Vancouver, Day 2

Another full day ahead, so I stocked up on breakfast.

Heirloom tomatoes, mixed greens, poached egg, hollandaise …. what’s not to like. Especially since I asked them to hold the avocado.

First stop was the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. We pretty much did everything except the maze – but only because my feet were hurting. Despite being early fall, this was a lovely place to spend a few hours.

Then the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. Seriously impressive. And in way, kind of creepy. Well, mostly just the totem pole in the last photo.

Then onto the bus for the trip down home. Because Amtrak, being a train company, had no trains running that evening. So bus it was.


Vancouver, Day 1

Up at 7:00 a.m. and sadly, we disembarked the ms Amsterdam by 9:00 a.m.

It’s only 7 am, we’re already in Vancouver with the Seaborn Sojourn coming into view.

Fortunately, Karin had a full day planned for us, so no time to mope. We checked into the hotel, had some breakfast and headed out.

My smoked salmon bagel was amazing!

The ms Amsterdam docked at Canada Place

Looking over the Burrard Inlet from Prospect Point

Lions Gate Bridge from Prospect Point

Our next stop was Granville Island. The public market rivals Seattle’s Pike Place Market in sheer scope, color, size and quirkiness. Since I took too many photos (yes, really, it’s possible), I put them in this photo gallery (click to enlarge).


Nearly empty beach

These 8.5 foot tall bronze statues in English Bay make me smile.

Then a drive through Chinatown

and a stop at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.  Again, too many pictures, so another photo gallery.



We got back to the hotel in time to wave goodbye

As a fitting finale to the day, we had dinner at the Five Sails in Canada Place. Too too delicious for words.

Watching the sun set while we ate

Colorful lights during my brief stroll after dinner

Two day mini-cruise – Victoria Edition

After some breakfast nibbles and coffee from the Neptune Lounge we spent the day virtually alone on the ship. Walked the promenade, watched the harbor activity, ate, drank and made merry, dressed for dinner, and felt totally pampered and spoiled.

Empty promenade deck

Whale Ahoy?

The Victoria Clipper arriving from Seattle.

A seal on a mission.

The Black Ball Ferry heading to Port Angeles

Float planes galore

Strawberry bubbles – colorful and sweet

Lamb shank

The dinner menu

The When & Where

Two day mini-cruise – Seattle edition

We went from Seattle to Victoria to Vancouver. Short, relaxing, fun and swanky. Karin upgraded us to a Pinnacle Suite.  I’m pretty sure it’s nearly 2/3 the size of my house.

We boarded about 11:30 without any fuss or bother, had lunch in the Main Dining Room, sprawled out in our Suite, wandered the Amsterdam, had our muster drill at 4:15 (amazing how fast it goes when the ship has only 400 passengers aboard), enjoyed cocktails and canapes, dinner and a show. With so few passengers, there was no waiting for elevators, no lines in the Lido, no mobs in the Piano Bar – gosh, I could get used to it.  And a beautiful departure from Seattle just before 11:00 pm.

First up, our sweet suite:

The living room in the Pinnacle Suite

Pretty sure there’s plenty of room in the bed

Even a dining room

Yup, definitely bigger than my bathroom at home.

A balcony all to ourselves.

We were fortunate to have a bright sunshine-filled day, with just a hint of fall.

Fall colors just behind Elliot Bay Marina – though the boats look like they’re stuck in a traffic jam.

Berry bols for dessert at lunch

Lunch menu

Tea time goodies in the Nepture Lounge. Although I had a double shot latte, because it was so very good.

My very favorite HAL cocktail, the Hemingway Daiquiri

Baked stuffed eggplant is what’s for dinner for me!

Mount Rainier came out to play at sunset

The Seattle Great Wheel casting a green glow on the water

Harvest moon and the Space Needle

The dinner menu

The When & Where

Boats in the marina, Autumn edition

Oops, we did it again

The sisters (plus Mom) are on a mini-cruise for 3 days. And it’s a gorgeous day.

The When & Wheres for Aug 5-12 cruise

In my ongoing (and largely unsuccessful) efforts to declutter, I’ve scanned the When & Where’s and tossed (ahem … recycled) the paper copies. I apologize for the crease marks on a couple of them. But if I’m going to cram them into my camera bag, they’re getting folded.

Aug 5 – Seattle
Aug 6 – At Sea
Aug 7 – Juneau
Aug 8 – Hubbard Glacier
Aug 9 – Sitka
Aug 10 – Ketchikan
Aug 11 – Victoria, BC

One final pic from the Seaview Pool. We brought the clouds with us. You’re welcome, Seattle.

Victoria – sort of

Sailing in and out (mostly in) the fog all day. I’d see a bit of blue sky, and just when I thought it might clear up enough to see something of the lovely coastline or possibly a whale, the fog would roll back in, like some kind of taunting karmic twist, punctuated by the deep bass rumble of the fog horn from both the Amsterdam and assorted other freighters making their way in or out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Cape Flattery lighthouse, looking suitably gray and depressed on this foggy morning and afternoon.

As we entered the Strait, the fog was particularly dense. There was an awfully long bellow from our fog horn, and suddenly the ship veered right, listing steeply, as plates crashed to floor all over the Lido. I found out later that some small boat had cut across our bow and Capt. Mercer essentially slammed on the brakes and veered hard to the right, managing to avoid the other craft. Yeesh, what the other guy was thinking is beyond me. Kind of like the little cars that cut off semi-trucks on the highway. One day the dice aren’t going to roll your way and your number will be up.

After that bit of excitement, 14 of us spent a couple hours playing cards in the Kings Room. That seems to be a vastly underused space, which we were happy to put to use. Also conveniently close to the Explorations Cafe and the bar 🙂

Picking up the pilot outside of Victoria

As we approached Victoria, we spotted a couple of whales spouting in the distance. Being so far away, it was hard to tell precisely what type of whale, but the naturalist thought they were probably Orca. I snapped an admittedly not very good pic, and I’m leaning toward humpback. Any guesses?

That black smudge to the right of the whale watching boat – totally a whale, I promise.

The Emerald Princess giving off a vaguely creepy vibe as she stalks us into Victoria

Hubby and I didn’t go ashore in Victoria, preferring instead to relax on board. Given that the Norwegian Pearl and the Emerald Princess arrived at the same time we did, and the steady stream of passengers going ashore, I’m thinking we made the right decision.

Twilight at the Seaview Pool. Going to miss my favorite spot on the ship.

One last night – the little monkey towel animal looks almost as sad as I do.

It’s 10:45 pm, the suitcases are packed and outside the door, and I’ll be calling it a night before long.

All in all, this cruise was great fun, weather notwithstanding. Travelling with a group of friends is always a joy, and to be fortunate enough to help celebrate a 50th anniversary is a blessing.

Here we all are, spilling up the stairs in the atrium.

There were a few hiccups and disappointments, and I figure to write a review in the next couple of days. But the bottom line is yes, of course I’ll be cruising on Holland America again. Unless of course, I win the lottery and then I’m going luxury cruise line all the way!

A couple more tiles to add to my collection. I’m getting closer and closer to having a Holland America back splash. 😀

Tonight’s dinner menu

Still on the look out

On deck with the naturalist still hunting the elusive NW fog whale. 😁

I find I’m taking lots of pics of the Seaview Pool just for the color. So enjoy yet another one.

Ketchikan and the Aleutian Ballad

Oh my, what a terrific day. The wake up call rang, and I stumbled over hubby (my younger self would be ashamed to admit she didn’t notice a 6’3″ man stretched out next to her in bed) in an attempt to get the dratted thing to just stop. A quick shower later, I was heading off the ship (sans coffee!!!!!!) to catch the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s tour.

I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. Not only did I get to go out on a smaller boat (107′ long) and roam the deck taking pictures, enjoy the sunshine, see seals and eagles, but I got an education (cleverly camouflaged by great storytelling) in what the life of an Alaskan crab fisherman entails, how crabbing is done, what lives under the Alaskan waters, and all without a tour guide in the bunch. Engaging, informative and just downright fun. I would love to take my grandsons on this one – they’d enjoy it and I’d have an excuse to do it again.

Aboard the Aleutian Ballad, heading out of Ketchikan.

Cutting up bait for the line. We only managed to get a couple of copper rockfish. But man, do those hooks fly out of that tub fast!

Me holding a spot prawn … but then he squirmed and I hate to admit it, but I dropped the little guy, and had a hard time picking him back up. Finally a young boy took pity on me, and rescued it from the deck.


The eagles swooped in to grab the herring tossed overboard.

Caught an octopus. And no, we couldn’t touch it. Not that I particularly wanted to, but an 8 year old girl sure did.

No way could I not include a fishing boat photo.

Returning to Ketchikan, where the Amsterdam looks so huge from sea level.

Gala night dinner, so hubby and I dressed up (a bit) and enjoyed shrimp cocktail, sunchoke soup, and surf-n-turf in the main dining room. (Know the difference between shrimp and prawns? Different gill structures, etc., but prawns are meat eaters, shrimp are vegetarian. Something I learned today.)

Saw only one tux and ballgown, but lots of sparkle. So I wore my silver shawl to supper. And look Karin, I didn’t drag the fringe through the soup 😀

And tonight’s Gala dinner menu.

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