San Diego to Victoria

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - Day 30 – At sea, enroute to San Diego

This is our last day of the cruise. I have breakfast in La Fontaine dining room, and a couple from San Diego I met a couple of weeks ago at breakfast are seated with me again. They related a hilarious story about a flood of water they had coming down the wall behind the toilet in their cabin. Her husband sat on the edge of the tub and kept pressing the toilet flush button to prevent the water from flooding the rest of the cabin, while she flagged down someone to come fix the problem. He sat there for 20 minutes before a repairman finally arrived, and the guy was amazed at their ingenuity. He opined that most passengers would have let the cabin flood! I had to chime in and suggest she missed a golden opportunity to take a photo of her husband while he was in the bathroom, have a print made, and enter it in the photo contest under “People”. That broke up the whole table!

I go out on the Lower Promenade Deck after breakfast and see a pod of dolphins beside the ship. The outside temperature this morning is only 16°C - time to wear a jacket! The ship's staff stage the farewell show this morning. It was great to see all the serving staff and cabin stewards. The show was the same format and script as last year’s on Volendam. My evaluation survey arrives after lunch, so I put a fleece jacket on and go out on the Lower Promenade Deck to fill it out while I experience the last day on the ship. I complain about the lack of enrichment speakers, but otherwise give them an excellent grade.

We had some moderately rough seas last night, but by this afternoon the sea has smoothed out. We are left with a slow, rolling sea almost the length of Rotterdam, which means she noses into the trough, then pulls up and out, so the view from the stern decks is of the horizon bobbing up and down slowly. Some people are getting seasick…on their last night aboard!

After dinner, I get serious about packing. In order to have my bag transferred to dockside tomorrow morning, it has to be out in the hallway by 1AM for pickup. After packing everything into my main bag, it feels heavier than when I arrived! Oh well, there isn’t anything I can do about it. Alaska Airlines charges US$20 per bag, so I’m sure they will tell me and charge me more if it is overweight. I just want to get the packing done so I can put my bag out for pickup, and then get to bed. The announcements for seeing immigration will apparently start as early as 6:15AM tomorrow morning. My friends and I are all scheduled to disembark at 9AM, the first time slot tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - Day 31 – San Diego to Victoria

I wake up around 5:30AM this morning as the transverse thrusters are turned on in preparation for our arrival in San Diego. This has been my wake call whenever the ship is arriving in port throughout the whole cruise. Thom the Cruise Director comes on the PA system at 6:30AM explaining how the disembarkation process will work, although we were already briefed at the Farewell Event yesterday. My deck ends up being called upstairs to clear U.S. Immigration fairly early, so after I go to the Lido buffet for breakfast around 8AM. I get to say goodbye to a steward who calls me by name and is always joking around.

The immigration clearance is going well for the rest of the passengers, and they appear to be ahead of schedule before things go off the rails. They can’t find a Mr. Jones, and until every last person clears immigration, nobody can leave the ship. The Express Departure time of 8:45AM goes by, as well as our departure window of 9:00AM. Finally about 9:15AM, they announce the Express passengers can leave the ship. We are called at about 9:45AM, which still leaves us plenty of time to find our bags and catch a taxi to the San Diego airport. After arriving about 20 minutes later at the airport, we check in with no line up, and then it takes 20 minutes to go through the security check to get to our gate.

There are lots of Rotterdam passengers aboard this flight, and the flight is also full of holiday travellers. San Diego airport has free Internet like Vancouver, which is a great idea. Of course, the system is swamped, but I manage to catch up with my email and facebook before they start loading the flight. As usual, Alaska is using a newer Boeing 737-800, and flight 483 departs on time at 12:20PM. I manage to take a few photos of San Diego from the air before the aircraft turns north.

Alaska Airlines offers in-flight Internet through the Gogo service. They want US$9.95 for the two-hour flight, which is a bit rich, but I might be interested if this were a longer flight. As the flight progresses, the landscape changes from farming valleys with irrigation ditches to desert, and later to frozen lakes and some snow cover. We hit a few bumps in the middle of the flight, so the pilots climb to a new flight level and things smooth out again. Horizon Airlines flight 2388 from Seatac to Victoria leaves on time, my bag appears on the belt in Victoria Airport, I clear Customs and Immigration, and I’m driving home by 6:30PM. It’s good to be home.

 

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