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.

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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!

Booked!

Our original thought had been to book Celebrity Millennium’s transpacific cruise from Vancouver to Tokyo (15 or 16 days depending on how you count the dateline day), stay in Japan for eight days or so, fly to Hawaii and stay there a few days and then board Celebrity Eclipse and cruise back (11 days) to Vancouver. We had been waiting to book the outbound cruise until after final payment for those who had already booked in hopes that we might catch an even better deal than what was already been offered. We didn’t expect to book the return cruise until that ship’s final payment date which is next month.

After lots ( I mean lots!) of discussion and research and phone calls and emails and looking at our finances and other nashing of teeth, we booked earlier today the major portions of our Asia adventure.

But of course, something always comes along to mess with one’s plans! On Saturday, Mike got a promo email from Viking offering a good price (at least for for Viking) an upgrade and “free” airfare on their 14 night Beijing to Hong Kong cruise. That is when the nashing of teeth really started! LOL

While it wasn’t in our financial plan, after doing a major spreadsheet, we came to realize that while it was a little bit more money out of pocket than the Hawaii/cruise back plan that due to the extended length that it really wasn’t that much more expensive on a per day basis than what we were already doing.

How is that for rationalization?

We also decided that seeing China from the relative comfort of a cruise ship (especially a Viking one!) as well as the number of overnights that Viking does would be a good introduction to this vast country which frankly we are somewhat concerned we may find overwhelming.

So we bit the bullet this morning and are in the process of booking these two cruises, as well as figuring out the itinerary for the time between the two cruises. Right now we are looking at flying from wherever we end up in Japan to X’ian to see the terra cotta warriors on our way to Beijing where we have booked (at a really good price we believe) Viking’s two day precruise “extension” (seems like it ought to be called something else to me). Of course we are concerned about riding in the back of the bus from Hong Kong back to Seattle to pick up our car and continue our road trip…but hopefully we will be able to at least buy up to some extra legroom seats….fingers crossed!

I am still working on our plans after July 4th when we leave Illinois headed to Montana, Calgary and Vancouver, but now we are also starting to plan the Asia portion. Hope you will enjoy following along as we do so!

Oh yeah, I know, I know…I promise to post regarding our fun times after Columbus through our stay here in Canada…soon, no really…soon! LOL