Alaska or Bust! The Final Test(s)

When we finally land in Vancouver the three of us make a mad dash to the customs area holding our breath the whole way hoping that we make it in time to meet the ship.
It’s been a while since I was on an international flight and things have changed.  We have the custom forms that we filled in before getting on the last plane.  You feed this form into one of the 20 or so machines at the front of the customs area and again answer the questions that you were asked in the form.  Are you breaking the law this way?  Are you breaking the law that way?  Are you shipping large quantities of potentially illegal items?  No, no, no, no, no…You get your passport scanned and then the machine prints out a receipt that you take to one of the custom stations.  All of your information is reviewed and they let you into the country.  There aren’t any more stamps in your passport though.  WHY ARE THERE NO MORE STAMPS IN YOUR PASSPORT!!!  How come I wasn't consulted on this?  When I renewed my passport they asked if I wanted the standard 24 page book or if I was a wealthy nomad and wanted a page for each week of the year.  I want stamps!  I was THOROUGHLY disappointed and if we hadn’t been in a heart attack inducing rush I would have asked about getting a stamp, but I could feel the hurry up vibes being shot in my direction.
Mom, dad, and I make it through customs, find our bags at baggage claim, and meet up with one of the cruise representatives.  The cruise rep talks with us to get our cruise confirmation, cabin information, and to tell my mom that they don’t track names so they can’t tell her if my brother has actually made it to the ship or not.  This revelation starts a whole new round of panic attacks as the rep rushes us out to the taxi pickup area.  My mom attempts to reach and turn on her phone while dragging two suitcases and a tote bag behind her and running the “I Need a Taxi Fast” 10k.  Mom’s attempt to call the Bro sends her to his voicemail, but he very smartly answers when my father calls.  I think he could feel mom’s imminent meltdown if she had to go another two minutes without confirmation that he had arrived safely and was on the cruise ship…

He wasn’t.  The Bro’s flight had arrived on time, three hours ago.  He had gotten mom’s text about our plane being late, but had not gotten her text instructing him to go ahead and go to the ship.  And mom had not gotten the Bro’s text telling her that he was upstairs in the airport lounge waiting for us to arrive.  At this point our taxi is exiting the airport and dad is instructing the Bro to run down and check in with the cruise reps again and get in a taxi!
Once we know that the Bro is in a taxi on his way we are able to actually enjoy the view of the city that our cab is speeding through.  I’d like to go back to Vancouver some time.  From the bits of it that I got to see it looks like an interesting place...well, interesting blurs at least.

Our cab driver is expertly maneuvering through the streets and getting onto parallel streets when the traffic backs up on the main thoroughfare.  We arrive at the port, which has a simple, but fun logo on the building, Canada Place.  I got a quick, not great photo of as we speed into the drop-off area of the parking garage.
Several men greet us at the drop off area, talking on walkie talkies and doing their best to move us toward the back of the building.  My mother digs her heels in and all but refuses to leave until the Bro shows up.  The nice guy on the walkie talkie kills some time as they unload our bags onto a luggage cart, as the three of us crane our necks and will the Bro’s taxi to come flying down the ramp…It doesn’t come and the guy has stalled as long as he can.  A lady comes down and ushers the three of us up to the Vancouver Port check in desk which involves a few more custom inquiries before you get to the cruise and cabin confirmation stage.  Mom only allows herself to be dragged away once the man with the walkie talkie promises mom that he will throw himself in front of the boat should it try to leave before the Bro arrives.  I really should have gotten his name because he was great about the whole thing.  Thank you Vancouver Port guy for dealing with my crazy family like we weren’t totally insane, which we were…are.  I had just finished my check in and mom and dad were about halfway through there’s when in walks the Bro!  Mom started to cry she was so happy and the Bro was grinning from ear to ear.  I’m guessing that the guys in the drop off area consoled him on his crazy mother who refused to leave without him.  Bonus points to the Vancouver Port guy for the ego boost.
When we are done with round 3 of “are you breaking or planning on breaking the law,” nope, got it, we sprint back down to the drop-off area, around a few bends, and over the gangplank to the boat.  We are LITERALLY the last people on the boat.  And bonus! everyone is out on the deck doing safety drills so they all get to see tardy us getting on the boat.  It totally felt like when you’re running late for class, the only door into the class is right up at the front, and your professor is in the middle of a very enthusiastic and interesting lecture.  LOTS OF STARING!  SO MUCH STARING!!!

As we are getting checked in on the boat I am told that I need to go to the main office and have my photo redone.  (They took photos of us when we were checking in at the Port that are associated with your cabin key and pop up every time they run your card for getting on and off the boat.)  I get a quick glance at my photo which consists of a small part of the top of my head, one eye, and a whole lot of ceiling.  Yep, that’s not going to be particularly helpful for visual identification.
BUT WE MADE IT TO THE BOAT!!!  ALL OF US!!!  Thank you HollandAmerica for not leaving us behind!  Big sigh of relief and now we get to take care of unpacking, getting my photo redone, and going to a make-up safety drill because running up the gangplank in the middle of a safety drill doesn’t count as actually attending the drill.  And then we get drinks!  Only one because the combination of being sleep deprived, a little bit of alcohol, and a moving boat equals being a little punchy, thinking everything is funny, and not being able to walk in a straight line.  Then dinner and bed made for a very happy girl!

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