Friday, October 7, 2011

3 Day Coastal on the Golden Day One - September 24/25

We originally were just going to head down to the pier on the Sunday the 25th to board, but Bernie won some Canuck Hockey tickets to a pre season game on the Saturday.  So we thought why not make it an early start to our mini vacation and head into the city on the Saturday and stay a night at a hotel. 

I booked the Hyatt on Burrard thru for $125 a night.  The hotel is a great location, and the room was wonderful.  We were given a room on the 20th floor facing West.  Thru the buildings we could see Stanley Park.  The room had a lovely king size bed, flat screen t.v., desk and the bedding was like sleeping on a cloud.  The bathroom was outstanding, in fact we took pictures of it because we loved the décor so much we are thinking of using some of the ideas for our future bathroom remodel.

Saturday night before the game we headed out for a nice meal at Rouge which is located very close to the pier and in the same building as the West Coast Express, Waterfront Skytrain Station and the Sea Bus terminal.  Had a lovely meal or chicken coconut curry and Bernie had the halibut, and the drink I had called “The Cougar” was divine.

The game started at 7 pm and it has been a long time since we went to a hockey game and now I remember why we dislike going to games.  First the tickets were $80 each and they weren’t that great a seat and this was a pre season game.  The thought of getting a glass of beer was soon put out of my mind when I saw the prices, and they say drinks are expensive on the ship?

Everyone around us seemed to forget that they were there to see a game.  Two women in front of us dressed to the 9s (I swear they spent more on their outfits/hair/jewelry than I make in a week) and sat there chatting about everything under the sun except the game as they each sipped their wine.  The two guys to our left, chatted and took pictures the entire time.  The young couple to our right appeared to be on a first day, and if they took another picture of themselves I was going to puke!  Now really is a hockey game the ideal place to go for a first date and learn about each other?  Then there were the two behind us who drank so much I am sure they must still live at home cause there is no way they could afford all they drank without free housing. 
At the start of the third period, with a clear loss for the Canucks, we looked at each other and said, “do you want to go” and we did. 

We slept like babies and slept in the next morning until 8 am!
Sunday morning we had arranged to meet up with friend who were just getting off the Golden on its one day from Seattle.

We had not set a time because the ship was coming into Ballantyne pier and we knew that they had to bus everyone from that pier to the Convention centre.  Bernie and I were hungry so we went for breakfast at our favorite place, the White Spot  (locations all over British Columbia).  While at the restaurant we got a call that they were on their way and we met up with them and grabbed a coffee at the local Starbucks.  It was great to catch up with them both.  They currently live in Denver and are hoping to move to B.C. next year.

It is just before noon and we are back at the hotel but don’t really want to head to the pier right away as we knew things could be crazy with five ships in port and us having to check in at the Convention Centre and then get bussed.  So we dropped our bags off at the concierge and went out walking.  We walked to Canada Place and walked around and checked out the three Holland America Ships in port.  We then walked to Gastown as we wanted to pick up something for a friend of ours we will be seeing in the Fall, and I even got a little something I’ve been wanting.  A lovely pair of Haida engraved silver earings.  A quick stop back at the hotel for our bags and we walk a short few blocks to the Vancouver Convention Centre located two blocks to the West of Canada Place. 

As we arrive (around 1:45) the crowds appear minimal, a lot of people wondering where to go, but there were numorous Princess Reps. around to direct.  We delivered our bags to the waiting truck, to be seen in our cabin very soon.  We fill out the necessary health form, go the other necessary lines and get our cruise cards.  Yeah our 25th cruise on Princess!  Then there was a large area with long tables with about 200 people sitting waiting for their group to be called to proceed to the bus.  Thankfully because of our Elite status we were able to go right to the line for the bus.

We were quickly loaded onto waiting busses and transported to Ballantyne pier.  We boarded the ship around 2:30 (which considering all the unusual circumstances was rather quick). 

We are back on the Golden, this our fourth voyage on her, our third after her retrofit two years ago.  We booked the cruise back in June thru Best Price Cruises for a very good rate.  We booked an Inside cabin, and the price of our cabin never went lower than what we paid; however for a few dollars more it was very easy to get a great Outside Cabin or even Balcony Cabin.  Even though we prefer a balcony for these short voyages that we take just for a long weekend we felt we couldn’t justify the added expense, not to mention the weather was too cool anyways to enjoy the balcony.  Our cabin was C720 which is aft.  I will go into details tomorrow on the cabin, it’s positives and negatives.

Our steward Marco introduces himself and advices us of the Muster Drill set for 3:45, our Muster Station is the Vista Lounge.  We advice Marco to put the beds together, add a top sheet, add an egg crate (beds are horrible, and bearable with the egg crate), an extra towel and robes.  We did tip him an extra $10 at this time, they work so hard and Marco did not disappoint.

We head to the International Café in the Atrium for a latte and some snack items.  I grab some chicken salad and a tomato and mozzarella/basil Panini and Bernie gets his greek salad and a Panini too.  I order my latte using my coffee card I purchased on the Island (no problems) and Bernie requested the English Breakfast Revolution Tea, but was informed that they don’t have English Breakfast.  We found that odd but figured we will check again tomorrow (sure enough the next day they did have English Breakfast but a different Brand, the new Brand was called Eco and it was quite good he said).

We visit the Future Cruise desk and purchase two Future Cruise Deposits for $100 each.  If you don’t know about the Future Cruise Deposit, learn more it is the best deal in town and always make sure I have a few FCC in my account, just in case.  We also stop by the Crown Grill to make a reservation for Tuesday night, and are given a 6 pm reservation for that night, we can’t wait.

We wander the ship a bit and then head to our stateroom and get our life jackets when the Muster Drill alarm sounds.  We head to the Vista lounge using the stairs (elevators are not recommended if you can use the stairs) our first giggle is a woman who says where is deck 7?  We say this because we are on deck 10 Caribe, on the carpet in front of the stairs is the number of the deck that you are on, the wall has a sign that says what deck you are on.  We politely say, Deck 7 is just a few more down just after deck 8.  The crew in the Vista Lounge are swiping the cards to track who is there.  We wanted to test this so we only got my card swiped and Bernie didn’t hand over his.  No one said anything and no one came looking for him; however he was there.  So obviously they do not track who attends and who doesn’t.

After the Muster Drill we head back to the cabin and unpack our items.  Not much for a three day voyage but we like to have our things in place and feel like we are on a real voyage.  Lots and lots of storage space, and the one nice thing about the inside is the three narrow shelves on the side of the desk beside the drawers, a handy place to put items like cologne, brushes, electronics, etc.

With Elite status you get a free mini bar set up, and even though we love that, for the three day voyage we knew there was no way we could drink 8 mini liquor bottles, two beers, six sodas, and two Perriers.  So we exchanged the entire thing for a bottle of white wine (red is available too – and there were a few varieties). 

Up to the Lido/Sun deck for sailaway, the weather is perfect and the band is good they were called the Melody Band.

We decide to eat in the dining room tonight, it is Italian Night, one we do enjoy and we arrive around 7:00 and are okay with sitting with others and are placed at a table of 8.  Ironically we are sat with a couple where the husband actually works for the same company we do, small world! 

The meal was very good, and we brought our bottle of wine from our mini bar and they opened it up and we drank half of it, corking the remaining wine for tomorrow. 

After dinner we decided to check out the Leonard Maltin Movie Trivia, we teamed up with the couple from our workplace and even though we were not the lowest scoring team we didn’t come close to wining either. 

I did ask about the Power Hour drink specials, and the waiter said yes they do have it and found this ship is serving a blue margarita as part of it’s special along with three others.  The price is $3.99 and it was quite good.  This Power Hour Drink special I did not see advertised anywhere but is usually available after 8 pm in all bars.  Just ask.

We walk around the ship and head back to the cabin and hit the hay.  It has been a great day and it sure is nice to be back on board a ship after 9 months!

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