All aboard

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I’m writing this on Sunday evening but it is unlikely to be posted before Tuesday at earliest. I posted last night using my new AT&T SIM for access but I doubt it will work while we are at sea. My first chance to post it will probably be on Tuesday while we are in Ketchikan where my SIM should work or I may find WiFi.

After more than 30 hours out of bed, flying and exploring Seattle we both slept well in a comfortable bed. We each woke a couple of times through the night but easily got back to sleep. I woke at 6:00 am when my Fitbit alarm went but rolled over and was sound asleep when the alarm I had set on my iPhone went at 7:00 am. 

We had a quick breakfast in the hotel before going back up to repack. We checked out and caught the hotel shuttle to the airport to checkin for our cruise. That went smoothly and we were on a bus and heading for Vancouver soon after 9:00 am.

According to our driver, traffic was lighter than he had seen in a long time and we made good time, arriving in Vancouver an hour to 90 minutes ahead of schedule. Along the way he pointed out some significant features in the landscape and commented on the changes that are occurring, most notably the great increase in population and consequent growth in apartment buildings. Further on he pointed out some of the expansive glasshouses being constructed to grow vegetables and reduce the previous dependence on supplies from the southern USA. Our driver had moved from Canada more than 20 years ago to farm sheep but had been driving the buses, likely as a sideline, for many years so was very familiar with the routine. That helped with our entry to Canada where we had to present with a completed visitor form and our passports.

We saw some of Vancouver on our way through the downtown area to the docks but once we arrived there we were quickly ushered into the building where, on presentation of boarding passes and passports, we were issued with keycards for our accommodation on the ship and some additional information. Then we left Canadian jurisdiction and, for the second time in as many days, went through USA entry procedures. From there it was onto the boat to find our room.

When we reached our room and explored the material there we discovered that our travel agency had signed us up for a complimentary beverage package which we plan to enjoy. It was well past 1:00 pm and we were hungry so we checked the guide in our room and headed up several levels to find the Lido dining area. There we found something for lunch – salad and cheese for Majella, a ciabatta roll with turkey and salad for me. With the edge off our hunger Majella was curious about the drinks package so we found the bar by the pool and ordered margaritas which we drank in the area by the pool.

After drinks we explored as much of the ship as we could, beginning on the top deck near the bow where we found the naturalist in the lounge and chatted with him about what we might expect to see. We also met the lead EXC (Explorations Central) guide, who we discovered was an Australian from Sydney but had lived long enough in the USA to have acquired the accent. From there we worked our way back down, traversing the length of the lower decks with their shops, bars, dining and entertainment areas. By the time we finished walking around we thought we had a reasonable idea of where to find the places where we would need to be over the next few days.

We still had some time to relax in our room before the 4:00 pm muster by the lifeboats. That had us all lined up on the deck below our room and instructed on how to respond to emergency signals. We arrived a little early for that along with most other passengers but there were some laggards who appeared to have had trouble finding the correct muster station as printed on their keycards.

At 4:30 pm, as sailing time approached, we joined the throng for a party on the aft deck on level 9. We had drinks as we waited to depart and then enjoyed the views of the city and harbour as we pulled away from the dock and headed out to sea. Cruise ship arrival and departure times are governed by tides since they need low tide levels for sufficient clearance under the bridge as they go in and out. As the Westerdam headed toward the bridge we walked to the front of the ship and up a level where we had a view ahead and of the bridge as we passed beneath it.

Soon enough the ship was heading north up the channel. It was some time after 5:30 and the piano player in the Ocean Bar was in action. Majella had wanted to hear that so we sat there for a while to listen to his skilled and upbeat performance. I had a beer and took some time to walk outside for photos from the deck. By 6:00 pm we were back in our room, relaxing and thinking about what to do next. Majella was keen to try the trivia which was scheduled for 7:00 pm. Around 6:15 we wondered about dinner and decided to try to eat before trivia. 

We headed down to the dining room and managed to get places at a table where we were joined by 2 couples from Kansas. They were experienced cruisers. One couple had done 18 and the other had done 6. They looked as though they might have taken the advice that they gave us, to double up or more on anything we liked in the restaurants. We didn’t do that but we did eat well. Majella skipped a starter and had citrus grilled fish followed by Alaskan 3 berry tart. I had tomato soup, served cold and spicy, followed by roast pork and Bosche Bol for dessert. Majella suggested I try that since we had no idea what it was beyond the menu description of cream and chocolate. It was a profiterole, enjoyable but not as spectacular as the name might have promised.

By the time we finished dinner it was almost 8:00 pm. I had managed to dodge trivia so we went back to our room where Majella watched an Agatha Christie movie and I tinkered with photos until it was time to sleep.