October 06, 2017

Day 1 Departure on The Vision of the Seas

The day before departure, Saturday, September 30, 2017. the day begins the same as most days for me. Sleep until I awaken, a quick breakfast consisting of one bowl of cereal. My goal was to finish as many open foods as possible before I leave for 5 weeks. I fail on the cereal, there is one serving left. Cereal stays fresh for a long time, many preservatives you say. It will probably be OK when I return, if not, little is lost.

Off to the pool, there are a few of the regulars there. The water has cooled a little from the summer high temperatures, and is very enjoyable. By the time I return the heaters will be on, hopefully set to a comfortable level.

Today's task is to finish packing. My packing list has been updated, and the time consuming items all set aside, that is to say everything except clothes. My only concern is will everything fit? Five weeks with clothes for the hot and humid tropics and the cold of New England where the temperatures may be below freezing.

I start at the bottom of the suitcase, and work towards the top. In less than an hour everything is checked off my list and in the suitcase. I even include hangers as they make it so easy to unpack, just grab the hangers and and move the clothes to the closet.

Will the suitcase close? With ease, I don't even need to use the suitcase expansion section.

The alarm is set for 4:00 AM, my daughter Alyssa is to meet me at 5:00 for the drive to the airport. I try to retire early, but that just doesn't work. I'm finally sound asleep when the alarm wakens me. Shower, move the suitcases to the door, and make the final adjustments to the house. Turn the AC up, dump out the last 3 ounces of milk, turn off the water heater and the water, close up the tiny bag of garbage to give to Alyssa to deal with.

Alyssa arrives and I head to the airport, traffic is lite between 5 and 6. the airport is busy, and some areas for dropping off passengers are closed off making the open areas just that much more congested.

I say goodby and head to the counter. I had tried three times the day before to get a boarding pass, but United's web site kept crashing. The self check kiosk is more co-operative. An Employee is there to assist with applying tags to my checked bag, the normal baggage claim and extra tags because I am flying first class.

A stop at the rest room and then I head to TSA for security check. I'm now in possession of a Global Entry card which means that I have already been checked out and labeled as a "Known Traveler" with my boarding pass stamped to that effect I enter the special line for security. Being known has it's privileges. No need to remove shoes or belt, computer can remain in its bag, no pulling out the "liquids", and the lines are shorter.

I pass through the first arch and all the bells go off. I am asked if I have a belt on, "yes", please remove it and pass through again. The bells ring again. It's not the belt guys, it's all the replacement parts. Don't fear, there is a way to handle such passengers. Send them through a different metal detector.

I await my turn, and am scanned again. The alarm goes off and I am pulled aside for a hand scanning. I am finally allowed to pass, find my carry on and insert my belt before I loose my trousers. I'm used to this, It is rare that I can pass through a metal detector with setting off the alarms. Sometimes I think they go off as I approach. I soon arrive at my terminal with plenty of time to spare.

The terminal area is quite crowded with passengers for the early morning flights. I am seated at the end of the row with my carry on suitcase a couple inches away from my arm. Every seat is occupied, United displays a list of at least 15 passengers waiting on standby, the flight will be full.

All of a sudden I see a hand grab my suitcase and a passenger is starting to walk away with it. I yell something to the effect "Hey that's mine!" He drops the suitcase and runs away to disappear amongst the crowd. A close call with disaster. All of those things that you don't trust to baggage check almost gone. Was it accidental? No way! But honestly I have never heard of someone losing carry on baggage to a thief in the waiting area of an airport, but I am sure it happens. I am happy that I wasn't napping.

The flight is comfortable and uneventful. I pass the time listening to an audio book on my i Phone, with headphones. I've loaded several to help pass any idle time I might have in the next month. Probably the loans will expire before I get the opportunity to listen to them.

I do not recognize the Newark airport at all. It probably has been 40 years since I was here. There is signage directing me to baggage claim, and by the time I arrive baggage has started to pass by and I have my bag within a few minutes.

There is a representative for Royal Caribbean right there and I check with her to find out about where to get the shuttle. She has a list of about 300 passengers that she is meeting today. The list has no organization to it. It is not in alphabetical order, it is not in order by flight. It takes her at least 5 minutes to find my name. It would have been easier if she hadn't already checked off my name by mistake when she checked in another passenger. I wonder if it was the thief that tried to steal my carry-on?

About 30 of us board a bus and we head to the terminal. I doubt that from the time of landing to arrival at the pier was more than an hour. I am quickly checked through security, even after again setting off the metal detectors.

I have been on the Vision of the Seas, one of Royal's older and smaller ships, before. She carries just over 2000 passengers and does not have a flow rider, ice rink, or water slides.

When I booked this cruise nearly a year ago I was unable to get early dining, so a stop at the dining room is first on the list. There are several personnel there trying to sell specialty dining. I admit I was a little surprised to hear in the sales pitch that the main dining room was terrible, especially on the first several nights. Specialty dining was being pushed for $20, a deep discount from the 65 they sometimes ask.

They are making no changes for tonight, but will let me know tomorrow about earlier dining. I'm really not concerned as I often go to the buffet for dinner anyway. A habit I developed in recent years.

My cabin, 2117, is as expected. A small inside cabin in the aft section port side of the ship and obviously on deck 2. Very convenient to the Diamond Lounge, the Concierge Lounge, the Schooner bar, and the Solarium pool, bar, and food service. Only the main theater and the Windjammer buffet are on the forward or bow end of the ship.

It is a gorgeous day in Bayonne. The skies are clear, there is a slight breeze and the temperatures are about 70. The Statue of Liberty, The Brooklyn bridge, the Verazanno Narrows bridge, and the New York skyline are easily viewed from the ship.

The muster drill and many announcements from the bridge are in both English and French, probably the French being added as we are headed to Quebec Canada.

Just before we leave port the captain announces that he has obtained permission to sail by the Statue of Liberty even though that is not on his normal course to the ocean for our cruise up the New England coast.

I grab my camera, stop at the Diamond lounge for a quick beverage, and go out on deck to get some pictures as we sail close to the Statue. Most of the passengers are excited, but I later I overheard one that was a little frustrated. He spent several days in New York prior to embarking on the Vision, paid for a harbor cruise to the Statue, and found the view from our cruise ship to be much better.

There are a large number of Diamond level and above passengers and they use the entire "Some Enchanted Evening" lounge for happy hour. I would guess there is seating for 250, plenty of space for everyone. They check sea pass cards at the entrance.

After we clear the harbor, I return to may cabin. My luggage has arrived and I stow everything in it's place. Though the cabin is small there is plenty of storage space.

The seas are under 6 feet with a breeze out of the North East. Our course to Portland, ME keeps us about 50 miles off shore, and the distance is so short we cruise at a mere 12 knots.

It has been a long day, appetizers during happy hour will suffice for dinner. I am retired for the evening before 9:00.

Tomorrow is one of only two seas days on our 10 day journey to Quebec City.

No comments: