We're up by 9:00, but there is no rush as the shuttle isn't until 11:30. We go down to the "continental breakfast" of eggs, toast, waffles, yogurt, cereal and coffee. It's not bad as these things usually are except the eggs are so rubbery (think of an egg patty) that they have the consistency of a vulcanized Frisbee.
A young Spanish guy with a leather jacket, two phones and a feminine lisp is calling out room numbers: "foa-tweny-ssseven...you in the nexs taxsi. Whatevah numba I call, you go." There is mass confusion in the lobby as one of the elevators is not working and people are still milling about sipping coffee and talking. Then someone came up to ask what shuttle they were in, could they leave earlier, what time could they leave? Meanwhile others are waiting for cousin Billy to hike down the stairs toting trunks for the voyage.
Milling about waiting for a taxi to the port
Ed spotted a guy with a red Porsche T-shirt and hat who promises to send us a couple of extras he has left over from the 2002 convention. Says he was in a 600-car rally that required the rental of an entire parking garage to accommodate them.
The shuttle dropped off at the pier in front of what looked like a fifteen-story building! This thing is massive. The Westerdam is an 82,000-ton vessel. It towers above the pier so high it blocks the sun. The glass external elevators are gliding up and down its sides as the crew ready the rooms for the occupants. There is some red tape to process before they let us aboard but it seems to go quickly as we eat from snacks Ruth has packed: nuts, water, crackers, cheese and mint chocolate cookies. An older couple behind us (we're talking in their 70s, this is the signature of this ship) benefit from two extras we had left over.
We drop off our bags and ride the external elevator from the second level to the ninth floor Lido Deck. It's the top deck where the pool is located. The music is playing and the bar is open. We order two pina coladas and eat tacos while relaxing by the pool. It's heady, dude.
There is a lifeboat drill before we leave the port. We report to a designated deck location and practice donning the life vests. I put on the vest but can't find the loops. How do you tie these things?
Lifeboat drill with Ted and Olive.
We eat at the Vista Lounge. It's at the back of the ship, ah...the stern I mean. Seas were a little rough and so was the seating. The cruise line mixed something up and instead of all six couples sitting together, we were split up and had to sit at two different tables. Some NOT in our party sat down and there was some tension before Ruth broke the ice and got everyone talking. One in our group leaned over to me and asked:
"Hey, why is Ruth talking to them, they aren't in our party?"
"I don't know. I can't be responsible for what she does." I joke.
Eventually everyone thaws from their icy stares and friendliness begins to seep through a porous border.
No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell. - Jewish proverb