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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. As a fellow Vancouverite I'm assuming you book a regular overnight room before you fly out early - a different beast from a 'day room' rate. If you could just show up two hours early or check out late with no extra charge by signing up for a free membership, it would make mock of the whole concept of charging different rates for 8 vs. 6 vs. 4 hours - and also make the limited hours of 8am-8pm problematic to administer. The website is very clear - as quoted above by OP - about time limits and there's nothing in the loyalty program verbiage that suggests any guarantee of early access even to regular overnight rooms until you reach Gold status with the new Accor program, and even then they don't say how early. The old Fairmont President's Club, before the Accor rebranding, didn't guarantee early check-in until Platinum status either. Even the fanciest of hotels is limited in what they can do when they're running close to capacity đŸ˜‰
  2. On a day room, where they specifically charge for a number of hours? I'm dubious - we've been members for almost 20 years and they certainly haven't always let us check in early even on regular stays. Even when we've booked the Gold floor we have not always been able to get into our room early!
  3. A next-day nonstop on Alaskan makes sense if you don't want to do any post-cruise Vancouver time in Seattle - consider renting a car one-way and make a day of it en route with stops wherever you feel like (there's a lot of pretty countryside between us and Seattle), or if you're up for a late night the evening Amtrak train gives you most of the day in Vancouver and then the least-painful border crossing to anyone without NEXUS (preclear at the station before boarding the train, but unlike YVR the worst queues never get really bad as you only ever have to worry about the other pax on your specific train). The problem is that the Fairmont limits you to a maximum of 8 hours in the room at day rates. So if you want to stay until 8pm, that means checking in no earlier than noon... which means you are still stuck with your bags from when you get off the ship until you can check in. If you wanted to drop your bags then sightsee, you're still stuck on a ~9-5 day like other hotels - plus you waste a full hour round-trip on SkyTrain to downtown and back compared to just heading out to YVR once. So if you're planning to do any local sightseeing before a red-eye, I'll reiterate that a more sensible plan would be storing bags at the pier as soon as your disembark, and paying for a downtown hotel overnight and leaving it early (or just paying for lounge access at YVR) if you want to grab a shower or nap before your flight. Compared to 8 hours in the Fairmont you can probably book an overnight rate in many downtown hotels, not just the YWCA (which is a 'real' hotel, not a hostel, and a very popular and well-reviewed one). Of course if you feel that the Fairmont's pricing is worth it for a private bed & shower on-site at YVR, booking their 4 hour package would save you cash and still let you check out at 8pm - and checking in at 4pm gives you enough time to take in a few sights downtown before heading out there. On the tour front, the only realistic way you'd get a tour that completely filled all your time before a red-eye would be booking a private custom tour as even the longest 'standard package' local day trips still have you back in town too early (technically day trips to Victoria, which run 12-14 hours depending whether you fly or take the ferry, could fill your whole day and evening but of course then you have the risk of being a flight or ferry ride away at the end of the day - and they also pick up around 8am so you'd need to be hustling off the ship too). Even with a late flight though you can easily kill time with a regular day tour, the HOHO, or just walking around downtown between sites - most longer day tours get you back to town about the same time HOHOs stop running (between 5 and 6pm) so by the time you go for a nice dinner, get your bags back from the Pan Pacific, and hop in a cab/SkyTrain to YVR you can easily find it's going on 9pm. If you were on the 10:30pm flight you mentioned above you'd be checking in with ample time (domestic first leg means as long as you meet the checked-bag cutoff of 45mins before you shouldn't have any issues, so 90mins early is double what you require).
  4. From Toronto, your dirt-cheap option would be getting friends to drop you off for a Swoop flight from Hamilton to Abbotsford, transit into Vancouver, then Bolt Bus to Seattle. Not something I'd wish on anyone who is able to afford more convenience though! A buddy who lives in Toronto actually did this last summer, and even if Swoop hadn't canceled his planned flight thus bumping his plans on by an entire day it would have been a long and hassle-filled trip (and he was hanging out a few days before heading to Seattle, so didn't need to worry about a flight delay making him miss the bus etc.) I don't think anyone flies nonstop BUF-SEA, so even on the nicer cheap airlines like Southwest/JetBlue you'd have to connect, potentially far off of the direct path - personally I'd just eat the extra cost of a nonstop on Air Canada or WestJet (and codeshares) YYZ-SEA, but if you don't mind a long connecting flight to save a few bucks you do have options from BUF. Oh, and Bruce is right that you should ask the Mods to move this over to Cruise Air, you'll get eyes on it from several experienced flyers who don't check West Coast...
  5. Checking bags cannot be done officially until at least 10am (some time between 10 and 10:30am, depending how many ships are in port, i.e. how long it takes of offload the incoming pax) - but unofficially 9:30am is usually a pretty safe bet. So taking the last possible disembarkation slot makes sense - worst case you may need to wait around a short time before checking them. OTOH you could also expedite your sightseeing by storing the bags for the day - which personally I feel is well worth the extra $5per! Just head upstairs to the Pan Pacific bell desk and ask to store them for the day - the price hasn't gone up in a decade, and they've never needed you to be a hotel guest either. Even if that does change next year for some reason the official storage at the pier will still be an option, it's just pricier (went up to $12 a bag when WestCoast took over running it this year - but they also give you a discount rate if you book one of their tours, e.g. the HOHO bus). Given that the Seawall is right outside the pier, and you can access that 24/7 (and Stanley Park doesn't have gates) two of the most popular things to do can be done as soon as you step off the ship even if you're the very first people. Usually self-disembarkation starts well before 8am, so you could gain an extra two hours of quality sightseeing if you get off as early as possible and pay to store the bags...
  6. If you're seriously considering a day room at the Fairmont YVR, then here's a superior-and-also-cheaper option that will also save you time and get you a decent night's kip: book a flight EARLY the next day and overnight downtown at the YWCA hotel. It's cheap, clean, safe, and a great location to walk around the city from. No wasted time going out to YVR to check in and return, no ridiculously overpriced room for a few hours, a full day to spend in Vancouver sightseeing, and by getting a 6-8am flight next day you avoid not only the minimal risk of your ship being delayed into port and missing a flight, but also any risk of long queues at YVR (all those annoying cruisers who head straight to the airport cannot possibly get there before you đŸ˜‰) and you also get home at a civilized hour. In comparison to a red-eye that's not long enough to actually sleep, arriving home early evening will likely be more productive, and certainly less hassle, than getting home by noon but immediately needing a nap, then trying not to nap too long so you can sleep again at your normal bedtime so you are functional for work next day... Other sensible choice if you have pre-cruise time in Vancouver is to head down to Seattle, as you will get many more flight options from SEA - including nonstops. So you can either do a redeye from SEA or overnight in a cheap hotel there and take an early one next day.
  7. Firstly, it's not an Amtrak station - so ignore any info on the Amtrak website (well, the address should be correct, but everything else re: contact phone, operating hours, luggage storage etc. etc. etc. is run by VIA Rail, the Canadian national carrier, who actually own and operate the station!) Second - if convenient location is primary, you cannot beat the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth - it's literally above the station. Take the escalator and you arrive in the hotel lobby! Not cheap however - your mention of a Motel rather than Hotel implies to me that you're after a cheap bed for the night rather than a fancy-schmancy place. Note that unlike a lot of US cities, Canada tends to have railway and bus stations in perfectly-pleasant parts of downtown which is certainly the case for both Montreal's 'Gare Centrale' (train) and 'Gare d'Autocar' (bus) stations. In other words, you simply won't find a cheap motel close by, you'd have to head out to the 'burbs where such things tend to be. Personally I'd say your best nearby bargain might be the Springhill Suites - this was always our go-to hotel in Montreal unless a conference was picking up the tab! They no longer include free parking, but that won't impact you as you're coming in by train. Decent included brekkie, great base to walk around Old Town Montreal, and it's almost equidistant between the train station on arrival and bus station on departure (potentially even walkable if you're in reasonable shape and can handle your bags, about a mile from each). Map here with all three.
  8. Self-disembarking? Easy. You could walk to the airport in time! Any problem big enough to make you miss an 11:30am flight is almost certainly also a big enough deal to make a 12:30pm worthless also - engine failure, insane weather, ship sinking type stuff causing massive delays en route to the pier or in port an earthquake/massive power outage/North Korean missile attack. You get the drift I'm sure đŸ˜‰ Even if it's a 3 or 4 ship day, with carryon luggage using SkyTrain would be trivially easy - so worst case that 3 other ships are in port with you, and all of them start disembarking earlier so the cab queue is a nightmare, you have a <10min walk to Waterfront SkyTrain (exit pier, follow sidewalk to the left, hang a left on Cordova and walk a couple blocks to the super-obvious big brick station with pillars outside), a few minutes to figure out how to buy tickets from the vending machines (easy on weekends as it's all 1 Zone, so only decision to make is whether you get Concession Fare or not [>65yrs old, or kids 5-14]), then a wait of zero to 10 mins for the next YVR train (every second one - clearly displayed on boards and front of train) and ride until the end ~26mins later. If you have a credit card with RFID chip - little WiFi symbol on it - you don't even have to buy SkyTrain tickets, you just need to tap the fare gate and it opens, tap again to exit and it even calculates the fare for you (NB: no discounts though, always charges regular Adult fare which should remain CAD$3 through next June as rates generally go up July 1st). Oh, and while you should be totes fine without one acquiring a NEXUS or Global Entry card will further reduce the already-very-very-low-risk. You've got time for either - and since you're within a very feasible day-trip drive of at least two enrollment centres, NEXUS is the better choice even if you don't drive to Canada (it costs half the price of GE and provides all the benefits plus expedited entry to Canada on top).
  9. Evenings aren't so bad generally (YYZ strongly recommends the full 3 hours preflight for a morning flight, but 2 hours the rest of the time) but 75mins, while a legal connection, could be tight if you get unlucky and a few flights before/after you land a little early/late. CBP suck at adding extra people for prescreening, so any unexpectedly busy time means longer queues with no relief. Self-advocate, grab anyone you see in an airport uniform and tell them you have a flight soon - IME there's always at least one or two people at YYZ, usually roaming the queues and asking specifically about people on connecting flights that leave soon when they know there's a tight connection so they can pull you to the front. Basically, nobody wants you to miss the flight - both the airport and the airline have more hassle if you do - so they'll do their best to get you on it!
  10. We're just back from SF, and while a conference initially put us up in a swanky downtown hotel we again moved out to our favourite neck of the woods for cheap-but-decent to extend our stay. The group of same-owner motels around Cow Hollow - Lombard Inn, Chelsea Inn, Coventry Inn and a couple of others - have always been good to us, and I can report that the Coventry has had a very recent change of mattresses and they are delightfully firm. We slept better there than in our downtown fancy place! No frills, a bit scruffy around the edges (expect the odd dings & scrapes on skirting boards etc.) but clean and pretty quiet (though ask for a room at the back if you are light sleepers, they're all on Lombard which is a big street so do get a fair bit of street traffic - but this also means a smooth drive next day to the pier). Edit - well there you go, two reccos out of two on these properties!!!!
  11. Have to agree with Bruce - my 'must see' and yours may be identical, similar, or wildly different... so without knowing you and the rest of your traveling companions, the only definitely-applicable advice is to provide more info about your interests, mobility, budget etc. etc. etc. or go do more research yourself first to narrow down the possibilities. If you want generic 'most folks enjoy X' then CC isn't the best place - TripAdvisor is. Even with all the fake review issues, the most popular attractions across a city or state have hundreds or even thousands of reviews, therefore you can assume a pretty similar degree of fakery and trust that the 'top 10' rankings are fairly accurate as an opinion gauge of the relative enjoyment of each for the average person. Once you've got a list of probably-still-too-many things, the strength of CC is getting local (and past visitor) takes on nitty-gritty details about them, e.g. how best to combine different sites, times of day that are optimal, upcoming renovations/roadwork etc. that might make visiting certain spots a hassle on your dates.
  12. That's very kind of you to say, but Milhouse did the heavy lifting answering this... and much more promptly!
  13. On the train front, you shouldn't have a no problem with cabs - even if the train is delayed, local cabbies check when it arrives and start to join a lineup. In fact if the train runs really late - after SkyTrain stops running - even more cabs show up than normal as they know that folks who would normally hop on SkyTrain can't so there's more business available. Only issue is that you may end up having to wait a few minutes for a cab if you're in one of the later carriages to clear. There's a big line of them when the train arrives, but after that line is all taken when they get back depends on where the first batch of pax are heading. Any downtown hotel means you can expect the cabbie to be back again in 20mins unless they get a fare en route. Since you're in a pretty big hotel, you could always try speeding things along and also saving a few bucks by asking the other foilks in line if any of them are heading to Sutton Place and want to share a cab... and if you're coming Business Class you'll get off first and likely into the first tranche of cabs without delay. Head straight out of the main station doors and look to your left - you'll see the cab line and the queue of folks waiting for it. Cost should be ~$12 that late, no traffic to worry about. While it's a little more 'fine dining' than requested, Boulevard inside your hotel has some great deals on Happy Hour (by the time you get through immigration and to the hotel, it might not be long until the late night Happy Hour kicks in); it also offers solid value for the quality of the regular menu (and since it's a hotel resto, not all the menu is fancy-schmancy - there's some very normal and not too pricy choices as well as their extensive and swankier seafood etc). Depending how much GBP tanks between now and potentially-post-Brexit-or-not-who-the-heck-knows-these-days next year, you may find local food prices better or worse value in general than back home - but assuming things remain about the same exchange-rate-wise, Canadian fine dining even in Vancouver will continue to be a steal compared to the UK based on my trip back home this summer.
  14. Considering that without cruise ships ISP simply wouldn't exist (it was literally built specially out of the old cannery site near Hoonah to bring in tourist money) I'm not surprised at all - if they annoy the cruiselines even a little and jeopardise that relationship, how are they going to pay off the construction? Think of it as pretty much a cruiseline private island, just shared by all the lines who use it... while ultimately the profits are going to the local folks, without a pretty sweet slice for the lines there wouldn't be any income at all.
  15. If you check their website, you'll see that you can book direct through ISP... click on the 'book now' button, select your date, and see what tours are available. Unfortunately it looks like on your date they are only selling a ziprider/whalewatch combo though, and no idea what Celebrity charges so may cost the same to cancel your private whalewatch and book the combo through ISP as through Celeb. They do sell just zipride, and other combos, on different dates so there's obviously some sort of agreement with different lines as to what's being sold to the public.. I would not be surprised if the cost ends up being identical. If you have out down a nonrefundable payment for the private whalewatch already, I can only suggest contacting ISP directly to see if they'll let you arrange something 'offbook': info@icystraitpoint.com
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