It is not exactly company policy to make a scenic cruise announcement at 06.00 in the morning but I was very tempted to do so. What we had this morning was a picture postcard arrival. It was still dark (with Sun rise being at 7 am) when we started the approach around 05.30 towards the Lions Gate Bridge and the Vancouver sky line was lit up like a Fancy Fair. We had crystal clear skies, wind still weather and it all just looked as if on a postcard. It was in one word beautiful. This was my 235th cruise to Alaska and I think this Vancouver arrival was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I was glad to see that at least about a 100 guests were out on deck, alerted by me the day before that we would have nice weather in Vancouver. But I could not have predicted this in my wildest dreams.
During the night, the pilots had made arrangements about the pecking order for going under the bridge and the Norwegian Pearl and Golden Princess were leading the convoy as they had to go the deepest into the harbor, docking at Ballantyne Pier and Canada Place East. Then it was our turn, as we were going to Canada Place West followed by the Zaandam at Canada Place North. When there is a ship at the North dock, (which is really the top end of the West side) it is harder for the ship at the West dock to come in and thus the Zaandam followed us in. By 06.25 we were under the bridge and slowly following the Golden Princess as she was backing into the berth but had to swing off the pier first.
By 07.00 hrs we were alongside and at 07.01 we threw our first heaving line ashore to hand out the mooring lines. We have to wait until exactly after 07.00 to avoid paying extra overtime for the longshoremen. During the coastal season, the longshoremen who deal with the supplies and luggage also act as linesmen. When we go deep sea, there are deep sea linesmen coming to do the job. It all has to do with regulations and union contracts. Sometimes I do not understand it all but we comply and watch the clock until the magical first second after 7 appears on the screen.
It being a Sunday, and a nice day, it was very busy on the promenade of Canada Place, so the navigators had quite a hard time concentrating on their daily chores as Canada flaunted all the beauty it could show. Binoculars are a great invention but sometimes also a great distraction. I was busy with my navigation puzzle (after having put down the binoculars……..) about sailing to Victoria, which is our next port of call. It is only an 85 mile distance, but if you sail all night, then the ship will have to travel at an approximate speed of 7 knots. We are required by schedule and contract to depart just before 17.00 hrs and we cannot arrive before 06.00 in Victoria. So after confirmation by the agent I decided to go for the middle way. Sail with full maneuvering speed to Victoria anchorage, spend the night there, raise the anchor at 05.00 and be docked by 06.00. With the nice weather the anchorage is a good place to be and you can see the night sky line of Victoria at the horizon.
This cruise concluded the Alaska season for the Statendam. Next year the ship is back as the only S class ship still visiting Alaska. Bigger ships are being sent all the time to this popular destination and I am wondering what is going to happen as soon as the new & bigger Panama Canal locks are being opened. We might get an Allure of the Seas coming up the coast. Just imagine 6000+ guests invading Columbian Emeralds in Ketchikan.
I was pleased to meet several of my blog readers during this cruise. It does give me the feeling that I am not writing it all for myself. Thank you to all who were on board, and especially to missedcareeratsea for being on board and for waving goodbye to us for the very last time this season.
We did leave on time; following the Zaandam out. She is going directly to Hawaii, while we first call at Victoria before sailing south to San Diego. We have a full house on board but about 500 guests will only stay for the coastal part and will leave in San Diego. They will be replaced with new guests, so we should be sailing full again on our coming Trans Canal