……AS SOON AS WE GET THAT MOOSE HEAD THROUGH CUSTOMS !
Victoria is the final stop on the Alaska cruise and we were one of three Princess ships in port upon our arrival at noon. It was also the first really nice and sunny day since our departure. Just about everyone on the ship was lined up to get off as soon as possible. The Webers had booked an excursion to Butchart Gardens, a favorite spot, but the rest of the group either stayed on board, took a last minute bus tour of Victoria proper like the Glenores, stayed on board or just went ashore for a walk or a shuttle to downtown.
Obviously, since the Webers are writing this you will see lots of photos from their trip to the Butterfly Gardens and the Butchart Gardens. We had been to Butchart several years ago and were impressed by the floral dispays in July so wanted to see it again in a different season. The Butterfly Gardens are a small but interesting display, basically like an aviary but for various species of butterflies which are flying freely around you. They also have a few bird and tortoise species and an interesting Insectarium. Butchart itself is a huge and well cared for garden with various areas like the Japanese Garden, the Sunken Garden, the Italian Garden, etc. It is privately owned and was started by Jennie Butchart in the remains of a limestone quarry used by her husband who was a Portland Cement baron. Another of their claims to fame is very good Gelato, so you can eat ice cream in a lovely setting. What could be better? Maybe slightly smaller crowds!
Victoria is a very nice city, very affluent (a 1-2 bedroom apartment is current selling for about $1.5 million), with a mild climate, good restaurants and a lovely harbor. Those who went into town enjoyed a beer at one of the many Irish/British/Scottish pubs, had coffee at Tim Horton’s, walked through Fan Tan Alley in the second oldest Chinatown (after San Francisco) and checked out the oldest chocolate shop (from which Queen Victoria ordered chocolate and from which Queen Elizabeth still does) or tobacco shop frequented by the likes of Churchill and Mark Twain.
The Ruby Princess (which COTV has sailed on the last two years) was in port with us preparing to go into dry dock in Victoria for a full refurbishment. Those of us going to Hawaii next year will be able to see just how good that will be as we sail on the Ruby in March.
Now we are moving into our last two days at sea before getting into San Pedro at 6:15am Monday. We met for drinks as usual and were joined by two members of the Vette Set (in the South Bay). They have a group of 9 aboard. Dinner was whatever appealed. Tomorrow is the second formal night so let’s see if we have any dress-up clothes left!
The shipboard days continue to be gray, cloudy and foggy, though thankfully, no rain.