Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Season's Greetings






Monday, October 20, 2014

Packing has started Oct 19, 2014.

Yesterday I got the suitcase out and starting the packing for my departure my Sunday.

 Here are the some of the clothes that I have selected to take on the cruise with me.

The suitcase is now packed - all of these clothes are for the cruise part of this trip and will be sent on as luggage on the train trip.

I have a separate overnight bag with the clothes that I will need on the train ride and the overnight stay in Boston.

In addition I will also that my day pack - it will contain the electronics, cameras, important papers etc.

More later and cheers!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Almost time to depart Oct 19, 2014

Well in a week's time I will once again be on the road and heading for Boston to board the Norwegian Dawn and the first of my 2 back to back cruises on that ship.

First it will be seven days coming and going to Bermuda provided another hurricane doesn't get us rerouted - While Hurricane Gonzola packed a punch and left many without power, Bermuda unlike many other countries in the region has strict building code and its infrastructure is designed to withstand these storms.

The second cruise will be a fourteen day repositioning of the Dawn from Boston to New Orleans - with stops in San Juan, Aruba, Curacao, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel before dropping anchor in New Orleans.

All of my land travel will be via Amtrak.

Due to time constraints I will only be arriving in Boston the night before and leaving NOLA the same day to get back to Vancouver for the Grey Cup festival where I have a volunteer assignment.

I have just started to process of packing - trying not to take as many clothes as on some of my previous cruises for a couple of reasons.

1. Less exposure to cooler weather - other than a stop over in Chicago on both legs and where you don't have to leave Union Station if you don't want to and 

2. I get a free laundry on both legs of the cruise being that I am platinum on NCL. This time will try not to misplace some of my pants.

Over the next little while I will be posting more often and then as Internet becomes available or I pay for the ship's service I will attempt to provide a daily log of this trip.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

A much ado about nothing post

Well September is upon us and the weather here on the west coast is still sunny and warm - I have kept myself busy doing lots of volunteer assignments - completed my training to be a member of the City of Vancouver Emergency social services team and the Vancouver Fire department's Neighbourhood Emergency Assistance Team.

That's me at the end of the red arrow.

My next focus will be further planning for my 21 day B2B cruises in late October/early November from Boston.

I have also been keeping busy on strata matters as a number of projects are coming to pass.

That's all for now.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Volunteering for the Hondo Celebration of Light Fireworks show Saturday July 26, 2014

Photo: Here's a photo of me and Uta in our Vancouver Volunteer Corps vests - mine is a different color as I was a "captain" last night - each team of three or four has one person named as the crew leader - this is done by the team leaders - who are either City of Vancouver Emergency Services personel or Vancouver Fire department personel.

I have a radio and clipboard - a flashlight and a small first aid kit - last night for the Fireworks - we had 4 teams on the downtown side and three over by Vanier Park - we had 4 no shows so our teams were two person only.
We were each assigned a sector to walk back and forth - and every hour to we move to the next sector - our prime goal is to act as Ambassadors for the City and to keep our eyes alert for any possible problems - if we spot something we radio it in to our command leader who them alerts which ever authority is needed - police or fire etc.
To my knowledge there were no incidents.
Part 2 is next

Here's a photo of me and Uta in our Vancouver Volunteer Corps vests - mine is a different color as I was a "captain" last night - each team of three or four has one person named as the crew leader - this is done by the team leaders - who are either City of Vancouver Emergency Services personel or Vancouver Fire department personel.

I have a radio and clipboard - a flashlight and a small first aid kit - last night for the Fireworks - we had 4 teams on the downtown side and three over by Vanier Park - we had 4 no shows so our teams were two person only.
We were each assigned a sector to walk back and forth - and every hour to we move to the next sector - our prime goal is to act as Ambassadors for the City and to keep our eyes alert for any possible problems - if we spot something we radio it in to our command leader who them alerts which ever authority is needed - police or fire etc.
To my knowledge there were no incidents.

Once the crowd was settling in for the big show we then moved onto our second role for the evening - crowd control at the Burrard or Yaletown Skytrain stations - in past years it has been a free for all - this year Translink put in place a plan to try and create a more orderly flow and I feel it went well. I was at the Burrard Skytrain station so this is what I experienced - it is the second station on the Expo and Milleninum lines and was expected to be the busiest for about an hour after the end of the fireworks - 100 people per train leaving Waterfront station every 2 - 3 minutes and upto 200 to board at Burrard - during the 45 minute rush there were only 3 times that the line stopped completely and only for a couple of minutes each time. By 11:50 we got our orders to stand down - return to our meet point - outside the Starbucks in the Hyatt Regency - turn in our vest and other equipment - with no incidents we didn't need to debrief.
For me it was a quick cheeseburger and pop at McDonalds in Royal Center and then a leisurely walk home.
This was my second VVC assignment and my first time doing volunteering for the Fireworks - I will do it again on Wednesday but not on the finale next Saturday. Hope you have enjoyed this rather lengthy recap of the event. I will also be posting it on my blog. Cheers!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Volunteerism galore June 13, 2014

Well the time of the year is rapidily approaching when I start to fulfill many of my volunteer commitments - over the next six weeks they will be numerous and there are some new ones this year.

In addition I have enrolled in the City of Vancouver N.E.A.T. program with stands for Neighbourhood Emergency Action Team - to help authorities if there were ever a major diaster - ie earthquake , in the neighbourhood. It is an intense 4 nights and one full day of training.

Volunteer assignments  over the next few weeks are - training for the Special Olympics - Dragon Boat Racing, Underwear affair - Canada Day at Canada Place and the parade , Special Olympics, Kneeknacker race, Subaru Western Triathlon, Fireworks supervision, Pride Parade.

In addition I will also be working some of the BC Lions games again this year.

And as I was typing this I just found out my niece is engaged to a great guy - Thankfully the wedding won't be until sometime next year.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The little bike spill Sunday June 1, 2014

After getting settled into the camping spot I decided to get on the bike and take a leisurely bike ride around the trails in the Village area - everything was going fine until while riding on the hard packed gravel Lost Lake trail I ended up off the bike - while riding all the trail which had lots of folks walking and riding I missed a small boulder in the middle of the trail and hit it head on and went for a tumble - people came to my aid - after a moment on the ground I got up - my hands took the brunt of the impact and I tried to break the fall - not the first time that my hands have being used for such a purpose - because it was just a leisure ride I didn't have gloves on but whether they would have helped much is debatable - not being seriously injured and the bike apparently not damaged I rode very slowly back to the resort.

However I wasn't feeling all that great so I decided to pay a visit to the Whistler Medical Center which is an urgent care facility - that means the worse the injury the faster the treatment - there were a couple of hard core mountain bike types who despite wearing the proper protective gear still managed to hurt themselves coming down the Whistler Mountain bike course.

My wait was about an hour - saw the doctor who washed the wounds , checked my blood pressure - it was 99/63 - which is pretty good - remember I have been exercising and it was also quite warm - then applied some oinment and a large bandaids and I was on my way to the Old Spaghetti Factory for supper.

The rest of the camp trip went off without any further incidents.

First selfie - tent is set up and the second one - me by the campfire the last night.

Whistler wildlife sightings Part Two Monday June 2, 2014

On Monday I decided to drive up to Birkenhead Lake - haven't been into that area for a good number of years so since I wouldn't be on the bike today - the hands need a rest - after taking in the scenery - on the return trip down the gravel Birkenhead Park road I had this in front of me - fortunately I saw them in plenty of time and was able to stop the car without scaring them off.

They waited for one late comer and then moved off the road and into the bushes and I was able to proceed down the road.

Whistler wildlife sightings Part 1 Sunday June 1, 2014

I spent a couple of days last week up at Whistler camping at the Riverside Resort in the town.

While out driving up to the Whistler Olympic Park I came across not one but two bears roadside feeding on the lush grasses.

The first two photos are from the drive up to the WOP. The second two are from the drive back down the road.


After picking myself up off the ground from a minor bike mishap I was returning to the Lost Lake trail head and an opportunity to wash and clean my hands which took the brunt of my little bike mishap I was wondering what the excitement was all about when I saw this. He was munching on the grasses less than ten feet from all the people in the area. The fence is not totally enclosed - it is there more as a control measure in the ski season as trails converge here.

The operator of the shop there had to keep reminding people not to get any closer - they want the bears to co-exist and not become to friendly with us humans.

PART TWO - more wildlife sightings of a different type.

Planning for the Bermuda cruise in November 2014


I will be visiting Bermuda for the first time this fall.

It will be part of an extended 2 part cruise that I will be taking on the Norwegian Dawn from Boston to Bermuda and then from Boston to New Orleans.

This cruise gives me about 2.5 days in Bermuda.

We will dock at the Royal Naval Dockyard on Sunday November 2, 2014 and will lift anchor on Tuesday November 4, 2014 at 5:30 PM

As we arrive on a Sunday many shops will be closed but those in the Dockyard area will most likely be opened as they cater mostly to the cruise ships.

The two major cities are Hamilton, the Capital and St George – the former colonial capital.

They are no private car rentals allowed on the Island.

Scooters are a popular mode of transportation but unless you are familiar with driving on the other side of the road they are not recommended for tourists.

The Island is served by a good bus and ferry system.

Because we are arriving in November the seasonal ferry from Dockyard to St George won't be running so it will be necessary to either do a tour or take a bus/ferry combo.

The ferry from Dockyard to Hamilton is a year round service – you can buy an all inclusive two, three, five day pass right in the Dockyard compound.

In doing my research I have identified a number of attractions etc that I will like to visit.

It is generally considering the time and distance involved recommended that your full day in port – in my case Monday – be the day that you go to St George.

In looking at the ships tour they for the most part appear to be able to be done by ones self with a little planning.

Here are some possible suggestions for each day.

Sunday Nov 2, 2014 Bermuda arrival 11 AM.

  • possible 4 hour taxi tour – ship excursion to get a lay of the land – ends in Hamilton – will need to either bus or ferry back – with no time constraints this is a good option.
  • Ideally I would have preferred a tour of the Island but the ship is offering that on Monday. May see if I can find a private one.
  • Another things I want to do is bike some or all of the Bermuda railway trail.
  • Possible evening sunset cruise
  • Walkabout of the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Monday Nov 3, 2014 All day in port.

  • This is the day that I will do St. George's – you are looking at over an hour of travel each way but there is lots of see including Tobacco Bay which is a short .6km from the town and seems to be on every bodies to do list.
  • St Peter's Church is a must see.
  • The other attraction in the area are the Crystal Caves complex – there are two caves area close to each other and a combined ticket for savings.

Tuesday Nov 4, 2014 – departure time 5:30 PM – all board should be 5 PM.

The Capital city of Hamilton is my main focus for today.

There is a walking tour of the town.

I will take the ferry one way and explore the town – and perhaps the bus back so I can stop at Horseshoe Beach and see why it is on a to do list.

This could also be a day to do some biking as the trail is right there.

One other attraction to take in is the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.

I have identified a number of web sites that are providing useful info in the planning stages.

This is only a preliminary list prepared in June 2014 – it will be updated

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's next for me in the cruising scene.

My next cruises aren't until the fall when I will once again head east to enjoy three weeks on the Norwegian Dawn - first spending seven days and make my first ever visit to Bermuda and then stay on the ship and spent 14 days cruising through the Caribbean from Boston to New Orleans.

While I have done this repo before the ports of call interested me enough to do it once again.

San Juan, Puerto Rico in place of St. Thomas was a big factor - haven't been there and there is a lot of history to see in that port.

While I have been to both Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Grand Cayman once before - it has been a few years and a chance to see them again was another deciding factor.

The remaining port, Aruba, Curacao and Cozumel I have been to several times but they are ports that I do enjoy.

Taking advantage of some NCL incentives I was able to book an obstructed ocean view on deck 8 for only a few extra bucks. Have the same cabin 8088 for both segments.

I will be joined by cruising and Facebook friends Dave and Kathy Smith from the Boston area - first met them on this repo a number of years ago and they do it each year.

Like me they have also booked the 2015 fall repo in the Dawn.

Don't know if there friends Jim and Judy will also be joining us - I don't think Jim's health is all that good so perhaps there cruising days are behind them.

While the prices of the repo have only gone UP since I booked the prices for Bermuda they have dropped on a couple of occasions so I have saved about $100.00. As this is the last cruise of the year to Bermuda by the Dawn I think there could be some more price reductions yet.

Because I want the same cabin for both legs I have taken the price cuts rather than an upgrade.

This trip as usual will see be taking Amtrak to get to the east coast and back from the Gulf coast.

However rather than take the shorter northern tier train ride - the Empire Builder to Chicago I decided to cross off one of my bucket list Amtrak rides and are taking the Coast Starlighter to Sacramento and then boarding the California Zephyr to Chicago - this is very scenic as you get both the Sierras and Rockies in daylight and Salt Lake and Denver as well.

While I visited those cities by car many years ago it will be a different perspective going my train.

For the return trip it will be NOLA to Chicago and then the Empire Builder to Seattle and home.

I had toyed with the idea of taking the longer Sunset Limited from NOLA to LA but I want to get back in time to do some volunteering for the 102nd Grey Cup game being played in Vancouver on the last Sunday in November.

More on this later - just might start a separate blog for this cruise.


Star Princess vs the Grand Princess - two similiar yet different ships

The Star Princess along with the Grand and the Golden are considered to be part of Princess' Grand Class of ships.

As is often the case with build alikes - refinements are made as each one is built and then after a few years dry docked and upgraded.

Having spent 49 days on the Grand Princess last year I was quite aware of the ship - it's most glaring fault to me is the lack of a mid-ship stairwell - this meant either a long trot down the hall or using the elevators to get either up to the buffet or down to the rest of the passenger services.

On the Star Princess there is a mid-ship stairwell and I used it most of time I was on the ship.

While the Grand no longer has the Skywalkers lounge - it is now the 0ne Five Lounge - one five referring to it being on the 15th deck - the Star still has the Skywalkers - both were used as the place where the platinum and elite could enjoy there happy hour and treats each evening. The trek to Skywalkers turned me off - did go to the One Five one night on the northbound cruise.

The other difference is down on the 5th deck - while the Grand now has the Alfredo's Pizzeria down on the Piazza and a much smaller Vines - the Star still has the larger Vines and an area where they sell Vines memorabilia which seemed to get little usage.

Those are the only noticeable differences that I can report on from my short time on the Star.

Enjoy and as usual Cheers!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cruise is over - Vancouver arrival Saturday May 17, 2014

After a good sleep I awoke around 5:30AM and switched on the TV to see where we were - we were out in English Bay approaching the Lions Gate Bridge - so I quickly got dressed, grabbed the camera and headed up to flights to get a good position to watch us sail under the Bridge.

We cleared it and then in procession behind us were three more ships, in order they were Coral Princess, HAL Zuiderdam, HAL Amsterdam all of which docked a Canada Place while we tied up at Ballantyne Pier.

The weather was good - the temperature was pleasant and I enjoyed being up on deck and talking to many of those who were visiting Vancouver for the first and pointed out some of the sites to them.

Then it was back to the cabin - some final packing - as I am doing self-embarkation it was more of a matter to ensuring I wasn't leaving anything behind.

A breakfast and then to the Vista Lounge to await my disembarkation.

Rick and Anne who I am sharing a taxi with left me a note last night that there disembarkation time was 9:05 AM which co-incidentally was also my time - they are in the Crown Grill for there meeting place - I get Vista Lounge because I am Platinum but moved over to their location so we could leave together.

Unlike the mess in San Francisco this embarkation went well - in our favor there was no customs requirement as that had been met the previous day in Nanaimo.

I also noticed that things were moving faster than scheduled. We are both Walk off 09 and at 8:45 AM our group was called. Collected by luggage and walked with Rick and Anne off the ship and out to wait for a taxi.

This is where I thought there might be a challenge - with 4 ships in town and only so many taxis I expected a bit of a wait. Well it didn't happen - there were perhaps a half dozen people in front of us and each one was quickly pointed to a waiting taxi.

Fifteen minutes later we are at the Best Western Downtown - the original plan was to share the cost but Rick and Anne were so impressed with my tourist commentary on the short drive to the hotel that they wouldn't accept anything for the taxi ride - but I did insist on giving them a twoonie to show the grand kids what Canadian funny money looks like.

Actually the taxi fare was only $11.00 - might you we made just about every light on Powell, Richards and Drake so that sped up the trip.

Say my final goodbyes to them and walked the two short blocks to my condo.

The Coral Princess is behind is and here it is just starting under the Lions Gate Bridge.

Brockton Point from the ship.

Canada Place and downtown skyline.

Our disembarkation point - Ballantyne Pier.

In a following post I will review these two mini cruises - add a few more images and compare the two ships.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Nanaimo Friday May 16, 2014

We sailed into Nanaimo arriving about 9:30 AM - were given customs clearance and if you wanted to you could go ashore - either walking the short distance  from the industrial part of the port into town or waiting and taking the free shuttle.

As I have a ship's tour to the Horne Lake Caves that doesn't leave until noon I am in no hurry to get off ship but when i report to my meeting place at the Theater we are told once we have our tour sticker we can go ashore and meet our tour there and that is what I did.

There are twelve of us on this tour and we are in a small rental van for the approx one hour trip to the caves.

Our driver/tour guide is a native of Nanaimo and as we head out of town she is full of history - we take the slower Oceanside route to Qualicum where we head inland to the caves - we do make a pit stop at the McDonald's in Parksville.

Arriving at the Caves around two we are given some instructions, get our helmet and light and meet our cave guide Miles.

Horne Lake has a number of caves - some are self-guided, others are tour guided only.

We climb up the trail for about a mile - we are stopping a number of times to get information from Miles about the complex system of caves believed to be underground.

We finally reach the entrance and it is quite the entrance - we go down a steep metal stairwell into the cave - we will only follow it about 1/4 of its way but it is not an easy walk - unlike some previous caves that I have visited this one is quite rustic - there is no lighted path - it is slippery and rocky and you are crouched low for the most of the tour.

When we reach the end of the tour my camera battery dies on me - it was fully charged when we left the ship but the cool temps in the cave - a constant 8 C or 47 F and having to use the flash drained it - I did bring a spare but it is in my day pack back on the tour bus.

After we return to the bus we drive a short distance to Horne Lake Regional Park - next door to the provincial Park and have a picnic lunch - we are given water to re-hydrate and have smoked salmon on crackers and a Nanaimo bar for dessert. 

Then it is back on the bus and the hour drive back to town - we have the option to get off in town and that is what I do.

The weather has for the most part been fine - there were a few raindrops as we left the cave area but that was all.

I got off the bus at the Bastion and started to walk along the seawall promenade - originally I toyed with the idea of going over to Newcastle Island but I wanted to have supper and with the last ferry back at 8:45PM it wasn't worth the $8.00 round trip cost for only and hour or so of hiking the island.

Looking for a place to eat I came across the Troller - a fish and chip place on the waterfront - reflecting back I ate there the last time I was in Nanaimo on a cruise ship.

The meal did not disappoint. After dinner I walked through the redeveloped Port Place mall and then back to the ship - opting to walk rather than take the shuttle.

Back on board I enjoyed the free beer that the captain gave us Platinum cruisers.

If I have one recommendation about this tour it would be nice to have more time at the caves and perhaps a little less time seeing the favorite hideaway beach of the tour guide who lives close by in the community of French Creek.

I go to the Passenger's service desk and pay most to my bill with my remaining $US dollars.

Tomorrow the cruise will be over - if a stroke of luck my cruise critic friends who will share a taxi with me are also disembarking at the same time.

More tomorrow and some final thoughts.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A missed port - Astoria, Oregon

While I was awake and reading in my cabin the Captain came on just before 7 AM to announce that due to tide, current conditions we would not be docking in Astoria and instead would spend the day at sea slowly working our way up the Washington coast and into the Strait of Juan De Fuca and then the final turn into the Straight of Georgia and arrive in Nanaimo as couple of hours early at 8AM tomorrow.

While I would have like to see Astoria again it isn't the end of the world for me.

As is the case where ports are missed extra events are added to the daily schedule - none appeal to me so I continued reading and finish off one novel and started on the second.

Tomorrow is Nanaimo and for me a visit to the Horne Lake Caves.


A day at sea Wednesday May 14, 2014

After the hectic pace I set upon myself in San Francisco it was nice to enjoy a sunny and warm sea day.

I continued to read a novel that I had brought from home and at 11AM attended a cruise critic meet and greet in the One Five lounge - there were about 20 us there and we spent the next 30 or so minutes getting to know each other.

I was able to help some of them who haven't been to Vancouver by answering there questions and about docking at Ballantyne Pier and not Canada Place.

Then it was onto a pub lunch in then Crown Grille - had my usual fish and chips.

Then up to deck 14 and the ice carving demonstration.

After supper took in the welcome party in the Piazza where the Captain formally welcomed us on board and a bevy of balloons were released to the throng of people on the dance floor. The band playing at this event had us rocking with lots of 50 and 60's music and that would continue later in the Explorer's lounge.

Also got our instruction about customs in Nanaimo - form filled out in advance so not a long process there.

Off to bed and tomorrow Astoria.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

San Francisco May 12 and 13. 2014

 Unlike the problems getting off the ship my time spent in San Francisco went smoothly.

Shortly after getting checked in my friends Adele and Cliff arrived -
I first met them on a repo cruise some 9 years ago and everytime we are in  each other cities we get together.

With a slow internet I will post the general highlites of the day.

1. After there arrival we took the F line Streetcar to the Ferry Building where we caught the ferry over to Lakspur - it is easier for them to park there and take the ferry than fight traffic and in this case made sense as my plans were located in the area.

2. But first there was the matter of lunch and they know I love the In and Out Burger so we stopped at the one in Tiburon.

3. Then it was onto our destination for the day - I have wanted to get to the top of Mt Tamalpais - so we made our way up the winding, twisty road to the parking area at the top with one stop at a viewpoint - there we took a short 1.5 mile loop walk that gave us lots of views - the weather is very warm and they have an off-shore flow so it was hazy.

4. After we finished that walk I wanted to walk up to the ranger station and lookout - they opted not to go. Only took me about 15 round trip but there was some climbing.

5. Then it was across the Golden Gate and back to the hotel for the second part of the day - a Giants baseball game - Adele had found a parking garage close to the ball park - so we parked there then visited the souvenir store where I brought a ball cap - at $30.00 it was one of the cheapest they had.

6. With still some time before the gates opened I walked the area by the stadium and saw the statutes for Willy Mays, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey.

7. Then  it was into the stadium and a bite to eat - chicken fingers, fries and a beer was $20.00. A T & T stadium is a gem - great feeling - we walked around the stadium and could see where the Norwegian Jewel is in dry-dock.

8. The game was a great one - a good pitching duel - SF prevailed 4 - 2.

9. Dropped off at the hotel - spent some time sipping on a 24oz can of PBR and getting caught up on email.

10. Up early - took the street cars up to Civic Center and then onto the end of the line in the Castro district.

11. Returned to the hotel at noon just in time to check out - then slowly walked the five blocks to the ship  stopping for a hot dog and pop.

12. Dropped luggage off and started the boarding process - was on ship about 20 minutes later - this surprised me a bit because there was another ship in port but as it was overnighting it wasn't as congestion as I thought.

13. Proceeded to my cabin B420 - the same one I spent 49 days on the South America cruise.

14. Toured the ship - had lunch and settled in for the trip up to Vancouver.

That in  capsule form is my San Francisco experience.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Disembarkation mess San Francisco May 12, 2014

Despite the best efforts of Princess telling everyone what time they should show up to clear customs and immigration - It turned out to be a mess.

Who's to blame I don't know.

Here's my story.

My documents stated that I was to appear at the Vista lounge at 8:05 AM to be processed.

Well at 7:50 I headed up only to find a line that stretched the length of the ship and no staff in sight.

It doesn't appear to be a DHS issue that they had plenty of officers on duty.

Finally after about 25 minutes I approached the Explorer's lounge where lo and behold there was a Princess staffer directing traffic.

She had us form two lines - one for US and another for non-US citizens. As  I was the latter we actually moved a fair distance and after another 10 or 15 minutes I was processed.

There were at least 7 agents for the non-US and 2  or 3 for the US.

I was finished at 8:30 AM  - then it was onto to the Portofino restaurant where us Platinum members could await departure from the ship.

This went fine - 9:30 was my appointed time and our color was called and I departed - picked up my bag and walked to my hotel - the Best Western Tuscan Inn about a 5 block walk from the ship.

There I waited for Cliff and Adele to arrive and start my exploration of the City by the Bay.

For some reason San Francisco doesn't like me - this was not the first time that customs was a nighmare at the port.

More later on my day exploring Mt Tamalpais and attending a San Francisco Giants game.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

A sea day Sunday May 11, 2014

Well this short cruise is almost over - sometime around 5:45AM tomorrow we will sailed under the Golden Gate bridge, pass the south side of Alcatraz and tie up at Pier 35 in San Francisco.

I did very little today - still tired and beat from the long walking day in Victoria.

The weather has cleared off and warmed up - I am now in shorts and the forecast is for warmer temps tomorrow so will stay in shorts for the next day or two.

Spent some time in the sun up on Deck 14 - enjoyed a couple of cold ones - one is courtesy of the Captain for platinum members.

The captain of this ship is Canadian and resides when not on the ship in BC.

My room steward is good - I don't see him but the bed gets made and turned down when I am not there. That's the way it should be.

My cold is still bothering me - taken the meds seems to help.

Tomorrow I will need to be up fairly early as my customs time is 8:05 AM and my disembarking time is 9:35 AM. I will head to my hotel and await my friends there as we explore the town and then take in the baseball game between the SF Giants and the Atlanta Braves.

The internet this evening is the best it has been all cruise.

More later.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Walking tour of Victoria May 10, 2014

 After a good night sleep and a leisurely breakfast I went ashore under cloudy skies - the sun played hide and seek most of the day which is why I am feeling cold as I type this report - the jacket would be on and then off etc, etc, etc.

I had a basic plan for today - walk along Dallas road and the seashore to Beacon Hill Park and then into town and back along the seaside walk to the ship.

The views were great and the Olympic mountains were visible and quiet clear at the start of the walk.

Well that is what I did but with one major detour - I decided that since the weather was okay to make a side trip up to the Craiggorogh Castle - it's just up the road - ya right - it was a longer walk that I anticipated but I made it there before 11AM.

Then headed down Rockland Ave and make it to the waterfront before noon.

Then it was onto Barb's and an order of fish and chips before the last fifteen walk back to the ship - just as I approached the entrance to the port it decided to start a light shower.

I ended up walking more than 10 kilometers or 6 + miles.
My feet are tired and my body is aching but tomorrow is a sea day so that will give me a chance to recharge the batteries.

So far I have eaten my meals in the buffet - I am on deck 11 so it is only 2 decks up to the buffet vs down 5 to the main dining rooms.

Haven't taken in any on board activities yet but might find something of interest tomorrow.

I have two novels with me to read to keep my busy.

Still haven't solved how to get my photos to upload to my tablet. Might be missing an upload app - gonna ask the photo and computer techies on board if they have any suggestions - at least I brought all my media cards with me or if worse comes to worse will just full them up and sort when I get home.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Well I am on board the Star Princess and we are sailing out in the Salish sea and will dock in Victoria at 0700 hrs tomorrow.

it was an eventful day - spent the morning looking for a  proper device to upload my photos to the tablet as the one i had brought didn't work on my device.
After several attempts I finally got one at the Samsung store at Metrotown - now to figure out how it works for upload.

Then it was home for a quick change and off to Canada Place - as the weather was dry i walked down - took about 20 minutes - in line before noon and having lunch on board by 1 PM - that is pretty good timing given that 2500 people all want to get on board at the same time. Some were griping - you are on holiday folks relax.

After lunch toured the ship and took lots of photos - then the manditory muster drill and shortly after 4:30PM we lifted anchor and shortly after sailed under the Lions Gate Bridge waving to some of the people who stopped to watch this big ship sail under the bridge and out in the Salish sea.

Then supper in the buffet - not busy - longer lines for the sit down eateries.

Real mix of ages and ethnics types on board.

Internet is slow but have 125 free minutes to use for the three days.
Unless I can figure out how to use the internet on tablet won't be posting any photos.

More tomorrow from Victoria.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eve before the cruise May 8, 2014

Well all the clothes are packed and the toys are getting there final charge before the cruise tomorrow.

My big suitcase is just too big for such a short cruise and my larger overnight bag has seen its better days so while out for a walk I went into a discount store on Seymour street and spotted this one - it was only $34.95 so I brought it and it seems to work out just right.

I have attached my luggage tag - you now print them out yourself - then fold and staple to your luggage handle.

Here's my clothes for the two cruises - a real assortment of items - rain gear - summer gear and a hoodie if it is cold at the ball park.

Tomorrow I will pack my toys in my day pack - camera, tablets, extra batteries and media cards and will leave the condo about 11:30 AM.

If it stops raining I will walk down to Canada Place - if it is still raining I will grab a taxi for the short ride to the ship.

While these two cruises are nothing spectacular they will give me a welcome respite from the daily grind here in Vancouver.

With my platinum status on Princess I should have some free Internet minutes on both legs of the cruise so should be able to post to this blog each day.

I had hoped to be able to upload some photos to my tablet from my camera but the 4 - in 1 gadget I brought today to help with that and designed for a Samsung Galaxie Tablet doesn't appear to fit my tablet - my model doesn't have a smaller mini-usb port but a much larger one.

If the weather is dry I may stop in at Staples which I purchased it and see if there is a solution to that problem.

Otherwise it will be mostly text reports until I get back.


Monday, May 5, 2014

A volunteer story in the rain May 4, 2014

As I mentioned in my last post I was to volunteer for the Vancouver Marathon held yesterday May 4, 2014.

My job was a member of the bike patrol team - a position I have done for the past 8 years.

I was to patrol Zone 1 - the start of the race then over the Cambie Bridge through Yaletown and False Creek - riding back and forth to check on the runners - then later in the race to act as the sweep - ensure that the last person (s) make it to the finish.

That was the plan - it didn't work out quite as expected.

I also rain all day.

Here is the story of my day.

I worked the half-marathon course.

I awoke at 5 AM and took one look outside to see that my fears about the weather had materialized - it wasn't a light rain but a hard, pounding one and some wind as well.

I had put out a number of clothes the night before and opted to wear the following - one cotton long sleeve t-shirt, my Polyester bike jersey and my heavy Gore-tex jacket - long cotton pants and my Helly Hansen rain pants - two pairs of socks and my better light weight walking shoes.

I threw in some extra t-shirts etc into my pannier.

After a quick breakfast I cycle down to the Yaletown Canada Line station and join a good number of the runners taking the train to 25th Ave station and then bike the short distance to our meeting point near the start line at Hillcrest Park near Queen Elizabeth Park.

I pick up my radio and find my team mates and we then start to ride through our zone looking for any problems before the race starts.

I wasn't long before I noticed that at the corner of 23rd and Cambie the side street wasn't close off like the other streets - all the other streets in the area had large pylons and tape across the roadway - here only a road closed sign at the lane.

I radioed this in and was told to await the Marshall for that corner - well they never showed up - it was a problem throughout the day that some people just won't show up if it is raining.

So I was told to stay there and it was a good thing I was because a couple of cars wanted to cross Cambie with the race in session.

If there was one good thing about this for me it was that because I was standing at the corner I could stand there with my umbrella and keep somewhat dry.

The race finally start at 7AM and by 7:30AM the last of the waves had hit the street and shortly I saw the end SAG and maintenance trucks so it was time to get back on the bike and start riding and keeping track of the stragglers and it wasn't long before myself and another patroller were escorted an older gentlemen along the course but we had another problem - he didn't speak any English - only Spanish and wanted to talk to someone - well it turns out the person in the SAG vehicle spoke Spanish - all he wanted was to be sure he was running the half-marathon.

While a few other were near the end this gentlemen was the last person to cross the half-marathon finish line around 11:45AM.

I then turned in my radio and went to the volunteer food truck and picked up a lunch.

It had started to rain hard again - it never really stopped all day - so rather than eat out in the rain I rode the short distance up Hornby to my condo.

While my clothes were wet I was fairly dry - more sweat than water on my body . Quickly changed into dry clothes - ate lunch and then sat down and took the remainder of the afternoon to DE-compress.

Remarkably my cold of last week doesn't appear to be any worse.

All was not well with the team however - one long term member took a spill before the full marathon started and ended up breaking her wrist and will be in a cast for 6 weeks - GET WELL SOON, MAUREEN. and in a follow up email from our team coordinator three other members had minor spills - the roads were slick and many of the team members ride road bikes with skinny tires making for tougher riding conditions. That plus either trying to keep ahead of the lead runners or coming down the long UBC hill likely contributed to those mishaps.

I was a tiring yet satisfying day and HELL YES I WILL DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

In closing thanks to Vicki and Kerry for your dedication and commitment to ensuring that us bike patrollers got the job done.

We were all rewarded with a $10.00 White Spot gift card and those who picked up a lunch a $2.00 off Triple O's coupon.

Until next year cheers!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Next volunteer assignment - BMO Vancouver Marathon Sunday May 4, 2014

Well my next volunteer assignment goes tomorrow - the BMO Vancouver Marathon and guess what - it's forecast to rain most of the day - I will be out on the bike from 6AM to around noon - getting soaked - while the rain gear helps you still get wet and chilled - just what I need coming off of a cold but I made a commitment to do it and I will.

Best of luck to the some 17,500 runners doing the various events.

My job will be a zone patroller - riding back and forth along the route keeping an eye out for the runners and any impediments that might crop up and then assist in getting the last of the half marathoners to the finish line.

All the needed info is here on the official website of the Marathon.


Friday, May 2, 2014

One week countdown is on May 2, 2014

Next Friday around this time I will pick up the suitcase, lock the condo door and start the 20 minute walk down Hornby St to the Canada Place cruise terminal and start the process of embarking on the Star Princess for a three day cruise down to San Francisco with a 6 hour stop in Victoria and I will then meet up with my friends Cliff and Adele and do some touring of the area and take in the SF Giants/Altanta Braves baseball game.

I will stay over at the Best Western Tuscan Inn which I got by redeeming some Air Miles points.

Then the next morning I will head back to Pier 35 and embark on the Grand Princess for the four day trip back to Vancouver. There will be stops in Astoria, Oregon and Nanaimo, BC before sailing under the Lions Gate Bridge and docking at Ballantyne Pier - while not my favorite Pier it is necessitated by the fact three other ships are docked at Canada Place.

Of note on the Grand Princess I have the same cabin as I had for my 49 day South American cruise last year.

Here's the Grand Princess docked at Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

With my platinum status on Princess I will have some free Internet minutes so will try and post along the way but first there are some details to take care of.

1. Laundry - need to do one before I start to pack.
2. Packing - hope to just take a large overnight bag and my day pack.
3. US money - need to stop at an ATM and get some US $$$$.
4. Need to shore up plans with my friends in San Francisco.
5. Need to shore up plans to meet my niece and great nieces in Nanaimo.
6. Need to relax and take it easy.