Saturday, September 30, 2017

Report # 7 Victoria, British Columbia September 29, 2017 Friday Partly cloudy & 59 degrees Part #1 Of 2 48 Pictures

The day began rather cloudy and foggy as we sailed in a southerly direction towards our port of call for today – Victoria.  Located on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, the city overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Begun as a trading post for Hudson's Bay Co., today Victoria is the provincial capital for British Columbia.  There is much to see in this colonial city, but since we will be arriving around 6pm, we doubt we will get too far in our exploring.  There were a few tours offered here, but none of them went to the 55 acre Butchart Gardens, several miles out of town. 


Since today was our final chance to spend some of our shipboard credit, we made a sweep through the shops after breakfast.  The shop keepers were handing out coupons for a chance to win some money to spend in the shops.  It sure filled the store area up.  But that's the idea with the raffle.  Knowing we will probably be overweight with our three suitcases, we purchased a nice roll-on that should take the excess weight.  Much of their usual stock for Alaska was on sale up 75% off.  Some of it was regular price, which is over-priced.  The guest relations manager had promised that our HAL shipboard credit would roll over to the next 17 day leg.  We hope she is correct.  It is difficult to spend all of it, since we keep getting deals in the shops.  We'll have to start looking at the better jewelry and watches instead.  They don't weigh as much, right?


At 11:45am, we had an invitation to attend a small gathering of Mariners in the BB King Blues Club on deck 2.  We met the Captain, Hotel Director, possibly the Cruise Director, and one other officer at the reception line.  The only ones we knew were the assistant dining room head waiters.  Taking a comfortable seat, we were served canapies and beverages of our choice.  Guess there were about 50 people invited to this medal ceremony.  Captain Timmers handed out a few medals from bronze, to silver, and a couple of platinum ones.  He joked that they could be worn at the next Olympics or used a doorstop.  He does have a wicked sense of humor.


At the end, we were called up to have our photo taken with the Captain and Hotel Director, after being introduced to the group. It happened that we were the only President's Club members onboard this leg of the trip.  Two 8 x 10 photos ended up being delivered to our room two hours later, complimentary.


The intimate party ended right after noon, when they led all of us to the dining room on deck three.  We would have asked for a table for two, but it was obvious that by leaving this venue later, all of those tables were taken.  Several tables towards the back had been reserved for our group, so we joined three other couples that had been at the ceremony.  As always, we all had flutes of champagne for the farewell toast by the Captain.  None of these tables were hosted by officers or staff, like they used to be in the not-too-distant past. 


The meal was simple and began with appetizers of king crab, smoked trout, and salmon bites.  Or, you could have their beer and cheddar chowder.  Entrees included beef pot roast, salmon, or an asparagus red rice cake.  Dessert was the best…..a meringue and berry tart, the fruit possibly being lingonberries.


The conversation flowed, and we were on our way out by 1pm.   The only thing missing were the collectible HAL tiles.  They are normally handed out at the door, but not today.  Has this tradition ended too?  We shall inquire later.


It was a good thing we took the time to relax in our room for a while, since the sun actually appeared, and it was almost hot.  What a welcome sight.  And our veranda happened to be on the "right" side to catch the rays.  Also a good time to continue with downloads and emails as the internet time we now have will expire tomorrow.  While that was happening, we began the "Game of Thrones" series, a program that has gotten so much praise, but we have never seen before.  Sure got our attention in the first couple of episodes. 


Before we arrived to Victoria, we needed to get some business done at the front desk.  Holy cow, there was a constant line of folks settling accounts and getting debark tags and whatever.  Got the feeling that some of the staff are new, because it took a long time to get information, even with simple questions.  We did have some refunded port charges that could be cashed out without paying the 3% fee, so we did that. 


Around 5pm, the pilot boat pulled alongside and dropped off the pilot.  The Eurodam was docked shortly after 6pm.  A few passengers were summoned to the Hudson Room, something to do with customs and immigrations we believe.  The entire ship was cleared before 6:30pm.  On our last stop here in July, it took over an hour to get cleared.


Since we had Pinnacle Grill reservations at 8pm, we had 1 ½ hour to take a quick walk to town.  By now, the sun was setting and the breeze was downright cool.  Wearing our arctic jackets, we made our way towards town passing by Fishermen's Wharf, now quiet with the rush of tourists gone for the day.


Our main destination were the Inner Harbor, the Parliament Building, and the Fairmont Empress Hotel, both equally beautiful at night.  The government building was lit up with over 13,000 lights, and the Empress Hotel was glowing with the last rays of the setting sun.  After getting some good photos, we headed back to the ship.


There were a few tours offered here this evening.  Most were 2 hours, and one was a dinner tour for 3 ¼ hours.  No excursions were offered to Butchart Gardens, since there was little time to get there and back.  More than likely, it was closed before sunset.  Just guessing though.  On the corner of the Parliament Building, were several horse-drawn carriage rides being sold.  We inquired if they served as a ride back to the pier, and they said no, that would have to be treated as a taxi ride for the rate of $100. for ½ hour.  We passed on the idea.  The street we followed back was well lit, and full of other tourists coming and going.  Did we mention that the NCL Pearl was already docked when we got here?  And following us into port, was the Ruby Princess.  Now something unusual happened with her.  Expecting to see the vessel docked across from us when we got back, it was nowhere in sight.  Gone.  Then we recalled that the Guest Relations Manager had told us that sometimes all the ship has to do is be within the allowed mileage to shore, and they could be cleared as having visited Canada to satisfy the Jones Act.  Could be that is what occurred.


Having 5 minutes to change, we headed for dinner.  It was a bit of a surprise to see how many folks were dining in the Pinnacle Grill in less than smart casual clothing.  OK, we are not being stuffy, but simply reporting on what we are seeing.  This is something that we have never noticed while on the Amsterdam.  Given the fact that most of these passengers are leaving tomorrow, it is logical that their better smart clothes are already packed.  Hard to get used to jeans and even  baseball caps in the elegant venues.


Some venues were closed today, since it was the final full day of the Alaska cruise.  BB King and Billboard Onboard will return tomorrow.  The Mainstage show lounge was closed for the evening as well.  The only entertainment was in the Screening Room with movies at 7 and 9:30pm.  Happy Hour (buy one, get one for $2) was back at 4 and 9pm.  This was not a daily special on this seven day cruise.  The casino was closed for the gamblers though.


For those that wanted to know if there was a puzzle corner in the Crow's Nest, the answer is yes.  There were two puzzles almost done.  What we noticed was absent were the librarian and the internet person to help with the computer stations.  We had questions about the internet, but were directed to the front desk staff.


Tomorrow, we will have gone full circle, and back to Seattle.  Gosh, the week went by all too fast…..


Bill & Mary Ann


The boat came to greet us


Dropping off the pilot


On his way to the next ship arriving


City of Victoria


NCL Pearl


Cargo ship


Choppy seas and cool


NCL Pearl


Surrounding scenery in Victoria


NCL Pearl


Seaside condos


High rise apartments


Nice view of the harbor


Ruby Princess




NCL Pearl


Harbor side


The Pearl


Getting closer to the dock


High waves from the winds


Small boat marina






Norwegian Pearl




And the breakwater


Fishing boat


Cutting through the waves


Gone fishing


Local tug


Victoria terminal building


Room for another ship to dock




Here we come


The Pearl safely docked




Slow going as we entered


Gangways are ready


The gull watches


A gull


Another gull


Many gulls here


Rope tenders


The shoreline






Seem to always fly into the sunlight







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