How Victoria looked when we arrived during our 2009 Alaskan Cruise.

How Victoria looked when we arrived during our 2009 Alaskan Cruise.

My wife Cathy and her girlfriend are in Seattle as I write this, a girl get-a-way!  Today, they took a ferry to Victoria, British Columbia.  We went to Victoria, together, during our Alaskan Cruise (also out of Seattle) in 2009.

I was psyched; I heard how beautiful Victoria was, and everybody told me…make sure you check out Butchart Gardens.  I’m a control freak, and normally as organized as anybody.  I’m not sure what happened in 2009, but I did not do my homework.  I did not realize how late we would be arriving into Victoria, and that it was the “token foreign port stop” during the cruise (Alaska, of course, was all U.S.A.).  Well, we arrived even later than advertised, it was dark, we only had four hours, and, the Gardens were closed!

Today, Cathy and her friend took the Victoria Clipper Ferry from Seattle to Victoria, and are also headed to the Gardens.  The high-speed ferry takes about 2:40 hours from port to port, and averages $145 per person, round trip.  I wish we had the time after the cruise in 2009.  Hope you enjoyed the trip babe!

Grenada_1

Our impressions at ports of call, particularly first impressions, can have a tremendous affect on our overall cruise experience.  So, when the locals go out of their way to make cruisers feel welcome, it deserves to be mentioned.

During our honeymoon cruise on the Norwegian Spirit in November of 2004, one of our scheduled visits was to the island of Grenada.  The Spirit did call upon Grenada, but the stop was in question leading all the way up to our cruise departure.  Earlier in 2004, Grenada was struck by Hurricane Ivan, while a Category 3 storm.  Needless to say, the island and its inhabitants were devastated, homes and lives destroyed and changed forever.  As it turned out, the Spirit, during our cruise, would be the first ship to call on St. Georges, Grenada after Hurricane Ivan.

After tendering, and as we walked closer the (small) terminal, the sound of local (live) music was growing louder and louder.  It was also apparent that there was some sort of activity, involving lots of movement, taking place towards the entrance into the modest terminal.  We were delighted to see a welcoming committee of students and teachers, singing, dancing, smiling…and hugging anyone who would let them.  They weren’t begging, they weren’t asking for money…they were delighted to see us and appreciative that we were coming to visit their home.

The locals did not take it for granted that cruisers would come back after the repairs, simply because the government had contractual obligations with various cruise lines. They organized several ceremonies such as this early on (after Ivan), in an effort to make everyone feel welcome, and that their people shall overcome the major inconveniences caused by the storm.  Cathy and I truly felt like we were being told that “it was okay to visit, even though the struggles were far from over,” and that we were not imposing.  We have flown to the island a few times since then, and felt welcomed during each visit.

Today, in Le Havre, France, the Le Havre Cruise Club has launched its new Cruise Welcome Program, an effort that is sure to enhance our experience during calls to its port.  Read more about this HERE.