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The Trip of a Lifetime to Alaska – Land and Sea – Trip Report - COMLETE!! 4/13/12
The Trip of a Lifetime to Alaska – Land and Sea – Trip Report
Cast of Characters:
Me (Marnie) – 42
DH (Matt) – coming up on 45
DD (Alexa) – 12
DS (Colin) – 9
We are at t-minus 5 days, so time to step up and get moving on this trip report. It’s end of the school year time here (tomorrow is the last day) so all heck is breaking loose with class parties, gifts, etc. DD is in 6th grade, and making the big jump to middle school next year, so there’s a whole range of emotions also going along with that!
How this trip came about!
DH turns 45 this year, and it’s also our 15th wedding anniversary. Alaska has always been on our bucket list, and since it is a big year with all the celebrations, what better time than the present. DH has also forgot (literally, I’m not joking) our anniversary the last two years in a row, so what better revenge than to plan a big trip and make sure I enjoy myself. The anniversary is not until August, but heck, close enough! For our 10th anniversary (and his 40th) we did a 4-night cruise on the Disney Wonder, and spent about 12 days at WDW (and US/IoA). We had to top that! Hence, Alaska. We were blessed this year that DH’s company did really well last year. His company builds machines that make computer chips and since everything under the sun now have chips in them, business has been great! They have a profit sharing bonus for the employees, and let’s just say Alaska was now a reality. DH came home one day in early January and said the bonus was going to come thru, start looking at Alaska. Little did I know that most people doing Alaska are booking in April for the following year, so I was already 9 months behind!
First up to plan was dates to go and what we were going to do. I had wanted to spend some time experiencing Alaska on land first (Denali NP) and a cruise down thru the inside passage. I also wanted to go in late June/early July, as I wanted to experience hours of sunlight, and I figured going right after school got out would leave us the rest of the summer to rest and relax. I started playing around with airfares, and scouring Cruise Critic for information (which was an invaluable resource – I’d highly recommend them for anyone going to Alaska – both forums and trip reports). I ended up deciding on a Royal Caribbean cruise on the Radiance, leaving from Seward Alaska and ending up in Vancouver, BC. This left some time before to do our own land tour before the cruise. Marisa (marisag) booked our cruise for us and our insurance! After watching airfares for a couple days, I found a sale on Continental, where we could fly out of our small airport (BDL) and into Anchorage, and then we’d fly home from Seattle. Flying out of Vancouver was going to be around $600/pp, where going out of Seattle brought it down to $416/pp. Sold. This would also give us time in Seattle, which we’ve never been to before!
While I was planning and reserving all this stuff, here in the Northeast, we were being inundated with snow. I had booked the trip with a 10 day buffer between the original end of school, and when we’d fly out. We normally get 5 to 6 snow days a year (we’re in the hills), so I had about a week buffer. Unfortunately we were having a snow day every 2 or 3 days. By February 2nd, we had had 7 snow days already. And the possibility of 2 more months of snow. Are you kidding me? I started going into panic mode, thinking my dream vacation was now going to be foiled by snow. I don’t know what happened, but the snow gods turned off the snow, and we didn’t end up with another snow day for the rest of the winter! Thank goodness!
During all our snow days, we did a lot of planning. Playing around with dates, I was able to get the rental car down from $800 to $225 for our land portion in Alaska. I also started planning out our days up there and what hotels to stay at. I printed out the excursion list from RC and let the kids look thru and had them start listing things that they wanted to do. DH’s only request was to see Butchart Gardens in Victoria, and go fishing. I must say, planning a trip to Alaska is extremely overwhelming. Now I know why people usually give it a year or more to plan. I also discovered that our ship was going into dry dock in May. They are turning it into a “foodie” ship, adding a whole bunch of restaurants that are on the much bigger ships (Oasis/Allure). Of course, most of them are not free! But at least we’ll have a spanking clean ship when we get on her (we’ll be the 4th cruise after dry dock).
Really great trip! I like the idea of doing land first and then sailing one-way through the passage. Sounds like you've done an impressive job of planning in such a short time and have saved a lot of money in the process. Looking forward to the details!
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Great start Marnie, can't wait to hear all the plans. Love that you are going to get some time on "land" before the cruise. My boss is doing an Alaska cruise in August, and they also planned some downtime in Seattle, figures if you are going to be in that neck of the woods, you might as well explore...and with the great savings that you will get for flying out of Seattle, it is definitely worth it.
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Marnie- I'm so excited about your trip! I made my first trek to Alaska when I was Alexis' age (although we drove in a tent trailer on the Al-Can highway from California for 6 weeks, so not quite so glamorous ) and it has stuck with me for the rest of the life. I think she's the perfect age for it! Can't wait to hear about your plans and I'm crossing my fingers early for a McKinley sighting for you!
Karen, aka Zack's Mom - Lover of all Things Disney and the San Francisco Giants!