OK, so here's the deal --
I have enough points with Marriott to get a "free" cruise, and my wife and I, for our 25th anniversary, picked the Alaska cruise. We've never been on a cruise, so everything is new -- but we do know we like the off-the-beaten-path vacation more than the see-the-sights-along-with-20,000-other-people vacation. Marriott points go with Carnival (at least at my level) for a 7 day, one way, northward Vancover-to-Anchorage trip. I've picked August 13 as a departure date, and it looks like that's good with Carnival. Some things I need to close up before I do the whole thing-
1. We live in Bethlehem, Pa. We need to get to Vancouver. We also need to return, in some manner, from Anchorage. What's the most cost-effective way? I see from some posts that flying into Seattle is lots cheaper than flying into Vancouver, so that's an obvious choice. What about the open-jaw from Anchorage -- or would it be cheaper to go round trip to-from Seattle, and one way from Anchorage to Seattle when the trip's over?
2. Our cabin is a class 6 cabin. We can upgrade to one with a balcony for about $260. Is it worth the upgrade, or do you not spend that much time in the cabin anyway?
3. We stop in Sitka and Jeauneau -- what should we plan on doing at these stops? I don't know if, on any of them, there is enough time to go do something else. Observations? Recommendations?
4. We don't have any idea how much this "free" vacation is going to cost. Right now, I know we have port fees of about $500, trip insurance of about $120, plane/train costs of unknown amount -- what should we bring for spending money? Is $500 each too much? Is $1000 each not enough?
5. We are going to do a couple of days in Vancouver at the beginning, and a couple of days in Alaska at the end of the cruise. Any suggestions on you-absolutely-must-do-this activities?
Thanks in advance for everyone's help and advise. Hope, after the trip, to be able to give my own feedback.