Every couple of years or so my Mom and I go on a cruise together. Since she’s really into genealogy, this year she wanted to go on a cruise with a group that spends the sea days in genealogy seminars; I just wanted to go on a cruise. We ended up on a seven day Pacific Coastal cruise with Royal Caribbean that began and ended in Seattle.
We drove from Vancouver, BC down to Seattle the morning of the cruise; about a three and a half hour drive. I had arranged and prepaid for parking next to the cruise ship terminal; a free shuttle took us right to the check-in building. As we were checking in after the bulk of cruisers were already on board, we breezed right through. This may be the first time we did not get stopped to have our photo taken as we boarded, and for that I am grateful.
The Cabin and Dining
We went straight to our cabin on deck seven and to wait for our luggage which arrived not too much later. Our cabin was a standard balcony cabin; there was ample space to store luggage under the beds or in the closet. I also brought magnetic hooks which came in handy for hanging hats, robes, purses from the walls. I don’t think either of us used the small couch for anything other than accumulating things. Mom had brought a power bar and I had brought a six-port USB charger, so we were set for electronics charging.
The bathroom was quite small and I had to blowdry my hair out in the cabin but the beds were comfortable and our room steward did a great job each day. We didn’t spend a lot of time out on the small balcony, but it was nice to have it and it was quite private.
After a brief meet and greet with the genealogy group it was time to get ready for dinner. The group was scheduled to sit together for the 5:30 pm dining time. When I first saw this I groaned. I know no one who eats dinner at 5:30; that’s basically snack time. I decided to suck it up and just deal with it. Surprisingly, as the week went on, I came to enjoy eating at this early hour. It was probably the company. I truly enjoyed sitting with these people for dinner all week and looked forward to seeing them.
Also, if you always eat at the same table on a cruise ship, your servers will come to know you and anticipate what you want. I laughed out loud the first time our server brought me a glass of wine without me asking for it. Another woman at our table could not tolerate gluten and our servers brought out tomorrow’s menu for her to peruse each evening and also brought her out special bread each night while everyone else had regular buns. Our servers, Steven and Jeron, were really great.
Each evening as dinner was almost over, I left the dining room to snap a sunset photo. Washington State’s was one of the best.
On one of the evenings, Mom and I dined in the extra-charge Japanese restaurant, Izumi. This was the only night we had dinner after sunset. We both had the hot stones dinner; Mom had seafood, I had beef. They heat the stones to 575 degrees and you cook your dinner on it in front of you. It was different and fun.
The buffet on deck eleven was as busy as you might expect during breakfast and lunch and there were no real indications of what direction people were lining up. We always found a seat though and the food was pretty decent.
I was pleasantly surprised that the ship’s decor was not garish. I’ve been on ships that can blind you with the neons they use. There was a lot of interesting art and music memorabilia on display as well; most of it tasteful.
I liked the “Promenade” on deck five. It was like a street with a pub, café, and shops. There were three decks of inside cabin windows facing the Promenade and we felt quite sorry for them because most evenings there was something pretty loud happening there up to 11pm and we were told they were not terribly well soundproofed.
I also liked that we didn’t have to walk through the photo gallery any time we went anywhere as it was on deck three next to the skating rink. I didn’t spend much time in the casino, but it was as loud as you might think.
Up on deck thirteen were the sporty things. A sports court, a rock climbing wall, the FlowRider, and a mini-golf course.
Deck fourteen had a lounge called Dizzy’s which was quiet during the day and a good place for a drink before dinner as it had a great view. We never used the pools or hot tubs, but many did.
The Ports of Call
I’m not sure why cruise ships stop in at Astoria. If you don’t book an excursion to Mount St. Helens, a wine tour, or to where they filmed The Goonies, there’s not much to do. Having been there before, and not terribly impressed, I stayed on the ship.
I’ve been to San Francisco several times and have always enjoyed it; this was no exception. Unusually, the ship was in port overnight, arriving in the morning and not leaving until late afternoon the next day.
Mom and I booked a Hop-on-Hop-off Big Bus tour. We only hopped off once near the Painted Ladies for lunch and the whole tour took about three hours. I was able to see some parts of the city I hadn’t seen before and Mom hadn’t been there since I was a kid so it was worth it for both of us.
The second day in San Francisco we walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf, fully aware of the tourist trap it is. Even so, Mom found earrings to match a bracelet she already had and the saleswoman was basically a show unto herself. Mom got a free pearl out of the deal too. I loaded up on salt water taffy to take home.
Our last stop before heading back to Seattle was Victoria, BC. As we are very familiar with the city and have family there, Mom and I met two of my cousins for a lovely Italian lunch, did a little window shopping, and headed back to the ship.
We toyed with the idea of dragging our own luggage off the ship so we wouldn’t have to leave it out in the hallway the night before, but we would have had to leave before 8 am. As it was we were off the ship by 9 am, whisked through customs after a brief interlude of having to find Mom’s luggage in the wrong area and were on the shuttle to the parking lot by 9:30.
All in all, it was a pretty good cruise. We met some nice people, I played some trivia and won a Royal Caribbean zipper pull (woot!), probably gained a few pounds (even with all the walking), and relaxed and read my book on the sea days while Mom was in class.
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