This morning our friends Bob Cox and Eugene Wang picked us up at our hotel and walked us a few blocks back to their nearby apartment for lunch. They have a spacious two-bedroom apartment just a few doors from Stanley Park and a large terrace overlooking the city and park. We enjoyed catching up with them over Bob’s fresh crab and bacon quiche and a fresh fruit salad. With good friends, even though years have gone by since we last saw them, we easily picked up where we last left off with ease.
About 1:00pm Eugene and Bob drove us to the cruise ship terminal at Canada Place to board the Nieuw Amsterdam. The check-in process was quick and efficient although the route around the building to the different check-in points for Covid test results, passports, photos, etc. was complex.
Since it is a celebration for our 30th anniversary, I thought that we should have an upgraded cabin, so I got us a cabin with a balcony on deck 8 rather than our original cabin on deck 1. After many years of traveling on Holland America, the ships and cabins all look familiar. We understood that the ship was only about 50% full so that explains why there were not many people at embarkation.
Due to Covid the long-standing procedure of a life boat drill has been altered dramatically. You are now required to watch a video in your cabin about the life boat procedures along with paying a visit to your muster station to check-in prior to sailing.
At 4:00pm we sailed from Vancouver harbor, gliding under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and entered the scenic waters of the Inside Passage. They had a very subdued sail away party on the pool deck. No live music, no snacks and just drinks to purchase. What has the world come to! Although mask wearing is recommended onboard, maybe 35% of the passengers opt to wear masks onboard.
There was an LGBTQ+ gathering in the Tamarind Bar where we met a small group of fellow passengers. Our next stop was dinner in the main dining room. Given the fact that the ship was only half full, the dining room was quite busy. The menus and service appear to have survived the pandemic well.
After dinner there was a unique presentation about Alaska given by the ship’s cruise director, Nick, from Belgium. Nick narrated a story about the history of Holland America in Alaska interspersed with photos and videos projected onto two large movie screens onstage. It gave you a good starting point for the history and culture of Alaska.
After the show we visited the Billboard 100 lounge where two excellent young pianists, George and Lena, sang current Billboard top 100 songs and those from past years. They both played specially arranged piano accompaniments and had great voices.