Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Cruise Diaries--Embarkation

Saturday March 3 was the day we'd been waiting for for weeks.  It was embarkation day for our cruise!  After a standard free hotel breakfast, we checked out.  The chain inn we stayed at was by the airport, with absolutely no character; we headed into New Orleans to soak up some ambiance before we headed to the port.

Since we'd been in the French Quarter the night before, Son Brian remembered what exit to take off the interstate, and which streets to turn on.  Strangely, we had more trouble finding a place to park Saturday morning than we had on Friday night.  When we found an empty spot, we didn't have enough change to feed the meter, but there was a bar across the street that was nice enough to break  a dollar for me.

The French Market, which had been closed the night before, was hopping on Saturday morning.  The farmer's market section didn't have much in the way of fresh produce, but the eateries were open, as were every one of the flea market booths.  Tony and I bought a photo of the  back lit "touchdown Jesus" statue in the courtyard of the St. Louis Cathedral.  The shadow is projected onto the back wall of the cathedral. It's quite impressive.

Soon it was time to get back to the car and head towards the ship.  With all the one way streets, it was confusing to find the entrance to the cruise ship terminal.  After an officer directed us, we ended up right front in of the building, where porters took Tony's and my luggage.   (We had requested luggage tags in advance, and attached them to our bags before we left; Brian and Nicole didn't have tags yet, so they couldn't turn their bags in.) While the trunk was open, Tony and I grabbed our carry on bags.  I though we'd wait at the entrance for Brian to park the car, but he indicated we should go ahead and we'd see them on the ship.

The lines to check in were short, although the credit card number we'd registered in advance for the shipboard charge system wouldn't swipe correctly and we had to fill out paperwork to use an alternate card.  After that was done, we received our SeaPass boarding card (which also acted as our ID, room key, and charge card) and we followed the stream of people who were getting ready to board. We had our first photo for our SeaPass...while still in the terminal, but right after getting on deck, they had photographers taking "Welcome Aboard" photos.

By this time it was about 12:45.  Breakfast had been a very long time ago, and I was looking forward to our first meal on board-a lunch buffet at the Windjammer Café.  We wanted to get rid of our carry-on bags before eating, but the rooms weren't ready until 1:00, so we had to bring them with us.  As we were entering the Windjammer, we ran into Brian and Nicole.  However, we couldn't find a table for four anywhere in the room, so we separated again to eat.  Tony and I grabbed a table outside by the pool (which sounds nice,  but less than ideal.  It was cloudy and chilly.  There was also a brisk breeze blowing.)  We ate quickly, then gathered our things and left.

The room, before it got too cluttered
After lunch we found our room, an interior cabin with no view of the water. That's ok; we weren't planning on spending much time there!  We unpacked our suitcases and stowed everything away, then left the room and explored.

The ship left the dock at 4:30.  At departure time the four of us were sitting on deck chairs in the Solarium. All the other cruises I've been on have been in the summer, and it was comfortable to be outside. This time it was cold. I was wearing jeans and a jacket zipped up tight. We watched the shoreline for about 10 minutes, then went inside. New Orleans is approximately 100 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico. It takes 7-8 hours to get to the open water, with a lot of turns.

The evening went by quickly.  We entered a trivia contest, then changed for dinner. (The second sitting, at 8:00).   When the dining room doors opened, we were waiting outside, ready to eat again.  After dinner, we took in a "Welcome Aboard" show in the La Scala theater, watched a parade on the Promenade, then decided it was time to turn in.   It had been a busy day!


  1. this is interesting. i just saw a commercial for, i think, royal carribean, with a couple out on their own personal balcony off their cruise ship suite. i thought to myself that a room like that must cost a fortune. still, a cruise does sound very pleasant, although eating outside in the winter would not make for a comfortable routine:) still, sounds like a fun getaway.

  2. The room looks nice despite being an interior cabin.

  3. I'd be like you, no point in spending more on a room since you really aren't going to be in it very much. Of course, I'm not planning any cruises as I'm just not excited about being on water. We've always laughed about contests where one of the prizes is a cruise & that would be the one I'd win. (never has happened, though.)