This is the fun part of the hobby, sharing with someone else. My golf buddy Jeff got married last fall and this is his wedding present, a trip to Alaska. Jeff and Carol insisted we join them so it is back to Alaska we go.
The original plan was to take a four or five day Amtrak trip from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, Seattle, and Glacier National Park using the outstanding Bedroom Two Zone awards on Amtrak. When Jeff and Carol found out Katybug gets motion sickness on trains the plans changed to Alaska. Here is how we saved and arranged the trip:
I use VacationsToGo.com for cruises. It is an easy to read website and appears to offer great prices. The agent we got, Pam Dixon, was fantastic went above and beyond for us on two occasions getting us first a price reduction then cabin upgrade.
I booked early as I wanted award tickets for all four of us and found availability at the 25K level each with United. At the time the cruise priced out at $949 per person and I made my deposit and booked our award tickets for four to Seattle (two from Traverse City and two from Savannah). Our plan, as always was to arrive in Seattle the day before cruise departure.
About one month after booking the cruise and airline tickets I double checked at VacationsToGo and found the cruise had dropped to $729 each. A quick email to Pam got me a nice credit back on my credit card. We were still booked for “inside guarantee cabins”. On May 31st I checked the pricing again an inside guarantee was now only $529 each. I knew that we were in the no refund period so this time asked for an upgrade to a cabin that was close to the current amount off money we had paid for the cabins. Pam wrote back indicating we had been upgraded to Family View Ocean View rooms with picture window size windows and our cabins were now assigned right down the hall from one another. Pam’s willingness to continually re-book us as prices dropped allowed me to book early when the airline award seats were available and still get the lowest price possible for the cruise. Way to go Pam Dixon at VacationsToGo.
As I mentioned in an earlier post I used some of my Choice points for two rooms at the Sleep Inn SeaTac Airport (highly rated and good value per Tripadvisor) the night before the cruise.
The cruise goes to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay (I love it there), and Victoria British Columbia returning in one week back to Seattle. From their I’m off to New York to meet with the credit card issuers in my Alaska wilderness outerwear, Katy is off to see her mom in Phoenix and Jeff and Carol head back to Traverse City after I hope a memorable trip to the great north.
I’l be watching with excitement as the new couple sees the world at prices even I can afford And I promise this trip I’ll send photos. Internet access will be easier than the European cruise and Katy will have the right camera with her.
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day American Airlines AAdvantage® has provided 2500 AAdvantage® miles for the best deals, fares, promotions, anything related to American Airlines, their oneworld partners or AAdvantage® partners. Add it to the comments section of this post or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post (with your first name, last initial, and home airport) to be eligible to win.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49