Travel Date: Sunday, May 1st 2016

We got up early to grab some breakfast.

Breakfast at this Marriott was very American and exceptional.

 

We asked for some more coffee, and our server bought us more coffee in a glass. It was quite funny. She apologized for this mishap, but it made us all – including her – laugh.

We head back to the room and finish packing. Mom is going digital and checking her facebook and WhatsApp posts.

And then we head out dragging our bags across Richmond, Vancouver to the Richmond-Brighouse Metro station. It is a surprisingly longer walk than I anticipated from the Marriott to the metro station. And hauling luggage doesn’t make it any easier.

 

We finally get on the metro. Mom still has that gleaming face: excited to be on a metro train with her kids.

 

We get close to a front row seat. And get to see some of the picturesque views of the City of Vancouver.

 

 

 

 

Our last stop is Waterfront Station on the Canada Line. We get off and make the short walk to Canada Place: an iconic convention center with picturesque views and a ferry/cruise line terminal .

We see a cruise liner docked, and we wonder: “Is that is ours?”

Now to find the entrance to get to the cruise liner. Fortunately these wonderful ladies help us out.

We walk down the ramp.

Through the large Entrance Doors.

And then check our bags.

We have about two hours of time to kill, so we decide to be touristy and walk around Canada Place.

Oh that is our Cruise Line: the Ms Noordam.

A really long ship.

 

We get the waterfront edge at Canada Place.

And the views are wonderful.

 

 

We walk around for a bit in the city. Grab a few bottles, head back to the cruise line, and check in. After we clear security we get our boarding passes with pictures.

Since my mom and I are still Indian citizens, we have to turn over our passports and other necessary documents. Travel does suck when you are a national of a third-world country.

We pass the security, get our passes and get to the staged photography area before boarding.

Time to really get on-board now.

 

 

I am grateful there is an elevator.

The hallway to our room is narrow for two people, but wide enough for one. And quite long.

My sis is really ready to check into room 6024.

We are very very excited.

I know you really want to see a quick tour of the room.

One of the items which I really appreciated was the daily itinerary provided in the room with all the events and activities for the day posted on the cruise line.

 

And now to take a self-tour of the Noordam.

 

 

 

The pool from the top view. The pool has a reclinable roof that is only

The view of Canada Place from the right side deck of the cruiseline.

By 4:15 PM we are supposed to all be on Deck 2 for the “mandatory emergency drill”. The crowd begins to pile up.

One by one we are checked in by last name.

An opportunity for a selfie moment.

Everyone on deck is here, except two people from our group. As you can see it is a very very tight fit.

After the safety drill, mom, I and sis head upstairs for a spa raffle. And guess who wins?

The boat leaves the dock at 5 PM towards Alaska via the Inside Passages of islands.

 

 

 

 

 

As my sis and I enjoy the views from our balcony, we hear our next door neighbors talking beside us outside our balcony. There is a barrier between up for privacy, but we end up talking anyway.

We meet Mark, and decide to share a drink, and toast to the occasion. Read the Reflections section for an interesting story regarding the alcohol.

We get to know Mark, his sister Marcy, and his mom Bonny via the balcony, and around dinner time we request the staff to allow us to join their table.

It turns out that Mark and Marcy are traveling with Bonny to celebrate her upcoming birthday and mothers day. This is almost a similar sentiment with me and my sis. So we decide to pair them up at the dinner table together. Mom’s can relate to each other, and talk about their kids.

We are also joined by Matt and Riisa. They both have a new born Ciaran, and are excited to go traveling with him.

So … this is our dinner menu. We can order anything, and everything. And make multiple orders. Everything is included in our prepaid cruise fare. Nice!!!

I order one of the soups. The first thing I notice that portion size is quite small. While tasty, the portion size for an appetizer is quite disappointing, and it leaves me feeling hungrier.

My mom orders the scallops. And this is what she gets… one scallop. When we looked at the menu again, we did notice that it was deliberately written as “scallop” and we assumed the multiple.

After our experience with appetizers I order multiple entrees, and am pleased to note they were quite delicious. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, but I did remember to capture the desserts.

 

Reflections:
It was quite an eventful and exciting day. One of the things I appreciate is having a Marriott’s Rewards Credit Card. I have clocked enough Marriott rooms for work to make “Gold Status”, and because of that I get special perks. One of benefits I received was a complimentary breakfast from Marriott for me, sis and mom. Thank you Marriott for the breakfast $$$ saved.
One of the frustrating things about traveling is dealing with visa issues and jumping extra hoops as an Indian citizen. We usually have to deal with extra questions because our passport is not easy accepted by the “Western world”. I cannot wait to become a US citizen, and be rid of dealing with acquiring visas just to visit countries, or jumping through various hoops before of our third world status. Fortunately my sister has this benefit from Canada, and one day I will have it from the United States.
Before we boarded the ship, I remember we could bring three bottles on board, one for each person. So we went to the liquor store and purchased a bottle of rum mix (for my sis), a bottle of Eagle Rare Whiskey (for me), and a bottle of wine (for mum). While walking back, we realized that they only allowed wine and champagne. So during our security check they looked at each bottle individually. They discarded the rum first, and then looked at the Eagle Rare Whiskey bottle and actually accepted it as wine. WOW!! Thank you Eagle Rare for making your whiskey bottle look like a wine bottle. Woot Woot!
The best part of my first day was walking into our room, seeing the balcony, and witnessing the view, and imagining how awesome it was going to be. The second best part of my day, and a close first, were the friends we had met in Mark, Marcy, Bonny, Matt, and Riisa, and the camaraderie we shared before and during dinner. This was going to be an awesome adventure to share with them.
Expenses: in US $2,589.08
$2,472.52: Initial Cruise Cost for 3 people with Balcony and $125.00 on-ship credit (Ms. Noordam)
$37.50: Hotel Service Charge: Day 1 ($12.50 per person for 3, Ms. Noordam)
$6.60: Metro Tickets (Richmond-Brigham to Waterfront Station)
$72.46: 3 Bottles of Wine/Liquor (CAD $90.54)