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Friday, 2 August 2013

Ian's Birthday Cruise

Last Tuesday was my lovely other halves 24th birthday and as a surprise I'd organized a lunch cruise up the Indian Arm, a coastal mountain fjord, courtesy of Harbour Cruises down on Denman Street. The way I figure it, the best gift I can give right now is a piece of Canada and a great day out rather than something physical that takes up loads of space that we don't have and baggage space when we eventually go home! (I did also get him a mug (romantic eh?) with a Canadian maple leaf on it, so he had something to unwrap!)

So Tuesday morning rolled around and at 9:45 we shot out of our apartment and powerwalked down Howe and Georgia till we hit the harbour. Boarding was at 10:30am sharp, so we waited around for awhile, taking in the harbour views and people watched. As we sat there it dawned on us we were among the youngest visitors waiting to board, and were slightly apprehensive it would make for a slightly awkward trip. But upon boarding our fears were allayed! We were ushered on board, and our tickets indicated we were on the upper deck, where we discovered they had divided up the group with the younger ones on the upper deck and some of the older visitors below. We felt this was very well done and showed great consideration for all parties. We were shown to a table, which had a name card for the booking and very thoughtfully, a birthday card for Ian. (When I went to pick up the tickets earlier in the week they asked if it was for a special occasion, I should have twigged!) We did wonder if they'd do something further like announce it on the loudspeaker as there was a gentleman doing some chatter as we left the harbour, but thank goodness we weren't picked on!

Then we were off! The boat started moving, and we left the harbour and followed the Inlet east. After we's started moving we were allowed to move around the vessel, so after a quick cup of coffee Ian and I darted up to the next deck which was outdside so we could take in all the views in the fresh air. I swear I saw some jellyfish in the water too! The picture right features the Trans Canada Highway on one side and the railway line on the other. (On our return journey a monstrously huge train passed over us just as we went under it, pretty cool to see!) As we traveled we were provided with information about the sights we passed, such as parks, the McBarge (yes someone unfathomably built an McDonald's on a barge) and an oil station and I took a million photos. About an hour into the cruise and we turned left into the Indian Arm, a glacial fjord which basically consists of stunning cliffs covered in trees and scattered with waterfalls.

At this point we were asked to take our seats for lunch so we had to go below deck again. The food on offer was delicious. The buffet style of serving meant that you could have as much or as little as you liked and go back for seconds, and things on offer included a garden salad, a Greek style salad, BC salmon filets, roast chicken with garlic, and a lovely pilaf. It was all very fresh, tasty and pretty healthy. I must say I was so eager to get stuck in I forgot to take pictures, but imagine a plate piled as high as humanely possible and you get the gist of how good it was. For desert there was some sort of fruit tart thing, but honestly my concentration zoomed in on a piece of chocolate cake and I was done for. Following a very fulfilling meal, Ian and I dashed back outside to take in the gorgeous views. Below are two of my favourite shots from that day, it was so photogenic I couldn't stop snapping.

From there we followed the Indian Arm further north, and we stayed outside for the duration, enjoying the sunshine, the breeze and the views. Eventually we reached the northernmost point of our journey, Silver Falls. Here the captain produced a very impressive maneuver where he sailed the vessel very close to the falls for photographs. Mine didn't come out fantastically as we stood on the highest point of the boat and were looking down at the falls and the prow of the boat which reflected the sunlight and made an awkward white glare, so I had to dash to the front of the boat for a better view, this was the best I could do, as at the time we were reversing back out of the gap in the rock where the waterfall resides.

From that point onwards we were on the return journey, taking a similar route but following the opposite shore so we did get new views. We passed close to Deep Cove, a lovely area we had recently visited with friends, and we spotted lots of kayakers and rowers. Then it was back into Burrard Inlet and towards the harbour again. This last leg was very informative with lots of commentary, it started to get quite windy but we persevered and stayed outside to listen. We passed an array of vessels as we headed along North Vancouver, including a Russian millionaire's yacht worth $30 million, barges carrying cargo and 2 which were partially submerged after an accident. We passed massive cargo ships and tug boats waiting to be loaded, some with grain, others with products such as sulphur. We even passed a group of seals basking in the warm afternoon sunshine. and then alas it was back into the harbour and time to disembark.

Considering the journey was 4 hours long (almost to the minute), Ian and I agreed it went by so quickly, we didn't want it to end! We both loved the trip (at least I think he did!) and would absolutely do it again. Overall it was a great experience, a very relaxing and chilled out day that made you feel very taken care of throughout. The staff are very friendly and attentive, the food great, the coffee and tea free-flowing, the commentary is entertaining and informative but not too overbearing, and the natural beauty of the places you get to see and truly breathtaking.

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