Monday, May 7, 2012

One Day Cruise Vancouver to Seattle Trip Report - May 5 - 6, 2012

My friend Pia who I went on the San Diego Carnival Cruise with offered to take me for free on this one since she would have to pay the single supplement anyway.  The ship was the Holland America Oosterdam.  She also said she had a free dinner credit for two in HAL's Pinnacle Grill restaurant and a free credit on Amtrak from Seattle back to Vancouver that would cover me as well.  How could I say no?  I felt special!  :-)

May 5th:

Just before noon, I took the Skytrain to Waterfront and walked over to Canada place.  It was very easy and I packed seriously lightly.  Just a carry-on with hardly anything it...well, I had some wine and Champagne.   :-)  Check in was ridiculous!  They seat you in chairs row by row and call you that way.  It took about an hour.  Pia was late and was able to join my place in the line because one woman had left an open chair beside me.  However, the "check in" lady gave Pia a lecture telling her she'd have to go to the back of the line if there was no chair available by me.

Anyway, we boarded by 1pm or so.  Here are some shots of our Superior Suite.  It was the biggest room I have ever been on, on a ship - to date.  We had to contact them to separate the beds...which took three calls with no results.  Finally Pia had to hunt down our room steward and ask him personally.  He had no idea of our request.  Anyway, it was done by dinner time.  We also asked for a cork screw five times (I left mine in my room on the last ship) and never did end up receiving it.  We borrowed one from another cabin finally. They called at 10:30pm and left a voice mail saying they would assist us if we called back again..not very good service...I guess they don't care about their customers on "one day" trips...

 There was a separate shower as well as this Jacuzzi tub.
 It was finally a nice day in sunnier and warmer by Sail-away too.
 Balcony was big enough for a small gathering or party.  :-)

We opened a bottle of Champagne and started to get into vacation mode again.  We were soon invited by Tammye (on the last cruise too) to join them in a private VIP Neptune lounge for appys and more Champagne.  Only "Deluxe Suite" members had access to this.  You could only enter with your VIP key card and the lounge was hidden amongst the staterooms.  Anyway, the free Champers and appys were a nice treat!  I borrowed this picture of the appys below from Tammye and thank her kindly for the invite!

We wandered around the ship for awhile, stopped at the buffet to get real food and nibbled, laughed and had fun.

A pool on one of the decks.  People were soon using them and the hot tubs too.

Sail-away happened about 4:30pm after Muster drill.  I sat through that for awhile, then went down to take advantage of the Grey Goose martini special for $5.95 in one of the lounges that another one of the cruisers that I met on the last ship told me about.  They were late getting there, so I stayed right til 7pm and chatted with them and then had to run to dinner without getting ready!  I made it exactly on time.

Pia had booked dinner in the Pinnacle Grill ($20 charge per person) for all of us and it was much better than trying to hoard into the dining room for freestyle seating with all the other masses of people.  (We ran into the people I had martinis with later and they said dinner in the dining room was really, really bad.  They barely ate).  She really made a good choice with her plans and it was much appreciated!  Six of us sat and laughed and ate for three hours!  It was so much fun.  I had the best time ever.

Amuse Bouche of Mushroom Cappuccino soup

Crab Cakes

Delicious Shrimp Cocktail

My Bone-In Ribeye with Bernaise sauce ( I shared it!)

Our waiter making individual "Baked Alaska"

I opted for the Cheese Plate (not too exciting, unfortunately)

So, the night was moving fast and furious.  It was like party central. Many drunk, loud people all over.  I've never been on a cruise ship like that.  I donated money to the Casino.  We all went to the Piano Bar and watched a horrible singer butcher songs while drunk people sang along.  We ended the night in the Crows Nest lounge which was quiet and we were able to hold a conversation.  We had planned on going to the Disco but it was so jam packed you couldn't get in and it looked like 1986 revisited inside there...Seriously! :-)  Everyone in my group departed about 1:30am.  I sat on our balcony sipping some wine and thinking til about 3am.  There was full moon (it was a "Supermoon") and it was incredibly beautiful outside.

I awoke and we were in Seattle.  I haven't been in downtown Seattle since 1991 when I saw Guns n Roses at the Tacoma Dome!  I only go straight to Sea-Tac airport now so I was glad to be able to enjoy a day there.

Beautiful day in Seattle looking out from our balcony

We disembarked and were all done about 9am or so and grabbed a taxi to Pikes Market.  Cab was less than $20.  We began another day of drinking and eating!  :-)  I had a list of food I wanted to get to and I managed to get to them all!

First off though, we needed to get breakfast so we went to a place right outside the Market.  It was called Pike Place Bar & Grill.  It wasn't anything special but we got a great waiter who laughed and entertained us with his great personality and service.  He laughed out loud at my request of a "Mimosa without the orange juice".  :-)  I had my fave breakfast ever which is Country Fried Steak.  It was ok.  It did the job.  A lot of cruise passengers had the same idea as us and many were drinking and getting breakfast into them too!

Then it was off to Pikes.

This place is packed!  Wow!

and the crowds continue outside too.  Crazy!

My first stop was "Piroshky Piroshky"  I bought the Beef and Cheese ($5) (Thanks Veronica!)  

I didn't eat that piroshky yet because I got sidetracked back in the Market by a a Dungeness Crab cocktail I saw for $10.  It included free soup too.  I put the piroshky in my carry on and decided to eat it later.  The crab cocktail was amazing.  The picture doesn't do it justice at all.  Soup was good too.

Next we found a patio at a place called Copacabana and sat and had a few drinks for a long while.  It was so warm and nice.  We had a lot of time to kill too.  Alas, it was time to move so moved to my next food destination which was Pike's Place Chowder.

I went with the traditional New England chowder ($5) and I was very happy.  If I could have packed it down, I would have got a 4 cup sampler!

Next stop was Beechers where I sampled their mac & cheese. ($5).  I only managed a couple of bites and hated to waste it but I was stuffed!!!  It was really good and you can see how cheesy it was!  

So ended the food tour.  I bought a nice bottle of California Pinot Noir from the Wine shop for our ride home on Amtrak and we proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon at Pikes having some drinks overlooking the water at Athenian Inn Seafood Restaurant and Bar.  We then walked up to First Ave, flagged a taxi ($10 with tip) and headed to Amtrak...

Our train ride was uneventful but long.  We were both happy to have free WiFi though as were in withdrawls!  :-)  I finally ate my piroshky!

The train was an an hour and a half late getting into Vancouver and I didn't get home until after midnight.  Thankfully Pia had gotten Business Class seats so we were first off and through Customs quickly.  I feel like I've done so much traveling the past week and I'm exhausted.  I'm putting that passport away til September when it will come out again for Paris & Nice!  

Thanks to Pia and to all the great new friends she introduced me to by these two short cruises.  I am considering joining the group for New Orleans next spring.  It doesn't take much to get me to want to go back there!

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