The Diamond Princess was due to leave at 4.30pm yet the instructions we received started us off much earlier than that.
First, the luggage for pick-up and transportation to the ship – to meet us once again in the cabin – needed to be inside the door of our hotel room at 8.00am. we remain a bit paranoid so we keep carry on bags with us “just in case’ this bag goes missing in the 1 mile trip to the ship. I pity the person who must schlepp this big red case - it weighs 59lbs (as the officious West Jet lady told us when she billed for the 9lbs overweight) and must contain many vital things (like the ships anchor).
Then we must meet at the Princess assembly room between 8.00 and 9.30 – here we meet our fellow passengers for the first time. Interestingly, a large contingent from England. They have a long flight to Vancouver so many have been here for days. Also a number of them recognized each other. This is definitely a repeat business business. The point of the meeting is to certify that we have no communicable illnesses – especially the ones that make the news all the time, check our passports and give us our cruise cards.
Pick-up downstairs was at 10am. As we were waiting so the disembarking passengers streamed off the buses into the hotel. They had a ball. Wonderful experience. Shopping was great – 75% off – yayyy (for some). Many had done the side trips – Denali / Mt McKinley. They were all wearing anoraks. Oops. Among the 59lbs in the red bag, no anoraks. Hmm. Alaska. Hmm cold? Duuuuuh! We’ll definitely dress in layers. Bunch of wimps.
Bus loads us and leaves on time for Canada Place and the cruise ship terminal. It’s the end of the season for Alaska so only two ships in dock – Holland America Zuiderdam is the other. Usually four in dock. I cant imagine what usually must be like. We were 4000 plus people moving in lines through check-in – passport and boarding card; security – no shoes off or cavity searches; then US immigration (we’re going from Canada to the US). We zipped through all this because US citizens had a separate line and were wayyyy in the minority. Then had a short wait – again in a small group because our frequent sailor status is Platinum after the world cruise – and we were on board first by 11.30!!!!
First thing of course is to hook up my computer and get signed up for internet – status gives me 500 free minutes; then unpack the carry-on; then the red bag arrives, we give the captain the anchor so he has one just in case, and unpack that. Med, our steward must bring more hangers. Not enough, Med must get more hangers. Finally sorted. Everything in its place for the next three weeks. Except the anoraks.
Because the ship had to lay on supplies for Asia as well as Alaska we were able to hang out on deck and watch seaplane after seaplane take off;
then watch the Zuiderdam sail out (and a seaplane take off)
then finally, 90 min late, we set sail (so to speak). It seems the captain already had an anchor – we saw it being raised. Oh well.A bit of a mixup over the dinner table caused some anxiety. We are on the Cruise with my buddy Jay Buehler (and his mom and sister) and he has a college roommate (Kurt – who farms in el Centro CA) on board with his wife – so seven at a table for six. All sorted and we had our first meal on the Diamond Princess as we sailed into the sunset……..