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Trip Report - Trains, Planes, Automobiles and Cruise Ship to Alaska

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Atleastonce

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P1014434.jpg Seattle 5.jpg seattle 2.jpg Seattle 3.jpg Seattle 4.jpg A few months ago I posted a question asking for assistance in getting a name changefor my daughter’s ticket on VA. Wellthat came through after some persistence and my wife and I were off to Seattle,Vancouver and Alaska. All destinationsthat we had not visited before, although being to USA many many times.
Day 1
VA7 out ofBNE to LAX. Row 20 was our preferredseating, having sat in row 26 bulk head on our last VA LAX BNE trip. I took the risk of the bulkhead bassinetrow. After a few hours in the Koru clubat BNE it was time to board. Really, theKoru club is a far cry from most lounges, to the point my next trip on VA willbe MCY to SYD instead of driving to BNE and flying from there. The flight was delayed by ¾ hour to accommodatethe 6:30am arrival time into LAX. Iwould much rather wait the ¾ hour in the lounge at departure than on board atdestination.
The flightwas OK, comfortable enough for Y. Babyin the centre bulkhead of row 20, but my Bose headphones took care any noise. The baby was exceptionally good though. The problem was the passenger next to me thatcould not go 3 minutes without coughing. I felt for him, he was so ill. Luckily I did not catch anything from him.
I was ableto pre order my meal selection, but unlike other flights, they would not takemy wife’s order because she was not platinum. I chose to be served at the same time as my wife, and being in row 20 wewere first anyway.

On arrivalinto LAX I watched an A380 arrival at the same time, but we were lucky enoughto reach the queues just before them and ½ hour through and checked bags toSEA. Off to our flight on VirginAmerica. Seated in row 4 and our firstflight on Virgin America. About 3 hoursin the Loft, and an average breakfast, I was plied with a number of double scotches.
Flight toSeattle on Virgin America was pretty good. Reasonable Y seats, and a good 2 hour sleep. I can’t remember take off, but the safetydemo was quite funky.
Living onthe Sunshine coast, snow is a novelty, and seeing snow on approach to SEA was athrill.
We werequoted $140 transfers from flight centre. After a most enjoying light rail trip to the centre of Seattle for $2.75each we were a short 2 block walk to the Grand Hyatt. A quick scout around Seattle and we rode themonorail to the space needle for a meal.

We wereseated on a slightly elevated centre seat, with both seats facing the window ofthe rotating restaurant. I decided topass on the $250 cocktail. The food waspretty good, not Sydney Quay good but nonetheless, after a number of flightsand not many hours sleep, and it was pretty good and worth the price.
The priceof the meal included entry to the observation deck. As I said, snow is a novelty.



 
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Atleastonce

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re: Planes Trains Automobiles & Cruise Ship

Grouse 1.jpg Grouse 2.jpg Grouse 3.jpg Grouse 4.jpg Day 2
We had the choice of drive to Vancouver or train. I am glad we chose the train after rolling past the border and seeing the traffic. For about $20 more each we chose business class ticket on the Amtrak train and this allowed us priority entry at the Vancouver immigration. We were at our hotel, the Blue Horizon, right in the centre of town after a 15 minute taxi ride, and within ½ hour of departing the train.
We caught the shuttle to the suspension bridge attraction between Stanley Park and Grouse Mountain and then the public bus to Grouse Mountain. We did not expect the amount of snow, and the brown bears at the top of Grouse Mountain. A short gondola ride. My wife is petrified of heights, but said it was not too bad and well worth the trip.

It wasquite easy to walk around for a few hours in the snow, and then a beeroverlooking Vancouver.Plenty ofgood restaurants around the Blue Horizon and we ordered more Sushi than wecould eat at a small restaurant across the road from the Blue Horizon. This hotel had the most comfortable bed andpillows I have ever had at a Hotel. Iwill be emailing them to find out where they purchase them.
 
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Atleastonce

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re: Planes Trains Automobiles & Cruise Ship

Day 3
To the Vancouverport to board Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas bound for Alaska. This was our second Royal Caribbean cruise in6 months, having previously done the Bahamas. One extreme to the other.


cruise 2.jpg cruise 1.jpg
 

Atleastonce

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re: Planes Trains Automobiles & Cruise Ship


Day 5
Mendenhall Glacier. We took a tour bus from the dock to the Glacier, and saw the only McDonalds in Alaska, and the only Walmart with a Glacier as a backdrop.




cruise 5.jpg cruise 6.jpg cruise 7.jpg

 

Atleastonce

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Day6
Skagway,the northern most town we sail to, and we are on a tour to the ‘Summit’. We drive with the most entertaining tourguide who is an artist and photograper in the non tourist season. We drive back into Canada and and stop for aphoto opportunity when the cloud cover lifts slightly. Frozen lakes and snow for as far as you couldsee.
Skagway isa town that time has forgotten. What anamazing town with a population of about 900. We had 2200 on our cruise.
We returnedto the ship after some shopping and because of the very late sunset of 9:30pm thetrivia competition stopped on the ship to watch the 2 whales right next to ourship in the harbor, for nearly 1 hour. Wewere then off to Ketchikan via Tracey Arm Fjord


cruise 8.jpg
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Atleastonce

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re: Planes Trains Automobiles & Cruise Ship

Day 7
We awoke to icebergs and a distant view of Dawes Glacier. Sunrise was at 4:30am, so plenty of daylight to see the sights.


cruise 11.jpg
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Atleastonce

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Day 8
Sailing to Ketchikan. We make a last minute booking for the Bearing Sea Fisherman’s Tour on the Aleutian Ballad of the Deadliest Catch fame. What an amazing tour, with guides that have fished the Bearing Sea, and fallen overboard into the Bearing Sea. We experienced them using the fishing gear for the huge crab pots and other fishing techniques for that area. We stopped whilst they threw fish into the water and at least 100 bald eagles swooped to take the fish.



cruise 21.jpg cruise 22.jpg cruise 23.jpg cruise 24.jpg cruise 25.jpg

 

Atleastonce

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Day 9
No photos for this cruising day. Instead a Martini seminar where I drank each sample. 5 Martini’s later and I was walking straight on deck with the 6 metre swell and 120 Kph winds on deck. This weather lasted for about 4 hours. Numerous on board activities, bingo, trivia, and towel and napkin folding demonstrations for those interested in that. I must admit I sneaked a quicknap during those demonstrations.
Day 10
Into Seattle early morning and with an express departure we were off the ship and into a taxi by 7:30am. We had anticipated a10:30am departure so we were well ahead of schedule. We dropped our bags at the hotel (The SilverCloud) and hired a car to head straight for the Boeing factory. No GPS available in the rental, so a few very vague maps from the Hertz, and a few tour books we found our way to the Boeing factory. Our tickets were for the next day, but there was room for the 10:00am tour and away we went. No photos allowed, so I can’t show you, butwe did see the Air New Zealand 787-9 painted in the black livery. This is truly a sight to see. A great tour and seeing the size of the factoryis amazing. We saw the 747 and 787 production lines.
Next to the shopping outlets on the way back to Seattle. Again with limited maps we made it back to the hotel, which was right next door to Safeco Field. Our 3[SUP]rd[/SUP]floor room had a great view of the field entrance We also had a great view of the field at the Mariners –v- Astros game. Mariners won 6-1.



cruise 26.jpg cruise 27.jpg

 

Atleastonce

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Day 11
Up early and check out early for a bit of sight seeing around Seattle. Once again with limited maps we ventured into the suburbs, the local shopping centres and malls was an experience. We made it back to Seattle airport for aquick check-in and security check for our Virgin America flight to LAX.
LAX, no matter how many times you point out the word platinum on the boarding pass, if you are not flying on an American based airline the chances of express security is diminished. We were not pushed for time, so not to worry. At least when showing our boarding passes at the star alliance lounge, we were escorted to the first class lounge. Ipersonally do not think the first class lounge at LAX is amazing, and after aquick bite to eat, we moved to the deck area to consume some lovely red andchampagne. We were the only ones on the deck.
cruise 28.jpg

VA8 to BNEwas as comfortable was could be in row 20. No one to my left for the flight, which made the stretch a little easier. No pre ordering meal selection on this flightlike the outbound flight, and the CSM only introduced himself to us as we were preparingto land. I managed about 8 hours sleepon the flight. Within 30 minutes oflanding, and the assistance of an express pass we were in the car and en routeto the Sunshine Coast. Interestingly, wewere only given 1 express pass, and told the one pass was good for 2 passengers. That was the first time I had been told that.

Overall, a fantastic scenery trip, and if you have not done Alaska, I would say make this your next bucket list trip. The scenery is spectacular!


 
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re: Planes Trains Automobiles & Cruise Ship

Great trip, thanks!

I hope that chunk of blue ice in post #8 hadn't dropped off a plane :)

Bald eagle picks are amazing.


I've always wanted to go back to Alaska and that cruise sounds handy.
 

Atleastonce

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The behavior of some adults on a cruise astounds me. You feel like telling people that it is a buffet and they will not run out and you are allowed to go back for seconds if you want. I am sure the cost if a cruise would be less if people didn't waste so much.
 
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