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Diamond 6/12 Review (Part 3 of 12)

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[b]Saturday, June 12: Embarkation Day [/b]

The combination of the time zone change and the excitement of it being embarkation day had us awake (but not necessarily up) early. Shortly after 5am I walked out to the balcony, looked to the right, and saw the faint outline of what looked like a ship on the horizon. It in fact turned out to be the Diamond Princess, followed closely by a ship that I didn't bother to ID, sailing into port - what a great way to start the day!

We had a marvelous breakfast downstairs before setting out to pick up some last minute supplies - and having the first of the inevitable "adventures" that Leslie and I always seem to have on our trips. A not-to-scale tourist walking map, our complete lack of familiarity with the area, and our stubborn insistence on walking when taking a cab would have been a much better choice, found us taking a circuitous, meandering, and entirely too lengthy walk until we were able to locate a supermarket and liquor store. We set out shortly after 9:00am figuring we'd be back in plenty of time for our noon check out time.

We finally made it to the supermarket at 11:10, then went another block to the liquor store, then luckily found a cab that rushed us back to the hotel. Somehow we managed showers, last minute packing, and getting to the desk to check out by 11:50 - no problem!

Finally it was time to head to the ship. Like most ports, there was a bottleneck of traffic at the pier. People leaving, people arriving, cabs, buses, and vans jockeying for position, etc. Our driver helped us unload our bags and Leslie watched them while I went to find a porter. There was a somewhat disorganized "line" where you could turn your luggage over personally, but the $1 per bag we paid the porter to take them (all we had to do was walk with him until we told the Princess agent that they were indeed all ours, then get in the line to check in) was money well spent.

The check in line looked rather long, but I expected that, since we'd arrived so early in the process. Still, it took us only slightly longer than 30 minutes from the time we got in line until we were checked in, roughly half the time I'd estimated. (Note: There is no express check in at the Seattle terminal, so while it certainly doesn't hurt to have your documents all done ahead of time, it probably doesn't save you the time that it does in some other ports.)

Boarding the ship was a breeze. There were the obligatory stops to have your picture linked to your boarding card/room key, to have your carry on's scanned, and the embarkation photo (funnily enough we "knew" we wouldn't want it, and considered trying to bypass having it even taken, then ended up liking it better than most of our similar ones and buying it!). Once on board a crew member asked us our stateroom number (Baja 615), then directed us to a bank of elevators in the atrium area, and almost without waiting we were in an elevator heading for the Baja (11) deck.

We really loved the stateroom. Upon entering there is a small "alley" to the right. On the right side of this is the bathroom. On the left is a generous sized closet, with plenty of hangars and a very nice storage shelf on top. Straight ahead is a cabinet with the safe and shelves for the clothes you'd normally put in a dresser. While we were checking the room out there was a knock on the door. Upon opening the door we met our room steward, Gil, from the Philippines. He introduced himself, told us how we could get a hold of him if we needed anything, and asked if there were any special requests we had. I asked him for bathrobes, and he left (the very next time we entered the room the robes were hanging in the closet).

There is a little less walking around room in the stateroom than we're used to, and the balcony is slightly smaller, but we didn't think either of those were much of an issue. The shower on the other hand....it is SMALL! Honestly, it was like showering in a phone booth. I'm no waif (5'11, 225 lbs. or so), but I felt like I could barely fit in there. I know that some of the folks on our cruise must have had a much tougher time than I did...

One of the first things I did once we got to our room was call the concierge and make our PC dining reservations for the week - just took a couple of minutes, and it was time well spent. Then we went walking around the ship, for the dual purposes of getting familiar with the layout, and to just check out all of the amenities and decor of this beautiful vessel!

There were a number of announcements alerting all to the fact that, at 3:30, the muster drill would be held, along with attendant instructions for what to do getting there, during the drill, etc. Instructions that a number of folks promptly ignored (they must have said a dozen times to not put on your life jacket until instructed to do so, but some people...). After having the passengers line up they did say that it would be OK to sit on the life jackets for most of the drill. There was no roll call, but we were told that they had the lists of passengers that should have been there and that they could do a roll call if needed. We were mustered on deck 7, the Promenade deck, just outside of Sabatini's. At the conclusion of the speech, er, drill, we headed back upstairs CAREFULLY NOT DRAGGING THE STRAPS OF OUR LIFE VEST WHERE WE, OR OUR FELLOW PASSSENGERS, COULD TRIP ON THEM, to our cabin, and out on the balcony for sail away.

The Diamond blew its horn, signaling the start of our cruise around 4:30PM, just after our luggage showed up outside of our room. I mostly stayed out of the way on the balcony while Leslie unpacked and stowed our stuff. After the ship backed out of the little inlet it docks in, it turned completely around, which put our starboard side stateroom facing the city of Seattle as we sailed out of Elliott Bay. Since the view was so good right there I saw no need to go up on the open decks (as a matter of fact we just about always took in the scenery from the balcony ? while we might have missed the odd sight the convenience of having everything we needed so close by more than made up for it).

There were several announcements made to let everyone know that the famous marine life artist Wyland was on board, and that his initial appearance would be in the Explorer's Lounge from 7:00-10:00. We didn't need the announcement - Leslie is a huge fan of Wyland and his art (he's the guy that has painted the large whale murals on buildings all over the world) and had known that he would be on this cruise for some time (she swears that she didn't know at the time she made the booking but I don't know...). Since we had reservations in the Pacific Moon at 8:00 we figured we'd go to the demonstration for an hour, and then come back after dinner if it was still going on.

Promptly at 7:00 one of the ship's art directors came on and talked about how famous Wyland is. And how lucky we were that he was on board. And how talented he is. And what a great deal this is for Princess. And how famously talented he is. And how this would be such a great deal for Princess passengers. And how nice he is. And what an opportunity this was. And how passionate about his work he is. And how rare it is to have an artist so recognized and so lauded while he is still alive. And how alive he is.

You get the picture. Then....they showed a film about Wyland's life, his art, the "whaling walls", etc. Finally, at 7:45, they introduced Wyland. He just spoke briefly then set to work creating Sumi brush stroke artwork, whatever the passengers suggested (of course if you bought one you'd also get an autographed book!). Reluctantly, I went down to the Pacific Moon around 7:50 and cancelled our reservations - I knew how much Leslie would want to see Wyland paint.

Then one of Wyland's entourage found out that we owned a couple of his paintings, and she swarmed all over Leslie, trying hard to get her to buy more. That, along with a headache that she had been trying to get rid of/ignore, prompted Leslie to tell me "let's get out of here" shortly after 8:30. We decided to try our luck back at the Pacific Moon, and to our surprise there was a table for us right away. In fact, it looked to be not much more than half full.

This was our first experience with PC dining. The first thing I found out that I didn't know was that the menu for each of the PC dining room never changes (at least not during the week). But you are given, in addition to the fixed menu from that restaurant, the same menu that the folks in traditional dining are getting each night. And you can pick and choose from either or both menus. Since it wasn't very busy I got to spend a good deal of time chatting with our Romanian serving team of Nelu (?) and Lucian, while they kept bringing me more sushi.

Poor Leslie was feeling worse and worse. When Lucian asked her if she had gotten sick I sensed a combination of concern for her well being as well as a touch of vigilance in looking for signs of norovirus symptoms. In fact, there were reminders everywhere to wash your hands frequently, sanitizers at the entrance to Horizon court, and the like. When we (just me really) finished eating, we headed up to the room so she could lie down.

It was around 10:00, and I didn't want to go very far in case Leslie needed anything, so I went out onto the balcony. It was very foggy as we made our way through the Straits of (something-that-I-can't remember the name). There was no one else outside that I could see, the water was dead calm, and the ship silently sliced through the still water. Occasionally I could see the outline of some feature on shore, but it would quickly disappear into the fog. It was really COOL! I stayed outside until I started getting sleepy, and then turned in.

(End of Part 3)

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[b]Augie, I am the same Height and about 40% bigger otherwise, yes the shower was small!!! But do-able.[/b]

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Link to Part 4; [url]http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=48296[/url]

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Oh Wow!! I am really enjoying your review so far and am so jealous that Wyland was aboard your sailing! We have admired his work for years!! On to part 4

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[quote name='seattlecruiser']It's the "The Straits of Juan de Fuca"[/QUOTE]

Thank You! I meant to write that down....

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