Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and Disembarkation

posted in: Alaska, Canada | 2

Just two more days left in our Alaskan cruise. 😳 From Prince Rupert the Nieuw Amsterdam headed to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada taking the outside route on the western side of Vancouver Island.

Once again, the distances here in Alaska and Canada are impressive. Victoria was over 530 nautical miles from Prince Rupert so there was a long day at sea.

Friday, May 19 was an overcast foggy day on the water, but there was plenty to do. I watched a sushi demo by a famous chef, Andy Matsuda. It was interesting but I don’t like sushi so…..😵‍💫 We both attended a presentation, “A City on the Sea”, all about behind the scenes on the ship. Now that was interesting. The ship is very environmentally conscious when it comes to watermaking, recycling, and waste processing. The presentation was good but it would have been so very cool if it was an actual tour in those hidden places around the ship.

The day’s itinerary included “On Deck for a Cause,” a 5K walk around the Promenade Deck 3. A donation of $25 each goes to Alaska Geographic, a nonprofit organization supporting the public lands and park of Alaska. We thought that sounded like a good cause and a fun thing to do. Expecting lots of participants, we were really surprised that only NINE passengers showed up for this! (Any connection to the number of wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen machines that we saw? 🥴) The fitness director looked quite fit and enthusiastic, but he dropped out of the walk and disappeared halfway through. We did the entire 5K (9 times around the deck) partnering with George, an 83-year old guy who was quite fit.

“On Deck for a Cause”

The evening entertainment throughout the cruise was really good.

In addition to Wes and Tori singing and playing piano, there was BB King Blues Club, Step One Dance Company, Elliot Finkel, a classical pianist, and comedian Ken Boyd, really funny and engaging.
Our favorite entertainment of the cruise was a group called Boy Band Evolution. The name put me off at first, but we stopped in to see the 7:00 pm show and then returned at 9:00 pm to watch them again.
A 30-second video of BBE singing one of my favorite songs. How many songs have the words trigonometry, algebra and slide rule in the lyrics? How could it not be a favorite of mine? Trivia question: What’s the name of the song and what 1985 film featured the song? (Answer at the end of the post.)

Saturday, May 20

8:00 am rounding the southern tip of Vancouver Island in Juan de Luca Strait. The low lying cloud bank interrupts the view of the island.

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and reported to be a beautiful and walkable city. We were looking forward to a day of exploration on our own, but I woke up and did not feel so great. Determined not to miss anything, we hopped on the shuttle anyway for a short ride into downtown Victoria.

The Empress Hotel, built in 1908 in Châteauesque-style (steeply pitched, hipped and/or gabled roofs, topped by finials) was quite impressive. It is considered one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. 

The Empress. The name says it all – this is a place of grandeur.
The lobby in The Empress.
The Empress is famous for its afternoon “high tea.” A quick look at the menu and price online was discouraging. $95 per person and the reviews were not good at all. Oh well, moving on…..
The Legislative Assembly Parliament Building is known for the neo-Baroque architectural style. Built in 1893.
Victoria is very green with trees and flower beds all around. This foliage sculpture of orcas was particularly nice.
A statue of the Canadian artist Emily Carr in her hometown, Victoria. She is seated with her sketchpad, her monkey ‘Woo’ perched on her shoulder and her dog ‘Billie’ standing nearby (behind.)
Oh, and there is also a guy named Al standing next to her.

We were blessed with another stunning day, perfect for walking around. Our feet naturally gravitated to the Inner Harbor.

Victoria would be a lovely city to visit by boat.

Al has eyes like an eagle when it comes to spotting boats. Sure enough, he recognized an older wooden boat from a YouTube channel he watches, “Travels with Geordie.”

Peter Knowles’ YouTube channel “Travels with Geordie” focuses on his restoration of a 1953 38′ Monk classic mahogany motor cruiser.
We walked over closer to see if this boat was really Lady Zephyr, Peter’s lady friend’s boat. Yes, it was! Geordie was not in Victoria any longer.

Continuing our walk along the Inner Harbor we made it to the Chinatown neighborhood in Victoria, the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco. Its beginnings stem from the migration of Chinese miners from California to what is now British Columbia in 1858.

Fan Tan Alley, a famous “street” in Victoria’s Chinatown, became known for gambling and got its Fan Tan name from the card game of the same name during the 1910s. 

Entrance to Fan Tan Alley
Walking through the alley and looking upward. Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest commercial street in North America, three feet at its narrowest and up to six feet wide and 240 feet long.

I wanted to explore so much of Victoria, it looked like an amazing city with so much to see and do, but by this time I was feeling quite badly. The headache, fatigue combined with fever and chills forced us to return to the ship where I spent the rest of the day in bed.

That evening we had to pack everything back up for the return home. Why is it so much harder to get things back into the suitcases after the trip? Everyone’s baggage had to be packed and put outside the cabin door by midnight on Saturday.

Sunday, May 21st was disembarkation day in Vancouver with a full day of bus ride, flights and a car ride to travel home. It is not a day I wish to remember. Still feeling poorly, I wore a mask on the entire trip home. By the time we arrived home, just before 1:00 am I was feeling worse and so I took a covid test. POSITIVE. What a way to end this adventure. Better than getting it at the beginning of the trip, right?

Final thoughts about our trip? Alaska is truly an amazing place and I am so glad we had a chance to see it, even though we barely scratched the surface of this unique place. Seeing Alaska by cruise ship has advantages. The distances are so immense that a cruise ship allows you to visit more places without packing and unpacking or driving for hours and days. There is also the advantages of no cooking and cleaning, plus a variety of entertainment every evening. But…… and this is my own personal but, I doubt I will go on another cruise. Too many people. Mostly, though, I would have liked to spend more time in each port and explore it in more depth at our own pace. The excursions we chose were great but the ship is only in each port for 6-8 hours. We are spoiled with our own boat where we can stop and stay as long as we want.

And that is exactly what we are doing now – enjoying our Kindred Spirit and summer cruising here in New England, without writing any more blog posts for a while.

Answer to Trivia Question:

The song is “What a Wonderful World It Would Be” (my favorite version is by Sam Cooke). The movie is the 1985 film, Witness, starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis.

2 Responses

  1. Claire Taylor

    Sorry you ended the trip with Covid, but glad it was at the end of the trip and not the beginning! Hope you are feeling better now. Was an awesome trip though! Enjoyed it through your eyes! Thank you! Claire and Dick

    • watsons

      Thanks, Claire and Dick. We sure do miss you here at Shennecossett!

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