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Seeking Nanook. Serenade of the Seas Double Glacier! May 1 - May 8, 2022


twangster
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As Royal Caribbean kicks off the 2022 Alaska cruise season it's time to look North, all the way North... to the Southeast coast.  The Southeast coast of Alaska that is.  

Serenade of the Seas sails from the Canadian port city of Vancouver, British Columbia heading North to Alaska and back, round trip to Vancouver.

Itinerary

Sun 01May2022     Vancouver, British Columbia    -    5:00 PM    Boarding
Mon 02May2022    Inside Passage    -    -    Cruising
Tue 03May2022     Sitka, Alaska    8:00 AM    5:00 PM    Docked
Wed 04May2022    Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska    5:00 AM    9:00 AM    Cruising
Wed 04May2022    Juneau, Alaska    12:00 PM    8:00 PM    Docked
Thu 05May2022     Hubbard Glacier (Cruising)    11:00 AM    2:00 PM    Cruising
Fri 06May2022       Ketchikan, Alaska    2:00 PM    10:00 PM    Docked
Sat 07May2022      Cruising    -    -    Cruising
Sun 08May2022     Vancouver, British Columbia    7:00 AM    -    Departure

This is an unusual opportunity for Royal Caribbean International in a number of ways. 

First of all Vancouver roundtrip hasn't always been a Royal Caribbean International offering.  Secondly an itinerary that includes sailing by two glaciers on Royal is not common.  Thirdly, visiting Hubbard Glacier, the premiere tidewater glacier of Alaska, has traditionally meant sailing a one-way North or South itinerary on Royal.  Lastly, sailing into Tracy Arm Fjord has not been offered by Royal in some time, even before the industry shutdown.

Admittedly this thread may not be live at all times since the internet when sailing this far North can leave a lot to be desired.  

This year brings some additional requirements introduced since this cruise departs from another country (Canada) and that means satisfying both CDC requirements since we visit US ports and Canadian requirements since we sail from Canada.

Despite the anticipated internet challenges as the cruise sails North I thought it would be helpful to discuss the additional requirements introduced by Canada this year due to the pandemic.  

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As time has brought me closer to the sailing the additional requirements for a Canadian based cruise have softened.  They continue to improve and what once seemed like a myriad of confusing red tape has become pretty simple and not that much different compared to cruises from the US since the industry restart.  

For the most part the additional requirements introduced by Canada comes down to the ArriveCAN app used to enter Canada no matter how you arrive, by land, sea or air, at least for US residents.  The ArriveCAN app is not unique to cruising, every traveler to Canada no matter how they arrive has to use this app including Canadians arriving home from international travel.

As a cruiser flying into Canada to embark in Vancouver there may be airline references to former testing requirements to enter Canada but those have been eliminated currently.  Despite that change some airlines continue to suggest testing will be required to enter Canada.  There is no testing requirement despite what some airline app might say (cough, cough, Delta).

The free ArriveCAN app can be found in the Apple App store or the Google Play store.  You will need this for app any Alaska cruise in 2022.

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In the interest of brevity I'm not going to include every screen shot from the ArriveCAN app.  It's pretty straight forward, have your ID and vax card on hand to upload into the app or enter the details from your ID into the app.

It's important to note you can only do this 72 hours before you plan to enter Canada. 

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Pick the reason for travel that matches your situation.

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In this case for my arrival into Canada by air I'll pick the first option.  For a Seattle based cruise stopping in Victoria the last option would be appropriate.

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A short self assessment of your health is required.

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After entering everything and then submitting you'll eventually get a QR code and a letter code for use upon entry.

 

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Since I'm flying and my airline has its own app that requires I show proof that I've completed the ArriveCAN form this last screenshot will also be used in the Delta Fly Ready app.

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Not long ago Canada required a test result to be shown at the border for entry.  They also had a requirement to have a quarantine plan ready to implement if you were directed to do so.  The quarantine plan was in place at a time when Canada wasn't expecting and didn't want foreigners coming to Canada.  It was designed for Canadians coming home.  

The quarantine plan has mostly been removed from the ArriveCAN app as of earlier this week.  Update your app to the latest version before starting.

There is reference to the quarantine requirement that remains in the app but it can be ignored for most at the moment since all adults will be vaccinated to cruise.

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All of this took about twenty minutes and was pretty straight forward.  With all that out of the way the rest is like getting ready for any other cruise.

I will need a negative test to board the ship taken with 2 days of boarding just like when cruising from the US since the restart.

In my case I have elected to get a Rapid NAAT test on Friday here in my home state.  I need the test to cruise but since I'll have it in hand I can also show it at the border even though it isn't required to enter Canada.  Canada is trying to implement increased random testing at the border.  By arriving with a negative NAAT (PCR) test in hand I'm hoping the CBSA agent will be less likely to randomly select me for another test at the border.  This strategy has worked for other recent trips to Canada and since I need the test to cruise, why not have the test in hand?

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On 4/27/2022 at 11:15 PM, twangster said:

By arriving with a negative NAAT (PCR) test in hand I'm hoping the CBSA agent will be less likely to randomly select me for another test at the border. 

I thought we all knew to tell the border agent upon arrival "Hello, I'm friends with @Lovetocruise2002 and I'd hate to have to call her to tell her we're having any kind of trouble here"

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38 minutes ago, Matt said:

I thought we all knew to tell the border agent upon arrival "Hello, I'm friends with @Lovetocruise2002 and I'd hate to have to call her to tell her we're having any kind of trouble here"

I'm expecting that she will be on hand for my arrival.  Canada isn't that big so it should be an easy drive over to Vancouver for her.   I mean it’s not I’m expecting a lot, eh?  

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On 4/27/2022 at 11:07 PM, twangster said:

Delta is my airline for this trip and they have a requirement to upload a copy of the ArriveCAN QR code into the Delta Fly Ready app.  Once I did that about 15 minutes later I received an email letting know it was validated and I am clear to check in when my flight is ready for check in.

Interesting. We have flights to Vancouver from the East Coast on Westjet, but the first leg is code-shared with and/or contracted with Delta. We have not got any messages about uploading anything to a Delta App. Our first airport is small and easy to get through, so if they tell us to do this at the airport, we should have time. We know about ArriveCAN/testing already. Still working out if our luggage will be checked through to Vancouver, or if we have to re-check in Calgary, where we have a 1hr45min stop. I expect that we will pass through Canadian border patrol in Calgary, but I try to be ready for the unexpected with international flights  ; )

Hope your packing and flights go well, and stay safe!

Edited: Contacted Westjet on Twitter and confirmed we will go through immigration in Calgary but will not have to re-check our bags! : )

Edited by CruiseMom82
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1 hour ago, twangster said:

I'm expecting that she will be on hand for my arrival.  Canada isn't that big so it should be an easy drive over to Vancouver for her.   I mean it’s not I’m expecting a lot, eh?  

I mean, she can ice skate over to greet you since it snows every day

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17 minutes ago, Matt said:

I mean, she can ice skate over to greet you since it snows every day

I fear our relationship may be on the thin ice she would be skating over.  After convincing me not to join the December blog group cruise she has dumped me and left me high and dry on a different ship.  Sigh.  

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8 minutes ago, SpeedNoodles said:

So for those of us on a Settle closed-loop cruise who don't visit Victoria until the last day, we'd have to fill this out while on the ship (since it has to be no more than 72 hours prior).

Required to board in Seattle.

The app will ask for embarkation date and the date of the visit.   You can go ahead and start a mock entry now, just don't hit submit at the very end. 

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

Canada isn't that big so it should be an easy drive over to Vancouver for her.  

No biggie, only about 4000 km away (that's about 2500 miles for my US friends lol).

6 hours ago, Matt said:

I mean, she can ice skate over to greet you since it snows every day

Can't skate.  Never learned haha

5 hours ago, twangster said:

I fear our relationship may be on the thin ice she would be skating over.  After convincing me not to join the December blog group cruise she has dumped me and left me high and dry on a different ship.  Sigh.  

I am still so sad about that.  I really need to retire so that work cannot keep messing up my plans.  

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T - 1 Day

I made it to Vancouver!  I'm staying downtown at Hotel Le Soleil a couple of blocks from Canada Place cruise terminal.

I was required to show the ArriveCAN form and my passport upon checking in at the airport then again boarding the connecting flight in Seattle for Vancouver.

Ironically I was not required to show the ArriveCAN form going through Canada customs in Vancouver airport but I suspect it matched my passport number to the form.   

YVR airport does require masks at the moment so make sure to bring some.  

In YVR airport you are processed by Canada for immigration and customs purposes.  It starts with a kiosk where you make your declarations which prints out a form you'll use at the following immigration and customs steps.   After going through immigration you collect your luggage.  Upon exiting the baggage claim area where you hand over your CBSA kiosk printout you will be directed into a queue for COVID testing if selected, or if not selected for testing you'll be directed into another queue that leads to the actual exit.

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My tummy was on Eastern time so I ventured out for an early bite of dinner.  


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After eating I ventured down to Canada Place.

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The Canada Line train from the airport ends at Waterfront station which is pretty close to Canada Place.

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There had been three ships in port today, I missed a HAL ship that had just depart.  

Seven Seas Mariner on the left and Royal Princess on the right.

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In Canada they take their social distancing seriously so they have put it out there in common terms any Canadian would understand.

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If curling isn't your thing maybe Maple Syrup is.

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The ramp to reach the cruise terminal where I'll walk down tomorrow. 

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Some additional pictures of the area.

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With that I was getting tired so time to start heading towards my hotel a few blocks away.

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IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!

With my body still on Eastern time it's early in the morning as I write this in my hotel room. 

Checking out the wind and wave forecast.  It looks like there is a system out there that could come into play for my cruise.  Time will tell how this factors into the itinerary with Hubbard on Thursday.

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I thought about walking down to watch Serenade arrive this morning but it's 44°F this morning.  Enough said.  It does raise the question if my goal of seeing a descendant of Nanook in downtown has just gone up. 

I've got a lot of hours to kill before my 11am appointment.  Tick, tock.  

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With hours to kill this morning I completed the ArriveCAN app for a second time.  When choosing the cruise ship option it will ask for embarkation date which must be within 72 hours and separately it asks for the date you will arrive into Canada which in my case is May 8.  

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I walked down from my hotel and arrived at Canada Place at 10am.

My arrival appointment was 11am but I wanted to drop my luggage and walk around outside taking some photos along the way.   

My cell plan charges for data in Canada so I’ll come back later with photos once I’m on ship WiFi.   

Down the ramp following the blue cruise ship signs I was directed to an elevator that goes down into the parking garage P2 level.  

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There was a short line for folks who didn’t have luggage tags.  

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I bypassed that and walked to the drop off area with signs for Serenade to the right of the line.  

With my bag dropped off I went back up to the CS level and walked outside. 

Three ships in port, HAL, Princess and Royal Caribbean.

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Due to the tidal changes they use cranes to load everything on board.

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Provisions getting loaded.

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Active float plane base in Vancouver harbor.

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After taking these photos it was back down to the area where I grabbed the parking garage elevator earlier.  Now there was a line with 20 or guests waiting to get down to luggage drop.  TIme was a 10:55am.

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I headed into the area for security.  At this point they wanted passport and setsail pass only.  

Laptop out of backpack and through security shoes on, like many security checkpoints at cruise ships. I had already stuffed my parka required for this chilly Canadian climate into my backpack.  

Next up was US CBP pre-clearance.  After visiting a kiosk the machine spitted out a printout with a big X across my details. Yep, secondary screening.    This turned out to be a minor inconvenience and with the ship not boarding yet it was nothing.  Even the CBP officer shook her head after running my passport and waved me through. 

Up to this point the process is common for all ships in port.  For today that was three.   Once through CBP we separated from other ship guests on the other cruise lines. 

The next step was Royal Caribbean check in which wasn’t open yet so we waited.  Soon enough they announced suites and pinnacle so I was moving again.  I managed to pick a queue with a contractor whose iPad wasn’t working so I was sent to check in counter.  Here I presented my ArriveCAN code on my phone along with proof of vaccine, test results and setsail pass.  A few minutes later off I went to board the ship! 

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17 minutes ago, Matt said:

I'm insulted you would even insinuate I don't know the Pan Pacific is your preferred hotel in Vancouver. Or that I haven't already booked it for later this month for my family

One demerit point lost for you too! lol But the suite snob still approves of the Pan Pacific.

I personally like the Fairmont Waterfront. 🙂

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1 hour ago, smokeybandit said:

Did you have to submit a second ArriveCan from the one you used to fly in?

Yes.  Serenade’s return on May 8 represents a separate arrival into Canada since the ship leaves Canada, visits the US then returns.  Every arrival to Canada, including for any Canadians on board, requires ArriveCAN.  

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On board just before noon.  Here are some on board prices: 

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Voom was down at the moment.  Original estimate of 1pm has been updated to 5pm.  I suspect the position and angle of the ship is blocking some satellites as there are some TV channels that indicate there is a satellite outage.

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