Friday, June 26, 2015

Disney Cruise to Alaska Trip Review ~ Part 2 ~ Pan Pacific Hotel ~ Vancouver, Canada

The train from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada left early, so it was important to arrive well before departure time at the Seattle train station.
 Good thing. The line grew quickly and I'm glad to have arrived before it got too long. At this time, passengers are required to show their passports and receive seat assignments for the Amtrak Cascades. Here's an important are only allowed 2 carry ons and this is strictly enforced. Be sure and check those bags before getting in line.
 A pleasant 4 hours later we arrived in Vancouver. Luggage was just placed in a messy line along an outside fence by the train, so everyone needed to find their own, grab them, and then proceed through customs, which moved quickly and was painless.

We then took a cab to our Vancouver home for the night, the Pan Pacific. You realize how imperative it is to arrive for a cruise a day early, right? There are many, many, sad stories of folks just 'sure' they could arrive the day of departure not being able to do so and miss the ship. Save yourself some stress and don't try.

The Pan Pacific is an upscale hotel attached to the convention center and the port. If your cruise is leaving from the Canada Place docks, there is no more convenient place to stay. A elevator on the lobby level literally takes you to the cruise line check in area, and bell services at the hotel will take your luggage from your room, never to be seen again until it shows up at your stateroom door.

Our room was not ready and we were assured we were being 'moved up' for our room assignment. We explored.
Time passed. We had a drink. Time passed. We enquired and were told oh yes, we were moved up. We explored some more and walked around the docked ships.
 Check in time passed by so again came a wait in line at the desk. "Oh yes, your room is ready. You didn't get a call? Well, your luggage is waiting for you, so go on up." We go on up. No luggage. Back down and retrieve luggage. A bit of a fail for a hotel this expensive. The room was very nice as long as you could avoid that annoying habit upscale hotels have of displaying water you have to pay for, a tray full of expensive snacks you don't want, and the refrigerator full of mini bar stuff you daren't touch.
The onsite restaurants are insanely expensive...$30 hamburger types. Luckily, there were stairs down to a hallway that leads to a food court loaded with great choices at reasonable prices.

The best selling point for the Pan Pacific is location. This is the view when we got up the day of our cruise. All small annoyances evaporated and we'll be staying there if our journeys again take us to a cruise departing from Vancouver's Canada Place.









Monday, June 15, 2015

Disney Cruise to Alaska Trip Review ~ Part 1 ~ Amtrak Coast Starlight

Since I believe that the journey is part of the vacation... a time to transition and look ahead in in anticipation, I looked forward taking the Amtrak Coast Starlight route from Los Angeles to Seattle. This route is considered one of the most beautiful, and rightly so. You leave Los Angles at 10:10 am and arrive in Seattle at 8:37 the following night.
If you've ever debated the value of paying extra for a first class ticket and staying in a roomette or bedroom, this would be the time. If you manage to get a room on the right side of the train (which is the left), the scenery cannot be beat. Don't despair if you are assigned to the 'wrong side', as this route also has the Parlour Car. This car is only offered on the Coast Starlight and is a throwback to the days when train travel was elegant.
The top level has comfortable seating with massive windows, a small dining area and a full bar.
Downstairs you will find a movie theater.
Only first class passengers are allowed to use the Parlour Car, and there is a limited meal menu offered as well.
Don't miss the daily wine tasting! For a cost of $7.50 you have several generous tastings of wines from the area, and for an additional $5.50 you can purchase a cheese and cracker plate.
You will travel along the California Coast for a long while, then head inland as you pass through northern California, all of Oregon and up through Washington until your final stop in Seattle.
I always pack plenty of entertainment on my train trips, but this particular route found most of my entertainment right outside the window or in the Parlour Car.