Thursday, August 06, 2009

Alaska Trip Journal – Part 2

Sunday, July 26th, 2009
An early rise at the hotel, partly due to time zone challenges and also, I did hit the sack pretty early. the ever increasing reality of the mistake of sailing from Vancouver instead of Seattle became imminent with need for local currency (Canadian) and the lack of places to get it on a Sunday.
While I still didn’t have enough cash to pay for the shuttle to the ports, I managed to get enough cash exchanged to grab some breakfast at the local Tim Horton’s. For my homies, Tim Horton’s is the Canadian equivalent to Dunkin Donuts. I’ve been to Tim Horton’s in previous Canadian adventure’s but always to grab something quick to go. I was intrigued that they serve coffee to stay in a coffee mug, a ceramic coffee mug and not a paper cup. They also surprised me with a ceramic plate for my bagel instead of tossing it into a paper bag. Okay Tim, you’ve got my attention :)
port_vanc I had a couple of hours to kill before the 11:30am shuttle to the port so I took a walk and then chilled out in the room for a little while. the shuttle showed up around 15 minutes late but soon enough, I was being transported through heavy downtown Vancouver traffic to the Port of Vancouver. The drive through town confirmed the overwhelming Asian presence, especially Korean. Coming from NYC, I am always interested in what attracts a specific culture to a specific region. I tend to be more curious with Asian populations simply because of quantity. Are there attributes of a particular region that attract Asian culture or do they simply go where there is space to fit them?
Boarding the ship, the Norwegian Sun, another wake up call to the mistake of choosing to sail from Vancouver as I once again needed to clear customs before getting into the ship’s check-in line and then, of course. the annoying “smile for the camera” so we can charge you $20 for a 4x6 worth 20 cents (at most) shot.
It was somewhere between 1:00 and 1:30pm when I boarded the ship and was greeted with a lovely, and more important, complementary, glass of champagne. The champagne was a great (and smart) way to take the edge off helping to transition to the cruising/relaxing portion of the trip. For me, it was symbolic of the actual start of my vacation.
With the staterooms not being ready until 2:00pm, a lovely buffet lunch was being served in the Garden DSC00013Cafe on deck 11. Being hungry, I made my way to a delightful plate of delicious food, once again, I was feeling that vacationy feeling.
My belly was full, and enough time had passed to get the staterooms ready. I wandered down to deck 8 and found my room (8118) which to my pleasant surprise, was quite spacious. My luggage was yet to be delivered still being amongst thousands of other pieces of luggage being sorted, shifted, and yet to be delivered.
Left with a perfect opportunity to begin exploring the vessel, I wandered about for a while taking mental notes of how to get here from there: shortcuts, stairways, and all of the intricacies that define the personality of this ship distinguishing it from other vessels in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet.
Soon enough I was back in my stateroom where the luggage was waiting for me by the door. I unpacked, finding a place for everything (which felt so good). I even stored my passport and several other unnecessary at the moment yet important items in the room safe and set a new lock/unlock code (****).
At 5:30pm. the ship set sail with a party atmosphere on the pool deck along with a poolside BBQ, a reggae band, and of course, the cruise director and staff working the crowd. I lounged poolside taking it all in with an eye toward the calming effects of being out on the open seas. I chose not to partake in the BBQ because I was anticipating a more gourmet style meal in one of the on board restaurants. I had already decided that I would not be exercising on this cruise (as I had vigorously done so on the Hawaii cruise of several years ago) so one of the “responsible” decisions I made was to not gorge like a Roman emperor (at least not right now).
Later, I spent some time walking the perimeter of the ship to enjoy the see air, the sights, the water, and to keep my muscles from relaxation atrophy (LOL). At about 7:30pm, I wandered into the “Four Seasons” restaurant to enjoy a multi-course gourmet meal which included the following menu selections made by me:
  • Portobello mushroom with a sauce whose name is too fancy to recall.
  • Light onion broth with beef ravioli.
  • Roast leg of lamb over a white bean & mint ragout (mint jelly on the side).
  • Vanilla bean souffle with a Grand Marinier anglaise.
DSC00015 Holy f-ing yumminy crickets! It was a true joy to the taste buds and everywhere else it ended up in this satisfied soul. All that was left of this evening was to enjoy the spectacular colors of the setting sun and the rising moon. I opted to pass on the night club scene in favor of deckside serenity before calling it a night.
DSC00017DSC00019DSC00020    DSC00030
To be continued…


Joy said...

I'd like to take a cruise there sometime. You need to give me some advice for my cruise in October from NOLA in the Gulf to the Yucatan and Cozumel. I need cruise tips.

From what I've heard the internet time is really expensive, so I doubt I'll be doing any of that. I plan to get an international phone to rent for that week. Good ideas? No? What else?

Chris said...

Joy - I'd be happy to offer some tips. Ingternet is super expensive and super slow. 75 cents a minute and you're parying for dial-up speeds - not worth the effort. I'd even say skip the phone unless it's an absolute necessity for you to be in contact. Shoot me an email - tell me when you are going and on what cruise line and I'll holler off some tips. :)

egan said...

Are you sure it was a Korean influence? I know there's a Korean influence, but Vancouver has a very strong Chinese influence because of what happened with Hong Kong.

Chris said...

Egan - I didn't get enough time in the city to make a firm statement but certainly in the areas I passed through, the Korean influence was quite dramatic as evidenced by the excessive amount of Korean writing everywhere.