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About Heidi13

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    British Columbia
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    Travel, Photography, Swimming, Walking Dogs, Football (Glasgow Rangers)
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Viking Ocean
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  1. Not sure of your definition of the "Mules" taking ships through the old locks. While they are secured Fwd & Aft on both sides, there role is only holding the ship in position. When within the locks, ships use main propulsion to reach the far gate and also to move through a series of multiple locks. When dealing with "Panamax" size vessels, it takes a significant amount of power to drive the ship into the lock, as they must displace an equal volume of water. With minimal clearance on the sides and below the keel, the ship creates a pressure cushion ahead, so it takes significant power to push into the locks, way more than provided by the mules. On my first trips through the Canal, I was amazed at how long we pushed into a lock, with engines stopped just before the end gate. Once engines were stopped the ship quickly stopped.
  2. In the summer months you have a higher chance of a smooth sailing, but having worked this coast for many years, we do get a few summer storms.
  3. On most cruises we prefer a balance of a few port days, followed by a relaxing 1 or 2 sea days. However, I am also comfortable with sea days and would enjoy a relaxing 4 weeks at sea with no ports.
  4. Wendy - As expected the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC will not issue Visas in Canadian passports. I experienced the same issue in Vancouver about 10 yrs ago, when I gave them my UK passport. Refused the Visa until I provided them a Canadian passport, or fly to UK. GenVisa are arranging all other Visas. Once we get the passports back we will head down to Vancouver for the Chinese ones. Since Viking are paying for Visas, they will re-imburse all costs. If Regent are using a US Company for Visas, I expect you may have similar issues with China Visas. For luggage shipping, I am predicting about 2 weeks before the cruise, since we have Christmas & New Year, before departure Jan 4th.
  5. Having worked a couple of full seasons in Alaska & numerous B2B's, I can provide some info to help with planning. Flights - agree with martincath, as I would also book the cruise & flight separately. Personally, we normally book long-haul flights with points, so are restricted to EDI-LHR-YVR. However, my dad now uses Iceland Air, which with a 1 hr stop, the Glasgow flight is about the same length as direct flights from London/Continent. With only 10 days, you are limited to 7-day cruises. For Vancouver v's Seattle, I agree that Vancouver is a superior option - both for scenic cruising, length of time in Alaska and more options. From Seattle, cruise lines can only offer R/T cruises, so you are restricted to seeing SE Alaska. Vancouver has both R/T & one-way cruises. Since your preference is Vancouver, I suggest the next choice is a R/T or 1-way, both have pros/cons. The R/T's from Vancouver only visit SE Alaska & some go up to Hubbard Glacier. This area has the common, but very busy ports of Ketchikan, Juneau & Skagway + a few others. This option provides easier & cheaper flights. You also see part of the Canadian inside Passage in daylight - more on that later. The 1-way cruises head out Icy Strait and up the Pacific Ocean to Prince William Sound, docking in Whittier (Princess) or Seward (others). The scenic cruising in PW Sound is amazing. Your can also take optional scenic cruises from both Whittier & Seward at the end of the cruise. Better scenery, but the flight down from Anchorage is additional time & cost. Glaciers - Other than PW Sound, the most common glaciers seen from the ship are Tracy Arm, Glacier Bay & Hubbard Glacier. Tracy Arm is a narrow inlet, but it is frequently icebound, especially early season. Of all the times in Alaska, only made it to the glacier once. Glacier Bay is a full day of scenic cruising, with stops at 2 glaciers. The Park Rangers also board and provide excellent commentary. Wildlife can also be seen throughout the day. The Captains normally get fairly close to both glaciers & rotate the ship, so both sides get a view. Been into GB well over 20 times and have never failed to see the glaciers. Even today, I am one of the first out on deck. Hubbard is huge, but again at the end of a channel, which is wider than Tracy Arm. I have missed Hubbard a few times due to fog or ice. Inside Passage - As a previous response noted, cruise lines take liberties with use of the term Inside Passage. The actual Inside Passage from Vancouver runs to the East of Vancouver Island to Queen Charlotte Sound, where it restarts and transits the coast up to Dixon Entrance at Prince Rupert. On crossing Dixon Entrance it starts again south of Ketchikan and goes up to Skagway & Icy Strait. When I worked Alaska cruises and latterly the BC Coast, we truly completed the entire Inside Passage. Sadly, mainstream cruise lines are seeing much less of the Coast, as they spend increasing time in open waters. Departing Vancouver, you enter the Inside Passage at Campbell River, usually from 2230 to 02:00, depending on tides at Seymour. You navigate the scenic stretch at night, reaching Queen Charlotte Strait by 07:00. Most mainstream lines drop the pilot and head up Hecate Strait, with only scenery being tops of mountains. The premium/luxury lines often continue up the BC Inside Passage. You should also check the Alaska port rotation. The one you are considering, I suspect they will cruise East of Vancouver Island, then head directly to Hubbard via open waters. After Hubbard you would head in Icy Strait to Hoonah, then down the Alaska Inside Passage. If Hubbard was not accessible, you will not see other glaciers from the ship. For this reason, for first timers in Alaska, I always recommend Glacier Bay. My first preference for an Alaska Cruise is always B2B from Vancouver, but since you only have 10 days, my suggestion is a S'bd from Whittier/Seward. Day of cruise take a scenic local cruise - Phillip's 26 glacier cruise/Kenai peninsula. For an itinerary I prefer multiple glaciers - Hubbard & Glacier Bay. For ports, I enjoy seeing at least 1 of the smaller ports, in addition to the big 3. Also note the cruise you mentioned doesn't visit Skagway, which is our favourite of the big 3 ports. With respect to selecting a ship, I always consider the scenery as the star attraction and the ship is simply a means of transportation. Therefore, I would base my choice primarily on ports visited, length of time in port and the potential routing. Enjoy Alaska.
  6. In addition to Viking River, you now have Viking Ocean. They have superior dining options over mainstream lines and have a resident classical trio. I would check out Viking or Oceania.
  7. Flights/hotels - booked Ports planning complete - just got to print and create a binder Weekly calendar complete - needs printing Tours - ship included & optional tours booked, private tours booked where possible Visas - process underway, passports back in 4 to 6 weeks Vaccinations - travel clinic appointment for October Currency - determined what & how much we require - purchase in December Luggage shipping - mid December Under 4 months to departure.
  8. Close to Invergordon, a few years ago we stayed at a brilliant B&B in Tain, home to the Glen Morangie Distillery. We would also have considered hiring a car and driving to Speyside for the Cullodon Battlefield, followed by lunch at the Baxter Soup factory. Have found memories of Baxter soups when growing up.
  9. Another refreshment parlour, close to the Castle is The Bow Bar, great selection of Whisky & cask ales. Never thought about it, as I should have given you some of these suggestions before the ports.
  10. You will find multiple threads discussing this same topic. In my opinion, money provided in advance of service is not a tip, it is a bribe. Gratuity/tips is normally defined as recognition of a service provided. While I would never bribe the hotel crew, I highly doubt it will result in noticeably better service and most likely zero improvement. The crew will graciously accept the bribe, but it may also provide some discussion below decks.
  11. From the itinerary, scroll down to view the Madrid pre excursion. Here is the link. https://www.vikingcruisescanada.com/oceans/cruise-destinations/western-mediterranean/iconic-western-mediterranean/index.html#modal/10108531634
  12. Jim - The Cullen Skink is a hearty creamy traditional soup/stew, normally made with Smoked Haddock (Finnan Haddie), which provides the distinctive flavour. Another delicacy in N Scotland is Black Pudding, which I enjoy when back visiting. Unless taking the train into Edinburgh Waverley, I agree that tendering ashore close to Leith is preferable to docking in Rosyth. The drive into Edinburgh from Rosyth/Queensferry is a nightmare, especially in the morning. Although in Rosyth you would have had a view of UK's newest carrier (HMS Prince of Wales), which I believe departs the building yard this week.
  13. Jim - It really is a brilliant story. Hope you tried a refreshment in the adjacent pub, of the same name. When visiting the Tattoo, this is where we usually stop for dinner before the show, as it is a short walk to the Castle.
  14. Been through the Canal well over 20 times, at all times of the year. While the dry season is considered January to April, it really should be drier. Even in the dry season, I have experienced afternoon showers most afternoons. In the wet season, I don't recall a day where it rained continuously. However, all days are hot & humid.
  15. Similar to Coral, I have completed numerous B2B's in Alaska and did not note any preference for side of the ship.
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