VIIIAlaska08: Home Again

Cruise to Vancouver, Flight Home to Memphis

 

July 28- August 6, 2008

 

IAlaska08: Flight to Vancouver

VAlaska08: Skagway & Train Ride

IIAlaska08: Visit to Butchart Gardens

VIAlaska08: Glacier Bay

IIIAlaska08: Ship M/S Ryndam

VII: Shopping in Ketchikan

IVAlaska08: Juneau for Whale Watch

VIII: Flight Home to Memphis

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

Return To Nolan Travels Home Page (Page updated Aug. 28, 2008)

 

(To View Photo Album of 298 Pictures mainly taken by Betty Nolan, go to http://ritzpix.com, sign in and look for lewis_nolan/ photos. Or, email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com so he can send you a link with automatic admission to the website.)

 

Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008 – Cruise to Vancouver and Flight Home to Memphis

 

I was awakened at 7:40 a.m. when a ship steward knocked on our cabin door to deliver the hot breakfast I’d ordered the previous night. This was a later time than usual for me to be up and about, probably due to the lateness of the hour of our retiring due to the Chocolate Extravagaza last night.

 

As usual, I greatly enjoyed the full breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns, whole wheat toast, slice of fresh orange, tomato juice, Diet Coke and glass of ice water. With today spent at sea steaming back to Vancouver, we were in no hurry to get our activities underway. Betty read while I relaxed over another really good breakfast.

 

From the two picture windows in our cabin on the port side of the center of our ship, the M/S Ryndam, we had an excellent view of the flat sea. Unlike on previous days, there was no shoreline in sight or even a glimpse of distant mountains. A little later in the morning, a bank of fog “crept in on little cat feet” as poet Carl Sandberg would say. I napped while Betty laundered our jeans and a few other clothes in a handy, coin-operated washer in a room just around the corner. It took $2 in quarters and automatically dispensed soap.

 

Our to-date statement of ship charges was delivered in our cabin’s mail slot along with the daily edition of the New York Times News Digest. I checked the charges against our receipts and mistakenly, as it turned out, suspected they were wrongfully charging us $20 a day for the delivery of two rather than one breakfast. However, an amiable conversation with business office clerk Joanna revealed to me that the surprise $10-per person a day charge for room service was justified since it covered room cleaning, etc.

 

I related to Joanna our pleasure with the luxury and service of the ship but unhappiness with the “no show” of Holland America’s bus vendor service from the airport to our hotel and the fact that the lateness of our arrival meant we had to pay high charges for after-hour hotel room service delivery of a sandwich and couple of beers. She was very nice, apologized on behalf of the ship, talked to her boss and quickly told us that the ship would give us a $100 refund to make amends. I opted to have that sum deducted from our to-date charges of $292 covering our purchase of three bottles of wine for dinner (an $89 special we spaced out over seven dinners) plus assorted beers, margaritas and taxes.

 

(Upon arriving home, I wrote a letter to Holland America’s Guest Relations spelling out my complaints over their vendor bus service and asking that Joanna’s boss be notified of her excellent corrective action.  But three weeks later, I had only received a polite letter telling me they would investigate. I hope my compliment about her good work somehow got noted.

 

For lunch, I had my usual grilled cheeseburger with French fries, a couple of slices of pizza and a few tortilla chips with guacamole dip plus Diet Coke. Betty got her lunch on a buffet tray in the Lido Restaurant, which consisted of delicious pizza with a thin crust and only a dusting of cheese (the best pizza I’d tasted since we ate at a café on France’s Cote D’Azur several years ago). Dr. Ulrich Bauer and wife Susie joined us and we had a great conversation as we looked out the dining area’s huge windows at the fog-covered ocean.

 

Later, the fog lifted and we spotted a pod of Orcas (commonly known as Killer Whales even though they are flesh-eating members of the porpoise family) porpoising through the waves 200-or-300 yards off the starboard beam of the ship. It must have been a migrating family to have been so far from shore.

 

We stopped by the Internet Café and I was charged $8.25 on a special rate to check my email. We used the ship’s service to print out our airline boarding passes for the next day’s Delta flight from Vancouver to Atlanta and the connecting flight to Memphis. It was more of a hassle than it should have been since the young man running the Internet Café didn’t tell us we would need our Passport numbers to complete the online check-in. So we effectively wasted half our pre-paid Internet time while Betty retrieved our Passports from the cabin.

 

Later, we joined a flood of ship’s passengers for a 1-hour, 2-for-1 drink special at the ship’s Ocean Bar. We enjoyed our weak margaritas and not long afterwards joined Ulrich and Susie and Tony and Shelly in the Rotterdam Restaurant for another excellent dinner with very good company. I had a salmon appetizer, Caesar Salad and a half-dozen genuine scallops served over spiced rice. Betty also had scallops and a bowl of Strawberry Bisque. We finished a bottle of California Chardonnay from last night and had wonderful crème brulee for dessert.

 

After dinner, I checked on the status of the adjustment to our room charges bill and was politely informed by an Asian clerk that the promised $100 had already been credited to our account.

 

Back in the cabin, Betty packed our two checkable bags and put them out in the corridor as instructed. We retired early and planned to attend the ship’s disembarkation briefing at 7:45 in the morning.

 

Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2008 – Passing through Customs, Flights Home from Vancouver

 

We were up early at 6 a.m. when the steward delivered my usual excellent breakfast, only missing the usual Diet Coke since our room charges account had been frozen after I paid total charges of $232 in full with American Express.

 

As promised, the final statement slipped under our cabin door reflected the $100 credit given in apology for our problems with vendor bus service.

 

We reported to Vermeer Lounge on the 7th Level for the 7:45 a.m. disembarkation briefing. We visited with Susie and Ulrich, said our good-byes and invited them to come to Memphis and stay with us as our guests. We were pleased when they readily accepted (and stayed in touch with us by Internet and Mail later). It’s been fun getting to know such intelligent people with their most interesting, good fortune in having braved and escaped the horrors of Nazi Germany to remarkable and worthy new lives in America.

 

After deboarding the ship at a downtown cruise ships pier, Betty and I rode a bus with a jokester driver for the one-hour ride to the Vancouver Airport. Once at the airport, we picked up our luggage at the appointed place where it had been trucked. We waited in line for at least 30 minutes to pass through Immigration and Customs without delay. We ate lunch and waited nearly 2 hours for the Delta flight to Atlanta, connecting on time there with another Delta flight to Memphis.

 

We arrived in Memphis just before 10 p.m. We had to wait a bit to collect our bags then paid a taxi driver $25 to take us home. We were tired from the long day of traveling, but were satisfied that this has been one of our better trips. I am impressed with the efficiency and hospitality of the Holland America line and its ship’s crew.

 

Continue With Part I of Alaska Trip Travelogue  /  Return To Nolan Travels