Embarkation Day

Okay, I am married to a crazy person and said crazy person has just roused me from a deep sleep, “Jane, I think our boat is here…” It is DARK outside! The sun isn’t even up yet, but, for the past 45 minutes, my dear crazy person has been watching the ‘Bridge Cam’ of our cruise ship on the Internet as it makes its way to San Pedro, and apparently it is arriving.
Okay, I’m up, looking out into the dark, marvelling at how someone so crazy can seem SO normal! Of course, I got out of bed at dark:thirty to watch the ship come in, so I guess its good that we found each other.
We watch as the ship goes past the channel entrance….must be turning around. Hmmm…ten minutes later, no cruise ship. Jeff refreshes the bridge cam feed on his IPad. Oh look, the Island Princess is closer to San Pedro. What we saw earlier was probably a commuter ferry. The sun is up by now, well, mostly, and finally the Island Princess appears. This humongous cruise ship is BACKING down the channel!

Gee, I don’t want to keep all this excitement to myself, so I text Eve and Mary “Our ship is coming in backwards!” (I woke them both up.)
Actually it was really cool to see…

Eve texts back that she woke up with a cold. Bummer! And then I remember cuddling up with her on the bed yesterday afternoon.. Yikes! Good thing I have a brand new box of daytime and a brand new box of nightime cold medicine.

So now that we’re awake, and have been for about an hour and a half, we really need coffee and breakfast. Before we do that though we must pack up so when we come back from wherever we’ll be ready to go.
As we leave the hotel room, we stop at Eve and Leroy’s room to drop off cold medicine. Jeff notices that other rooms have had their bills slipped under their doors, but we have not. On our way out, I stop and check at reception – turns out I paid for our room with “points”.

Our suite

NICE!! A free room that turned into a suite!

 

Street art in San Pedro

Coffee… As we go up the hill past the hotel we see a little coffee and tea shop called Sirens; surely they’ll have bagels or pastries or something, so we go inside. Wow!! I am doing my happy dance!! The first things in their pastry case are VEGAN muffins! I’m super excited! I get a vegan blueberry muffin (yum yum) and an excellent cup of coffee. Jeff has an ‘anything bagel’ and coffee, too.

 This is a really nice little place; obviously local and if you find yourself in San Pedro, I recommend it highly – it is on 7th Street up the hill from the Crowne Plaza.

Back to the hotel we meet our travelling mates in the lobby. Our 10:45 taxis should be here any minute. At 10:42 I get a text message from the cab company saying that our taxi has been cancelled and to call this number. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? So, I call the number and am told that they don’t have two drivers available right now, but they will send them as soon as they can. EXCUSE ME??? Let’s just say that I told that person off royally. It takes a lot to get me riled up and since I had taken time to make this reservation to ensure a smooth embarkation for our friends, I was furious. Now what? We know we can ride the hotel shuttle for $5 each (about twice what the cab fare would have been), and there isn’t a line for the shuttle so Jeff and Leroy get tickets for us.
I call the cab company back (told you I was angry!), told them off again and told them to cancel our reservation because we are going to deal with a more reputable company and that we will NOT be using them in the future. And then I hung up on the woman in mid-apology. Now I feel better.

The hotel shuttle is not crowded at all and we’re at the pier in no time. We give our luggage to the porter. It is her second day on the job…and she takes off with our suitcases in the totally wrong direction. Thank goodness Trish saw her! “We’re getting ON the ship!” Trish told her. hahaha!
Our embarkation time is 12:30, and it is 11am, so even the check-in desks are not crowded. We walk through the metal detectors and the security area, and since no one mentions the two bottles of wine in Jeff’s backpack, we ignore “liquor control” (where you are supposed to register that you have brought on your two allotted bottles of wine).

Because Jeff and I are Platinum Princess members we get to go to the VIP line and our waiting area has coffee, juice and snacks. But we don’t want to leave our friends, so, I talk to the woman in charge, telling her that we are travelling with four elderly companions (Eve is so going to kill me) who have never cruised before (liar!) and could they please, please stay with us? It took a little finangling, but everything was worked out. I’m really happy about that.
We get our free bottles of water, some coffee and salty snacks (Doritos, Cheetos…) and wait until embarkation time.

Here we go! The six of us board around 1pm and have our embarkation photo taken together. We show Mary and Trish to their mini-suite; Eve and Leroy are next door to them and they’ll be able to open the door between their balconies. Jeff and I are across from the four of them – there is a very short hallway between us but we are on the other side of the boat, so we can all enjoy sunsets or sailaways regardless of which side of the boat it is on.

We walk around the ship a little bit – we are heading for the library. We get books to read and Jeff picks up the daily Suduko puzzles for later. We take our books back to our rooms and head for the Horizon Court buffet for lunch. We’re starving!

Back to our rooms we have a little time to unpack before the Muster (a safety briefing required by international law). The signal is given (7 short and one long blast on the ship’s whistle) so we grab our life jackets and head to our Muster station. It is so weird that even though Eve and Leroy are right next to Trish and Mary that they have different muster stations. Princess musters passengers in large areas inside the ship. When Jeff and I first started cruising we all had to line up in rows of four out on the Promenade deck. It was like herding kittens. This is much better. And it used to be that the safety briefing had to be performed within 24 hours of setting sail, but now it is required to be done before the ship leaves the dock.

Muster complete, it is time for the Sail Away party. Our room stewards have brought each of us a glass of champagne and we all take those as we head up a little early for the 4:30 sail away. Sometimes it is difficult to find a place at the rail. Well, the top deck is not crowded at all! We’ve never seen such a small crowd for sail away. 4:30 comes…no casting off…4:45, 5:00. We watch as the shore crew continue to load luggage onto the ship. This is unusual; and it’s chilly up here.

Jeff and Trish participate in the dancing while the rest of us relax on the lounge chairs.

From front: Eve, Mary, Leroy and Trish

FINALLY! The ship’s horn sounds and we are underway!!
Panama Canal, here we come!

Another example of our lack of coordination…Jeff and I signed up for “anytime dining” so we can eat anytime between 5:30-10pm and we can sit by ourselves or share a table with other people. We always opt to share. Leroy, Eve, Mary and Trish all signed up for “set dining” which means that they always eat at the same time every evening (In their case, 5:30 pm) and always have the same table mates. Obviously the six of us won’t be having dinner together!

After our dinner Jeff and I decide to skip the show in the theater tonight. We’re going to turn in early. Tomorrow is our first full day on the Island Princess and it’s a sea day. Hooray!

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