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18 minutes ago, OnTheJourney said:

I could go back there again - never got to Sitka yet - wasn't part of our cruise itinerary. 

If you do visit Sitka the Mean Queen has the best pizza in town.  And yes, it's a bar.....🍺😎  But just past the famous Russian Orthodox Church for your culture first...

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7 hours ago, OnTheJourney said:

 

Andy and Clay....I'm glad I looked at this thread. Have always wanted to do the Canadian Rockies / Glacier NP areas. Of late I've been tossing around the option of the RM versus flying into Calgary and a DIY driving trip (which we always love anyway). Any thoughts? Recently watched a webinar that my TA told me about - very impressive presentation by RM with, of course, stunning pics - but I'm thinking by car we'd allow more time for the Parkway and also can then get down to Glacier. RM has a 12-day Vancouver to Vancouver circle journey that includes Kamloops, Quesnell, and Whistler. In checking with Trip Advisor forums, I'm told that I could easily skip these last three stops. 12 days is ok, but I'm sure I'd plan to spend a bit longer. The only way to get to Glacier with RM is to do one of their shorter Calgary to Calgary routes. Also, VERY expensive train!  Thanks for any suggestions. I definitely want to allow enough time for Banff, Jasper, Moraine Lake,  Yoho, the Parkway, and Glacier / Waterton NP. Right now I'm thinking a late Sept. trip (2022). I've been debating between May and Sept. and am told that Going to the Sun Road is typically not even open yet in May. Also, May is considered "mud" season due to transitioning from winter. October is considered to be too late. 

 

The Rocky Mountaineer is spectacular, especially for train buffs. They train by day and spend the nights at hotels, so you don't miss any scenery. However, it is very, very expensive and you have no control of what you see, other than picking the route.

 

Many people have concerns with driving in the Rockies, but honestly it is just some different challenges from city driving. We have driven most of the major highways with a F350 Dually and towing a 16,000 lb 41 foot 5th wheel. No issues. On the major highways, most grades are around 6%, with a few at 8 to 11%.

 

If you are comfortable driving, I would definitely recommend flying into Calgary or Edmonton and hiring a car, or a small motorhome to Vancouver. Based on your points of interest, I suggest:

  • Entering the Rockies on Hwy 16 (Yellowhead Hwy) at Hinton to Jasper (Jasper NP, Maligne Lake.....)
  • Drive down Hwy 93 to Icefields Parkway & Lake Louise
  • Continue to Canmore - site of Calgary Olympics snow events
  • Banff
  • Moraine Lake
  • Yoho NP
  • Head south on Hwy 95/93 to Fairmont Hot Springs
  • You can head south to Hwy 3 or back north to Hwy 1 to continue West, depending on your interests
  • Suggest stopping for a few days in the Okanagan, which is our premier wine region

Not aware of Waterton NP, so that wasn't included.

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, OnTheJourney said:

 

GREAT pic! So that first one is from Jasper?  Never been but definitely want to - high on my list but just never made it there yet - partly cause I've always considered it a summer trip (hate traveling during summer anymore - long story) but now I'm thinking mid-Sept. is still ok (?)  Hoping you can give me some good tips on driving that area. I'd like to stay at Banff Springs too - seems a shame to go that far and not stay at such an iconic place. Was surprised to see that the top level class on the RM stays at the Rimrock instead of B. Springs. 

Yes, the first picture is from Jasper.  The second is from YoHo.  We went in the summer (not our first choice either but) and many of the waterfalls were not at their most beautiful as all the snow has melted.  I would love to go in spring when the snow is melting.  I would suggest doing some research on the Average temperatures and such. 
 

Happy to share any tips though not sure I have any.  You might want to first check our blog from August 2019 and then send me an email to BigNCBear@aol.com with any questions.  Here is a link to the post I did after we left friends near Glacier National Park and were headed to Calgary and our 10 day or so trek through the Canadian Rockies. https://cruisinwithclay.com/2019/08/24/to-calgary/

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8 minutes ago, Clay Clayton said:

Yes, the first picture is from Jasper.  The second is from YoHo.  We went in the summer (not our first choice either but) and many of the waterfalls were not at their most beautiful as all the snow has melted.  I would love to go in spring when the snow is melting.  I would suggest doing some research on the Average temperatures and such. 
 

Happy to share any tips though not sure I have any.  You might want to first check our blog from August 2019 and then send me an email to BigNCBear@aol.com with any questions.  Here is a link to the post I did after we left friends near Glacier National Park and were headed to Calgary and our 10 day or so trek through the Canadian Rockies. https://cruisinwithclay.com/2019/08/24/to-calgary/


Speaking of time of year what month would you book for the ocean part:  May, June, or July.   I did July and it was very nice but as mentioned you see very little snow except in the glacier areas.

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11 hours ago, zalusky said:


Speaking of time of year what month would you book for the ocean part:  May, June, or July.   I did July and it was very nice but as mentioned you see very little snow except in the glacier areas.

No idea. We were just on a road trip.  No cruise involved.  Well...once we got to the west coast we cruised to Japan (on X) leaving Vancouver in Early September. 

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2 hours ago, Clay Clayton said:

Well...once we got to the west coast we cruised to Japan (on X) leaving Vancouver in Early September. 

 

Wow!  Nice trip. Thanks for the link. I'll take a look. 

Edited by OnTheJourney
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18 hours ago, Jim Avery said:

If you do visit Sitka the Mean Queen has the best pizza in town.  And yes, it's a bar.....🍺😎  But just past the famous Russian Orthodox Church for your culture first...

OH...I thought maybe the beer first, and THEN the church 🤔  

 

Many years ago the one resort we've gone to quite often in the Poconos hosted the "International Freedom Festival" - started off with an outdoor religious service and then, literally, less than 30 seconds after the service concluded, the beer tent opened up!!!  

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16 hours ago, Jim Avery said:

OTJ, if you like, Andy and I can custom design a pub crawl for your next Alaska cruise.  Guaranteed to be educational....🍺😎

 

Awesome. I'll bet you guys could come up with some killer pub crawl excursions for cruise lines too.....😆  Think about it....🍻

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15 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

If you are comfortable driving, I would definitely recommend flying into Calgary or Edmonton and hiring a car,

 

Absolutely. I've done my share of driving on some of those windy mountain roads - often with no guard rails, etc. Most recently the one that comes to mind is Colorado National Monument. (Near Grand Junction...if you've never been - highly recommended). I love that stuff...switchbacks and so forth. Switching back and forth between lower gears on those steep inclines. Fun!!!  Except for when there is snow/ice to contend with. I'll never forget driving out of Sequoia NP. The rangers were talking as we were checking out of the lodge about the roads being pretty dicey. I figured...gimme a break....after all, it was May. Nope...sure enough. Couldn't wait till we got a thousand feet down or so for things to get better. 

 

Thanks for the sample itinerary. It'll get copied and added to my notes. BTW...Waterton refers to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park - the union of Waterton Lakes NP in Canada with Glacier NP in the US. Sorry for not being clearer. 

 

PS...Jim....if you read this...remember to hit the bar AFTER doing the drive 🚗

Edited by OnTheJourney
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6 hours ago, Clay Clayton said:

No idea. We were just on a road trip.  No cruise involved.  Well...once we got to the west coast we cruised to Japan (on X) leaving Vancouver in Early September. 

 

Thats another itinerary I looked at.  How was Vancouver to Japan?  Any must not misses on that one?

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17 hours ago, zalusky said:

 

Thats another itinerary I looked at.  How was Vancouver to Japan?  Any must not misses on that one?

We were on Celebrity so different itinerary than Viking I think. We enjoyed the cruise very much.  As long as you don’t mind multiple sea days it’s great!  We ported in Ketchikan, Otaru, Hakodate, and an overnight in Yokohama.  
 

It was our first time in Asia and we loved Japan.  (But then we surprisedly liked our time in China too ) We spent one extra day in Tokyo and then three? in Kyoto. If we had it to do over, would probably have stayed in Yokohama rather than Tokyo-slightly less expensive and easier to understand the lay of the land.  We wanted to go to the Cup o’Noodles Museum and make our own but ran out of time...or energy actually. Also, more time in Kyoto would have been great as would Hiroshima. We did a  day trip there while in Kyoto. 
 

If you get to Japan, be sure and try to schedule “Goodwill” guides.  These are volunteers who love showing tourists around and are free!  You are expected to pay for their transportation, any meals, and any admissions. Six of us had a lovely guide for a full day in Tokyo and it cost us each $8. She got to practice her English and we got a very personalized tour and had the opportunity to connect directly with a local. The two of us did the same thing in Hiroshima and while it was more per person, I think it cost us a total of $70 for our admissions & trams (he had an annual pass for both) and lunch for all three, it was still a great deal and we feel like we learned more than we would have with a bus group. 

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On 9/22/2020 at 12:53 PM, OnTheJourney said:

 

Absolutely. I've done my share of driving on some of those windy mountain roads - often with no guard rails, etc. Most recently the one that comes to mind is Colorado National Monument. (Near Grand Junction...if you've never been - highly recommended). I love that stuff...switchbacks and so forth. Switching back and forth between lower gears on those steep inclines. Fun!!!  Except for when there is snow/ice to contend with. I'll never forget driving out of Sequoia NP. The rangers were talking as we were checking out of the lodge about the roads being pretty dicey. I figured...gimme a break....after all, it was May. Nope...sure enough. Couldn't wait till we got a thousand feet down or so for things to get better. 

 

Thanks for the sample itinerary. It'll get copied and added to my notes. BTW...Waterton refers to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park - the union of Waterton Lakes NP in Canada with Glacier NP in the US. Sorry for not being clearer. 

 

PS...Jim....if you read this...remember to hit the bar AFTER doing the drive 🚗

 

Rangers have a way of knowing what they're talking about. Well worth paying attention to.

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8 hours ago, Clay Clayton said:

We were on Celebrity so different itinerary than Viking I think. We enjoyed the cruise very much.  As long as you don’t mind multiple sea days it’s great!  We ported in Ketchikan, Otaru, Hakodate, and an overnight in Yokohama.  
 

It was our first time in Asia and we loved Japan.  (But then we surprisedly liked our time in China too ) We spent one extra day in Tokyo and then three? in Kyoto. If we had it to do over, would probably have stayed in Yokohama rather than Tokyo-slightly less expensive and easier to understand the lay of the land.  We wanted to go to the Cup o’Noodles Museum and make our own but ran out of time...or energy actually. Also, more time in Kyoto would have been great as would Hiroshima. We did a  day trip there while in Kyoto. 
 

If you get to Japan, be sure and try to schedule “Goodwill” guides.  These are volunteers who love showing tourists around and are free!  You are expected to pay for their transportation, any meals, and any admissions. Six of us had a lovely guide for a full day in Tokyo and it cost us each $8. She got to practice her English and we got a very personalized tour and had the opportunity to connect directly with a local. The two of us did the same thing in Hiroshima and while it was more per person, I think it cost us a total of $70 for our admissions & trams (he had an annual pass for both) and lunch for all three, it was still a great deal and we feel like we learned more than we would have with a bus group. 

 

Thank you, Clay. I just shared a link to your very helpful hints with our roll call for our April, '21 Hong Kong to Tokyo. Maybe you'll stop by and give us more information about the Goodwill Guides and how to get in touch with them? https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2653903-far-eastern-horizons-april-14-2021/page/7/?tab=comments#comment-60314882

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14 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Thank you, Clay. I just shared a link to your very helpful hints with our roll call for our April, '21 Hong Kong to Tokyo. Maybe you'll stop by and give us more information about the Goodwill Guides and how to get in touch with them? https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2653903-far-eastern-horizons-april-14-2021/page/7/?tab=comments#comment-60314882

Done!

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/12/2020 at 8:26 PM, zalusky said:

We have our first Viking cruise set for the Midnight Sun in 2022 but I am already thinking past that.

 

I did a southbound Alaska cruise tour on Princess in 2014 unfortunately the wife started coming down with flew as we arrived and once we boarded the ship after the land section she wound up getting quarantined for most of the voyage.

 

So I have been thinking about Alaska again and this time maybe with Viking although we are not locked to any cruise line but we would like to go more upscale than Princess.

I like the Viking cabins, covered pool, included wifi compared to other lines.  I also see Viking has a pre/post tour with the Rocky Mountaineer to/from Banff.

 

Does anybody have anything to offer in personal experience on either the Vikings version of the Alaska cruise experience or the mountaineer land tour?  When I visited Skagway the first time I did not do the train ride.  I think we just walked the town.  In Juneau I did a whale watch but without the wife and in Ketchikan I snorkeled.

 

I would like to whale watching again and the question is which is the best place and tour to do that in addition to other must not miss things.  I know Viking also hits different ports.

 

Regarding the Mountaineer itinerary, We have been to Banff and did the Athabasca Glacier thing in the 90s but I have never traveled westward from there to Vancouver.  I have also not been to Jasper.  

We did Alaska last year on Orion in June and had a wonderful time.  More ports than first time I went on Norwegian, and definitely more upscale than Princess.  We were about half and half on included or private excursions.  Highly recommend the train in Skagway, train up and bus back. Did whale watch too in Juneau, do your research on private companies.  Favorite port was Icy Strait Point, more like “true” Alaska to me.  Ship is amazing, cabin was great (best cruise bathroom I’ve been in), staff excellent, food fantastic, included amenities can’t be beat.  Much more laid back than the mega ships which is reflected in their entertainment, the demographic is definitely older. Loved Viking so much we booked a British Isles cruise while on board for April 2021, fingers still crossed.   I can’t say enough good things about this cruise line we’re spoiled forever.  

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  • 3 weeks later...
42 minutes ago, Ragnar Danneskjold said:

I think they plan on shutting off the engines at each port and just drifting around.

Haha, save fuel.  The reason I ask is there is a big difference in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway between walking off the ship or being tendered in.  Especially in Ketchikan they have to take into account float plane takeoffs and landings.  Guess who has the right of way....

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6 hours ago, Ragnar Danneskjold said:

I poked around on the itinerary and MyJourney but no shore access info was apparent for our June Alaska cruise.

 

 

From what I have read in other posts, Viking is so new to the Alaska party that they when it comes to berths, they get what they get regardless of what they may have been planning on. Sounds like the best way to plan is to expect tenders in every port -- then you won't be disappointed when that is what it turns out to be.

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