Today we were out at 7:15 AM to get to the train station. As has been the case every time we’ve ridden the train, it was very easy to check in and get settled. We spent the next almost 4 hours riding up the coast to Vancouver. It is a beautiful ride with coastal views almost all the way there. The only negative for us was that we ended up in facing seats, which made it a little hard to stretch out the knee. We managed fine, though.
From the station in Vancouver a short cab ride took us to our destination, the Celebrity Solstice. There were several layers to the embarkation process including getting baggage tags, checking in, clearing security, and clearing customs. At the last three you really felt like cattle being herded. We both think the last cruise experience on Silver Seas may have ruined us for other cruise lines. (That was a total of 300ish guests on the ship and no herding; this ship has 2,500ish guests.) Once aboard, we headed to the cabin to drop off some things. The cabin was really nice. It had a descent-sized balcony with two chairs and a table, a king bed just inside the sliding door, and a sitting area with a couch, coffee table, television, and dressing table. The bathroom had good storage and a shower that was slightly larger than Penelope with a terrific shower head. All-in-all, not bad, although the fact that the mini-bar cost a fortune even if you had a premium drink package was irksome. We headed down for lunch, which was another cattle experience. The food was good, though. The buffet had many different types of food and something for everyone. We explored a little after lunch before going back to the cabin to
unpack. One of the coolest areas we found was a large grass lawn with covered cabanas, a big screen television, and a bar nearby. Later we had dinner in the main dining room. Right out of the gate, MW got the straight-skinny on what we could eat. Basically, everything. Two appetizers…sure! Two entrees…of course! Two desserts…why not order three??? The food was very good, and I think the carte blanche system may be very dangerous. It is assigned seating, and we sat next to a lovely couple from outside of Oakland, California. Both are retired…Norm was a fireman, and Vicki owned hair salons. They have been married for 30 years, and were cruising all the way to Australia (35 days total)! That sounds amazing, although I wonder how I would do for that long confined to a ship. She said the second half has a lot more sea days than the portion we are on. Tired from the long day, we spent our first night onboard relaxing with a little TV in the cabin.
More pics from today:
Today MW was up and out to find a quiet spot to read. I wallowed a bit and watched the ocean. We had not cleared the inlet yet, so you could still see land in the gray of the morning. It was very beautiful despite the weather. I went to breakfast, then found MW. We wandered around the shops and explored more of the ship. Later I picked up my computer and found a quiet place to do a little work. At lunch in the cafe, we met a nice couple (Bill and Lori) from outside of Toronto. He reminded me of what I picture Steve McQueen looking like had he lived to be an older guy, and I didn’t notice it at first, but MW pointed out that she looks like my old tennis partner Sharon Magill. They were quite entertaining, and Bill and MW
shared a lot of similarities. After lunch we walked around a little bit, then took a nap….ahhh, sea life. The water has been rough today, and for the first time ever on a ship, I had to take Bonine. It was surprising since I didn’t even get sick during the Great North Sea waves (video from that trip below). I was grateful that the store was prepared for this eventuality and had some in stock! While I was feeling a bit sickly, I watched “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, which was about Fred Rogers. (He was a pretty amazing fellow in the way the he related to kids and never forgot what it was like to be a scared child.) Finally feeling a little better, we got ready for dinner. It was dress-up night, but we were a little confused about the schedule and ended up going as we were. While there were some folks dressed very nicely, turned out that “as we were” was nicer than what most folks were wearing. Dinner was good, and we checked out the Sky Bar. There we met one of the bartenders (Sonja) who was very personable and was excited about a crew party later. She was from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and was lots of fun. Next we headed to the theater for the musical. (We figured out that the theater holds a group of seats for the suite holders, but opens them up just as the show is starting. Great seats!) The show was good, with lots of singing and dancing. After that, we were ready to turn in.
No more land for a while. MW is very excited about the open sea crossing, but I’m already feeling a little confined. I think my perfect cruise alternates days at sea with port days one for one. His perfect cruise is three or four sea days for one port day. That’s it! I guess we are incompatible after 25 years! LOL We have now crossed into another time zone gaining an hour, and I actually slept very well for the first time in almost a week! I tracked MW down, and we had breakfast at the buffet. After we walked around the ship a bit, I went back to the cabin to do a little work. When I look out the window, all I see is ocean. However, MW did see a 5-gallon bucket and some other trash floating around today. Isn’t it heart warming to know that litter can still be seen hundreds of miles out in the pacific???? Later it was lunch at the pool bar, (hamburgers and hotdogs), and dessert from the buffet. MW napped a little in the afternoon, then we went to the theater to watch “Ready Player One”, which Booger Butt and RP had both recommended enthusiastically. It was not quite what I expected, but a good story nonetheless. Booger Butt loves video games, so I can definitely see why he liked it so much. Later we had dinner in the dining room, then went to the Sky Bar to find out how Sonja’s party went. She said she had about 2 hours sleep and was worn out, but it was totally worth it. The life of these ship workers is very interesting. They leave home for 6 to 8 months at a time. Many have families, which makes it hard. They keep in touch via phone and email, although they do not have wifi on the ship (at least on Celebrity). When in port, you will see a lot of them getting off late in the evening to go into town to sit in a wifi hotspot and reach out to their families. (I’m sure there is some drinking, too. LOL) Sonja said that she could make much more on the cruise than she could at home, so it was a perfect fit for her…seeing the world and being paid to do it. After visiting for a while there, we went down to the theater to see the comedy show, then popped back up to the Sky Bar for 70’s music and the big ABBA sing-a-long. That was a lot of fun, and we were both amazed at how many folks of all ages were into the music. We drank a lot more than typical and stayed up waaayyyy past our bedtime, rolling in at (gasp) 11PM!
Understandably after our WILD night, we were both slow getting up this morning. (How is it that I have more than one drink and have a hangover, but MW drinks whatever he wants and is fine? That is just a little unfair.) Our first stop was breakfast. You just can’t go without some greasy food the morning after drinking too much! There was a big sale at the shops this morning, so we headed that way after fueling up. However, everyone on the ship apparently had the same idea (or they were just all getting bored at this point), so we headed back to the room. I worked for a while, listening to the ocean and wind through the open balcony door, while MW relaxed. For lunch we needed a vegetable overload, so salad was necessary. I returned to the cabin to finish the work and enjoy the peace and quiet, while MW took his book to find a quiet nook, coming back to relax a little before dinner. He was really enjoying the days at sea. I had to be careful with the knee since all of the walking in Edmonds, but it was getting better. Dinner was in the main dining room, and I know this will shock you, but we turned in early, watching a movie before calling it a night. PS: I made a video this morning to show what it’s like on the balcony. You can’t hear me very well over the sound of the water.
We have now gained another hour, so we are 5 hours earlier than home. Despite the extra hour of sleep, I was still lazy. MW was up and out very early, but I wallowed until 7:30 AM or so. I reached my limit on looking for him in the morning! Today I was walking the ship looking for him in the typical places, while he was back at the room looking for me! New plan…now he needs to come back to the room and get me. Seriously, this ship is the size of a small town! Just as I was about to give up and eat breakfast without him, I found him on the deck where I had searched for him before. We went to the buffet for breakfast followed by a trivia game in the Sky Bar. (We are definitely NOT good at general trivia.) We went back to the cabin for a little bit, and I had a chance to catch up with Mom and do a little reading. Lunch was back at the buffet (I’m starting to feel like a trough animal!), after which we went up to see a glass-blowing demonstration on the pool deck and checked out the gym. (I was planning to ride a recumbent bike for a little bit to see if it would help my leg, but they wouldn’t let me with hiking sandals on. Ugh!) We went back to the cabin where MW read and I worked a little. Dinner was “A Taste of Alaska” in the buffet dining room, followed by a show in the theater – Travis Turpin, who sang, played all kinds of instruments, and did impressions like Johnny Cash, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. He was pretty good. Afterwards we checked with the concierge about a rental car in Hilo, and turned in.
Today we got a really late start. I woke earlier than MW for a change and did some work, while he stayed in bed MUCH longer than usual. He is clearly starting to get a head cold, and I noticed some issues of my own. When we finally got ourselves together, we went to the buffet followed by a visit to the ship’s doctor. Twice on cruises I have had to see the doctor (different issues), and both time I walk in expecting to see Dr. Bricker. Alas, he is never there. The doctors have both been very nice, but none of that charisma. I will warn you, though, you need a gold bar to pay them. The first visit on a previous cruise was a 10 minute talk with the doctor and a prescription for Tamiflu = $400. This one was a 10 minute talk with a doctor and an antibiotic = $260. Conclusion: Don’t get sick on a cruise ship! The appointment didn’t take very long, though, thankfully. I found MW in the library, then went back to the cabin. (We were definitely both feeling a little poorly.) One neat thing I have noticed from the balcony is storms on the open sea. You can see them brewing in the distance, then see the rain begin. Once or twice it has moved quite close to the ship before dissipating just as quickly as it began. I love weather, and this is the best storm watching I’ve seen. (I’m still ready to be done with water, though!) After a long nap, we went to lunch in the main dining room where we met a great couple who live in Australia AND New Zealand. They have both a travel trailer and a
motorhome (one in Australia and one in New Zealand) so we had lots to talk about. I definitely would like to RV in Australia someday. Next we headed to the Sky Bar, where I worked for a little bit while we waited for today’s trivia. First it was music, then general information. We found out that we pretty much suck at both. LOL It was fun, though. While we were looking out the window there, MW saw a white bird. Finally, signs of land!! Then he saw what he thought was a flock of birds close to the water far below, but it turned out to be flying fish. I had no idea that they flew so far! Too cool. The ocean has consistently been deep blue since we left the mainland, but we saw very large, long trails of something green. Algae? Fish? Trash? We couldn’t figure it out. Once trivia was over, we went back to our cabin to get ready for the formal dinner. Why can’t anyone make formal clothes that aren’t hot??? I really like to dress up, but inevitably feel like I’m melting. Both still a little under the weather, we went back to the cabin to relax right after dinner and turned in early.
More pics from today: