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    Flushing, Queens (New York City)
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    Transportation Attorney, Engineer-Planner, and Historian-Writer
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    Relais Nordik
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  1. I would be wary of both Celebrity representatives and travel agents that do not specialize in railroad travel. Neither can be expected to have much, if any, knowledge of railroad operations. You might receive a better response by communicating with the Alaska Railroad directly, reservations@akrr.com, and inquire as to whether there is a contract, or a contract is expected to be signed, for train service chartered by Royal Caribbean Group. This is a substantial business for the Alaska Railroad, for it not only involves the Friday service for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, but also the Thursday service for Silverseas Cruises. Absent a contract, the Alaska Railroad be left only with the Carnival contract (the most substantial) and Norwegian Cruise Line (operating only on alternate Mondays).
  2. It is perfect that you have both an intended plan and a Plan B. Also, I did not mention in the prior post, that the "Park Connection" also includes a morning departure from downtown Anchorage, at 7:00 a.m., arriving in Seward at 10:00 a.m.
  3. The buses chartered by Royal Caribbean Group for its Celebrity Cruises passengers might only depart from the airport. Additionally, beyond chartered buses there are regularly scheduled buses that might be better priced or scheduled. This includes the "Park Connection" service operated by Premier Alaska Tours and brokered by Alaska Tour & Travel, departing the Dena'ina Civic Center in downtown Anchorage at 3:00 p.m., arriving in Seward at 5:45 p.m.; and the service operated by Alaska Cruise Transportation departing the Anchorage airport at 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m., arriving in Seward at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively.
  4. The regularly scheduled train departs even earlier than that: 6:45 a.m. I have heard nothing of Royal Caribbean Group suspending its chartering of train service, and thus I assume that service will be provided for Celebrity Cruises departures. The Royal Caribbean Group charter train service is expected to operate every Friday, from May 10, 2024, through September 13, 2024, departing the Anchorage airport (not downtown Anchorage) at approximately 1:00 p.m., arriving in Seward at 5:30 p.m. From downtown Anchorage use People Mover bus route route to the airport and its train station.
  5. Radiance of the Seas has three departures in August 2024: 2nd, 16th, and 30th. Civil twilight and sunrise times for these three dates are, respectively, 4:32 and 5:36 a.m.; 5:19 and 6:12 a.m.; and 6:00 and 6:48 a.m. The train to Seward is scheduled to depart at 6:45 a.m., but you'll want to arrive earlier than that if you do not already have tickets in hand or if you will be checking baggage. If you're worried about tripping and falling, as a consequence of walking in the dark before sunrise, then it may depend on both the specific date in August, and whether you really want to hang around the train station for a full hour prior to departure. But even if it should still be dark, in this area the sidewalks are in fairly good repair, the street lights are decent, and there would not be much risk of tripping or falling.
  6. The mischievous spirit inside me says to arrange for "free" transportation from South Station, Logan Airport, or a hotel in Boston. But I imagine that there is some type of limit imposed. Whatever that limit happens to be, take free reign over the offer. No need to worry about the cost or duration of the transportation while you balance the cost and convenience of hotels.
  7. If the "free" transportation is from any hotel, then the decision factor on where to alight from the train should be based on where you decide to bed down for the night. If you plan to stay in Manhattan, then train to New York. If you plan to stay in Newark, then train to Newark. Pick your hotel based on whatever factors are important to you. Cost of transportation between hotel and Manhattan Cruise Terminal does not matter to you if it is "free."
  8. Baggage (which is the term used more often by carriers than "luggage") can be transported either as "checked," meaning that the carrier takes custody of the baggage, or "carry-on," meaning that the baggage remains in the custody of the passenger. A ticket entitles passengers to both checked baggage and carry-on baggage. If a particular train does not have a baggage car, then you can send checked baggage on an earlier train, and it will be waiting in the baggage room upon your arrival. That said, most passengers do not need checked baggage because the carry-on baggage allowances are generous by themselves. The checked baggage allowance is, generally, two larger pieces. The carry-on baggage allowance is, generally, two larger pieces and one smaller piece. Medical items do not count towards this allowance. Coats and the like generally do not count towards this allowance. Thus, if each of you have one piece consisting of medical items, then the two of you, collectively, could be able to have transported free of additional charge twelve pieces of baggage, plus coats and the like, without charge, eight pieces being carry-on (six regular and two medical), and four pieces sent the day before as checked baggage on the Lake Shore Limited.
  9. With so many people all believing themselves to be in that upper quintile, it is difficult to tell, objectively, who truly is. Some are, but most are not. It is not necessarily that less safe or less skillful drivers are trying to deceive others, for many have persuaded themselves of how good their driving is. Obviously, it is impossible for 88 percent of the population to be above average. Svenson says: "These results may reflect purely cognitive mechanisms or may be mainly a result of lacking information about the others in the group which may lead a majority of the people to regard themselves as “better”. For example, the results may be explained by cognitive mechanisms, such as, low memory availability of negative events (e.g., accidents or near accidents) in the experimental situation. But there is also evidence pointing at greater generality of the findings. For instance, Preston and Harris (1965) compared 50 drivers whose driving involved them in accidents (serious enough to require hospitalization) with 50 drivers without accident histories but matched in relevant variables. When asked about how skillful drivers they were, the two groups gave almost identical means indicating that the average driver, irrespective of accident record, judged himself to be more skillful than the average on the nine point scale. According to police records 34 of the drivers in the accident group were responsible for the accidents. The accident group had a higher frequency of previous traffic violations. This seems to indicate that we have difficulties in learning from experience." [Citations omitted.] Standardized tests might help, but even when available they're sometimes rejected because they do not give the results desired. (E.g., a substantial number of people and even universities are refusing to accept the ACT and SAT tests because they give "wrong" results.) Many people in this forum who drive probably believe themselves to be safer or more skillful than the average driver, or to be in the uppermost quintile. How can we really tell them apart? Perhaps more importantly, how can we discourage the bad drivers from driving? Even those people who are, themselves, safer or more skillful with their own driving would not want those people who are less safe or less skillful to drive. For those persons who are bad drivers, they should, going to for from a port, and otherwise whenever practicable, use public transportation, use a hired car, or walk, instead of driving themselves.
  10. Yes, I do. I have manage bus transportation systems for the past 40-plus years, paying individuals for the "work" of driving. It is work that I respect highly, the dedication and care that most professionals put into their job of driving. On the other side, I do get rather disappointed with the carelessness of many (not all) non-professional drivers who do not respect the speed, power, and inertia of the vehicles they are operating, and who succumb to distraction. They treat their vehicle as an office, engaging in cell phone meetings, eating and drinking, fiddling with the radio, putting on make-up, etc., all with attention to the road being secondary. I do wish that the driving standards required for a CDL were applied to all drivers, even the higher skill level would not mean much if drivers don't take driving seriously and allow themselves to get distracted. (I have encountered some people in this forum who actually support distracted driving!) Driving is work that requires skill and attention, attributes that I know that I do not possess. A number of years ago there was an interesting paper published about the illusory superiority. See Ola Svenson, "Are We All Less Risky and More Skillful Than Our Fellow Drivers?" 47 Acta Psychologica 143 (1981). The author explained her research: "Do people engaged in a risky activity where skill plays some role, have an unbiased view of their own skill and risk taking? More specifically, do they have a correct conception of their own skill and risk taking behavior, e.g., in comparison to others? One of the most common and best known risky activity in modern society is that of driving a car. Therefore, some observations of drivers' notions of their own driving skills and risk taking behavior will be presented in this paper." In the study that was conducted, with respect to drivers in the United States, 60 percent of the survey respondents believed themselves to uppermost quintile of drivers with respect to their ability to drive safely; 87.5 percent of believed themselves to be safer than the median driver. Nearly one-half, 46.3 percent, considered themselves to be in the most skillful quintile of drivers, and 92.7 believed themselves to be more skillful than the median driver. In discussing these results, the author observed: "Very clearly, the present results illustrate a strong tendency among the subjects to believe themselves to be more skillful and less risky than the others in the groups." The perception that you--and many others--have with respect to the safety of one's own driving is consistent with this study. The combination of controlling the movement of a vehicle by oneself, coupled with the self-belief of most drivers as having above-average driving skill, naturally leads to the perception that driving oneself is very safe. Yet, the statistics show otherwise. Driving is exceptionally dangerous, especially among non-professional drivers. The psychology here--of our abilities to accurately self-assess-is absolutely fascinating.
  11. Rarely do I use a hired car, but when I do I keep an eye on the route being taken by the driver, and if I have any doubt as to the driver's intention I will direct the driver from the back seat. That's probably because that idea of the driver possibly not knowing the best route is in my mind. There was one time where the taxi driver told me he did not know the way (we were going from the Port Everglades passenger cruise terminal to the Fort Lauderdale passenger train station) and so I ended up directing the driver the entire way. A similar thing happened in Chicago when the Lakefront Lines bus driver did not know the way (we were on the Skyway and destined for the 95th Street transit center) and I directed the driver there as well. I don't like having to do so because the drivers are paid to know the way--and I should not have to do their work for them--but better than getting lost. Too many who should know the way do not. If I had to use a hired car from Pennsylvania Station to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, I would likely use a yellow taxi, keeping my eye on the driver, making certain that he or she is preparing to exit at Hamilton Avenue, etc. What about a passenger not knowing the way? Well, the driver is supposed to consult the atlas before dropping the flag, but we know that typically does not happen, and yet it is unfair for the passenger to pay extra to be driven around in circles by a driver not knowing the way.Nor is it fair for the passenger to have to pay extra for a TNC vehicle simply to get a flat fare where driving in circles in not charged extra. In the end I don't think there is an entirely satisfactory answer. As drivers being familiar with the various boroughs, many do know their way around outside of Manhattan because most taxi drivers reside in the boroughs outside of Manhattan. My guess is that most taxi drivers know Long Island City, Queens, very well. As to Red Hook, Brooklyn? Maybe not so well.
  12. I would come to the opposite conclusion because, the price being equal, having someone else do the work of driving--and assuming the liabilities for driving--constitutes a better value, compared to you having to perform that work. There is really no alternative to private transportation--be it your own vehicle or that of someone else--If public transportation is not practicable. Maybe it is time to call in a favor from a friend who has a vehicle or who could drive yours there and back.
  13. If public transportation is not practicable, then next lowest cost will be a yellow taxi.
  14. Most reasonably priced means, besides walking, is to use the subway into downtown Brooklyn, then a short bus ride to the Brooklyn Cruise Port in Red Hook. Total cost: $2.90. More specifically, use the Eighth Avenue subway, "A" or "C" trains, from Pennsylvania Station to Jay Street-MetroTech. Exit the subway onto Jay Street, at Willoughby Street, and walk south one and one-half blocks (Jay Street changes its name to Smith Street). There you will find bus route B61. It is a free transfer onto the bus. The ride into Red Hook is about thirteen minutes. Alight from the bus on Van Brunt Street, corner of King Street. Walk back on Van Brunt Street one block, and turn left on Pioneer Street. It is about 1,500 feet along Pioneer Street to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.
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