We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am, went through security, and checked in with no issues. This took approx. 20 mins. We were hoping to get right on the ship as we have done in the past. We had to wait till about 11:40 before they started to board. During check in, she told us that the repeaters lunch would be in the Fontaine dining room starting at 11:30am and would go until 1:30pm. We much prefer a nice sit down lunch to the chaos in the Lido. When boarding started we were one of the first ones on as we had booked a Deluxe Verandah Suite. The pursers were directing us to the Lido (8th floor) We told him we were going to the repeaters lunch. He responded by saying there in fact was no repeaters lunch and again told us to go to the Lido. Not quite believing him, we found our way to the dining room to see for ourselves and indeed, they were serving lunch. Sat down and had a wonderful lunch of shrimp cocktail, cream of broccoli soup and grilled salmon.
After lunch we headed to our suite. Stateroom 7052. It was wonderful. Sitting area, large balcony, king sized bed and pull out couch. Nice sized dressing room w/sink, closets and separate bathroom with a shower. We had fresh flowers in the room and a bottle of champagne from the captain. We headed to the Neptune Lounge where they were serving champagne for disembarkation. We really liked the lounge as they had a concierge, all day snacks, mini sandwiches, cookies, wonderful coffee machine, hot tea, water, ice tea, and cranberry juice always available for those on the Suite/Penthouse level.
3:15pm rolled around and everyone headed to the lifeboat drill. Having been through these a few times I was surprised to see they were actually taking roll call to make sure everyone was present and accounted for at their correct stations. If you were not there, you had to leave the ship. It took a bit longer with this process but I understand why they do it this way now considering what happened to the Costa Concordia.
5pm exactly we pulled away from Vancouver headed to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Even though it was a rainy day we still used the aft pool as the water temp was at least 100F. It felt like a huge hot tub. Despite the pictures posted here on Cruise Critic for the Amsterdam, there are no hot tubs at the aft pool. The only 2 hot tubs aboard are at the Lido pool.
We arrived in Port Alberni and tendered into town. We walked around for about an hour and headed back to the ship. Not much to see there, a fish market, donut shop, some little touristy shops, a few places to eat. But they had a band playing in the square and the town did a really nice job making us feel welcome. We did not do any shore excursions here.
We got a letter in our stateroom about going through customs in Seattle. Even though we were not getting off the ship in Seattle, everyone had to go through customs. This was a little irritating (but not the ships fault). We were hoping to sleep in and enjoy a nice relaxing day at the spa. They started calling people by the first letters of their last names at 8am. Since we had a suite we could leave the ship at anytime in the morning, but they would not let anyone back on the ship until everyone was off. We got off at 9:30am (when they were on the "Z"s), went into the building, waited in a bit of aline, got through customs fast, and we were directed to the waiting area to get back onboard. There were about 100 of us there. It would have been nice to have a huge urn of coffee, maybe someone walking around playing a guitar or violin. Something to think about since we were all kind of stuck there. We felt sorry for the people who actually got off at 8am and had to wait till 10:30am to get back on.
Had a nice day in Seattle on the ship using the water treatment part of the spa. $20 charge for this. We enjoyed the steam room, rain showers, and mineral whirlpool. The heated loungers are always a nice treat!
4pm rolled around and the ship switched from power at the pier to ship power. Well the ship totally lost power. The captain came on and said they were trying to solve the problem and would keep us updated. While waiting we took a walk around the ship to see what everyone was up to. Only 1 elevator was working. We walked up to the Crows Nest and people seemed to be in good spirits, still drinking and chatting. By this time they ship was out of power for about 2 hours. We walked past the front desk and there was a line of people complaining. 2 woman actually wanted off the ship. We heard rumors that sewage was seeping down the walls of some the 5th floor rooms. We had no problems. After about 2 1/2 hours we were plugged back into the pier and power came back on with the Captains apologies. We did not end up leaving Seattle till 10pm as they had to fix the breaker that blew. The power outage really did not effect us. It was not like we were in the middle of nowhere, we just could not flush our toilet, so we curbed our wine consumption for a couple hours. :) Some are so quick to panic.
Entertainment on board was awesome. We had a magic show one night that was amazing! There was a movie theater but we didn't partake. We did however enjoy the "guess that tune" at the piano bar for 2 nights. The woman who was playing piano was awesome. She played sax as well! Very talented. And of course we always ended up in the Crows Next for dancing.
Dining was wonderful. We did not have a bad meal while on board. We ate dinner in the Fontaine Dining room for 2 nights and on our last night at the Pinnacle Grill. The nice thing about the Fontaine Dining Room is that the portions are not huge, so you can easily enjoy a 5 course dinner. My sister asked for a grilled chicken breast on top of her pasta one night and they did it for her no problem. The waiters are really nice and make a point of getting to know your name. We did not hit the lido buffet once during the trip. We enjoyed room service breakfast in our stateroom every morning and tea sandwiches in the Neptune Lounge for lunch. We did, however, stop by the Lido pool one afternoon to grab some nachos. They have a window at the back of the Lido deck where you can order burgers, hot dogs, turkey burgers etc. Make your own nachos and cheese are an old time HAL fave. for us we couldn't pass up!
The food at the Pinnacle Grill was fantastic and WELL worth the $25 charge. We noticed the portions were much larger here. Massive Jumbo Shrimp cocktail, and wonderful Thai coconut soup to die for. They do a ceasar salad tableside. My fillet was cooked perfectly as were the sides. (mushrooms and potatoes) a wonderful chocolate Grand Marnier dessert that was served warm...almost like a bread pudding. A nice touch that we were given a glass of free champagne that night after dinner as an apology from the Captain for the power outage earlier. **Note, plan on a long dinner here. Ours took about 3 hours, but we really liked the fact they were not rushing us and we could relax between courses. Service here was really great too.
Drinks were great! On Holland America, you are allowed as much wine and champagne to bring on board as you like. So we did! We also bought a few mixed drinks. I enjoyed the "drink of the day" a few times. It was a dollar cheaper than the regular cocktails. I recommend trying a "Wang Wang" its not on the menu but just ask for one, and they will make it. Wow what a drink! In the main dining room, we just walked in with a full glass of wine from our stateroom and no one said anything to us about it.
Disembarkation in Vancouver was well organized. We ordered our last room service breakfast and left the ship at 9:30am. There was no line to get off. Canada Place was especially busy as it was the first day of Alaska season and there were 3 ships in that day including ours.
All in all a great little getaway. I wish HAL did this little 3 day cruise more that once a year! We are already planning to make this a yearly girls trip.
Thank you Holland America! Hope to be on board again before next year!!