Heading to Vancouver and Boarding the Ship

Trip Start May 20, 2009
Trip End Jun 02, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, May 23, 2009

Today is my parents 55th wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! It was a very early morning, up at 5:30 AM and saying goodbye to the hotel and 'normal' flushing toilets for a week. We took a car service to the train station and were tenth in line to check our luggage. We immediately met some of the friends LJ had met on-line which was really cool. LJ got in line for our seat assignments while I watched the carry-on luggage. It is interesting to me that the security for train transportation is so very different than airline. There was no one to check us or our carry-on luggage and I would venture to guess that the other bags were not necessarily scanned either. Now, I'm not complaining as going through security is quite interesting with two DSLR cameras, laptop, and sleep machine but it did strike a chord with me.

The train was fantastic, probably three times the legroom as on a plane, a lounge cart and a perfect view., who could ask for anything more? Since we were early, we were some of the first to get our seat assignments, allowing us to sit on the left side going up the coast, with a wonderful view. We were so fortunate to see several bald eagles. The first one was by itself and it was so surreal that I wasn't even sure I was seeing correctly, but then there was a group of 10-12 mature eagles and several young eagles. Their heads turn white when they are 4-5 years old. They were just beautiful.

We arrived at the train station and went through customs, then went to get in line for a taxi. Unfortunately, there were no taxis and we had a bit of a wait to get one. We finally got a taxi, and you'll never believe it, but our bags wouldn't fit! Fortunately the driver was prepared for people like us and simply pulled the trunk closed with a bungee cord, put the fourth suitcase in the front seat and off we went. No literally.... off we went... no stopping for stop signs, no slowing down for elderly crossing the streets, turns at full speed. We made it to the pier (probably in record time) but then had a long wait in line to be able to unload our luggage but finally made it and off the taxi went, vroom... vroom...

Luggage was put into the bins to be loaded onto the ship and we were off to security. The line was fairly long because of the time of day we arrived but it moved along pretty well. We cleared security only to see our next long line... check-in. Since this is our 5th cruise with Royal Caribbean, next time we'll get to go into a MUCH shorter line for people with status. As we begin our new wait, I began my people watching. In the row behind us were three Korean War veterans (or at least they were wearing the hat to say they were). Of course, since Dad was in Korea, I immediately starting watching for them as we weaved our way through the line. They were so cute, one had on jeans and snake-skin boots - I think dad needs some of those boots! It was finally our turn and the rush of excitement returned as we made our way up the escalator and towards the ship. We had another Customs / passport check here, took our bon voyage obligatory photo and checked in on board with our Sea Pass card - off we go!

This is our first time on a ship of this class, this is smaller than the ones we normally sail but still has over 2,000 passengers. Our rooms were ready so we went to drop our bags and head to the spa to make some appointments. We really loved the room configuration, it allows for more room and has more storage (always a plus!)  Off to the spa and then to grab some lunch.

Soon it was time for the Muster Drill - where we all find out what to do in case of emergency. It was one of the worst ones in terms of what we learned but very quick and painless otherwise - let's just hope we don't have to put our knowledge into practice! Of course, LJ quickly pointed out that the life jackets won't do us much good in freezing cold water. He was hoping to be issued a red survival suit but no such luck as of yet.  Then LJ was off for a quick haircut and to take some photos of Vancouver and the ship, and I was off to catch a quick nap.

We were delayed leaving by about an hour due to some late luggage / late passengers or something, but we were soon underway and watching as we sailed away from Vancouver. It was after 7 by the time we left the deck and headed down to shower and get ready for our first dinner. There was a sailaway show at 8 so our late seating dining, normally 8:30 PM, was pushed to 9:00 PM (reminder, this is 12 midnight EST for any of us that are still adjusting to the time zone!). We had linked reservations with two other couples that LJ had met on Cruise Critic, Michele and Kirk, and Tammy and Brad. We had a fun and entertaining dinner and a bonus that I stayed awake - admittedly, I was struggling by the end.

Tomorrow - our first day at sea!
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