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About martincath

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    YVR & PDX
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    Travel, eating, eating while traveling;-)
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  1. Well that's a different kettle of fish! There's a station, with a regular scheduled stop, in both Talkeetna & Denali and the fare page for the route confirms the price between them to be $101 ($51 kids) [less in shoulder season, more for Gold class] so you obviously can book the train for just that leg - and I'd assume the lodges would be happy to shuttle you to the stations. Edit - actually, having just checked the route from Talkeetna train station to the Mt McKinley lodge, it looks like a very indirect trip with a big backtrack, almost an hour... so the odds of a
  2. You can't take the train from Denali to Mount McKinley because they're the same mountain (renamed in 2015). There has been some to & fro and general hassle, with both names coexisting a long time - Wikipedia has a decent article.
  3. In my experience most of the short cruises tend to be start/end of season and either one-ways to/from Vancouver or Vancouver RTs - the PVSA does make things tricky when lines reposition their ships to Seattle for the AK season. This means they're almost all in April/May or Sep/Oct, rather than in August when you're planning to be in CA. But if Orca spotting is your primary purpose for coming north from Disney, and you're not interested in other things to do in Vancouver, you could take advantage of much cheaper domestic-only flights and just spend more time on the US side of the bo
  4. Best advice I can offer is to check with generic/land-based travel sites, like TripAdvisor, as there are so few cruises that visit Toronto there aren't really any locals who post regularly. As someone who lived there almost a decade, have friends there with spare rooms, our hotel stays are very infrequent - but I can at least name a few reliable names in good locations for you to help narrow your search, as I used to do some tour guiding so met with a lot of folks in their hotel lobbies and could ask them about how they were enjoying their hotel stay. Depending where you plan to sp
  5. I'd agree that a fully-refundable rate is definitely the way to go... considering that even the most optimistic dates being thrown out by our government for mass vaccinations across the population are last quarter of 2021, I'm personally 99% sure there will not be a Canadian cruise season in 2021 (and therefore no Alaska cruises, one-way or round trip). Just in case though - or if you bump to 2022 which is looking very possible with multiple vaccines offering good results so far - you definitely want to stay downtown unless you plan to do no sightseeing whatsoever - the airport is
  6. If you've got the budget for it, the Queen Lizzie is a great hotel - if you're looking for nice-but-not-too-spendy, the Springhill Suites has a great location in Old Montreal that's even walkable to the pier for your cruise (watch out for cobbles with tiny suitcase wheels though...)
  7. I'd also recommend trying the PP hotel as your first stop - it's significantly cheaper than the official storage at the pier! Assuming no change since last operating season, $12 a bag vs. the PPs $5. You did get money off if you booked a tour - any length, including HOHO - from the folks operating the storage (Westcoast, the local Gray Line affiliate now), but even after that discount it only dropped to $8 which was still pricier than the previous folks with the contract. Pretty similar range of tours offered by these guys and LandSea who were linked above, both are long-standing local compani
  8. That makes sense. But given how few folks get more than 2 weeks vaycay in the US and the vast % of the market made up of US cruisers, a 15 day Saturday to Sunday schedule is about the max mainstream cruise lines could offer and hope to fill - so the 'direct to AK with the required legal foreign stop plus typical AK ports' strikes me as the only plan with even a remote possibility of working. Doing one-way Ensenada-Anchorage routes of ~10 days, with folks boarding buses in San Diego or LA for the first or last part of the journey, to enable cruise-tours again might be a
  9. Yup - and not even close to three weeks needed, considering there have been 14-day or less LA round-trips to AK offered for years. Ensenada can be swapped in for Victoria with 2 days added at most (<150nm, so <300nm extra RT, cruising speed of even 15 knots could technically manage to add 24hrs total including the required 4 hours minimum docked time) - it would definitely add only one day, including legal minimum port stop time, to SD-based itineraries. And that's assuming they otherwise stuck to the same current routing - Victoria actually involves significant deviation bac
  10. Actually Palin did indeed speak about Russia being visible from Alaska - she just didn't utter the commonly-referenced phrase about being able to see it from her house which was indeed Tina Fey's line. Full fact-checking, including video of Palin's actual statement, can be found on Snopes. On the cruising Alaska via Mexico front - sure, for LA cruises that sounds feasible and if there are no other options to cruise AK from the US west coast it might even be popular enough to be financially viable... but I would not like to be the person who decides to take that risk! Ed
  11. Given you only have a choice, within the parameters you gave us, of "Do, or do not" to quote the great philosopher Yoda - I'd do it;-) SF is a great city to hang in for some Pre/Post cruise time - although I would be tempted to look at other lines and departure cities even if your deal is excellent on this particular cruise. If you have time to spend on land before or after a one-way cruise for example, you'll get more time in Alaska and see things that can't be done from the coastal ports - and even an RT Vancouver 7 day cruise spends more time in Alaska than this one or any other
  12. I'm also a fan of the local brewpubs. Victoria is the closest thing to a British city on the continent - a ton of pubs, some with live music, and two different ones (Swans and Spinnakers) that both offer a proper-temperature pint of cask-conditioned beer... but fear not, they also have regular 'too cold for beer to taste right' cellars as well if BF's tum is also sensitive to warm beer ;-) If it's a Friday or Saturday and early in Sep the excellent Royal BC Museum might still be open - at least in prior years they extended their hours until IIRC 10pm - and it's a large place, well
  13. We took it on our very first AK cruise before we had a clue about good independent tours, and while it certainly didn't suck the most memorable things about it was the salmon dip that was provided free onboard! If you have OBC to burn and no other alternatives that entice, sure, but I would steer you toward doing something else instead.
  14. Even pre-Covid, there were multiple earliest time recommendations @Darlene If your entire party is mobile, can self-disembark carrying all their own bags and then move them a quarter mile over pretty flat sidewalk, and you don't mind using public transit, then even on a super-busy day with 3+ ships you could self-disembark and be at YVR well before 9am safely. That means a flight as early as 10am is possible - though if you have bags to check, since airlines tend to demand you check-in more than 60mins early with those a 10:30am flight would give you some safety margin.
  15. 1pm for going home should be OK - but given possible extra delays at the port for Canadian immigration on top of whatever happens at YVR, I'd be inclined to err on the side of caution and bump that later. Noon arrival even pre-Covid times is a recipe for disaster - unless you have a direct, non-stop flight from your home airport that shows a very consistent on-time % and minimal delay time when it is late. There's just way too much scope for things to go wrong - and even though an RT Vancouver cruise means it would be legal to fly onward and meet the ship in the first AK port, miss
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