Saturday Sept 6, 2008

Hard to believe, but it’s actually happening. After months of planning, preparing, packing and anticipating, we’re actually HERE – in beautiful Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada). Although we’re not here for long. Early this morning (according to some of our guys who were up with the sparrows), the ms Statendam sailed along the waterfront in a blaze of lights and tied up at the cruise terminal. Later this afternoon, 68 mad Kiwi midlifers went on board (along with 1100 other passengers from who-knows-where-and-who-cares). And an hour later our big blue-and-white ship slid gracefully away from the dock and headed north.

 Our destination? ALASKA – YEEHAA!

Sunset on the waterfront

Sunset on the waterfront

Our Air New Zealand flight (all 13 hrs 15 minutes of it) was smooth and uneventful. Some of our group didn’t sleep … some did … some snored and dribbled the whole way there. We arrived in Vancouver before we left Auckland – a bit of weirdness caused by the international date line. But the only real excitement came shortly before landing, when an unnamed person started a pillow-fight – and before you could say “Touchdown!”, countless small white fluffy things were flying in every direction (several of the older women being the worst offenders).

 We were met at the airport by two nice ladies speaking French-tainted English who got us into coaches and took us across this stunning city to the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. Then, last night, we crossed the road en masse (dodging the wrong-wise-of-the-road traffic) and sat down to a yummy Midlife Madness “Welcome Dinner” at the Aqua Riva Restaurant. Highlight? The tastiest, pinkest, sock-eye salmon baked to total perfection!

Statendam

ms Statendam

 It’s now bedtime on the Statendam, and most of our fellow-Kiwis are probably curled up in their lovely spacious beds in their lovely spacious cabins, dreaming of what we’ll see tomorrow (whales, maybe?) as we cruise through the famous Inside Passage. The ship is truly fantastic – more luxurious than most of us have ever experienced – and our first few hours have been “WOW!” ones, for sure. It’ll take us a day or two to find our way around, but we’ve already watched the sun go down over a dead-flat sea, enjoyed a five-course silver-service meal in the Rotterdam restaurant, and been treated to a fun show in the Van Gogh Lounge.

 We’ve got seven days of this in Alaska, and I tell you – it’s gonna be tough! Will we survive – or will we cave in under the pressure? Time will tell, and you’ll be the first to know … so long as you stay tuned!

 Yours bloggedly – JOHN

 P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on ‘COMMENTS’ (or ‘NO COMMENTS’) under the title for the day’s blog, and type away! And if you want a better look at our route map and some of the photos here, just click on them and they’ll enlarge – magic!