Ron and Darold’s Travel Blog 2017 - HAL 80 day Cruise: Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage

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October 13th 2017
Published: October 13th 2017
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September 28, 2017 – Autumn Leaves in the Rockies.

We began our adventure on September 27th, leaving Victoria shortly after moving all our belongings into storage and cleaning our condo into pearl condition (thank you so much Anita and KPL – you rock!). The familiar trip through the Rockies was a fabulous new experience with the autumn foliage shining brilliant yellows, reds and orange against the evergreens and majestic mountains. We stopped briefly in Jasper reacquainting ourselves with Alberta and the beauty of our home province.

We arrived in Edmonton to celebrate Darold’s birthday with his family at the Moose Factory in South Edmonton. After a wonderful visit, we stayed with Darold’s brother, Shawn and Karen (thank you for your gracious hospitality) who live in Downtown Edmonton on 104th street. We were amazed at the transformation of Downtown Edmonton over the 7 years since we had left Alberta. It is vibrant and dynamic as every major city should be!!!

The next day after visiting our dear friends Mel and Gilbert, we made our way to Westlock to visit Ron’s family to celebrate all September birthdays; Darold’s, Darlene’s and mine. As always, it was a fun visit filled with the gregarious laughter that only comes from our unique Schuster humour. We overnighted at Dave and Elaine’s lovely Long Island Lake home (thank you for your kindness and for the airport trip) then began our travels on Darold’s birthday, September 30th flying into San Diego.

October 1, 2017 - Bon Voyage!!!

After an overnight stay in San Diego at the Best Western Seven Seas we took a cab to our ship, the Holland America MS Amsterdam, in San Diego harbor. The Seven Seas is a lovely sprawling motel style resort with Palm Trees, restaurants and bar, hot tubs and a pool (but don’t believe them it is not near the airport or the heart of the downtown). It is an area with a row of hotels and there is a fashion mall within a 15 minute walk where you can take a train to the old town of San Diego and/or go further into the downtown and Harbour area. The harbor is near the heart of the downtown center (105st where the nightlife thrives with lots of bars and restaurants).

We checked into the Amsterdam very quickly, as we went to the line that was for 1 star Mariner’s (HAL’s frequent traveler’s program) or less. There was no one in our line! We discovered we were the minority as most of the 986 guests were 4 or 5 star Mariners (having sailed over 300 and 500 days respectively). A lot of our fellow guests knew each other having sailed on many other of Holland America’s long voyage itineraries. A lot of them were already booked on the upcoming 120 day World cruise that leaves in January 2018. Talk about loyalty – and a healthy disposable income!!!

Our bon voyage party was great fun. Free drinks for all and incredible appetizers on the top aft (rear) deck by the pool, all gaily decorated for our send off. We looked into the adoring crowd on shore waving us off but didn’t see any of your faces! I hope we didn’t miss any of you. The staff and guests are so friendly it was easy to meet new friends. The Amsterdam was docked next to the battleship Missouri (which is now a Museum) which you can see behind the Photo of Darold. We sipped Margueritas and watched the busy harbor with the airport only a short distance away!

October 12, 2017 – 11 Days At Sea!

After our first 5 days at sea we were looking forward to our stop in Alaska but as we approached Dutch Harbour, the day before our scheduled arrival, the captain announced that we would not be stopping due to inclement weather. This now made it 11 days at sea before our first stop in Kushiro, Japan on the island of Hokkaido! We lost Monday, October 9th crossing the International Date Line. It just didn’t happen. That is why we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving on Sunday, October 8th (see the pictures at our decadent brunch) and we are saying 11 days versus 12 days!

Many of our friends and family wondered how we would do on an 80 day cruise and whether we would be bored. There is so much to do on the ship that it is the opposite! We can’t find enough time to do all the things we want to do. As I said, I am writing this after 11 days at sea and the day before our arrival in Kushiro where I plan to post this blog. We fell into a daily routine that gets shaken up for variety occasionally but look at all the things we are doing; watercolor painting, reading, writing, researching our ports of call, daily trivia with our team – “the wanna be’s”, happy hours with our new friends, gourmet brunches and meals, daily workouts (to offset the previous decadence), games and enjoying the daily entertainers on board. We didn’t have enough time to join the incredible cooking lessons at the “America’s Test Kitchen” daily which we both were very interested in. Hopefully we can fit that in later!

We both are loving our watercolor lessons. I am now using everything that I learned taking art courses at Red Deer College. I now sketch my own watercolors then paint them (see one of my latest below). We are close to the youngest passengers on board with the average probably being around 72.

While we are enjoying the beginning of our semi-retirement we often miss and think fondly of our friends and family. Cheers!

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


13th October 2017

Looks and sounds like a yummy trip. . Enjoy it lots and keep us 'drooling'. . .looking forward to the next installment
13th October 2017

Hey Uncle Ronnie and Uncle Darold! Can't wait to hear about all of your amazing adventures you're about to experience. Keep the blog posts and the pictures coming :)
13th October 2017

I love your water painting Ron! Have a great trip!
16th October 2017

Well deserved
Looks like an amazing time. Well written. Thanks.
18th October 2017

Thanks for your blog post!
Just finished reading your post, thank you! I enjoyed it very much and hoping you'll post from Japan soon! Wishing you a safe and happy trip!

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