Tag Archives: alaska

Travel News: Plan-A-Cruise Month!

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Celebrate Cruise Month with deals to tempt you up the gangway for a fabulous holiday at sea

Plan-A-Cruise Month is the bigger and better successor to National Cruise Week!! SALES from dozens of cruise lines have STARTED and ends Tuesday October 31. Dreaming of a cruise to Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asia? Call Willamette Intl Travel for huge savings and perks on your next Cruise! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Starting October 26, 2017, NEW TSA rules are in effect

Some travelers INBOUND to USA may be selected for an interview at check-in counters and airport gates by TSA staff. This is aimed at tightening security at airports and for airlines and its passengers. Both American and global airlines must comply, affecting all of the 2,100 flights from around the world that enter the U.S. on any given day. This will lengthen the amount of recommended time passengers need to check in before their flights. Usually Willamette Intl Travel recommends 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international, but you may want to add 1 hour extra to ensure that you meet your flight.

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Viking Cruises Named ‘Best River Cruise Line’

Currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, Viking Cruises has been voted the Best River Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler in the publication’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards. The line has scored in the top o the list every year since the river cruise category was introduced. Also, after only two years of ocean cruises, Viking was again named one of the Best Ocean Cruise Lines. Over 300,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and more than 100,000 comments as part of the 30th annual readers’ choice survey. Acclaimed for their innovation, modern Scandinavian design, inclusive value, and destination-focused offerings, for the past 20 years Viking has amassed awards from industry experts and the travel trade.

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Airlines Bring Out the Bubbly And Ice Cream In Coach

Major US airlines are beefing up their menus in an attempt to stand out against a growing sea of low-cost carriers that advertise fares less than $100 for a flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Delta Air Lines announced earlier this month that it is serving free Prosecco on international flights in all cabins, just a few weeks after it unveiled new transatlantic routes for next year that include non-stops from Los Angeles to Paris and Amsterdam, New York to Lagos, and Atlanta to Lisbon. Delta was careful with its wording as a traveler sued a Canadian airline for advertising Champagne after he received sparkling wine. By the end of next year, Delta’s first, business and premium-economy passengers will be able to preselect their meals before boarding.

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Emirates Airlines Hires Boredom Specialist To Keep Kids Entertained

Emirates has hired a psychologist and boredom specialist to keep kids entertained on their aircrafts. Young flyers will take just 49 minutes and 47 seconds to ask the dreaded, ”are we nearly there yet?” so with parents battling the boredom threshold, Emirates has teamed up with Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist and boredom specialist at the University of Central Lancashire to find a solution. Dr Mann has worked with the airline to create the Child Boredom Quotient (CBQ), helping parents identify the exact moment their kids will get bored so they can enjoy stress-free travel.

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First Airport Terminal Gym In Europe Opens At Estonia’s Tallinn Airport

Leading fitness club operator, MyFitness, has this month opened Europe’s very first gym situated within an airport terminal. The gym is located at Gate 6 in the Departures area of Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport with views on to the runway. The gym is fully equipped with state of the art modern equipment with internet connection, as well specialist training machines and a stretching area. The gym is equipped with a treadmill, elliptical trainer, rowing machine, exercise bicycle and a staircase trainer, all equipped with a screen and connected to the Internet. There four specialist training machines for feet, shoulders, chest and back exercises, plus a stretch area. Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is known to be one of the most unique airports in the world in other areas too.

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Cunard To Offer Short Alaska Season In 2019

In 2019, Cunard Line will sail in Alaska, offering a handful of departures in May and June aboard the Queen Elizabeth from Vancouver. The ship will then transport passengers down the West Coast of the United States, through the Panama Canal to New York, on to Iceland and the British Isles, the company said. Cunard will offer four 10-night round-trip Vancouver sailings with more time in port and opportunities to visit the natural wonders of Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier.” Departures from Vancouver will be departing May 21, 31, June 10 and 20, 2019. Itineraries feature scenic cruising through the Inside Passage as well as full days in several of the region’s ports, including Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. The itinerary also includes the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier and Victoria.

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Filed under Alaska, Caribbean, Cruises, Europe, Hawaii

Travel News: Florida Keys to Reopen to Tourism On October 1

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Florida Keys to Reopen to Tourism On October 1

After the damage the island chain sustained during the passage of Hurricane Irma, the Florida Keys have announced that they will be ready to welcome back tourists ahead of schedule, on October 1. Previously, tourism officials had estimated that the Florida Keys would be able to reopen by October 20, to coincide with the beginning of Key West’s Fantasy Fest. The destination was already able to welcome cruise ship calls this past weekend, however. At the same time, tourism officials caution that not all lodging, including RV resorts and other tourism facilities, are operating on a normal basis, and are advising visitors to call ahead to ensure that their hotels and favorite attractions are open.

Alaska and Singapore Team Up on Miles

Now you can earn reciprocal miles on both Alaska Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Passengers are now able to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on Singapore Airlines, and redeem Singapore KrisFlyer miles for travel on Alaska Airlines. Singapore KrisFlyer is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Starwood Preferred Guest.

Delta To Offer free In-Flight Messaging

Delta Air Lines announced today that it will be offering free access to in-flight internet for customers to access iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger on any flight with Gogo Wi-Fi starting October 1st but there is a catch. When the company says “messaging,” they mean “text messaging” so no pictures, videos, GIFs, or audio messages allowed. Delta used to price in-flight messaging starting at $2.95 (prices varied depending on your flight), the new service is a nice addition. If you’re willing to pay for the full Wi-Fi pass, you’ll be able to send the full range of telecommunication messages.

Netflix In-Flight Streaming To Be Made Available For Aircraft

Netflix’s in-flight streaming is available through a few carriers around the world, but it’s far from a staple of air travel. More often than not, technological limitations will force you to download that new show before you leave home. It could be far more common going forward, though. Netflix is launching an initiative that will use its mobile device encoding technology to make Netflix accessible on aircraft that don’t always have the luxury of fast satellite internet access. Mobile encoding uses far less bandwidth than what you get on the desktop. A “DVD quality” stream uses just 250 Kbps, for instance. it’s good enough for a seat-back display or a tablet and importantly, it won’t clog an aircraft’s WiFi network. You’d still need a reasonably fast connection to serve a large volume of passengers, but it beats having to limit access to just a few people or none at all. Partnerships with airlines should kick off sometime in early 2018. Netflix isn’t naming specific airlines, but it’s safe to say that this opens the door to carriers that couldn’t even consider the idea before.

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Hawaiian Airlines To Partner With Japan Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines and Oneworld member Japan Airlines yesterday signed a comprehensive new partnership agreement that will greatly enhance the ease and comfort of travel for passengers traveling between the two island chains. The agreement between Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines, signed at a ceremony in Tokyo, takes effect March 25, 2018 (subject to government approval). The agreement provides for extensive code sharing, lounge access, and frequent flyer program reciprocity. As part of this comprehensive partnership, the two carriers also intend to establish a joint venture designed to provide even more choices, convenience and enhancements to the traveling public to/from Japan and beyond to multiple Asian markets. JAL guests will have unlimited access to Hawaiian’s vast neighbor island and Japan-Hawai’i network, including non-stop flights between Sapporo and Honolulu.

Silversea Announces Refurbishments Of Two Cruise Ships, Silver Muse and Silver Whisper; also Lengthen Silver Spirit

Continuing plans to upgrade the fleet to the same standards as its newest ships, Silversea has scheduled a refurb for two of its vessels, Silver Wind and Silver Whisper. The dry dock for the ships is scheduled for December, the line said in a press release. The changes are part of the “Muse-ization” of the line, where refurbs draw inspiration from Silversea’s flagship, Silver Muse, which debuted earlier this year. Silver Whisper will have a “significant redesign” of its public areas. The decor was inspired by Silver Muse in the upgraded areas, which will include La Terrazza, the Observation Lounge and Panorama Lounge. Silver Wind will have similar upgrades also drawn from Silver Muse, the line said. Among them will be new chairs and carpets in the casino and floor upgrades in the spa and salon.

Silversea will also give Silver Spirit a dramatic makeover next March when it lengthens the ship by 49 feet. The work will be done by the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo. Silver Spirit will be cut open and a prebuilt midsection dropped in and attached. The new real estate will contain 26 Veranda Suites, six Silver Suites and two Panorama Suites. Other upgrades will be inspired by the cruise line’s newest flagship, Silver Muse, including new dining venues and decor in suites and public areas indoors and out. Technical upgrades will also be made. The 540-passenger Silver Spirit debuted in 2009, and was then considered the line’s largest and most modern ship. It currently boasts multiple dining venues, including a supper club, Relais & Chateaux restaurant and sushi venue, and all oceanview (most with balcony) suites with butler service.

NCL Shifts All Eastern Caribbean Routes To Western Through End Of Year

Cruise Critic reports Norwegian Cruise Line is shifting its eastern Caribbean cruises to the western Caribbean through year’s end in light of damage to destinations from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Earlier, the line had changed the routes up until November. For example, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Getaway cruises from Miami will visit Roatán in Honduras, Harvest Caye in Belize and Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico. On an alternative route, Norwegian Escape will call at Falmouth in Jamaica, Grand Cayman’s Georgetown, Cozumel and the line’s private Bahamian island, Great Stirrup Cay. Norwegian ports that were badly impacted include Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and St. Maarten. The line said it’s currently assessing any potential damages in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Filed under Asia, Caribbean, Europe

Cruisin’ Baja with UnCruise Adventures

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Baja Caramba!

This week, WIT Agents Racheal & Barbara are going on an Uncruise Adventure to Baja. They’re joining UnCruise alumni for a week down to the Baja Peninsula to swim with the whale sharks and go island-hopping. The boat sails down to Mexico, cruising the Sea of Cortés UNESCO World Heritage Site. When they return, they’ll have to share their firsthand knowledge with you, our lovely clients, and give you pointers on what to expect on a cruise with reputable line UnCruise. We can’t wait to hear their stories!

The Sea of Cortés is a veritable natural aquarium. With bountiful marine life, from scores of dolphins and mobula rays, to sea lion pups and playful pelicans. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the august humpback whale. Dive into the thrill of exploration or relax on a warm beach. The coastline of Baja is bountiful with bird colonies, schools of dolphin and colorful reef fishes. Depending on the season you go, you’ll have the chance to see whale sharks in Bahía de La Paz (Nov to mid-Jan, Mar) or spot gray whales at Bahía Magdalena (mid-Jan to early-Mar).

Call your Willamette Intl Travel agent to find out more about UnCruise Adventures, what they offer and when. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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What is UnCruise?

UnCruise Adventures is a small ship experience devoted to sharing untraditional, intimate itineraries that really delve deep into the heart of a destination. Their cruises are a great opportunity for travelers who want to explore well-known places like Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska in a different and new perspective. Read more about Uncruise Adventures, their history-packed Oregon cruise, and our Alaska trip report.  Also be sure to check out the photos from our Clients’ the Dents, who sailed with UnCruise to Alaska

PLUS! There are themed departures available on certain dates.

  • Birding: Renowned bird experts – on March 25.
  • Chairman’s Cruise: Sail with the leaders and owners of the UnCruise Adventures! – on Jan 7.
  • Marine Biology: Learn all about the amazing aquatic world beneath the waves on excursions and onboard lectures. – Jan 21, Feb 18, Mar 18.
  • Photography: Join NatGeo travel photographer Christopher Baker to capture perfect shots on the boat and in the field – on January 28.

We love UnCruise Adventures! Let us tell you why. Call us up for a chat at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

Un-Cruise Adventures: Not Your Typical Cruise

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Are you an adventurer by heart? Sailed with a large cruise line and on the lookout for something a bit different? Try Un-Cruise! We recommend Un-Cruise Adventures to travelers seeking an entirely unique trip experience.

Our clients who have sailed with Un-Cruise have raved about their small ships and the cozy, casual vibe onboard. The cruise line stations seven boats in Alaska, Hawaii, the Sea of Cortez, the Columbia River and British Columbia–each of which invites fewer than 90 guests at any one time.

The crew are dedicated to providing an exceptional vacation, and onboard you may be joined by wildlife rangers, historians, actors, or lecturers that bring the destination to life. There are ample opportunities for kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and cultural encounters.

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Call Wittravel at 503-224-0180 to find out more on any one of Un-Cruise’s amazing trips:

Alaska: Explore Alaska’s Inside Passage and Glacier Bay on an unforgettable expedition.

Hawaii: Cruise among the islands of Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui and Hawai’i on a 36-guest yacht.

Columbia River: Visit the Columbia river gorge and discover pioneer history roundtrip from Portland Oregon.

Sea of Cortes: Sail into a world of wildlife: whales, manta rays, sea turtles, pelicans and more roundtrip from San Jose del Cabo.

Galapagos: Venture out into the famed Galapagos Islands on a 9-night journey to eight islands and islets.

Last year, WIT Agent Linda sailed on an Un-cruise ship around Baja:

We stopped at 5 different deserted islands where we would snorkel, hike or enjoy water sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding. Out of La Paz, we were taken out to see the whale sharks…the world’s largest fish species with lengths of up to 46 feet and weighing up to 66,000 pounds! There is such a wonderful ambiance onboard and the crew will do anything for you. One guide tried to get me standing up on the paddle board one day – I couldn’t quite do it, due to the swells being too high, so enjoyed paddling on my knees, but she was so supportive and kind. Honestly, the entire crew was phenomenal and I felt so at home with all of them. I highly recommend Un-Cruise Expeditions.

Click here to read her whole trip report!

Or call 503-224-0180 to talk to Linda directly about her incredible trip!

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Photos from the Alaskan Cruise are up!

As some of you may have followed last week, WIT agent Wailana recently set out on Celebrity Cruises’ week itinerary up to Alaska. She spent time in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, and acquired firsthand experience of services and venues onboard the Infinity ship. Check out her  photos from that trip, up in the Gallery section or linked here.

Feel free to browse through the pictures and even comment! We appreciate your feedback!

Willamette Intl Travel has booked clients on countless Celebrity itineraries and other cruise lines. Interested to hear more? Email Wailana at wailanak@wittravel.com about the ship Infinity or info@wittravel.com for more information on cruises on offer.

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Filed under Alaska, Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, North America, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship, USA, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

South, Sunsets, Seattle!

This week WIT agent Wailana is concluding her days aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity up to Alaska. Today, we take a look at Victoria and the ship herself.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012 – At Sea

Another day “at sea” is a terrific opportunity to explore the ship’ services. Besides the onboard spa, fitness center and pools, there are ample activities all around the ship, including:

–       bingo night

–       basketball h.o.r.s.e. tournament

–       watercolor art class

–       presentations by a qualified cultural historian and naturalist

–       music trivia

–       wine tasting

–       and much more

As one of the last days onboard, there was a festive air throughout the ship. The gift shop held sales and the lounges specials and events. Photographers shot scenes of impeccably dressed guests against the backdrop of a fiery sunset.

I took advantage of this day to explore Michael’s Club, the shipboard equivalent to a pub. You can sip on a beer from their worldwide selection, enjoying the lounge with its muted lighting, tasty edibles and live music. I was once again impressed with the general unpretentiousness and high standard of food and service. It was also English-themed trivia night, a hilarious event as the etymology of the word soccer came into question.

Thursday, 6 September 2012 – Victoria, BC

The morning began with a crew talent show and cooking contest. This was a great chance to see all 900+ crew members on stage at once, some of them displaying incredible feats of magic, dance, song, comedy and theatre. It was also a terrific opportunity for the passengers to show our appreciation of the hard work behind the scenes.

After, it was on to late lunch. My number one recommendation on any Celebrity ship is to try one of the specialty restaurants onboard. It’s not that the regular restaurants are inadequate–on the contrary, the main dining area Trellis is a culinary delight each seating—but the attention to detail, quality of ingredients, and presentation are up a whole new level. After the entertainment of the A.M., we headed down to the SS United States, the specialty restaurant focusing on French cuisine. The setting had a very clean and 1950’s ship interior, complete with Jazz lounge music, white polished décor, and porthole windows with wooden panels. You can order courses paired with wine or à la carte and just sample from an array of delicious and masterfully prepared appetizers. The peak of the dinner was the jaw-dropping desserts—but those, readers, I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

Specialty Restaurants: Blu (Aquaclass only), SS United States, Qsine

Disembarkation Time: 6.30 pm

Arrival into Victoria was perfectly timed for the afternoon. The sun sinks down over the harbor and bathes the waters in blue and gold. It’s a lovely 30-minute walk or brief shuttle ride into the heart of downtown. In the summer, street performers line the docks just below the capitol building—jugglers, musicians, traders. I would advise cruise passengers to spend their charming, lamp lit evening in Victoria eating out at one of the yummy restaurants in Old Town.

Embarkation Time: 11.30pm

Conclusion

In the end, cruises are luxury resorts set against beautiful backgrounds. They are opportunities to enjoy some fine entertainment, cuisine, and accommodations. Your activities are designed with a demographic in mind, which changes depending on the route. It is important to remember that, with less than 12 hours in any port of call, less focus is given to the destination and more to onboard experience.

With this in mind, Celebrity Cruises stands out as a luxury cruise line. The service is what makes this ship exceptional. The staff was friendly, amusing, approachable, relatable and accommodating. I am not surprised that the Infinity has the highest rated crew in the entire fleet.

Willamette Intl Travel regularly books clients on Celebrity and other cruises. Call WIT at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com to book a cruise today!

P.S. Wailana’s photographs from the cruise will be appearing on the blog next week, so stay tuned!

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Filed under Alaska, Canada, Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, North America, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship, USA, Vendors, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord, & Skagway

This week the Willamette Intl Travel blog is following our agent Wailana as she sails on Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity up to Alaska. Read on for her day-to-day schedule, trip insights, and insider details. Today, we take a look at Juneau, the Tracy Arm Fjord, Sawyer Glacier and Skagway.

Monday, 3 September 2012 – Juneau, AK 

The morning of Labor Day, the ship’s navigational team took us on a detour through Tracy Arm Fjord. Their progress was slow and cautious, as the ship glided past bits of glacier and ice officially known as “bergie bits” and growlers. Fog clung to the summits of the surrounding mountains like ghosts, and the air was silent and still.

Most of the passengers rose early to watch the advance, stationing themselves in the Constellation Lounge or outside on Deck 11. The crew stood on standby with blankets, hot chocolate and Bailey’s. Brent Nixon, the onboard naturalist, spoke through the ship’s speaker on glaciers, fjords, and the proper use of the word gull.

At the end of this long corridor, we finally arrived at Sawyer Glacier. It looked like a massive, pouring river had just frozen in the middle of its course. I recommend heading down to Trellis Restaurant for brunch for magnificent views of the glacier and the ship’s departure with your coffee.

Disembarkation Time: 4.00pm

We arrived on land in Juneau around 4pm, later than scheduled due to some technical difficulties with some of the tender boats. The ship parked in the Taiya Inlet—at 1 mile down, the Taiya is the deepest fjord in North America.

Alaska’s capital is larger than it first appears, curving around shores and stretching from a modest downtown into countryside, farmland and fields. As there was limited daylight and the clouds were attempting to rid us of more, we ran over to the shuttle terminal and caught a bus to Mendenhall Glacier (16$ and 30 minutes roundtrip). A quiet and muted tow due to her heavy rain, the main draw of Juneau is definitely her radiant and stunning glaciers—and conveniently, Mendenhall is not too far from the cruise ship dock.

More than a mile across, dramatically flowing into a dark, silted lake, Mendenhall is just at the very edge of Juneau’s enormous ice field. If you have time, definitely take the 15-minute hike in to see the nearby waterfall. This path takes you to a peaceful sandbar, with splendid views of the lake, berg babies in the shape of a wolf’s head, and the glacier’s teeth itself. Stand below the roar of the falls, caress the waters and gray sand in your palm, and if you have binoculars, you can just make out the jagged, cobalt crystals in Mendenhall’s slopes.

Cast off time: 10.00 PM

Tuesday, 4 September 2012 – Skagway, AK

Disembarkation Time: 9.30am

The ship arrived in Skagway very early, but most guests disembarked after breakfast. The town is gorgeous and charming with its encircling mountains, ample sunlight, and a delightful shady heritage. As a major town on the edge of Alaska’s gold fields, Skagway was for years the final resting home for pioneers seeking to strike rich and sluice their way out of poverty and misery. With the gold gone, the town now thrives on tourism and the colorful stories and backgrounds of their ancestors. Skagway is very proud of its rough history, a fact readily apparent in its ubiquitous retail stores and historical landmarks.

The first strip of town is mostly shopping—jewelry, taffy, postcards, smoked salmon, popcorn, fur robes, and whatnot curiosities. I recommend picking up a few maps from the visitor’s center to orient yourself. We enjoyed lunch at the Skagway Brewing Company, pretty decent fare, but for a real delicious bagel and smoothie pop into the tasty Glacier coffeehouse on 3rd street.

If you need to stretch your legs a bit, get a little farther out of town, where there’s an array of nature hikes and historical sights. For long-distance adventures, take the White Pass and Yukon Railroad up for spectacular views into the Yukon, and glimpse the old railroad bridge that is still one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels.

For day hikers, there are plenty of trails just outside of town—one will take you to Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls, another to Sturgill’s Landing and the remains of an ancient sawmill, and yet another to one of Skagway’s token graveyards. Gold Rush Cemetery is more than 100 years old and burial home to the town’s star villain and hero—Jefferson Smith and Frank Reid, respectively.

It was early afternoon when we finally boarded the ship. Just before dinner, we curled up on the veranda to watch sun set on the Chilkat Range as we sailed on. I would heartily recommend this to anyone who loves the sight of soaring mountains, glaciers, clusters of forests, and snow-capped, auburn peaks.

Cast off time: 5.45 PM

 

Willamette Intl Travel regularly books clients on Celebrity and other cruises. Join us on Friday to hear more about Wailana’s experiences onboard the Infinity, or call WIT at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com to book a cruise today!

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Filed under Alaska, Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship, USA, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?