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Old January 20th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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Default Which itinerary/cruise line makes the most sense?

http://www.celebritycruises.com/sear...Search+Results

http://www.hollandamerica.com/dest/i...:A8O007&dest=A

This will be our first trip to Alaska and we would definitely like to see the Hubbard Glacier. Both of these lines seem to have great reputations. If you look at the itinerary maps for both cruises, they seem to take slightly different paths. Is one preferable to the other? Also, which ship would you recommend? The Infinity or the Oosterdam? Thanks for any advice.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: Which itinerary/cruise line makes the most sense?

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This will be our first trip to Alaska and we would definitely like to see the Hubbard Glacier.

If you are determined to see Hubbard, I suggest Celebrity Mercury out of Vancouver.

Any Alaska cruise should start out of Vancouver as you enjoy far more of the Inside Passage than you do out of Seattle.

Having said that, of the two cruise lines mentioned, Holland America wins, hands down, out of Seattle.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 10:15 PM
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Thanks for the advice! The Mercury trip you mentioned was initially my top choice, but that ship has received dreadful reviews; it may be difficult to convince everyone in my party, myself included, that the Mercury is a viable option. I do agree that it seems to boast the nicest itinerary.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 11:34 PM
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Could you sell them on a one-way on the Celebrity Millenium? That would allow you to see Hubbard and spend a few days on land in the Kenai-Anchorage area.

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Old January 21st, 2008, 12:25 AM
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Default Re: Which itinerary/cruise line makes the most sense?

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Originally Posted by saj3
http://www.celebritycruises.com/sear...Search+Results

http://www.hollandamerica.com/dest/i...:A8O007&dest=A

This will be our first trip to Alaska and we would definitely like to see the Hubbard Glacier. Both of these lines seem to have great reputations. If you look at the itinerary maps for both cruises, they seem to take slightly different paths. Is one preferable to the other? Also, which ship would you recommend? The Infinity or the Oosterdam? Thanks for any advice.
I would recommend the Osterdam by far as my choice from what you mentioned to sail to Alaska.
You are right about many bad reports about the Celebrity Mercury and the Celebrity Infinity and Millennium are very nice ships but they both suffer from off and on again mechanical propulsion problems that have affected many cruises in the past and have not been permanently fixed by Celebrity. When going to Hubbard Glacier there is also the danger that you will not be able to get close to the glacier which happened quite a lot with Celebrity for the first two months of last years Alaskan season.

You may want to consider Princess for a one way cruise from Vancouver to Alaska or Alaska to Vancouver. These cruises have two full days of glacier viewing at Glacier Bay and College Fjord and offer the best Alaska experience and on ships that are very reliable. This would also allow you to spend some time exploring Alaska before or after your cruise.

What ever you decide I am sure you will enjoy Alaska.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 10:30 AM
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I would definately choose HAL. They have superb ship naturalists and cpts. who go out of the way for passengers. Some Celebrity cpts. couldn't care less, unfortunately.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: Which itinerary/cruise line makes the most sense?

saj3,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
http://www.celebritycruises.com/sear...Search+Results

http://www.hollandamerica.com/dest/i...:A8O007&dest=A

This will be our first trip to Alaska and we would definitely like to see the Hubbard Glacier. Both of these lines seem to have great reputations. If you look at the itinerary maps for both cruises, they seem to take slightly different paths. Is one preferable to the other? Also, which ship would you recommend? The Infinity or the Oosterdam? Thanks for any advice.
I really would recommend a "one way" itinerary from Vancouver to Seward (or Whittier), such as this itinerary aboard GTS Millennium instead, coupled with at least a weekend in Anchorage so you'll have some time to see the interior. If you book the "Grandview Rail Transfer" from the pier in Seward to Anchorage International Airport as well, it's quite easy to pick up a rental car at Anchorage International Airport so you'll have transportation for day trips therefrom. That way, you'll see more of Alaska than what you would see on the cruise that operates round trip from Seattle.

There's a lot to see and to do in Anchorage, especially on weekends. The downtown area is imminently walkable, and it has fantastic shopping and restaurants as well as many points of interest. On weekends, the city comes alive with an open air market on 3rd street and a street festival nearly every weekend. There are also many easy day trips. The options include a drive to Talkeetna for its scenic overlook of Mount McKinley (the Latitude 62 Inn is a great place to stop for lunch), the world's tallest mountian (but make sure that the forecast is for clear weather in the valley before setting out on this one), Mount Alyeska Resort, or a day cruise from Whittier to view the glaciers in College Fjord.

Have a great cruise, whatever you decide!

Norm.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 01:51 PM
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If you can add that "weekend" with a one way trip, I don't recommend the "Grandview" rail, cruise contracted train, at about 40% more.

Instead, I recommend you spend the day in Seward, plenty to see and do and keep you busy, then just taking the regular run of the Alaska RR to Anchorage leaving at 6pm, and spending your Anchorage touring time the next day. Seward is a gem not to be missed.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 04:24 PM
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I would also recommend a one way trip to Alaska if at all possible. Norm seems to be a huge Celebrity supporter but in his recomendation of the "GTS Infinity" it should always be pointed out that of the three Celebrity ships that suffer from propulsion problems the "GTS Infinity" has by far the worst record when it comes to reliability with eight separate propulsion problems in its less than seven year history. Several of these failures have affected Alaskan cruises with missed ports and even cancelled cruises. Many Celebrity ships did not go any where near Hubbard Glacier last year until July, while most other cruise ships had no problem getting close. As I said if seeing glaciers is important I would go with a different cruise line that sails to and from Whittier and pick one that does Glacier Bay and College Fjord. It all comes down to what things are important to the individual.

If considering a one-way cruise I would look at Princess which sails into Whittier, which has the advantage of being about an almost two hour shorter bus transfer to or from Anchorage. The port of Whittier also cuts off the major part of the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska crossing which on a few of our many cruises has been quite rough.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:11 PM
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Wave Runner,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I would also recommend a one way trip to Alaska if at all possible. Norm seems to be a huge Celebrity supporter but in his recomendation of the "GTS Infinity" it should always be pointed out that of the three Celebrity ships that suffer from propulsion problems the "GTS Infinity" has by far the worst record when it comes to reliability with eight separate propulsion problems in its less than seven year history. Several of these failures have affected Alaskan cruises with missed ports and even cancelled cruises.
Argh! I misspoke. That cruise actually is aboard GTS Millennium, which will move to Pacific at the end of the current Caribbean season, rather than GTS Infinity. Nonetheless, the odds of encountering a problem are pretty slim even on that ship.

In any case, I linked to that itinerary only as an example, as the OP had cited a Celebrity cruise and a Holland America cruise. Holland America (the other cruise line that the OP cited) and all of the other major cruise lines offers similar itineraries, but I would have had to do a lot more digging to find the link to Holland America's offering. By all means, please provide it if you can!

Also, by way of clarification, Celebrity is my current cruise line of choice, but I'll be the first to tell you that Celebrity is not the right cruise line for everybody -- and I have said so quite often not only in numerous threads on this (Alaska) board, but also on other boards in this (CruiseMates) forum. Nonetheless, I'll say so again for the record. Every cruise line has its own style and personality, and we all will have the most satisfying cruise expeience if we choose a cruise line with a style and personality that is a good match for our own. Celebrity is a good match for me, but YMMV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Many Celebrity ships did not go any where near Hubbard Glacier last year until July, while most other cruise ships had no problem getting close.
I really don't know why that might have occurred. It's possible that there was some problem with access to Hubbard Glacier that did not affect other glacier areas. And it's also possible that Celebrity either perceived (wrongly) or recognized (rightly) some danger that other cruise lines did not notice. Not knowing the situation, I'm not going to attempt to judge who did or did not do the right thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
As I said if seeing glaciers is important I would go with a different cruise line that sails to and from Whittier and pick one that does Glacier Bay and College Fjord. It all comes down to what things are important to the individual.

If considering a one-way cruise I would look at Princess which sails into Whittier, which has the advantage of being about an almost two hour shorter bus transfer to or from Anchorage. The port of Whittier also cuts off the major part of the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska crossing which on a few of our many cruises has been quite rough.
I'll choose a cruise that goes into Seward rather than a cruise that goes into Whittier. The scenery between Seward and Anchorage on the Alaska Railroad is absolutely breathtaking.

Karen's suggestion of spending a night in Seward and then taking the regular Alaska Railroad train from Seward to Anchorage is also viable, though not quite as seamless as the Grandview Rail Transfer. The trains that operate the Grandview Rail Transfer actually leave from the pier in Seward rather than from the train station in the center of the town, and they go to a new train station connected directly to the main terminal at Anchorage International Airport, where one can pick up a rental car, rather than to the main rail station on First Street. If one chooses Karen's approach, taxis to make the connections at both ends (pier to town in Seward and train station to airport in Anchorage) probably would consume the difference between the fares.

Norm.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Thanks so much for all of your advice. I have been searching for a 1 way southbound cruise out of Seward, and found a nice itinerary on the Volendam that departs on the 25th. It does Glacier Bay instead of Hubbard, but both attractions seem to be highly regarded.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
[
Karen's suggestion of spending a night in Seward and then taking the regular Alaska Railroad train from Seward to Anchorage is also viable, though not quite as seamless as the Grandview Rail Transfer. The trains that operate the Grandview Rail Transfer actually leave from the pier in Seward rather than from the train station in the center of the town, and they go to a new train station connected directly to the main terminal at Anchorage International Airport, where one can pick up a rental car, rather than to the main rail station on First Street. If one chooses Karen's approach, taxis to make the connections at both ends (pier to town in Seward and train station to airport in Anchorage) probably would consume the difference between the fares.

Norm.
Sorry Norm, you clearly sound like you haven't seen Seward at all. The train station in Seward isn't even a half mile from the cruise ship. A $5 cab ride. Major point is the ability to do some fantastic Seward touring, which must be you completely missed?? I am always one to encourage people to take advantage of being there, and in Seward there are many touring gems to consider as well as in Anchorage. Cabs to the airport are about $25, and there are several CHEAPER car rental options downtown vs the airport, due to the high airport taxes.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 09:58 PM
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[quote="Rev22:17"]Wave Runner,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wave Runner
I would also recommend a one way trip to Alaska if at all possible. Norm seems to be a huge Celebrity supporter but in his recommendation of the "GTS Infinity" it should always be pointed out that of the three Celebrity ships that suffer from propulsion problems the "GTS Infinity" has by far the worst record when it comes to reliability with eight separate propulsion problems in its less than seven year history. Several of these failures have affected Alaskan cruises with missed ports and even cancelled cruises.
[quote = Norm] Argh! I misspoke. That cruise actually is aboard GTS Millennium, which will move to Pacific at the end of the current Caribbean season, rather than GTS Infinity. Nonetheless, the odds of encountering a problem are pretty slim even on that ship.

Norm: Good switch, but I am afraid that you are still misspoken. The two m-class ships sailing Alaska this year (2008) are the Infinity and Millennium. The Millennium will replace the Summit which sailed to Alaska last year (2007). You are correct that the chances of having a problem and missing ports or even a cancelled cruise will be less on the Millennium than they would be on the Infinity. The odds are that you will not have a problem but Alaska is not a cruise that most people have an opportunity to take more than once and to take this additional risk is in my mind not a good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wave Runner
Many Celebrity ships did not go any where near Hubbard Glacier last year until July, while most other cruise ships had no problem getting close.
[qoute = Norm} I really don't know why that might have occurred. It's possible that there was some problem with access to Hubbard Glacier that did not affect other glacier areas. And it's also possible that Celebrity either perceived (wrongly) or recognized (rightly) some danger that other cruise lines did not notice. Not knowing the situation, I'm not going to attempt to judge who did or did not do the right thing.

Norm: I was talking specifically about Hubbard Glacier, as you may know Celebrity can not sail into Glacier Bay or College Fjord and as far as I know all ships had no problem getting close in Glacier Bay or College Fjord last year. Last May and June the Celebrity m-class ships seemed to not be able to get anywhere near Hubbard Glacier while other cruise ships the same size had no problem. The Celebrity Mercury also had no problem getting close either. It sounds to me like it is either the ability of the other Captains or a lack of desire by the Celebrity Captains to make the effort to get close, but just like you, I not going to attempt to judge anything either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wave Runner
As I said if seeing glaciers is important I would go with a different cruise line that sails to and from Whittier and pick one that does Glacier Bay and College Fjord. It all comes down to what things are important to the individual.

[quote - Wave Runner] My choice if considering a one-way cruise I would look at Princess or other lines that sails to or from Whittier, which has the advantage of being about an almost two hour shorter bus transfer to or from Anchorage. The port of Whittier also cuts off the major part of the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska crossing which on a few of our many cruises has been quite rough.
[quote = Norm] I'll choose a cruise that goes into Seward rather than a cruise that goes into Whittier. The scenery between Seward and Anchorage on the Alaska Railroad is absolutely breathtaking.

Norm: The scenery is flat as you head out of Seward and about an hour or so and then begins to transform into being surrounded by mountains. The highlight of the ride happens as you approach Turnagainarm about an hour from Anchorage. The trip from Whittier cuts off the first hour and a half, which you have from Seward, and then follows the exact same last hour of fantastic scenery into Anchorage. This is true if you are traveling by train, buss or car. You are right it is absolutely breathtaking. If seeing glaciers is a priority then I would recommend taking a cruise that offers two full days of Glacier viewing, instead of taking a chance that you will even be able to see Hubbard Glacier. This also eliminates the chance of problems happening on the two Celebrity m-class ships.

Thanks Karen for the great tip about the train.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wave Runner
[

Norm: The scenery is flat as you head out of Seward and about an hour or so and then begins to transform into being surrounded by mountains. The highlight of the ride happens as you approach Turnagainarm about an hour from Anchorage. The trip from Whittier cuts off the first hour and a half, which you have from Seward, and then follows the exact same last hour of fantastic scenery into Anchorage. This is true if you are traveling by train, buss or car. You are right it is absolutely breathtaking. If seeing glaciers is a priority then I would recommend taking a cruise that offers two full days of Glacier viewing, instead of taking a chance that you will even be able to see Hubbard Glacier. This also eliminates the chance of problems happening on the two Celebrity m-class ships.

Thanks Karen for the great tip about the train.
Have you taken the train??? It doesn't sound like it?? Actually from Seward, you have many hills and mts.- far from "flat", and several glacier views. This is far before you get to Turnagain Arm. By rail, this area is far superior to the Seward Highway.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 05:56 PM
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Have you taken the train??? It doesn't sound like it?? Actually from Seward, you have many hills and mts.- far from "flat", and several glacier views. This is far before you get to Turnagain Arm. By rail, this area is far superior to the Seward Highway.[/quote]

Hi Karen:

I know the drive, as you get close to Anchorage on the Seward Highway follows the railroad track as you get an hour or so out of Anchorage but the train scenery as you leave Seward, does sound a lot better.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 10:16 PM
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You,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Sorry Norm, you clearly sound like you haven't seen Seward at all. The train station in Seward isn't even a half mile from the cruise ship. A $5 cab ride. Major point is the ability to do some fantastic Seward touring, which must be you completely missed?? I am always one to encourage people to take advantage of being there, and in Seward there are many touring gems to consider as well as in Anchorage. Cabs to the airport are about $25, and there are several CHEAPER car rental options downtown vs the airport, due to the high airport taxes.
You're right that I have not spent time in Seward, but I have spent enough time in Anchorage to know that a cab ride from downtown (or from the main railroad station) to the airport to pick up a rental car will not be cheap.

And yes, renting a car in town is an option, but then one must get to and from the point of pick-up and drop-off, and one must get to the airport at the end of one's stay. I don't recall very many hotel shuttles there, either, but perhaps some of the better hotels do have them.

Norm.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 10:46 PM
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Wave Runner

Quote:
Originally Posted by I
Argh! I misspoke. That cruise actually is aboard GTS Millennium, which will move to Pacific at the end of the current Caribbean season, rather than GTS Infinity. Nonetheless, the odds of encountering a problem are pretty slim even on that ship.
Quote:
Originally Posted by In reply, you
Norm: Good switch, but I am afraid that you are still misspoken. The two m-class ships sailing Alaska this year (2008) are the Infinity and Millennium. The Millennium will replace the Summit which sailed to Alaska last year (2007).
Rather, what I said was absolutely correct. GTS Millennium is doing round trip cruises to the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale right now. At the end of the current Caribbean season (that is, around the first of May), she will operate a "Panama Canal" cruise that will move her to the Pacific, positioning her to do Alaska cruises this summer (2008).

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Norm: I was talking specifically about Hubbard Glacier, as you may know Celebrity can not sail into Glacier Bay or College Fjord and as far as I know all ships had no problem getting close in Glacier Bay or College Fjord last year.
When you compare Hubbard Glacier with Glacier Bay and College Fjord in this context, you are comparing apples to oranges. These areas are far enough apart to have very different weather and ice conditions. It may well have been safe for ships to enter Glacier Bay and College Fjord at a time when ice conditions posed a serious hazard around Hubbard Glacier. And this year, the reverse is equally possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Norm: The scenery is flat as you head out of Seward and about an hour or so and then begins to transform into being surrounded by mountains. The highlight of the ride happens as you approach Turnagainarm about an hour from Anchorage.
Karen is absolutely right about this. Between Seward and Turnagain Arm or thereabouts, the rail line is NOT next to the road. Rather, the rail line passes through spectacular mountainous terrain with inland glaciers and deep canyons. With your approach, you'll miss some of the most awesome views of the whole trip!

BTW, my first cruise to Alaska, which was aboard MV Sun Princess in 2002, visited both Glacier Bay and College Fjord. My second cruise to Alaska, aboard GTS Summit, visited Hubbard Glacier and the port of Hoonah (listed as "Icy Strait Point" on Celebrity's itineraries). Both cruises also visited Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, and both operated from Vancouver to Seward. Overall, I regard these itineraries as pretty much equivalent. I don't regard either Glacier Bay or College Fjord as major swingers. Here's why.

>> College Fjord, which has the most impressive glaciers that cruise ships visit, is also the destination of day boat cruises out of Whittier. In fact, the day boats can get closer to the glaciers for better viewing because they are smaller.

>> Compared to College Fjord, Glacier Bay is actually more impressive for its wildlife -- but the village of Hoonah, which is home to a Tlingit tribe, also offers great opportunities to see wildlife as well as a fascinating encounter with Alaska's salmon industry. (The tender pier is actually the dock of an old cannery that's now a museum.)

And the cruise that arrives in Whittier does miss some really incredible scenery on the rail transfer from Seward.

Norm.
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Old February 9th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
You,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Sorry Norm, you clearly sound like you haven't seen Seward at all. The train station in Seward isn't even a half mile from the cruise ship. A $5 cab ride. Major point is the ability to do some fantastic Seward touring, which must be you completely missed?? I am always one to encourage people to take advantage of being there, and in Seward there are many touring gems to consider as well as in Anchorage. Cabs to the airport are about $25, and there are several CHEAPER car rental options downtown vs the airport, due to the high airport taxes.
You're right that I have not spent time in Seward, but I have spent enough time in Anchorage to know that a cab ride from downtown (or from the main railroad station) to the airport to pick up a rental car will not be cheap.

And yes, renting a car in town is an option, but then one must get to and from the point of pick-up and drop-off, and one must get to the airport at the end of one's stay. I don't recall very many hotel shuttles there, either, but perhaps some of the better hotels do have them.

Norm.
For clarification, there are several hotels that DO offer both airport and depot shuttles, the Ramada on Muldoon, which I stay at frequently is one of them. AND if you get a downtown pick up, you most certainly can drop it at the airport, except with Enterprise. Little or no drop fees for the majors.

I posted, it's about $25 if you do take a cab- downtown Anchorage to the airport. Sorry, that you think $25 isn't "cheap" and such a significant problem to get between the two areas that it is not worth taking advantage of experiencing Seward with taking the regular run of the Alaska RR.
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Old February 10th, 2008, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
You,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Sorry Norm, you clearly sound like you haven't seen Seward at all. The train station in Seward isn't even a half mile from the cruise ship. A $5 cab ride. Major point is the ability to do some fantastic Seward touring, which must be you completely missed?? I am always one to encourage people to take advantage of being there, and in Seward there are many touring gems to consider as well as in Anchorage. Cabs to the airport are about $25, and there are several CHEAPER car rental options downtown vs the airport, due to the high airport taxes.
You're right that I have not spent time in Seward, but I have spent enough time in Anchorage to know that a cab ride from downtown (or from the main railroad station) to the airport to pick up a rental car will not be cheap.

And yes, renting a car in town is an option, but then one must get to and from the point of pick-up and drop-off, and one must get to the airport at the end of one's stay. I don't recall very many hotel shuttles there, either, but perhaps some of the better hotels do have them.

Norm.
For clarification, there are several hotels that DO offer both airport and depot shuttles, the Ramada on Muldoon, which I stay at frequently is one of them. AND if you get a downtown pick up, you most certainly can drop it at the airport, except with Enterprise. Little or no drop fees for the majors.

I posted, it's about $25 if you do take a cab- downtown Anchorage to the airport. Sorry, that you think $25 isn't "cheap" and such a significant problem to get between the two areas that it is not worth taking advantage of experiencing Seward with taking the regular run of the Alaska RR.
Thanks for correcting Norm and myself. I have not taken the train from Seward to Anchorage either, but have made the drive several times. I do know that the drive along Turnagainarm is beautiful no matter if you are driving or taking the train. The first part of the trip from Seward sounds much better than the highway. Thanks for the tip.

As far as the debate about cruise ships to Alaska to reiterate what I said before; the Celebrity Infinity will cruise Alaska next year with the Millennium replacing the Summit cruising to Alaska this year and both have had off and on problems with their propulsion systems that have shortened or cancelled several Alaskan cruises. I never mentioned how they got there and really could not care less, and don't see what it has to do with a discussion about Alaska cruises.
Many Celebrity cruises did not make it to Hubbard Glacier last year and the year before, during the months of May and June. While the two glaciers are a good distance apart, the reason that many ships do not get close to Hubbard Glacier is caused by heavier ice flows than are encountered in Glacier Bay. The statement that this is an ever changing effect can be very simply put, as just not true. Glacier Bay has a long history of almost always allowing all ships to get close at all times of the year and Hubbard Glacier historically has a lot of ice in the water during the first two cruise season months of May and June. Just a simple check of internet cruise sites will easily verify this fact. I have been reading about an unusual winter around Hubbard Glacier and there is some doubt if any cruise ships will be able to get any where Hubbard Glacier this coming year. Only time will tell on that one but the fact is that Glacier Bay is always more accessible than Hubbard Glacier and it does not change from season to season, this fact has been true for the last twenty-five years or so. Over the years there has always been a risk that you will not see Hubbard Glacier and only a very, very small chance that you will miss Glacier Bay. Saying anything different is merely wishful thinking but has nothing to do with the facts.
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What makes Carnival your LINE OF CHOICE? Kuki Carnival Cruise Lines 12 March 26th, 2003 09:58 PM


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