July 1st: Like sand through the hour glass so goes our Alaskan adventure. We are docked in Vancouver and await our disembarkation color. We are spending the night in this beautiful city and thus are among the last to be called. As an additonal sting to this painful moment we notice upon exit from our cabin the names of the next travelers already in the sleeve of our mailbox. That hurts!
Prior to leaving though, I had opportunity to observe the longshoreman loading and unloading innumeral pallets to and from the ship. A veritable beehive of activity, forklifts buzzed about in an orchestrated dance, while conveyers spewed countless of pieces of luggage onto waiting trucks. I had a good view of the wharehouse that held supplies for the next voyage and was able to get a brief idea of the enormous amounts of everything required to satisfy the demands of such a large ship.
When at last we left Sapphire we had a painless walk through customs and then were lead to an area where our luggage was waiting for transport, as well as a Princess Representative who was to walk us to our nearby hotel, the Pan Pacific. Our Princess Rep. was an almost impossibly cheerful young woman with a smile so wide and radiant it resembled a caricature. "Okay everyone," she beamed, "I want all my Purple 1's over here. Are you a Purple 1 sir? No you're Purple 2, just over there to the left. Purple 1's, where are you? Purple 1's? Let's see. YES, you're a Purple 1! You're with ME! Do I have all my Purple 1 people? Is everyone here? JUST WONDERFUL!!" I turned to Lesley who could not help smiling at such an enthusiastic and upbeat person and asked, "Do you think she's like that from the moment she wakes up? If so it must make for an exhausting day."
Soon she began to lead us towards the hotel with a bounding, unbridled gait. Overhead she held a sign, bobbing with each energetic step, that read Purple 1. Occasionally she would glance back and call out, "Everyone still here?" To any passersby I am sure we resembled a contingent of scouts dutifully following their den mother.
When we got to the elevator banks there was some confusion as how to get to the main lobby. "Oh my." she gleefully sang with her infectious smile, "This is just WACKY! But don't worry everyone, I'll get you where you need to go!" We were not worried. Soon we were in the appropriate venue where she doled out the room keys with limitless joy. "Okay everyone, any questions? All right then. You have all been GREAT!" And with that she turned around and floated to a nearby escalator, her kinetic pep providing the levitation.
We reached our room and to our utter surprise found it was a suite! Overlooking the city on the 23rd floor it featured a large livingroom with couch, plush chairs. a writing desk and a small bar. The bedroom was spacious with a kingsize bed featuring very nice spreads with high threadcount sheets. Both rooms had televisions housed in handsome cabinets and free internet connections. The bathroom was large, well appointed and guilded, or so it seemed. Needless to say, it was the finest hotel room Lesley and I had ever stayed in.
We soon set out to explore the city and found the main concourse teeming with people. Right outside the entrance to the hotel were thousands more with a band rocking away on stage. It took us only a moment of observing the painted faces and numerous flags to discern that it was Canadian Independence Day! We had not made the initial connection of July 1st and this celebration but were pleased to have opportunity to explore Vancouver on one of its most festive occasions. We found the city to be beautiful. Clean and modern with multitudes of buildings possessing beautiful glass exteriors. There were also older more historic districts such as Gas Town with its distinctive 19th century street lamps.
We enjoyed lunch on an outdoor patio at the nearby 'Lions Den' where with assistance from the congenial manager planned our afternoons explorations as well as selecting a restaurant for the evenings dinner.
We had decided to dine at 'The Fish House' in nearby Stanley Park. The park was about a 10 minute cab ride from our hotel and was a lovely place. Tree lined streets criss-crossed throughout and there were numerous barbecues and other festivities all along the way. We had a lovely meal, both ordering the British Columbia haddock. We agreed it was the best haddock either us had ever delighted in.
After dinner we returned somewhat unhappily to our hotel. Even luxuriating in our soft kingsize bed and gazing out the window at the beautiful nighttime Vancouver skyline did little to alleviate the fact that we were going home tomorrow. It had been a trip that exceeded our soaring expectations and we were already conjuring ways that we could afford to return as quickly as possible.
In my last installment I will touch on a few things I have not expanded on, such as the food on board, other aspects of Alaska and the cruise experience. I hope you have enjoyed my now, not so little travel log and thanks for hanging in there.