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XBGuy

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  1. OP, let me guess. You prefer Marriott properties because you are using points for the stay. A perfectly reasonable plan. Take a cab/Uber/Lyft/Hired Car to the Residence Inn from LAX. FWIW, my wife and I like the Marriott Courtyard in downtown Long Beach. Mrs. XBGuy really likes the restaurant in the hotel (James Republic). Also, though, I really like the restaurant across the street (Utopia). Have a great cruise.
  2. Prudent. I imagine that they would like the passengers on board and through the muster drill before the dining rooms open. Have a great cruse.
  3. C&C, I'm sorry that I don't have any actual experience with 11:00 pm departures that I can pass along to you, but the question did intrigue me. I logged on to Princess and checked on a cruise that I have booked for December 2020. The first place I looked was at the Travel Summary. That document usually has the most comprehensive information. However, sure enough, I could not find boarding times. So, then, I clicked on the "Itinerary" link. There it is I absolutely agree that the fact that I found this information my cruise is not ipso facto proof that you will be able to find it in you Cruise Personalizer. Also, we all know that boarding is usually allowed for Princess cruises well before this published time. Normally, for a 4:00 pm departure, we ignore the published 1:00 pm check-in time and arrive at the pier at about 11:30 am. If you stick with your plan of arriving in Vancouver at 4:20 pm, I have to believe that you will be able to go to the pier immediately, and you will find that the boarding process is well underway. Have a great cruise.
  4. Thanks, L. My experience was from 1992. Sorry Bubba. It sounds like the Anchorage-Whittier trip is not as fun as it used to be.
  5. If I am understanding your question correctly, Bubba, I would choose the cruise that visited Icy Strait Point and Sitka. I agree with the other posters that these two stops are very different from the other Alaska ports. It has been well over two decades since my only visit to Sitka, but I really don't remember much from that visit other than the "Nature Cruise" excursion that we took. That was pretty neat, even though my wife and I sat on the outside of the boat in something of a drizzle,. This was our first AK cruise and we saw something on this excurstion that I haven't seen, since. You know in those PBS nature shows where they show an eagle soaring just above water, and it suddenly drops its talons into the water and flies off with a trophy-sized salmon? We actually saw that. I am, however, sure that we paid extra for that part of the tour. (I also am pretty sure that the group of yuppies who did not want to get damp and, so, were inside the boat, did not see the eagle.) The only other thing I remember from Sitka was the Russian Orthodox church. I would love to go back there and am giving thought to that 14-day Los Angeles roundtrip this year. Icy Strait Point is a fairly new cruise port. Also, I think it can only accommodate one cruise ship at a time. I may be wrong, there. I suppose that an addition ship could anchor and tender passengers ashore. The neat thing about Icy Strait Point is that all the businesses are all locally owned. So, I found that the docents on the Whale Watch and the Bear Search excursions that we took really tried hard to make the experience memorable for us. A valid reason why my opinion may be invalid is because I have never visited Whittier as a port start, only as an embarkation port. We flew into Anchorage and took a bus to Whittier. Somebody mentioned a glacier cruise excursion, and I have to agree that sounds pretty neat. Since you are pondering a cruise where Whittier is a port stop, you might find the rest of this post to be irrelevant. So you can feel free to skip it, Somebody posted in one of your threads that the bus ride from Anchorage to Whittier was long with the implication that it is boring. I beg to differ. I mentioned that we did take the Whittier-Vancouver southbound cruise once. It was our very first AK cruise. We flew to Anchorage and took the cruise line's bus to Whittier. Leaving Anchorage you travel next to a waterway called Turnagain Arm. So, on the right is water and on the left is mountains. Our bus driver did a little tour guide stuff and pointed out where you could see sheep on the mountain, she also pointed out the Fireweed, and what the why the expanses of dead trees are called "Ghost Forests." The coolest part, though, was the fact that the road doesn't actually go to Whittier. The bus pulls off at a railroad siding and drives onto a flatcar. You stay on the bus and the train takes you through mountain tunnels (actually, I don't remember if it was one long tunnel or a series of tunnels) to get to Whittier. Very cool. I saw my first glacier from that bus and couldn't believe how beautiful it was. In the latter stages of my career I made three or four business trips to Anchorage. On one of these, Larry, the local rep took me to dinner at Alyeska. To get there, we traveled on that same road along Turnagain Arm Larry, of course, pointed out when we were coming up to were the mountain sheep were, but he also mentioned that over here on the right you can sometimes see Beluga Whales. Sure enough. Within seconds I spotted what, at first, I thought was a very large albino dolphin. Nope. A Beluga Whale. Then, three or four more. Sorry I am so long-winded, Bubba. As you might gather, I love to pontificate.
  6. OP, several solutions have been proposed above. I am in the "carry it in your pocket" group. In fact, I even carry it in my pocket while on board the ship. It sounds like you have cruised before. Presumably, on those cruises you were issued a plastic card. When you went ashore, I assume that you stowed the card in a pocket or a purse or a backpack or something else. Just do the same with the medallion. You can leave it in the wristband or you can detach it.
  7. Bubba, you are doing a good job of analysis. Also, a lot of good opinions have been offered here. So, one more won't slow you down too much. I have not cruised to Alaska as often as some, but I do have some experience. Six Alaska cruises: 1 X Whittier-Vancouver southbound (August) 2 X Roundtrip out of San Francisco (September) 3 X Roundtrip out of Los Angeles (2 X April, 1 X September) I, personally, find dealing with airports and airlines to be completely humiliating. So, the last three have been a matter of driving to San Pedro and avoiding airports. On this same theme, I find that the trip home is really awful if I am relying on an airline. On the flight to the cruise, I am pumped with adrenalin and can better deal with all the hassles. On the flight home, I am more phyisically and emotionally drained and any little iritation is magnified. Once on the last sea day of a cruise, I woke up with a sore throat. It happens. On disembarkation morning I has a full raging respiratory infection with, as you might imagine, quite stuffed sinuses and eustachian tubes. Descending in an aircraft from 30,000 feet when your ears are stuffed is quite painful. I do agree that Vancouver, BC is a great town to visit. Our only experience was a port stop a couple years ago. While I have no experience, but my understanding is that hotels in Vancouver, BC are quite spendy. The question of the number of sea days is a good one to consider. My wife and I love them. Your concern about how well your wife will enjoy six, or so, sea days on the Los Angeles roundtrip is valid. Other than the airplane thing, I do not have much of a preference one way or another for any particular itinerary. I have seen calving glaciers on every one of our cruises and I have seen whales from the ship on every one of our cruises. I agree that Sitka and Icy Strait Point are excellent stops. One of the highlights of all our AK cruises was a "Bear Search" excursion at Icy Strait Point. Rain is a reality in Alaska. We have been on only one AK cruise--last April's--where we did not encounter rain. If your idea of "bad weather" is rain, then prepare for disappointment. You will, certainly, encounter warmer weather in July than in May. In fact, you should definitely pack sun screen for a July cruise, and it is not a bad idea for a May cruise. In Ketchikan on a September cruise a few years ago, I reboarded the ship with a sunburn. Insect repellant would also be a good idea on a July cruise. We have never encountered a problem in the spring or autumn cruises. A July cruise will have more families on it since school will be out. There will be a few kids on a May cruise, but not as many. I want to pick a bone, a bit, with the posters who insist that the seafood in Alaska has been frozen. So what? I am quite OK with the fact that the only fish that I have ever eaten that I knew was not previously frozen, was whatever I caught that day myself. If there was more than I could eat that day, it went into the freezer. I am quite sure that any fish I buy in a local market has been previously frozen. Here are my tips for seafood in AK ports--both of these places are in Juneau. Tracy's King Crab Shack--This place is situated right next to the docks where the cruise ships berth. It is easy to find. It is the place with the line of customers waiting to get in. The crab is amazing. However, it is pretty spendy, and I completely understand if you want to allocate your budget otherwise. There is some indoor seating, but there is more seating on the adjoining patio. Deckhand Dave's--This place is downtown. So, depending on which berth a cruise ship uses, it is a walk of less that a quarter mile to, maybe, a half mile. Dave's has the most amazing fish tacos. (I am also partial to their french fries.) It is all outdoor seating under umbrellas. So, if it is drizzly, you can keep dry while you are eating. The prices are not too bad. Tracy's attracts, mostly, tourists off the cruise ships. That is neat because you may be seated at a communal table next to people who are on other cruise ships and you can compare notes. Since Dave's is not right on the docks cruisers do have to search for it. Also, though, it is fairly close to various government buildings and, so, attracts a lot of locals for lunch. You can use Google to learn more about both Tracy's and Dave's. I have no experience with either the Star Princess or the Sun Princess, although we are booked on the Star Princess in January. So, I cannot offer any opinion, there, In our six Alaska cruises we have been on five different ships--ranging in passenger capacity from 800 to 3600. I do not feel that the ship made any difference in our enjoyment of Alaska. Here is something we spotted right outside our balcony as we were leaving Ketchikan last September: We had never seen this before and were totally jazzed. This is a whale feeding strategy called a bubble net. By the time the whale popped up we were passed him, and I was't too quick with my mobile phone camera, but here he is: You'te going to have a great cruise, Bubba. Bon Voyage.
  8. Same for us. All our cruises are one or two weeks. We, generally, bring a eight or nine bottles of our own wine on board. So. we start by paying corkage at the pier. We, also, do enjoy the various wine lists on Princess--generally, our cruise line of choice. I am, primarily, a red wine drinker, and my wife prefers white wines. So, if I take a bottle of red wine to dinner, she will order a white from their list--and vice versa. If we are not up for a big dinner, we may go to the ship's wine bar where they offer complimentary Tapas or Sushi with a wine order. Second biggest expense after wine would probably be specialty dining.
  9. Since you are interested in food. A few people have mentioned the Winemaker's Dinner. On our Royal Princess cruise in September, that event took the form of a Super Tuscan Dinner held in the Sabatini's room. That was the the culinary highight of our 12-day cruise (which also included the Chef's Table Luminiere). Multiple excellent courses each paired with an Italiian wine. Actually, not all the wines were Super Tuscans--a Prosecco was handed to us as we entered, then a Sardinian white with the appeztizer, then Super Tuscan reds with the next three courses (a soup, a rissotto and a steak) and a lemoncello with dessert. We learned about this dinner while bantering with the headwaiter, Franco, on our first visit to Sabatini''s on Day 2 of the cruise. He and I had a great time discussing wines. So, he asked if we would be interested in this $60 pp event. It did not even take a millisecond for me to agree, and he signed us up. On the night of the event, Sabatini's was closed to other passengers. When we were taken to our table by Franco, my wife was absolutely thrilled with the corner table next to a sea view window that was assigned to us.
  10. As usual, your comments make a lot of sense, Chief. Thanks for coming back.
  11. Don, I have, of course, seen these, but I've never seen one for passenger use in the buffet in a dozen, or so, Princess cruises. While my experience is limited, I am wondering if you were referring to other cruise lines when you say that you have seen them on other ships for passenger use. Yes, a Princess staff person toasts bagels and english muffins behind the line and stacks them in trays for passengers to pick up. My experience is that these are not steamer trays. So, clearly, they are not going to stay warm for very long, but I can't say I've ever picked one that was soggy. There have been no complaints from my wife when I take a bagel with some lox back to the cabin for her. It is unfortunate that your experience has not been similar. Generally, also, the person who is doing the toasting has been standing nearby. So, if a passenger wanted to ensure that a toasted english muffin is hot enought to melt butter (my personal preference), he/she can ask the server to toast one and wait for it.
  12. I am going to return to the OP's original question. Reading the responses provided by some of the more respected Cruise Critic contributors, I was a bit reluctant to relate this story, but it might encourage some interesting conversation. This happened on our first Los Angeles-Hawaii roundtrip cruise in 2011. As a matter of course, I would have breakfast every morning in the buffet. I would generally join people who had some empty chairs at their table, or people would join me at a table where I was alone. I enjoyed chatting for a few minutes with different people. After visiting the islands and we were heading to Ensenada, when I was joined by a delightful couple. They told me that their flight to Los Angeles from Omaha, NE was cancelled because of a mechanical problem with the aircraft. Yes, they were traveling on embarkation day, and, yes, the missed the ship's San Pedro departure. Yet, here they were sitting with me on the ship. They had made the airline reservation through Princess. Princess arranged for them to fly to Hilo, put them up in a local hotel for four days until the ship arrived and even provided them with meal vouchers. They were allowed to board the ship in Hilo and enjoy the rest of the cruise. As I mentioned, multiple posters above seemed to think that this seems to be contrary the PVSA One possibility to explain away this disconnect is the fact that these people were messing with me. If this is the case, these people did a great job. I completely bought into the story, and, to be honest, I was completely entertained by it. I am wondering, though, whether in a case like this there is some sort of PVSA workaround, I can see a scenario--perhaps of questionable legality, perhaps not--where, since Princess knows where these people are at the time the ship leaves San Pedro, it is deemed that they started the cruise in San Pedro. This is clearly a case of Force Majeure. These people, through no fault of their own were not able to meet the ship in San Pedro. There was no plan to subvert the PVSA. For those who argue that they should have flown to Los Angeles the day before embarkation, keep in mind that they made the flight arrangements through Princess. The fact that they were flown to Hawaii and provided accommodations at no additional cost indicates to me that Princess acknowledges their responsibility in the matter. I really don't know.
  13. Seahorse, it is not clear what the problem was with Super Shuttle or Prime but. if you just want to consider an alternative, my brother tried Execucar (sedan service offered by Super Shuttle) for his last San Pedro cruise and was very pleased. He lives in Placentia. Of course, there is always Uber or Lyft.
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