Vancouver, Canada ~ Disembarking
On a beautiful sunny morning, the Captain brought Seabourn Odyssey alongside Canada Place in Vancouver at 7am. Long before the ship is cleared and guests are allowed to disembark, the activity begins. A massive fuel barge is brought alongside to refuel (bunker) the ship, and the quayside is lined with provisions which need to be loaded. The outside dining area behind the Colonade on Deck 8 is popular for breakfast. Seaplanes from Harbour Air are regularly landing and taking off not far from our ship, with the beautiful, leafy scenes of Stanley Park beyond.
As this Seabourn voyage draws to a close, there is so much to ponder and be grateful for. The Last Frontier – Alaska is a bucket-list item for so many. The 49th state seemingly never disappoints. The deep fjords with hundreds of waterfalls, the perpetual green temperate rain-forests, the mountain tops covered in snow, the glaciers, the grandeur, the wildlife and the silence. At times of the year some places experience a 14 foot (4,5 meter) tidal change, requiring careful planning in terms of activities, and passage with the ship. An 8 knot current during a tidal change can make steering very difficult if the ship travels at 16 knots. The Seymour Narrows in British Columbia require careful timing.
Our baggage was placed outside our rooms last evening, to be off-loaded from the ship. In groups we began to disembark, somewhat anti-climatic after the incredible experience we have shared together. Canada Place, the cruise ship terminal in Vancouver, is cavernous, easily dealing with 3 or 4 cruise ships passengers simultaneously. Many enjoying the fast free WiFi within the terminal building, before locating our luggage, performing the usual Customs/Immigration protocols, and proceeding with our onward journeys. A magnificent time having been had onboard Seabourn Odyssey. As Cruise Director Jan Stearman reminded us, Travel is the only thing you buy that leaves you richer.. For me this is the end of Voyage 6, of 12, so my halfway point on this Alaskan season.
Vancouver, Canada ~ Embarking
It was with great excitement that we arrived today at Canada Place, Vancouver to board Seabourn Odyssey. Vancouver’s leafy streets enjoying intermittent rain, as we made our way through this vast terminal towards Seabourn Odyssey. Seabourn is a luxury small ship cruise company who offer an exclusive Ventures program in Alaska. The Ventures program enables guests to kayak, along with Zodiac and Catamaran tours in various places. This of course provides a far more intimate experience with this country, her scenery and her wildlife. The Ventures Team also provide Seabourn Conversations (edutainment lectures), relevant to Alaska to enhance our experience and understanding. I do lectures about the building of the Alaska/Canada Highway, the Iditarod Sled dog Race, the Allure of the North, and of course my passion : Shackleton, the whisky, discovery of Endurance, etc.
Interesting that Lord Carnarvon, Secretary of State for Colonies in the British government, was a great confederationist and successfully confederated Canada in 1867. Carnarvon also funded the expedition to Egypt which found Tutankhamen’s tomb. In the same year, Seward bought Russian America (Alaska) from Russia for $7,2 million on behalf of the USA. This equates to 2 cents/acre and was derisively termed “Seward’s Folly”! His detractors quickly changed their tunes when gold, oil and gas were found. Notwithstanding Soft Gold (Sea Otter pelts), and numerous other creatures slaughtered for their skins. Seward was a Presidential hopeful, but beaten by a nobody lawyer Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was assassinated at the theatre by Booth in 1865. One of Booth’s allies attacked Seward, leaving him with a badly scarred face from a Bowie Knife! Scarface Seward negotiated the Alaskan deal with much coercion, wining and dining.
One of our Team members tested positive for Covid upon arrival in Ketchikan. Poor fellow was immediately placed in isolation. The WiFi gremlins conspired against him, so I was in touch with his wife and family back home until he finally got connected after 4 days in limbo. I lent Luke my binoculars to at least be able to observe the world outside his porthole window, secured reading books for him, and delivered some treats. Hoping that were I in similar circumstances, someone would do likewise for me.
It is wonderful to see many families boarding, with children. Clearly a generally younger demographic on this cruise, with commensurate excitement levels. Hall of Famer Basketball player David Robinson is amongst the guests, at 2.14 meters in height! At 4.30pm Seabourn Odyssey released her lines and moved out of downtown Vancouver. A fairly strong current running against us as we begin to make our way north. The delightful Bulgarian Captain has gone home on shoretime, and is replaced by a Dutchman based in the USA. I guess anyone coming from a land largely below sea level should be good at sea?
Seabourn Odyssey is a magnificent vessel, with beautifully appointed suites for 430 guests, and the choice of 4 dining areas. Covid protocols require the Ventures Team to dine outdoors, and not to eat with guests. Perversely, due to a visa glitch, I often host dinners with guests in the main Restaurant on deck 4. Luncheon spread in the Colonade sets the bar very high regarding food on this voyage. The itinerary includes the old Russian capital of Sitka, the largest tidewater glacier in North America – Hubbard, and the beautiful Inian Islands. Ketchikan (Salmon Capital), Haines and Juneau complete a very exciting prospect for all of us onboard. The salmon are beginning to make their way back to the rivers and streams in which they hatched. Of course, the bears arrive to enjoy this piscatorial bounty.
Onboard we love the Black Cod, Sea Bass and Salmon, so I don’t blame them.
Vancouver, Canada ~ Disembarking