421. Thursday 7th May 2015. Vancouver Island, Vancouver and day one of the cruise…

Monday 4th May

Today was a lay day.

Yep. A real lay day not like the lay day yesterday.

The day was mostly overcast with a chill wind blowing from some Arctic region. Rain is predicted for tomorrow when we travel up island to visit Lara. The most exciting thing I did all day was go to a Salvation Army store to buy a cheap rain repellant jacket. I will need it tomorrow and perhaps when we dock at several ports in Alaska.

 

Tuesday 5th May

My, my, what a busy day.

In the morning we drove “up iskand” to Qualicum to visit Joan’s daughter, Lara.

Frank Lara and Joan outside Lara's home in Qualicum  on Vancouver Island.

Frank Lara and Joan outside Lara’s home in Qualicum on Vancouver Island.

On the way we saw some mountains were tipped with snow and a visit to the beach was cut short due to the icy wind blowing off the snow.

Afterwards we drove to Nanaimo to catch a ferry to Vancouver then two bus trips to reach Doug and Linda where we will stay for two nights before joining the cruise ship to Alaska. The ferry ride to Vancouver was smooth and scenery stunning especially with low cloud filling the spaces between islands.

On the ferry ride from Vancouver Island to Vancouver the sky greyed over and cold mist settle across the strait between the mainland and several smaller islands.

On the ferry ride from Vancouver Island to Vancouver the sky greyed over and cold mist settle across the strait between the mainland and several smaller islands.

Snow capped peaks near Vancouver Harbour added to the misty cold views.

 

Wednesday 6th May

Early morning mist settles over Vancouver.

Early morning mist settles over Vancouver.

Today Doug & Linda drove us to University of British Columbia, Jericho Beach, Kitsilano Beach, Granville Island Markets

Entrance to Granville Island.

Entrance to Granville Island.

Beside the popular and colourful Granville Island is a cement works which is unnattracrive. The works have been painted to blend in with its surroundings.

Beside the popular and colourful Granville Island is a cement works which is unnattracrive. The works have been painted to blend in with its surroundings.

 

Water taxi operate around the Vancouver Harbour.

Water taxi operate around the Vancouver Harbour.

Burrage Street Bridge seen from GRANVILLE iSLAND with cruise ship and mountains in the background.

Burrage Street Bridge seen from GRANVILLE ISLAND with cruise ship and mountains in the background.

and Queen Elizabeth Park.

Queen Elizabeth Park with glasshouse filled with tropical plants on Vancouver.

Queen Elizabeth Park with glasshouse filled with tropical plants on Vancouver.

We stopped for lunch at the markets and I had Perogies for lunch. Donnis has also spoken of this food for many years so today I finally tried them. Hmmm! These must be an acquired taste. Donnis claims they only taste good when home made. To me they taste something like a potato filled Ravioli…Without the taste.

There were great views between the two bridges, Burrard St and Granville leading into Vancouver.

Lots of little water taxis, looking like bathtubs with a canopy run up and down the river carrying passengers to riverside destinations.

Thursday 7th May

Frank was up bright and early as usual and waited patiently for the rest of the household to wake. Later in the morning after a big breakfast Doug and Linda drove us to Canada Place ion Vancouvers harbourfront to board our ship. I sort of thought passengers would arrive at various times to pass through customs and board the ship. Not so. This is the first cruise of the season for this ship, Norwegian Pearl and had only 2,300 passengers instead of the full capacity of almost 3,000. They did have a full crew of 1,000.  All those passengers all arrived at the same time expecting to board and tuck into a sumptuous lunch. There were long queues to get through US Immigration, (were were photographed and fingerprinted) US Customs and Norwegian Cruise Lines ticketing system where we were photographed again and issued an electronic room key which we then used to pass through Security to board “The Pearl”. Our cabin midships on deck 10 was ready and luggage arrived so after shucking our carry-on luggage we went in search of food.

Our cabin was mid ship. This is the hallway looking forward.

Our cabin was mid ship. This is the hallway looking forward.

Food after all is what cruising is all about. Or so I have been told. The cafeteria style Garden Cafe was open on deck 12 and looking at the variety of food was like letting a child loose in a lolly shop.

Lunch at a window seat on the NORWEGIAN PEARL.

Lunch at a window seat on the NORWEGIAN PEARL.

The choice of food was staggering and silly people could go back and refill their plates as often as they wanted. Silly us did that.

The forward deck pool and games area.

The forward deck pool and games area.

Sundeck above the pool deck

Sundeck above the pool deck

We did learn three important lessons.

  1. Take your time do not fill the plate there is plenty of food and the cafe is open most of the day and late into the night. For late night snacking the rear deck has food all night.
  2. The coffee is terrible. There is no way I can disguise my disappointment. Real espresso coffee is available from a bar on deck seven…at a price.
  3. The tea, if anything, is worse. |Even after dunking a teabag 20 times the water had not changed colour and there was no flavour. After adding sugar and milk the result tasted like sweetened hot milk. Other travellers suggested they use up to four teabags per cup to get flavour.

As we left Vancouver Harbour

Leaving Vancouver Harbour.

Leaving Vancouver Harbour.

Vancouver with Mount Fraser in the background.

Vancouver with Mount Fraser in the background.

and approached Lions Gate Bridge we were on an observation deck on deck 14. Ahead of us were two speedboats doing donuts directly in our path. The Water Police chased the boats. One would veer off with the Police in pursuit while the other stayed in our path. The Police then chased the second boat and the first boat would swing back in front of us. Eventually the Police concentrated on one boat while other stayed in our path. These boats were playing games and dicing with death. The ship skipper sounded a blast on the ships horn, apart from scaring everybody on board the small boat decided to move out of the way at the last moment.

A few of the mountains around the harbour were peppered with snow. The harbour is a delightful sight…almost as good as Sydney Australia.

Sunset as we travel north through the Inside Passage

Sunset as we travel north through the Inside Passage

More of the sunset

More of the sunset

Tonight we had a wonderful dinner at the onboard Chinese Restaurant.

Tomorrow morning we will be in Juneau, Alaska.

Because the days will be long with lots of photos I have decided to create a separate post for each day from this point until the end of the cruise.

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