb with Amtrak - Saver tickets sell out, and refund/exchange policies have gotten more flexible during the pandemic, but of course until you know whether the train is actually running you can't buy train tickets (and bus tix are priced differently than train do they cannot simply be swapped).

Edited by martincath
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On 3/5/2022 at 9:23 AM, glee87 said:

Hi, 

I had several questions about taking the Amtrak from the cruise port to Seattle.

1) Do we need to show a negative covid test?
2) We are on the Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas and we dock at 7:30am. The train available on that day is 11:30am.

Do you think we will make it in time if we take the luggage off the cruise ship ourselves? 
3) Is there a possibility of renting a vehicle and driving to Seattle? 

TIA! 

Further to Dennis' answer:

1) probably not - as crossing the US land border by car or bus does not need a Covid test now (if vaxxed!) and restrictions seem to be lightening rather than tightening. You currently have to answer screening questions, confirming no symptoms, no contact with people who have Covid etc. so I'd assume that will remain in place.

2) Yep, that's definitely not a train - while a couple of weeks ago Amtrak website had started listing trains available for booking from June 3rd, they were in the usual timeslots of ~7am and ~6pm with all other departures by bus. I was checking yesterday and those trains have disappeared entirely again, with only 4 daily buses now listed - so Amtrak are obviously still pondering on when to restore the train services.

3) Of course - but the costs will be likely more variable than in the past! Back in the day you could safely assume booking far in advance would be either very expensive, or have a specific extra 'drop fee' for one-way rentals - but as time moved closer to departure date and each rental fleet had a better idea of how balanced Northbound and Southbound trips were the prices got keener and drop fees disappeared. I literally never failed to find a major rental agency offering a one-way price under $100 on any date I've plugged in - provided you weren't picky about car style. If you're a big group with only one driver, who therefore need a large SUV or Minivan, prices could get scary even in The Before Times.

 

But now, with tourism still very much in recovery mode, who the heck knows! I'd plug your dates into Costco (if you're a member) or Kayak and see what prices for rentals come up...

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Martincath - I was hoping you would be along to help answer the question.

There is suppose to be a press conference tomorrow in Halifax where the federal government is expected to announce the rules for cruises from Canadian ports.

It is of interest to me as I am heading to Alaska on May 7.

 

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Hopefully the announcement won't prevent your cruise happening Dennis - now the gov't has laid out the requirements, I guess it's 'wait for the cruiselines to confirm their plans' time.

 

Looks like the religious exemption effectively means only Canadian residents who cruise an all-Canada itinerary can make use of it, as they do remind folks that the border still refuses to recognize anything other than medical exemptions or youngsters from the fully-vaxxed requirement. The 1-day/3-day for Antigen or PCR tests should hopefully also mean all cruise vessels will stock tests on-board for use by pax, rather than weaseling out and forcing folks to find their own tests in-port!

 

With AK itineraries usually having a sea day before they hit Victoria/Vancouver it would be highly impractical to use on-shore testing even if it's possible for a PCR in the last or even second-last AK port to last long enough to enter Canada... having everyone line up for antigen tests in front of on-board staff during a sea day would be a hassle, but less so than multiple ships worth of pax fighting for supervised tests in port!

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Holland America who I am cruising with have confirmed that they will be sailing out of Vancouver this year and I just got a new cruise confirmation from HAL for my cruise.

Sounds like the rules introduce are similar to what is already being used in the US.

Dennis

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12 minutes ago, erinsmom03 said:

@martincath I am trying to make sense of the protocols that were just released. 

Would I need to test to cross the border by bus? From Seattle to Vancouver?

Yes - there is no exemption to border testing requirements (assuming you're not an under-five-year-old child!) whether arriving by bus, car, boat, plane (and undoubtedly train when that reopens). The recent loosening of rules basically didn't change anything on the PCR testing side of things, it just added some flexibility by adding Antigen tests as an option with a generously-woolly '1 day' before crossing the border limit - you can take an Antigen test any time on Day 1 and still cross the border any time on Day 2, so potentially have just shy of 48hrs validity for the test. The cruise-specific rules have those same time limits - but for some reason only apply to 12 year olds and up rather than 5 year olds, which is a disconnect I wager will end up causing trouble at the border for folks bringing 5-11 year olds up here planning to cruise...

 

Given you're in the US, have to fly from Michigan over this side whether that's via Seattle or direct to Vancouver, and then also have to board a ship personally I'd stick to the molecular tests which last a full 72 hours and use the same test to get into Canada and also to board the ship - if timed well you can also have at least a full day pre-cruise. If you book a (free!) Walgreens Rapid 'ID Now' test this meets Canadian criteria for the 72hr molecular test and is processed on-site in the Walgreens you provide the sample at (Abbott's in-situ testing machine runs this test in <15 minutes so you should have results within the hour - unless Walgreen's IT infrastructure completely fails again like it did last December when we got stuck in the US!)

 

If you're taking a RT or B2B cruise, it's returning home where things might get a bit messier as nobody knows yet what sort of testing might be performed by the cruiselines - the rules require them to have onboard molecular testing but that's much more expensive than antigen, so odds are good at least some lines will do mass Antigen testing on the sea day before hitting the first Canadian port - fine to be allowed to disembark, but unless you are going straight to the airport that day no good for then flying home.

 

Crossing the land border INTO the USA does not need a test at the moment though - so taking the bus southbound you'd be fine without a valid test.

 

NB: I'm assuming you do meet the 'Fully Vaxxed' criteria, as if not you will find it near-impossible to enter Canada - cruises for folks already here seem to be allowing the 'religious beliefs' exemption for boarding, but the border remains 'too young for jabs, legit medical exemption, or fully-vaxxed - currently 2 doses/1 J&J, no boosters needed' unless you're Canadian, and the potential for big fat fines for us locals if we come home testing positive!

 

Also, I suggest downloading the ArriveCAN app now and getting familiar with it - you do need to preload the info, there's no WiFi at the land border, but since you can upload all the requested info as soon as you get your test results you might as well do so, then you know it's done.

 

Lastly, if you're hanging out in Seattle for a while I'd suggest testing there instead of at home - maximize your 72 hour window and also avoid any timezone issues, as the 72hr is a firm limit and if you get tested in Central Time you've only got 70hrs from the timestamp on the test results here in Pacific Time!!!

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4 minutes ago, martincath said:

Yes - there is no exemption to border testing requirements (assuming you're not an under-five-year-old child!) whether arriving by bus, car, boat, plane (and undoubtedly train when that reopens). The recent loosening of rules basically didn't change anything on the PCR testing side of things, it just added some flexibility by adding Antigen tests as an option with a generously-woolly '1 day' before crossing the border limit - you can take an Antigen test any time on Day 1 and still cross the border any time on Day 2, so potentially have just shy of 48hrs validity for the test. The cruise-specific rules have those same time limits - but for some reason only apply to 12 year olds and up rather than 5 year olds, which is a disconnect I wager will end up causing trouble at the border for folks bringing 5-11 year olds up here planning to cruise...

 

Given you're in the US, have to fly from Michigan over this side whether that's via Seattle or direct to Vancouver, and then also have to board a ship personally I'd stick to the molecular tests which last a full 72 hours and use the same test to get into Canada and also to board the ship - if timed well you can also have at least a full day pre-cruise. If you book a (free!) Walgreens Rapid 'ID Now' test this meets Canadian criteria for the 72hr molecular test and is processed on-site in the Walgreens you provide the sample at (Abbott's in-situ testing machine runs this test in <15 minutes so you should have results within the hour - unless Walgreen's IT infrastructure completely fails again like it did last December when we got stuck in the US!)

 

If you're taking a RT or B2B cruise, it's returning home where things might get a bit messier as nobody knows yet what sort of testing might be performed by the cruiselines - the rules require them to have onboard molecular testing but that's much more expensive than antigen, so odds are good at least some lines will do mass Antigen testing on the sea day before hitting the first Canadian port - fine to be allowed to disembark, but unless you are going straight to the airport that day no good for then flying home.

 

Crossing the land border INTO the USA does not need a test at the moment though - so taking the bus southbound you'd be fine without a valid test.

 

NB: I'm assuming you do meet the 'Fully Vaxxed' criteria, as if not you will find it near-impossible to enter Canada - cruises for folks already here seem to be allowing the 'religious beliefs' exemption for boarding, but the border remains 'too young for jabs, legit medical exemption, or fully-vaxxed - currently 2 doses/1 J&J, no boosters needed' unless you're Canadian, and the potential for big fat fines for us locals if we come home testing positive!

 

Also, I suggest downloading the ArriveCAN app now and getting familiar with it - you do need to preload the info, there's no WiFi at the land border, but since you can upload all the requested info as soon as you get your test results you might as well do so, then you know it's done.

 

Lastly, if you're hanging out in Seattle for a while I'd suggest testing there instead of at home - maximize your 72 hour window and also avoid any timezone issues, as the 72hr is a firm limit and if you get tested in Central Time you've only got 70hrs from the timestamp on the test results here in Pacific Time!!!

 

Thank you so much for all of your insight! I can't tell you how helpful you have been!

 

Yes, we are all vaxxed. (There are a couple in our large group who aren't, and I expect that they will be cancelling their cruise.) I will be diving into your suggestions!

 

If we choose to stay a couple days in Vancouver before returning home, is it relatively easy to get a test? Or, if we did the proctored at home antigen tests the day before crossing the border (or flying), would that be an accepted form of testing?

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, erinsmom03 said:

 

Thank you so much for all of your insight! I can't tell you how helpful you have been!

 

Yes, we are all vaxxed. (There are a couple in our large group who aren't, and I expect that they will be cancelling their cruise.) I will be diving into your suggestions!

 

If we choose to stay a couple days in Vancouver before returning home, is it relatively easy to get a test? Or, if we did the proctored at home antigen tests the day before crossing the border (or flying), would that be an accepted form of testing?

You're welcome. Staying on after the cruise you won't have much trouble finding a test for flying home - it just won't be cheap! Assuming no change to US rules, you will only need an Antigen test - these can be done at the airport itself but they cost ~CAD$120pp. You can find some slightly cheaper options around town at various travel clinics, but given the convenience of the airport location I'd budget for that if you do decide to do local testing.

 

Telehealth tests are allowed by both Canadian and US rules - the CDC page here lists the specifics of what the proctoring must include, about halfway down, in the answer to the FAQ 'Does a self-test meet the conditions of the Order?'

 

So as long as your hotel WiFi is good enough for a stable video connection, you can use telehealth self-tests you brought with you from the US  - and worst-case if you lose them/can't get the connection to work you can still get tested at YVR (though you should make an appointment, so definitely do your antigen self-test as early as possible the day before your flight to give yourselves as much time as possible in case you need to fall back to plan B! The '1 day' for US flight tests is the same as the Canadian '1 day' I mentioned above, so potentially you could do a telehealth video chat at 1 minute past midnight then fly the next day at 1 minute before midnight and 47hrs58mins still equals '1 day'!)

 

Edit - if you do end up flying Michigan-Seattle and bussing over the border, you won't need ANY test to come back south (unless the rules get tighter). It's only us Canadians who are picky about land travelers being tested, the US is happy for us to come visit by car with just proof of Vaxx (and even that is a case of 'have it available in case they ask to see it' with no need for an equivalent of ArriveCANs 'upload the results before travel').

Edited by martincath
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Again, all my thanks!!!! I am copying your info to my personal notes on traveling for our trip. I am the ringleader of our group and feel responsible to make sure all of our friends know what to expect. Hard to do when I am confused lol. You have helped me feel  much more capable of helping the rest of our cruising crew!

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/6/2022 at 5:55 PM, martincath said:

Further to Dennis' answer:

1) probably not - as crossing the US land border by car or bus does not need a Covid test now (if vaxxed!) and restrictions seem to be lightening rather than tightening. You currently have to answer screening questions, confirming no symptoms, no contact with people who have Covid etc. so I'd assume that will remain in place.

2) Yep, that's definitely not a train - while a couple of weeks ago Amtrak website had started listing trains available for booking from June 3rd, they were in the usual timeslots of ~7am and ~6pm with all other departures by bus. I was checking yesterday and those trains have disappeared entirely again, with only 4 daily buses now listed - so Amtrak are obviously still pondering on when to restore the train services.

3) Of course - but the costs will be likely more variable than in the past! Back in the day you could safely assume booking far in advance would be either very expensive, or have a specific extra 'drop fee' for one-way rentals - but as time moved closer to departure date and each rental fleet had a better idea of how balanced Northbound and Southbound trips were the prices got keener and drop fees disappeared. I literally never failed to find a major rental agency offering a one-way price under $100 on any date I've plugged in - provided you weren't picky about car style. If you're a big group with only one driver, who therefore need a large SUV or Minivan, prices could get scary even in The Before Times.

 

But now, with tourism still very much in recovery mode, who the heck knows! I'd plug your dates into Costco (if you're a member) or Kayak and see what prices for rentals come up...

We are scheduled for Sept 11 returning the 22. So far a two day rental only one way…no one day rentals and prices over 600.

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14 minutes ago, renroc13 said:

We are scheduled for Sept 11 returning the 22. So far a two day rental only one way…no one day rentals and prices over 600.

Even in TheBeforeTimes booking at the end of cruise season before we've even reached the beginning of it tended to produce some ridiculously high rates and/or drop fees. Combine that with a total lack of knowledge at any rental franchise about the likely demand and I'm not surprised in the slightest that you'd be getting some steep rates and restrictions.

 

Wait until at least the first few ships have made it here, hope for no Covid-related problems like quarantined vessels, and as the rental companies start getting a handle on how popular one-way rentals are you should see prices and restrictions dropping.

 

Chances are the only real bargains in this first year of cruising's return will be car fleets which end up unbalanced - US-plated cars in Canada and vice versa are problematic to rent, and even offering people free drives is much cheaper than paying a driver or truck to move them. Given your cruise is at the tail end of the season also keep an eye on services like Transfer Car who have in the past had transfers available between pairs of cross-border cities like Vancouver>Seattle, Toronto>Buffalo etc.

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3 minutes ago, erinsmom03 said:

@martincath Are there any rumors that the Cascade train will resume from Seattle to Vancouver this summer?

Still unknown terms of timing! As I mentioned above when this first came up they had both BeforeTimes trains available to book on their website for future dates from June 3rd onward, but then that went away and it returned to being all buses... My best guess is that they were waiting to see cross-border rules relax before starting up an expensive, loss-making-in-the-best-of-years passenger service (the second daily train only existed from 2010 until Covid because of extra Provincial/State government funding from both sides of the border).

 

They have run various 'test trains' through Spring, but I'd keep an eye on the official Twitter feed of this route specifically:

The main Amtrak account posts much more volume so you might miss a notice there, but this account (and the corresponding Facebook) has been almost zero in 2022 so it should be immediately obvious when they make an announcement.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/31/2022 at 2:09 PM, renroc13 said:

We are scheduled for Sept 11 returning the 22. So far a two day rental only one way…no one day rentals and prices over 600.

I was looking at this thread as I couldn't find a rental car from Vancouver to Seattle in September.  Once I saw the 2 day comment above, I checked Orbitz -($600 for 2 days) then I checked Costco ($326 for two days.)  I booked Costco so thanks for the 2 day tip!

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On 4/13/2022 at 6:41 PM, JAT0303 said:

I was looking at this thread as I couldn't find a rental car from Vancouver to Seattle in September.  Once I saw the 2 day comment above, I checked Orbitz -($600 for 2 days) then I checked Costco ($326 for two days.)  I booked Costco so thanks for the 2 day tip!

I finally found a few better rates. I think they are releasing more cars as time goes by.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@renroc13 and @JAT0303, can I ask what rental car companies you've found availability with?
I'm also looking for a VAN>SEA one-way rental and not having luck.
Kayak is currently showing the only option as a pickup at YXX with Avis.

Thanks!

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Going to book the Amtrak bus from Seattle to Vancouver through Wanderu which seems to be the authorized site for this. Flight prices have skyrocketed for an hour flight and this seems to be a viable solution. Any other input from anyone?

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1 hour ago, barbienj said:

Going to book the Amtrak bus from Seattle to Vancouver through Wanderu which seems to be the authorized site for this. Flight prices have skyrocketed for an hour flight and this seems to be a viable solution. Any other input from anyone?

Amtrak buses are sold directly on the Amtrak website - there might be legit tickets available elsewhere, though personally this is the first I've heard of 'wanderu' - but why take the risk?

 

But if you don't have a specific reason to be spending time in Seattle, booking tickets straight through to YVR will avoid the kind of problems some other posters have been reporting - with travel still heavily impacted by lack of replacement staff, covid outbreaks etc. the odds of a flight remaining on the same timing/connections/airframe that you book it on are lower than ever, and the airlines are only responsible to get you where your ticket is booked for... even if you're saving buckets of cash flying to SEA instead of YVR, I'd plan for an awful lot of padding time, like an extra night in a hotel which would eat significantly into potential savings.

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55 minutes ago, martincath said:

Amtrak buses are sold directly on the Amtrak website - there might be legit tickets available elsewhere, though personally this is the first I've heard of 'wanderu' - but why take the risk?

 

But if you don't have a specific reason to be spending time in Seattle, booking tickets straight through to YVR will avoid the kind of problems some other posters have been reporting - with travel still heavily impacted by lack of replacement staff, covid outbreaks etc. the odds of a flight remaining on the same timing/connections/airframe that you book it on are lower than ever, and the airlines are only responsible to get you where your ticket is booked for... even if you're saving buckets of cash flying to SEA instead of YVR, I'd plan for an awful lot of padding time, like an extra night in a hotel which would eat significantly into potential savings.

Thanks. We are spending the week before an Alaska cruise in Olympic and North Cascades, hence the need for transportation to Vancouver from Seattle.

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24 minutes ago, barbienj said:

Thanks. We are spending the week before an Alaska cruise in Olympic and North Cascades, hence the need for transportation to Vancouver from Seattle.

Depending how many are included in 'we' you might find that a rental car is better value than buses - I'm guessing that's how you'll be seeing the area mentioned as public transit is far from great in those places.

 

Changing a lengthy rental to one-way instead of returning to same spot might produce a radically different price than making a second separate booking - prices have been all over the place this year as rental franchises try to figure out demand for cross-border trips - but it's probably worth a few minutes of your time plugging in both scenarios to Kayak or especially Costco travel if you're members (the free second driver is often useful and pricing is usually better than elsewhere).

 

You might even get lucky if you check out Transfer Cars - Vancouver/Seattle vehicle relocations came up fairly often in TheBeforeTimes.

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