Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 2 - Boarding the Cruise

After a good night's sleep, we woke up to a leisurely breakfast and packing before taking a shuttle to the cruise ship. It was about a 15 minute ride so that was great. The kids were giddy with excitement!

We got to the ship and had to stand on a long line to check-in. I was able to take the kids to some of the duty free shops to walk around, go to the bathroom and get a quick snack of chips while Brian waited. We finally got to check in and get our Sea Pass cards (like a hotel key). We have to keep it on us at all times and you can charge to it, use it to get into your rooms or whatever. We got bracelets for the kids that have our group muster location for emergencies too. We finally got to proceed to the spot where our bags were scanned before going to the ship, our main luggage was left at the shuttle and would get processed and arrive at our rooms later. We knew this could take awhile so I made sure to pack bathing suits in our carry-on bag so the kids could swim right away.

We finally saw the ship up close and WOW! It is gigantic. I mean, unbelievably HUGE. hard to comprehend how they build these things, how they float, how it functions and everything so I chose to just not think about it.

I bought sea bands to help with motion sickness and decided that I would see how well I could do without needing to out them on. So far it seemed okay, just a little gentle rocking.

It was about 12:30 and we headed straight to the cafe for lunch. It was a fantastic buffet. I had to remind myself NOT to eat my way through the cruise and Europe and tried to make some healthy choices but there are temptations everywhere.

I'm glad that I read so much ahead of time so I didn't feel quite so overwhelmed once I was on board too.

There are lines to sign up for different things and I knew already what I needed to do and what I could skip. We opted to not get soda packages (about $100 per person for unlimited soda but we decided to go soda free for the trip). Instead we ended up spending about $20 on day one for a mojito, iced Starbucks Mocha Frappucinno and an after dinner decaf Cappuccino. the extra can really add up. At least water, iced tea and lemonade are free so we will have to try to stick to that. I did spend money for a bottled water package so we would have bottled water to bring to ports and things.

After lunch we walked around the ship to check things out.

This was the view of Barcelona from the ship.

There is a small library on board with a simple honor system for checking things in and out and a sign to encourage people to add to the library. I found a book for myself and picked up a couple nighttime stories for Cameron.

We were then able to check into our room to drop off our stuff and let the kids change for the pool.

We ran into our friends from the Barcelona tour and the kids had fun playing together.

After swimming they all changed so we could attend a mandatory muster drill.

They showed us where to go for an emergency and brought everyone to a theater to explain the procedure.

After the drill, we met a bunch of people that I had been talking to online on cruisecritic. We have lots of private tours arranged and it was a chance to connect faces with names for when we tour so we know who to look for. It was also a great way to get to know a few more people on the ship do you feel like you see familiar faces on board. Everyone was very nice and the whole "living in Abu Dhabi" thing makes us easy to remember and I suddenly feel like an ambassador for UAE cultural education - everyone always has loads of questions.

We wound down from the "meet and mingle" and headed upstairs to get the kids signed up for the Kid Adventure Program (a drop off kid activity space where they are separated by age and open all day for free or after 10 pm for a fee). I was surprised to hear them say that you could drop your kids off there and head off to your 5-10 hour excursion and pick them up after (?????). Or that you could bring them after 10 p.m. and pay a fee to have them watched in the evening. Ummmm..thanks but our kids are joining us for excursions and they will be in bed before 10 but we will keep it in mind.

Then we headed down for dinner. I was surprised to see that we had a table for 10 and we were with another family of five. We all got along great! Loved them. They have three kids (ages 12, 15, 16) and they got along great with our kids. We hit it off great with the adults and look forward to dinner with them each night.

Bella and her silverware balancing skills.

Bella was practically falling asleep at dinner and was ready for bed by the time we finished at 8. I got the kids off to the room and headed out to sign up for our last excursion (Athens) so we are all set on tours.

I came back and the kids were all set for bed. I don't feel sea sick and so far we are having a fantastic time!!!

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