This past December, 2009, I had the opportunity to sing Christmas Carols onboard the Vancouver Harbour Cruise Ship Lines. I performed with three other talented singers, and we formed a quartet, singing traditional Christmas Carols, along with an extremely energetic Sing-A-Long.
Upon boarding the medium-size, brightly lit yacht, we sang “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” at the entrance, and were received with extreme friendliness by the staff and by the patrons. Everyone seemed to enjoy the festive ambiance as they boarded the ship. We sang a few more sets for about an hour as the guests lounged, indulged in some eggnog-inspired aperitifs, enjoyed our singing, and took in the beautiful harbour, complete with bright green Olympic rings, other lit-up carol ships, and a lovely, albeit dark, view of Stanley Park. The lull of the water underneath the hull proved to be very relaxing.
The dinner bell was subsequently rung, and everyone crowded around the buffet. The food was quite scrumptious, complete with turkey breast, cranberry sauce, pasta salad, regular salad, potato salad, steamed vegetables and ham. We were unfortunately unable to eat dessert, but it looked delicious! There were mandarin oranges and small chocolate cakes, and multiple other flavours.
We then proceeded to split our quartet into pairs, and each pair made their way to one of the two dining rooms. We began our famous group Sing-A-Long. We started out with some simple carols, and by the end of the Sing-A-Long, graduated to the full-length “Twelve Days of Christmas.” We divided the guests up into twelve tables, and each had a mini-verse to sing as a group. This proved to be uproariously entertaining. A few of the guests were quite clearly “in the red” so to speak, and subsequently had deeper, booming voices, and made use of them, even if this particular vocal swagger was a little unfit for “four calling birds.” Many tables tried to “out-do” the others, while laughing at their own friends and family who were desperately trying to catch the melody and watch us for their entrances, in between fits of giggles or hysterics.
Really, never in my life have I heard anything quite like a Canadian Hockey Fan table’s rendition of “Two turtle doves.” The experience, quite truthfully, is not definable.
We finished off the group sing-a-long with one of the more outgoing males leading us in “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” which again, was a completely incomparable experience, very possibly inspired by Granville Island Honey Lager.
I truly enjoyed this portion of the cruise. It was by far the most fun, and I believe the guests felt the same. My peers in the other dining room had a much more sedate group, but I believe had a blast all the same.
While we were docking we formed our last quartet, and bid our guests adieu by once again singing the traditional, beautiful carols as they disembarked. They were very appreciative, and we even received some tips, which we were extremely grateful for!
All in all, while being on the Adult-Oriented side, the Vancouver Harbour Carol Ships were an extremely pleasant, fun, enjoyable way to spend a Holiday evening, and I would highly recommend it to any Vancouverite, or Vancouverite-visitor.
I will briefly explain how to get there:
Head north on Burrard until Alberni. Turn Left on Alberni (with green arrow) (you can also turn directly left onto Georgia, which is next street, but I believe it is only after 6pm). Then turn Right onto Bute, and then Left again onto W. Georgia. Follow it all the way down, in Right hand lane, like you would go to Stanley Park. Turn Right on Denman (after a big intersection with lights), and follow Denman down to a parking lot on your Left hand side. This is where to park. Then follow the ramp down to the harbour on the furthest left side. You should see lit-up Carol ships, and there you are!
I wish everybody the best of luck, and again, I give the Carol Ships a 5 Star for fun, comfort, food, drinks, ambiance, and overall holiday spirit. Bravo!