Vancouver to Sydney Cruise

We decided to join Jen’s parents on a 29 day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas, from Vancouver to Sydney, Australia.  

Here are the stops that we did along the way:
First Leg (8 nights)
- Vancouver, Canada
- Seattle, USA
- 5 sea days
- Maui, USA (2 days)
- Honolulu, USA

Second Leg (20 nights)
- Honolulu, USA
- 5 sea days  - crossed the equator
- Moorea, French Polynesia (2 days)
- Papeete, French Polynesia
- 5 sea days - crossed the international dateline
- Napier, New Zealand
- Wellington, New Zealand
- Picton, New Zealand
- 2 sea days
- Sydney, Australia

Equatorial Crossing
If you have never sailed over the Equator before, you are known as a Pollywog.  Between Hawaii and French Polynesia, we crossed the equator and the cruise director performed an Equatorial baptism ceremony.    They poured some of Neptune's cold water from the Northern Hemisphere, and then hot water from the Southern Hemisphere, onto each Pollywog's head.  I guess we are now considered Shellbacks and even have some nice certificates to prove it 😂

"Equatorial baptism is an initiation ritual sometimes performed as a ship crosses the Equator, involving water baptism of passengers or crew who have never crossed the Equator before. The ceremony is sometimes explained as being an initiation into the court of King Neptune. Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed Shellbacks. Those who have not crossed are nicknamed Pollywogs."

Dateline Crossing
Between French Polynesia and New Zealand, we crossed the international dateline.  For us, Saturday Oct. 22, 2022 was completely lost - it is an entire day in our lives that just never existed.  We went to bed on Friday Oct. 21st, and when we woke up the next morning, it was Sunday Oct 23rd 😃!


We enjoy sailing with Royal Caribbean because they have so many activities available to keep us occupied, particularly on the big Quantum or Oasis class boats.  Here are some of our highlights:

Pickleball, Old-school Rollerskating, Volleyball, Dodgeball, Ping pong, Dance Fitness
Trivia (progressive, music, dingbats, tribond, etc.), and Educational Seminars on French Polynesia and crime scene forensics
The North Star
Lounging on the deck
Let’s not forget the flowrider where Dom passed a lot of his time. Some days he would only do 3 runs every hour but he got lucky on colder days and even got the Flowrider to himself for 45 minutes once…it was a cold day. 
Some of the other activities on the boat included Soccer, Basketball, iFly, rock climbing, bumper cars, dance and sushi-making classes, origami/scapbooking/towel/napkin animal folding lessons, and movies/games on the pool deck, but we didn't participate in any of these this time.

Piano guy in the elevator.. and he was good. 
Evening shows and Silent Disco

Crown & Anchor Status
Besides spending time with Jen's parents, another reason we decided to do such a long trip was because Royal Caribbean was offering double-status-points to try to entice tourists back onto the boats post-covid.  By the time we completed both legs of the cruise, we both managed to attain Diamond status, meaning we will now be able to get our own free drinks!  Dom was SO excited about his new status (even though he doesn't drink.. go figure 🤷😂)

Food and Drinks
Since Jen's parents were already Diamond members before this cruise, we got to sample some of their free drinks every day.  We had fun trying different kinds of mocktails and cocktails.  Some of our favourites were: strawberry daiquiri, mudslide, piña colada, dark and stormy, sangria, lava flow, sexy ocean, and the painkiller.. just to name a few. 

As usual we really enjoyed the dining room food and ate way too much at the beginning.  It took us about 20 days before we learned to pace ourselves 😂

Thanks to Jen's mom, we were able to upgrade to balcony rooms for the first leg of the cruise.  For the second leg, we got to experience an inside room with a Virtual Balcony (80 inch TV of a live "balcony" view of the ship) for the first time.  Of course it's not the same as having a real balcony, but we must say we were pleasantly surprised at how effective it was at tricking us into feeling that we had a window view since you could at least see what it was like outside!

Unfortunately, Jen and her parents for COVID at the end of the trip, however, Royal Caribbean was nice enough to provide each of us with our own separate rooms, free room service, free internet, and medication for covid symptoms.  Dom had to get tested every morning, but as long as he tested negative he was allowed to continue enjoying the outside world while everyone was isolating. Overall, we felt they treated us and the situation very well.. we're sure it's not an easy thing for them to manage / deal with either.


After Maui, our ship stopped in Honolulu.  

This was the final stop of the 9-day Vancouver-to-Hawaii leg, so the ship was super busy with passengers disembarking and new passengers embarking.

Since we were continuing onward to Sydney, we decided to spend a few hours visiting Honolulu.  Walmart provided a free shuttle bus from the pier to a Walmart near Waikiki beach so we took that into town and then had a relaxing day window shopping and strolling along Waikiki Beach while people-watching all of the beach-goers and surfers.  

Internet on the ship is rather slow and expensive (ie. $30 usd/day), so we also used the opportunity to find some free internet hot-spots to get caught up on all of our messages and emails, while Jen's parents got caught up on all of the latest photos and videos of their baby granddaughter 🥰.


After 6 days at sea we finally reached Maui where we stayed for 2 days.

On our first day we rented a car and went out to explore the island. Of course, we had to start our visit with a lunch stop at Costco to test their hot dogs and see their free-range chickens 😂.

Our main goal was to go up Haleakalã Mountain, but by the time we finished driving all of the switchbacks to reach the top of the mountain, it was completely fogged over and raining. Weird to think that only 30 minutes earlier, it was hot with clear blue sunny skies 😀. 

On our way back, we stopped near the start of the road to Hana, to walk around and catch some beautiful views at Twin Falls and Ho'okipa beach park.

We were a bit caught-off-guard to discover that most of the parking lots charge $35 USD to park a rental car overnight in Lahaina!  We drove around for quite a while and luckily found a place called Republic Parking on Dickenson St. where they only charged $20 - by that time, it was getting dark and we were getting hungry so we thought it was quite a bargain! 🤪

On the 2nd day, we went out snorkelling but had mixed results. 

We tried to see the turtles in Napali Bay, Honokeana Bay, and Kaanapali Beach but with no real success.  From the beach, we could see lots of turtles coming to the surface for air, but once in the water, the visibility was about 3 feet so you couldn't see the turtle until it was right in front of your face!  The waves were quite rough in Honokeana Bay, so it was a bit scary to get into and out of the water.  You had to time yourself just right so that you wouldn't get slammed into the rocks by the big waves and currents. 

Before returning to the ship, we stopped in Lahaina to window shop and admire the massive Banyan tree. If you look at the picture, it looks like a little forest with several different trees, but it’s actually all part of same single tree - each of the "trees" were aerial roots that branched off, rooted themselves, and continued to grow into separate-looking trees over time. 

Back on the ship, we enjoyed a 5-star view while eating a late-afternoon snack at the Windjammer cafeteria. 

Quick stroll in Seattle

After being stuck in Calgary for the past couple of years, we got the travel itch and decided to join Jen's parents on a cruise from Vancouver to Sydney on the Ovation of the Seas.  Our first port of call was Seattle. 

We had already done most of the local tours and attractions when we were here 10 years ago, we decided to just take a bus into town and stroll along the wharf, through Pike place and, of course, have a Starbucks coffee.  Seattle hasn't changed much from what we remember, except that sadly it seemed like there were a lot more homeless people in the streets this time :(.

Cape Hatteras

Before returning home from Montreal, we took some time off and made a 5-day detour to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina with Dom’s good friend, Yves, and his family.  Cape Hatteras is a well known kitesurfing spot, unfortunately we were a bit unlucky - rain and no wind for 5 days! 

But we still had a great time playing in the waves and hanging out with everyone.  We even managed to get a short rain-break which was just enough time to show Mathieu and Yves how to master a traction kite.

2 weeks in Orlando

By November, Canada was already starting to get too cold for us, so we decided to go join Jen's parents in Orlando for 2 weeks of working, shopping, and fun.

We considered going to Disney, but a few people recently told us that Harry Potter world at Universal is pretty cool, so we decided to check it out.
We visited the "Island of Adventure" park where Harry Potter world is located.  They did a really good job of recreating Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.  We rode some dragons, visited Hogwarts, drank Butterbeer and even ate dinner at the Three Broomstick (a surprisingly really good and affordable meal!).
Most people may go to the park for the rides and attractions, but we had a blast taking cool pictures.
Almost forgot, Jen's dad had a temporary midlife crisis and found a new plastic girlfriend ;)
We also spent a day visiting a state park where you can see manatees (sea cows) in a protected area.  The park was nice and the manatees were cool to see... even if they don't really do much other than sleep, eat, and breathe :).
Lastly, we spent most of the week enjoying some great meals, wine that Jen's parents picked up in Barcelona, and working from the super nice timeshares that Jen's mom rented :).


Yes, you red the title correctly, we are in Seattle. We came back to Canada to have Dom's hand checked and thought that we should do a road trip to Seattle to meet up with Cindy, Dave, Flo and Sean while we were here.

One of the first sites we visited was the fisherman's market at Pike Place, where you can see the fishmongers amusing the public by throwing big fish around (see picture).  We also went to see the very first Starbucks (but did not go in as the line was about a block long).
We also saw Seattle's very famous gum wall:  The second germiest tourist attraction in the world.  It started when people waiting in line for the nearby theatre started sticking coins on the wall using gum.  After the night passed, someone stole all of the coins so that only gum remained. Suprisingly, this started a trend and after several unsuccessful scrapings, the city declared it a tourist attraction.  If you are in
the area, don't forget to bring your own gum ;)
We also had a chance to visit part of the Pioneer Square Underground City (the original streets that remained underground after they raised the city and reconstructed the road).  
We also went up the Smith tower to get a good view of the city and the Space Needle.  This tower is one of the last remaining buildings with an Otis elevator.
And what would be a friend's trip without a little shopping..
One thing that you can't miss in the Seattle landscape is the Space Needle.  We didn't go to the top since we already saw the view from the Smith Tower, but we did visit the EMP museum at the bottom of the Space Needle and had fun creating weird shadows.
Finally, we went for a day trip to Mount Rainer (2 hours South-East of Seattle) and enjoyed superb weather.
Have a good day and do not forget: 

Note:  Upon our return to Calgary, Dom saw a hand specialist who gave us the green light to continue our trip.  So, on September 6, we will be departing for Shanghai!!!