Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cruise, Day 1

So, the shuttle left the hotel around 11am, Sunday Nov. 9 (I forgot to mention that the interesting couple sitting in front of us had a luggage tag from a forensics conference; Rob was hoping we'd see them some more). It's an interesting ride to the port (seen on a billboard:, then we had to drop other people off at the different boats (2 Norwegian, 2 Carnival), and then it was our turn. The porters take your luggage and it goes off to security, and you go in the terminal to join the line up. Last year it was a bit quicker, but it was still reasonable. Did the check in, got our dining table number (404, 2nd seating. Last year we were at 401, so it was pretty much the same spot), and headed onto the ship. Since we knew where to go, what to do, we headed straight up to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. Last year we had the "OMG this ship is huge and beautiful and I don't know where we are or what to do except somehow find the Windjammer" look on our faces). It wasn't as busy as last year, and I got to really enjoy the food this time!
We popped into the specialty restaurant "Portofino's" and tried to book a dinner there. A couple of nights before we had left, I tried to do it online, but realized that we had misinterpreted when to do it. Instead of "Do it before 10 days before you leave" we thought we had to "Do it within 10 days of leaving". We found out the nights we wanted were special event nights, and also that the cruise was being reversed.

Hurricane Paloma, you see, had just gone through Haiti---our first stop. So, instead, we were heading westwards to miss the storm that was still heading northwards. Not a big deal, but just two more little things not going as smoothly or as planned.
After we booked at "Chops" instead, for that night, we headed out for a stroll; you can't go to your room till 2pm. The ship looked identical (except for the artwork) to the Liberty of the Seas that we were on last year:We actually didn't do mini-golf this time. We did it a few times last year and it was actually a challenging course. This time, it was too hot out, too busy, too windy, too close to the time to do something else...We went and checked out The Wall. Again, we never got around to doing this either! Last year, we really wanted to do it a few times, and got to it only once, on the last sea day. I was pretty darn proud of myself for getting to the top considering how sick I was. This year, I was, to be honest, afraid that I wouldn't make it again. I had slacked off on the weight lifting exercises, I knew this time that climbing the Wall was actually harder than it looks, and I just didn't have the confidence to try again. Last year I had no expectations, no fears; this time....At 2pm we headed deep down into the bottom of the ship to find our room. This year it was easy to find, easy to get to the stairs and elevator (although, on day 5, I suddenly started taking wrong turns!). Last year it was in an inner corridor and it took several days to figure it all out. We got our "Gold Member" coupon books, but were a little disappointed! Many coupons for things/services we were unlikely to use, or the saving value was so little it didn't offer incentive to try those things. We did use a few coupons--Johnny Rockets', BOGO free drink...but there were a lot of coupons left at the end of the cruise.

What else did we do until Muster Drill.....oh yeah ;) LOL! Once the door is shut, your cabin could be anywhere on the ship, and inside cabins are quit dark and quiet and soundproof....

Soon it was time for the "Muster Drill" or Lifeboat Lecture. We were planning to go swimming so I put on my newly finished cover-up, but then realized it was time to ....muster. LOL. For more on my knitted cover up, I'll be writing about it on my knitting blog. It was a long process, and I am very thankful that the designer is such a great lady who practically held my hand over the Internet while I worked on this. Every time I wore it, Rob commented on how good it was!!

We easily found our station. They are all on deck 4 (didn't know this last year), and we were already on deck two, near the stairs; and I heard that odd numbers were on the right when facing the front, which happened to be 'our' side too. Last year, we had no clue how to get there, and on the way back, ended up following a parade of life jacket wearing guests through the dining room! It wasn't as hot as last year, and I wasn't dehydrated this time, so I could take it in and not feel like I was about to pass out. Last year, we were lined up a little more orderly, but would that matter if we were sinking?

One comedian commented that the instructions over the PA system were in 5 different languages and how terrible it would be to be fluent in language number 5 only! Yikes! There were people as far as you could see down the deck. Rob took these two photos from his viewpoint.

This year's Life jacket Portrait. Does it look much different than last year's photo? LOL.What you can't tell in the picture is how close I was to passing out last year! The "7485" was our cabin number (so they can identify you when they pluck your body out of the shark's mouth) and the D27 was the Muster Station. I thought it was funny the instructions on the life jacket say not to dry clean! LOL.

Rob's picture was also very similar!
We watched the ship leave the Port of Miami.

This is the Royal Caribbean where you go through security and walk down endless miles of aisle ways. The RCI terminal is ALL the white 'sails' you can see. It's huge.The next terminal is the new Carnival Cruise Line terminal. Their two ships had already left, as had one of the NCL ships.

The NCL ships are nicely painted, and have this new "Freestyle Dining" option (most cruise lines assign you a table with other people, at a certain time ("Seating"); NCL I think lets you eat dinner whenever you want, with whomever, in the dining room. RCI has something similar that they were offering; plus you can always go to the buffet for dinner).

The sun was already setting as we sailed off, at about 5pm. That's about an hour earlier than the month prior, last year. I was surprised that the sun sets so early even down south. I thought they would get more daylight, but I guess they ARE still north of the equator, LOL. My artistic shots of the day, LOL. Not much artistic about the industrial end of the Port of Miami!

We did see however, an area that I think was shown on CSI: Miami; the episode about the done-up cars, where they put on shows showing off their hydraulics and gizmos, and in the episode, one guy is standing and driving with his feet, when he gets decapitated. There were also giant yachts and cruisers and big houses.

After the sail off, it was time to get ready for our special dinner at "Chops". Most of our luggage had arrived at our room---except one suitcase that had a lot of my stuff, and Rob's good shoes. So he went for dinner in the elegant steakhouse wearing pants with sandals and socks, LOL.

They had these great heavy duty steak knives, but the food was so awesome (OMG, look at that cleavage! Oh, rather, don't look! LOL) that you didn't need the knives! I had lamb tenderloin. Last year I tried to have lamb there, but they didn't have it available at that time. I've never had lamb tenderloin, despite having had just about every cut of lamb, I thought (my aunt and uncle had a sheep farm!). It was really good. Not as 'sheepy' as a chop, and not as fatty. I wish it had been bigger! Rob had some sort of steak that was also awesome. His came with a peppercorn sauce that was divine, and I had them bring me some for my lamb, LOL. Desert though, while very good, was too big! It was a very rich chocolate torte style cake. This restaurant (like Portofino's, but a little cheaper), had a $20 per person charge (plus, they add 15% gratuity to all food/drink orders on the ship), so it was about $55, but SO worth it!
We had dinner at 6pm, and they were a little slow getting going. The ship sets the time of the evening shows to coincide with the dining times---sometimes you go before your dinner, sometimes after, but it's set up so that you can't go to both shows (usually there's two) unless you miss the dining room dinner. The first night's show was actually for all guests, at 7:45, and we just made it down there in time. We missed the "Welcome Aboard Show" last time due to our dinner at Chops, ignorance, and illness. We just didn't realize what the show was about then. It's just a little preview of what's going on during the week, but it really gets you excited.
After the show I suggested we head to the dining room to meet our table mates, maybe have a little more to eat, LOL, but Rob wouldn't go for it actually! Instead, we headed upstairs and out onto the pool decks.

This is the Adult Pool area, however, there's no stopping kids from walking through. And, it's exactly the same as the other ship. I thought they'd at least have things be different colours or themes. The artwork however, is all different.
This is one of the staircases. The back wall is stone, and the flower and butterfly are engraved. There were similar type pictures on other landings, while some had more traditional 'framed' artwork. The boxes were shadow boxes with real butterflies. I think I forgot to take a picture of our favourite landing; there were some life size wood carvings; one of a hanging coat, one of a pair of boots.
On the way back to our cabin, we looked at the parade down the Royal Promenade, and watched the rest in our room on the TV. We weren't too thrilled with the parades, they seem to appeal to the newbies though. We were pretty tired by now, 11:30pm, but it was a great day!


Anonymous said...

wow! such detail - i'm sure u left something out...

Anonymous said...

where did you see that billboard?...what a name for a site!