After a year of waiting, the big day finally arrived. We set the alarm for 3:30 AM and started our journey towards Alaska.
Actually, I would be skipping some of the fun if I didn't mention the night before. I went online to print out our boarding passes for the flight. I didn't have the exact number Air Canada wanted so I ended up having to call them. This phone call saved me $200 bucks. After getting me the number I needed, the phone attendant answered some questions for me. One of which led to the fact that any bag weighing over 50 lbs is subject to an excess baggage fee of $50 per bag, per direction. After hearing about this charge I weighed our bags on our home scale and 2 of them were 55 lbs. so we pulled out an extra bag and dumped some clothes in from each of the two heavy bags. Crisis #1 avoided.
After the repacking I took the 5 bags to the car to load them up the night before so we wouldn't have to do any loading in the morning. Turns out this wasn't on our side either as the 5 bags would not fit in my Charger's trunk. We ended up cramming the 5 bags in to the back of our Scion. It made for a cramped ride to the airport, but hey, we made it.
We got to the International terminal at the Las Vegas airport at about 5:10 am. There was virtually no line to check-in, drop off baggage and go through security, so by 5:30 we were sitting at the terminal waiting to board the plane. The flight was delayed about 20 minutes while they reset some sensor, but other than that, it was uneventful. I watched the movie “Jumper” and part of “Hellboy” and by 10 am, we were in Vancouver.
After we trekked through the Vancouver airport, we went through customs and got our first stamp in our passports. Woo hoo! We found our luggage, paid a porter $14 to carry our luggage about 100 feet to the Royal Caribbean counter and drop it off. We then headed outside to catch the bus to the dock. After a 45 minute ride we arrived at Port Vancouver and saw our MASSIVE ship.
When we first arrived we were informed that our trip has been delayed twice already. First was a coast guard inspection and second was due to an outbreak of the flu on our ship last week. They had apparently cleared the entire terminal, scrubbed it down head to toe and had done the same to the ship. They have placed automatic Purel hand-disinfectant dispensers in a few spots at the terminal and all over the ship and ask you to wash your hands every time you pass one. Also, there is a no-hand shaking policy for the crew so they don't catch and pass on any germs between the passengers.
First we waited in line to go through security just like the airport (without having to remove our shoes, though). Next we waited in line to check-in and get our room keys. They have you put your credit card in the system and it's all tied to your room keys, so once you are on the ship, there is no need for cash. They don't accept it anywhere. You just swipe your card. I think this is going to be dangerous… Next we waited in line to go through customs again as we would be leaving Canada and entering the United States. Stamp #2 in our passports. And finally we were seated and waiting for our group number to be called to board the ship. At 2PM, we set foot for the first time on the ship.
It took me exactly 3 seconds of being on the ship to get yelled at (politely) by the crew. I had stepped on board first, turned around to take a picture of Chris getting on the ship. Turns out they don't want you taking photos right there. At first I thought it might be some Homeland Security thing, but thinking about it later, they just don't want you holding up the line. Makes sense.
Our staterooms wouldn't be ready until about 3:30, so we had some time to kill. Only problem is we were all still carrying our carry-on luggage from the plane. We toured the ship a bit. We found the arcade but didn't play anything after finding out it's $1.25 per game to play anything. We then played a round of mini-golf and went and had a bite to eat. I tried to order a couple sodas with our snack. The lady asked if I had the “Soda package” sticker on my room key. I looked at her blankly and she informed me that it's $42 for the whole week and you get as much soda as you can possibly drink all week. I picked up 3 glasses of water and headed back to the table. “All inclusive” my ass. I have to say that this is the first thing that has really pissed me off about the trip. I expect there to be unexpected costs, but for soda? Seriously?
We made it to our rooms and proceeded to unpack. Well, actually we unpacked 3 of our 5 bags and found that we have brought far too much stuff for the space we have in the room. We now have a luggage maze to get from one end of the room to the other. We hung out on our balcony and watched the ship set sail and we immediately headed off for dinner.
For our first night on the ship we decided to upgrade our meal. We went to the steakhouse which turned out to be a brilliant move. For $25 per person we were treated to a FANTASTIC meal. There was virtually nobody in there since it was the first night. The staff told us this is typical. We had a table right by the window which made for an amazing view as our ship left the harbor, went under the bridge and headed out to sea.
By the time we were finished with dinner, we were all exhausted. The kids left the table early to head back to the room. Chris and I finished up dinner, walked around the shops a bit and then headed back as well. We all hopped in to our jammies, and watched the water for a bit looking for whales. No dice. By the time we shut the curtains at 9:15, it was still light outside. The kids were both asleep instantly. Chris followed soon after. I laid in bed and began writing this blog. I fell asleep mid-sentence during the second paragraph.
Day 1 was a FULL day. Day 2 we are at sea all day traveling towards Alaska. There is a list of activities for the kids to take part in so we expect them to be off galavanting most of the day. As for me, I'm looking forward to doing not much of anything.