I thought it would take us all night to get ready last night, but all the pre-packing paid off and we were fully packed by 10:15 or so (just over 2 hours) and in bed at 11:07. That doesn’t mean I slept well or that I was ready to get up at 03:45, but I did get up and get ready, so I guess that’s all that counts.
Stan thinks it’s silly that I pre-pack as much as I do, but it really makes the final packing less rushed for me–and therefore, less stressed. I’m in charge of all the “extra” stuff–the electronics, the Orc meds, the laundry supplies, the paperwork–all the non-clothing/toiletry stuff. A week or two or three before the trip, I designate a table (or this time, a moving cart) for placing everything that is “coming with”. Anything on the cart either gets packed or has to be specifically decided against. It really helps in not forgetting any of the “easy to forget” items–like extra SD cards for the camera or the multi-plug for the cabin.
A few nights ago, I remembered the binoculars–we have two pairs and Stan said he knew where they were. So, I made a reminder card for the cart and gave one to him. Thursday night, though, it became clear that he didn’t know where they were–and then he enlisted my help to find them. We both remembered seeing a pair recently, but, we didn’t have any luck tracking either pair down. He used to tell the kids that If you can’t find something, that’s the same as not owning it. So, I guess we didn’t really own two pairs of binoculars.
We talked about it and agreed that we’re weren’t going to Alaska without us each having a pair–we weren’t even going to share. That’s why Stan stopped at Dodd’s Cameras on the way home to buy binoculars. He’d narrowed it down to two different pairs and then called me to get my opinion. I voted for the lighter, smaller waterproof pair. He voted for the (slightly) larger zoom pair. Jordan, who made an unexpected stop at the house Friday night, put the straps on them. YAY! We each have a pair.
Airport and Airplane
I’ve never had much luck taking pictures from planes–but I like the way these came out.
Arriving in Vancouver
Vancouver is a beautiful airport–I was surprised, because usually one airport is a lot like another. In this case, though, that wasn’t true. We walked through a lovely exhibit that could have been in a history museum, complete with signage. There was lots of glass and high ceilings. We took pictures of the wooden frogs–ribbit.
The lines for immigration were incredibly long but fortunately moved very quickly. We had to wait to go down the escalator because there wasn’t room in the immigration line. Ater we got downstairs and went through about ten loops of the line (sort of like Disneyland) they diverted US and Canadian citizens into a shorter line. We ended up scanning our form and passports at a self-serve kiosk. I was concerned about the time but didn’t need to be, especially since we got our luggage quickly and then just walked right through customs without being asked any questions.
We had another line to get a cab–and got a very talkative taxi driver. He told us that the average home price in Vancouver was $1.5M. Even at Canadian dollar rates, that’s incredible–I’m not sure I believe him and may look it up when we have regular internet access. Although it wasn’t very far to the port, it seemed to take a long time–probably because Vancouver doesn’t have any cross town expressways so it was all city driving with lots of Saturday early afternoon traffic. We did get to get a “feel” for the city, though, since we drove through quite a bit of it–but it wasn’t a sightseeing feel.
Paying for the taxi was my first experience using the chip technology in my credit card. I used a card that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee–we didn’t think it made sense to get Canadian currency since we were only in Canada a few hours. The driver seemed a bit surprised that I didn’t know how it worked–but chip technology is new in the US!
On to Embarkation
Embarkation is just line after line. We didn’t have to wait to drop off our bags (and they made it to our cabin before we did). We just followed the signs to get our ship cards (they already had the unlimited soda stickers), then had to go through Canadian customs (since we were leaving Canada), security, since we were boarding the ship, US immigration, and then US customs, since after we boarded the ship, our next stop was a US port. Fortunately for us, US and Canadian citizens were fast tracked, but there were long lines and long waits for international passengers. In fact, there were so many delays that that they moved back the muster drill and we departed late. The delay gave us time to unpack, though, so we got all settled in and everything put away before we had to go to the drill.
At the drill we sat with a couple who had a delightful two year old. He alternated between resting on Mom’s chest (because it was past his East Coast bedtime) and playing with the life jackets. He wanted mine (instead of his mom’s). His mom tried to distract him from that, but it was futile–so we gave him mine and I took hers!
As we were getting things organized, I told Stan that I wasn’t happy with the idea of a 5:30 dinner time. 6:00 was early enough (which is what I thought we had) and 5:30 just way too early. I didn’t want to spend the last two hours of light every night getting dressed and having dinner–and we’d miss half the early dinners due to shore days anyway. We ran into DD and Mike and they agreed they’d rather have the later dinner slot as well. While DD and I waited in line to make the change, Stan went and talked to everyone else. 12 of the 14 of us wanted to change (and the other two weren’t at dinner). So, we changed to the late seating–which let the Chinese tour guide in line in front of us take the two large tables we were giving up. The man helping us made a few changes so that both of our tables were in the same waiters’ section so even if we switched between tables we’d have the same waiters.
It was a bit of a cluster, because it first it seemed we’d be starting the late dinner tomorrow, but it turned out that noone had ordered yet and we agreed to reconvene at dinner at 7:45. I left a note at Red & Julie’s cabin so they’d know about the change and then went to see the sailaway.
We met two couples from Cruise Critic for drinks before dinner–one of them lives about 15 minutes from us! We had some pleasant conversation and Stan and I shared a “margarita for two”. When he brought it over to the table, one of the other guys asked where Stan’s drink–since he knows how shared drinks work. (I let Stan have some of it, although I admit I drank the lion’s share.)
For me, the best part of the sailaway was being up on the top deck (15) in the front of the ship, approaching a high bridge (which we fit under but not by lots). It seemed as if the bridge was approaching us, but of course, we were the ones who were moving. Looking behind us as the rest of the ship went under the bridge, it was clear there wasn’t much more clearance. There was a jetski which was taking advantage of the wake from the Holland America ship ahead of us and then our ship, going back and forth across the wake. The views were beautiful–I often wish we lived somewhere with mountains!
Especially on the first day on board, there have to be some ship pictures!
Early to bed
Dinner was great–but it was 9:45 before we headed up the stairs to our room. Since we’d been up since 3:45 EST (after turning out the lights a 11:07) (although we both napped on the planes), we were pretty beat. It was an early night for us.Trip Home | Ketchikan | Juneau | Skagway | Glacier Bay | College Fjord | On the ship | Train to McKinley | McKinley | Denali | Fairbanks