All right, keeping up with our awesome travel schedule for 2014, on Labor Day we’re cruising to the last frontier: Alaska!
If you have done a cruise before, well, I don’t need to say anything. You are sold on cruises and know that cruises are fun, fun, fun, and all things considered, probably the best and cheapest way to travel. It is definitely the best way to see Alaska.
Now, if you have never been on a cruise, well, you are in for one of the biggest treats of your life. Let me sell you on it a little bit:
Cruises are the best way to get to know many places on the same trip/vacation. If you think of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and Alaska, cruises are definitely the way to go. A cruise is like a travel buffet! In our cruise for example, we will get to see Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Sawyer Glacier, Skagway, Ketchikan, Inside Passage and Vancouver. How else could you see so many places in one trip, right?
And the cost is ridiculous small. I don’t even know how they make the numbers work, to be honest. You get all the food you can eat, with the choice of fancy, super-casual, buffets and exotic restaurants, plus entertainment 24/7 and a relaxing vacation ALL INCLUDED for as low as[masked] a day. Imagine a five star all-inclusive resort for[masked] a day. And that resort actually travels with you, taking you to other amazing places.
And cruising with a group, especially a fun and friendly group like us, is out of this world! It will blow most other trips out of the water (no pun intended). Unless of course, the other trips are also with us. :-)
Here is a video I made when I was super stoked boarding my first cruise. My friend was running late and we made them hold the ship waiting for her!
Oh man! So much fun that cruise was! :-)
OK. Now that you are totally sold on cruises, let’s talk about our cruise:
We’re doing a southbound cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver aboard the Norwegian Sun, one of the newest ships sailing Alaska.
We’re doing a 7 day cruise, which is the perfect length of time: the cruise will be inexpensive, it’s easy to take time off work, and will allow us to see all the important things that are there to see and do all the fun things that are there to do.
Alaska cruises are especially awesome because not only you sail through breathtaking scenery such as glaciers and beautiful passages, but you often get to see marine wildlife such as humpback whales from the boat. And then, every time we dock, we get to visit unique and adventurous places. Some of the land excursions are hiking on a glacier (hiking on a freaking glacier!!!), explore the wilderness on an ATV, explore fjords, riding the world largest ziprider, kayaking by glaciers, riding a dog sled, snorkeling (yes, you read that right: we’ll wear a super thick wetsuit and snorkel in Alaska!!!) flying over a glacier by plane and helicopter, seeing grizzly bears, and more. There are 131 different land excursions for us to pick from! Land excursions are not included in the price, but well worth it and all things considered, very reasonable.
Now, I will also add the choice for us to spend a few days before the cruise in Anchorage, and a few days after the cruise in Vancouver. We'll talk about that when we have a few people signed up, so I can contact tour operators and hotels.
Here is the full itinerary at-a-glance:
Set sail from the quaint town of Whittier and prepare to experience all the beauty and majesty of the Alaskan wilderness. Get up close and personal with the gigantic Hubbard Glacier, see humpback whales off of Icy Strait Point, take the reins of a dogsled in Juneau, and ride a jet-powered catamaran in Ketchikan.
Port: Whittier (EMBARK)
Depart: 9:00 pm
Port: Hubbard Glacier
Port: Icy Strait Point
Arrive: 9:00 am
Depart: 5:00 pm
Arrive: 7:00 am
Depart: 1:15 pm
Port: Sawyer Glacier
Arrive: 7:00 am
Depart: 5:00 pm
Arrive: 1:00 pm
Depart: 8:00 pm
Port: Cruising the Inside Passage
Port: Vancouver, Canada (Disembark)
Arrive: 8:00 am
And here are details in each port-of-call:
Monday: Whittier (Anchorage)
Whittier is a quaint town located on the western side of Prince William Sound. The town was named after the great American poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Tourist flock here for fishing and hunting as the region's wildlife is rich and vast. We will have the choice to arrive a few days early and explore Anchorage.
Tuesday: Hubbard Glacier
The gigantic Hubbard Glacier, North America's largest tidewater glacier. It's 1350 square miles of blue ice and one of the most active in Alaska.
Wednesday: Icy Strait Point
The Icy Strait Point experience combines authentic regional culture with incredible natural beauty. Enjoy Tlingit dancing and art. Or get closer than you'd ever imagine to humpback whales and brown bears in the wild. Work up a wilderness hunger and satisfy it with fresh Dungeness crab. Shore excursions include Whale and Marine Mammals Cruise, ATV Expedition and ZipRider, Scenic Mountain Ascent & World’s Largest ZipRider, Forest and Nature Tram, ATV Expedition. Here is the full list of shore excursions in Icy Strait Point: http://tinyurl.com/keys24n
Thursday: Juneau & Sawyer Glacier
Juneau has been called “Alaska's peak experience,” certainly due in part to its unparalleled glacier viewing from such places as Tracy Arm Fjord, the Juneau Icefields and Glacier Bay National Park. Kayak up one of the area's many protected waterways, go flightseeing, tour historic downtown or try your hand at panning for gold. The majestic Mendenhall Glacier lies nearly 12 miles outside Juneau, a trek worthwhile. Shore excursions include Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest, Sea Kayak Adventure, 5 Glacier Seaplane Exploration, Four Glacier Adventure by Helicopter, Helicopter Glacier Trek, Dogsled Adventure by Helicopter, Bear Watching & Wildlife Viewing Adventure and a lot more! Here is the full list: http://tinyurl.com/m7svqkm
Prepare to experience all the beauty and majesty of the Alaskan wilderness. Get up close and personal with the majestic Sawyer Glacier.
In a single year from 1896 to 1897, this remote town along the Inside Passage grew from a few tents to a city of 20,000 gold seekers. Today, travelers come in search of other riches – to experience yesteryear along Skagway's charming boardwalk lined with buildings that replicate those Gold Rush days. Shore excursions include White Pass Railway, Klondike Gold Fields & Panning, Yukon Territory Scenic Drive, Glacier Point Wilderness Safari, White Pass Railway & Alpine Snowshoe Hike, Ocean Raft Wildlife Adventure and 36 more. Here is the full list: http://tinyurl.com/mn9jz5s
Its Tlingit Indian name, Kach Khanna, means “spread wings of the eagle.” Chances are you'll see one of these magnificent birds perched atop a Sitka tree. Thanks to its abundant rainfall, Ketchikan is surrounded by some of the world's most lush wilderness. Shore excursions include Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer, Rainforest Canopy Adventure & Zipline Expedition, Magnificent Misty Fjords Seaplane, Lighthouse, Totems & Eagles Excursion, Mountain Point Snorkeling, Bear Country & Wildlife Expedition and 32 more. Here's the full list: http://tinyurl.com/l7ek33o
Sunday: Cruising the Inside Passage
Get ready for amazing views and wildlife like nowhere else as you sail through the islands of Alaska's Inside Passage.
Monday: Vancouver, Canada
Positioned between the snow-dusted North Shore Mountains and the rich, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver blends big-city sophistication with small-town charm. Don't miss Queen Elizabeth Park – a 130-acre civic arboretum accented with sculptures by modern artist Henry Moore. Like I said, we’ll have the option of spending a few days in beautiful Vancouver before heading back to L.A. Even if you are not going to spend a few more days in Vancouver, they offer a city tour that you can take for two hours and see the most important parts of the city.
If you want to read more about the cruise, here is the link to our cruise at Norwegian's website:
All right, now let’s talk about the good part. Money. :-D Actually, it is the good part, because like I said, cruise prices are unbelievably low!
Actually, before I talk about prices, let me explain one thing about advertised cruise prices: you will often see unbelievably low prices online. What you don't realize is that they are not telling you the date and are not including the government taxes.
I'm telling you this because you may look online and find the same cruise advertised for as low as[masked] and think that we are paying too much. Then if you look closer you will see that the price is for the beginning or end of the season (which are not ideal times to go) and it's not including taxes.For our cruise, the government taxes are 200.08. Cruise prices are set by the cruise lines, and are non-negotiable. A website may make you think you will be paying less if you book with them, but in the end you will find that it is not the case.
I reserved eight inside cabins and eight ocean view (porthole) cabins. All those cabins are double occupancy unless you ask to go by yourself and pay the single supplement. And yes, guys will room with guys and girls with girls, unless it makes no difference to you.
Inside cabins will be[masked] plus government taxes, coming down to[masked] per person at double-occupancy. Single supplement (if you want a cabin all for yourself) will be an extra 579.00.
Ocean view will cost[masked] plus taxes coming down to[masked] per person at double-occupancy. Single occupancy will be an extra 799.00.
Rooms with balcony will cost 1,389.00 plus government taxes, coming down to 1,589.08. Yes, that’s per person also, and based on double occupancy also. Balconies are expansive. Single occupancy will be an extra 1,389.00.
I have not reserved balconies, so the price may change as departure date approaches. If you want to book a room with a balcony, make your deposit and let me know so I can call and get the exact rate. Even if it’s more, it won’t be much more.
Up until April 27, you can make a deposit of[masked] (non-refundable) and guarantee your room and the rates above. If you make the deposit after April 27, the rates may be a little higher. Most likely not a lot higher, but the closer we get to the sailing date, the more expensive it tends to be, and the less available rooms there will be.
The cruise will most likely sell out, by the way, so the best thing you do it to put a deposit on ASAP. You can RSVP here without sending me the deposit if you want to post comments and get e mails about the trip from me, but you are only guaranteed a spot (and price) once you send me at least the deposit. Full payment is due on June 11.
I strongly, strongly, strongly suggest that you get travel Insurance. They offer Travel Protection through Berkly Care. The price is 89.00 for standard and[masked] for Platinum.
Here is a link to Norwegian’s page about the insurance:
And the Description of Coverage:
You can buy the travel insurance at any time before sailing date. Of course you are only covered from the time you buy it.
Flights: Some people have miles, frequent flyer programs and other ways to get a cheap of free ticket. That’s why air is not included. If you would like, you can book your flight with Norwegian, and I can do that for you. To be honest, it won’t be cheaper than if you booked your own. It will just be more convenient. As of right now flights are about[masked] (both ways). If you want me to book the flight with Norwegian, let me know.
Below is the link to Pay Pal for the deposit:
CLICK HERE TO MAKE A THE DEPOSIT [masked])
Once you send me the deposit I’ll send you an e mail asking for all your info such as full name, D.O.B, room preference (single, double, one bed, two beds), and all the info Norwegian needs to issue you a ticket. I'll also send you a link to pay the remaining balance and travel insurance if you would like.
By the way, if your Pay Pal name is different than your Meetup profile name, please make sure to tell me who you are!
One last thing: you will need a passport because we are finishing the trip in Vancouver. If you don't have one yet, you have plenty of time to get it so long as you get on with it ASAP. Here's the link to get started:
All right, let’s have some fun!!! See you in Alaska.
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