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Everything posted by karatemom2

  1. There are many people with specific food allergies that may feel more comfortable having certain food items that they know are safe for them to help supplement the food onboard, which may be limiting for some with specific food or medical needs. Also, some people may just want to have a favorite snack available as the food onboard can get a little redundant and everyone has food favorites that are a welcome deviation from ship food. Also, we tend to really go all out on our port days, often venturing off on our own doing independent tours and activities. I always bring prepackaged snacks with us that we can take on these excursions in order to make sure we have sustenance while we are on the go. DH takes diabetes meds and he needs to make sure he is keeping his blood sugar regulated with frequent snacks and sometimes it isn't always easy or convenient to get something when you have ambitious port plans.
  2. Initially that was how it was launched. But now it is available to anyone as a specialty dining option for the cost of $149. It's a great experience and well worth doing at least once IMO.
  3. Yes, both Princess and NCL cruises go to Glacier Bay.
  4. There may be whale watching excursions you could book at the dock that aren't full at the last minute - not sure the quality of the vendors, but there are usually some with kiosks selling tours. Other options would be to do some hiking at Mendenhall Glacier, or take the Mount Roberts Tramway to the top and do some of the hikes up there. Most excursions are booked in advance so same day options are pretty limited - you might check Viator and see what they list since a lot of their tours don't require prepayment and have a pretty generous cancellation policy of up to the day before which would give you time to assess the weather for the day you are going to be there.
  5. I wouldn't necessarily say "no" depending on what other scenic cruising option was being offered on the cruise itinerary. That being said, personally, I don't find any of the other scenic options as overall spectacular as Glacier Bay for the glaciers, scenery, wildlife and extended viewing opportunities. So, if I only had one opportunity to go to Alaska and this was going to be an expensive trip for me then I might say no in favor of spending the money on a trip that delivered what I really wanted to see.
  6. We have cruised in Alaska with both Princess and NCL, and while I enjoyed our NCL cruises, I do prefer Princess for Alaska and the Sapphire is one of my favorite Princess ships. It does not offer the same enclosed observation lounge that you find on the NCL ships, but there are ample areas for optimal glacier viewing including the enclosed pool area if you prefer a more sheltered environment. I like to be out on the open deck or on my balcony for glacier days myself to get the best views and really take in the environment. I do prefer Princess for a few reasons in Alaska - first is that the port times are generally better with Princess than NCL which tends to offer shorter port hours, and also docks at Ward Cove in Ketchikan, which is very inconvenient and really reduces your actual usable port time there. Also, Princess just does a better job with the Alaska naturalist program and offers great speakers, including Libby Riddles. And who doesn't love puppies in the Piazza? No matter what, you will have a good experience with either as Alaska, in my estimation, is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but I would always give the edge to Princess and the Sapphire is a beautiful ship.
  7. karatemom2


    We really enjoyed our whale watching trip with Hoonah Travel Adventures. We have gone with G Wind before as well and they are great, but we had an equally good experience with HTA. Here’s a link: https://hoonahtraveladventures.com
  8. Yes, there are always a few armed soldiers patrolling right at the port walkway where the water shuttles drop off.
  9. Wow. How cool and exciting! Oh to be young again. I married into a family of sailors who regularly did the Newport to Ensenada races in the 80s and a couple of us wives would drive the van down to pick up our husbands and a couple of crew and then drive home while just my brother-in-law and his wife would sail the boat home together. We had some adventures for sure - but never anything scary. In fact, only ever kindness to a couple of wild young brides on the loose!
  10. Sorry that happened to you. We have driven as far as Ensenada, also Tijuana and Rosarito Beach over the years. Our friends regularly drive between their homes in Arizona and San Felipe. Our friends in Cabo, La Paz, and PV sail back and forth. Fortunately neither we nor they have ever experienced anything similar to what happened to you. Sadly there is potential for bad people anywhere you go - as you said, situational awareness is key. One has to accept a certain level of risk in any type of foreign travel. Obviously visiting ports by cruise ship carries much less risk then driving through long stretches of land.
  11. Same. We live in Southern California and visit regularly from Baja to the ports on the coast of Mexico on an almost annual basis, not to mention having friends who actually live in La Paz, San Felipe, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta. Some of these statements seem a little over the top. No wonder people get scared.
  12. Honestly, it is just a good idea to be careful anywhere you travel. We cruised the Med last year and many people were almost hysterical in their warnings about Barcelona and Marseilles. It was way overboard. Yes, there are pickpockets - but common sense prevention and circumstantial awareness are really all that’s required for a smart traveler. I absolutely loved both places and felt absolutely safe and confident in my ability to be alert without being paranoid. The ports in Mexico are fabulous if you don’t allow irrational fear to take over and you employ the same common sense you use anywhere. There are many places I would avoid in Los Angeles where I feel less safe! The Mexican people are generally warm and welcoming. There are so many fun things to do and see. I particularly love Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. Todos Santos is a great excursion and an absolutely charming, authentic town. Go and enjoy!
  13. Cabo San Lucas is one of the most Americanized ports in Mexico - tons of retired expats there and other areas of the Baja Peninsula. It is exceptionally safe and welcoming. We have been there many times as well as other Mexican Riviera ports and have never felt the least bit unsafe. The areas that cater to tourists are very secure. The excursion to Todos Santos is excellent. It’s a lovely little town and you will be with a well organized tour traveling through very safe areas. You really don’t need to be at all concerned. Much of what you read in the news is not at all reflective of anything we have experienced on any of our many, many trips to the Mexican Riviera ports where we have been traveling for the past 30 years. We even have many friends who live in these cities very safely and happily!
  14. Yes, we have done this tour. It’s a pretty hike through the rainforest and you have a chance to see bears during salmon season. But it’s nothing that special and you can do more on your own for much less money. If you really want a cost effective way to see Ketchikan and the surrounding area, rent a car. It’s easy to drive - there is only a single road that goes either direction out of town. You can go to Herring Cove and look for bears, drive yourself to Saxman and Totem Bight, head out to Ward Lake and Lunch creek for beautiful hiking. Here is a link for the car rental company - choose the in town location for pick up - and a handy map of the area. http://www.akcarrental.com https://www.experienceketchikan.com/support-files/revillagigedo_map.pdf
  15. According to its Yelp and TripAdvisor pages it appears to be closed. It was still open on our last visit in 2022, but it seems like it has since shuttered. What a shame. It was always a favorite shop to visit in Juneau - so many beautiful things. I’ve purchased teacups and Matryoshka dolls there in the past.
  16. We have found the best thing to do in Ketchikan is rent a car. There are so many beautiful spots to explore outside the city and it’s basically one road in either direction. We like to go for hikes and try to spot bears at Herring Cove during salmon season. There are some really pretty waterfalls in both directions as well.
  17. Thanks so much for your report. We are really looking forward to our cruise on the Sky next month. I completely understand the experience you are sharing as we have noted the same on our recent cruises on both the Sky and Discovery. We are very used to waiters being present and actively taking orders in places like Explorer’s Lounge, Princess Live, Vista Lounge, etc. and this service does seem to be quite diminished. Like you, after having very hit or miss experience with Ocean Now, we just get our drinks at the bars. Much less frustrating.
  18. I have purchased a number of clothing items and actually found most of them good quality. Several have lasted for years and some favorites like my quilted jacket are still a staple. You just have to be careful of what you select. T-shirts are generally not something that stand the test of time.
  19. It's called The Alaska Fish House and it is directly across from the entrance to the lumberjack show.
  20. There can be massive temperature swings in Alaska in all of the summer months. August can have days that are quite cool and rainy. You could definitely do it with a carryon if you are content to limit your wardrobe choices and stick to very basic layers. If I were to try this, I would wear jeans, boots/walking shoes, a turtleneck, pullover and warmer waterproof or water resistant over jacket of some type on the plane to make sure I had a good basic starter wardrobe on my back. Then I would pack in a hard sided rolling carryon meeting the size requirements: (I think you could make all of the following fit) One additional pair of jeans A couple pairs of warm leggings that pack tightly Maybe one more pullover Two turtlenecks One to two pair of lightweight dress pants for dining room evenings (my choice is black) A couple of nicer lightweight blouses, maybe one dressy enough for formal night Lightweight sweater to wear over blouses and turtlenecks to mix it up A few pairs of warm socks Black flats to wear on the ship to dinner/other onboard activities Undergarments Over the shoulder carryon to take place of purse (you can put purse inside) Makeup Hair tools Medications Hat/Gloves/Scarf Disposable plastic rain ponchos Hand warming packets This would probably provide a good basic wardrobe, with some regular repeats and at least one load of laundry during your cruise.
  21. It was a fun one and done experience for us on a recent trip after many visits to Ketchikan, just to say we did it and try something new. I wouldn't put a high priority on it compared to other activities, but we found it entertaining and enjoyed a nice fresh seafood meal at the restaurant nearby on the docks afterwards.
  22. I think my daughter was 8 or 9 when she did it. They take the group of kids down to an area of the kitchen that has been prepared with a station for each child and each one gets a hat and apron that they get to keep. They each get to bring one parent to watch. Their stations are set up with their cakes, cut in two layers and all of the frosting, fillings, and toppings. The pastry chef does a brief demo for the kids on how to decorate the cakes and then they get to make their own creations using the materials provided. My daughter ended up making the most beautiful cake using mostly the chocolates and cherries provided along with frosting and some of the other decorative elements. It was reminiscent of a black forest cake. When the children finish, they each get a photo with the chef holding their cake, and then the cakes are taken to the pantry with your child's name and stateroom number so you can request that your waiter deliver it to your table that evening for dessert. Of course there was a charge for this, but so well worth it. She was beaming with pride when they presented her cake to all of us at our table that night. Just a super program - called Jr. Chef. I do hope they are offering on your ship!
  23. Yes, they do offer dry cleaning. We have had suits dry cleaned onboard and I had a dress dry cleaned once. They all came back in perfect order.
  24. This was a great program! One of the favorite things my daughter ever did on one of our cruises. What a good suggestion - I hope they are still offering it. So much changed after COVID, but it would be wonderful if they brought it back. OP, you don’t mention your daughters’s age, but if she happens to be in the Kids Club demographic and you are interested in this, be sure to inquire the first day when you sign her up as space was always very limited and it was first come, first serve. I believe they allowed 10 kids.
  25. Ugh! That's awful - I'm so sorry for you and the rest of your fellow cruisers. Sending you all lots of positive thoughts that they can somehow make things right and you make it to your other ports of Juneau and Skagway. Do you have anything planned for land travel when you get to Whittier?
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