A few weeks ago when my close friend Christina called me up to tell me about a deal she had found on on the Travel Best Bets website for a trip to Seattle and back, I was quick to jump on board. This past weekend we made our way bright and early to Richmond Centre to await our coach which took us, along with 32 other passengers and our cheery tour guide across the border and straight to the Seattle Premium Outlets. We arrived just before the shops opened at 10:00am and with our bags safely stored on board the coach we disembarked for a full day of shopping.
Prior to departing, Christina had gone online to the malls’ website and printed out a series of coupons, in conjunction with the VIP coupon booklet provided by our tour guide, we managed to save a good deal over the already low prices at many of the shops. At 4:00pm we met up with our fellow passengers and re-boarded the bus which drove us the few minutes over to one of my all time favourite hotels, Tulalip Resort and Casino. I’ve stayed here a few times in the past and was really looking forward to going back.
As our bus pulled up in front of the hotel our guide handed out our room keys (it was nice not to have to line up and check in) and we quickly settled into our gorgeous room, eventually making our way downstairs to check out the casino and the number of dining options available. After eating dinner we found ourselves in the cabaret, drinks in hand, watching the band Hit Explosion (voted “Best Live Performance Cover Band”) and eventually dancing until the wee hours.
The next morning we were up early to enjoy our complimentary buffet breakfast and board the bus to downtown Seattle. Our group spent an hour wondering around the famous Pike Place Market before making our way to the cruise ship terminal.
While Christina had been on a few cruises with her family in the past, this was my very first cruise ship experience and I was excited to see what the attraction is. We boarded the Holland America ship, the Westerdam and made our way to our little cabin. We were pleased to find we did have an outside cabin (we hadn’t paid the extra for it) even though our view was mostly obstructed by a lifeboat. In our room was a full list of the afternoon and evenings activities and a buffet lunch was available as we awaited our departure. Once we set sail there was a Bon Voyage party with live band and barbeque.
The ship itself is considered “cashless”, your credit card is pre-approved with $60 (per day) when you board and your room key is your access to purchasing anything at the shops or drinks at the bar (pop is also not included). A 15% gratuity is automatically added to your beverages and there is an $11/day automatic service charge so you don’t have to worry about tipping service personal.
There were numerous dining options, a few swimming pools, bars, a nightclub, 24 hour complimentary room service, shops, a casino and a theater. After enjoying dinner, the live show and a few drinks at the night club we returned to our cabin and awoke at 6:30 the next morning, already docked at Canada place. While awaiting our turn to disembark we eat breakfast in the buffet and watched the rain fall over Vancouver. During our short 16 hours on board the ship we certainly felt as though we got our money’s worth and I really enjoyed my first cruise experience.
These one-day Seattle to Vancouver cruises are understandably popular and from what I can see generally run in the early fall and early spring when the ships are reposition to/from Summer and Winter destinations.
As mentioned, the tour was found on the Travel Best Bets website and was operated by Vancouver company Marco Polo Tours. The package which included the bus ride (with guide), the hotel stay, the free breakfast, the bus to the cruise and the cruise itself cost us each $342.00 Canadian, including taxes. We had a fantastic time and are looking forward to doing it again next year.