Day 1 - Departure from Ft. Lauderdale. After having my last cruise abruptly interrupted by a medical emergency, it is time to go back to the high seas again. 100% certainty is not possible, but I feel very confident that the same emergency will not reoccur. Now that is not to say that I am immune from any other type of disaster, but that is life and and a passing life threatening situation will not deter me from my favorite pass time.
With yesterday being Thanksgiving, my packing was mostly done two days before departure. After too much turkey and all the trimmings, all that was left yesterday was to put my clothes in the suit case. This morning it took only a few minutes to turn off the water and otherwise secure the house.
It is unusual for Adrienne to have a Friday off, but she does and drives me to the Burger King to catch the shuttle bus. It is not a very nice morning, there is a slight mist or drizzle in the air, but being Black Friday there is virtually no traffic on the Florida Turnpike. I arrive about 30 minutes early, and we wait for the bus.
The bus arrives and once everyone is boarded, there are a grand total of 6 passengers on the 45+ passenger coach. We head south to Ft. Lauderdale, stopping once at a service plaza for about 30 minutes. We make good time, traffic is light. I pass the time listening to an audio book, a new activity I have developed in the past six months whenever I am driving. Presently I am listening to John Grisham's books. I find them easy enough to listen to that they don't distract my driving, and likewise driving doesn't distract much from listening. About an hour or so south of Orlando the weather improves to partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 70's, a near perfect day.
Once at the port I essentially walk thru the process of security screening, check in, and boarding. A rare phenomena, as I don't even trigger the metal detectors! It is going to be a good cruise. As I I leave the security area there is a table piled high with confiscated items. Clothing irons were the most prevalent recognizable item. By about 12:30 I am sitting in the Crown Lounge waiting for my cabin. Promptly at 1:00 the announcement is made, but I wait for 15 minutes as the elevators will be jammed with everyone trying to get to their deck.
I have never been on the Serenade before, but I have sailed on a sister ship, and the layout quickly becomes familiar. I have a larger interior cabin on deck three aft. In addition to the usual 2 twin beds pulled together to make a queen, the cabin has 2 pull down Pullman bunks making it possible to sleep 4. Being honest, I wouldn't want to share such a small space with 3 others.
I unpack my carry on and head to the Solarium for lunch. As usual, very few passengers are aware that lunch is available at the Park Cafe. There is no wait, and seating is plentiful. I spend the next hour or so refreshing my memory of the ships various venues, and locating my table in the main dining room. Historically one has to wander around looking for the appropriate table number, or ask someone. For the first time that I can recall, a diagram of all table numbers is duct taped to the wall outside the dining room. On a wall where everyone heading into the dining room can see it and locate their table before entering the room. What a simple and labor saving idea. Another task has been shifted from the staff to the passenger.
The muster drill is uneventful. I return to my cabin, but still no luggage. Off to the Concierge Lounge. We are soon underway. The next two days we will be at sea headed for an 8:00 AM arrival in St Thomas on day 4, Monday, November 27m. The seas are slight, and the skies remain partly cloudy.
I decide to go to the dining room for dinner. I am 1 of 5 guests seated at a table for 10. The waiter has no assistant tonight, the reason remained elusive. Despite being short handed the service is acceptable, the pork scalopini was good, but I quickly recognize that the main ingredient in the sauce was salt.
After dinner I head to the theater for the one performance of the opening night show, a comedian, Mike Marino. I don't remember hearing him previously, but that doesn't mean I haven't. I sit in the reserved section at the back of the upper balcony. Unlike shows on the Vision a month ago, the theater is only 80% full.
After the show I return to my cabin and find my suitcase has arrived. I unpack everything and then head to the Schooner bar to listen to the piano player for a few minutes. The bar is barely half full, not unusual for the first night.
Tomorrow is a sea day. We will be running at about 17 knots for the next several days, and the captain predicts that the seas will remain fairly calm. There is minimal motion to the ship, no vibration in the cabin, but there is the constant drone of the diesel engines. An ever present noise, but not one that is bothersome. I hit the pillow before 10.