The Traveling Steve's

Travel to Vancouver for our Alaska Cruise!

Since my 60th birthday at the beginning of August, Steve (DOS) and I have been home, mainly catching up on various doctor and other appointments, tests, and errands. I’ve had a few follow-up appointments with my Cardiologist and others, but we’re good to go for the trip, although I will have some more tests when we return.

Now a month later, we are taking our next big trip; this time to Vancouver Canada and ultimately Alaska. We will be staying in Vancouver two nights pre-cruise, and are then taking a back-to-back cruise on the Grand Princess for a 12 night Alaska cruise, followed by a 7 night re-positioning cruise from Vancouver ending in Los Angeles.

Last night we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, which helped us get into vacation mode a bit earlier. We used to stay here a fair bit when I was working if I had an early flight, but now it’s nice to stay prior to a vacation flight as you don’t have to worry about traffic getting to the airport, and it’s also much more relaxing. We Uber’d to the airport around 3:30pm, and after checking-in and taking the glass-enclosed elevator to our 10th (top floor) runway facing view, our room with balcony was waiting for us.

We both love watching planes taking off and landing, and the balcony offers fantastic views of 2 of Orlando’s four runways, and overlooks two of the airport’s terminals, including the international terminal. It’s fun watching the international flights arriving and taking off, and identifying them by carrier name and aircraft type.

We had dinner at McCoy’s Restaurant located on the lobby level (fourth floor) of the Orlando Hyatt Regency. We’ve eaten here many times and had a nice dinner with myself getting the pick your own three dinner trio and DOS having a more simple meal of personal-sized pizza.

I later had a night cap in the adjacent lounge, which overlooks the mostly deserted terminal by the 10pm hour.

After a good night’s rest, we had breakfast, again at McCoy’s Restaurant and relaxed a bit before heading downstairs to the terminal for our 1pm flight.

The best thing about staying at the Orlando Airport Hyatt is hotel is literally located inside the Orlando Airport terminal. No shuttle buses needed to get to the airport, and the close proximity to the airline check-in counters on the main concourse level three, is a short walk thru the terminal. As we had 8 pieces of luggage (4 bags to check, and 4 to carry-on; we never pack light!), we had a Bellman at the Hyatt assist us, who brought our luggage from our room all the way to the ticket agent’s check-in desk; so convenient!

After a breeze thru security with our CLEAR membership, we had an hour or so before boarding our first flight, while we relaxed a bit in the Orlando Admiral’s Club.

Our first flight was on an American Airlines Airbus 321, which was 2 1/2 hours or so. We were in First Class seats 4A and C (no B seat), and had a decent flight to Dallas (DFW) airport. American has changed the seats and luggage racks on these and many of their narrow-body planes, which allows for better over-head space, and a bit more comfortable seats with power outlets.

Once in DFW Airport, we had a 3 hour layover, so we had plenty of time of time before our connecting flight to Vancouver. We had actually changed our outbound flight to DFW from Orlando so we had a 3 hour connection, vs the original 1 hour connection that was the result of a flight schedule change by American. Flying these days an hour and a half, preferably two hours is the minimum domestic connection for us, so the three hour connection worked out well. Orlando has daily afternoon storms in the summer and early fall, so the longer connection offers a much better change of making the next flight; and in this case American only has two daily flights to Vancouver from Dallas.

Since our inbound flight from Orlando was on-time, we used part of our three hour connection getting some walking exercise in, walking from Terminal A to Terminal D, instead of taking the SkyTram. It’s a full 20 minute walk at a good pace without stopping, but we took a more leisurely walk averaging a half hour as we took a couple photos along the way.

Once in Terminal D, we went to the Admirals’s Club located near gate D25, and relaxed for a couple hours in the large lounge there.

Around 5:30pm, we headed back over to Terminal A for our flight to Vancouver, although this time we took the SkyTram to save time. We still had about 15 minutes before boarding our flight to Vancouver, which was on a Boeing 737 jet.

While waiting to board, we were surprised to hear an announcement that passenger would be required to wear a mask on the flight, and later in the terminal, going thru Customs etc. This was a Canadian requirement apparently, and a bit surprising as we didn’t hear anything about this prior to the flight, although we had gotten multiple emails about having to take a COVID test, proof of vaccine etc. Anyway, we reluctantly wore our masks, even though the US and most the world no longer requires this on flights. We would take our masks off while eating and drinking aboard though.

On the flight from DFW to Vancouver (YVR), we were seated in “Business Class” seats 3A and 3B. As this was an International flight, American markets the normal First Class section on the flight “Business Class” which is the same (or in our case worse) than domestic First Class. I imagine this is a marketing gimmick as some companies will pay for their employees to fly “Business Class” on International flights, but not “First Class”. Whatever the name, domestically (including Canada and Mexico, but not long haul 7+ hour flights) it’s all the same, although on this flight the service was really terrible and the young flight crew seemed very inexperienced. I dare say the “lead Flight Attendant” had never or rarely served a First or Business Class meal service by herself before as it was so disorganized (she served the food before drinks), bread after dinner because she forgot, dessert service in the dark cabin because she didn’t turn the overhead lights on, no requests for refills from water to wine, and she literally “hid out” behind the closed curtains in the galley for most of the flight! At least the Pilots were good; they even got us to Vancouver a wee bit early. No photos from the flight other than the mask photo of DOS and me above, but I did watch a satire of the Brady Bunch movie which was hilarious! LOL!

We got to Vancouver around 9pm PDT (nearly midnight back home), and immigration was accomplished via automated kiosks, while luggage retrieval and Customs was the fastest I remember anywhere, especially for international flights. We then took an XL Uber to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, and arrived a bit before 10pm.

We got a nice room on the 24th floor which included a large balcony, overlooking the high-rise skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver.

We then went downstairs for a pre-dinner nightcap in the bar, and I had a three sampler beer flight, while DOS played it simple with water. We enjoyed a late night chat of the days travels before heading to bed.

Tomorrow we have a free day in Vancouver and can rest in a bit. It was a long travel day, but fun! Welcome to Vancouver!

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