A delayed report, due to difficulties with internet access – with an amount of parsimony! Finally an opportunity to update, but the wifi is satellite and apparently is not always available (and is very slow, although you continue to pay while waiting) so expect some further gaps in daily updates.
Day 1 (or is it Day 0?). The 14 hour flight was preceded by a trip to Sydney that started at 10 AM the previous day, so by the time we arrived in Vancouver we’d been travelling for 38 hours – and it felt like it. Even though the journey involved an overnight stay in Sydney, it didn’t feel like it when we arrived at 7.15 AM the same day we left: our body clocks knew it was 00.15 the next day. Its possible we are getting older.
So, Day 1. Friday 19 August. The flight itself was smooth enough, and just before and afterwards we started to meet our fellow expeditioners. On first impressions this might be an ‘interesting’ experience. All but one small family group are about our vintage: there is one young couple (early/mid 30s?) with two young children. The average age hardly flickers when these four are added in!
T still has her hacking cough, but at this stage we’re optimistic that its on the mend. At the group dinner that night she was informed by a most helpful lady that she may not be allowed to board on health grounds: just what we wanted to hear. We met some more interesting characters – and will be delighted to spend some time with some of them. Disappointed with the BC Salmon – a bit bland, but suspect that is more to do with the cook than the fish.
Having packed pretty much only cold weather gear, we arrived in Vancouver to be greeted by 30 degree heat. We weren’t alone as it seems pretty much all our travelling companions were in the same boat. We saw just a little of downtown Vancouver – walked to Stanley Park on the waterfront to be greeted by Canadian geese who obviously expected to be fed, and wouldn’t be dissuaded by shoe shoo gestures. Continued on to walk along the harbor front and were captivated by the constant comings and gongs of the float planes – it seems they operate pretty much like a taxi service, and there are also some privately operated ones. Tried to find a bar to have a quenching ale, but at 4.30 PM on a Friday afternoon, there was an unacceptable wait for a table in three of them, so we gave it up as a bad joke.
Initial impressions of Vancouver, based on 24 hours: we may get a different impression when we spend the week or so at the end of the trip. The scenery is quite spectacular: the water reaching up to sharp jagged mountain ranges, a couple with some snow visible. On first impressions the architecture of Vancouver is bland – almost tired 60s and 70s styles. We’ve found the people polite, helpful and friendly. The traffic is calm, and drivers seem happy to give way to each other and to pedestrians – don’t think we heard any antsy horns being sounded! There are lots of bikes, and bike hire places.
Day 2. Saturday 20 August. A slow start to the day as we have a late check out and did not need to be aboard until an hour before departure. D was of course keen to be there by midday, but T wasn’t going anywhere until we’d had coffee, so we did. Joined several interminable queues (ticketing security, immigration) before we could board. T answered the health questionnaire honestly and based on the ticks and crosses didn’t need to worry about being barred. The ship is US territory, so we had to depart Canada to get on – full finger printing and photographing included.
So, on board – and within a nan0 second D was fired up on a device. A safety drill at 1600, where we all (2000 or so of us) had to move in an orderly fashion to our muster stations. The three C girls would have done this in their sleep. Practiced putting on our life jackets and T didn’t pull the ‘what’s this for’ toggle, only because there wasn’t one.
A quiet celebratory beer on the top deck as we slowly got underway. Headed to our ‘Anytime Dining’ restaurant to get a snack as we’d missed lunch, but ended up getting an early meal instead. Shared a table with four American couples: broached the Presidential election with one couple and had quite a explanation of why Trump was a less dangerous choice than the evil Clinton: America will never be the same if she gets elected, we learned.
Day 3. Sunday 21 August. Cruising all night, with some rougher weather giving the ship some bumpy motion, but not excessively. T’s cough getting worse, so a trip to Medical Centre in the morning – for her to be placed in isolation, with half a pharmacy’s worth of drugs. T does feel a bit like she’s Rapunzel, a princess confined in her stateroom on a Princess ship. D was a bit put out that isolation didn’t mean the he would be allocated a stateroom for himself – but it would be just his luck to be given a hammock on the upper deck. The medical staff were a little abrupt that T had come aboard – but she pointed out that the wording and her answers to the questionnaire did not suggest that she couldn’t. Perhaps it is not a well worded/constructed questionnaire, but that’s a different issue.
Apart from feeling rotten, not much lost as we sail all day and night before arriving for a part day stop in Ketchikan. We hadn’t pre-booked any excursions, so D may be let loose by himself to wander around the town avoiding the grizzlies. T will remain in her splendid isolation tower, regretting that she didn’t put in a knitting project (not that there was any room left in the already stuffed suitcase). Another consequence is that we will miss out on the formal dinner tonight, which is perhaps just as well as we forgot to pack our bow tie and tiara!