O'Sullivan family travels and beyond

All Aboard


Well, this is different to the backpacking lifestyle we had prepared for. Not what we envisaged when we first set off a few months ago, as rather than Vietnam we are going to North America. We are aboard Holland America’s MS Volendam, heading to Vancouver, via Alaska. Presently, we are still in Japan. We had port stops at Otaru and Hakodate and have another scheduled tomorrow at Kushiro before we head out to the open sea.
The children have been blessed with a fabulous kids’ club (or should I say Ian and I have enjoyed them going to the kids’ club!) It runs in sessions depending whether we are at sea or in port, needless to say the kids want to be there every waking minute and reluctantly joined us when we made them go ashore.
Thank you Scot, Natalia and Kayleigh for making them so welcome and having so much fun. Of the 2000 passengers, There are only 11 kids (that’s including ours) and not all choose to go to club. Some are on holiday, some are crew children and some will leave at the next port.
We boarded at Yokohama on 16th April, but didn’t set sail until the following evening. We are trying not to over indulge with the ridiculous amounts of food on offer morning, noon and night. However, we’re keeping pasta chef Estaban from Columbia very busy to satisfy the non-Japanese taste of Italian food. The choice and amount of food is unbelievable, I really don’t know how they prepare so much to be available every day for every meal.
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We have two rooms (we can’t squeeze into one) with a porthole view. The rooms are very clean and comfortable, with a bath, shower and toilet, TV and DVD player (you can choose from a choice of over 1000 movies) Entertainment has been US comedian, Japanese pianist, singers, there are house bands and dance shows throughout the day and evening, talks, demonstrations, workshops and lectures, daily mass, LGBT gatherings, bridge classes, computer workshops, two pools, a library and much more included as well as additional services including a beauty parlour, fitness centre, casinos, bars and catalogue of excursions … and still you hear people complain “On our last cruise, there was much more to do…” We haven’t got the attire for Gala night and very formal dining (heck, we are struggling with smart casual with our limited backpack space!) but we are able to participate in lots and people have been very friendly.
Passengers are mostly American or Canadian, about 200 from Oz and NZ, and a smattering of others including French, German, Korean, Japanese and Dutch. The crew are mostly Dutch and Hungarian officers and Filipino crew in the kitchens, theatres and cabin crew. In total, we are 34 different nationalities and in all that,
during the lifeboat drill we managed to meet an American man who’s grandmother lived in Broadstairs. We have met some lovely people on board who have been lovely with the children, and commented how well they have behaved.
After a trek around Hakodate today, walking round the old port warehouses which are now shops and the seafood markets, we are taking a brief minute before food and (yes, you guessed it) the evening session of kids’ club! We walked around town, looking at the old buildings including the Old British Consulate. We saw, but didn’t try cuttle fish black ice-cream, lots of spidercrabs and sea urchins.
We joined the students of Iai Girls’ High School to try our hand at Japanese Calligraphy. Aoife wrote ‘Love’, Orla wrote ‘Dream’ and Seamus vastly improved the symbol for ‘Samurai’ We had green tea and a small sweet snack there too.
Yesterday saw us visiting Otaru, famous for its music boxes and glassware. How many times do you think the phrase ‘don’t touch’ may have been uttered by both myself and Ian?!
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We haven’t been able to keep up to date as we would have liked with both the good and the sad personal and world news as Internet can be a little slow and expensive on board but there are free wifi spots at some ports. It is taking me over 5 minutes for every little upload.
Must dash – Kids club is deck 9 at the back of the ship, we live in deck 1 at the front, and Ian isn’t too keen on the lifts when we’re at sea. At least we’re getting some exercise to burn off the buffet!!
 Next stop, Kodiak Alaska on 28th April (and that’s including crossing the International Date Line)

Author: threekidsintow

We are Caroline and Ian. We recently undertook an adventure, packing up everything and travelling with our three children. Our blog started as a way of capturing our memories of the preparation and interesting aspects of our journey. After a twist of fate, we're back in the UK much sooner than expected so who knows what's next for us now we're back home with our three kids in tow!

2 thoughts on “All Aboard

  1. Hello Caroline, Ian, and the children

    I found out about your trip just a few days before u left and would have loved to see u off in Paris before departure but was away then. I sent u a new year’s card some time late Jan but not sure whether you got it!

    I love your blog, photos , stories, discoveries and all, we learn from your trip, thanks for doing this. I have been to Asia 3 times but not China and Japan, I went to Vietnam, Laos ans Thailand.

    I see you’re on your way to Vancouver, I used to live on Vancouver Island and still have friends in Victoria, in Nanaimo (organic farmers, the people I lived with for a year) and friends in Van too, if you’d me to put u in relation with them, let me know, I visited them in 2009 with my children, it was a great trip.

    I will be travellinf to Indonesia in August and thought we might meet if u were still there (???) but you”re off on another continent now.

    No time for more I have to go to work, I’ll keep in touch, have a great boat trip!



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