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Arrival in Vancouver & home to Victoria

Oct 24, 2022 – Arrival in Vancouver, BC, Canada & flight home to Victoria

2022 Hawai’i Cruise

I’m awake as the ship passes English Bay and under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, sailing into Vancouver Harbour. The ship docks at Canada Place at 7:15AM – precisely as the captain predicted yesterday! I get dressed and go down to the Grand Dutch Cafe for my usual cappuccino, blueberry muffin and yogurt/fruit parfait. There is quite a line, so it takes about 20 minutes for Kaye to make my cappuccino, but I’m in no rush. After breakfast, I return to my stateroom and finish packing. By that time, the announcement is made that the ship is cleared and disembarkation is starting. 

Since I’m a 4-star Mariner, I can disembark anytime I wish up to 9:30AM. It feels pretty good to be able to bypass all the passengers waiting for their group numbers to be called as I have my keycard scanned for the last time, and roll my bags down the gangway and into the terminal. The CBSA agent welcomes me to Canada after I give them my declaration. They don’t ask to see my passport, so I walk out the terminal and turn left onto Cordova Street to walk the block in the rain to the Skytrain terminal to board the Canada Line to the airport. I mistakenly get onto the train to Brighouse-Richmond instead of YVR, but no worries since I get off at Bridgeport and board the following train to YVR three minutes later.

The South Terminal shuttle is waiting right outside the pedestrian bridge at the US departures, so I’m checked in at Pacific Coastal Airways in short order. Now I wait five hours for my 3PM flight departure to Victoria. I settle in to work on my travel photos, but have a cappuccino from the Galiano Cafe first, and then an hour or so later I have some delicious seafood soup for lunch.

Bombardier Global 6000 executive jet taxiing at YVR
Bombardier Global 6000 executive jet taxiing at YVR

I spend an hour or so this afternoon plane spotting from the platform outside, taking photos of each aircraft as they takeoff and climb out. A Bombardier Global 6000 executive jet taxis past the platform to the private terminal next to South Terminal. Perhaps there is a VIP aboard? My flight is delayed 20 minutes but otherwise the flight goes smoothly. The pilot must have had a takeoff time slot booked, since he really hustles down the taxiway to the button, not even stopping at the stop line before taking off! The flight to Victoria was a bit bumpy, since we were flying at 2,000′ below the clouds. We fly a straight in approach over Sidney to Victoria International Airport, and roll onto the taxiway 15 minutes after our takeoff from Vancouver. There is an Air North Boeing 737 aircraft on the apron in Victoria, reminding me of my flight to Whitehorse back in May.

My family is waiting for me in the baggage claim area. My checked bag is one of the first to appear on the belt, so we are out of there in quick order, driving home in the rush hour traffic.

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Departure from Vancouver

Oct 8, 2022 – Departing Vancouver aboard the Koningsdam – heading for Hawai’i

2022 Hawai’i cruise

I have a coffee in my hotel room this morning before I repack my big bag and check out of the Metropolitan Hotel, walking 10 minutes downhill to the nearby Canada Place cruise ship terminal, arriving at 10:30AM. I pre-clear US Customs and Immigration, and then wind my way through the various Holland America check-in procedures. This is the first time I’ve used Priority Boarding, since I’m now a 4-star Mariner, but we end up waiting in the terminal for almost an hour before boarding commences. I must have missed the bag drop earlier, so I wheel my big bag up the gangway, all the way onto the ship and to my stateroom, arriving at Noon.

After a quick lunch in the Lido, I wander around the various venues, since the Koningsdam is my first Pinnacle-class ship. I have a martini in the Crow’s Nest Lounge, hanging out there for awhile admiring the view of beautiful Vancouver harbour on a sunny afternoon. Later this afternoon, I meet some friends on the Sun Deck 11 as we watch our departure from Vancouver. I have my GoPro action camera fastened to my verandah rail shooting a time lapse video of the ship’s beautiful evening departure, while I’m elsewhere on the ship observing and photographing our departure using my Canon R5 mirrorless camera. 

Grilled prawns in the Canaletto
Grilled prawns in the Canaletto

Once we are clear of Vancouver, heading south through Georgia Strait, I finish unpacking and get dressed for dinner. I head for the Main Dining Room by 6:15PM, but is very busy on this first evening of the cruise, with huge lines of people waiting. I decide to have dinner at Canaletto (an Italian specialty restaurant), where I drop-in since there’s hardly anyone up there this evening. I’m fine with paying the US$12.92  charge (discounted from the regular $18 since I’m a 4* Mariner) in order to have a quiet place to eat with excellent service. The food is very tasty: Canaletto salad to start (green salad with candied pecans and vinaigrette), Grilled prawns with rice pilaf as the main, and I have an Affogado for desert and a cappuccino to finish.

BC Pilot leaving the Koningsdam offshore from Victoria
BC Pilot leaving the Koningsdam offshore from Victoria

I attend this evening’s presentation in the Main Stage – The Origin Story: Holland America Line. Jayme the Cruise Director tells the 300-year story of Holland America Line, which is quite interesting and a well-done multimedia presentation. He even mentions more recent history, where in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, Holland America worked hard to get their guests home, and to later repatriate all their crew to their home countries.

The Koningsdam is offshore from my home town of Victoria, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island around 9:30PM, where the BC pilot leaves the ship. My stateroom is right above where he transfers to the boat to take him ashore, so I get a great view of the action.

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Victoria to Vancouver

Oct 7, 2022 – Fly from Victoria to Vancouver & stay overnight

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Skytrain bridge over the Fraser River
Skytrain bridge over the Fraser River

After lunch at home, we drive to Victoria airport, where I take a Pacific Coastal Airways flight to Vancouver South Terminal (YVR), flying over the Strait of Georgia looking SE on a smokey afternoon. I take the shuttle from the South Terminal to the main terminal, and get off at the first stop (International and USA departures), walk across to the Skytrain terminal, and take the Canada Line to City Centre Station at Pacific Centre – about a half hour trip costing CA$9. The Skytrain is quite scenic as it crosses the Fraser River.

I’m staying at the Metropolitan Hotel (a Marriott), which is a half block walk from the Skytrain station. For nostalgia’s sake, I walk back to the intersection of Georgia and Granville Streets to take a few photos, and then do some last minute shopping at the London Drugs store on the corner where Birk’s Jewellers used to be when I lived here in the 1970s. The Birk’s clock is still there, but is now buried in the high-rises. After returning to the hotel, I have dinner at the hotel’s Gala bar and restaurant – a chicken clubhouse & Granville Island Pale Ale, before retiring for the night. I board the ship tomorrow.

Panorama of Georgia at Granville – Hudson’s Bay, London Drugs, Pacific Centre
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Vancouver Arrival

June 5, 2022 – Arrival in Vancouver and returning home to Victoria, BC, Canada

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I’m awake at 5:30AM, get dressed and go up to the Crow’s Nest on Deck 11 forward where the Explorations Cafe is located. The staff are preparing for opening at 7AM, but I’m interested in watching the ship pass under Lion’s Gate bridge as we sail into Vancouver. It is raining and gloomy outside, but I manage to take a time lapse video with my iPhone that captures the few minutes it takes the ship to pass under the bridge. The North Shore industrial terminal is on our left and Stanley Park is on our right as the ship makes its way through Burrard Inlet to the Cruise Ship Terminal at Canada Place in Vancouver harbour, arriving right on time at 7AM.

Time lapse video of the Nieuw Amsterdam passing under Lion’s Gate bridge, entering Vancouver harbour

I grab my last cappuccino from my favourite barista and head back down to my stateroom on deck 5, where I’m facing the dock at Canada Place. My preordered breakfast arrives at 7:30AM, right on time – my last lox, cream cheese and bagel for breakfast while aboard the ship. My debarkation time slot is second to last, so I have lots of time to relax and let everyone leave the ship. No doubt some are in a hurry to get to flights home and other onward travels. When my turn comes to leave the ship for the last time, my keycard is scanned by ship’s security, and I’m soon in the Canada Place terminal with throngs of other travellers.

Cruise passengers make their way into the city from Canada Place

It is actually pretty well organized, with lots of staff to point everyone in the right direction, and keep people moving. The Canada Border Services officers are waving everyone through, taking our customs declaration forms, but they don’t want to see passports, vaccination cards, or our bags. Perhaps this is the benefit of everyone onboard having previously entered the required personal information into the ArriveCan app. I’m soon directed to a line to wait for the bus that transfers us to Vancouver Airport. A half hour later I’m dropped off with my bag at Domestic Departures, and walk a bit further to the free South Terminal shuttle, which soon arrives, taking me on a 20-minute drive out the main terminal area and back into the south terminal area.

The south terminal used to be Vancouver’s main airport, which I can remember taking flights from when I was a kid in the 1960s. Now, it is home to Pacific Coastal Airways and other small airlines serving people travelling to small BC destinations. I arrive at 11AM, but my flight doesn’t leave until 6:30PM, so I have the whole afternoon to kill before I fly home. I surf the Internet for awhile, but I’m soon bored, so I have a plate of fries at the Galiano Cafe for lunch.

Air France Boeing 777-200ER climbing out, bound for Paris
Air France Boeing 777-200ER climbing out, bound for Paris

I’m looking at a lot more waiting time before my flight, so I go outside and soon discover a plane spotting platform on the north side of the terminal. It has a great view of the executive jet facilities next door, and the main, southern east-west runway, which is being used for takeoffs this afternoon. Plane spotting using my long 100-500 lens keeps me busy for a couple of hours. I spot a couple of executive jets landing or taking off, an Air France flight taking off for Paris, a Japan Airways flight destined for Narita, along with the usual traffic. Vancouver YVR is a very busy airport.

I clear security and wait for my flight in the only secure boarding lounge in the South Terminal. My flight to Victoria aboard Pacific Coastal Airways takes off a few minutes early, since everyone has checked in and are onboard. The flight takes about 20 minutes, and os clear enough for me to take a few photos out the window with my iPhone as we fly over Georgia Strait and the southern Gulf Islands before arriving at Victoria Airport at 6:30PM. We retrieve my bag and drive home, where my Jack Russell Terriers are waiting to give me a frenzied welcome.

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Inside Passage

June 4, 2022 – the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, Canada

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Map of my photos taken between Ketchikan, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, including the Inside Passage
Map of my photos taken between Ketchikan, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, including the Inside Passage

I have breakfast in the main dining room, but they don’t have a group to seat me with, so I eat alone. The Nieuw Amsterdam emerged last night from protected waters after leaving Ketchikan into Hecate Strait, and is proceeding down the Canadian Inside Passage: Queen Charlotte Strait, Johnston Strait and Georgia Strait. The ship will wait overnight in the strait before arriving in Vancouver harbour the following morning around 7AM.

I take some photos of the rain and fog outside as I sip my morning cappuccino in the Crows Nest Explorations Cafe. I’m eventually driven out of there by the noise and crowds playing some game with a host, so I wander around the ship at loose ends. Since the shipboard Internet hasn’t worked for me for the last several days, I complain to Customer Service. They can’t get my connection working either, despite insisting it is working for others, so they give me a 2-day credit.

Crow's Nest - Explorations EXC & Explorer's Bar
Crow’s Nest – Explorations EXC & Explorer’s Bar

I meet friends on the Lido pool deck for lunch, which is protected today with a closed canopy. I have a Beyond Meat version of The High Dive burger and fries, along with a beer. My friends tell me the crew have said are only around 700 passengers aboard, but there are 1,700 passengers boarding in Vancouver tomorrow. I believe the ship holds about 2,100 passengers, so currently they are only one-third of capacity. Having so few passengers aboard but with a full complement of crew means we have been spoiled on this voyage with excellent service. Although some of the crew are new, and they are operating under new protocols like having to wear masks the whole time they are on duty, they have all done very well. I know the passengers have appreciated their work…I certainly have!

Lido Bar setup for evening service
Lido Bar setup for evening service

I go to my favourite premium restaurant this evening at 6PM. Tamarind is an Asian Fusion restaurant which I find offers superb service, very creative and tasty food, and it is located mid-ship on the top deck, offering wonderful views while dining. There is a dedicated sushi chef and eating area for those who go for that cuisine. Personally, I like my seafood cooked and served in a traditional way, so I stick to their main dining area. They also offer a lovely bar, which offers a nice, quiet area during the day, since Tamarind only operates in the evening.

Mongolian barbeque lamb chops - Tamarind
Mongolian barbeque lamb chops – Tamarind

I have a Classic Martini to start, made with Tanqueray 10 gin. Some Shrimp Chips with soy sauce & sweet and spicy sauces goes well with my cocktail as I take in the view of northern Vancouver Island sliding by as we sail south through Queen Charlotte Strait. My starter is Lobster and Shrimp Potstickers, served with smoked shoyu and pickled ginger. I have a couple of glasses of Le Grand Courtage Brut Rose French wine with my main course: very tasty and tender Mongolian Barbecue Lamb Chops, with baby bok choy, toasted sesame seeds, mirin plum sauce, with Dungeness Crab fried rice. I finish off with a dessert called Mango Posset – coconut macaroon, passion fruit jelly, mango sorbet. I leave a glowing review – JoeTourist recommended!

I go to see the Step One Dance Company: Presents Off The Charts in the main stage at 9PM. It is a pretty good song and dance show, flashing back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s performing artists. There is also a singer from the BB King venue adding her wonderful voice to the blues review part of the performance.

I walk around the Promenade Deck to get some exercise and fresh air before returning to my stateroom. It’s time to pack and put my bag out for pickup this evening, in preparation for disembarkation in Vancouver tomorrow.

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Dawson City

May 24, 2022 – Dawson City, Yukon

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I go over to the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast. It is a buffet, so I have some insipid scrambled eggs, toast, a bit of bacon, some fruit and yogurt, and of course coffee. The staff are still learning their jobs, since the restaurant has only been open for a few days. It costs me $29 – these breakfasts are expensive!

I spend the rest of the morning doing a walking tour of the city, taking photos as I go. There are lots of funky buildings to see – some very old and some new. Some of the historic locations include Jack London‘s cabin and the Robert Service cabin, both of which are closed, so I see them from the outside. The Klondike Mines Railway Locomotive Shelter has several steam engines on display inside, but it is closed too, so I take photos through the dirty windows. They also have some derelict tracked vehicles outside that I speculate (despite missing dozer blades) were probably used for hauling goods through the bush, building roads and moving gravel and dirt.

Robert Service cabin
Robert Service cabin

A condemned St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – 1901 shows how a building foundation can be destroyed by permafrost heaving. The memory of the O’Brien Brewing and Malting Company is now reduced to a single beer wagon on a back street behind the Yukon Hotel. I walk back along the dyke on the Yukon River and approach the SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer on display in a dry dock beside the Yukon River. This historic site is also closed, a recurring theme today! I pass by a former bank building where Robert Service once worked, the Flora Dora Hotel, another former “dance hall” in its heyday (Lulu Mae Johnson) and Klondike Kate’s restaurant & cabins.

The Dawson City Museum has some very interesting artifacts representing much of the rich history of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. The museum also houses an active Courtroom. The Riverwest Bistro on Front Street comes recommended by our tour director as the only place in Dawson City which offers espresso, so I enjoy a cappuccino and some lunch before resuming my walking tour this afternoon. Brown’s Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon, Ruby’s Place (historic brothel), the Downtown Hotel (home of the infamous Sour Toe cocktail) are all on my way back to our hotel.

Holland America arranges COVID-19 tests for the whole group late this afternoon in the hotel. We all test negative, so we are ready to enter the USA on our charter flight to Fairbanks tomorrow. Our hotel has a steak and salmon dinner buffet this evening. I avoid the steak since it looks like shoe leather, but the salmon fillets are nicely done in a light sauce. It makes a nice meal with rice and veggies.

Dawson City
51 photos, 1 video
Klondike River and the highway below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River and the highway below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Snow-capped mountains in the distance
Snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
The Klondike River from the air - final approach
The Klondike River from the air – final approach
Westmark Inn rooms
Westmark Inn rooms
Joe, our guide and others outside Diamond Tooth Gerties
Joe, our guide and others outside Diamond Tooth Gerties
Show lounge and casino
Show lounge and casino
Stage
Stage
Diamond Tooth Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gertie
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can with Gertie
Dancing girls performing the Can Can with Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gerties Can Can Show
Diamond Tooth Gerties Can Can Show
Photo taken at midnight of our hotel with a bright sky
Photo taken at midnight of our hotel with a bright sky
New salmon-coloured house
New salmon-coloured house
Sign: Robert Service Cabin
Sign: Robert Service Cabin
Front of Robert Service Cabin
Front of Robert Service Cabin
Back of Robert Service Cabin
Back of Robert Service Cabin
New log-style house
New log-style house
Jack London Museum, Square and Cabin
Jack London Museum, Square and Cabin
Artifacts inside of Jack London Cabin
Artifacts inside of Jack London Cabin
Roof and log construction Jack London Cabin
Roof and log construction Jack London Cabin
Derelict home
Derelict home
Classic 3-gabled house with a front porch
Classic 3-gabled house with a front porch
Derelict tracked vehicle
Derelict tracked vehicle
D.Y.M.C.O. steam engine
D.Y.M.C.O. steam engine
No. 3 steam engine
No. 3 steam engine
No. 1 steam engine
No. 1 steam engine
Rebuilding a street with underground services
Rebuilding a street with underground services
A condemned St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church - 1901
A condemned St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – 1901
Old beer wagon
Old beer wagon
Historic Yukon Hotel
Historic Yukon Hotel
Souveniers and cafes on Front Street
Souveniers and cafes on Front Street
SS Keno  sternwheel paddle steamer
SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer
Stern of the SS Keno  sternwheel paddle steamer
Stern of the SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer
Derelict Flora Dora Hotel
Derelict Flora Dora Hotel
Klondike Kate's restaurant & cabins
Klondike Kate’s restaurant & cabins
King Street with shops, boardwalk and dirt street
King Street with shops, boardwalk and dirt street
Tired-looking old house
Tired-looking old house
Dawson City Museum
Dawson City Museum
Post Office artifacts
Post Office artifacts
Active Courtroom inside the museum
Active Courtroom inside the museum
Food and drink wooden boxes
Food and drink wooden boxes
Brown's Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon
Brown’s Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon
Derelict log cabin with tin roof
Derelict log cabin with tin roof
Sign: Ruby's Place
Sign: Ruby’s Place
Ruby's Place
Ruby’s Place
Downtown Hotel
Downtown Hotel
Sign: Home of the SourToe Cocktail, Toe Hours: 7-9 Thu-Sat
Sign: Home of the SourToe Cocktail, Toe Hours: 7-9 Thu-Sat
Dawson City on the Yukon River with the Klondike River
Dawson City on the Yukon River with the Klondike River
Gold dredge tailings along the Klondike River, Bonanza Creek & Dawson City on the Yukon River
Gold dredge tailings along the Klondike River, Bonanza Creek & Dawson City on the Yukon River
Divide Mountains
Divide Mountains
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Vancouver to Yukon

May 23, 2022 – Fly Vancouver to Whitehorse to Dawson City

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I wake up around 7:30AM, get dressed and cleaned up, and then go down to the restaurant for breakfast. I have regular coffee and a seafood frittata, which costs $35. I go for a walk along the same path as I used last night – it feels good to walk the 1 km loop, and get some fresh air this morning. When I return to my room, I pack my things and sit around for awhile before rolling my bag downstairs to check out. I will be wearing my mask all day, which I’m not used to when I’m at home.

I walk the full length of the airport to the Air North gate, but I’m too early for the afternoon flight, so there are no gate agents yet. The Holland America check-in lane is marked, so I find a seat and watch the people entering the security lines. Once the Air North agents arrive, I check in and get my boarding passes for the two flights: Vancouver-Whitehorse and Whitehorse-Dawson City. The security process is relatively painless, and the procedures are exactly the same as pre-pandemic. I find my gate and settle in to wait for the flight. The notice board says the flight is delayed an hour, now departing at 2:30PM, so we’ll see how our connecting flight to Dawson City works out. 

Snow-covered mountains, the highway and river through the windows as we approach Whitehorse
Snow-covered mountains, the highway and river through the windows as we approach Whitehorse

There is an incident as we board the aircraft, where a young male passenger refuses to wear a mask and eventually leaves the aircraft. The captain announces they will be starting engine 1 using the power cart, and then starting engine 2 from engine 1 after push away, which takes a bit longer. We take off from Vancouver at 2PM, so the flight isn’t seriously delayed. I’m stuck in an aisle seat, since I didn’t have a choice of seats when I checked in, so other than taking a couple of zoomed in photos through the window across two seats from me, I don’t get to peer out the window like I usually do on flights.

Our Holland America Tour Director Cassandra Joy is waiting for us in Whitehorse airport. She gives us name tags on lanyards to help her remember our names, and she also hands out some information sheets covering the Dawson City portion of our tour. I chat with a few of our group, since this is the first time we’ve gathered together. Our chartered flight aboard an Air North 737-400 Whitehorse to Dawson City is delayed a bit, but eventually we are lead through a “gate” to board the aircraft waiting for us on the apron. There is an actual wire fence gate we are checked through outside, just like the old days! There are 16 of us, so the Boeing 737-500 cabin is nearly empty. Our route follows the Klondike River as the 45-minute flight takes us over the Tombstone Mountains.

Diamond Tooth Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gertie

Once we arrive in Dawson City and get settled into our rooms at the Westmark Inn, I join our Tour Director and two other people from the group to see the dancing girl Can Can show at Diamond Tooth Gerties gambling hall and saloon. We have a slice of pizza and a beer, since we will otherwise miss dinner. The show is quite good, but costs a $20 entrance fee per person. There is also a small casino in addition to the stage show and bar. Two RCMP officers walk through the establishment while we are paying our admission and showing ID. 

After I return to my room, I settle in for the night. The Wi-fi is too weak from my room, since I’m across the street from the router, so I make use of my mobile LTE service, hot-spotting to my notebook computer. At midnight, I go outside to take a photo of the hotel at midnight, since the sky is still bright blue – the midnight sun at Dawson City, located at 64° North latitude.

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Victoria to Vancouver – May 2022

May 22, 2022 – Flying from Victoria to Vancouver

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I finalize packing this morning, since I leave this afternoon on a 1:05PM flight to Vancouver – the first leg of my Alaska Cruise with Holland America.

We leave for Victoria airport at 10AM, which is incredibly early, but I want to check in and navigate security without having to stress about the new procedures. The Pacific Coastal Airways agent tells me I have about a half hour before the security area will be very busy, so I proceed directly there. It is all very easy – all I need is my boarding pass QR code, my passport, and my federal COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination QR code. I have a couple of hours to kill, but after a few flights depart, my aircraft arrives and the flight is announced. We take off 5 minutes early at 1:00pm in a Pacific Coastal Airways Beechcraft 1900D (10 rows of 2 seats). Chad is our pilot, Tyrone is our copilot, there is no flight attendant, and there are about a half dozen passengers aboard the flight. Once we arrive at the South Terminal of Vancouver Airport, three of us collect our checked bags and then take a shuttle to the main terminal. I walk back to the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel, which is right inside the terminal at the east end and check-in.

Joe having a martini with lunch in the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel bar overlooking the gates and mountains

Once I unpack a few things, I go downstairs to the bar for some lunch. There are seats right beside the windows that look out on the gates and aircraft aprons, with the North Shore mountains and the City of Vancouver visible in the distance. My lunch is rather expensive ($60 with tip), but I don’t care since I am hungry and I have a martini to celebrate my first time travelling in over two years. When I return to my room, I freshen up and have a nap. After waking up, I go for a walk through the pocket park, which is just east of the hotel, located between the main road approach to the terminal (Grant McConachie Way) and the servicing areas for the aircraft. The Canada Line Skytrain runs overhead, but it’s good to get outside for some exercise – the fresh air smells good believe it or not!

My room faces south over the southern 08/26 east-west runway with the South Terminal visible in the distance. The main road approach to the airport is directly below and the Skytrain is there as well. Despite all this, my room is quiet and very comfortable. Since I had a late lunch, I don’t bother with dinner.

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Ft. Lauderdale to Canada

April 3, 2020 – returning home to Canada from Fort Lauderdale

2020 South America cruise

Fort Lauderdale

By mid-morning, we are called to leave the Rotterdam, so we put on our face masks and gloves before leaving the ship. US customs and immigration wave us through, as does US Health, since ship’s staff pre-processed the required paperwork the previous day. As we board our buses, many of the staff in the terminal wish us well, and one woman is waving a Canadian flag – very touching and much appreciated! We wait in the buses for about an hour, and then the Broward County Sheriff officers take us on a half-hour motorcade to a private area of the Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood airport (FLL). I must say, it’s a very impressive ride!

We are then checked in by US officials and airline staff, and walk aboard the aircraft to find our seats and get settled. We wait for over two hours while the rest of the passengers board the aircraft. The Eastern cabin attendants are fully-suited up (see banner image above) and only offer basic services. The 1978-era Boeing 767-200 aircraft is a wide-body cabin with 2-3-2 seats across two isles, and has a capacity of 375 passengers. Every seat is taken. Once we take off for Toronto, we have several hours to get into the bagged meal given to us as we boarded.

Flight path from FLL - Toronto - YVR - YYJ
Flight path from FLL – Toronto – YVR – YYJ

Canada

After our arrival in Toronto, we are processed by Canadian Border Services and Public Health Canada, given a kit describing the quarantine conditions we will be operating under for the next two weeks, a digital oral thermometer and a new mask. They take my temperature, ask me some health questions, and get me to dispose of the mask and gloves I’ve been wearing all day on the aircraft. I’m on my way to Terminal 1 and my local flights from Toronto to Vancouver, and then Victoria. I barely make it aboard the Toronto-Vancouver flight, since the shuttle driver doesn’t know where she is supposed to take us, and once we arrive at the terminal, the Air Canada staff are confused about how to get us to the gate!

The flight to Vancouver is otherwise uneventful. Once we make the short hop from Vancouver to Victoria, my travel buddy and I drive (independently) to our respective homes adhering to the Canadian quarantine rules we are now bound by for the next two weeks. Air Canada manages to lose my checked bag, but the baggage claim clerk takes a description of my bag and assures me they will deliver it tomorrow afternoon (which they do).

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Victoria to Houston flights

March 6, 2020 – Victoria, BC, Canada to Houston, Texas, USA

2020 South America cruise

I’m up before 7am, and have a quick breakfast before the Current Taxi arrives at 7:30am to take me to the airport in a Tesla Model 3. My travel buddy arrives an hour later, and we check-in at the Air Canada counter, give them our big bags, and get our boarding passes. They don’t charge for our checked bags, since this is an international flight. Thankfully, I have time in the waiting lounge for a cappuccino from Spinnakers On the Fly.

Our Air Canada Bombardier Q400 prop plane to Vancouver leaves on time, spends five minutes waiting at the stop line, but arrives on time. We make the long trek across the Vancouver airport from the domestic terminal to the USA pre-clearance area, which is not at all busy and a breeze to get through compared to the last time I went through this area. There were no questions about health at the kiosks and the immigration agent didn’t care either. I guess we would have had a more careful inspection if our passports were from the countries currently affected by the coronavirus.

Vancouver airport and the city as we head south

Once we find our gate, we go to a restaurant in the boarding lounge area to have some lunch. We both notice that it is much quieter than the usual expected chaotic crowds. By the time we finish our meal our aircraft is loading, so we walk on board and get settled in our seats. We take-off on time at 12:15pm, flying over Georgia Strait before heading south to Denver, our first stop on United Airlines flight 1184. The flight deck tells us our flying time should be 2:15 instead of 2:50 on this Airbus A319.

Despite being the same flight number, we change planes in Denver, flying in a Boeing 737-900 to Houston. Midway through the flight, the captain reduces flying altitude from 35,000’ to 26,000’ to avoid some rough air over Texas between Dallas and Houston. The Gibbous Moon is visible in the east both before we land in Denver (see laminar clouds and the Moon in the banner image above) and again after we take off for Houston as night falls. The flight crew estimate we will arrive about 10 minutes early, which I’m always happy about.