Alaska & Canada F.A.Q.

What is the difference between group and independent tours?

Our group tours are escorted from Australia by one of our tour directors. The itineraries and dates for these tours are fixed. You are, however, welcome to add extra arrangements before or after the tour. We are very happy to assist with co-ordinating these extra arrangements and ensuring they “tie-in”. Independent tours are self guided itineraries. We prepare a detailed itinerary for the tour and pre-book all of the services such as ferries, trains, hotels and sightseeing tours. Independent tours are suitable for people who require more flexibility in their itinerary or travel dates.

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What are your travel insurance options?

Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for any trip, especially trips to North America. Cover for a medical emergency while overseas gives you piece of mind, the United States is known for having some of the most expensive medical services in the world. We are happy to provide a quote for insurance with any one of our tour packages, or you can arrange your own insurance.

**Remember to arrange cover for the entire time you are away from Australia.  When departing North America you do not return to Australia until two calendar days later.**

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When is the best time to travel?

For the types of tours that we run the best time to travel to Alaska and Canada is generally between mid May and mid September. Travel outside of these times can be difficult as hotels are often closed and sightseeing tours do not run.

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What will the weather be like?

The weather in Spring and Summer is generally fine. As you will appreciate, there is always a chance of rain, particularly along the lower stretches of the Inside Passage. Some of these areas receive regular showers throughout the year. Previous history has shown that average temperatures, at this time of year, tend to range between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius.

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Where can we get meals?

A reasonably wide selection of food is available throughout Alaska. Whilst travelling you will probably find yourselves eating at a variety of local cafes, restaurants and hotels. The Alaska Marine Highway vessels serve meals in ‘bistro style’ arrangement. There is normally a choice of three or four hot meals plus cold dishes. We recommend sampling seafood such as salmon and halibut.

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How much do meals cost?

For meals in restaurants, on average you can expect to pay the following amounts:

  • breakfast US$8 to US$10,
  • lunch US$12 to US$15 and
  • dinner around US$15 to US$25 per person.

Therefore, if you were to eat all restaurant meals you require around US$35 to US$50 per person per day. Generally, the size of meals is large and sometimes one portion is sufficient to share between two people.

There are also cheaper alternatives for meals such as: breakfast bars, fruit, crackers and instant soup can be purchased throughout the trip.

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What type of hotels do you use?

The hotels we book for our tours are clean and comfortable. Most properties would be rated around three stars in Australian terms. If you are thinking of traveling on an independent itinerary and would like a higher standard of accommodation please let us know. For instance, some clients like to incorporate one stay at Chateau Lake Louise in their itinerary.

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How do we get to/from hotels?

For escorted group tours we generally book private transfers on motorcoaches. In the case of independent tours, in many towns in Alaska and Canada the hotels offer free courtesy transfer by minivan. In towns where courtesy transfers are not available there will be cabs and shuttles available to your accommodation.

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What are your payment terms?

For most bookings we require a $500 deposit per person once you have agreed to a quoted itinerary.  Additional payments may be required for services that require a larger deposit, or full payment.  Full payment is due 60 days prior to departure.  For a detailed explanation of our cancellation penalties, please view our General Booking Terms & Conditions.

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Where do we meet up with your group tours?

All of our tour escorts live in Melbourne, and will be travelling on our group flights booked through Air New Zealand.  If you are joining the group from another Australian city, and are using our group flights, the group escort will meet you in Auckland.  All of our group flights are coordinated to cross the Pacific on the same flight, with flights from various Australian cities meeting in Auckland.  If you are not travelling on our group flights, we generally arrange to meet you at the first hotel.  In these situations, we will provide you with all the hotel's details, and an approximate time when the group escort will be arriving.

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What travel documents do I need to enter the United States and Canada?

Australian citizens are entitled to enter the United States as tourists under the US Visa Waiver Program. Along with a valid passport (six months validity is required from the date when you arrive back into Australia), you also have to complete an electronic pre-clearance with United States Department of Homeland Security. This clearance can be completed online at: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. Spectrum Holidays can assist you with completion of the pre-clearance.

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