5/17/2010

The Great Cruise of 2010

Toward the end of February, my sister randomly called and said, "Hey, what would you think of going on a cruise as a family?" Tim and I have been wanting to cruise for a while but just never made it happen, so we said, "Sure, that could be fun." But we pretty much thought nothing more about it because we figured that was a precursor to having some chats about it and seeing if other folks were on board, so to speak, and so forth. But about an hour later my mom called, "Would you three really go on a cruise with everyone?" I said I didn't see why not, it sounded like fun. And mom mentioned that there was a Caribbean cruise leaving out of Norfolk (not having to fly to the port: bonus!) on the 6th of May. Since that was still a good way away I said we should definitely talk about it.

Not twenty minutes later, my sister called and with her in a conference call were my parents and the cruise booking agent. And before you could say "Ahoy, matey!" we were all booked into a family suite on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas and set to sail to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti for 9 days at the beginning of May.

When I hung up I looked over at Tim and said, "I guess we're going on a cruise." And Tim laughed and said, "Guess so...how did we go from kicking around an idea to buying tickets that fast?" I shrugged and reminded him that my family has never been one to dither. And so we started the process of prepping the kiddo for the idea of riding on a boat. (As it turns out, we started that way too early - two year olds have very little concept of time.)

And so the weeks passed and we got ready slowly and then came May 6th and the bags were packed and we loaded into the car and drove the 3ish hours to Norfolk to arrive at the port. If I recall correctly, cruise ships at Norfolk is a relatively new thing and they are just not really ready for it. First of all, they give you an address for the pier, but no landmarks or any indication of the name of the place you're going. So you sit for what seems like forever in traffic waiting to turn into what looks like an aquarium of sorts but you don't know if you're going to need to turn there or if your turn is further down because you're just looking for 1 Waterside Drive and currently you're not even on Waterside Drive. So after 30 minutes waiting in the lane, you finally find a way to zip into the other lane and then as you're zooming by the traffic and thinking "Neener neener" you glance over and see a cruise ship parked at the dock and realize that oh, hey, that was my turn.  Note to anyone thinking of cruising out of Norfolk: Print directions to Nauticus  (I'd link to their actual website but it seems to not work) - the pier is right there. But unless you knew that already, you'd never know that. So now you know.

We finally made it into the traffic circle where a rather surly police man pointed us to a place to unload, making sure that we pulled up as close to the car in front of us as humanly possible so he could squeeze more cars in the space than otherwise. (And I'll give him crowded and hot, but he was really rather pissy about the whole thing.) The bags were duly unloaded and given to a valet to go get checked in and the kiddo and I hung out with mom and dad while Tim took the car to the parking lot where my sister and her husband were already parking. The theory being that they would then take a shuttle back and we'd be on the boat easy-peasy.

Two hours later, everyone arrived hot and sweaty having waited an hour to get into the parking garage and park. Looking at the shuttle they gave up on that right out of the gate and hoofed the 1.5 miles in the heat (dragging carry on luggage) back to the pier. At that point we made our way through security, through more grumpy employees (mom took her wheelchair since her hips haven't been great since chemo. But there were 7 of us in the party and they really didn't want all of us to go with her in the extra assistance. But seriously, we're all one party - deal with it) and onto the boat. Total time for embarkation: 3.5 hours.

Tim and I got a little separated at the end of the process and the elevators weren't working properly (only 2 of the 8 in the bank appeared to be going) so we dragged the kiddo out of the stroller and Tim carried him and the backpack and I lugged the stroller and another bag up the 4 flights of stairs from deck 4 where we got on to deck 8 where our room was.

Exhausted and hot, we finally found the family suite. Everyone else was already there. We had just enough time to sit for a minute before rushing to our muster station to be counted. After that, we went back to our room and stood on the balcony and waved as we pulled out of port - watching the police boats escort us out of the harbor and into open water.

Tune in tomorrow for more.

1 comment:

Lynellen said...

good start to the narrative!