Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far
May 31 ~ Day # 21
Budget to date
Total to date
Location: Holland America Ship MS Amsterdam docked at Seattle, Washington
Mileage: 300 Total: 4917 (approx mileages as we took a bus from Chilliwack to Seattle)
Today’s Total Expenses: $93.66Transportation: $90.16
Many, many thanks go out to my baby sister and her husband for making us feel so at home during our stay with them.
Also, thanks for the warm, fuzzy jacket my sister gave me. As I mentioned in a earlier post my brain must have been elsewhere when deciding what to pack. I didn’t think to pack a warm jacket and I knew we were cruising to Alaska – DUH!
So thanks, TA! I know it will be much appreciated during the cruise.
Early Morning Departure
As we needed to be back in Seattle to begin our Alaska cruise, we looked a several options.
The first option was to just take our car with us and park it for the two weeks we would be away. Parking close to the cruise docks would have cost almost $250.
Another option was to leave our car at my sister’s home and find another way to get to Seattle.
We checked the cost to fly and the best we could do was about $114 each and that didn’t include getting to the airport.
We checked taking the train. It was about $75 total for the two of us but it didn’t included getting to Vancouver from Chilliwack.
The option we actually chose was the Greyhound Bus. From Chilliwack to Seattle was only a total of $52.16 for the both of us.
Additional costs to that would be a cab from my sister’s house to the bus station and another cab from the bus station in Seattle to the cruise port.
The only catch with this plan was that the bus left Chilliwack at 2:55am! But, we decided this was the most cost-effective way to go and that’s exactly what we did.
We pre-arranged with the cab company to pick us up at 2:30am and then I called again at 2:00am to confirm that they, indeed, has us scheduled.
The cab arrived on time and we got to the bus station in lots of time. The cab cost, including tip, was $15.00.
The trip into Vancouver was kind of a “scenic route” as we stopped may places to pick up and discharge passengers.
Once in Vancouver we had about an hour to change to the bus heading for Seattle, so we picked up a cup of coffee and waited.
Back in Seattle
The trip to Seattle was uneventful, even when we crossed the border. The US customs and immigration officers were friendly and cheerful and we got through in record time. Of course, the fact that, at this point, there were actually only six of us on the bus probably made the process speedier than usual.
All in all the trip took just a little over 7 hours. We left Chilliwack just before 3am and arrived in Seattle just after 10am.
We had hoped to get a little sleep on the trip, but this just didn’t happen. We had decided that since the taxi was picking us up at 2:30am, there was really no point in going to bed earlier that night. Actually, I was worried that we might not get up in time if we did that. So, we just watched TV until it was time to go.
By the time we arrived in Seattle we realized that we had now been up for about 26 hours and we still had to get to the ship and board.
Checking in with Holland America
We were able to get a cab just outside the bus station that took us directly to the cruise ship dock. The cost for this cab, including the tip, was $23.00. Our major expenses for today, not including the cost of the cruise, naturally, was transportation.
We arrived at our ship’s check in point at about 10:30am. I was a bit worried that we would be too early to check in. (I just LOVE to worry about stuff.) The information we received was from Holland America was that check-in was a 1:00pm and we would sail at 5:00pm.
However, as is normally the case, I needn’t have worried. There were already lots of people there ahead of us.
Check in is much like going through airport security: you need to show your passports lots of time to just about everyone; your luggage goes through the x-ray machine and you have to go through the metal detector. A plus, though – we didn’t have to remove our shoes.
All through this process Geoff was the one lugging our big duffle bag which contained all of our clothes and carrying the computer as well. I was carrying our toiletries and my purse. That’s seems fair, right?
Well, after we had checked in with the duffle bag in tow, we were told that we could have checked the duffle bag downstairs where we came in, otherwise, we’d have to keep it with us until the rooms were ready – sometime after 1:00pm.
So, Geoff schlepped the duffle bag back downstairs, we put the toiletries bag inside the duffle bag, too so that meant that we only had to deal with the computer and my purse – much better. We headed back upstairs, back through security and then waited until we could board.
By the way, the Holland America check in staff we both helpful and welcoming.
Boarding the MS Amsterdam
At around 11:30am they started the boarding process. When we checked in we were issued to boarding group number. We were in group 3 so once the process started we didn’t have long to wait before our group was called.
They took to inevitable boarding photos as this seems to be a standard thing on all cruises and then we walked up the gangway to the ship. The weather was overcast but fortunately it wasn’t raining as parts of the gangway was not covered.
Food, Food and More Food
Anyone who has cruised before, or even knows anyone that has cruise before, knows that there is pretty much non-stop food available on a cruise, and I’m not going to tell you any different.
Upon boarding the ship we were directed toward the Lido Deck where there was a huge buffet of all kinds of food waiting for us. There were buns and salads and sandwiches made to order and hot food – Asian, Italian, etc. – and, of course, desserts and lots of other items that I haven’t mentioned.
We got some rolls and salad and a couple of other things and settled into a window seat and enjoyed our lunch while trying not to give in to how tired we were.
As you know, our main challenge for the entire time we are traveling is to average no more than $100/day. The cruise will skew this average for a while until we can add in a few less expensive days after the cruise.
However, another challenge that I have set for myself is to actually try to lose weight during the cruise. Probably a more realistic goal is to try not to gain any weight, but I feel I’m up for the challenge.
I plan to weigh in tomorrow morning and then track my weight throughout the next two weeks. No, I’m not going to tell you what I weigh but I will let you know if it’s going up or down. Wish me luck!
Cabin’s Ready But Where’s Our Luggage?
At about 1:30pm there was a ship-wide announcement that all the cabins were ready so we headed to our’s to check it out.
We realized when we checked in that we had been upgraded without even knowing about it. Thanks Jennifer! (Our Holland America cruise consultant).
As we are trying to do this entire trip in the most cost-effective way we, naturally, chose the least expensive cabin. We had expected to be in the smallest stateroom on the lowest deck (Deck 1). To our surprised, we were upgraded to a larger stateroom on Deck 2.
Our luggage had not yet been delivered to our stateroom so we spent some time just exploring the ship and trying to stay awake. By this time (about 2:00pm) we had been up for about 30 hours. I think at this time we were well passed overtired and into our second, or possibly third, wind.
At about 5:30pm the ship began to leave port. It was lovely and sunny – a welcome change from the overcast and slightly raining it had been most of the day – and we reclined on deck chairs at the aft of the ship while we slowly left Seattle.
Wet Clothes and No Shower!
We headed back to our cabin to see if our luggage had arrived yet and to get ready for dinner. We had chosen the late seating for the dining room which meant we would be seated at about 8:00pm.
Still not having slept, we wanted to shower to get refreshed and then dress for dinner. For the first evening aboard ship the dress for the dining room would be casual.
Our suitcase had arrived – Yay! I began to unpack and start to hang things up when I realized that several of the items in our suitcase were very wet. Had our luggage been left out in the rain? Dropped in a puddle? We didn’t know. But, when I reported the problem to the office they sent a room steward to pick up the clothes to have them cleaned and returned to us at no charge.
Next, we headed for the shower, turned the knobs and NOTHING happened! No hot water, no cold water – nothing. The sink worked fine, the toilet worked fine, the shower stayed dry no matter what we tried. It was getting close to dinner time and we really, really wanted to shower.
The office promised they’d send someone right down but we waited for as long as we could and then used the sink in our bathroom to wash ourselves down before heading off for dinner. The office said they’d get the shower fixed while we were at dinner.
On the way to the dining room we noticed a liquor-tasting event and stopped for a bit. We tried some Sheridan’s Coffee Liquor – it comes in an impressive bottle that is actually two bottles in one, one side is a creamy white and the other side is a dark brown. There are two spouts and you pour both at the same time. The white liquor floats on top of the dark brown coffee liquor and the resulting taste is exquisite.
As you can purchase liquor duty-free onboard they were offering two large bottles for $39.95, but the clincher was that there was a third, smaller bottle that came along with the purchase, that you could take back to your room as long as you finished it before disembarking. No problem there!
As the challenge we have set means we need to keep costs down whenever possible, we will not be purchasing any alcoholic drinks while we’re on this cruise. So the temptation to have such a tasty liqueur in our stateroom proved irresistible. So, yes, we bought the two bottles for $39.95.
As this is a discretionary expense, we have not included it in the daily total.
First Dinner Onboard
There are always many, many choices of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard a cruise and this cruise is certainly no different. Both Geoff and I opted for the “Chef’s Recommendation” for our first dinner.
Unfortunately, we found we were both somewhat disappointed. The soup – double baked potato soup – was lovely, but the baby back ribs were fattier than I like and not very tender.
But, this is only the first day and I am looking forward to wonderful things! So, I don’t plan to dwell on such a slight disappointment.
Immediately following dinner we headed to the Queen’s Lounge for the first evening’s entertainment.
The entertainment was light and there was a lot of information about upcoming events and entertainment and the introduction of the cruise’s social staff. The real entertainment begins tomorrow night.
Still No Shower?
We arrived back in our stateroom around 11:00pm still craving a long, hot shower to find that the shower still wasn’t working!
Instead of calling the office we went directly there and they promised they’d sent someone right away.
True to their word a maintenance person arrived very quickly and fixed our shower. Yay!
Time For a Good Night’s Sleep
It was now almost midnight and that meant that we had been up for almost 40 hours straight. Yikes!
Not knowing how long we would sleep in after being up for so long we put a Do Not Disturb sign on our door and settled into our comfy king-size bed and quickly drifted off to sleep anticipating the second day of our cruise.