Sail Away

In researching gf-friendly breakfast spots in Vancouver, I found that an outpost of Cora’s was near. Yes! If you’ve following our journeys to Toronto, you know our deep love for Cora’s.  It was a gloriously sunny day in Vancouver as we set off for the short 15 minute walk to breakfast.  We hadn’t seen much of our neighborhood thus far, so we were surprised to find that our hotel was about 5 minutes from Vancouver’s main shopping drag.  We walked past everything from Footlocker to Prada along our route—all closed this early in the morning.  Penn was on the hunt for a new pair of Kyrie 3 Nikes (the gods are punishing me by making my son follow a Cavalier), and we had stumbled on the perfect place to find them … after we ate. 

Here’s our hotel silhouetted against the sky.
Canada’s quiet desperation:

It was about 8 am on a Monday morning, but the line at Cora’s was already out the door.  Seriously, if you’re in Canada, eat at Cora’s, and if you’re an American looking to franchise back home, talk to Cora’s (and to Shopper’s Drug Mart, which makes Walgreens look like Pic N Save).  Way too full of everything from ham and swiss crepes to burrito crepes to mega omelettes, we waddled into the shopping mecca that is downtown Vancouver. 

The boys peeled off in search of Kyries; Harper and I went our own way; eventually, we reconnected at the Old Navy (after all, we are the Kress-Davis family, ON’s most frequent flyers in every country). After a couple hours and well over 10,000 steps of shopping, it was time to grab a cab to Canada Place.  The cruise terminal is huge, lovely, and really well organized.  Three different cruise lines were setting sail that day from the terminal, and it was organized to make sure none of them got separated from their herd. 

We walked passed the Disney Wonder and remembered cruising her to the Caribbean long ago.  (I had considered the Disney Cruise Line for this trip, but because it offers only a round trip cruise, you see much less of Alaska.)  Everyone was incredibly nice at the terminal, and we made it on the ship in short order.
We sailed away from Vancouver against a beautiful, blue sky with almost no clouds in sight (no filters on these photos).
The ship is shiny with décor that could be updated but is just fine—bright and welcoming.  Our two interior cabins are huge—each has a king bed (convertible to two twins), a sofa, and enough storage to hold a month’s worth of belongings.  We’ve done four cruises: Disney, Disney, Viking River, and NCL.  While I’d take a VRC every single day if I could, this NCL cruise is by far the least expensive and highest value to dollar for space and food. 
So, let me talk about the Sun for a moment.  I had read a bunch online about how the ship was showing its age, how the staff just aren’t as friendly “as they used to be,” how the food wasn’t that great, etc.  I also saw a lot of photos that made it look dark and uninviting.  Turns out, at least judging by the first two days, all of this is absolute nonsense. (Point in fact, while I’m writing this from a window seat in the empty sports bar, a server just walked up and offered me a croissant. That’s service.)  In booking, we had two options: Celebrity or NCL.  For the price of one balcony room on Celebrity, we could book two separate inside rooms on NCL and have cash to spare. Decided! 
As for food–it’s everywhere and lots of it.  Plus, at dinner, we were able to select all of Harper’s meals for the next day so that they could be prepared GF with no cross contamination.  Yes!  NCL, you won our hearts on that one.  Our server, Hudson, shared that he works 8 months on and 4 months off, and he sees many, many families and found our kids to be among the most polite.  Well, they are among the laughing-est.

Views from the deck throughout the day revealed the rough and deep beauty of the Northwest: pine tree covered mountainous terrain lining the shores, the dark ocean rippling away from the boat. 
The day ended with a glorious sunset.
Calling it an early night, all of us fell into our beds dreaming of waves and whales and what might come next.

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