Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Family Cruise 2014: Day 1, Part 1

The kids weren't up too early, even having gone to sleep by 8:30pm.  By 7:30 we were all up and getting ready for the breakfast.  We went down in a few shifts, since not everyone is ready at the same time, and we knew it'd be a while before lunch.  Also, the kids had to make up for not having a real dinner the night before, LOL.  The Springhill Suites offers a great breakfast, including hot foods, perfect for a low-carber like me!  Back up to the room to re-organize the suitcases.  I had tried to prevent this, but not everyone listened to the "keep out your bathing suit and anything else you need the first day" speech.  And we had the usual discussion of whether or not to check our carry on suitcases, or carry them with us.  We've been pretty lucky before, though once Rob did have to go to dinner the first night in his sandals!  We also had a lost pair of leggings which resulted in some arguing between the girls.  They eventually turned up on the couch, partially hidden by Hugh who was oblivious to all the commotion thanks to his Bose headphones...

During all this Rob noticed that Meg's suitcase had another problem.  He originally found this suitcase at a curb before one of our cruises.  Just before this one, he saw the zipper stitching was pulling out.  He restitched it, but now another spot had come undone.  Worried about the baggage handlers, we borrowed Mum's rainbow suitcase strap.  We got all 7 of us downstairs.  That's 9 suitcases and a duffle bag or two....the kids were surprised to see the mini bus shuttle with the enclosed trailer for suitcases, and all the other people getting shuttled!  And that not everyone there was going to OUR ship!

Again, the trip to the port does not feel very direct!  LOL.  As we came closer to the port, we could see the Oasis of the Seas there.  Before coming, we had watched a couple shows I had PVR'ed a long time ago when the Oasis was new.  I thought we'd be going through that terminal and the kids could get a sense of what it would be like.  There was also the Explorer of the Seas there.  I had no idea Royal had several terminal buildings at that port!  As well, there were other cruise lines there.  The kids thought it was neat to see the other ships, though I don't think they grasped just how big the Oasis is.  From the side, it just looks a little longer and taller.

Dropped off the luggage to the porters, and headed over the way most other people were going.  Mum jumped over the railings, but we walked all the way around, LOL.  Then, just inside, they got to go to Priority Check In since they're Platinum members.  We noticed we were behind a BIG group of bikers from Georgia.  Interesting.  The lady in front of us had a case of bottled water on her suitcase.  Really?!  Then, we noticed an employee--Eunice Hernandez (Pier Support) who we saw on the  Oct 24, 2010 episode of "Extreme Cruise Ship" on TLC (one of the two shows I PVRed way back before our trip on the Allure).  Sort of felt like spotting a celebrity!!  She was there to direct the rest of the line away from the large biker group (I heard there was 130 of them), and off to the check ins. 

We had a little trouble with our SeaPass accounts, trying to get the kids taken off the account; the clerk kept forgetting who was a kid and who was the mom, the computer didn't seem to work, etc.  In the end, the kids were technically still able to use the cards to purchase things, but only up to $500!  Yikes.  We did find out how to de-activate the cards later.  We were still at this point when Mum and Dad got done their check in, so their priority line wasn't really much faster!

Lucy had been fascinated by the gangway, since seeing it on those shows. 

 Yes, that's Mum, headed off ahead of the rest of us, LOL.

 While we were on the gangway, we started looking at our dining room table numbers.  We were at the 6:00 sitting, but we were at 3 different tables, and I was at one by myself (or, actually, with a bunch of strangers).  You can't tell much by the table number, I had 299 and three of the family had 300, but they could have been in totally separate areas.  The rest were at 364.  So, after a brief stop at the entrance to the ship to get the girls' Emergency Evacuation bracelets, and learn a bit about the kids' programs, we headed to the dining room to sort out our tables.
It was a great way for the kids to see the hugeness of the 3 level dining room.  I think it was sinking in, just how big the ship is!  And how it's not like going to Boston Pizza for dinner.

The kids wanted to see where our rooms were next, even though we said we might not be able to go in them.  We headed up to deck 8.
The girls were registered in one room, and the boys in the other room, 8373.  Though the plan was to put all the kids in one room.  Indeed, the rooms were ready and we met Valent, our attendant.

Below is how the kids' room looked when we got there.  Never again did it look like this, LOL!  The connecting door is to the right, but was locked until dinner--only Valent could unlock it, and as it was not a doubled door, there was no way to lock the kids out of our room!  The Pullman would come down later.  It didn't take too long for the kids to discover the phone, and start calling back and forth.  The phone in my room was awkward to get to though.  And we really missed having a couch.  One interesting thing, when you get to your room, the TV is already on, showing about the Lifeboat drill.  That's the only program available!

We headed down to Mum and Dad's room.  They had a Promenade view room, way at the other end of the Promenade, and on the other side of the ship (Port).  I didn't get any pictures of their room, but I liked the set up.  The unfortunate thing about the Promenade rooms is that there are no Pullmans and I dont' think there's sleeper couches.  There are adjoining rooms though.  Check out this website and scroll down to see what their room looked like (or just look at this other picture I found). 

A couch in front of the window, and one 90 degrees to that.  Lots of sitting for only two people!  It did feel like a long walk to their room, even though we were fairly close to the aft elevators.  They were the second last room before the Fore elevators.  It would have been nice if they were more aft (and there were other reasons, many of which are related to all Fore rooms on this class of ships, I discussed issues with rooms at the Fore on Freedom class ships on my posts from our 2008 cruise).

Then we headed up to the Windjammer Buffet.  Heaven, for the kids!  We walked around a bit, found the kids' programs, etc.  Eventually headed back to the rooms--the kids wanted to swim, but not everyone got the "put your bathing suit in your carry on" speech.  It seemed, over the week, that EVERY question would be asked at least three times.  Got a little annoying to have to repeat myself so much!  Also, we had to be ready for the lifeboat drill at 4:30.  Our station was inside the dining room, towards the back.  Pretty easy, though I still prefer to be on the outside deck.  This time, we did not have to wear the life jackets.

Back to our rooms to get ready for dinner.  Our suitcases were there, and wouldn't you know...Meg's was broken some more--the pulling handle had snapped off.  Valent said it did it, and to contact customer service to see if it could be fixed or replaced.  More on that later.

We all got ready for dinner.  More conversations on what "smart casual" means.  Somehow, even though Rob says he checked Hugh's packing, he didn't have the shirts I had told him to pack.  The girls couldn't decide what to wear first.  Busy!  Finally, we all met up again and headed downstairs with Mum and Dad.  At some point though, we lost Rob and his Mum!  Dad and I headed in to the dining room with the kids, and found our table.  It was great that it was fairly close to the doors, but not TOO close.  After a few minutes, Dad went out to look for Rob and Mum.  It's like herding cats. 

And then Louise and Nya come walking over to our table!  Stay tuned for the second half of day one!

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