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twangster

Ovation Goes North, Way North to Alaska! 11 Nights, May 13, 2019

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On board!

Will post boarding process here for anyone sailing another ship out of Vancouver in another post.

Specialty dining offered from my agent booked.  Kümmelweck sandwiches consumed. 

For now I can offer the North Star experience at a glacier has to be booked at Shore Excursion for $49.99 per person.  It's not loaded in the system yet so no signs or screen shots to share.

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5 minutes ago, twangster said:

For now I can offer the North Star experience at a glacier has to be booked at Shore Excursion for $49.99 per person.

HOLY....!!! 

🤑🤑🤑

I hope that's a considerably longer stay in the pod than the usual few minutes, and that they hold it steady instead of swinging back and forth when you might be about to catch a glacier calving. Are they going to also move the pod over the side of the ship so you're a smidge closer to the glacier and also have a few with no ship in it?

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20 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

HOLY....!!! 

🤑🤑🤑

I hope that's a considerably longer stay in the pod than the usual few minutes, and that they hold it steady instead of swinging back and forth when you might be about to catch a glacier calving. Are they going to also move the pod over the side of the ship so you're a smidge closer to the glacier and also have a few with no ship in it?

My goodness Joe, you have become so demanding! By the way, I'm here in NJ at my daughters place....this weather SUCKS!!! 80 degrees and sunny back home. :3_grin:

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I watched your scope under the bridge - how fun! I'm stuck at work until 7am, so I'm watching the Ovation's progression on marinetraffic.com just thinking how unfortunate it is that you have to go through the San Juan Islands and Juan De Fuca Straight overnight - my favorite area of the world (but I guess it's just not possible to avoid it!).  I never get enough of that area.  When we retire out there I may just spend all of my time riding the ferries like a crazy old woman. I'll bring a dog. It'll be so much cooler that way.

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Day 1 - Getting To The Ship

I left my hotel at 9am walking 1/2 mile to the light rail Bridgeport station.  It's concrete sidewalks all the way so managing my two spinner suitcases wasn't as bad as I feared it might be.  Drivers here respect the crosswalks unlike some big cities where crosswalks are target zones for pedestrians.

The two zone fare one-way was $4.20 CAD or $3.12 USD.  Pretty inexpensive transfer to the ship.  I purchased with my credit card having notified them of my international travel plans before hand.  If you take the train from YVR airport there is an additional fee when leaving the airport.  That fee didn't apply to me since I boarded the train further down the line.

Since the Canada Line services the YVR airport luggage isn't an anomaly although there isn't a luggage rack.  I slid mine into a window seat next to me while I sat in the aisle seat. 

The first "Waterfront" train that arrived at the station was packed with daily commuters on this Monday morning so I waited for the next train that was nearly empty.

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Arriving at the end of the line the Waterfront station is approximately one 1/4 mile from Canada Place in downtown Vancouver.  I used the elevator from the train platform to reach street level and made the right turn to head towards Canada Place.  The paper ticket card I purchased is needed to exit the platform so keep your ticket handy at all times.   

Once at Canada Place the cruise terminal is accessed by going down the ramp following the signs.  Taxis, shuttles or private cars would drive down the ramp.

I arrived shortly before 10am.  Total transfer time from my hotel including walking to the train and to Canada Place was around 50 minutes.

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Departing guests were making their way up while I headed down.

The terminal uses four stages to mark the embarkation process with signs for them labelled one through four.  Step 1 is the baggage drop which is geared for vehicle traffic down on the P2 level of the parking garage below the terminal.  For pedestrian arrivals you can use a parking elevator to reach the P2 level.

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Following the signs in the parking garage I was led to the baggage drop off in the parking garage.

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There is a desk set up for guests who did not print luggage tags at home.

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Guests with tags already on their bags can skip this and go directly to the drop area.

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This is organized by forward cabins to the left and and aft cabins further down.

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With baggage dropped off, it was back up to the terminal using the same elevators or stairs.  Here there were signs for step 2, check in,  up the escalator.

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The check in hall is up one floor following the signs for step 2.

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Terminal contractors with tablets were here to greet me, scan my SetSail pass and passport, take my photo and finally stamp my setSail pass.

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Following the signs for the loop around to step 3 the path takes you outside along the edge of the building to an escalator down to security.

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At the bottom of the escalator I was directed through to security where I didn't take any pictures but it's clearly marked for step 3.

Typical cruise security with carry on through X-Ray and guests through metal detectors much like airport security.  

After this was step 4, US Customs and Immigration.  No pictures but it was nice to pre-clear US customs here so we wouldn't have to deal with it mid-cruise.  They have kiosks where you scan your passport, make your declarations and proceed.  

With that complete I was led to a holding area since guests were still debarking the ship.  Time at this point was 10:25am.

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Initially there was seating for around 250 guests but with the ship delaying embarkation they expanded this and added another 250 seats, then another 250 seats.  

The terminal appeared to have wifi available but it didn't work.

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Instead my phone switched to 3G cellular this far into the interior of the terminal away from the LTE signal I had been enjoying outside.  T-Mobile includes Canada and Mexico in my home area so my phone works no different compared to being at home with no additional charges. 

Terminal contractors were very apologetic stating it doesn't usually take this long before the ship is ready.  I suspect departing guests were slow to leave as we could see a few heading off and through the terminal from time to time as we waited.  Finally the ship was ready for us and we were led to the typical embarkation photo area and outside to the gangway.   

Time to start boarding - 11:25am.

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They were busy loading the ship down on the dock below us.

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Up the covered gangway and onto the ship.

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It was a very organized embarkation with the four steps clearly labelled and easy to follow.  In fact it may be one of the most logical and easier embarkations I've experienced.

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On the ship I checked at the information desks temporarily set up in the Esplanade outside Boleros for last minute reservations.  I wanted to see how they were handling North Star while the ship would be at the glaciers.  They informed North Star at the glaciers would be chargeable compared to the times I could pick in the cruise planner that were available starting at 1pm two hours after the glacier.

Up to shore excursion they said it wasn't loaded in the system yet but they were taking names for the $49.99 North Star rides while at the glaciers.  I declined and proceeded to make specialty dining reservation then off to Cafe Two70 for lunch.

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After lunch I headed up to deck 15 to take some photos while we were in Vancouver.

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It looked like they were ready to offer North Star on a walk up basis so I jumped in before the lines began to form.

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Great views of the city from here.

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A couple of Eagles were spotted flying around near the ship.

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On ‎2019‎/‎05‎/‎13 at 7:33 AM, twangster said:

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One thing I noticed was how the currents had settled down, the rippling and waves were gone, the water was smooth.  This too is important so any ship can stay within the narrow channel and pass under the bridge at it's highest level.

I made it onto a famous @twangster image! Can't believe my wife and I were in the presence of royalty and missed the opportunity to meet @twangster personally!

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Cabin tour!

Deck 11 a few cabins away from the forward elevator bank, port side.  Cabin 11152.

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Lots of storage...

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Over the bed storage.

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Power outlets at the desk with two USB charging ports.

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One outlet on the right side of the bed.

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I've waited until day two to take balcony pictures here on this overcast and drizzly day.

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The view forward.

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The view aft.

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The view down towards the water.

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Something I haven't noticed before on other ships is an adjustable shower head.  There is a "Select" button you can press to cycle through the three settings.

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The first is a rainfall type gentle and wide pattern.

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The next setting is a little stronger and slightly more focused by using fewer nozzles.

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The last setting is more focused producing a stronger stream.

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To be honest I can't remember what the shower head in Anthem or Symphony looked like.  Maybe I just didn't notice this feature before.

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17 minutes ago, Vancity Cruiser said:

I made it onto a famous @twangster image! Can't believe my wife and I were in the presence of royalty and missed the opportunity to meet @twangster personally!

I was wearing my invisibility cloak that day.  Several bikers nearly ran me over.

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

I was wearing my invisibility cloak that day.  Several bikers nearly ran me over.

Must have been tourists.........Canadians would never do that lol

I know what you mean though. There were a lot of people who ignored the dismount signs in that area.

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Luggage delivered by 2pm.  I quickly unpacked and went to explore some more.  I'll find a less busy time to take some pictures around the ship.

I dropped by guest services to see if I could swap an old Wow! band I brought with me.  They took my old E1 Muster band from Anthem and gave me a new A4 Muster band without any fees.  

Muster at 4pm. Muster stations here on Ovation, like Anthem and other Quantum class are all indoors. 

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They didn't use the Oasis class spy safety video like they did on Anthem.  This video was more focused just on the safety aspects without trying to turn it into a mini-series. 

At the assembly drill the Captain announced our 8pm departure with a bridge time around 8:20 - 8:30pm depending on traffic.  

It was kind of nice having 4 hours to do stuff before sail away.

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After a bite to eat and a drop by the Music Hall for Diamond Happy Hour it was getting closer to sail away so I went to deck 15.

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The iFly instructors were playing around.

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North Star was going.

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Then they put North Star in its parked position and secured it in place.

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A puff of dark smoke indicated they were cranking up another engine.  

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More and more guests were making their way top side in anticipation of sail away.  We must be getting close...

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We backed out and away from the terminal, did a partial turn and began our departure towards the Lions Gate Bridge.

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Soon after we approached the bridge.

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No stopping now, here we go...

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The moment of truth...

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North Star clearing with ample space.

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And now for the funnel.  Note the metal stacks that normally stick up above the funnel have been retracted.

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With that we were through and into Burrard Inlet to make our way to the Pacific.

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Looking forward the sun had set and it was beginning to grow darker.

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Back to the North Star bar for another Diamond Happy Hour drink.

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One thing I noted during sail away was the lack of a sail away party.  Instead they had the BumbleBee movie playing on the pool deck.  

Our CD is from Australia so perhaps he isn't climatized to cooler weather and chose not to host a sail away party which seemed like a lost opportunity to hype up the event and passing under the bridge.  On Anthem they made a party out of it and counted down as we approached the bridge.  Deck 15 was packed so the only people who missed the event were the CD staff. 

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After sail away I went back to my cabin to upload some pictures and worked on the blog. 

This included grabbing my GoPro off the balcony to see how my sail away time lapse came out.

I was pretty tired after a couple of late nights and long days so I headed to bed early after setting out my room service door tag for my morning breakfast.

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Day Two - Sea Day

I woke to the phone call from room service letting me know that breakfast was on the way.  Time to get up!

I worked for a while which I had planned to do since it was sea day.  Voom has been pretty sketchy disappearing entirely for periods of time.  I worked around that by showering and doing other things when Voom went on vacation.  It's definitely not like O3b Voom in the Caribbean.

Our progress so far...

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North Star has a camera on it that is rotated into the itinerary channel 17 map display.

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Weather is overcast with drizzle and periods of rain.  That may be contributing to the poor Voom service.

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