Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alaska Cruise - Day 2

Saturday August 9, 2008

We tried so hard last night to stay up for the Opening Ceremonies, but we just couldn’t make it. It felt like well after midnight for us having our body clocks still set to Eastern Time. The advantage is that in the morning we are up before most and we can make it feel like we have a nice long day.

This morning we debated what to do for breakfast since it wasn’t included with the hotel stay. We looked at the hotel’s breakfast prices, but with NOTHING under $10 we decided to check-out some of the local establishments along International Boulevard. We saw a sports bar (not really a breakfast place), an IHOP and a Denny’s. We opted for the latter since it was a little closer. When we left the hotel we grabbed some flyers we could look at while enjoying breakfast since after the cruise we have a whole day in Seattle. We decided that we will go see the Space Needle (you kind of have to), Pikes Place Market and the Seattle Underground Tour (thanks Tony for the suggestion!). We’ll stop by the library as well as it was designed by [Dutch architect name]. But that’s all for later.

With our bellies full we went back to the Hotel and while walking back we found a tree with some those little nature’s Velcro-balls (those balls were actually the start of Velcro) but we never saw them in anything other than brushes, Can someone put the name of them in the comments? We don’t have a lot of Internet available for use. Well, not at a reasonable price at least ($0.40 to $0.75 p/m) so we’ll just write our stories on the Puter and upload them on a shore day or otherwise when we get back to Seattle next Saturday.

Back at the hotel we took a shower and packed-up our belongings to,.. go to the ship!! Yes, the embarkation day is finally here. While checking out the front desk called us a cab to Terminal / Pier 30. While waiting we got to talk to an (East-) Indian couple and both agreed that Delta Airlines was NOT on both of our favorites list. Funny… The driver showed up in about 10 minutes and kindly helped us with the luggage. He was a very talkative Eastern European transplant who came to the States 25 years ago with $25 and makes a good living owning a limo-service. We talked about all sorts of things and before we know it we were at the terminal. It was about 11.15am. That was pretty much the time we wanted with the ships (pre-) boarding starting at 11.30am. We got our luggage checked and got issued our Stateroom (1078). The next stop was checking us in at the International Desk, which funny enough had the smallest wait, precisely 0 people ahead of us… Maybe this country does like its immigrants… Well, maybe not always but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

At precisely 11.30am all was done so we walked straight onto the ship, the MS Oosterdam. It’s one of the big ships (lower 2000 passengers), but not quite the mega ships (3000+ passengers) so a nice balance of size, class and comfortness. Since the rooms weren’t ready yet we had the opportunity to use the Vista lounge restaurant. We got a spot with a view and had a nice (free) lunch. Love the cruises! During lunch there was an announcement made that a National Parks Ranger would talk about some of the wildlife and National Parks we would visit. The whole talk was about the Klondike Gold Rush and comparing that our slightly more luxurious accommodations towards the same region. Interestingly enough we don’t even go as far north as Skagway (we turn around at the Hubbard Glacier) but it was a fun history lesson and with me already been to the Klondike (in 2003) it also a nice remembrance for me thinking back on that memorable trip.

One other good thing was that after the talk our rooms were ready so we made our way to the lowest deck (yup, still Dutch, getting one of the cheapest ocean view cabins) to find our ‘quarters’. It is actually in the middle of the ship. Nice and stable and quiet. Pretty much no engine noise, nice! With the earplugs not needed we dropped off some of our carry-on luggage and went about exploring the ship. Our checked luggage would arrive a little later. Jen actually took the lead on the tour of the ship and deck by deck we checked out the nooks and crannies of the ship, reading rooms, hang-outs, the library, the restaurants, the observation desk and the obligatory Lido deck with the pools and sports accommodations.

All that walking made Niels hungry again and after the Vista lounge we sampled the Lido decks Buffet restaurant. While enjoying a game of Gin 13 and my spaghetti with pesto sauce the captain announced the mandatory lifeboat drill. We finished our meal, tabled our game of Gin 13 and went back to our stateroom to get our life jackets and to check to which assembly station we were to report.

We got there nicely in time and with our life jackets on the proper way. We met our neighbors from room 1080, a nice Canadian couple now living in Phoenix, AZ. While the drill was going on (well, mostly just standing on deck doing just about nothing) we got talking to the couple since we noticed she had some difficulty walking. Turns out she has some neurological issue affecting the use of her legs. She can’t walk long distances and multiple tests since May haven’t yet resulted in a diagnosis. But, they went to Belgium a little while ago so we talked a bit about that and after showing them the library we went our separate ways. We went up to see the ship push off and decided to enjoy the Seattle scenery as it will be the last city views for a while.

In the meantime our luggage arrived at our room and we moved everything from the suitcases into the closets. There is an amazing amount of closet space for the size of the room and in about 30 minutes we turn the stateroom into our room for this week. Of course Niels got hungry again so we went back up to the Lido deck and found a nice stop overlooking the west side of Puget sound looking at the Olympic mountain range. We thought that to be fitting with the 2008 Olympics going on in Beijing at the moment.

With our body clocks still on Eastern Time (we didn’t really work hard at adjusting) we watched a movie on the TV (with DVD!) while looking out the window from time to time not miss where we are. We said our prayers thanking God for His creation as we (okay, Niels is the naturalist, Jen likes the comfortable bed) marveled at the mountains on the other side of the sound. Talking about sound… the sound I’m hearing now is Jen snoring cutely in that comfortable bed. Night, night!

No comments: