BTW: For anyone unfamiliar with blogging formats, the newest post is at the top and older ones further below.
Alison woke up at 6:30, much to my disappointment since I was still jetlagged. Breakfast on departure day was outside Oceanview where we sat with an Australian couple. They needed help with directions to the Australian Consulate and then to the Greyhound station. After returning to the cabin to collect our bags we went down to the Tuscan Grill which was the lounge reserved for elite members. The lounge was crowded with no seats available, so we stood and talked to Dennis and Nanette. Also, there were Dale, Suzie, Wayne and Judith. We did not need to wait since we had an express departure, but we had some time to kill and it was nice to connect with people one last time.
Disembarking was easy and there was no customs check as expected since we were cleared in Victoria. The congestion point was in front of the buses where there was a crowd of about 1000 people blocking the exit. We tried to take the escalator but were told we were not allowed to use it with our cases – another pet peeve of mine! Eventually, we managed to weave our way with our cases through the crowd and out on to the street. From this point, it was an easy route to the Skytrain although a bit of a slog pulling cases.
We stopped at Stadium where I went into the Compass office to exchange my card for the concession card. This was done as a straight swap which couldn’t have been easier. Alison also requested a credit for coming out of the gate on our journey. After another 30 minutes, we arrived at Scott Road station where Rod was waiting by his truck. Driving home was very familiar and a pleasant relief after such a long absence.
Finally, after 6 consecutive days at sea we have docked and what a beautiful sight it was to see the snow-capped mountains of BC. We went down to the Metropolitan cafe for our last breakfast in the Elite part of the dining room. Service seemed slower than usual and it did not go as smoothly as other days – we think there were fewer servers.
We left the ship and began our walk into town. The weather was perfect and it was pleasant to be walking on land again in a very attractive area which contrasted significantly with our last port of call in Russia. There were lots of other passengers all heading the same way into town. Eventually, we passed the Washington ferry terminal and the legislature and continued on to the museum. From there we crossed the street into the conference centre and through the Empress hotel. We continued north past all the shops avoiding most including the Bay. Alison went into an Irish linen shop we liked before we spotted MEC. As we got closer to MEC we saw there had been a big fire opposite and the fire crew was still dealing with. We learnt that the fir had started on Monday and was still needing to be put out on Thursday. We then found that the MEC store was closed, presumably due to the fire although there were no signs on the store. Working our way back we called in Eddie Bower and then followed the harbour around and eventually made our way to the port. Alison wanted to check out the tourist shops before boarding and I wanted to check with CBSA on how we report our arrival in Vancouver having already landed in Victoria.
On board the ship for the last time, we had lunch out at the back of Oceanview where it was a fantastic sunny day. In the afternoon I slept while Alison went to the Persian Garden steam room. It was time to start packing before dinner. Over drinks we sat with our regular friends, Dane and Suzzie, then Nanette came over to ask questions about loyalty points. Just before leaving, Graeme made an announcement about the departure process and thanked us all. We went over to say goodbye and exchanged hugs. He has been the best Captain’s club host we have experienced.
Over dinner, our neighbours, Bill and Katherine, were missing so we talked to the BC couple about accounting and US property. Then it was time to do more packing before the final show. The entertainment was a singing group which performed many of the songs we had heard from others over the vacation. I would have left this average performance, but since it was the last, I wanted to stay and see what Steve, the cruise director, had to say at the end as it was his last day on the ship.
Back in the cabin, we did some final sorting ready to leave in the morning and watched TV for a while.
With changing time zone every night, it is taking its toll. I am not sleeping well at night although got up for breakfast as usual. However, I went back for a nap and slept until noon. Meanwhile, Alison went to an interesting talk by Steve, the cruise director, on his life experiences going to sea. It was an emotional talk at times. Once awake, I decided to go for a walk around the track on deck 11 to blow away the cobwebs and later Alison joined me to tell me about the talk she had just returned from. As we get nearer to Canada the weather is improving and the sea is calm. Finally, it is warm and sunny.
We were able to sit outside at the rear of the Oceanview cafe for lunch in the first time after a week of staying indoors. I had a wonderful butter chicken dish. In the afternoon, I did some work in the cabin while Alison went back to the future cruise sales office to change our booking. We wanted to take out part of the package which was a very expensive and unnecessary option. I felt vindicated because I had been concerned that this could be a problem if we did not get a commitment from the company to make the change later and it turned out the package could not be broken out. We rebooked the correct package which had increased in price overnight, but fortunately had a written quote which was honoured.
In the afternoon, Alison sat on the balcony while I worked and she later went up to the outdoor pool which was open for the first time this week. I went up later, but she had already left for the sauna. The pool was heated and was so hot that it was uncomfortable to swim. At times, I thought I would not be able to continue but stuck it out to complete my lengths. Moving over to the hot tub, it was cold in comparison and I did not stay there long.
Going up for drinks we again sat with Dane and Suzie from California and discussed our future cruise plans. Over dinner, we discussed more worldly events with Bill and Katherine before returning to the cabin for a long call with Emma regarding her research project and plans for the summer.
The show was a performance of the singers and dancers in iBroadway which we saw on the last cruise. We sat near the front and the show seemed more enjoyable than the last time we had seen it. This was also the last performance by this crew before they leave the ship tomorrow. They came back out for a curtain call and Steve said encouraging words to them.
In the morning we had a backstage tour composed of 15 minutes of Q&A followed by being taken back to see the change rooms. Compared to other ships this one is spacious. In the afternoon, there was a short talk on the refit of the cruise ship.
We have been discussing future cruise plans and went to visit the future sales office to arrange a booking.
In the evening, we sat with Dane and Suzie over our pre-dinner drinks. Then over dinner, we discussed a talk on the death of Maralyn Munroe with our dinner table neighbours, Bill and Katherine.
A quiet day with most of it working on my radio software development project. In the afternoon, we went to the pool and hot tub. The water was rather tepid and the waves were high with the ship motion. The evening routine was normal with an extra event. We had a Captain’s club reception which was the first of two nights since there are so many loyalty members on the ship.
Pretty much a normal day, working on a radio development project. Alison went to the talks on the Secrets of Navigation. Emma called but the ship was rocking too much to sustain an Internet connection. In the evening we sat with Dennis and Nately over drinks and talked about their plans to get the Canada Line into Richmond. After dinner, we attended the show which was a singer, Nik Page, from the north of England who had been in the London production of Les Miserables as Jean Valjean. He was great and we asked ourselves, how did such a good performer end up on a cruise ship?
Having crossed the date line we are having the same day over again. With all of the hour changes, we could not wake up until 9:30. Breakfast was a little rushed as it finished at 10:00. After breakfast, I went back to sleep in the Solarium and missed the talks I was planning to attend. In the afternoon I started a software development project. We met up with Dale and Suzzie again for drinks and were about to leave when Haris, the safety officer stopped by. As a result, we were late getting down to dinner. The entertainer was an impressionist and I left after 15 minutes but could not find a suitable alternative so returned to the cabin. I had started to develop a running nose and decided to have an early night to recover.