A Travellerspoint blog

Day 8

SAM_1579.jpgSAM_1584.jpgSAM_1659.jpgWe were sold a bottle of wine to consume on our balcony whilst we went through the inside passage today. It turned out we went through it in the middle of the night whilst we were asleep. They got us there. Oh well.
We had breakfast upstairs in the buffet and attended a port shopping guide in the morning. We had lunch in the buffet and attended another shopping session and then the bingo. No joy there. We had our photos taken with the captain in the late afternoon and then went on to the formal dinner. After dinner we returned to the Captain’s reception to get a free champagne and listened to the band playing and the speeches by the Captain and his senior crew.
We then left the reception (at the rear of the ship) and went to the theatre (at the front of the ship) some 300 metres apart and got seats for the evening headline entertainment. The entertainer was the guy who sang the theme song for the old TV show Happy Days. Trivia question: does anyone know his name? Answer tomorrow. 
After the show we went to guest services to arrange our transportation from Seward to Anchorage at the end of the cruise. Then we called it a night. Our first port Ketchikan is coming up tomorrow.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:38 Comments (0)

Day 7

SAM_1589.jpgSAM_1617.jpgSAM_1620.jpgWe were up around 3.30am to be downstairs for our 4.15am cab. Unfortunately they sent a small van and we couldn’t fit everything in. A quick phone call and around 10 minutes later we had a large van and were on our way. The driver hit 80 miles per hour on the largely empty freeway and we got to the airport very quickly. We planned out hotel departure to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of our departure time given it was an international flight to Canada. It turned out that it was treated as a domestic flight from the US perspective and we could have had another hour and a half in bed. Groan! It gave me time to catch up on the blog, football scores and our bowling results.
The flight to Vancouver was uneventful. Somehow we scored exit row seats. Bonus! We arrived early and were immediately side tracked into an immigration questioning area. Oh oh! Former Canadian residents are usually checked more carefully and we fell into that category. I formally renounced my resident status when last in Canada in 1999/2000, but as it turns out Darlene never did. So Darlene needs to contact the Consulate when we get back home to formalise that. It held us up around 10 minutes or so but it could have been much worse had they insisted Darlene complete the process there and then. They also advised the same thing was likely to happen when we return to Vancouver after the cruise.
We caught a high top (large) cab to the dock where two ships were waiting. They were Holland America MS Amsterdam and our Radiance of the Seas. Boarding was mercifully brief but interestingly included US immigration. By stepping on the ship in Vancouver harbour in Canada we were again on US soil. It is a time and money saver for all concerned as it simplifies the Alaska port visits and disembarkation at Seward near Anchorage.
Lance and Karol have a cabin on deck 7 on the port side and we have a cabin on deck 10 on the starboard side. They are identical inside but deck 7 has a much larger balcony. The cabins have a slightly larger bathroom than other balcony cabins we have had and are similar in size but they have shoe horned in a small 2 seater couch and a large built in cabinet and as such they cut the corners off the bed to make it all fit (see photo).With the extra furniture the cabins seem a bit cramped.
We ate lunch upstairs in the buffet when we arrived and then unpacked and stowed the suitcases. There’s no room to have them in cabin floor space. We got some good photos leaving Vancouver harbour in fine weather and had late dinner which meant we missed the evening show. We were tired from the lack of sleep and had an early night.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:32 Comments (0)

Day 6

SAM_1557.jpgSAM_1559.jpgWe had breakfast a bit after 9 and set off on foot for the cable street car ride we wanted to do today. That’s the one that goes up the hill to Chinatown and back down to the pier district. The line was over 100 metres long and we were advised of a minimum 2 hour wait. We purchased day passes for $14 each and rode a vintage street car along the flat route back down to the Pier 39 district. There was no line for that trip. We had lunch at the hard rock café. Like many other places, the appetisers were so large we couldn’t finish them. Just as well we didn’t buy main meals. After the meal I bought a shirt there. I had seen it at the Las Vegas store but they didn’t have my size there.
We shopped for a bit longer and then walked to the street car stop. We continued the street car ride on a bit further and then walked to the end of the line for the ride we wanted to do. Along the way we saw an old Melbourne tram that they have in service there (see photo). We lined up for around 90 minutes and eventually got on one. Whilst lining up we chatted to a US couple from New Jersey and they rode the same car as us. Unfortunately we were amongst the last to get on and had to stand in the middle of the enclosed area at the back making it very hard to get any decent photos.
The end of the line was opposite the Westfield shopping centre and we went back in and bought a new lock for Darlene’s suitcase. We had some soup and bread in the food court for a light meal. The serve the soup in a hollowed out sourdough bread roll inside a bowl. In theory you eat it all but I only got half way through the roll. It’s a great idea though. I have not seen it anywhere else.
We caught the street car back to the corner near our hotel and scurried inside in the fading light. It is not a safe area after dark. There are much nicer areas than where we stayed. In hindsight the extra dollars would have been well spent to stay in a nicer location. Next time. We booked early wake up calls and a large taxi for the early trip to the airport in the morning.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:28 Comments (0)

Day 5

SAM_1495.jpgSAM_1539.jpgSAM_1542.jpgSAM_1548.jpgWe slept in and had breakfast downstairs a bit after 9. About an hour later we walked to the closest pick up point and jumped on the hop on hop off bus. We rode it through the suburbs to the Golden Gate park and then to the Golden Gate bridge. We stopped for photos and then went over. The tour guide excused herself and went downstairs as it is always windy and cold. She warned us and despite the mild weather we were feeling quite chilled by the time we stopped on the other side. Darlene & Karol had more sense and stayed below but Lance & I wanted the photo opportunity. The trip back was even colder if that’s possible.
We then rode the bus to the Fisherman’s wharf. Along the way we saw some of the America’s Cup contenders going through their paces on the bay (NZ & USA). We ate at Fisherman’s wharf at a seafood place with a Forrest Gump theme. If you remember the movie, you will recall he made a fortune on shrimp when that cyclone came along. I guess that’s the link. We stayed there till mid-afternoon exploring and browsing the many shops. We checked out the wild sea lions that live (sunbake/sleep) on wooden floating platforms just beside the wharf.
The bus trip back was uneventful but upon getting off we again had to run the gauntlet of the homeless and the destitute on the streets. Our hotel is in a bad part of town where we are advised not to go out after dark. Our Agent chose it for us as it was centrally located but now we know why it was cheap. We ate in the hotel last night and tonight and probably will again tomorrow.
We had an entrée each for tea and another glass of that Stone Cap Cab Sav wine. We had a big lunch and wanted something light. Then back to the room for a quiet night catching up with the blog, email and TV.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 08:10 Comments (0)

Day 4

The wake-up call came way too soon but check out was really easy. I clicked on a link they emailed me, checked the bill and accepted it all from my mobile phone on wifi. Too easy! We dropped the keys in a box near the concierge desk on the way out the door to the taxi rank. Somehow the porter and the driver got 4 large suitcases, 4 small ones, 2 backpacks and 4 adult passengers into the Ford Escape. There wasn’t much space left. Darlene fought a losing battle with the United Airlines check in supervisor at the airport over our luggage fees. Oh well. Then we got to the security checkpoint and we discovered that the 100mls rule applies to domestic flights in USA not just international. We lost our water bottles, my sunscreen and our mouthwash. D’oh!
The flight was supposed to leave at 9.57 am but eventually took off at 11.12am. We initially thought it was going to be a 30 minute delay and took the opportunity to eat some breakfast at the airport. The flight was advertised as 1 hr 50 mins but actual flying time was just 1 hr and 10 mins.
The change in weather for such a short flight predominantly east to west was substantial. High 30s to high teens. We arrived ok and after a long wait our baggage finally appeared. The four of us went to the hotel by large taxi. It worked out cheaper than 4 on the hotel airport bus. Lance & Karol checked in but our room wasn’t ready so we went to a local diner (Sam’s) that was recommended and just around the corner and had a late lunch around 2.30 pm. We went for a walk down Market Street and found a Westfield shopping centre. After wandering around for a while we headed back to the hotel and stopped at a store to replace our mouthwash and to buy some more aspirin for my foot. Thanks to all that asked but the foot is fine, almost as good as new. I stopped taking aspirin after the flight to San Francisco and will give it a break for a while. I will dose up again the day before the return flight as a precaution. Although I am not really into wearing stockings I may make an exception for the long flight to prevent a repeat of the DVT.
We returned to the rooms to chill for a while and headed down for pre-dinner drinks a bit after 7. We had a lovely Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, will have to get the name of it. We ate at the hotel restaurant and had an enjoyable evening with the staff there in the bar and the restaurant. With some advice from the locals we sorted out our touring itinerary for the next 2 days.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 18:04 Comments (0)

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