I had planned to take a page from my friend Joe’s blog. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, give yourself a treat – he writes about being a new dad to pre-teen boys, and about his travels, both with and without kids. It’s entertaining and interesting. He’s got a great eye for detail and a gentle sense of humour that is just delightful.)
I’m not a new parent to half grown kids – this is the blog about our cruise down the west coast of North America and through the Panama Canal. I had planned, like Joe (thanks for letting me steal all these good ideas, Joe!), to write on board the ship, and organize and post the entries when we got home. Yeah well, not quite so much. I did write a lot of it on the trip, but not all of it, thanks to a cold, lethargy and not being as self-disciplined as I should be. But the trip will be posted, with photos, thus getting me jump started on my blog again. We can hope, anyway, but don’t hold your breath, okay? Blue skin doesn’t suit you.
We boarded the Holland America ship, Zuiderdam in Vancouver, on Sept 27. Thanks to our godson, Gregory, we got from the ferry terminal to the cruise ship terminal in good time and got a quick visit with him and our daughter. Boarding began about half an hour after we got to the terminal and went smoothly and quickly. It always impresses me as to how organized cruise lines are about moving large numbers of people quickly, efficiently and with little to no frowns, grumps or tantrums (that would be me I’m referring to here, btw.)
We’d upgraded our stateroom when they offered us a deal we couldn’t resist – much lower than the initial price per person, free laundry, dry cleaning and pressing (it’s a 20 day cruise and who wants to spend shore time looking up Laundromats or paying through the nose to have your laundry done in port?) and access to a quiet, restricted lounge that the hoi polloi (to which we definitely belong) couldn’t get to. That wasn’t done to keep us away from the more or less great unwashed, btw. There’s nothing more interesting than people watching, especially when you’re a writer. It was because both Al and I have very low tolerance for crowds and crowding, and because both of us brought work along. When we needed someplace other than our stateroom to work, we had this quiet (we thought), hopefully unpopulated room in which to work.
The stateroom was a lot more than we’d expected – we are at the aft end of the ship with a veranda that wraps around the side of the ship for the length of our cabin, in effect doubling the outside, private area we have, which is already larger than any other we’ve ever been in (all two of them! ) and it’s lovely with so much space.
Click on the photo for a larger image. The desk in the foreground is Al’s work area, and mine is next to the TV screen in the background, next to the doors to the deck. I chose that because it’s got a window I can look out while I’m working. Very nice.
There’s also a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine (a nice, smooth dry white), complimentary bottles of spring water and, we discovered, invites to non-advertised events on board, like the wine tastings, on top of the perks we already knew about.
Boarding began at noon and by 12:30 or 1:00 pm we were in our stateroom getting settled and unpacked and by three, attending the mandatory lifeboat drill. For those who haven’t been on a cruise, this drill is deadly serious. They take attendance and if you refuse to attend, you don’t sail. That simple.
Reason being, it’s half an hour out of your day, it could save your life, and it will certainly help to save the lives of the other people on board. Their logic is that if you can’t figure out where your lifeboat station is, or how to put on your lifejacket (or even where they are), you endanger the lives of the others on the ship.
My logic is that you might find yourself tossed overboard by another irate, panicked guest (that would be me).
It went smoothly and quickly. Our lifeboat captain was trained (she was a ship employee as opposed to one of the entertainment crew), and had a good voice, and the way she organized us, in straight lines like a school choir, I suggested we all burst into song. She agreed, but the captain unfortunately didn’t. He obviously heard us and came on the loudspeaker asking for quiet. Still, I thought we did “It’s a Small World” rather well. The troublemaker strikes again (mwhahahahahaha!). Within 10 minutes of having arrived at Station 13 (no, I’m not superstitious), we were heading back to our cabin.
After that, it wasn’t long before we sailed off and had our first dinner on board. Part Two of the first day tomorrow in which we enjoy dinner, and see the sights of Victoria from a whole new perspective.