I live in San Diego and have dear friends in Victoria, so it seemed like a no-brainer to take advantage of the great price for this short cruise to Vancouver. I also took it as an opportunity to see how I'd fare in the cheapest inside cabin... looking ahead to when I can't find any friends to share and may only be able to afford windowless real estate onboard. As I noticed the prices going down, I was upgraded to an outside obstructed, then to an outside unobstructed, and finally to a verandah. A good friend who had never sailed before, also booked a solo room and got the same upgrade. We were happy campers!
Embarkation: 3 ships were in port in San Diego and there was lots of news to avoid the area due to traffic jams and construction going on. One ship was only in for a port stop, so no passengers embarking/disembarking. The other was the Zuiderdam. We arrived at 11:00 am and promptly went through security and checking in. Alas, no one would be allowed on the ship until closer to 1:00 due to deep cleaning that supposedly was going on. The ship had been through drydock, then started the cruise in FLL for a Panama Canal crossing. Heard there had been outbreaks of Norovirus, as well as 3 deaths (according to a passenger we met at dinner). We took a walk, had lunch, and were able to board by 1:00.
Cabins: We both were on the 4th deck with verandahs. I had a shower only, which was fine with me. The sink had a long countertop so there was loads of room. I loved the detail of the Dutch tiles decorating. It was evident that it had been renovated during drydock. Everything looked fresh and new, except for what may have been a cigarette burn on the countertop near the sink. So sad.
The verandah in 4006 has the steel wall, but being tall, it wasn't a problem. There were 3 chairs and two tables. Leaving San Diego, we sat outside and watched our departure. The next days it was too rough and windy to spend any time outside.
There's a mini-frig and I had the stewards remove some of the contents so I could place the chocolate-covered strawberries my travel agent had sent. How nice of her for such a short (and cheap!) cruise. A hairdryer was in one of the cabinets in the desk area. The lighted magnifying mirror came in handy.
With just me as the occupant, I had more than enough room with the closets and two large drawers under the bed. For this trip, I barely took up any space.
Weather: As mentioned before, we encountered extremely rough seas and heavy winds. This would delay our Vancouver arrival by over 7 hours. The second night, the drawers under the bed flew open, wooden hangers in the closet had to be taken off the rods as they were clanging together making a racket. Bags were placed near elevators if needed for nausea, seasickness pills and green apples made available. I didn't find it difficult to walk as I did cruising from San Diego to Hawaii for the first twodays. Once we arrived in Vancouver, it was gorgeous... though instead of the 10:00 a.m. arrival, it was 5:30 p.m. Since we didn't have any ports on this cruise, there was no way to make up the time. The ship offered free internet and phone calls for those that needed to make alternate travel plans. I felt badly for those missing flights or having friends/relatives pick them up.
Dining: We ate most of our meals in the Main Dining Room at Anytime Dining and found it very nice. We requested a window table for 6, and met many lovely people. Note to some: if you choose not to be friendly, ask for a small table!
Attempted to make reservations at Canneletto for one of our dinners, and after a lenghty process giving information to the steward, he finally informed us of the $10 per person charge. We decided to forego it. At least he told us upfront, not after we ate.
One of the reasons I like eating in the MDR, is being able to order cappuchino adn espresso at all meals. Apparently, the machine was broken and it was very difficult to get it to work. I had one two times, but stopped ordering them when the stewards got such a pained look on their faces. Even the assistant dining manager told me it was a problem, but I should complain and let it be known to the proper sources. Perhaps an additional charge will be forthcoming for them, too.
We had lunch in the Pinnacle one day and loved every morsel. It was lovely, quiet, and elegant. I took photos of each course and salivate just looking at them now!
Entertainment: I enjoyed listening to the Adagio Strings each night, then off to the shows. The first one was comedian/magician Chris Blackmore- not my cup of tea... The singers performed the second night doing Simply Broadway. The last night was Irish comedian George Casey- very enjoyable. Piano Man Jamm was adorable. Such a cute personality and fun presence. My friend enjoyed the Texan Hold'Em tournaments in the Casino. Too bad he didn't win.
We did a Mixology Class and had a lot of fun. I went to one of the Culinary Demonstrations, a few other offerings, and spent time in the library.
Future Cruise Consultant: What an abrupt and unhelpful guy! There were no flyers of specials given out or brochures out. "Just tell what me cruise you're interested in and I'll price it for you..." That's ridiculous. Usually these people are gracious and welcoming. Not this dude.
Vista Class Ship: First time on a ship this size. I've only cruised HAL and only smaller ships. I found I prefer the smaller ones. I got some good exercise traversing the ship, which was great considering the tasty meals.
Disembarking 7+ hours late... definitely not the smoothest as everyone was aching to get off. Long lines, even with self disembarking and just wheeling our little luggage off. Still, Customs in Vancouver went very quickly and we were on our way to our hotel. Beautiful weather and it was still light, so no problem.
This 3-night cruise went by so quickly, but we both enjoyed our time. I'd do it again, in a heartbeat!