Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Caribbean Cruise Blog Day 1

I debated back and forth about whether to post all of my logs in one post or spread them out. I think for the sake of adding pictures, I will post them one at a time, so bear with me.

Cruiser’s Log, Day 1 (1/9/10)

We actually got on the ship! Let the fun and relaxation begin!

Well, first things first, I was panicked and nervous that we wouldn’t get to the ship on time. Our plane was arriving in Miami at 12:45pm, our cruise departed at 4pm. No problem, right? Well, everything I read said we needed to be on board 2 hours before departure and that check in would take 30-45 minutes. That narrowed down our time! We landed in Miami early (about 12:20), so I was happy. But we were so early that another plane was at our terminal, so we were stuck waiting. Of course this problem was compounded by the fact that I had to go to the bathroom reeeeeeeeeeeeeally bad and hadn’t been able to for a while because turbulence had necessitated the captain leaving the “fasten seatbelt” sign on. So, I was beginning to be in pain and getting anxious about the time.

We were able to get in to another terminal finally, and we got off the plane and headed towards baggage claim. I found a bathroom. Then we waited for our luggage. And waited. And waited. It was nearly 45 minutes that we stood there waiting (after the walk to the baggage claim and the bathroom breaks). It was 1:40 when we headed to find a taxi and I was so worried we would arrive late and they wouldn’t let us on the ship.

The taxi ride was about 20 minutes and we were able to see a bit of Miami. I found it interesting that the Port of Miami is in downtown Miami. I would have thought downtown would have been more inland, but it’s not. It was amazing driving past all the cruise lines’ docks and seeing the huge ships and the yachts at the marinas.

I should mention that it was foggy and raining in Miami. We had come in search of sun, but I didn’t really mind because even with a temperature of only 45 degrees, it sure beat the temps and weather conditions in Kansas City! The morning we left, I think it was seven degrees. Which was an improvement from the day before when the HIGH was one degree and it was still snowing. This season, so far, we have had 23 inches of snow! The average for the whole season is 20 and we still have a couple of months of winter to go! Let’s not even talk about the wind chill because it’s been terribly windy as well. So, 45 degrees felt like a heat wave to us, and who cares about precipitation that is not frozen in nature!

So, we made it to our port, checked our suitcase, went through security, filled out a health questionnaire, and headed to check-in. I was glad to see there were so many other people still making their way through. It made me feel like we weren’t so late after all. In fact, I had seen a guy from Norwegian Cruise Lines at the airport picking up someone from our flight (possibly the people from Kansas City that we saw on both of our planes and now on the ship). I was sure they wouldn’t turn away anyone that they had gone to the trouble of picking up at the airport. We started checking in and when we presented our birth certificates and driver’s licenses, the lady handed us a memo that said we would not be able to return home by air in the event of an emergency since we didn’t have passports. She gave us our room card/on-board credit card, our room assignment, more paperwork and sent us up to board. I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.

I had read that it was hard to find your room aboard cruise ships, but it really wasn’t. We knew we were on deck 11, so we pushed 11 on the elevator and when we got off, there were signs indicating which direction to go for which room. It was quite a walk, but we got there. I had also read that the rooms were teeny-tiny, little more than a small box. I don’t know if it's just because my hubby sprung for the balcony suite or what, but our room is not that small. There’s room to get around, lots of storage space, a queen or king size bed (not sure which), a decent-sized bathroom, a pull-out couch, a desk, and our balcony with deck chairs. Pessimistic me wondered what a balcony would entail, a view of the pool or the galley or something interior. It was great to find that the balcony was actually exterior and we could really see the ocean and the islands!

We came in and unpacked our carry-ons and explored our room a bit. We sat on the balcony for a long time, watching the sea gulls, taking pictures of Miami, etc. We read our daily newsletter and the information binder, and watched a little of the TV channels that gave us info about the ship. Then we had a lifeboat drill. The alarm sounded and we got our life jackets out of the closet and went downstairs to the theater, which was our rendezvous point. We heard info about what to do in case of emergency, then we were released. We went back to our room and put away the life vests and sat down. I was reading over some more info, when I felt like something was bumping underneath me. I thought I was imagining things until I looked out over the balcony and noticed a shore landmark had gotten closer, so I realized we were moving. We stood on the balcony, watching everything, waving at boatmen and people on shore, and took pictures. We backed out, turned around, and headed out to sea. It was sort of mysterious when we left because there was fog on the water, so it looked really cool!

Once there was nothing left to see but water all around us, we headed in and got ready to leave the room in search of food. We had only eaten a brunch in the Dallas airport. I’d only had one sausage McMuffin all day. I was starting to get a headache and with the waves being pretty choppy, I decided to head off any problems by taking some Dramamine and some ibu profin. We walked around, exploring a little bit and eventually found one of the many dining rooms, the “Garden CafĂ©“. They have food, buffet style. There are a few restaurants on board that charge a cover fee (specialty restaurants), but for the others, you just go in and start eating--the cruise fare covers your food! We ate a good meal and explored a little more. We went down to the “shore excursions” desk and signed up for some activities in our ports of call. In Samana, Dominican Republic, we will be doing the Cayo Levantado Beach Escape. In St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, we will be going to the Coral World Park. In Tortola, British Virgin Islands, we will be experiencing a Dolphin Encounter. We haven’t booked anything on the cruise line’s private island of Great Stirrip Cay, Bahamas yet, but will likely do some snorkeling there. When we get back in to Miami, we have booked a tour of the Everglades.

After that, we went back to our cabin. It was only about 8pm, but since we had been up since 3am, we were exhausted and took showers and went to bed early. I loved leaving the balcony door open and getting the fresh air and hearing the waves. Along with the gentle rocking, I was asleep in no time. That is, of course, after the cabin steward came in and dropped off our daily newsletter, scaring me to death! I had heard a knock, but had been dozing and was too sleepy to make out where it was coming from and what it meant. After two knocks, he came right in. I was disoriented, so just laid there, and I heard him say, “here is your daily newsletter, sorry, good night,“ and he left without me even seeing him! Anyways, I woke up at 11 to visit the bathroom and again at some point in the middle of the night. At that time, I guess Scott couldn’t sleep so he was up reading, but had pulled the curtain that separates the bed from the sitting area, so as not to disturb me.

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