May 15, 2022

May 14 - Return to Seattle and Home

The MS Eurodam returns to Seattle before sunrise. By 7:00 AM luggage is being unloaded, provisioning trucks are lined up with food, beverages and all the staples needed for the next cruise.

With the space needle not opening untill 9:00 we delay our disembarkation until 8:30

When other passengers start to disembark about 7:30 there is a light rain.  The facilities here are small and crowded compared to the ports in Florida. The terminal building is shared by two ships on opposite sides of the pier. Baggage areas and passenger processing for both ships is all in one shared space.

No facial recognition for CBP here, just old fashioned visual comparison of passport with the person presenting it. The process is quick and we are soon headed to the line of waiting taxis.  Being next in line, my carryon is placed in the trunk. When the driver learns of our destination he immediately becomes irritated. He was expecting a $50 fare to the airport and instead has a fare only going about 2 miles.

The taxi meter does not get turned on, the second indication of a bad choice.  We get to the space needle and he demands $20, more than double what the fare should be.  Of course when I try to pay with a credit card he claims the reader doesn't work and wants cash. When I ask for a written receipt he ignores me.  I have just been ripped off by Yellow Cab in Seattle.

FYI. App services like Uber and Lyft are not permitted near the cruise terminal and likewise are restricted to an inconvenient location at the airport. Taxis have an unfair monopoly here like in many cities.

The rain is stopping and the clouds lifting as we enter the space needle. There are lockers to store my carryon. Just not allowed in the building. The first two locker hours are free, then billed at $10 per hour.

The Space Needle has recently been refurbished and is in great condition. The elevators, smooth and swift. The glass surrounding the observation deck clean and unscratched.  The revolving glass floor looks like it has never been walked on. The view is great. The rain has stopped, and the sun is trying.

A girl about 5 or 6 is crying and scared to walk on the glass. Prodding from her mother is ineffective. Lynn goes over to the girl and calmly talks to her for a few moments. The girl then goes to her mother's side and walks out on the glass floor with a big smile as she looks down over 500 feet to the ground below. One of those moments that becomes the highlight of the day and makes the entire trip meaningful.

Having seen enough of the sights, we decide it is time to head to the airport. The locker won't open to retrieve our belongings.  It must be something left over from Friday the 13th as the worker tells us that none of the lockers have been reopening this morning, and she has had to override the system for everyone.

We catch a cab at the front entrance and head to the airport, probably a 40 minute drive with no traffic.  TSA takes about 30 to 45 minutes, and we still have hours to wait.

A sandwich and beer at one of the airport restaurants. The best hot pastrami I have had in a long time. We nurse the beer as long as possible.

Our plane  has been sitting on the tarmac for hours. About 40 minutes before liftoff, boarding begins. I take advantage of early boarding, something I very rarely do.  Our plane is an almost new 737 Max, yes the same plane that was grounded as a result of several crashes.  Comfortable seating, and extra large overhead bins that will hold full sized suitcases, a capability that many passengers greedily take advantage of. AC and USB power at every seat along with free WiFi and movies for your device that is perfectly held on the seatback in front of you.

Just before liftoff, the sun is bright. The brightest sun I have seen in days.

The flight to Orlando is long. There are frequent periods of turbulence. Beverage service is interrupted. I spend some time texting my daughters back home. I always say I will sleep on the plane, but I don't think I have ever been able to do it.

We arrive in Orlando a few minutes early at what must be the farthest terminal. The airport is nearly empty. My luggage that I last saw on the ship before docking in Seattle is on the carousel. Almost as far as possible from the arrival gate.  The parking lot bus is called. He will be there shortly at A34 to A36. Of course at the opposite end of passenger pickup from where our luggage arrived.

By 2:00 AM I am home. The AC, water, and water heater is turned on. Too tired to immediately sleep, and my internal clock still on Alaskan time, I just chill for a few minutes and enjoy an ice cold Bubly.

The end of an enjoyable week in Alaska. I currently have cruises scheduled for October and November, but of course that is likely to change.

Friday May 13 - Mostly at Sea

Our clocks were set forward 1 hour last night so we are on Seattle time when we dock Saturday.

The seas are slight, the skies mostly cloudy with an occasional patch of sun. 

Like many of the cruise lines, Holland has a program to transfer luggage directly to the airline. They print boarding passes for the flight, and luggage tags for your luggage. Place your luggage outside your cabin, and hopefully the next time you see it will be in the luggage carousel at your destination airport.  What is most surprising is that Holland does not charge extra for this service. Subject to acceptance by the airline, and I must assume CBP, our approved paperwork arrives this morning.

During a Q & A with the entertainment  manager I learn that we have 1400 passengers on this trip. 1600 were anticipated, but for whatever reasons about 200 didn't actually board the ship. Total crew is at 700.

Interestingly a question that I have heard asked many times but never answered is: "How much fuel does the ship use?" Well the captain shared that for our 7 day Alaskan cruise we will consume 700 tonnes of fuel.  That is less than one third the ship's fuel capacity, and at today's elevated oil prices, about a $700,000 fuel bill for the week.  Even sailing at our reduced capacity, that translates to about $500 in fuel per passenger for the week, or 27 cents per passenger mile including the cost of electricity for all the hotel operations. This is an older, smaller ship, newer ships are much more fuel efficient.

Several pods of whales are spotted throughout the day.  Listen to several lectures, start the packing process. The last day is always a letdown.

I banged my wrist pretty hard on arrival in Seattle a little over a week ago. From the middle of my arm to the middle of my fingers my skin is a rainbow of colors from near black and dark blue, to red and yellow. A byproduct of taking blood thinners is that I bruise very easily.  Confident nothing is broken, I should heal completely in a few weeks. In the meantime it looks pretty gross and I just need to avoid hitting it again. The other good side effect of the sore wrist is that I haven't noticed the tendonitis in my ankle very much.

Before cocktail hour I make a trip to guest services to collect some envelopes for gratuities for the dining room and my room stewards. The line is not long, but very slow. Lots of complaints about various charges. Why they don't just have a stack of envelopes available for passengers to pick up escapes my common sense. 

Stopping back at the cabin on the way to dinner, more news.  Our tour of Seattle in the morning that would drop us off at the airport has been cancelled. "Credit on your account will be forth coming."  No alternative is offered.

After some Google searching it is decided to just take a cab from the ship to the Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, it is Seattle's number one attraction. From the space needle it will be a cab to the airport.

Our last meal in the dining room is again good. The staff is appreciative of the extra gratuity. I have not seen a single passenger offer a gratuity once the entire week. Why, I am not sure, but I find it disgusting at minimum. A sad commentary on our society.

The suitcases are packed and put out in the hall. I hope mine makes it to Florida. I say that not only because of the logistics involved, but the poor design and quality of the suitcases I just bought. Maybe that we teach me to just expect that the zippers are properly located and will function on a $450 set of luggage.

Very few passengers get off the ship in Victoria. With an 8PM arrival time and disembarkation commencing just before dusk, there is not much incentive to visit the city.

The alarm is set for the first time, but I really doubt it will be needed. A week isn't long enough to adjust to a four hour time difference.