After the trip up from Alameda to Vancouver we wake to a stormy, rainy day. After a leisurely morning we head over to the port, and see the Holland America Noordam for the first time.

I’ll spare you the tales of the bureaucracy involved in tendering our boarding documents, swearing to good health, the lines, and getting aboard. The staterooms are off-limits (for turn-around day cleaning) so we have late breakfast at the buffet. By the time we’re finished eating our section is available. We enter, and this is what we see.

Harry is extremely pleased with the complimentary fruit arrangement left for us. We meet our room steward, ask for an extra ice bucket, and then kick up our feet and relax.

Another view of our stateroom.

From our balcony, we can see the Holland America Zaandam moored behind us. Seaplanes buzz by every few minutes, leaving or returning to the water. The planes, and the birds, make a whirling pattern of never-ending movement – set against the backdrop of the mountains and billowing clouds – that’s unexpectedly relaxing.

Carmella is so very happy in the cabin. Not much makes her more excited than new digs, and this particular spot is making for a big smile.

Harry, who at the best of times has a contentious relationship with technology, loves having the earbuds in while video-chatting with his wife, Darlene, who’s back in Edmonton. (She’ll join them next week, on the same day that I have to leave. We’re ships in the night, so to speak.)

Here’s the seaplanes. Apologies for the background noise; the wind has kicked up and the plane’s propellers echo across the water.

New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos

We’ve pushed away from the dock; we’re underway!

We stroll around the ship for a while, seeing places both unfamiliar (because we’ve never been aboard the Noordam) and known (because we’ve taken a lot of cruises). Around dinner-time (or as they call it, supper-time) we head to the main dining room, introduce ourselves to the maître d’hôtel and the crew of stewards that’ll be waiting on us, have a delicious meal (beef tenderloin on celeriac with vegetable accents; hold the potatoes).

We leave Vancouver, heading out under the bridge, with the seaplanes still a big part of the experience.

New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos

A few hours later we’ve gone from the wide waterway into quite the narrow channels. Nothing scrapes the sides of the ship :-)

If you thought my patter about happy Carmella was hyperbole I protest and present this video as my proof: she really gets this happy on the water.

New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos

After all the happy and prancing it’s time to relax, all wrapped up. (This is a cruise to Alaska; warmth will be a theme throughout. Don’t like it? Join us whilst we on a cruise in the Caribbean or the Med.)

On our next walkabout we visit the library / game room. The Lesiuks love jigsaw puzzles, and are thrilled to see a partially-assembled one to which they can contribute. We spend a while making order from chaos — ordo ab chao — and leave the unfinished portion for the next group so inclined to help out.

Then it’s time for bed and the adventures of the next day, a sea day.

We round the top of Graham Island, our progress slow but cumulative.

This evening is “formal night”, and we pull out our nicest clothes. Carmella takes care of the ordering, picking out all the things that we love and can share, family style. Better to try a little bit of everything than to miss a hidden surprise.

The boys cleaned up nice, if I may say so.

Chicken piccatta, if memory serves.

Quality family time, hanging on the spectacularly huge wrap-around balcony that Carmella was able to find in her spelunking of the ship reservation system. There’s only two of these on the Noordam, and we’ve got one of them!

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A panoramic view of the rising sun and the boat’s wake.

Room service brings first breakfast, which we eat in our bathrobes (and toques – the Canadian word for “hat”).

It’s sunny but cold as we pose, post-breakfast.

We’re now halfway up Admiralty Island, with Juneau coming ever closer. We’re almost there. I love the port days, and am excited to “drop a pin” (visit a new place).

The announcements for Juneau come over the hailing system, and the rise in excitement is palpable. Almost there!

This leg of the journey done, we’re about to go ashore in Juneau, Alaska.

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