Are you waiting for the Permanent Fund dividend travel deals to show up?
You’re not alone. I’m pretty confident that Alaska Airlines and Delta will roll out some specials on or around Sept. 20, but I cannot be sure. There may even be some discounts on Ravn for in-state travel. Try as I might, though, I’m unable to peek behind the curtain to see what’s in store.
But Nate Vallier isn’t waiting around. His company, Alaska and Yukon Tours, dug into the cruise offers from a bunch of companies and constructed its own “PFD Special” list.
Every time I call Nate, he’s on a cruise. When we spoke yesterday, he was sailing into Ketchikan on the Royal Princess. “Princess does Alaska very well,” he said.
But I was more curious about “warm water” destinations for Alaskans who want to get a suntan. Vallier came up with a hefty list of more than two dozen select cruise offers between now and the end of November. Cruise lines still are keen to top off the ships for the 2022 season. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Carnival Conquest. On Oct. 17, sail from Miami to Bimini and back for as little as $99 per person. This is a two-night cruise. An outside cabin is $15 more, per person. Taxes and fees are extra.
2. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. On Oct. 29, sail from Fort Lauderdale around the Caribbean for seven nights. The cost is $349 per person, double occupancy. Taxes and fees are additional. An outside cabin is $100 more per person.
3. Princess Caribbean. Sail on Nov. 28 from Fort Lauderdale down to the Panama Canal and back. This 10-night cruise starts at $649 per person for an inside cabin, double occupancy. An outside cabin is $76 more per person.
4. Celebrity Solstice. Leave from Los Angeles on Oct. 29 down the coast of Mexico for seven nights. Inside cabins are $449 per person, double. Outside cabins cost $100 more per person.
5. Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Encore. These two ships leave Seattle on Oct. 11 and Oct. 23. These are three-week repositioning cruises of 20 or 21 nights through the Panama Canal. The Norwegian Sun has inside cabins for $1,029 per person, but it’s just $120 more per person for an outside cabin. Each itinerary is a little different, but these are great prices.
Vallier’s favorite offer is a $1,000 per cabin discount for Uncruise, sailing on much smaller ships. It’s just for Alaska residents — and it’s only available on Uncruise’s Sea of Cortez itineraries between Jan. 21 and May 6.
Vallier answers lots of questions about specific vessels and the differences between the cruise lines. “Every cruise line is different — and it’s important to know exactly what’s included in the package you select,” he said. Cruise lines bundle features together, including Wi-Fi, onboard credit and specialty dining.
It appears Alaska Airlines wants to win the hearts and minds of Hawaii-bound travelers. There was a lot of grousing when the airline cut the nonstop flights earlier this year.
The Anchorage-Honolulu nonstop is coming back on Nov. 18, offering five flights per week. Then, starting Dec. 14, Alaska Airlines will have a daily flight.
Alaska’s nonstop flights to Maui and Kona come back on Dec. 16, with four flights per week. But on Jan. 8, Alaska is offering daily flights to Maui. Daily flights to Kona start the next day, Jan. 9. The daily Maui nonstops operate through April 2. Daily nonstops to Kona run through March 16. From there, it’s three times per week until April 1.
“We know Alaskans love getting out of the cold and Hawaii has always been popular,” writes Marilyn Romano, Alaska Airlines’ regional vice president for Alaska.
That’s not the only new nonstop flight, though. Starting on Nov. 30, Alaska will begin offering a daily nonstop flight between Anchorage and Everett, Washington (Paine Field). Paine Field is home to one of Boeing’s huge factories, so the runways are plenty long. But the traffic is much less intense than at Sea-Tac, which is 30 miles south. If you’re going to one of the communities north of Seattle or to Whidbey Island, this is your flight. Horizon Air operates the flight, with an E175 aircraft. It’s smaller than a 737, with 2x2 seating in coach. But the 1x2 seating in first class is nice.
The first four rows of seats on the plane just a solo seat (there are two seats across the aisle). Those single seats are my favorite: you get a window and an aisle!
Ravn Alaska recently started charging extra for checked baggage: $30 for the first bag. But recently, the air carrier introduced a new debit card. There’s no fee to get the card. Cardholders get their first bag free, plus a companion’s first bag — must be in the same reservation. There is a schedule of bonuses you can receive when you use the card, using the carrier’s frequent flyer program “FLYcoin.”
When you add at least $100 to your debit account, you receive 10,000 points. If you spend $10,000 in a year, you earn 30,000 points. Each point is worth about two cents.
Ravn Alaska flies seven times each weekday from Anchorage to Kenai on their Dash-8 planes, which hold about 37 passengers. Grant Aviation operates twice as many flights on smaller Cessna aircraft — nine passengers. On Oct. 3, another airline, Kenai Aviation, will begin flying four times per day, Monday-Friday. Kenai Aviation also will fly twice each day from Anchorage to Homer.
The new airline will fly twin-engine Tecnam aircraft, which look like a smaller version of the DHC-6 Twin Otter.
For the first time in more than two years, a Saab 2000 touched down in Dutch Harbor from Anchorage. It was a proving run for Aleutian Airways — no passengers were on board. The proving runs must be completed before the airline can offer scheduled service, which it hopes will begin soon.