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Luggage on the Alaska Railroad


mspect462
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We are scheduled to take the Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic from Anchorage to Seward to sail on the Radiance of the Seas on July 22.  I had read that pre-COVID, you could drop your luggage off in an area in Anchorage and the bags would be brought by truck directly to the cruise ship and brought on board without us needing to do anything in Seward. Is this still being done now?

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Yes it is the common practice tried and true - - -

 

When using the coordinated Alaska RR and Cruise ship luggage service - you use the

baggage/luggage checks provided by the cruise line or self printed ones and the

luggage then knows where on the ship it needs to go to your stateroom. No railway

check tags required. The system works perfectly - luggage that has lost its bag check

is taken to the ships lost and found awaiting your claiming.

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The “area” where you drop your luggage in Anchorage is the normal luggage check in area, all the luggage is driven to Seward 🙂 the luggage folk sort the luggage and probably 90% of the people with luggage that are traveling on the train have the luggage being delivered somewhere when they get to Seward....very handy....

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3 hours ago, don't-use-real-name said:

When using the coordinated Alaska RR and Cruise ship luggage service - you use the

baggage/luggage checks provided by the cruise line or self printed ones and the

luggage then knows where on the ship it needs to go to your stateroom. No railway

check tags required. The system works perfectly - luggage that has lost its bag check

is taken to the ships lost and found awaiting your claiming.

Do you know if there are cruise line personnel present at the downtown Anchorage station, for the departures of both the Coastal Classic and Glacier Discovery trains (to Seward and Whittier, respectively), for the handling of baggage and customer relations, all separate and apart from the chartered cruise trains? If so, all lines, or just the primary ones (i.e., Princess, Holland-America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Silversea)? Or is the baggage handled by the Alaska Railroad and loaded by the railroad into the trucks? And are the trucks hired (be it directly or through a broker) by the cruise lines or by the railroad . . . or by their own employees using their own trucks? These transportation logistics are not well documented, but particularly when things go wrong, and liability needs to be determined, the logistics are important. (E.g., most railroads limit their baggage liability to $500, but Alaska Railroad is unusual in not limiting its liability in its terms and conditions; and meanwhile cruise lines limit their liability to lower limits . . . so best, from a liability perspective, to have baggage handled and transported by the railroad than by a cruise line.)

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I don't have the exact facts - just what I have observed September 2019 NCL JEWEL.

Arrived at the Anchorage Depot with luggage and stateroom tags attached. Luggage

loaded into a truck and hauled away to the ship while we rode the Coastal Classic

train in Gold Star and had a blast. Arrived at Seward walked to CT check-in and went

on board - a few hours later about 2pm luggage at stateroom door - perfect !

it may have helped being in a Haven DOS - - -

 

Back at the Anchorage depot while I did not see a uniformed NCL agent - there were

people with a handful of stateroom luggage tags - purpose to tag luggage that the

guests did not have.

Mass pandemonium in the depot - fortunately I had dropped by the day before and

got my seat assignment selection and paperwork in order.

 

Two days before had taken the Denali Star from Fairbanks and noted that the customers

luggage was loaded in small wire rack bins (holding about 25-30 pieces of luggage) and

these were fork lifted into the baggage cars where a small hand dolly moved stacked and

organized the checked baggage by station - On arrival at Anchorage these containers

were off loaded in that same (claim) area as we checked in for the day of the cruise.

So luggage is not handled by the piece in loading/unloading - but by a fork lift and

small container - very efficient and fast. Having worked for a major airline for 30 years

I am very keen on how luggage en-mass is handled - the system that the Alaska RR and

the cruise line (NCL) have worked out is flawless except for when a bag loses it handle

or tag and awaits for the guest to file a claim at lost and found.

Since this system is working so well I presume that the other guys cruise lines are doing

the same.

 

In July of 2013 NCL SUN sailing out of Whittier - the luggage with stateroom

tags was taken by the tour excursion operator by truck and delivered direct to my

cabin. We boarded a bus for the trip from Ayeska to Whittier - no AK RR.

 

As with any enterprise - Have a ? - Ask ? - Find the answer/person - hauling your own

luggage (baggage) around from point to point is just not a working solution to having

a pleasant time.

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9 hours ago, GTJ said:

Do you know if there are cruise line personnel present at the downtown Anchorage station, for the departures of both the Coastal Classic and Glacier Discovery trains (to Seward and Whittier, respectively), for the handling of baggage and customer relations, all separate and apart from the chartered cruise trains? If so, all lines, or just the primary ones (i.e., Princess, Holland-America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Silversea)? Or is the baggage handled by the Alaska Railroad and loaded by the railroad into the trucks? And are the trucks hired (be it directly or through a broker) by the cruise lines or by the railroad . . . or by their own employees using their own trucks? These transportation logistics are not well documented, but particularly when things go wrong, and liability needs to be determined, the logistics are important. (E.g., most railroads limit their baggage liability to $500, but Alaska Railroad is unusual in not limiting its liability in its terms and conditions; and meanwhile cruise lines limit their liability to lower limits . . . so best, from a liability perspective, to have baggage handled and transported by the railroad than by a cruise line.)

Since I didn’t travel on a cruise day (the day before) I can’t be certain, but there were no other workers except for the railroad workers.  There aren’t separate trucks for each hotel/destination, and it is official railroad people who drive it there.  EVERY destination that is of any notable size (bigger than a B&B, and maybe even them) manages to get the luggage to its destination.  There are hundreds of people on the train, they do this every day.  There were maybe 10 people on our train that had to pick up their luggage (like those staying with friends or in vacation rentals probably) at the depot when they arrived.  It’s not a mom and pop outfit, they know this is their bread and butter. 

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Last month we took the Alaska Railroad independently a couple of days after our cruise to Seward. In Seward we were staying at Harbor 360 hotel. They labelled our luggage up and took it to the station and we didn’t see it again until Anchorage. We had to collect it and return to Anchorage station the following day for our next leg. There were massive queues for check in and for luggage drop but somehow it was all done by time the train departed. There were separate queues for Princess cruise lines and the Alaska Railroad one labelled ours up for direct transfer to Denali Bluffs Hotel. 

Whether it is transferred directly to the hotel appears to depend on which hotel you are staying at. For Harbor 360 in Seward it was complementary which made it very easy to stroll the few minutes to the station. Denali Bluffs charged a small fee to collect it and drop it off at the station again ($8 per person I think).

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20 hours ago, GTJ said:

Do you know if there are cruise line personnel present at the downtown Anchorage station, for the departures of both the Coastal Classic and Glacier Discovery trains (to Seward and Whittier, respectively), for the handling of baggage and customer relations, all separate and apart from the chartered cruise trains? If so, all lines, or just the primary ones (i.e., Princess, Holland-America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Silversea)? Or is the baggage handled by the Alaska Railroad and loaded by the railroad into the trucks? And are the trucks hired (be it directly or through a broker) by the cruise lines or by the railroad . . . or by their own employees using their own trucks? These transportation logistics are not well documented, but particularly when things go wrong, and liability needs to be determined, the logistics are important. (E.g., most railroads limit their baggage liability to $500, but Alaska Railroad is unusual in not limiting its liability in its terms and conditions; and meanwhile cruise lines limit their liability to lower limits . . . so best, from a liability perspective, to have baggage handled and transported by the railroad than by a cruise line.)

The ARR makes sure everything is tagged for the cruiselines & seperates the luggage. 

 

Holland America & Princess uses their own luggage trucks to move the luggage to the Port.  They use their own employees to load the luggage.  Company Reps are present for their trains.  Usually not present for the ARR trains, until the Luggage Crew arrives to load the trucks.

 

All other Cruise Lines use Premier Alaska to move passengers & luggage.  They have their trucks & luggage crew.  

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21 minutes ago, ARRTrain said:

Holland America & Princess uses their own luggage trucks to move the luggage to the Port.  They use their own employees to load the luggage. Company Reps are present for their trains. Usually not present for the ARR trains, until the Luggage Crew arrives to load the trucks.

 

All other Cruise Lines use Premier Alaska to move passengers & luggage.  They have their trucks & luggage crew.  

It is good when things work out as planned, but having had to deal with passenger baggage claims when there are multiple parties involved, each with different liabilities, it can be difficult trying to sort things out when things don't go as planned. It is always disappointing to persons who travel by cruise vessel, have their baggage mishandled, and end up with only $250 for a loss far in excess of that amount. So if you can have your baggage handled instead by the Alaska Railroad, then all the better! Under federal law, 49 U.S.C. § 11706(c)(2), railroads have much greater latitude than airlines and bus lines to limit their liability for loss or damage to baggage, so I just find it amazing that the Alaska Railroad does not exploit the provision of law (given that other railroads, such as Amtrak and Rocky Mountaineer, generally limiting their liability to $500).

 

Premier Alaska seems to do a lot of the transportation work behind the scenes. My understanding is that the company operates, as a motor carrier of passengers, the Park Connection bus service that Alaska Tour & Travel arranges as broker, and also operates the onboard services of, and maintains, the Wilderness Express private railcars attached to the Alaska Railroad Denali Star (but not as a rail carrier of passengers). And so the company also operates as a motor carrier of property! Anything else that this company does regularly?

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/10/2022 at 9:03 PM, Ashland said:

OP this has worked for us also with RCI but doing the reverse...Seward to Anchorage using the cruise transfer train.

Ashland, this might answer the one question I have.  Our cruise goes from Vancouver to Seward (July 2023).  We arrive early in the morning, but are wanting to do the evening train from Seward to Anchorage.  Were you able to store your luggage at the depot for that evening train ride?  We had thought of renting a car for the day in Seward, storing our luggage in the car and seeing the sites before leaving that evening at 6:00pm.

 

Thought?

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17 hours ago, BIBPhotography said:

We arrive early in the morning, but are wanting to do the evening train from Seward to Anchorage. Were you able to store your luggage at the depot for that evening train ride?

The railroad does not store baggage, apparently a policy adopted because of concerns over terrorists planning to go to Seward, Alaska, for the purpose of blowing up the railroad station there. An unfortunate consequence of the 2001 tragedies. You will likely to have to find alternatives for left luggage. Common strategies include having baggage handled by a Seward tour operator or hotel operator. If you're renting a motor vehicle, it might be most convenient to have the baggage locked in the vehicle's trunk.

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On 8/1/2022 at 3:57 AM, BIBPhotography said:

Ashland, this might answer the one question I have.  Our cruise goes from Vancouver to Seward (July 2023).  We arrive early in the morning, but are wanting to do the evening train from Seward to Anchorage.  Were you able to store your luggage at the depot for that evening train ride?  We had thought of renting a car for the day in Seward, storing our luggage in the car and seeing the sites before leaving that evening at 6:00pm.

 

Thought?

 

Go to the Alaska Railroad website.  Go to "Travel Planning," then "When Traveling," then "At the Depots," and finally to "Do You Hold Luggage."  Here is the statement:

 

 

"No. We are unable to hold luggage for passengers, either overnight or for just a few hours. We do not have lockers at any of our depots. Passengers may check their luggage only after checking in at a ticket counter.

One exception: passengers disembarking from a cruise ship and departing on the Coastal Classic Train from Seward may check luggage in early at the Seward depot."

 

Call or email the Alaska Railroad to ensure that this policy is still in effect.

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