I woke up Monday morning still needing to do some laundry for the trip. 6 a.m. I pulled myself out of bed and started packing. I quickly realized I had no clean underwear except for some ugly old boxers, and I couldn't wear that pair for three days straight. So a load went into the washer, even though we aren't supposed to be using the laundry at that hour. No one complained though. Thus preventing complaints from my co-workers on the trip.
Got everything packed (well, mostly, I always forget something) and headed up to Eastlake and Lynn to catch the bus. As is always the case when I have a deadline, the bus gods seemed conspire against me. Bus didn't come until 10 to 8. I needed to be in Bellevue by 8:45 to catch our charter to Vancouver. I knew the bus would deposit me downtown too late to catch my 554. I know my schedules. Got downtown and confirmed this.
I decided to swing by Melange to pick up food for the trip to Vancouvewr, the called a cab. Got to Bellevue around 8:55, just barely in time to grab my passport from my office and board the bus.
I bought my New York Times for reading material (as well as 6 books for the cruise itself), which I read between Bellevue and Everett. After that, I alternately dozed and chatted with Laurie, Gretchen, Tamara and Keri. All except Keri married and working directly in my group so they are off limits by policy (both my employer's and mine).
Things got interesting when we got to the border crossing into Canada. Turns out our driver had never piloted a group to Canada before, and so had not picked up the required Canadian customs forms prior to the trip. This made the border official quite grumpy. Or perhaps it only soured him even further. We all filled out our forms, disembarked the bus, filed past the official, then reboarded. Only no one was watching the bus while we were inside. It occurred to me that any troublesome person could simply have not walked through the government-induced line and slipped into Canada without any documentation whatsoever.
Afterward, our driver took a right and started heading east, rather than toward Vancouver. It quickly became apparent he wasn't quite up for the job when he picked probably the absolute worst place I could see to turn a large Greyhound size bus around. In the process, he depleted the compressed our used by the brakes. THey could not be released, and so we waited for 10 minutes while the engine compressed enough air to release them.
We got back on track and headed toward Vancouver, or so we though. Again, he missed a turn. Only this time he didn't seem aware of it. Stella, a frequent Vancouver visitor for their excellent shopping opportunity, hurriedly clambered to the front of the bus to correct him. We turned off the paved road. Beware any instructions that direct a driver to
exit the paved road. That's just a piece of advice from me. After another extended delay where our driver decided to turn the bus around in what qualified only as a wide spit in the road, we headed on to the freeway into Vancouver.
At this point, everything was hunky-dory. Princess nicely allowed me to check my luggage so that I did not have to lug it to my cabin, nor drag it around as I stood in various lines to pass through customs and immigration to get back into the country I left merely an hour prior.
First thing I did was check out my cabin. I knew I had been upgraded from my original cabin. THe ship was largely empty, and so giving passengers upgrades costs nothing to the cruise line and helps improve the chances that a customer will return on a later cruise. It wasn't exactly spacious. Perhaps slightly smaller than a room at Motel 6. The balcony was much smaller than the diagram on Princess' web site showed. On the diagram, two chaise lounges as well as a small table and plastic chair sat on the balcony. In reality, to plastic patio chairs and a small plastic table barely fit there. Still, it was nice to be able to sit there and appreciate the ocean by myself.
Next entry, Embarkation (Cruise day 1).