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Kauai to Vancouver – day 2 at sea

Oct 20, 2022 – Day 2 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Apparently there are 1,617 Canadians and 608 Americans aboard, which illustrates how appealing a return sailing out of Vancouver is to Canadians. It’s also appealing to many dedicated cruisers who are weary of cancelled sailings, and waiting over two years for pandemic travel restrictions to ease sufficiently so they can enjoy themselves.

The Wizard of Wireless - Marconi- an EXC Talk
The Wizard of Wireless – Marconi– an EXC Talk

The Wizard of Wireless – Marconi– an EXC Talk delivered by Cruise Director Jayme

  • 1901 first signal from England to Newfoundland
  • 1903 first signal from England to Boston
  • Marconi radios aboard the Titanic – new technology at the time

Captain’s Report

  • 18.1 kts average
  • 19 kts needed to arrive on time in Vancouver

I talk with a man in the Crow’s Nest who’s wife has COVID-19 and is in isolation in a separate stateroom, as well as a woman seated beside us who’s husband is on oxygen with pneumonia. The man who’s wife has COVID-19 tested negative, but he will be tested again tomorrow. I walk the upper decks this afternoon, taking some photos of the ship’s sports facilities: pickle ball (see banner image above), jogging, swimming. I’m impressed by the size of the bow waves from the big swells we are currently sailing through.

Grilled Blue Marlin in the Main Dining Room
Grilled Blue Marlin in the Main Dining Room

I have dinner in the Main Dining Room this evening with a couple from Kelowna I met earlier. The Grilled Blue Marlin main course is very good, accompanied with a couple of glasses of white wine. Marlin can be dry when grilled, but this is done to perfection, so it’s quite moist.

BBC Earth Presents: Planet Earth II in Concert – accompanied by the ship’s musicians. It’s a good documentary, but I walk out after the first two scenes since this is the same production I saw aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam earlier this year while on my Alaska cruise.

BBC Earth Presents: Planet Earth II in Concert - accompanied by the musicians
BBC Earth Presents: Planet Earth II in Concert – accompanied by the musicians
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Kauai to Vancouver – day 1 at sea

Oct 19, 2022 – Day 1 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Our first day at sea out of Hawaii is pretty rough. Although the outside decks are not closed, everyone is weaving a bit when walking. Most passengers are wearing masks today – a good thing! I have breakfast in the Grand Dutch Cafe: cappuccino, blueberry muffin and a fruit and yogurt parfait. 

Captain Cook – The often-surprising tale of a well-traveled explorer – an EXC Talk delivered by Cruise Director Jayme.

At noon, the captain reports we are averaging just over 16 knots but need to average 18 knots to arrive in Vancouver at the scheduled time. The 20 knot NE wind we are currently bucking is predicted to switch to a southerly later this afternoon, so that should help increase the ship’s speed. The captain also mentions there are cases of the virus onboard, “so be careful out there, wear a mask, and wash your hands often.”

Shades of Buble performing on Main Stage
Shades of Buble performing on Main Stage

This evening I listen to the two piano players playing pop tunes in the Billboard Onboard lounge while enjoying a Tanqueray 10 gin martini (see banner photo above), and then briefly listen to the adjacent Rolling Stones Rock Room musicians playing a good rendition of House of the Rising Sun while all us old folks get in the groove! I catch the late show of Shades of Buble performing on Main Stage – a 3-man tribute to Michael Buble’s music. They sound great, and put on a good show backed by the ship’s musicians.

Before retiring to my stateroom, I take another walk around the Promenade Deck, finding a White-chinned Petrel resting on the deck. I report it to the Customer Service desk, asking them to consult with the on-board naturalist to deal with the situation. White-chinned Petrels are known to follow ships out to sea, so this isn’t entirely unexpected.

Senior ship's officers and crew
Senior ship’s officers and crew
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Vancouver to Maui – day 4

Oct 12, 2022 – Day 4 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Apple and bacon pannenkoek - lunch at the Grand Dutch Cafe
Apple and bacon pannenkoek – lunch at the Grand Dutch Cafe

We are in rain and rough seas this morning, so the Promenade Deck is closed on both sides to passengers. A rainbow appears to the south of us this morning (see banner image above). I have a continental breakfast in my stateroom this morning, adding a cappuccino from the Explorations Cafe. Today’s lunch is an Apple and bacon pannenkoek (pancake) from the Grand Dutch Cafe – delicious!

Hawaiian Connectivity – Naturalist John shares a study of the Hawaiian islands and reefs found northwest of Kaua’i, which he participated in.

  • Active volcanoes are only on Maui and Big Island (youngest)
  • New island forming off the Big Island
  • Birds first to arrive to newly-formed islands
  • Nene goose (from Canada Goose)
  • Introduced species
    • Introduced birds have largely replaced native Hawaiian birds
    • Mongoose to control rats, ended up decimating native birds
    • Feral goats
    • Green gecko
  • Papahanaumoku Wakea – Marine protected area – Northwestern Hawaiian Islands – NW of Kaua’i
    • Ko Hawai’i Pae ‘Aina
    • Small islands and reefs
  • Species protected and population restoring
    • Yellow Tang 
    • False Killer Whale
    • Acropora – hard coral
    • Tiger shark
    • Red Snapper & Yellow fin tuna (Ahi)
  • Climate change will cause a 1 meter increase in sea level in Hawai’i by 2100

Captain’s report

  • 689 nm NE of Kahalui
  • 1,709 nm from Vancouver sailing at an average speed of 18.3 kts

I track the ship’s position and speed independently using the MarineTraffic app on my iPhone.

Made in New York – Lincoln Center Stage quartet play selections from:

  • Dave Brubeck’s Take Five
  • Billy Joel
  • Alicia Keys
  • Other New York artists
Pork ribs, french fries and broccoli in the Lido
Pork ribs, french fries and broccoli in the Lido

I go to the Crow’s Nest for a Martini, and then go to the Lido for a quick dinner of delicious pork ribs, fries and veggies before going to the early show: Step One Dance Company Presents: In Tandem – a fusion of latin dance, blues singer – a full house!

I have a Benedictine liqueur as I watch this very energetic show. I then spend a couple of hours up at the Crow’s Nest working on my photos and videos, and sipping on my second Martini of the day. Such a decadent life…

Step One Dance Company presents: In Tandem - full house in World Stage
Step One Dance Company presents: In Tandem – full house in World Stage
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Vancouver to Maui – day 3

Oct 11, 2022 – Day 3 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

The ship changed time zones last night to Hawai’i time – back another hour.

Lox, cream cheese and bagel for breakfast
Lox, cream cheese and bagel for breakfast

I couldn’t face the lines to have breakfast in the Lido or the Main Dining Room, so I ordered breakfast last night to have in my stateroom. So this morning I enjoy my favourite bagel, lox and cream cheese, fruit, yogurt and pastries. I ordered breakfast for 9AM, so I have time to pick up a cappuccino from the Explorations Cafe ahead of time. I also get a Perrier sparkling water to take back to my stateroom to put in the fridge for later. So decadent!

I go for a walk on the Upper Promenade Deck after breakfast. It is 21ºC and 82% humidity outside this morning at 10AM as I walk around the ship twice, which gives me 19 minutes of my 30 minute daily target for exercise. The view of the wake from the stern tells me we are getting closer to tropical waters, since the colour is now a lovely blue colour (see banner image above).

The shops are having a 75% off sale today and I need a pair of shorts, but I don’t see any on sale. I talk myself out of going to a free massage sampler in the spa, instead going up to the Explorations Cafe for a second cappuccino. I find a spot in the Captain’s Lounge, which is is a bit quieter, since it’s partitioned from the activities going on in the Crow’s Nest lounge.

Captain’s Noon Report: It is 1,100 nm to Kahalui, and we have sailed 1,200 nm from Vancouver. We need to average 17.3 kts to arrive in Kahalui on time at 4AM on October 14th. 

Dutch pea soup and Beenham sandwich - Royal Dutch Cafe
Dutch pea soup and Beenham sandwich – Royal Dutch Cafe

I very much enjoy the Dutch pea soup and Beenham sandwich (ham and mustard on a crusty corn role) for lunch in the Royal Dutch Cafe. This cafe is quickly becoming my favourite for a quick meal or snack, and they are open from 7AM to 8PM, so it’s very convenient when other food venues are busy.

I attend a complementary James Suckling Wine Tasting offered this afternoon in the Main Dining Room for 4 & 5 star Mariners. I’m not a wine connoisseur, however I find the  five wines presented to us interesting, and some I even like, despite the high prices (up to US$78) for a bottle. The sommelier relates interesting history for each vintner, gives us the strong points offered by each wine, and what foods go best with each.

James Suckling Wine Tasting
James Suckling Wine Tasting
  • Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut NV, Columbia Valley, Washington State – nice bubbly, but too dry for me
  • Los Vascos Chardonnay 2019, Domains Barons de Rothschild, Colchagua Valley, Chile – not for me
  • Domaine Ott Rose 2019, Clos Mireille, Cotes de Provence, France – beautiful earthy undertone over dried fruit, but light-tasting. The best of the five wines for me.
  • Craggy Range Pinot Noir 2015, Martinborough, New Zealand – OK, but not a wine I would buy
  • Ruffino Modus 2015, Super Tuscan Blend, Tuscany, Italy – a very good, full-bodied red
Hamachi, salmon and scallop ceviche in Nami Sushi/Tamarind
Hamachi, salmon and scallop ceviche in Nami Sushi/Tamarind

I go to Nami Sushi for dinner this evening, which is part of my favourite Tamarind restaurant, but it is priced a la cart. I have a Tanqueray 10 Martini in the bar, and then I’m seated at the sushi bar. I have Hamachi, salmon and scallop ceviche to start, and Penang chicken curry and Jasmine rice for the main. Both are delicious, and very much worth the US$24 charge to have a civilized dinner instead of doing battle with the crowds at the Lido, or coping with the long lineup at the Main Dining Room.

Seven Worlds One Planet in Concert – 7:30pm – World Stage, 2 & 3 – Breathtaking footage from BBC Earth’s Seven Worlds One Planet with live orchestration performed by the Koningsdam Lincoln Center musicians.

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Vancouver to Maui – day 2

Oct 10, 2022 – Day 2 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Breakfast at the Grand Dutch Cafe
Breakfast at the Grand Dutch Cafe

We changed time zones last night to Alaska time – back 1 hour. I go down to the Grand Dutch Cafe for breakfast: cappuccino, blueberry muffin and a fruit & yogurt parfait.

Seabirds of the North Pacific – Naturalist John basically takes us through his biology thesis during his 45 minute presentation in World Stage. No doubt it was too deep for most of the audience, but he certainly knows his oceanic species, as my notes reveal.

  • Cold to warm water – San Francisco to Hawaii
  • Diving birds close to the North American coastline
    • Shearwaters – surface and swim underwater
    • Brant’s Cormorant – diver
    • Tufted Puffin – skimmers
    • Common Murre 
    • Pigeon Guillemot – red feet, divers
    • Brown Pelican – plunge divers very close to shore
    • Western Gull – eats anything
  • Subsurface Predators near Hawai’i
    • Humpback whale
    • Spotted, Striped & Bottle-nosed dolphin
    • Elephant seal
  • Hawaiian ocean birds
    • Black-footed Albatross- dynamic soaring
    • Layson Albatross – 7-8′ wingspan
    • Leechy
    • Hawaiian Petrel
    • Wedge-tailed Shearwater – sensitive to artificial lights – collisions
  • Hawaiian shore birds
    • Red-footed, Brown, Masked Booby – diving, plunging
    • Frigatebird – stealing food, don’t have webbed feet so they drown if they land on the water
    • White, Red-tailed Tropicbird – long tail feathers
    • Brown & Black Noddy – plunge divers
    • Sooty Tern – most abundant
    • White Tern – urban nesters

I attend the Kahului, Maui Port Talk, but I don’t pick up any useful information that I don’t already know. Since there are no lines at 1PM, I have lunch in the Main Dining Room. I’m seated by myself between two server stations, so it’s very noisy. I have a Heineken beer and a rather uninspiring Croque Monsieur.

On Music Walk: La Musica Latina - Lincoln Center Stage quartet
On Music Walk: La Musica Latina – Lincoln Center Stage quartet

On Music Walk: La Musica Latina – the art of the Tango. This performance by the Lincoln Center quartet reminds me of my visit to Argentina and Uruguay in 2020.

Later in the afternoon, I return to the Crow’s Nest to enjoy the Aloha Sunset Music Hour again. I have some good conversation with my fellow Canadians while enjoying two very nicely made Tanqueray 10 Martinis.

I have to wait for over an hour to be seated in the Main Dining Room for dinner, since it is Canadian Thanksgiving today. I find the turkey, stuffing and vegetables are nothing special, but I appreciate the effort by the chefs and enjoy the company of my fellow Canadians while seated at a large table for dinner.

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Vancouver to Maui – day 1

Oct 9, 2022 – Day 1 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

I attend a meet-and-greet for the Facebook group for this cruise this morning. There is a good crowd, but of course there are a lot of old folks like me, and mainly Canadians! It’s held in the Captain’s Lounge, a private function area in the Crow’s Nest.

High Dive Beyond Meat burger with fries

I have lunch on the Lido Pool deck, having a Dive In (Impossible) burger and fries, along with a Heineken beer. The burger tastes very good and the fries are nice and crispy. Since I purchased the Have-It-All (HIA) package, I’m having beer, wine and cocktails at every opportunity, since they are included.

I see a World View Films: Where the Crawdads Sing – a 2-hour love story movie with murder involved. I almost get up and leave the World Stage a couple of times due to disturbing scenes, but manage to sit through the whole movie – a first for me for many years.

Kalehua, Kimo, Lani & Braddah J in the Crow’s Nest Lounge. Aboard Koningsdam, North Pacific Ocean

There are a group of four Hawaiians aboard for our Vancouver to Hawai’i segment. They entertain everyone during Happy Hour in the Crow’s Nest with their Aloha Sunset Music Hour, a combination of Hawaiian music and hula dance.  

It is Dressy Night aboard ship, so after having drinks and conversation with a couple from the mid-west and another couple from Kelowna, B.C., we decide to have dinner together in the Main Dining room. I stop in my stateroom to put on dressier clothes before meeting them downstairs.

The ship’s Step One Dance Company performs: Humanity in the Main Stage this evening, a great performance with a South Beach vibe which I enjoyed while sipping a Benedictine & Brandy liqueur.

Step One Dance Company performs: Humanity
Step One Dance Company performs: Humanity
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Ketchikan

June 3, 2022 – Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Ketchikan is our last port-of-call before our cruise ends in Vancouver the day after tomorrow. This morning after having breakfast in the main dining room before going on a photo safari tour excursion, which gets me out of the city. The historic Creek district of the city is our first stop. We visit the outside of the Totem Heritage Center next, mainly to see the Fog Woman totem pole. We then go to the library for a scenic view before driving to the Totem Bight State Historical Parknorth of the city. This is a recreation of an aboriginal village, featuring a clan house, totems, and other decorated buildings, along with a gift shop. The excursion was fine, but it was certainly the most underwhelming of any of the activities I’ve experienced on this trip.

Calamari starter – Canaletto restaurant

After I return to the ship, I post my White Pass and Yukon railway videos from a couple of days ago since I now have sufficient bandwidth with the roaming mobile service I’m using today. I get dressed for a 7pm Italian dinner at the Canaletto restaurant up on the Lido deck. While I’m enjoying a pre-dinner martini in the Ocean Bar, I dictate my journal for today using speech recognition on my iPhone. I enjoy a Calamari starter, Veal Florentine Cannelloni main course, and Tiramisu for dessert. I’m finding it so decadent to indulge in such gourmet food accompanied with cocktails and wine! 

I attend BBC Earth Presents : Planet Earth II with the Lincoln Center Stage performers on the Main Stage this evening. The performance is well done, with the live performers doing a great job of syncing with the media being played, adding a welcome dimension to the work. I also stop in to enjoy the evening entertainers at the BB King’s Blues Club.

BBC Earth Presents : Planet Earth II with Lincoln Center Stage performers at the Main Stage
BBC Earth Presents : Planet Earth II with Lincoln Center Stage performers at the Main Stage

It has been a relaxing cruise, but the land portion was more active and stressful, mainly from the required COVID-19 testing, since failing a test would mean quarantine, the end of the planned travel, disruption and extra expense. Now that I have an ArriveCAN receipt, I’m clear to enter Canada in Vancouver without further testing. Traveling without a smartphone and connectivity would prove to be very awkward, since using apps and online form filling are required to travel right now during the pandemic.

As is usual with cruises, the older people are hacking and coughing in the common areas of the ship. I am hopeful that they do not have the COVID-19 virus. It was a cloudy day today but we had some sunny periods and no rain, which was much better than the forecast indicated.

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2 days at sea – sailing to the Falklands

March 10, 2020 – Day 1 at sea – Montevideo, Uruguay to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

2020 South America cruise

I’m up at 7am, get cleaned up and dressed and go to the Explorations Cafe for a cappuccino and a couple of chocolate croissants. I decide I can’t live without an Internet connection while at sea, so I sign up for a plan that will cover me for the entire voyage. It is pretty expensive, but worth it for me, since I can now shut off my Canadian carrier’s data roaming I was using when ashore. I’m finding the on-board Internet is more reliable and faster than previous voyages, so perhaps Holland America has upgraded their satellite system.

After the main dining room opens at 8am, I join a table for six for breakfast and have another cappuccino along with a frittata. I meet a woman from San Diego who is seated across from me, and is an experienced solo traveller, so we have a lot to talk about.

Ship's position - 2nd day Zaandam sailing from Montevideo to Port Stanley.
Ship’s position – 2nd day Zaandam sailing from Montevideo to Port Stanley.

The Captain announces that we are sailing south to the Falkland Islands in uncharacteristically calm seas and winds due to a high pressure system over us. He expects it to break down a bit over the next day and a half, but he isn’t expecting any weather problems, even by the time we arrive in Stanley.

I attend two presentations today. Kevin Saslavchik, the Cruise and Travel Director talks about what we should expect in Port Stanley, and Guido talks about Buenos Aires, describing and showing us the things you may have missed and the history of some of the places you did see. As it turns out, Kevin and Guido are both young Argentinians. Kevin is particularly cute, and has a dry sense of humour. Guido jokes around a bit, especially when describing the foibles of Argentina’s various regimes.

Joe dressed for Gala Night with the Moon rise over the southern Atlantic Ocean
Joe dressed for Gala Night with the Moon rise over the southern Atlantic Ocean

We get dressed up and go for Gala Night dinner in the main dining room. My friend has breast of duck and Rack of Lamb, and I just have the lamb, which is excellent. We both have escargot to start, wine with dinner, and I have a Chocolate Soufflé for dessert.

Since the skies are clear we go up to the Sports Deck (9) to observe the gorgeous Full Moon and then climb up to Deck 10 forward to observe the Southern Cross and an upside-down Orion in the northern sky. There are no lights on Deck 10, making it quite dark. I help a fellow passenger find the Southern Cross, which she is thrilled to see for the first time.

March 11, 2020 – Day 2 at sea

I sleep in until 8:45am this morning, but get cappuccino and pastry at the Explorations Cafe before attending a presentation in the Crow’s Nest Lounge by Seth Wayne on his activities as HAL Ambassador. He is a former Seattle weatherman and news broadcaster, and is responsible for Holland America’s online social media presence. He is a long-time cruiser, and gets to go on 2-week segments of cruises on a regular basis. I then go to the Lido to have a lox omelette for brunch before returning to the Explorations Lounge to work on my notebook computer and catch up with online news and email.

Uruguayan Chef Amandine Bondoux on the right
Uruguayan Chef Amandine Bondoux on the right

The Port to Table cooking show, hosted by Uruguayan Chef Amandine Bondoux appeals to me this afternoon. She makes two dishes: Pejerrey in Escabeche (a type of ceviche) salty appetizer and Dulce de Leche Rogel – a layered thin cookie with chocolate leche stuffing and Italian meringue on top. The ceviche is made with sautéed vegetables, water, vinegar, oil, and the tuna is cooked in the hot liquid with the vegetables, but the fish is still slightly raw in the centre. This dish can be kept refrigerated for several weeks due to the acidic vinegar, and the flavour improves over time. She makes everything from scratch.

The entertainment in the Main Stage this evening is Celli, two Polish cellists who perform a wide variety of music, from classical, to a Michael Jackson medley, and loud and powerful semi-rock tunes with a 4-piece band backing them up. I enjoy their performance!

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Antigua

December 10, 2018 – Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

2018 Caribbean Sail Cruise

I am up early this morning to take the tender at 9:15AM for my Segway tour. We are met at the dock by a driver who takes us across the island to the largest city of St. Johns, where we hook up with the Segway tour company. They spend quite a bit of time instructing our small group on how to operate the machines safely, since we are all newbies.

Then we are off, following our tour guide as she talks to us with radio earphones, keeping us on track, safe, and describing the sights. Our first stop is at the Minister of Tourism’s estate on top of a ridge, where we can take photos while overlooking the beautiful harbours, coastline, and an abandoned sugar mill.

We next stop at beautiful Runaway Beach (see banner image above) for a refreshment break. Before the new airport was built, small passenger aircraft would land on the hard sand on this beach. Fort James is our next stop – an abandoned fort with lots of cannons still on the rock walls overlooking the harbour. We scoot along Fort James Beach, and then back to the starting point.

Map of Segway exploration route near St. James
Segway exploration route near St. Johns

Our driver takes us back across the island to Falmouth Harbour, where our ship’s staff are staging a barbeque lunch on the local beach. I stop to have some lunch, but take the next tender back to the ship and then relax with a beer while on deck overlooking the beautiful harbour. A steel band comes aboard in the early evening to play Caribbean beats before the ship sails out of the harbour.

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Vancouver to Hilo – day 5 at sea

Oct 6, 2017 – Fifth day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

There is a Deck Sale this morning beside the Lido Pool, which is always a good time to buy Holland America Line apparel at discounted prices, but I don’t find any t-shirts or golf shirts I like. The ship’s photographers are also there selling photo albums and cameras – a new sales angle for them!

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: How Modern Farming Changed a Civilization –  Beginning in the 1800s, farming crops such as sugar, pineapple, and others changed Hawaii in many ways. What I learned:

  • The last sugar mill  in Hawai’i closed in 2016
  • Pineapples don’t ripen after being picked
  • Not much pineapple is commercially grown in Hawai’i now – new crops have taken over the lead, including Roundup-ready crops, GMOs, seeds, papaya, Macadamia Nuts, Cacao (source of chocolate), coffee, floral crops – native and exotic.

I go for a swim in the Ocean View pool in the stern of the vessel after lunch today. It is the first day which is warm enough outside for swimming. The water is cool, but I enjoy the exercise!

Atlys quintet at the Lincoln Center Stage - biographies
Atlys quintet at the Lincoln Center Stage biographies

My friends have been raving about the quartet playing chamber music at the Lincoln Center Stage venue aboard ship (see banner image above), so I join them this evening. The Masterworks by Brahms is an absolutely stunning performance! People are raving about this group, and the venue is full for virtually every performance.

I have been setting my clocks back an hour most evenings before I go to bed since we are sailing westward. As of 2AM we will now be on Hawaii Local Time, so there will be no more time changes until we start sailing back to Vancouver.