Friday, May 31, 2013

Our great adventure, part 1

Location, Lynden, WA

This is an account of our first 5 days of “The Great Adventure”.

Our goal was to travel by cruise ship from Los Angeles to Vancouver and return home by Amtrak while visiting family and friends along the way.

We traveled to San Pedro Harbor on the Airbus which drops people off at Los Angeles Airport and on ship days also at San Pedro Harbor.

Our embarkation aboard Coral Princess went as usual with very little delay and we were aboard ship by 2:30. After dropping our bags in our cabin we proceeded to Horizon Court for a quick bite before general muster stations.

After muster we went to the top deck to watch the ship leave the dock. In this we were slightly delayed as the ship had had problems with a thruster at its last port and steamed early to Los Angeles so divers could take a look at the problem. We were never informed of this but fellow passengers who remained aboard the ship told us of this.

Our departure from Los Angeles proceeded normally and we sailed up the coast and out through the Channel Islands with our track being about 50 miles offshore.

Bow of the ship as we leave Los Angeles
 Entrance to Los Angeles harbor.
 We did a lot of this.
 Stormy seas.
 Decks are closed.

For this short cruise we had elected to book an inside cabin. Both because of the lesser fee and also to see if we could do this for longer cruises.  We have decided that for most cruises we would rather have a balcony because of the extra space and also we use the balcony while in port. With no stops on this trip, a balcony was not necessary.

The weather became a factor for the second and third day of the cruise as the wind was out of the northwest which made being outside very uncomfortable. In fact, by the third day, all outside activity was halted and no one was allowed on deck. We had winds gusting to 70 knots with small white caps but not a very large sea running. Movement around the ship was erratic as the ship moved with the seas and wind.

Upon entering the Straits of Juan de Fuca the seas subsided and we proceeded overnight to Vancouver, arriving at 7 AM on the 22nd.

We only had carry on bags so were some of the first people off the ship about 7:40. We turned in our declaration cards and never went through immigration. We got in a taxi line and were driven to our hotel. We were checked in and in our room by 8:15 AM.

We stayed at the Georgian Court Hotel across from BC place where the Winter Olympics were held. The Georgian Court is listed as one of the Small Hotels of the World and was perfect. We had a great room with plenty of amenities. We would love to stay here again.

 BC Place at night.

We had seen an ad for the Big Bus tours which is a hop on-hop off bus which travels around Vancouver. The hotel sold us tickets for 2 days and we immediately walked up the block to a pickup site and hopped on the first bus of the day.

We rode the bus to Stanley Park where we transferred to a local sight seeing bus for a tour of the park. Later we got back on the city tour bus and rode past our stop to Gas Town where we had lunch.

 Totem poles in Stanley Park.
Vancouver skyline.
English Bay.
 Clyda at Prospect point in Stanley Park.

After lunch we walked all the way to Canada Place where the cruise ships dock and to the convention center next door where we checked out the float plane base.

Steam powered clock in Gastown.

Float plane base in Vancouver.
 Coral Princess docked at Canada Place.

 Olympic winter games flame.

By now we were ready to call it a day so hopped back on the bus and got off as close to our hotel as we could and walked several blocks downhill to it.

We had dinner at the restaurant in the hotel and called it a day.

On Thursday we decided to again take the Big Bus and get off at Granville Island for a day of touring/shopping. Granville Island is sort of and island but is reachable by car and boat. We took a small harbor boat to the island.

Harbor boat to Granville Island.

Entrance to Granville Island.

There is a Public Market on the island which has everything. It was really fun to wander the isles checking out all the food and produce. Eventually we bought cheese and bread for our lunch. We also checked out the artistic area of the island. We later caught the bus and got off at our hotel stop.

That evening we wandered around the streets near the hotel checking out all the eating places. There certainly are plenty of places to eat.

Tomorrow we leave for Victoria, BC