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Northern Aurora

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About Northern Aurora

  • Rank
    5,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    Fairbanks, AK
  • Interests
    reading, quilting
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    the next cruise

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  1. We left the Solstice on March 20th when Celebrity ceased normal passenger operations and the Solstice was starting their "float" until passenger operations resumed. We certainly had Bvlgari toiletries in our stateroom. But back to the more important issues at hand. I am down to a single Celebrity provided bottle of Bvlgari conditioner. The shower gel, shampoo and hand lotion are long gone in this house.
  2. While I would also recommend the Alaska State Museum, I do wonder how "rkacruiser" was able to enter for free. The only time I've had free admission is when I've visited on business (such as attending the annual Alaska Historical Society/Museums Alaska joint annual meetings which rotate through the state). Wonder if they happened on a special exhibit opening. If you check the ASM website the current admission schedule is general admission for $7, seniors for $6, active military for free and those 18 and under are also given free admission. In contrast to the Museum of the North (located on the University of AlaskaFairbanks) the Alaska State Museum does not offer an Alaska resident rate. I did a quick "google" check for the ASM 2019 fee schedule, and it appears that in 2019 their fee schedule was general admission for $5, seniors for 4, and, again, no reduced or free admission for Alaska residents. The Juneau-Douglas City Museum's friends organization has in the past periodically underwritten free admission for certain months. I don't know how frequently they have offered free admission, but they have done so.
  3. Which Celebrity ship cruised from LA to BA in 2019? My memory seems to be faulty.
  4. I am confused. Are you asking about a Princess bus between the McKinley Princess and the Denali Princess lodges? Talkeetna is located off of the George Parks Highway, and the spur road to Talkeetna is south of the McKinley Princess. Assuming no road construction the drive from the McKinley Princess to Talkeetna takes about 45 minutes.
  5. We live in interior Alaska, and we don't even own bear spray. The trails near the visitors center at the entrance are rather busy during normal tourist years, and that noise will help keep bears away. But always be aware of your surroundings, and never approach wild life. But back to our OP's questions. If you only want to go as far north as Denali then please consider renting a car in Anchorage. The train from Anchorage to Denali will consume more time than the scenery is worth (in my opinion). Having a car in Denali will also be a time saver as you won't need to rely on shuttles. If you want to take some of the tour options offered by companies such as Northern Alaska Tour Company, then consider renting a car in Fairbanks and driving down to Denali. Accommodations in the Denali area vary considerably. Discounts can be offered for more than one nights stay, so check carefully. For instance, last summer the McKinley Chalets offered a great deal for those who booked more than one night.
  6. We have stayed at all three of these Princess properties. The Denali Princess, as already noted, is positioned across from what is commonly called "Glitter Gulch," which is an area of gift shops and casual dining options. It is on the same side of the Parks Highway as the HAL complex. The McKinley Princess is located off the Parks Highway and up a hill. It is similar to the Denali Princess in which there is a main lodge building with restaurant and coffee options. There is also another building with a more casual dining option. The guest rooms are located in a complex of two level buildings. The closest community is Talkeetna, which, depending on any road construction, is 45 minutes to an hour drive away. Unless it has been expanded the last three years, the Copper River Princess is much smaller than either the Denali or McKinley complexes. It is located off the Richardson Highway, again, up a hill. There is a dining room at the Copper River facility, but nothing else within walking distance. Due to our wage and hour laws both Lyft and Uber were not legal in Alaska until several years ago then governor Walker signed legislation legalizing them. But my impression is that, at least in the Interior of Alaska, is that they are a "hit and miss" type of service. Whether there will be anyone offering Lyft, particularly in the Copper River area, in 2021 is an unknown.
  7. While we now know the status of the 2020 Alaska cruise season, folks are starting to make plans for 2021. "mapleleaves" has organized this very helpful list, and it needs to be on page one of this forum.
  8. One of the most efficient uses of your research time is to go to the Alaska Cruise Critic forum (located under "Ports of Call"). At the top of the Alaska forum page are threads containing trip reports. The trip reports are organized by year and start in 2015. Folks can read these reports very quickly (you really don't need to read what someone thought of their cabin steward in 2015). Many of them contain detailed descriptions of their shore excursions whether they booked independently or through their particular cruise line. And there will also be a number of photos. Skimming through these reports will help you quickly prioritize your specific interests.
  9. We rarely do any cruises other than at least B2Bs. And we have had turnaround days in Ft. Lauderdale several times. While the process can vary, if you don't want to spend the day in Ft. L., you will be onboard very quickly. B2B passengers will receive a very succinct instruction letter about the process, but if you have any questions drop by the Guest Relations desk two days or so prior to the end of the first leg for clarification about the process.
  10. We have been on both the Millennium and Eclipse several times, and have been in Celebrity Suites on both M- and S-class ships. I don't have a preference between the M- and S-class ships as I find that both have their plusses and minuses. But my husband has a definite preference for a Celebrity Suite on a M-class ship. While we do not generally have meals delivered to the staterooms, he has a standard request for a pot of tea and orange juice to be delivered each morning. He prefers the table in the M-class CSs over the large coffee table in the S-class CSs. Even though we live in Alaska we periodically do Alaska itineraries as it gives us an excuse to visit another part of our very large state. For us the one-way from Vancouver to Seward is a better itinerary than the RT out of Vancouver. But another factor to consider is the amount of time in the various ports and what you want to do in each port.
  11. junglecat: It is unclear to me as to how much research you have done about our state, but my first recommendation is to read the trip reports (organized by year) posted at the top of this Alaska forum index page. A great amount of information and very quick to skim. Reading those reports will help you prioritize what is of interest to you.
  12. Phil: Last night we watched the Maasdam leave the Port of Honolulu from our 27th floor hotel balcony. A US Coast Guard cutter was also at anchor in the harbor and left just after the Massdam. My birdwatcher husband always travels with at least one pair of binoculars, and he could see the upper decks lined with folks. I certainly wish the Maasdam well and hope they have a smooth crossing. And to Beachin2 and all of the others on the Eclipse: Those of us on the Solstice were following your situation while on our March 10th cruise. The Solstice docked at the OPT in Sydney the evening of March 19, but all remained onboard until the 20th. The bulk of passengers on our QANTAS flight from Sydney to Honolulu were from either the Solstice or a Princess ship, and there was great relief as we taxied down that runway, followed by chapping when we landed in Honolulu 9+ hours later. Now we are waiting for our Alaska Air flight out of Honolulu tomorrow, while we practice our social distancing skills — and from what we are observing from our hotel balcony, a number of folks seem rather fuzzy regarding what they should be doing.
  13. Of the three times we have stayed at the Hotel Barcelona Universal twice we were in the large terrace rooms (these rooms have their own private terraces) mentioned by George C. While the two we stayed in were very differently configured, both were very large.
  14. The name is the Hotel Barcelona Universal. Great location, but not in the touristy Las Ramblas area (but close enough you can walk to Las Ramblas). Multi-lingual staff. Entrance to the Barcelona subway right out the hotel main entrance. We have always booked a rate which included their buffet (hot and cold items) breakfast.
  15. We have done six full PC transits, and there is no “best side” for the transit as there will be interesting sights on both sides. And narration during the actual transit will be broadcast through the ship’s public lounges and outdoor areas during the actual transit. So the best “side” to be on during the transit, which will take hours, is to roam as already mentioned. Also, if the weather is nice, which means hot and humid but not pouring rain, the help-pad will most likely be opened. All of our transits have been on Celebrity ships. In our experience there was a destination speaker with expertise on the PC who did lectures to prepare folks for what they were going to see. And to clarify, the canal itself has not been widened. New additional locks have been added to accommodate cargo ships which are too wide to go through the original historic locks. The historic locks are still in operation. Celebrity M-class ships go through the old, original locks, and barely fit through those. Even with the wider new locks much of the freight goes from one ocean to the other via the Panama Railroad. Containers are off loaded, placed on the rail cars, and then reloaded on another ship. ”The Path Between the Seas” by American historian David McCulloch is essentially a “must read” for those transiting the canal. In addition to exhaustive discussion of the American construction, it also covers the earlier French efforts. On the Caribbean side you will see an old section of the French effort.
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