2015 Travels travel blog

Carpe amidst the forest in Chehalis

Mon, 08 Jun: Back on the "hard"...

We departed Victoria sometime last evening long after we'd turned off the lights. Sandi was fighting her cold with NyQuil, which is a wonderful sleep inducer along with all its other benefits. When we awoke at 0600 this morning Seattle was sitting right outside our balcony windows.

We went down to the main dining room for breakfast, opting not to fight the scrum at the buffet. Unlike all of our previous meals aboard the Regatta, this one suffered from indifferent and sloppy service. Seems as tho once the comment cards are submitted service deterioration is universal across all cruise lines.

Back to our stateroom for final packing and preparation to disembark. We opted to tote our own luggage rather than put it in the passageway the nite before. As such, when they called the first group to disembark we were amongst them and stepped ashore around 0815. Customs and immigration was perfunctory, a pleasant surprise.

We located the correct combination of elevators and skywalks to take us back to the parking garage and located Carpe Dinkum with no problem. Bags stowed we found the exit kiosk and were soon playing in Seattle's downtown traffic.

Once on Interstate 5 southbound we had no problems or traffic issues. We stopped at the Chehalis Post Office to pick up our mail, but it "could not be found" despite the tracking information that showed it had arrived. Back to the Thousand Trails park where we got checked in and retrieved Carpe Diem from storage. She started right up amd Bob took her to the dump station while Sandi took Carpe Dinkum to look for a suitable site.

We found that the site we'd occupied prior to the cruise was available so we took that one. While not perfect, it is large and level enough for our needs. It is very heavily wooded so our solar panels aren't very effective and don't even think of getting satellite reception.

By noon we were settled in and starting to unpack. Within an hour we were both unpacked and most of the stuff we'd taken was either stowed away or in the dirty clothes bags. We turned the fridge on around noon and its temperature was in the high eighties. This is the first time we've reactivated our new Amana cooling unit so it'll be instructive to see how long it takes to cool down.

Around one we checked the tracking number again and it now advised us that our mail was "Out for Delivery". So, back downtown where the package was readily available. Then to a nearby Taco Bell for lunch and on to Wal*Mart for victualing. We stocked up on the essentials to get us back in the eating mode, plus some take out deli for dinner. On the way out we also bought a 10# bag of ice to help the fridge along.

Back to the coach to stow our groceries and go thru our mail. We're pretty tired so this may be an early nite.

Wed, 10 Jun: Settling back to our home routine...

It has now been two days since we disembarked the Oceania Regatta. We've been busy settling back into our familiar routine, and to be very honest, we're loving it!

As predicted, Monday was an early nite for these two oldsters. We enjoyed a peaceful and quiet Happy Hour of our own without overly loud background music or overambitious live musicians. Our Happy Hour snacks were also far better than those served aboard the Regatta.

Dinner was re-heat deli take out, which really hit the spot. Around eight we were both nodding off in our easy chairs so we decided to call it a day and were in bed by nine. We both slept well for a few hours, and then Sandi's cough started up and she moved to the salon so as not to disturb Bob.

Yesterday, Tuesday, we drove to nearby Tumwater where we met Sandi's colleague from Maui, Betsy Ward. We had lunch at the Costco, which was a bit of a disappointment as they were redoing the kitchen and the pizza ovens were out of service. We look forward to our slice of Costco pizza and didn't get any this trip.

It was great visiting with Betsy. Her sister, Ann, joined us as she drove thru enroute to California. No way one could miss the fact that they're sisters...

Our Costco shopping expedition was a bit disappointing as they did not carry (or were out of) many of the items on our list. We're seeing more and more of this with Costco. The inventory inconsistencies are troubling as you never know if you'll find "staple" items or not.

Back to the coach by three where we loaded our fridge down with "goodies" for future meals. The fridge, by the way, was almost at operating temperature by bedtime Monday and is now making ice. We really like the Amana upgrade.

Which brings us to today, Wednesday. We have to get both Carpes ready for the road as we head for Quincy tomorrow. Quincy is roughly half way to Spokane and we'll be there thru the weekend. We hope it is a bit friendlier Thousand Trails that isn't as heavily forested. But, this is Washington, and they are quite fond of their trees. Maybe because Quincy is inland and drier it won't be quite so. We'll see.

Cruise impressions: Folks have asked us to share our impressions of our most recent cruise. This was a test to see if sailing on an "upscale" cruise line is worth the extra money. Since Holland America has continued to raise its fares while allowing service to deteriorate, this was a last ditch experiment for us.

The ship, the Oceania MS Regatta, is one of the original Renaissance "R" ships (she was the R2). We sailed around the world in 2009 on a sister ship, the Tahitian Princess (the R4). The small (650 passenger) size is a big plus for us and we thoroughly enjoyed that part of the cruise. The ship is in excellent condition and lovingly maintained.

The food was excellent, albeit at times a bit too "foo-foo" for our plebeian tastes. This was our first cruise with no assigned seating for dinner, and we missed it. We also found the late dinner times (1830 earliest) too late for these early eaters. The specialty (no upcharge) restaurants were fantastic, and we used them four of the ten evenings aboard. Of the remaining six nites, one was in the buffet and the rest in the main dining room.

There were many items "included" (we don't like the use of the word "free" when one is paying hundreds of $$$s/day), including unlimited soft drinks and bottled water. They claim that shuttles from the port to downtown is included, but in Victoria we were asked to pay C$10/per person for a ride to downtown. Our "Concierge Level" stateroom afforded us "thermal suite" privileges. We availed ourselves of the whirlpool, steam, and dressing facilities twice.

Not to forget the staff, both on board and shoreside. The check in process was the best we'd ever encountered. From checking our bags to boarding the ship was fifteen minutes. No lines, no BS, just get the job done. The on board staff was universally friendly, capable, and efficient. If we asked for something, we got it. No questions or excuses.

We also found the omission of a photo facility and art business big pluses. No pushy photographers to annoy you, or incessant art auctions. We also found the omission of formal nites a major positive.

Downside? We have yet to find any cruise line that can offer up a good cup of tea. It is all bagged tea served by folks who do not understand tea. The noise aboard a ship also seems to be a universal constant. Bars always have "music" of some sort, always too loud and making conversation difficult. Oceania does not abuse the PA system as badly as do other lines, but it was always a constant interruption.

In summation. It was an interesting and educational experience, but we're still digesting our impressions. We've agreed to withhold judgement till we've mulled it over in our sub-conscience for a bit. Hence, stay tuned.

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