Over the years I had heard from many people the joys and pleasures of shipboard cruising on the luxury liners. This was something that never really interested me for the main reason that I thought the ship would be nothing more than a moving town or city. My imagination ran a bit wild when I thought of being cooped up with no place to go with that many people. That was one of the main reasons that cruising did not appeal to me. However, I also considered the size of the ship, the number of passengers, the location and amount of life boats my idea of mayhem if there was ever a disaster at sea further put me off. Plus what would you or could you do all day?
My idea began to change after I joined or became a member of a U.S. Military/Government web site which was sending out travel deals on a daily basis. Most of these deals were ship’s cruises. The more I looked at these and the price I began to think that one may be a relaxing holiday. I also began to talk with people who had cruised before and got their opinions of them. In all cases the feed back was positive but, beware of which cruise line you took.
With those thoughts in mind I checked it out with “The Boss” and she was in agreement with heading south and escaping, at least part of, this year’s brutally cold winter. Well at least saying, “if that is what you want to do go ahead.” means that she was in full agreement then I began to do some more research. I checked on many different services provide along with differing costs for the trip and finally decided on a Royal Caribbean, Western Caribbean cruise. At first I was thinking of going with Norwegian because of the dining options - Norwegian was all casual while Royal had two formal nights. After a bit of consultation it was decided that “why not get dressed up a bit?” so that was our final choice.
I then checked on flights from the 3 Canadian airports as well as from Syracuse New York,to Tampa and the cost would have been as much as the cruise and with the ‘ify’ weather in February driving seemed to be the best option. This would also give us the chance to visit friends on the East coast of Florida as well as Atlanta, Georgia.
Consequently on the third of February we headed south to try and escape some Canadian winter.
The trip down and back will be covered at a later date.
A Link to the photos is at the end...
Day 1, Saturday, February 7, 2015
Departing Tampa, Florida
Partly Cloudy, Temperature 68oF (20oC), Wind Fresh Breeze, UV 4
The ship publishes a daily events brochure called “Cruise Compass” which is placed on your bed the night before. Except for Day 1 which is in your cabin when you check in.
Because of the ships departure time we had already decided to arrive and spend Friday night in Tampa and then check in and board the ship on Saturday about noon.
We arrived about 11:30 and after sending our car off with the pre-paid valet parking it was off to board the ship.
What a treat to check in - the air lines certainly could take some Royal Caribbean’s treatment of passengers to heart.
As we were early, while the lines were long, people moved through security very smoothly. We had all of our pre-boarding information filled out and were readily called to one of the very many check-in wickets. The lady checked all of our documents and then asked if we had cruised before and when we said no she went over the various details that our ‘client debit card’ contained, cabin number, lifeboat number, dining room, etc. At no time did we ever have the impression that we were simply one of 2,000 sheep but one of the most important people she had spoken to that day!
We had been advised to take a carry on bag containing clothing we might need before our suitcases were delivered to our cabin or as it is advertised - stateroom. We had dropped off our other, pre-tagged, bags before security and they would be delivered to our cabin later. We made our way to our cabin, an inner, on the third deck, amid ships. While the cabin may have been small by motel standards it was quite ample for the two of us. After checking out the cabin we made our way to deck 9 and the Windjammer Buffet Restaurant for a spot of lunch and to get a feel of the ship. Once again, airlines could take a close look at how cruise ships treat their passengers. Attentive service is the watchword.
After a relaxing light lunch it was time to wander around the upper deck and check out some of the facilities on decks nine and ten until the ship sailed at 4pm. As we set sail there was a police boat which escorted us out of the harbour and redirected any pleasure boats that were coming towards us. No doubt this was for security reasons.
We slowly made our way up Tampa Bay and the Captain made an announcement that we would soon be passing under the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It was quite site to see this bridge move towards us and then pass overhead. It was an optical illusion where you had the impression that the bridge, rather than you, were moving. A beautiful sunset and then it was off to get ready for our first supper onboard.
When we were making our original preferences we chose a table for six. We thought this would be a good number of people to spend an evening meal with and recount our daily adventures. Earlier in the afternoon we had checked out the Main Dining Room and found out our table was a table for ten. While this was more than we had originally wanted we thought, oh well just more people to chat with. When we made our way to the table for supper we discovered that there was only the two of us! Where did everyone else go? Our waiter appeared as soon as we sat down and gave us a menu which would make many restaurants proud. With so many options as well as a number of daily entrees. It was a difficult choice but in the end we both decided on Prime Rib Roast Beef as our entree. What a delicious supper it was.
After supper it was a relaxing drink in the Centrum on deck 4 to watch the entertainment; a Song Set by the Royal Caribbean Singers (not only are they staff some are also entertainers) and then an aerial display.