Friday, October 28 – Sailing Away
It was an unremarkable departure today. On previous cruises, we have had a driver who forgot to put one of our suitcases in the limo; a driver who thought we were going to the airport; and one who drove as if he were in the In the Indy 500, going almost 80 mph while texting. We avoided these problems by driving ourselves and leaving the car at a long-term lot near the port. D had arranged for a discounted rate because of the length of our voyage, so it cost us less than limo and we were on our own schedule.
We left home at 10:30, were at the lot at 11:30 and on board by noon. Lines were almost nonexistent and le to check-in was the quickest and easiest we have ever had. The system has gotten so sophisticated that our pictures were already in the computer; they weren’t pretty but the process was faster than ever. We were able to go straight to our cabin where we unpacked the rolling duffle we call the jet ski before going to lunch.
The ship felt deserted because we were among the early arrivals and because there were only 250 passengers aboard when the Rotterdam sailed from New York to Ft. Lauderdale. According to a dining room manager, there will be about 1200 – 1250 people on the cruise, most of them staying for the entire trip back to Florida. The ship holds about 1400 passengers, he said, so it is not at capacity but still pretty full.
We rested after lunch [burgers, Jon] and unpacked the rest of the luggage after the safety drill. HAL takes the drills very seriously which was not always the case. We have seen photographers snapping away during the drill hoping to make a sale. Passengers no longer wear life vests to these drills because people used to trip on the dangling straps. Everyone was quiet and attentive even though many could have given the speeches and demonstrations themselves. One recent change is that passengers check in electronically by having there keycards scanned; this speeds the process because staff members no longer have to deal with typed lists to find and check off names.
After stowing all of our clothing and ‘stuff,’ we went to the Ocean Bar, our home away from home, for a pre-dinner drink. Long-time readers of these blogs know that means vodka for MA and ice water for D. From there we went directly to dinner in the Main Dining Room [hereinafter simply the MDR]. We have a table large enough to accommodate 4 people, but it is being set for just the two of us; if we make new friends, we can invite them to join us. Our waiters, Roy from Java and Sidu from Bali, did a good job, especially for the first night of a cruise. The assistant dining room manager stopped by and we asked if she could arrange for tempura vegetables each night [until we tire of them, at least]. Our waiters on the World Cruise did this for us and it made our companions a bit jealous. She said she would try to work it out. We will find out tomorrow if she was successful.
After a walk through the casino, we went “home” where MA read and worked on a crossword puzzle while D wrote today’s blog entry.
TOMORROW – The first of many sea days