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GTJ

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  1. To avoid cabotage issues, best to either (1) travel on a cruises that originate or terminate at Vancouver, or (2) travel on U.S. flag vessels. I imagine that your plan would be best accomplished by boarding a round-trip cruise at Vancouver, and where Ketchikan is the penultimate port before the vessel returns to Vancouver. There are several vessels that offer these itineraries, including, among others, (in 2022) Zuiderdam, Koningsdam, Celbrity Eclipse, and Disney Wonder. You will pay the full fare and simply alight two days early (making for a 5-night cruise instead of a 7-night cruise). After visiting in Ketchikan, return to the lower 48 by traveling on the Alaska Marine Highway to Bellingham. It is 2-nights, with the vessel Matanuska departing Ketchikan every Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., arriving Bellingham on Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. In addition, the vessel Kennicott departs Ketchikan every other Thursday at 3:00 p.m., arriving Bellingham on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. (Fares start at $342 per person, plus accommodations starting at $151 per stateroom, plus meals.) Assuming that you start and conclude at Seattle or the Seattle airport, travel via Quick Coach Lines from the Seattle city center airport to the port in Vancouver; from port in Bellingham, travel by Amtrak or Greyhound Lines to the Seattle city center, then light rail to Seattle airport (or taxi from port to Four Points hotel, then Bellair Airporter Shuttle to Seattle airport).
  2. If you get blocked by a system that will not proceed unless a certain response is given, then simply lie. No harm. I routinely have the same experience when shopping at my local warehouse club and using self check-out. The system asks if I have scanned "everything under my cart." I don't put anything under the cart, so the truthful answer is "no." The club staff told me that I am supposed to lie, and respond "yes," so that I can trick the system and get the system to work. Many other similar experiences as well. The problem is that there computer system programmers who think they are "helping" by forcing customers to respond in a certain manner. If there is no harm then just use a work-around to get past.
  3. You might want to consider American Cruise Lines or American Queen Voyages. The former operates the American Constellation, a small vessel for 175 passengers, on 14-night one-way repositioning cruises between Seattle and Juneau, and 7-night and 10-night round-trip cruises out of Juneau. The latter operates the Ocean Victory, a small vessel for 186 passengers, on 10-night and 11-night one-way cruises between Vancouver and Sitka. Caution is in order because these smaller vessels may not offer all of the amenities you might be expecting from a large vessel: there is usually a trade-off between vessel size and amenities.
  4. No, it is not the case that the train is reserved only for person who choose to also travel by airplane, and doing so on the same day of travel by cruise vessel disembarkation. The destination of the train is the airport in Anchorage, so the train is most convenient for those persons continuing onward by airplane. But if you wanted to continue onward not by airplane but by People Mover transit bus (or by taxi, or even by walking), you could do that, too. (And if one gets stuck dealing with a cruise line representative who thinks otherwise, then just make up an airplane departure to complete the railroad ticketing . . . you don't have to also buy an airplane ticket from the cruise line!) What is important to keep in mind that the chartered train does not provide service to the downtown Anchorage station, and for that reason it is not most convenient to those persons who will be staying over a few days at a hotel in downtown Anchorage. For that reason, travel on the other train from Seward, which departs late in the date, may be more convenient because it serves the downtown Anchorage station, not the station at the airport.
  5. I suspect that, too, is the intent. Juneau may be the political capital of Alaska, but Anchorage is its economic capital, and because of those two distinct roles I can see confusion between the two (not unlike Albany and New York; Springfield and Chicago; and many other states). There are multiple bus lines connecting Seward with Anchorage. The Park Connection service is the most reliable regular route option, operating twice daily between the two cities. Alaska Cruise Transportation also provides regular route service, but only on days cruise vessels arrive and depart Seward; the service is to and from the port itself, and is entirely oriented to, and scheduled for, cruise vessel arrivals and departures. Seward Bus Lines is the oldest regular route option, but many passengers have commented on the lack of quality service and equipment provided; it is likely to be the most economical choice. Finally, it should be noted that there are up to Alaska Railroad trains daily between Seward and Anchorage, one being a regular service train that operates every day, and the other being a charter service that operates only on days cruise vessels arrive and depart Seward (this train operates to and from the port itself, with tickets available only from the cruise lines chartering the train and not from Alaska Railroad). Full details are published bi-monthly in the Canada and Alaska Timetable.
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