We steamed off from Ketchikan by 5 PM on 03 August and we had to sail for about 40 hours to our final destination – Vancouver. The ship cruised through Inside Passage, crossing from US to Canada. On either sides were coastal mountains cut off by glaciers millions of years ago. It provided a spectacular view of coastal rain-forests, beaches, waterfalls and mountains. The passage has been the preferred route since the first passenger steamers of Yukon Gold Rush in 1890’s. Inside Passage provides safe transit as a sheltered West Coast waterway. The journey offered a view of many fishing trawlers laden with their catch heading to harbour, historic lighthouses on rocky isolated shores, coastal First Nations houses fronted with proud totem poles and bald eagles.
In the evening, crew of the ship (882 crew members from 44 countries) put up an absorbing and entertaining cultural programme to bid goodbye to their guests.
Next morning, Fabrizio Fazzini, Executive Chef of the ship held a culinary demonstration, showcasing few of his signature dishes. Jean Paul Misiu, the Maître d’Hôtel was the host. In large organisations such as hotels, or cruise ships with multiple restaurants, Maître d’Hôtel is responsible for overall dining experience including room service and buffet services, while head waiters or supervisors are responsible for specific restaurant or dining room they work in.
The culinary show was followed by a tour of the kitchen. The kitchen was spread over two decks, connected by two sets of escalators. It was a well laid out kitchen with adequate space for the staff to work and was all spick and span. Every section had separate storage lockers, maintained at specified temperature as dictated by the items stored.
Pasta and Spaghetti Section
Pastry Shop where 7000 assorted pastries are produced each day. All baking needs like bread, cakes, and pastries are made here.
Vegetable Section where four tonnes of vegetables are used.
Butchers Shop where 700 kg of fish and seafood and 1600 kg of meat is prepared and served each day.
Garde Manger (French for ‘keeper of the food’) is a cool, well-ventilated area where cold dishes (such as salads and appetizers) are prepared and other foods are stored under refrigeration. The person in charge of this area is known as the Chef Garde Manger or Pantry Chef.
At the end of the tour Marina purchased a cookbook authored by Fabrizio Fazzini, the Executive Chef. The book was autographed by the Executive Chef and Jean Paul Misiu, the Maître d’Hôtel.
Our ship docked at the Vancouver’s Fraser Port on 05 August morning. The port resembled a modern airport with all the facilities like aero-bridge, customs and immigration offices, car parking etc. This port has been is consistently ranked as one of the most passenger friendly ports in the world and so is no surprise over 800,000 cruise passengers come through this port each year,
On coming out of the cabin balcony, I realised that the visibility was pretty poor with smoke hanging in the air. It was all due to wildfires in British Columbia (BC), about 150 of them burning that day. Since April, there have been 928 fires due to a combination of lightning and tinder-dry conditions. Of these over 500 of them have been confirmed to be naturally caused while another 364 were human caused. These numbers are consistent with previous years where roughly 60 per cent of fires are natural and 40 per cent are caused by people.
Bans on campfires as well as the use of off-road vehicles on public lands had been in effect for most of BC. People were warned about the heavy smoke causing poor visibility on roads and drivers should have their headlights on and watch out for any wildlife. The smoke also posed a health risk for infants, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions.
The BC Province and Canadian government have left no stone unturned to fight these wildfires. They have moved in firefighters with their equipment from all other Canadian provinces and also requisitioned water-bomber aircrafts. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) through Operation LENTUS is in the forefront by providing aircrafts for transportation of the firefighting crew and equipment from all over Canada. The CAF aircrafts are also employed in evacuating locals who are affected by the wildfires, transporting first responders (Ambulance with Paramedics, Police and Firefighters), delivering essential aid to isolated communities and in assisting the local police in providing information to the public and conducting observation and reporting tasks at assigned points along access roads in affected areas.
We disembarked from the Coral Princess and bid goodbye to the crew and boarded a coach to the Vancouver Airport to catch out flight to Toronto,
All good voyages and travels must come to an end, but surely the next experience is awaiting.