We arrived in Vancouver on a beautiful, sunny, warm day at the end of August to find a red blazered HAL rep waiting for us with a cab to the Pan Pacific Hotel. Our room was ready and we explored the city with a trip (by local bus) to Granville Island. That night we ate dinner in Gastown and had a leisurely walk back up the hill to Canada Place and our hotel. The next morning we boarded a 3 hr bus tour of the city (part of our package through HAL) stopping in Chinatown, Stanley Park and delivering us to the ship.
We had a painless embarkation, lunch in the Lido and a gorgeous night to sail away. Our room had a balcony which we enjoyed except for when our next door neighbor was smoking on his balcony. We ate half our dinners in the Lido, half in the Rotterdam. The food was delicious and plentiful. We always asked for a table for two in the MDR with no reservation, except for the one formal night we attended. We never had to wait at all for a table and never had to share at table. Service all over the ship was excellent. Sometimes it was difficult to find a table in the Lido and then we'd have to eat in the pool area, which was sometimes cold and damp. One morning we had room service but found the coffee lukewarm so didn't repeat that. Our room was comfortable and our stewards must have refilled our ice bucket 3 times a day. Chocolate was waiting nightly and half the nights we found towel animals.
We attended all the shows which featured the singers and dancers which we enjoyed. The entertainers are a very talented group of young people. We did not attend the comedian, magician or crew shows. We watched a movie one night. Each night we'd go to the Crow's Nest to listen to Monica and the HALcats. Great band!!! We also enjoyed the string quartet and the 3 piece lounge band. We gambled some in the slot machines, won more than we lost. Each morning my husband would work out in the gym and I would walk the deck for an hour. Other times on the ship, we would read in the library, watch movies in our room, or just nap.
Disembarking was also a breeze. Aside from my suitcase losing a wheel (could happen anywhere) we were out of the ship area in about 5 mins.
With the heat of the East Coast summer, this was a wonderful break. We came home to some more 90+ weather, but just looking at my pictures of the glaciers took off some of the heat and humidity.
Glacier Bay National Park, although not a port, was in my opinion the high point of the cruise. Capt. Bos's enthusiasm for this area "my favorite place in the world" was certainly contagious. He announced each sighting of bear, whale, goat, white lightning (when part of the glacier breaks off into the water) and steered the ship here and there for just the right amount of time to enjoy the scenery from every angle. He told us numerous times to get outside to fully enjoy this day and I'm so glad we took his advise. We stood for a long time on the bow and felt up close and personal with nature. What an experience!