Transpacific Cruise

This post was written while we are in Portland but should post while we are crossing the Pacific)

While we are out of internet range, thought you might like to see where we are each day. Below is the scheduled itinerary for our cruise.

I will try to post updates when we are in ports with internet but between Sitka and Otaru don’t expect to hear anything as Celebrity charges an arm and a leg for internet access.

This will be the first time for us crossing the dateline aboard a ship (did it years ago while flying to Australia) so it will be strange to loose a whole day. It seems even Celebrity can’t quite figure it out. Some of their information calls this a 15 night cruise and other places it shows as 16!

I guess it will be even stranger coming back as we are scheduled to land in Seattle 2 hours before we leave Hong Kong!

Look forward to a post on September 19th (which will be the 18th for us) from Otaru.

Advertisements

Sitka

Had a lovely day in Sitka. After a 10 minute shuttle from the pier where Millennium docked (last time here a tender was required) we arrived in “downtown” Sitka.

Our first stop was the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Sitka was at one point the capital of the Russian colony in America. The ceiling of the church is made of sail cloth to memorialize lost fishermen. The inside is filled with beautiful Russian icons.

From there we walked along the waterfront, stopping to watch the fish jumping-differing opinions on why they were. Sea Lion chasing them? the fish trying to catch flies on the water? Whatever the reason, it was entertaining.

From this spot we could also see the nearby volcano. Mike overheard a local relating an April Fool’s day joke from the past. The townspeople were all in on it fooling the coastguard. Apparently fires were lit inside the crater and the coast guard called to come help with saving people from the eruption.

Next and last stop was the National Totem Pole Park. Great film about the native people, the Russians and the current fisherman.

Then it was a walk back to the center of town (about 3 miles today total), shuttle ride and onto the ship for a late (very) lunch.

Vanna Burton is pointing to where we were for the sailin this morning covered in my earlier post.

Off to Japan! Konichewa bitches! LOL

From Sitka

Good Morning! We just docked in Sitka after a beautiful morning sail in. We saw whale plumes while having breakfast and then made our way to the bow of the ship to the heliport which had been opened to passengers for a great viewing spot.

We are currently have a cup of coffee/tea on the promenade while they are preparing for us to go ashore. We don’t have big plans, we were here 16 years ago so will mostly be hoping to see that this little village hasn’t changed much…but we fear that it will have become another cruiseport town full of bad jewelry stores and Senõr Frog’s. Fingers crossed that won’t be the case.

So far we are enjoying the cruise. Despite the ship being full, it doesn’t seem overly crowded and most are generally well behaved.

We had our official Cruise Critic meet & greet yesterday morning with over 200 people in attendance. It had been a very active roll call! Our first informal gathering was at sailaway. It was a lovely afternoon as we went under the Lions gate bridge.

Yesterday while some of the group played card games, 30 or so of us went on a pub crawl/poker run. Good fun and a great way to chat with our new friends. Unfortunately, neither of us had very good poker hands so we didn’t win the $85 pot, nor were our hands bad enough to collect the $60 loser’s winnings. The ship was nice enough to provide us with our own bartender who led us to the various bars and made us a selection of Complimentary! drinks. We hadn’t expected to drink for free but since most had the beverage package I guess we really didn’t! LOL

Off to wander Sitka. I’ll post before we leave if able. If not, next time you hear from me “live” will be from Asia though there should be a couple of preschedule filler posts before then.

Around the ship

We toured around the ship and are pleased with the refurbished. The buffet was uncrowded which given most embarkation days is unusual. They have “stations” with lots of circulation space around them. We normally eat lunch in the main dining room on embarkation to avoid the wandering herds in the buffet so I was concerned that I was not going to like the fact that Celebrity only opens the dining room for lunch for guests in Concierge category staterooms. Thankfully it was not an issue.

That’s Mike’s signature pose pointing out the Canada Place Cruise Terminal sails.

We watched the sea plane base beside the ship which was interesting.

During our self Guided tour we stopped at the coffee bar and I had an espresso and Mike a fancy ice tea and we split the tiny tarts.

We came back and unpacked-lots of storage space! We’re now waiting for the emergency muster drill-known unofficially by some as the mustard drill-I like spicy brown please!

After that we will set sail. If I have cell service I’ll try and post some pictures.

Aboard!

After a nice evening last night with 27 of our fellow cruisers at Happy Hour. The bbq wasn’t really southern but it was tasty.

We aren’t used to getting up at 5:30 in the morning like we had to do to catch our train so I was dead tired-I think we were in bed by 10!

This morning we lazed around our suite until about ten when we walked the five blocks down to the cruise terminal and got the first look at Celebrity Millennium you see at the top of this post. Thr terminal is under the white “sails” you can see in that picture and below.

Vancouver is a beautiful city and has grown quite a bit since we were last here in 2003! I like the mix of new and old architecture. The first picture below is of our hotel, while below that are some shots from our room.

From dropping our bags until we were aboard only took 34 minutes and did not require a wait longer than two minutes anywhere! I like the way Celebrity does check in. If you elect to use their app, you do all the paperwork ahead of time and they issue an Express Pass (either paper or on the app). When you get to the port, they use an iPad to scan your pass, take a picture of your passport and send you on to security, followed by immigration and then onto the ship. The only issue is it is about a mile walk around and around and up and down the terminal building.

After a glass of pink champagne (it was nasty!), one can go to your stateroom where you key Card is waiting. There is a sign on the door saying “Perfection in Progress” requesting you drop any bags and head on to Public areas until 2 pm when the rooms will be ready.

While our upgrade bid to one of the aft facing balcony cabins (Celebrity calls them Family Verandas) wasn’t a winner, we are pleased that I correctly read the deck plan and selected a regularly priced balcony cabin whose balcony is slightly larger than most!

We sailed on her sisters, Infinity and Summit back in the early 2000s. Millennium just had a significant refresh and from what I can tell after a few minutes onboard, it was very well done.

We are now ensconced on the aft shaded deck outside the buffet having our first cocktail with the beautiful view of Vancouver you can see below.

We have a sea day tomorrow and then our first port is Sitka Alaska on Sunday followed by 10 (actually only nine I think due to the international dateline) before we port again In Otaru, Japan on September 18.

I’ve pre-scheduled a couple of posts during our time at sea when we won’t be paying for internet. Hopefully that will keep you entertained while I can’t.

Portland Week 4 and a few days

We have been pretty lazy our last week or so in Portland. We talked about doing a wine drive but haven’t. Instead we have been getting our luggage ready, books loaded onto our iPads, counting pills into envelopes (gosh ain’t old age fun) and otherwise getting ready to head to Asia.

On Sunday we went downtown and walked along the Riverwalk. It was a beautiful day so there was good people and boat watching.

There is a big arts and crafts market held beside the river on weekends. Beautiful flowers and interesting products!

During our walk along the river, we were surprised by the number of geese.

The highlight of the day though was seeing the people powered party barge!

One morning this week, I got up early (well 7:30 which is early for us retired folk) and went to get donuts for us for breakfast. You may have heard of Voodoo donuts before but the folks in Portland say those are for tourist and that Blue Star has the best gourmet donuts ($3.75 each) in town. We tried Apple fritter, bacon maple, buttermilk old fashioned and raspberry rosemary buttermilk. All were tasty but for the price I like the donuts from Queen Donuts in Houston better…and we could have gotten a dozen for what these four cost!

Our stay in Portland has been enjoyable but I don’t think we will consider it for our permanent nest. It’s a little too big and while they have a great transportation system, we would still sorta feel tied to a car.

And we aren’t granola-y enough!

We leave in a few minutes to drive to Federal Way (between Tacoma and Seattle) where we’ll spend the night with our long time friend Andy where our car will be vacationing while we are in Asia.

Tomorrow, he is dropping us at the train station EARLY 😢 for our ride to Vancouver, British Columbia. We spend one night at the Hyatt there courtesy of Mike’s free anniversary night from his Citi card unless a threatened strike happens in which case we will revert to our initial plan to stay at the YWCA hotel. The Y gets great reviews but free wins! LOL

Then on Friday morning we will head to Canada Place to board Celebrity Millennium and leave for Tokyo that afternoon!

Hamilton

Sorry for the long delay in posting. I have intended to do a single combined post covering each of the places we stayed in Canada but after we left the last one we have pretty much been traveling each day and there I never got around to it. And now it’s too much to do in one sitting so will do short separate posts instead.

As you may recall we had initially planned on spending a month or more in Chicago to visit family and friends but due to high airbnb taxes imposed by the City we ended up spending just over a month in Canada staying beside Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

After leaving Lockport (May 31) we headed north through the Canadian border to Hamilton. The Canadian border agent gave us s funny look when I responded to his question of where we were staying with my answer of Hamilton, Leamington and Sarnia. None of these are known as vacation hotspots!But they were affordable and we enjoyed our time in all three.

Our Airbnb ( https://abnb.me/JadSvzNVFY) in Hamilton was the upstairs unit of a house across the street from the beach shown above. Unfortunately when on the beach if one looked left and right all you saw were the lovely power lines. But we did appreciate the nicely paved walkway that ran the entire length of the beach (5 miles?).

Hamilton is an industrial city about an hour south of Toronto and has it’s own harbor off of Lake Ontario. The spit of land where we were staying is directly on the lake and apparently used to have a very nice beach.

However, climate change and rising sea levels have also caused the lake levels to rise and resulted in the narrowing of the beach. Flooded basements are also an issue around the lakes and directly across from our apartment there was a sump pump running 24/7 to remove water from the underground storm water system. Unfortunately we experienced these high lake levels for the remainder of our time in Canada.

After the weeks of eating out it was great to have a kitchen and be able to cook again. We found a great grocery store nearby that had an Incredible selection of meats, cheeses and desserts. It also appeared to have a eastern European clientele so we were able to purchase pierogies and other unusual foods.

One of the benefits of traveling is meeting people and later being able to stay in touch. In 2010 we cruised on the Norwegian Sun and met Ilene and Ump. Since then Ump and I have exchanged cruise related emails occasionally. When we were headed to Hamilton I emailed and we decided a lunch meeting was in order. They live just north of Toronto and so we met halfway (actually they drove further than we did) for a great visit. It was fun to catch up and hear about each other’s travels and future plans.

While we spent most days at or near the Airbnb we did go into Hamilton proper one afternoon to meet three of the people who will be on our cruise to Japan later in September for an afternoon cocktail. This was fun and should make the 16 days on the transpacific cruise more enjoyable.

Hamilton’s downtown has some pretty parts as well as some sections that could do with a fluff. But we were very impressed with some of the historic buildings particularly the electric company.

Before we left Hamilton after our week at the beach we had a nice lunch on a sunny day at the Greek restaurant located directly on the beach.

On our way out of town we stopped at the farmers market in downtown Hamilton. In addition to beautiful fruits and vegetables there are butchers and flower vendors and of course baristas. We however elected to have Sam make what the sign described as the best muffuletta in town for us to have as a picnic later. It was tasty but not as good as those in New Orleans. We stopped at one of the many small waterfalls outside of Hamilton for our picnic.

After a couple of hours driving through fields along the north side of Lakes Ontario and Erie we arrived at our next home-over a seafood restaurant!