Alaska Cruise – All Aboard!

Alaska Cruise – All Aboard!

Our Sweet Suite

This was our first time cruising out of Vancouver. We’ve cruised INTO Vancouver before – in 2002, the first time we saw the city (and fell in love with it instantly). Vancouver is a high-volume cruise port, with thousands of people leaving for Alaska every day of the week. The port is located downtown, which made it convenient for us to drop off the luggage, then drive the car home and walk back. There were 1000+ pax waiting for security and US customs – but only took about 40 minutes for both. Kathy’s passport got a “pregnant pause” from the Customs guy; like he was waiting for some expression of nervousness on her part or mine.

Having a suite comes with a variety of perqs, one of which was accelerated check-in. While 100 people waited in line for 5 or 6 check-in agents, we were whisked into a special line – no wait at all. The perqs continued thru the week.

Our room was huge by cruise cabin standards, with a wrap-around balcony and dual-sink “head” with both a shower and Jacuzzi tub. There’s more closet space than our stuff requires (which given the technology we travel with, says something) and the usual fawning Cabin Attendants – two of them, both from Indonesia. One of the suite (sweet?) perqs is that we get access to a private lounge, with a welcome champagne and dawn-to-dusk food – as if we needed more food.

So we got on board by about 1:10 in the afternoon, found the aforementioned lounge and had a glass of the aforementioned champagne. Then we headed off to lunch on the “Lido” deck. It’s the typical smorgasbord of cuisines; we settled on the Asian restaurant. I had simple seafood curry on white rice; kathy went for something with chicken it wasn’t brilliant, but it wasn’t unpleasant. And that sort of summed up the food for the entire trip.

We toured all the decks, checking out the various restaurants, bars, casino… the usual stuff on cruise ships. The Zuiderdam is modern and well appointed; neither drab nor tacky. I think they’ve struck a nice balance for their market.

Exhausted from the seeming miles of walking and hundreds of stairs, we settled onto our immense balcony at 5pm, as the ship blew its horn and sailed sedately out of Coal Harbor, under Lion’s Gate Bridge, and into the Inside Passage. W e took innumerable shots of Vancouver, North Vancouver and the north coast (and a few “selfies”), while quaffing wine we’d brought on board, and pinching in disbelief at ending up in such a great cabin.

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Ah, the social obligations of being in a suite: we were invited to a meeting with the Captain, Hotel Manager and host of other staff, along with, yes, more drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The staff were actually quite interesting to chat with – the cruise director was from Zimbabwe, which we’ve visited. The Food & Beverage manager’s previous job was running F&B for the world’s largest private yacht, owned by Paul Allen. Fellow suite passengers, not quite as interesting

We’d pre-booked the premium ($25/pax) “Pinnacle” restaurant for dinner. Caesar salad/surf & turf (fillet mignon and lobster tail) for Kathy, a raw seafood medley and porterhouse for me. All well-executed but not brilliant. Kathy managed to score us a free carafe of wine with dinner, officially just for new reservations that night but she charmed it out of ‘em.

We weren’t the last couple out of the restaurant – there was one other guy but we left late enough (and had had enough to drink in the course of the day) to pretty much end our Saturday adventure.

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