Posted July 9th, 2011, 02:31 PM
I was so excited the next morning! Embarkation Day! YAY!!
I got up about 7:00 a.m. and slipped out to Starbucks to get a huge latte—great way to start embarkation day. LOL. I grabbed a couple breakfast items so we could eat before heading out. With the car all packed and check-out complete, we left Hotel Monaco about 9:35 a.m. for an easy drive to Smith Cove Travel. They have a secured lot on Amory Way about a mile from the pier. They provide free shuttle service to and from, but our driver gave us a taxi voucher for the return, saying it was much easier since they have only the one shuttle bus. Here’s a photo of the lot. I felt fine leaving my car there and was pleased at the much lower price than parking at the pier.
We arrived at Smith Cove Travel at about 9:50. They said we were early and the shuttle bus wasn’t running yet and would be making the first run in about 15 minutes. Well, I found out a bit later that what really happened was one of their employees ran an errand and had the shuttle bus keys in his pocket. He returned and we were on our way at 10:25, so the wait wasn’t too long, but when you can see the funnel of your ship in the distance, you just want to go!! LOL.
There were few porters available at the pier, but we did find one to help us with our bags. We checked two somewhat large suitcases and one small suitcase and I tipped $3. We needed our passports out in order to get to the check-in area, so be sure to have them handy. Check-in was very easy, though there was some confusion over my on-board credit. Between the $260 from Early Saver, $100 from the FCC, and what I’d had applied, I had more than $700 in OBC so didn’t plan to secure my Sail & Sign with a credit card. This somehow confused the woman checking us in and she had to get a supervisor to discuss it. The supervisor at first insisted I provide a credit card, but I explained to her I’d add cash, if needed and she approved it. I thought that was odd since I’ve done both credit card and cash S&S accounts before, but I was in vacation mode and not about to let that ruffle me at all. LOL. We were seated in the waiting area by 10:50 after our welcome aboard photo and getting our Alaska coupon book.
It wasn’t long before several members of our roll call arrived. They all knew what I looked like—it’s hard to miss a 6’1” tall woman with white hair! LOL. Tulsacruiser, ArcCruises, Bronco77, and eljeffo were among the families we met and chatted with during the short wait to board. We were in Zone 3, which was called at 11:35 and we were stepping onto the ship at 11:40. Yes, I looked at my watch!
We had decided to not book the Behind the Fun Tour this time as we did it on our last cruise and we were already booked at the steakhouse and for Chef’s Table, so we headed up to the Lido deck. We found a table facing the small boat harbor and DD was off to the grill for some chicken strips. When she returned, I hit the Asian station. Both were typical buffet food—nothing special, but just fine. During lunch we saw our first wildlife of the trip! A little seal popped his head up to check out the Spirit and swam around in front of us for several minutes. I figured he was an omen of things to come (I was right! LOL).
We headed down to the lobby and grabbed a copy of the Fun Times. The games and entertainment don’t hold much appeal for me—that’s most definitely not why I cruise—but I go if DD has an inkling. We didn’t participate in any of the games this cruise and the only entertainment we went to was the hypnotist show. DD always enjoys that and we were surprised to see the same hypnotist who was on our Splendor cruise in August. This show was much better (it’s all about the suckers, oops, I mean audience members who end up on stage) and quite entertaining.
We went to our room at 1:30 and two of our bags were on the cart near the elevator and delivered within minutes. The third arrived about 15 minutes later. We were in an 8J extended balcony, room 6267. I loved the extra 18” or so on the depth of the balcony. The room was your typical Carnival balcony stateroom and we had no issues at all. Our room steward Calixto was great and always greeted us by name and with a smile, asking about our day. I like to get unpacked and get the bags under the beds as soon as possible and we got that taken care of right away. As usual, I overpacked (not as bad as usual though!); at least there’s plenty of storage room!
At 2:20 we grabbed the name tags and pens and headed to the Sun Forward Pool for our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. Even though we didn’t arrange it through Carnival, they had it listed in the Fun Times at the Fantail Pool. Another CC member said on her last cruise Carnival had listed a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet as well. The discrepancy didn’t cause much confusion—we’d communicated well on the roll call, so all but one roll call member went to the place we’d discussed instead of what Carnival had deemed. Tulsacruiser went back to Fantail pool to see if any CC members were there, but unfortunately the family that went there had already left by that time. We had an enjoyable time getting to know each other a bit. I always enjoy seeing the familiar faces throughout the week and several of us had the Tracy Arm excursion booked. Tulsacruiser and DS and DD and I also had Chef’s Table booked.
Safety drill was announced about 3:30, so DD and I headed for Muster Station C. I know from experience not to hurry so we don’t get stuck in the back. We timed it perfectly and were in the front row. Yep. I can be selfish. ;-) The drill was quick and easy and we were back on our balcony well before sail away at 4:05.
Can you tell I was excited?!?