2009 – Cruising to Alaska on Rhapsody of the Seas – Victoria, BC

Day 7: Victoria, BC

We arrived in Victoria at mid-morning and after waiting 45 minutes or so for the preferred guests to disembark, we non-preferred guests ventured out to see the city. We got a few photos of “welcome to Canada” signs to prove that we actually made it to Canada after all these years. There’s a $6.50 all day shuttle to downtown so we took it. A person can walk, but it’s more than just a stroll. We decided we’d save our legs walking around downtown.

Let me mention that there are two big attractions that everyone talks about when Victoria is mentioned. First there are the Butchart Gardens and second there’s the Royal BC Museum. Both of those are biggies that take time to really experience. Since our ship’s final call was 5:30 and since we really just wanted to experience the city, we opted for a hop on/off bus tour. I don’t know that we made the best choice, but that’s what we were in the mood for on our last cruise day.

Victoria is a beautiful city. The residents take pride in Victory and it really shows. Flowers are everywhere from the immaculate grounds of the Empress Hotel to the front porches of humble houses. By taking the bus tour we saw several neighborhoods beyond the area around the busy harbor and downtown.

We hopped off at the city public library so Jackie could check out yet another library and I took advantage of the WIFI to upload photos and check email. At one point the bus tour came to around 12 or 13 blocks of the ship, so we got off and walked back to Rhapsody so we could drop off the computer and everything else aside from our cameras. After a quick lunch in the Windjammer, we took the shuttle back into the city, explored the manicured grounds of the Empress, and got back onto our on/off bus to continue our whirlwind tour of Victoria.

This is a city worth exploring and we’d like to return for a more casual visit some day.

One of the things I wondered about was why the ship was leaving so early with Seattle close by. After all, one can take a fast ferry from Seattle to Victoria in around 45 minutes. As Rhapsody pulled away from Victoria I realized what was happening. We went, not toward Seattle, but back out to sea. Before long, it was announced that the casino and duty free shops would soon be opening. My guess is that we had just a short day in Victoria so the cruise line could make more money from the gamblers.

We ate a wonderful meal (Jackie had lobster) in the formal dining room and enjoyed the farewell from the food staff that came out for introductions and even a song. Those in the dining room gave them a standing ovation for the food and service.

After dinner we took a stroll around the deck and then returned to our room to pack. Some people had opted to do express disembarkment and just carry their luggage off the ship. Everyone else was given luggage tags and instructed to keep just a carry off and put the tagged bags in the hallway before midnight.

We finished and called it a night around 10:30. However, with the gambling and partying going on many came to their rooms considerably later. It was the noisiest and least restful night of the cruise.

Day 8: Back in Seattle

When we awoke on Friday morning the ship was docked in Seattle. We had a leisurely breakfast because our time to disembark was 8:50. As we ate, we could see people leaving the ship and heading for customs. There was a quick, last visit to our room, a word of thanks to our stateroom attendant (we had prepaid our tips before departure), and a last visit to a couple of our favorite places on Rhapsody. Our departure group was called a few minutes early and our walk through customs was mere formality in which we never even stopped walking. Our luggage was waiting for us and we were soon at the Budget car rental desk. I’d rented from a different office than the one that usually services pier 91, but the fellow at the desk called for me and within 20 minutes we were picked up and taken to the agency to pick up our car.

The rest of Friday was spent exploring north of Seattle, specifically Whidbey Island. We took the ferry across to Clinton and then took our time driving and looking. Highlights were lunch at Greenbank Farm, Fort Casey State Park with its lighthouse, and Deception Pass State Park. Once we were off the island, we continued north a ways on Highway 11 and enjoyed the dramatic views along the way.

I had bid for and gotten a room at the downtown Sheridan for our final nights of vacation. We arrived back in Seattle, found our hotel, and enjoyed a very good night’s sleep.