Looking for the Volendam
The night before leaving for our 7-day Alaskan cruise we packed up about half of our house to bring along with us. While most trips have us packing light, a cruise is a license to over pack. Especially cruising to an area with cold weather. Not only did we need to bring our regular clothing to wear, we also had to bring clothing for “smart casual” dining most nights and formal clothing for two formal dinners. And then there were the sweaters, jackets, assortment of footwear, books, games, toys, cameras, netbook, iPOD and iPOD external speakers, and anything else we could cram into our suitcases. Fortunately, Holland America does not have a limit on the amount of luggage you can bring and we would be driving to the cruise ship terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia, so there would be no airline baggage fees to worry about. When we go on our round-the-World trip, we plan to have one rolling duffle bag each, which will also include Sydney’s homeschooling books and supplies. That should be interesting!
Our drive to Vancouver was uneventful, other than the typical traffic delays in Seattle and Vancouver, and once there we checked into our hotel a couple of miles from where we would be catching our boat the next morning. The Quality Hotel Downtown was one of the cheapest we could find in the area and we were really surprised at how nice it was. The rooms were small, but clean, there was a swimming pool, and it was in the heart of downtown Vancouver. This cruise was not only a vacation; it was also a family reunion for Kerri’s family which was great since everyone lived in different states and it would be nice to see everyone. We met up with the family, who were also staying at the hotel, and we all ventured down the street in search of food. We noticed a shop that had t-shirts in the window that said “Gay for a day.” We were a little puzzled what that meant, until we noticed a sign advertising the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival that had happened a couple of days prior to us arriving. That would explain the t-shirts. It also turned out we were staying near a “Gayborhood,” which is a gay village. A term that I had never heard of before, but it would explain why the parade went through that area. I am sure the parade would have been really entertaining to watch.
The next morning we checked out of our hotel and made our way to Cruisepark, a place where we could park our vehicle during the cruise, for a nominal fee of course. After dropping off the car we loaded into the shuttle and were delivered to the terminal entrance. The last time we took a cruise it had taken many hours to get through all the formalities before we could actually board the ship. It was a real nightmare. But this time we were on the boat in less than 30 minutes and made our way to our room. Wow! Kudos go out to Holland America and the customs and immigration at that terminal. We found our room, which was about what we had expected, and then made our way up for lunch. One problem with a cruise is too much good food. At least they had a gym. Since the ship did not leave until 5pm, we had many hours to explore the ship and relax.