Sailing off into the sunset
That’s what we did today. As the sun set on this beautiful Sunday evening, we were cruising directly towards it through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. While we maintained a stately 21 knots, a nice man named Antoni served us prime rib and baked Alaska.
Yeah, it’s a rough life.
We started the day in a frankly mediocre Best Western near Seattle airport. We had the continental breakfast, which was pretty good, watched the Grace church service (well, the sermon) on Jonathan’s laptop, and the Uncle Orville took us on a driving tour of Seattle. Which was exciting, because none of us had ever been to Seattle, so we were navigating by gut instinct and my GPS. And I hadn’t put any Seattle maps on it.
But we saw some nice houses, drove through some astonishingly nice green space, all ravines and ferns and tall trees, and made it back well in time to catch the shuttle bus to Pier 91 (I think) where our ship, the Oosterdam, was docked.
The first thing they told us when we boarded was which restaurants were open. That’s the sort of place this is. I’m writing this in a lounge chair by the pool, so the word “spoiled” comes to mind, though given some of the borderline tacky decor here, “decadent” might be a better choice. This is the sort of place that decides to fill that annoying gap between lunch and dinner with a full-on barbecue by the pool. With, of course, its own dessert bar. And the food’s free. Not “free” as in “you get one free dinner per day”, but “free” as in, “Antonio is more than happy to bring you a second helping of prime rib and two desserts if that’s what you want”.
It’s not all sunshine and chocolate-covered strawberries, though. Before we even left shore, I think, the captain let us know that some…dramatic…seas are ahead. Specifically, ten to fifteen foot waves.
See, we’re taking the “Outer Passage”, which means that we’re going around Vancouver Island to the west, instead of between Vancouver Island and the mainland. So we’re in the big ol’ Pacific – no real shelter. We’re expected to hit the rough seas later tonight, and the captain said that he just wanted to warn us in advance so that when we wake up in the middle of the night and the boat is rocking wildly, we know why.
Should be interesting. I have to admit that I’m kind of looking forward to it. New experiences, y’know.
We’re not even there yet, and already the pool is doing some pretty interesting things. Also, for some reason the captain hasn’t stopped blowing the horn for the last 45 minutes. It’s like road rage on the high seas.
I could talk some more about the boat, but it’s almost too ridiculous. There are eight full public decks (2-9) plus two observation decks 10 and 11). It must be close to a city block in length. My legs are killing me from just walking around it, and I may have completely blown my knees from all the stairs. How big is it? After Jonathan and I boarded, it was something like two hours before we managed to find the rest of our group back.
And the amenities are just unreal. I said that I’m by the pool, but it would be more accurate to say that I’m by the big pool. There are at least two…though only one has a giant chess set next to it. There are shops. A piano bar. A theatre. A casino. An art gallery. A stage. A spa and salon. Too many bars and restaurants to easily count. Several hot tubs. I think I saw a sauna. There’s a library somewhere that I’m going to have to find back. An arcade. And right up on top, on deck 11, in the open air, there’s a basketball court.
For added flair, there are glass elevators going right up the side of the ship.
As far as I can tell, these ships are the modern equivalent of what airships were before the Hindenburg disaster put an end to all that. It’s on sea instead of on land, but it’s got all the same luxury. While taking a break from composing this post, I happened across a lounge where a live string quartet was playing classical music, and I stopped in for a listen. It just seemed like the sort of thing that one does, when one is on a cruise.