Cruise Terminal Adventures – Norwegian Star Review
We scheduled a repositioning cruise on the Vision of the Seas from Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC and I had checked the website and found that NCL was offering a one-night Dinner & Dance cruise from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA for an unbelievable rate in a Balcony Cabin. Score!
This trip proved to be an adventure for a one-nighter. I am going to try and keep a light tone to this review but it was nasty, as several thousand cruisers can attest to.
We disembarked from the Vision of the Seas at the Balentine Cruise Terminal and waited 40 minutes for a taxi with several new friends that we made on the Vision and then took 45 minutes for what should have been a 5 minute taxi ride to Canada Place Cruise Terminal . Traffic through the city was horrendous. While we were driving through the Gastown there was a gentleman dragging a suitcase whose rollers had broken down the street, we actually passed him however while we were sitting on the street watching the traffic basically go now he passed us and finally disappeared, if we did not have all the luggage we did it was quite obvious that walking was much faster than driving. We should have realized at this point that we were in deep do-do.
We arrived at Canada Place Cruise Terminal, checked our bags, and found a line of around 1,000 people. We were trying to figure out whether this was our line or the line for one of the other ships when we found a Port employee and were told that all ships went through the same line, we were then informed that we could not get in line and had to wait an hour or two because our ship had arrived late. We should have realized that this was the second sign of cruise terminal hell on earth.
We headed out of Canada Place foraging for food and coffee and found a food court across the street where we wrestled a black bear for a table and set ourselves with some natural Canadian Mexican food to wait out our hour delay.
An hour later we wandered back to madness. Think I'm kidding? I'm not. We took the underground tunnel into Canada Place and found the route via Elevator to the Cruise Terminal. The doors of the elevator opened and we found ourselves in the middle of an even longer line. I do not like line cutters myself, so we followed the line, over the river, through the woods, up the hill, over the dale, around the corner, in front of the hotel, up the steps, down the walkway, to the front of one of the ships. If you have never been to Canada Place imagine a huge building, bigger then some sports stadiums, long enough that two of the large cruise ships can park right next to it, one in front of the other and you can get an idea of how long this line was. I would guess that there were a good 4,000 people in front of us in line at this point.
Needless to say, people were getting testy and annoyed; we typically stand in one spot for almost an hour. I may have been imagining this, but at one point I believe the line started doing the "can can" and a conga line formed as well, at least I think it did, until I clicked my red heels together and wished to go home and found myself standing in line again. Finally the line started moving again and about 3 hours later we were admitted down a stairway into the 2nd basement level. Comments about dungeons abounded and several people in line thought it may be possible that we were being led to the bottom of the ships to row or shovel coal.
At this point thing started moving quickly, we were rushed through security, the line moved briskly through customs, enough that we felt a breeze, and we were finally to the cruise line desk, got our door keys and was directed to the ship.
NCL is very conscious of the possible health issues on the ship as we were required to clean our hands with hand cleanser before we could board the ship.
We got to our cabin and our bags were already there, they had been party for some time, the garment bag asked us where we had been and did we have any vodka with us. The carpet bag was balancing on a rail trying to be a tight line walker; Fortunately it did have a good balance.
We found our swimsuits and hobbled to the elevator for a quick trip to deck 12 and the blissful relaxation of the hot tubs. When we got to the pool deck we were amazed by how large the ship really was with a nice large pool with 2 water slides and 4 hot tubs. The outside diner was active and the food smelled great.
After soaking in the hot tubs we went back to our cabin and placed reservation for dinner then wandered the ship for a bit, it really was a nice ship. We then directed to the main showroom for the production show "Cirque Pacific".
"Cirque Pacific" was like most Cirque shows, best enjoyed when you are under the influence of something. Fortunately I did have some pharmaceuticals with me, too bad they were in my cabin. The show started with an announcement that smoking was not permitted in the auditorium, then them filled it with smoke, I know, show smoke, but still. I suspect that the smoke was a symbol of the state the director and choreographer where in when they put the show together; I seriously suspect they had smoked some happy grass beforehand. I had never seen hula girls doing river dance, women in blenders, and a character that looked like it belonged in "Tron" being representative of things from the Pacific region, but there they were. In reality the show was interesting and had some good high points and some of the performers were terrific, but Tarzan boy was just a little over the top. * winks *
We had Dinner in the "Endless Summer" restaurant, which was TexMex cuisine, it was as good as any TexMex restaurant that we had eaten at previously, with good flavor and plentiful portions.
We then went to the Casino, where we did what most people do, which is donate. But it was run professionally and while it was only open for a short time it was a good place to play.
Finally we decided to hit the rack. A little disappointed how difficult it was to get ice as none was left in the cabin and no steward returned our calls.
The next morning we had breakfast in the main buffet and it was about normal buffet fare. All guests on the ship were expedited departure, which meant we had to carry a weeks' worth of luggage off the ship ourselves, but we did get quickly and were outside in Seattle in a matter of minutes.
While this was only a single day exposure to NCL it was a positive exposure with the exception of the madness at Canada Place. So hopefully we will be on one of their ships again in the future.