9/25/13 Picked up Conrad and Kathy at the airport. We are all flying to Vancouver tomorrow to begin our 10 day Celebrity cruise back to San Diego. We all went to the Dumpling Inn for dinner before retiring early.
9/26/13 Got up at 5:15am and drove to airport. We did valet parking at the Sheraton Airport Hotel across the street. Very convenient cost about $144 for 11 days. Our Alaska Airline flights all went smooth connecting at Seattle and then on into the city of Vancouver Canada. It was beautiful sunny clear day with large pretty cumulus clouds. A shuttle bus was waiting after we got through customs which transported us to our Celebrity Cruise ship. The 45 minute narrated drive to the ship was fun. The city of Vancouver is very beautiful especially the ocean port district. Checking onto the ship was relatively painless and went quite smooth. I had not realized that we were traveling on the cheap until I found out that we were on the lowest deck on the interior with no window. I think I will avoid this level of accommodation in the future as I really enjoy a view out side when leaving and entering ports. My MiFi Internet device did not even work here and I had to move to a lounge area to make use of it. We had our first dinner on board in the main dining room as the ship sailed out of port towards Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The food was excellent and I was really hungry as I only had a bit of sushi in Seattle airport for lunch. The scenery was to die for with all the islands and mountains in the back ground. Mt Baker was especially pretty. Retired early and slept well as Linda’s snoring was at a minimum this nigh.
9/27/13 We sailed all night and arrived in Nanaimo port around 7:00am to heavy overcast and light rain. We got up early and had breakfast at the buffet. We then disembarked from the ship to catch our excursion, a trip through the city and out to two Provincial Parks. We arrived at the first park, a dense original growth rain forest with mostly Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees. We walked about 1.5 miles through the forest along a river to an impressive water falls. We had to walk very carefully in light rain as the trail was rocky and quite slippery. Next the bus went to a animal rehab rescue park. Most of the inhabitants were birds: eagles, owls, hawks, etc. There were 4 bear cubs being raised without seeing any humans so they could be reintroduced to the wild. We had some local wild smoked salmon and crackers for a luncheon snack. Yum Yum. The bus then went to another Provincial Rain Forest Park where we again walked to a pretty water fall. The excursion lasted about 5.5 hours and it was cold and rainy the entire time. I rested a couple hours after getting back on the ship. It was Linda’s 69th birthday today, so Kathy and Conrad treated us to the gourmet specialty restaurant “Murano’s”. The food and service was outstanding. I had lobster which was superb. All of the cooking of the main courses were done by our waiter at table side. YUM YUM. The only thing which was a bit marginal was our Grand Mariner Soufflé which just did not compare to the one that I make.
9/28/13 We again sailed all night and arrived in Victoria Canada on Vancouver Island around 8:00am with continuous rain for the entire day. We had a light breakfast at the buffet and relaxed on the ship for a couple hours. We then did a shuttle to down town Victoria shopping district with Conrad & Kathy. It was cold in the mid 50’s with wind and rain. We went Murchie’s Tea Company so Linda could buy some tea. It was about noon, so we headed to the Empress Hotel to have High Tea, but could not get seated until 1:00pm. Conrad who does not like tea, scones, egg salad sandwiches etc. was happy to hear that Kathy could not wait an hour, so they opted out and returned to the ship for food more to Conrad’s liking. Linda and I did sight seeing for an hour in the rain and returned for the high tea. The crumpets and sandwiches were excellent as we had remembered it last time we were there last summer. The Scones with the clotted cream were the best ever.
9/29/13 Arrived in Seattle this morning around 7 am. It was wonderful to have my smart phone working, catching up on all my email. We got up early at 6:15am to check into US customs and then to our “Get ON and Off Trolley tour of downtown Seattle. The tour lasted about 1.5 hours. We then walked about 1 mile along the pier to Pikes Place Market. Had a great time seeing and smelling all the good produce. They are still throwing the fish around at the main fish market. Purchased some fresh pastries from the market and headed to one of many busy Starbucks Coffee shops in Seattle. Walked back to the ship, relaxed a bit, had lunch with Conrad and Kathy in the buffet and then took a long soak in the ship jacuzzi near the pool on the 11th deck. Rested another 2.5 hours and then got up for dinner with Conrad and Kathy. The veal chop was to die for. Linda then talked me into the theatre show tonight, a concert of the Eagle’s music which was mostly good.
9/30/13 Had a sit down breakfast with Conrad and Kathy at the main dining room at 8:15am. I had fresh fruit and Eggs Benedict which was quite good. We decided to walk to the Space Needle about 1.5 miles south of the ship. The weather this morning was a bit more civilized; no rain and perhaps 60 F. It was a steep hike up to the Space Needle and it started raining just as we got there. The weather in Seattle is nasty to say the least; wind, rain, and in the 50’s. Sure glad I don’t live here permanently. There was a huge Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit which we decided to visit. The tickets for seniors cost $17. It was the biggest and best exhibit of glass and sculpture of this very talented artist I have ever at the pleasure of seeing. I took numerous photos of the well displayed and lighted glass statues and vases. It stopped raining and we made a B line back to the ship before it started raining again. Got a glimpse of Mt. Rainier through the clouds as we boarded the ship. The security boarding the ship was very similar to airport security requiring room card, ID, in some cases your pass port, and a x-ray search for weapons. At times it can be a very annoying process, but all in a days travelling on a cruise. We had dinner with Conrad and Kathy in the main dining room. Had a nice acorn squash soup, rib eye steak, Brussel sprouts, and a nice chocolate dolce cake. Went to bed early after catching up on my diary.
10/1/13 We arrived in Astoria Oregon around 9:00am. The cruising was a bit rough last night, but fortunately neither Linda or I got sea sick. Our budget room is located on the lowest floor 4 in the middle with no window, but hey it is very stable down here with no rocking. We got on our tour at 9:45am in the rain. Fortunately the rain stopped and we got some nice partly cloudy sun for most of the excursion. Our first stop was at a nautical museum which was very interesting. Of particular interest was the talk about the Bar where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, a very dangerous area to cross, especially for smaller vessels. When coming into the river a special Bar navigator person is brought aboard larger ships via boat or helicopter to pilot the vessel into port. Next our tour bus, a real school bus, drove by several of the historic houses in the city. Astoria is the oldest city in Oregon, built shortly after the Louis and Clark Expedition left the area. We headed for Fort Clatsop, the Louis and Clark wintering location, while waiting out the winter in this area. Unfortunately because of the federal government shutdown the National Monument Fort was closed. The tour instead went across the Columbia River 4 mile bridge into Washington. Got back to the ship as it started raining again. The weather sure changes rapidly up here in the Pacific NW. The food has been excellent up until tonight. My fresh grilled sea bass was not fresh, but again overall the food has been excellent. Retired around 9:00pm and slept until 8:30am.
10/2/13 Had breakfast on the 11th deck with Conrad and Kathy around 9:00am. I had classic eggs Benedict. We will be at sea all day until 6:00am tomorrow morning when we arrive in San Francisco. Linda doesn’t like sea days, hopefully she will not go stir crazy. I enjoyed getting a day to catch up on processing my photos and writing my diary. I am enjoying the jacuzzi a lot on this tour. The water is very clean and just the right temperature. It is located on the 12th deck near the bar and swimming pool.
10/3/13 We arrived in San Francisco around 5:00am. The weather was perfectly sunny and clear in the high 70’s. This kind of weather in San Francisco is very rare. Our bus tour today toured San Francisco city and included a dim sum lunch in Chinatown. The bus went across the Golden gate, bridge stopping at a view rest point on the other side where we could get out and take photos. Before lunch we stopped at Grace Cathedral Church, a very impressive structure. The dim sum lunch was so so. After lunch we did a short walk on Montgomery street where many Chinese markets are located. This was a real experience, with many foods I had never seen before. The China town here is the largest in the US. Our last stop was a short walking tour of the Golden Gate Park. I immediately headed for the jacuzzi after returning to the ship to sooth more sore and weary bones. Had dinner with Conrad and Kathy with a view of the San Francisco sky line and the bay bridges. After dinner we waited until the ship disembarked at 8:30pm, sailing under the Golden Gate bridge with relatively little clearance to spare. The night sky line view of the city and bridges is breath taking. I tried some hand held night shots at high iso 5000 which will hopefully be useful for my web site.
10/4/13 We arrived this morning in Monterey California. No dock here for big ship, so this will be our first tender boat rides to shore. Got up at 6:15am showered and went up to the 11th deck for the buffet breakfast. I have settled into cantaloupe, one traditional eggs Benedict, lox, cream cheese, bagel and coffee for breakfast. Our tour today visits the Monterey aquarium and the Carmel Mission. It will be another beautiful day sunny in the high 70’s. The swell was high today and boarding the tender from our ship was a bit of a challenge especially for all those 70-80 year olds on board. The Mission was beautiful, somewhat as I remember it during my first marriage which only lasted 9 months. The aquarium was quite busy. The jelly fish exhibits were impressive and very colourful. The 3 story large live kelp bed display was amazing, displaying virtually all local fish in this area of the the ocean. This is my second favorite aquarium in the US, Shed Aquarium in Chicago being number one. In two hours I had seen enough, so we decided to leave our bus and walk back to the ship about 1.5 miles. It was very scenic along cannery row on the way on a on perfect warm sunny clear day. When we got to the wharf where our tender was. Linda decided that she want clam chowder for lunch and tasted it at 4 restaurants before selecting one. I had a nice Crab Louie salad with bread and a class of Chardonnay. The service was terrible as I had to go pick up my own wine and beg for salad dressing 3 times, but we still had a fun time and met a nice couple dining near us with a spoiled Terrier dog which was being fed cooked hamburger for his lunch. Caught the tender to the ship and it was much smoother this time. I did a 1 hour jacuzzi soak upon my return. We and the Evan’s had a nice dinner at 5:30pm in the stern of boat as we watched scenery exiting out to sea.
10/5/13 This is another sea day for us at Linda’s chagrin as she prefer’s being in port to cruising at sea. Slept late until 9:30am and did a special buffet in the main dining room which was very nice with carved ice and cheese sculptures. In the afternoon Kathy went to a Chef’s competition show in the theater performing as a sou chef. I did a video of her on my iphone. It was a bit of a comedy and the two chef’s tied in the competition. The other sou chef Dona Cooleg wanted to be emailed the video when I get it on my web site. Did another jacuzzi around 3:30pm to warm up for our lobster dinner tonight. It was dress up night and I wore my rarely used beige suit to dinner. We sat ata table for 8 tonight with 4 very social women who were traveling together. One of them was Irish and a real kick to be around having a great sense of earthy humour and was a bit of a tease. The lobster and beef Wellington was very good. I ordered another bottle of Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvigon, my favorite wine of the cruise. My wine budget turned out to be about $350 for the 10 days about $35/ day and worth every penny. We ended the night with Baked Alaska and a toast to all the culinary and serving staff on board. We then attended the Broadway shows night at the theater with Conrad and Kathy. The performance was entertaining and of a high quality.
10/6/13 Arrived in Catalina Island harbor this morning about 6:30am. No dock here so we will be using tenders for getting to shore. Had breakfast at 9:00am in the buffet on the 11th deck. Linda, Kathy, Conrad, and I took the tender onto the island. We walked two mile up to the Wrigley memorial gardens and back for a total of 4 mile walk. We went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch where Conrad and Kathy order nachos with cheese sauce because they did the same 15 years ago for their 10th wedding anniversary. Got back to the ship around 1:30pm. Had our last dinner on board with our usual companions Conrad and Kathy. Over all I have enjoyed this mostly relaxing and fun tour a lot. This is a nice relaxing and convenient way to see the world. We got our belongings packed into our suit cases for disembarkation tomorrow morning. I always worry that I will not find my bag in that massive pile of luggage out there in the marine terminal.
10/7/13 Arrived in San Diego Harbor around 6:00am. We disembarked the ship at 9:00am.