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MarvinS

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About MarvinS

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    Alaska

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  1. Living in Alaska for about 38 years, I've been to Seward many times. I've done this Harding Icefield Hike with my family, and it was strenuous, but excellent! Did it on a Saturday in early August. There was still a fair amount of snow on the ground at the top, but the views are spectacular. Hiking boots are very strongly recommended. Took us about 7 hours round trip. The gain in elevation is about 3500' once you get to the top. You can check out this link: https://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/harding_icefield_trail.htm There is also a MUCH less strenuous hike that is only a couple of miles total, and takes you to the base of Exit glacier. You are only gaining a few hundred feet in elevation on this one. They also have a fairly flat shorter loop (with literally a paved trail) that takes you close to a good viewing location of the base of the glacier that is considered handicap accessible. More information here: https://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier-area.htm and also here: https://www.alaska.org/detail/visit-exit-glacier
  2. Living in Alaska, I'm staying very on top of this issue and all the news being released. As the above article states, most restrictions in Alaska are being relaxed (not completely, though) this Friday, May 22nd (it's considered our "phase 3"). The 14-day travel quarantine for anyone traveling into Alaska is NOT part of this phase, and isn't schedule for release until June 2nd (that is a part of "phase 4"). The governor is getting LOTS of pressure from the travel & tourism industries, as it has just decimated many businesses (and has already forced several to completely go out of business). I fully expect the 14-day quarantine to NOT be extended past June 2nd, and may very well be released sooner. I do know that several of the land tour operators and lodges near Denali National Park are not evening opening this year at all. To date, Alaska has only had 399 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and only 10 deaths in the entire state! (https://covid19.alaska.gov/) The remaining issue is having to wait and see what Canada does with opening up their ports...
  3. Seabourn just cancelled the summer 2020 season in Alaska...and elsewhere, too. https://www.seabourn.com/en_US/news/pause-global-cruise-operations.html In particular (clipped from their announcement): Seabourn Odyssey: paused through the Europe season, with its operations pause effective through November 20. Seabourn Sojourn: paused through Alaska/British Columbia season, with its operations pause effective through October 13. Seabourn Quest: paused through the Canada/New England season, with its operations pause effective through November 6. Seabourn Encore: paused through the Europe season, with its operations pause effective through October 19. Seabourn Ovation: paused through Europe season, with its operations pause effective through November 6.
  4. Princess Cruises and Holland America just officially announced they are cancelling Alaska (and several others) for the 2020 summer season... https://www.princess.com/news/news_releases/2020/05/princess-cruises-extends-pause-of-global-ship-operations-for-remaining-2020-summer-season.html https://www.hollandamerica.com/en_US/news/coronavirus-travel-advisory.html I wouldn't be surprised to see the others do similarly...
  5. This link is the best resource for staying on top of the State of Alaska's COVID-19 mandates and statistical information. It is updated daily. https://covid19.alaska.gov/
  6. Living in Alaska, I see and stay on top of the news daily... Officially, this mandate was recently revised/extended by the governor (about 10 days ago) to be "until further notice". I have seen a proposed plan of reduction of restrictions (5 phase plan) that the governor proposed, and the release of the 14-day quarantine for ANYONE incoming to Alaska (fly / drive / cruise) is supposed to be in phase 4. We are currently in the middle of phase 1, with the governor expecting each phase to be take about 2 weeks each, assuming the new cases of COVID-19 don't start to spike up. This puts the expiring of the 14-day quarantine to be around the first of July. One key fact for any Alaskan cruise is that Canada will need to open up it's ports to meet the foreign port requirement, and we have no idea when Canada will open up. Likewise, I believe Seattle is still in lockdown for ANY cruises for 2020. Even if Alaska opens up (recinds the 14-day quarantine), Canada must also open up for any cruises to Alaska to occur.
  7. I've also been caught literally in the middle of this. I had a B2B on Freedom, with the first leg leaving 6/7 (which has been officially cancelled by RC), and the second leg would had left on 6/14 (which HASN'T yet been cancelled). I've already rebooked (same B2B ship & itinerary) for middle of October (10/11 & 10/18). Either way, if RC cancels more sailings in June or not, I will not be going on the 6/14 sailing. I am just hoping RC cancels so I can get the 125% FCC. Otherwise, I will just cancel at 100% FCC under the cruise-with-confidence option.
  8. Regarding the North Slope workers, the 14-day travel quarantine STILL applies to them, even thought they are considered "Critical Infrastructure". The oil producers have been either using in-state personnel, or just extending the work rotation schedules of those employees already working up there (in other words, NOT rotating them out). They did have one confirmed case of COVID-19 on the North Slope, and quickly isolated them from everyone. The producers have also cut production down quite a bit over the last few weeks, and are certainly scaling back on ALL activity. I'm sure this has significantly reduced the required labor workforce. As an interesting side story with all of this, several of the North Slope oil producers got together and contracted with Alaska's largest local in-state regional commuter airline (Ravn Airlines) to provide air-travel service between the North Slope and Fairbanks & Anchorage, so that the employees didn't have to travel with other "public" air transportation to help keep the employees better isolated and separate. Then literally about 4 days later, Ravn Airlines filed chapter 11 bankruptcy and completely stopped all service in the state leaving the oil producers high and dry! I haven't heard exactly what the producers did to replace the lost commuter airline service, but am assuming they just re-contracted with large commercial carriers such as Alaska Airlines. This regional airline (Ravn) also serviced about 115+ cities, towns, and small villages in the state, and has now stranded many remote communities with no travel ability out of their area. Ravn Airlines was also the ONLY airline that serviced the small city in which I live, so instead of me flying to Anchorage (35 minute commuter flight) to connect with regular commercial flights, I now have to drive 4+ hours to get to Anchorage! At least I am on the road system, and CAN drive!
  9. As I currently reside in Alaska, I'm seeing first hand the impact this current 14-day travel quarantine has had on this state. Obviously, cruising has been completely shut down until at least July, and it has had devastating effects on the travel and tourism industries up here. All restaurant dine-in service has been completely stopped, with local take-out the only option allowed. National and state parks have closed, along with stopping all passenger train service. The governor locked down travel in the state in the latter half of March. This even includes travel BETWEEN communities and towns in Alaska! This has been a very literal stay-at-home statewide mandate. As of today (4/28/20) we have only had 351 confirmed cases in the entire state, and have had only 9 deaths. Our "new case" rate is anywhere from zero to three or four a day, and has been trending downward. Just this last weekend, the governor released "phase 1" of opening things back up, and that is the permission to now travel between communities with minimal human-to-human contact (stay in your car), and restaurants can now open at 25% capacity with reservations ONLY and 10' distance between tables. This "phase 1" is suppose to last 10-14 days before the next "phase 2" is considered, depending on how the new COVID-19 cases progress and trend. The restriction of interstate travel is supposed to be considered for lifting in "phase 4" which is about 45-60 days or so out. This would put it at the end of June / first part of July.
  10. I've had a very successful time with the purchase of a single photo package. I've traveled on Oasis, Harmony, and Freedom with a large family group (11-14) each time. My wife and I would have one cabin, and I would put my three minor kids in a couple of other cabins. As soon as I boarded, I would go to the photo studio, and have them link the rooms of my minor kids to my room to share my photo package. The personnel at the photo studio were always very accommodating, and gladly linked the rooms together. I instructed EVERYBODY in our group that anytime their pictures were taken to give them MY room number. On every cruise I have done the same thing, and was able to get MANY pictures taken, including embarkation group photos of everybody, along with the "staircase" photos of everyone in our group. I remember one photographer said that as long as the group was 15 or less, it was fine for the regular photo packages, but groups larger were not. My experience has been excellent in getting photos (both formal with the various backdrops and candids throughout the ship) of most all of our group. In fact, on every cruise I've been on, when I go through the pictures at the photo kiosks, there are usually several photos of other families that are thrown into my portfolio of pictures. I know Royal uses some face recognition to try to match faces to rooms, and their algorithms are certainly not perfect. On my last cruise on Harmony last May, out of my 250+ pictures, there were probably 25-30 of other families that I simply removed from my portfolio. It was very easy to do at the photo kiosks. There was also a time where I know we took a group embarkation photo, but it never appeared in my portfolio. On about the second day, I talked to the staff in the photo studio about the missing pictures. They asked for the approximate boarding time, and the searched for them. The next day when I checked my portfolio, there they were! Overall, I've been VERY satisfied with the photo packages I've purchased on each cruise, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again on my next cruise with my group family (currently planned for May 2021)! I've always found the best price was on the cruise planner. The best deal I've seen was last Black Friday with the digital package going for $119.95 when it is usually $199.95. Just keep an eye out for the sales. Purchase it when you see a good price, and if it drops on a sale, cancel and repurchase again!
  11. I sure don't recall being "weighed" for this excursion. Granted, I did this with my own gear, but there is no reason to be weighed for the use of snorkel gear! I would book it and not worry about it!
  12. We went to Roatan while on Harmony last May, and we did the RC Tabyana beach excursion. I thought the snorkeling there was absolutely fantastic. We brought our own gear, but you can easily rent it, too. If I recall, there was also another RC Tabyana beach excursion that included snorkeling equipment for a few dollars more. Check your cruise planner. There is a huge reef just yards off of the shore. The beach is very shallow for quite a ways out in the water, and even for those that don't snorkel, you can wade out into the water waist deep and still see all sorts of colorful fish swimming around you. We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion, and would do it again in a heart beat next time we are back in Roatan.
  13. While on Harmony last May, we visited CocoCay, and were able to use the wow bands for entry into the waterpark. We had our seapass cards with us too, but was indeed able to use the wow bands to come and go from the waterpark with no problems.
  14. There are several slots (sessions) of the Escape room throughout the cruise, and they do fill up VERY quickly! I did the room on Harmony this last May. It was limited to 12 people in each session. For our May cruise on Harmony, it became available to book about 30 days out, and was completely sold out a couple of weeks before sailing. I checked with guest services on board (while there talking about something else unrelated), and they said it always sells out quickly. Bottom line, if you are at all interested in booking the Escape Room, do so as soon as you see it in the cruise planner...you may not get a chance otherwise!
  15. I will be on Freedom this June, and wondered too, so I did check a few cruise compasses from both Oasis and Symphony. It appears the hours are the same on both ships. Breakfast 8-10AM, and afternoon from noon to 5:45PM only. I did NOT see it open after 5:45PM at all. On the Navigator cruise compasses, there were no breakfast options, but just from noon or 1PM or 2PM (depending on the day) until 6PM. Again, nothing after 6PM. ...which means, no late night snacks from El Loco. Bummer!
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