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Nadine 02-02-2008 09:15 AM

Our Alaska cruise is in May 2008. We are debating whether to use air transportation arranged through Princess or whether to book our own flights.

We can get some decent prices through Alaska Air. Has anyone had experience with this airline? Are they dependable?

If we make our own arrangements, can we still be picked up at the airport by Princess if we buy the transfers, or are we on our own as far as getting to the hotel?

We are arriving a day ahead of time and have hotel reservations through Princess.

Thank you!

Nadine

TrvlPro 02-02-2008 09:48 AM

Hi Nadine,

Whether you use Princess for air or book your own air you may be using Alaska Air, they are one of the airlines PCL uses frequently. If you're doing a one way sailing either north or south bound it may be wise to do cruiseline air as the transportation and travel time requirements may present challenges. The two Alaska piers, Whittier and Seward are 1 1/2 and 2 hour commutes from Anchorage airport. If you're doing a round trip from either Seattle or Vancouver you'd probably save a substantial sum of money booking your own air. If you have the hotel booked through PCL they'll still offer transfers from airport to hotel and hotel to pier as well as pier to airport at the end. Hope this helps.

Cheers, Neil

f-mattox 02-02-2008 11:20 AM

Hi Nadine; just thought I'd add that out West here, Alaska Air has an outstanding reputation for customer service and on-time arrivals. If you do book your own air and want Princess transfers you need to advise them at least 45 days prior to departure.

Have a great trip.

Rick

Nadine 02-02-2008 01:58 PM

Thank you Neil and Rick! We are leaving Illinois on 5/14 and spending two nights in Anchorage. Our land tour begins 5/16. Then we take the southbound cruise to Vancouver, arriving the morning of 5/26. We are spending the night in Vancouver and flying home on the 27th.

Since Illinois is a long way from Alaska, we are allowing plenty of time for flight delays and stuff!

When we were supposed to go on this cruise last May, before I broke my wrist, Princess had us scheduled to fly Northwest Airlines. We had horrible seats. My husband and I were seated two rows apart on the longest leg of the journey. On the other flights, we were together but the seats were the worst on the plane. So we are a little leery of using Princess this time. However, we will bite the bullet if we have to and hope for better seats. We are just researching right now.

Thank you again. I am glad that Alaska Air would be a good choice if we choose to go that route.

Nadine

TrvlPro 02-02-2008 05:46 PM

Hi Nadine, Some folks believe that since the cruiselines book so many flights they'll get preferable seating and itins. The opposite is actually true. The cruiselines don't actually book the flights or reserve specific flights in advance. They have contracts to have the airlines have so many seats available about 3 weeks prior to the sailing date from various air gateways to popular port destinations. Then when they do book your flights you get what nobody else chose. You get the leftovers from from the airlines that the cruiselines get at heavilly discounted rates. The itins are often two or more legs, some closer together than you'd like making you rush to catch the next leg or with longer than desired layovers. The vast majority of the time they do get you there without a hitch. Sometimes when they get down to the last few flights, seats, etc. you get really poor arrangments like you had last time. I even had one cruiselines Air/Sea Dept book a family of four a couple of years ago on seperate flights! Mom and daughter were in one booking and had a flight that exchanged planes in one city and Dad and son to another city and different departure times and flights all together. I won't mention the cruiseline but it wasn't Princess. I've never had it happen a second time but once was enough. Fortunately we got it resolved before the cruise and flights. But it was a real mess and very unhappy clients, agent and everyone else until it got resolved.

Cheers, Neil

f-mattox 02-02-2008 06:15 PM

On the other hand, we once used Princess air to get to Barcelona for a Mediterranean cruise. We had United from L.A. to New York and a Princess charter from N.Y. to Barcelona. At check-in at LAX we found out our seats were not together; we explained to the gate agent it was an anniversary cruise (it really was) and she gave us the only two seats left that were together--in Business class.

TrvlPro 02-02-2008 08:16 PM

Now that's the kind of story I like to hear! I love it when someone at the cruiseline or airline goes above and beyond for the customers that make their business successful.

Great post Rick!

Cheers, Neil

waterart 02-03-2008 04:40 AM

We went to Alaska last year and used Alaska air and were very satisfied. We built in a day for all of us to arrive in Seattle, then the next day we flew in the evening on a direct flight to Fairbanks. The airfares are high to Alaska in summer, no way to get around it, and with Princess, unless you pay the special fee they charge, you will end up with what they give you. We prefer to have control. Also, with all the time you have built in, there really is no big problem with a delay. On balance, I would do it yourself. Have fun!

Nadine 02-03-2008 05:23 PM

Thank you again! I think we have selected our choice. It is through Alaska Air, but two of the legs are actually American Airlines. We have a minimum of two hours at each layover to allow for our baggage to catch up with us.

My 86 year old mother will be traveling with us, so we decided that two stopovers might be better so that she (and we) have time to walk around a little every few hours.

The nice part is that we can select our own seats.

Have a good week and thanks again for your help.

Nadine


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