AK Travel Guide
Thinking about cruising in 2015? Then say hello to our cruise specialist, MaidenVoyage. As a travel agent who spends day in and day out booking cruises for curious travelers, she knows cruise lines and ships like the back of a muster drill script. Got a question about cruises? Even a stupid one? MaidenVoyage has heard and seen it all, so don't be shy. Send your cruise question to her!
The one cruise request that I've been getting daily for the last few weeks is...Alaska. Y'all back in the Northeast just groaned, I'm sure. See, over here in the western U.S., where I'm based, we've had a mild winter. Besides, from here traveling to Alaska isn't an all day thing like going to Florida or the Caribbean or Europe.
So since the AK cruise season is upon us and since that just happens to be the last cruise we took (on the Celebrity Solstice), we thought we'd give you a Cruising Alaska 101 story. Grab your hats and gloves!
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Instead of a cosmetic rebrand, Alaska Airlines is investing millions to update their entire in-flight experience with huge benefits for the economy traveler.
Alaska Beyond begins rolling out across Alaska Airlines' 737 fleet from today through 2015, and it consists of several updates:
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We’re all about the beverage cart, and we’re not talking about the difficult decision regarding Coke or Diet Coke. We’re interested in new additions to the in-flight menu, so we wanted to share that Alaska Airlines is adding a new option to their mile high menu.
The airline is starting up a little in-flight beer tasting, as they’re welcoming Silver Gulch Brewing & Bottling Co.'s Old 55 Pale Ale into the cabin. Things will be limited to Bombardier Q400 flights between spots like Anchorage and Fairbanks as well as Anchorage and Kodiak. However, even with the limited availability—we certainly can't complain about a free drink while up in the air.
Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.
The adjectives you hear from someone who's just taken an Alaska cruise usually include words like "majestic," "sparkling," "breathtaking," and "invigorating." Standing along a ship rail face-to-face with a glacier or whale tails is indeed a unique experience, one travelers craved even before the advent of Caribbean cruising.
YouTube video by Cruising the Past pieces together footage and images from cruises to Alaska (mostly departing from Seattle), for the decades spanning the 1920s through 1950s.
We won't spoil the mini film for you, but do keep a look out for the clip of passengers dancing on the aft deck, enjoying crisp temperatures and sunshine on the Inside Passage. And shuffleboardthere's always shuffleboard!
In case you missed it, over the weekend there was explosion over in Cleveland—but don’t worry—it wasn’t that Cleveland.
Apparently it’s time again for the annual volcanic eruption, and that means potential disruption to air travel. This time the ash and smoke is doing its thing up in Alaska, as the Cleveland volcano is getting a little cranky.
In case you want to know where to look for the troublemaker on the map, this volcano is roughly 940 miles southwest of Anchorage, stuck on Chuginadak Island within the Aleutian chain of islands.
Beer brewed with spruce tips!
It makes sense that Alaska has a thriving craft economy; after all, you need something to do when you’re cooped inside during a long winter. But Alaska’s longtime embrace of environmentalism and local pride, combined with the state’s unique plants and materials, means you can get awesome stuff here that you might not be able to find anywhere else.
If you want to buy a stuffed whale or a totem key chain, there are plenty of places happy to help you with that. But for something truly local* and meaningful, here are a couple of suggestions:
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** UPDATE ** The mystery has been solved! You awesome readers reacted on Facebook and via email to say that the airplane above is a National Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. Edgar van der Meer even pointed out this page on the airliner.
Dear fellow aviation geeks: Can you identify this airplane and its airline?
We have our theories, but the blurriness of this old Kodak print frustrates. Anyway, we recently came across a stash of someone's souvenirs from a late 1950s trip around Alaska. This was the only photograbbing our attention immediatelybut it was included with a program from an Alaskan cruise and a pamphlet from Mt. McKinley National Park, all from around 1957 (the season date on the McKinley pamphlet).
To be honest, we really had no plans to fly with Era Alaska despite their expansive network of more than, like, 80 different destinations here, there, and everywhere in Alaska. However, when we heard that they were offering up some in-flight beers as part of a promotion...well, it definitely caught our attention. Unfortunately, it sounds like the free beers weren’t just meant to be.
The original plan was to offer up complimentary six ounce beers—to adults of course—aboard many of their flights. Things were quickly abandoned, as apparently the state isn’t really that cool with using booze as a marketing tool. Technically there’s no regulation when it comes to what’s offered up in the air, but it sounds like Era Alaska was just taking the high road when it comes to drinking and flying.
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A look at the plan for the new fish...
You know we’re suckers for anything to do with airplane liveries, and we also always get a kick out of travel stuff involving animals. So that’s why we couldn’t resist sharing an update regarding Alaska Airlines and their plans for the next generation of their “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon.”
The original fish-plane initially entered the hangar for the finned paint job back in 2005, but after a couple years of flying to here and there it was in need of an update. Unfortunately, it was repainted into the normal Alaska Airlines colors and the world lost this quirky airplane for the time being.
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Our favorite Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington, crossed whale watching in Alaska off the bucket list in this week's episode.
As usual, Ricky and Steve planned a few detours for Karl, including a hike through Heather Pass in the Arctic Circle. Karl was lead to a snowy cabin by his guide, Marty, who was incredibly patient considering Karl moved even slower than usual on his skis as he dragged along a sled that kept getting tangled. At one point Marty reassured Karl that it was all down hill from here, to which Karl replied, "since I got off the plane it's been down hill."
Today, Big Miracle opens in theaters across the country and the timing couldn't be better with Alaska's whale-watching season right around the corner.
The film, starring Drew Barrymore, is based on the real-life rescue of several gray whales near Barrow, Alaska in 1988. Barrymore plays a Greenpeace volunteer who, along with her reporter ex-boyfriend (John Krasinski), convinces rival world superpowers to come together and help save the whales.
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As you know we’re still in the first week of the new year, but there’s already a brand new volcano—complete with ash-cloud potential—getting ready to wreak havoc on air travel. Unlike the volcanoes over in Europe or down in South America, this one’s a little closer to home, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to pronounce.
Mount Cleveland—just rolls off the tongue—is located within the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, and scientists believe that it’s getting ready to celebrate 2012 by starting to shake, rattle, and roll. Just over a week ago there was a little volcano hiccup that sent a whole bunch of ash and other particulate into the skies, but things quickly dissipated and flights weren’t really affected. The concern still remains, as the tippy top of the volcano is right in the way of one of the main commercial flight paths between North America and Asia.