Getting Underway On Our Cruise and Visiting Canada (Travelogue)

Trip Reports

The ship left San Pedro late thanks to the Coast Guard meddling in our plans, but we were told not to worry, we would easily make up time. We were told by our Dutch captain that we’d have a nice ride out until we hit Point Conception at which point we’d get some swells. That wouldn’t happen until overnight.

This is the final post from this trip. If you missed the others:

We had a decent dinner at the steakhouse at the aft of the ship to start off the trip, and I fell asleep quickly as we chugged northwest.

By morning, I woke up to those swells we had been warned about. It had rained overnight, but when I woke up, we were just shrouded in fog. Normally fog can mean calm seas, but as I learned after talking to a tall Swedish Staff Captain who looked to be straight out of central casting, the seas were still stirred up from a storm the previous week and so we had what was referred to as a long swell.

The fog eventually cleared and we had an endless view of the open Pacific as we headed northward at over 20 kts. We were too far from land to ever see anything, though at one point we did see a whale.

That evening brought a captain’s reception in The Haven lounge, and that’s where I learned that the seas weren’t going to get any rougher and should calm down. That was comforting to me, because while I wasn’t feeling overly nauseous, I was feeling some lesser discomfort from the motion. It wasn’t bad, so if the seas stayed the same or got better, then I’d be alright. Too bad that’s not what happened.

Overnight, things had intensified into a “rough, mounting sea” which was again not pleasant. Since this was a long swell, it felt like being on a slow motion roller coaster where you’d go up, hang there, and then come down. I hate roller coasters.

Apparently we passed whatever threshold there is internally for the crew to consider this rough. Almost instantly, little packets of barf bags were slapped on every floor at every stairwell. The pools were all closed — well, almost all, they kept our Haven pool open — but it wasn’t bad enough to close off the outdoor areas entirely. Some kid must have puked, because the kid pool was emptied and remained closed the rest of the trip.

We did have a little fun in the morning when we went to the racetrack. That’s quite a ridiculous experience going around in circles far above the ocean.

It would have been more fun if the person in front of us wasn’t so slow.

Toward the end of the day, I was getting stir crazy. I decided to go for a very long walk. I went front to back on each deck starting at the top, making my way down to the 5th deck which is as low as they allow passengers.

What I learned is that people completely lose their minds when it comes to cruising. The hard-core cruisers live for this. To show just how excited they are, they decorate their stateroom doors. Sometimes the decorations can be elaborate.

Other times they can just be simple cards with terrible puns like “I need my Vitamin Sea” or worse.

For what it’s worth, I did not see a single upside-down pineapple.

By the time I went to bed that night, I was exhausted. Walking up and down the halls had been a herculean effort with the swells. I still didn’t feel well and had eaten little most of the day. I just wanted it to end… which it would the next morning.

When we woke up the following day, the seas were calm and we were making our final approach into Victoria. As big as the ship was, it felt small after 3 nights. I just wanted to get off and stretch, and we did that soon after docking.

With so many people coming off a ship, a cottage city pops up just outside the gates ready to pounce on tourists. We passed them all and hopped in a cab for Butchart Gardens. When we arrived it was a quiet and serene morning. It is stunningly beautiful there, though it wasn’t long before the hordes of people arrived on coaches from the various shore excursions.

We had lunch and visited Miniature World — which was actually really fun — and then walked back to the ship where we had dinner. I felt renewed after being away for the day.

We left port in the evening and began our 24 hour crawl toward Vancouver. See, Vancouver is not far away, so we would actually head out to the sea, do donuts in the ocean for awhile overnight, and then come back in past Victoria and make our way up to Vancouver.

The seas were calm, so this was a much more pleasant 24 hours for me. I spent most of it reading. I later found out that the real reason for the extended trip here is Lions Gate Bridge at the gateway to Vancouver. That was built long ago, and it wasn’t built to handle these massive ships. The only way they can make it is to go through at low tide. We were scheduled to go through around 6:45pm and then we’d be docked within an hour.

Once we arrived, we were staying on the ship for the night, but we decided to go into town and do a little sightseeing before bed. It was easy getting off the ship and we walked over to Gastown to see the steam clock the pops off every 15 minutes. Then we slowly wandered back.

The next morning we were able to get off the ship whenever we wanted since we would carry our own bags. We had a leisurely breakfast at The Haven before it closed up at 8:30am, and then we headed down into town.

In Vancouver, we stayed at the Metropolitan Hotel which is now part of Marriott and is becoming a Renaissance. It’s a small city hotel with a small lobby. The front desk agent said the rooms that were being assigned had all been renovated, but they were leaving several floors empty until the work there was done.

I was very happy to see that our room was ready early, so we could check in right off the ship. But if this is a renovated room… I’m confused.

The weirdly-tinted glass on the shower combined with other features to look like something that was from a different decade. I’m guessing this was a light renovation. At least the city view was a good one.

The first day in Vancouver was a beautiful one with blue skies all around, even if it barely climbed into the 50s, temperaturewise. We went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which, while pricey at about C$65 a person (we had a coupon from the hotel which lowered it slightly), was well worth it.

We spent the next day with friends, having dim sum to start and then moving on to the VanDusen Botanical Garden where they were having the Japanese Sakura Days festival. I enjoyed it there, but by then the rain had arrived so that put a damper on things.

The next morning, we were on our way to the airport for the flight home, and you know the rest of that story.

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5 comments on “Getting Underway On Our Cruise and Visiting Canada (Travelogue)

  1. Your descriptions have re-affirmed my believe that cruises are not for me. I, too, would go stir crazy on a confined floating hotel. I would hate to feel sea-sick although I have not had that problem when I have used the sea ferry to and from the UK way back when, or crisscrossed the Northsea and Ijsselmeer in the Netherlands on two and three mast sailing ships. I don’t do well with “forced entertainment” – what passes for entertainment to a lot of people rarely is aligned with my taste and that does not mean it is bad… it is just not for me. I will take a hard pass on cruise vacations, except possibly the ones that are organized by jazz musician Dave Koz.

  2. Yep, I took one cruise (ironically, on Norwegian) many years ago. This one was Boston to Bermuda – which seemed great, in theory. In reality, the seas were rough almost the whole way, people were sick all over the place, I had a day and a half of nausea, and it wasn’t fun. It was also somewhat claustrphobic for such a long cruise. And this is nothing against Norwegian – their crew was absolutely awesome. Wonderful people. The accomodations were fine, to food was good to great. It’s just that this isn’t for me. Not at all. Thanks for reminding me of this fact.

  3. Although I love being on the water in small sailing and motorized watercraft, as well as kayaks and canoes, being a passenger on a cruise behemoth such as you describe sounds like pure torture to me.

  4. I did same cruise on NCL Encore on May 1! Loved that ship and the observation deck!
    Friends who were in Haven spent more time on Observation deck! Sister ship
    To Bliss, our favorite! Calm waters! Calm sail!

  5. Lynn Canyon also has a suspension bridge, and it’s free:

    You couldn’t pay me to get on one of those hideous floating amusement parks, but I did have a good time on a Hurtigruten boat going up the Norwegian coast. Their boats are also working boats, although more comfortable than the Navimag boats that travel up the Chilean coast..

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