NORTH TO ALASKA
AUGUST 18 TO 25,2012
My traveling companion (TC) Carol and I took our first Princess, first Alaska, cruise August 20, 2011 on the good ship Coral Princess and despite the first 5 days of drizzle, were hooked on Princess and Alaska.
This time we would do the reverse trip- Vancouver to Whittier and on a different ship-the Diamond.
We flew to Vancouver the day before sailing to be fresh-as-daisies on Embarkation Day. We stayed as before in the Pan-Pacific Hotel at Canada Place where the ship would dock early next morning.
Apart from being a first-class hotel with a great restaurant (Five Sails) an advantage is that the bellmen deliver your luggage to the ship on embarkation morning and you next see it in your stateroom.
From our 19th floor room we would have a bird’s eye view of the Diamond when she docked on Saturday morning. When we arrived in our room Friday afternoon the Radiance of the Seas was below us, casting off and we watched her sail away under the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Tomorrow it would be our turn!
Next morning, Saturday August 18th I was up at 4.30 to walk the deserted streets of Vancover, camera in hand but just before 6 a.m one of the (many) voices in my head told me to head back to Canada place. At 6.15 I trained my camcorder (Canon HD) on Stanley Park and was rewarded with my first glimpse of the white bow of the Diamond slowly coming into view. The ship approached the dock and then turned to reverse into it's berth. Nice piece of parking!
Once up in the room I was able to look down and see clearly our future home-C757 aft and on the balcony were the people who now had to disembark-in tears no doubt.
Being suite passengers we had priority boarding but had a 30 minute wait for U.S. Customs to clear the ship for embarkation. I had to have my fingerprints scanned, possibly because I have a British passport or maybe it was the harpoons poking out of my carry-on. My TC had wanted to go whalewatching in Juneau but I must have thought she said "whale catching" so I was ready and even had a gigantic frying pan and some olive oil in my luggage.
The Princess part of the boarding operation was swift, efficient and painless indeed.
Once aboard I had a list of things to take care of in order; get my name on the Ultimate Ship Tour ( I was first on the list), book the Sanctuary for the week (check!), book an Ultimate Balcony Dinner for the first formal night (Sunday at sea) and book Sabatini’s for that night’s dinner which was complimentary as a suite perk.
We took the long walk to our aft suite on Caribe, dropped our hand luggage and headed for the International Dining Room for lunch. There were 6 other people in there already. Wonderful lunch and it freed us up to go to our room, freshen up and unpack. There was fruit and canapés in the room to snack on.
Prior to muster drill around 3.30 pm I was by the Tradewinds bar for my first beer of the trip. The server, Juan from Mexico, was a fun guy and introduced me to a new drinks card which when completed after 30 points gained would be entered in a drawing. The winner would have their bar tab paid by Princess on the last day at sea. Count me in! 1 point for a beer, 2 for a cocktail, 3 for a bucket of beer and 6 for a bottle of wine. I wound up with 3 completed cards in the raffle- but didn’t win, alas.
MUTS came to life on the big screen (Movies Under The Stars) and on came one of my favorites-a Bon Jovi concert but alas it was time for muster drill in Club Fusion.
Right on time at 4.30 we sounded the horn and left the quay to head North-to Alaska!!
We enjoyed the sail under the Lion’s Gate Bridge (with 13 ft to spare) and soon it was pedal to the metal on a beautiful 85 degree Vancouver afternoon.
Back on our balcony, watching the wake getting bigger and Vancouver getting smaller our room steward Wee brought champagne. Wee was from Thailand and was a very witty young guy (humor counts for a lot with us as we are not grumpy people) and kept the rooms immaculate all week and worked around our schedule. He took care of our laundry needs and reserved dinner tables in the Savoy dining room, one of 4 Anytime Dining rooms on the ship. He even removed room service dishes if the room service team were not fast enough picking them up.
Our first meal on board since lunch-er, and some snacks on the balcony-oh… and some canapés in Skywalkers an hour before dinner, and as always in Sabatini’s the food and service were fantastic. We enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a sea-bass baked in herbed salt to share, brought whole tableside and carved by our Thai waiter Chai. We listened to some karaoke in Club Fusion later. After that it was a walk on deck and a deep first- night’s sleep on a firm Princess bed.......