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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Sep '14

Trip Report: Birthday Ramble – YVR-YYJ-SFO

Oh gentle readers – the morning started with a bit of a disappointment….no Princess Black Elite boarding card waiting for me a check-in.

What good is chasing privileges if the computer systems can’t keep up?

After waiting a half-an-hour or so we started boarding – and it seems that everyone else was headed for the aft portion of the ship and even though I was in the fourth row of chairs I was the first one to security on the boat, eschewing the photographer only to be confronted with a ding rather than a beef (or was it the other way around).

Off to the side I stand while they call it in…new card comes down from passenger service and low-and-behold, it is black as coal.

And this time, this is MY view – opting for the balcony cabin on my Vancouver-Victoria-San Francisco cruise. For those who care about these things, since I’m a single, it’s double the fare so it’s $558.00 plus $96.02 in taxes, fees, port charges. For this:

Dropped my bags and scampered down to the Bordeaux Dining Room (6th Floor, Center) for lunch:

A light lunch – no fries. And as the guy on the last boat said, “Sometimes you just want something simple rather than something fancy.” Even if you are eating it in a fancy restaurant.

When I got back to the room, it was time to send some shirts to be washed and pressed – a Black Elite benefit (which they said due to the volume, don’t expect until 72 hours, not good for same-day service):

Then the safety drill – seats this time, in the Princess Theatre and with that out of the way it’s time to call room service and swap out this:

For this:

And this:

For this:

Yep, took the mixed selection and my Serbian Room Service boy (well, technically he’s 21 and has only been out of Serbia for 45 days) and switched it for all VSOP and Diet – the only whiskey they had was Dewar’s Scotch and the CourvoisierVSOP was the same price – go figure.

That taken are of it’s off to the LGBT meet-up (or is that hook-up) which they have POORLY planned for the Grill Bar, one level up on the open deck from where the “Sail-Away” party is booming. When will these people learn…Wheelhouse Bar! And try not to make it during the Elite Cocktail party for Elites, Platinums, Suite passengers with free nibbles and reduced priced drinks — tonight was fresh guacamole, chips, and $5.00 el Major Margaritas – which were WAY too sweet until I cut it half with ginger ale, but I digress.

Let’s see, where was I – right, LGBT get together. Our poor (but cute) host had a cute little home-made flag the size of a sheet of paper (don’t they give these people a props budget?) sitting forlornly at the table when I finally noticed him. Well, that’s two of us. I sent him over to the bar side of the partial deck having spotted what I thought were a couple of bears drinking – and I grabbed two guys that I’d been on other short cruises with (also from Seattle) and by the time it was happening we’d collected a good dozen people including the host’s bi-sexual sister who was on the cruise too.

Our Princess “Host” is in the blue shirt (and starched white shorts) at the end of the table, his sister is standing to his left. If you can’t find him, here is a close-up:

Wait, here are better pictures of the group, including half of a Sydney, Australia couple sailing all the way to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal…

Dale would be to the right of Stephen (isn’t that a lovely name…wait, it’s my middle name, and even with the correct spelling!) our host. And that would be a Manhattan in a tacky plastic glass. Stephens comment to a couple who had been together for 22 years… “I’m 22, so I guess I would have been in the womb.” You go girl.

Some random shots from around the ship….

And this one I especially like…it’s like a “ghost ship“:

Eight of the gay boys got to dinner the first night in the Bordeaux Dining Room – what a handsome group:

And many of stayed up wayyyyy too late….gambling….not me, but one of the boys put $300 in a penny slot machine – the Aussie was the smartest of the lot, playing poker, where you actually have a chance to beat the house.

Woke up in Victoria to gloom and doom and drizzle…luckily I’d ordered coffee and an eggy-muffin thing the night before:

If you look closely you can see the top of the WorldMark Victoria just to the right of the tallest structure in the picture below – my original plan was to walk over and say hello to Nicola who works the front desk – but the drizzle got the better of me.

Another day, another LGBT gathering – this time in the Wheelhouse at pretty much the correct time, 5:30 (so I could go snag Rob Roys at $5.00 [plus 15%] from the Elite party which also had steak tartare and cheeses). But before I did that I swing by the Explorer Lounge for a couple of $3.99 (plus 15%) Bloody Marys in commemorative glasses (hence, needing to get two of them), drink one, split the other one into two glasses (for breakfast) and pop it in the fridge, and then pop by and get a picture of Stephen calling the trivia contest…

The steak tartare…and I know Melba Toast (what it was supposed to come with), and that isn’t Melba, it’s just toast points.

And the aforementioned Roy Roys – or what was left of them…

That was before I went for two more… and some pictures of the boys at the cocktail party and at dinner for ten which followed:

I’ve actually been on other cruises with the two on the right, one from SF and the other from DC – a long-distance couple.

These two are actually on their honeymoon, while these two have a fascination with Bang Bang, one of the servers upstairs:

With the drinks from the LGBT cocktail party and the wine with dinner, we were probably annoying all those around us, luckily we didn’t sit down until 8:30PM:

And let’s not forget the tin-foil swan for a little take-home dessert…

So another night goes – out too late hanging around the casino, and yes, I’m $30 lighter – luckily all my cash short of the $50 bill secreted away. But I did see part of the “Down on the Bayou” show…didn’t realize there were that many white people in the Bayou, but I’ll go any place that has an accordion player as part of the band.

Got back to the room to find my shirts are back from the laundry:

So much for my request to have them folded and boxed – I guess you get what you pay for, in this case, nothing since it’s one of the perks.

As for my last full day at sea, Bloody Marys await the coffee and muffin thing:

Though they were delivered at 9AM, I went back to bed until 11. Uncle needs his beauty rest. And the weather outside is frightful (or at least dreary).

The ship was rocking and pitching most of the night so the extra hours in the morning calm helped.

Spent the day doing this and that. Missed a sit-down lunch in the dining room and had to settle for the slop line (oh, I mean the buffet). Did my duty-free booze shopping (liter of Jim Beam for $17.99 minus 10% for being Elite Black), and bought a couple of watches at $10 each ($9 after discount) since I’ve been wearing my dual time-zone watch for the last couple of months since all my other watches have dead batteries.

Not that I’ll be wearing both at the same time.

Headed to the wine tasting (also a freebie for the Elites, $9.50 [plus, I’m sure, the 15%] for non-elites) – I headed back to the room when I encountered this line:

Not worth in considering the boring wines they were sampling. Finishing the last pages of my book and taking a nap was a much better use of my time.

Tonight’s LGBT Hoe Down had about 10 people show up at the Wheel House Lounge on Deck 7 (directly, and conveniently directly below my stateroom 5 levels). I’ll try to not bore you with too many photos since it seems to be the same people every night…

And then some silliness at the dinner table – I brought my birthday balloons to dinner:

Speaking of dinner, some of the highlights….

Snails in butter!

Both pretty and tasty.

Another late night…woke up at 3AM still in my clothes and still unpacked. Nothing like packing at 3AM.

Uneventful morning – up at 7:30AM, out the cabin door by the mandatory 8AM exit time…even though my disembarkation isn’t until 9:30. But a lovely sunrise over the Bay Bridge…

And the view from my breakfast table on the Lido Deck…

Now it’s just the waiting game to get off the boat and onto the bus for the airport – a final “footie” for you.

[? ? ?] I hate to think what the number will be after a week of cruise boats and dinners.

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