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Ways to get to Ketchikan from SEA

Ways to get to Ketchikan from SEA

Old May 9, 11, 7:58 am
  #1  
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Ways to get to Ketchikan from SEA

I know this may sound ridiculous, but I am trying to find out what I will do if my flight non-stop ORD-SEA is delayed enough that I ended up missing my ship. My flight is scheduled to arrive at 11 am on the day of sailing with two subsequent flights on AA later that day. I have booked this independently, so I would expect no help from the cruise line. I don't think AA would be obligated to help me, either. I have purchased trip insurance with a delay and interruption coverage up to $750.

The next port of call is Ketchikan, two days later, with the ship in port until 5pm. Last minute air prices are close to $500 one way. Driving is a 1100 mile trip along a very challenging route, although there will be three other adult drivers to help share the drive and the costs. Are there other (cheaper?) options (high speed ferries?, train to Yancouver, fly from there?) that might get me there in time? This is a 14 day sailing, so it might well be worth it to try to catch up.

I am not by nature a worrier, but I guess I'd like to have a backup plan. The total cost of this trip is $1355, so not that much money would be lost, and I'm not sure how much of my expenses would actually be recouped through the insurance. Plus, I would no doubt have to pay a $300 fine (Jones Act violation) upon boarding. I'm beginning to think I should pay a change fee with AA and come in the night before. I appreciate your thoughts.
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Old May 9, 11, 8:09 am
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As an experienced cruiser, in my opinion it would be well worth the cost to change the flight to the day before. There are just too many things that can go wrong at too many different points in your trip to risk coming in the morning of sailing. The amount of stress created by everything having to go right to make the ship is just not worth it!
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Old May 9, 11, 8:42 am
  #3  
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You should also contact your cruise line to see if they'll even let you board at Ketchikan. Assuming this is a departure from Seattle, and assuming it's on a major cruise line, then boarding at Ketchikan exposes the line to serious fines and penalties as it would be a violation of the Passenger Services Act (sometimes erroneously referred to as the "Jones" Act - which actually refers to cargo handling and routing.)

Seattle departures are all "round trip" routes with the same US city as origin and destination, which under the terms of the PSA requires foreign-bottom ships to make call at a "foreign" port at some point during the cruise; this is why you'll stop in Victoria BC on the way back.

By boarding at Ketchikan, that turns it (for you) into a one-way trip between two different US cities (KTN and SEA) which under the terms of the PSA requires a stop in a "distant" foreign port, of which neither Canada nor Mexico qualify. This is why one-way trips to/from Alaska (say, Seward or Whittier) all depart from Vancouver BC - foreign to domestic or v.v.

Some cruise lines will submit to the fine (I forget the amount, but in the hundreds, maybe a thousand dollars or more - per passenger) and then pass it on to you; others may just refuse letting you join at some intermediate port of call.

I'd really try to move your flight arrangements, and at a minimum I'd read the insurance policy T&Cs to see if this would be covered. But first I'd call customer service at your cruise line and get the scoop on their policies.

Edited to add: Your options for getting to KTN are one - fly, on Alaska Airlines. That's it.
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Old May 9, 11, 9:00 am
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1) even if you booked the flight through the cruiseline, they would be of little assistance to you. In fact, most likely it would be more difficult.

2) As Gardyloo mentioned, chances are so-so that the cruise line would even let you board in KTN. If they did, you might consider disembarking in Victoria. That could help alleviate the PSA problem.

3) I too would strongly recommend you fly in the night before, even if it costs you $$$ to change. I would personally never fly in the day of a cruise departure, but then I try to keep my stress level low and my costs down. You mentioned this as an option, and I would strongly recommend you pursue this. I know someone leaving on an Alaskan cruise from Seattle tomorrow. They flew in yesterday. Good plan!

4) Driving is more than a "challenging route." It is impossible. The only way to Ketchikan is by air or boat. Certainly no "high speed ferries." And no flights from Vancouver.
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Old May 9, 11, 9:48 am
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I spoke to both Holland America and Cruise Line Agency ( I think it handles the port operations in Ketchikan as it relates to cruise lines) and both assured me that many passengers board at this port, often 20-60 people. The fine is $300 and in some cases (probably when the cruise line booked the air) the cruise line does not charge it back to the passenger. Payment of the fine would allow me to finish the cruise all the way back to Seattle since we would be stopping at a CN port. Alternatively, I can set up my itinerary with HAL to reflect boarding in Ketchikan and disembarking in Victoria, taking the Clipper back to Seattle for $95 + one night hotel. Clearly, missing my sailing will be a major headache. If I had known about all of this PSA business, I would certainly have booked the night before - airfare was less, to boot! I did ask the HAL agent if the cruiseline requires passengers who book air with them to fly in the night before and they said that it is rarely a problem since most people coming from the east pick up a few hours enroute.

With regard to the highway, I got my route info from mapquest - guess I didn't read far down where I'd have to catch a ferry from Prince Rupert! My goodness, this is some wilderness I'm headed to! I've taken about ten cruises and have only flown in early twice (in order to save some money) but it is a real hardship for us since this requires taking an extra day off work and school. Can't wait till we are retired and have all the time in the world, and can travel off-peak!
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Old May 9, 11, 2:49 pm
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Originally Posted by mary_228 View Post
I spoke to both Holland America and Cruise Line Agency ( I think it handles the port operations in Ketchikan as it relates to cruise lines) and both assured me that many passengers board at this port, often 20-60 people. The fine is $300 and in some cases (probably when the cruise line booked the air) the cruise line does not charge it back to the passenger. Payment of the fine would allow me to finish the cruise all the way back to Seattle since we would be stopping at a CN port. Alternatively, I can set up my itinerary with HAL to reflect boarding in Ketchikan and disembarking in Victoria, taking the Clipper back to Seattle for $95 + one night hotel. Clearly, missing my sailing will be a major headache. If I had known about all of this PSA business, I would certainly have booked the night before - airfare was less, to boot! I did ask the HAL agent if the cruiseline requires passengers who book air with them to fly in the night before and they said that it is rarely a problem since most people coming from the east pick up a few hours enroute.

With regard to the highway, I got my route info from mapquest - guess I didn't read far down where I'd have to catch a ferry from Prince Rupert! My goodness, this is some wilderness I'm headed to! I've taken about ten cruises and have only flown in early twice (in order to save some money) but it is a real hardship for us since this requires taking an extra day off work and school. Can't wait till we are retired and have all the time in the world, and can travel off-peak!
So the question is whether it is worth it to pay the change fee and have peace of mind to fly in the day before or just leave it as is.

I am glad you have been very fortunate to have flown in the same day on about 8 cruises. I just would never consider it unless the port was extremely close.

And FYI, forget mapquest for anything to do with Alaska. Their mileage is often correct, but driving time is ridiculously inaccurate.

And while I am at it, I encourage you to plan your excursions and time in port before you get on the ship. Alaska is more of a "port intensive" and "see-do" cruise vs. a Caribbean cruise for example. The gems of an Alaskan cruise are not on board. You can usually get independent excursions at about the same price or sometimes less than those booked on your ship. But the keys are that the independent excursions are more personal, smaller groups and often longer. And no, you won't miss your ship's departure when booking independent excursions. I have yet to see one poster on Trip Advisor or Cruise Critic who missed the boat due to an independent excursion. Now, due to shopping...that is a different story.
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Old May 20, 11, 1:22 pm
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I'm not sure what you mean by "two subsequent flights later that day."

But, nonetheless, I suppose I would book a refundable flight to Ketchikan for the next day.
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Old May 27, 11, 5:46 pm
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Originally Posted by tothetrail View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by "two subsequent flights later that day."
My reading of that was that the OP is arriving in SEA at 11am and there are two other AA flights arriving after the OP's flight but before the ship sails. That is, if the OP's flight gets canceled for whatever reason, the OP can still take one of the two later flights and still make the sailing.

In other words, it's a bit of insurance against missing the trip due to a canceled flight.

Still, given flight loads these days, it would still be wise to have a backup plan (or fly in the previous day). At least the OP is Gold, though, so she should be near the top of the standby list if she has to move to one of the later flights (though I'd personally feel much more secure about that backup option if I were EXP! ).

Last edited by jackal; May 29, 11 at 1:41 pm Reason: iPhone auto-correct gone wild
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Old May 29, 11, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
My reading of that was that the OP is arriving in SEA at 11am and there are two other AAA flights arriving after the OP's flight but before the ship sails. That is, if the OP's flight gets canceled for whatever reason, the OP can still take one of the two later flights and still make the sailing.

In other words, it's a bit of insurance against missing the trip due to a canceled flight.

Still, given flight loads these days, it would still be wise to have a backup plan (or fly in the previous day). At least the OP is Gold, though, so she should be near the top of the standby list if she has to move to one of the later flights (though I'd personally feel much more secure about that backup option if I were EXP! ).
Yes, that makes sense, thanks.
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