August 6, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Here’s a fare-sale alert for our hometown airline.
Alaska Airlines’ eight-day fall fare sale starts today, with Seattle specials (tax and fees included) such as round-trips to Los Angeles or Las Vegas for $158, San Francisco for $168, or San Diego for $198.
The fine print: Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights or all days. Tickets require a 14-day advance purchase and must be bought by Aug. 13 for travel starting Sept. 4 for most markets. A ticket purchased at an Alaska Airlines airport location or through a reservation call center will cost $15 more per person than the advertised fare.
Details and more fare specials can be found here.
July 5, 2013 at 1:54 PM
I’ve been daydreaming about going to Greenland, of seeing its other-worldly wilderness of icebergs and glaciers before they’re gone (thank you, climate change).
So I thumbed through an enticing-looking brochure from an expedition-cruise company called Adventure Canada, a family-run business that takes travelers on small-ship cruises to remote northern places such as Canada’s Arctic, Scotland, Greenland and more.
One cruise, called Greenland & Wild Labrador, looked enticing. The price for the Sept. 5-18 cruise: $3,995 per person (that’s in the cheapest stateroom which is, ahem, a quad with bunk beds; a two-berth room would be a dizzying $6,695 per person). Still, not all that bad for (more…)
June 17, 2013 at 12:12 PM
In response to my Sunday article on “The true cost of cruising,” which mentioned a Wenatchee couple who got a cut-rate, last-minute $299-per-person fare for an Alaska cruise, some of you are wondering, “How do I get that deal?”
First, know that there’s no promise that the $299 deal will come up again soon. The cheapest Seattle-to-Alaska cruise I see today (June 17) on the Princess Cruises website is $599 for a 7-day trip leaving July 28. Whether the price continues to drop likely depends on whether the ship is full before it sails. But even $599 is a bargain compared to the advance-sale price currently offered for the same trip at the same time in 2014: $1,099 per person. (Both quotes are for an inside cabin with no windows.)
To find the sale prices, (more…)
June 12, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Raindrops on roses? Whiskers on kittens? I don’t know about those, but these are a few of my favorite things from this past week’s visit to Maui:
- Best little tourist town: Makawao. Lahaina has great historical sites and museums, but it’s looking a little careworn and in need of fresh paint, while the surfer-dude haven of Paia is overloved and traffic-jammed. The upcountry cowboy town of Makawao has fun local shops, a couple nice cafes and cream puffs from Komoda’s bakery.
- Kapalua Bay for snorkeling: Get there early for a spot in the public parking lot of this beautiful little beach with a protected and quiet cove that’s great for beginner snorkelers or old pros. Good reefs with some brightly colored coral, big scarlet-colored slate pencil urchins, and lots to see throughout the bay, including schooling fish like you saw in “Finding Nemo.” Fun to swim with them.
- Plate-lunch place: Ono Kau Kau Mixed Plate, 3481 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Honokowai. I liked the Lau Lau Pork, wrapped in taro leaf for a taste of the islands. Tip: Unless you’re there for a real FULL meal, get the “Mini” plate ($7.95). All items on the “Local Food” menu come with the typical macaroni salad and (more…)
May 7, 2013 at 4:09 PM
Skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb, the mega B.C. ski resort, earlier this spring, I practically swooned at the cost of a walk-up lift ticket – more than $100 a day.
Luckily, some people can beat that stunning price by purchasing an Edge card, a pass that gives discounted rates for five or 10 days of skiing and boarding to residents of Washington state (and all Canadians).
The purchase deadline for the early-bird discounted Edge card for next season was May 6, but Whistler-Blackcomb has extended it for another week until May 13.
A five-day Edge card costs $355 Cdn. (the Canadian and U.S. dollars are almost at par) for an adult, bringing the daily lift price down to $71 a day. A 10-day Edge card is $639, shaving the daily cost to about $64.
There’s also a three-day Edge card for $232, giving a daily rate of about $77 for a ski ticket. Tax is extra on all passes.
Get details and purchase (more…)
May 2, 2013 at 5:04 PM
On a recent trip to France, I tried out the new “chip” credit card that Bank of America (and some other U.S. banks) are issuing. Getting it was simple. I just phoned up the bank and ordered the new card, but was able to keep my same credit card number. It comes with an embedded chip on the front of the card that contains user information that’s read by credit-card processing machines, as well as the traditional magnetic-swipe strip so it still can be used in the U.S.
Why did I want this card? Because Europe, Canada and most of the world apart from the United States use what are called “chip and pin” credit cards which are more secure – and in some places a traditional U.S. card won’t work.
The chip-and-pin card is inserted into a credit card machine (at restaurants, waiters bring a hand-held machine to your table) and the card owner then punches in his or her private four-digit PIN (personal identification number). At certain places in Europe — such as automated ticket machines in train (more…)
March 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Looking for a bargain getaway to a memorable spot close to home? Don’t forget the historic homes you can rent in Washington’s state parks. Run away on a weeknight before this month is out and get some good off-season rates.
Working on an upcoming story about Fort Flagler State Park, part of a series marking the park system’s 100th birthday (which is March 19), I stayed last Thursday night in the Engineer’s House, dating to the 1890s, the first structure built in the old Marrowstone Island fort that first helped guard Puget Sound during the Spanish-American War. (Hey, are we ruled by Spain today? I guess the fort did its job.)
The two-bedroom house was cozy, and the bluffside view of Admiralty Inlet hard to beat. It even warmed up enough Friday for a picnic in an Adirondack chair on the front porch, with a view of every ship and tugboat going in and out of the Sound. Mount Baker across the way, Mount Rainier to the south. Pretty darn nice.
And the price was right:
February 27, 2013 at 6:00 AM
If you’re like many Seattleites, you’re a big user of our hometown airline, and if you’re like me, you’re always eager to learn a new trick on how to work the mileage program and other Alaska Airlines perks for frequent fliers.
Here’s a good one.
Last summer I signed up for the airline’s Visa Signature credit card in order to get 25,000 bonus miles and the annual “companion fare” that lets you book a companion’s seat for around $110 anytime you buy a ticket on Alaska.
In a rush recently to make an advance reservation for a working trip in time to meet a budget deadline, I went ahead and booked my ticket, with the intention of booking a companion fare at the same time for my spouse (who occasionally accompanies me on working trips at my personal expense). But I searched the Alaska website and didn’t find “companion fare” instructions. I had saved information that had come in the mail with the credit card, but it was filed away somewhere and at that moment I didn’t have time to dig for it.
So I thought, “No worries, I’ll book my ticket now, and when I can get my hands on the other information, I’ll follow up and book the companion fare.”
February 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Need a U.S. passport? You can get one more easily on March 9, in Seattle and beyond, when passport agencies have a special Saturday opening with no appointments needed.
Called “Passport Day in the USA,” it’s a national outreach event and is especially convenient for parents applying for passports for their children since that must be done in person for those under 16. The Saturday opening means families won’t have to miss work or school to apply. It also makes it easier for any U.S. citizen needing a passport to get advice and help in filling out the forms. Applications will be accepted at the Saturday event and passports then will be mailed (which can take several weeks or more, although expedited service also is available).
The Seattle Passport Agency, located downtown at 300 Fifth Avenue, Suite 600, will be open on March 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointments are needed that day (normally they are required at the federal passport offices).
Other agencies that normally accept passport applications (including some neighborhood service centers and city offices) also will be open that Saturday throughout Washington (and nationally) for Passport Day. In Seattle, they include neighborhood service centers in Ballard, the University District and Central District. Passport facilities also will be open in Mill Creek, Woodinville and Sammamish for the March 9 Passport Day and farther afield in Lacey, Kennewick and Bonney Lake. Get hours and addresses, and more Washington state Passport Day locations, here.
Passport applicants must be U.S. citizens and have proof of identification. Get details on what’s required, including on necessary photographs for a passport application, and download application forms at the U.S. State Department website. Or phone the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 for more information.
February 21, 2013 at 11:01 AM
So, you’ve met someone who could really be “it” and it’s time to see if the chemistry can survive a road trip? Here are three ideas that could get you out of town this weekend:
It’s the annual Mystery Weekend in Langley, on Whidbey Island. “Gone With the Tide” is the theme for this year’s whodunit, in which visitors gather clues around the waterfront village about the murder of a movie producer who was about to make the place famous. It’s described as “a two-day interactive and improvisational mystery play involving the whole town.” It happens from 10 a.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday. Weekend tickets: $8-$10.
Newport, Ore., is expecting some 20,000 visitors for its annual Seafood and Wine Festival this Thursday through Sunday. Yaquina Bay oysters are hard to beat, and they get some pretty good crab on this stretch of Oregon coast, too. Meet winemakers and taste wines of scores of Northwest vintners, including winners of the festival’s own competition. $7-$18 admission, plus small charges for food and wine tasting.
What the heck is a Hög Loppet? Find out, by participating in one, with more than 500 other hardy souls. It’s an annual, non-competitive 30K ski trek from the top of Wenatchee’s Mission Ridge Ski Area to Blewett Pass. Known by its fans as simply “The Hog,” it starts at 7:30 a.m Saturday; $70 registration fee. (And you can tell your friends “hög loppet” is a Swedish term meaning “high race,” or “high course,” so it says on the Internet.)
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