Getting acclimated

Trip Start Jul 14, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2012

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Flag of Germany  ,
Monday, July 16, 2012

Slept late, but still woke up in time for breakfast in the hotel. The omelet was good, and I had a nice yogurt drink, but I avoided most of the rest of the buffet not wanting to share germs with the other hotels guests.  We'll have to see if I can avoid buffets on this trip.  That may not be completely possible, but I will try.

Our missing luggage still had not arrived in the morning, but the concierge made a phone call to the airline to check on it for us. They have no information about it, but say that they will send it to the ship now when found. 

Philip and I want to take a canal trip through the small canals of the city so we get the concierge to arrange that for us.  When we get to the meeting point, it does not seem to be just what we wanted to go on, but we go ahead and take that trip anyway.  He signed us up for a trip titled Kanalfahrt that went around Alster Lake and into the canals northeast of the lake through the residential area.  The views from the boat are beautiful and some of the homes are interesting.  The guided tour is just in German so we miss out on the description.  I think the guide must have been pretty funny, because the other guests on the boat laugh several times throughout his presentation.  My friend, Maria, who used to live in Hamburg, suggested the small canals tour as one of the best things to do in Hamburg.  I think that she will be more disappointed than I am that we did not find it. 

When we finish the tour, we walk down to St. Michael’s Church.  There we visit all three parts of the church: the sanctuary, the crypt, and the tower.  They do have an elevator tourists can ride to the top of the dome for a 360-degree view of Hamburg and the Elbe River.  It’s cold and windy so we don’t spend very much time looking around, but we can see our cruise ship in port as it’s getting ready for another trip with a new set of passengers. 

As we walk back to the hotel, we pass many great-looking clothing shops.  I wonder if our luggage is going to make it to us before we leave Hamburg and if we should buy a few replacement items just in case we do not get our things.  We do not take the time to buy anything though.  We looked for a restaurant for lunch, but only saw fast food places.  Not the fast food places of home, but small bakeries and delis where you can buy your food at a counter then either stand to eat or take it out to the street to eat sitting on a bench.  The area is alternately very business-oriented or just shopping streets, so there are lots of quick lunch joints, but no restaurants are open.          

The first stop at the hotel is to see the concierge to ask about our luggage.  Still no word on it.  The concierge, a different one this time, tells us about an Austrian restaurant that is open on the first floor in the shopping arcade attached to the hotel so we take the escalator up one level to find it among the small shops.  They have very little business, but a few tables are occupied and it is almost three by then, so we decided to have lunch.    

Back to the hotel again, and I was so surprised and happy to see one of our missing bags standing right beside the concierge desk.  Looking closer we see that both of the missing bags are there.   Feeling very fortunate to have both the bags, yet wondering why the bags were delivered here so late rather than to the ship directly, we retrieve all the bags from the bell station and go outside to get a cab to go to the cruise ship terminal.  It is just a ten-minute ride away from the hotel. 

Check-in at the cruise ship terminal is quick and easy.  It has been open for a couple of hours already so I suppose most everyone was here then, and we missed the rush.  When we got on the ship, the MSC Lirica, they took our photos and checked our cruise cards, but then we were on our own.  On previous cruises we were shown to our staterooms the first time arriving.  Not so here.  We were left to (or allowed to) find our room on our own.  Our stateroom attendant, Achmad, stopped by almost as soon as we arrived to introduce himself and find out if we needed anything in particular.  He did show me where the room safe and hairdryer were located.  I probably would not have found them otherwise.  A mirror above the desk opens to reveal more storage space with shelves for the hairdryer, the safe, and more.       

Again, it is time to eat with the only choice for us being the buffet.  We have the first sitting for dinner on this cruise.  It will be at 5:30 most nights.  They expect you to arrive within ten minutes of the sitting time so they can serve everyone the same courses at approximately the same time.  We are not settled until too late to make our 5:30 sitting so we try the buffet instead.  The buffet is okay, but a bit ordinary.  The cold foods are self-serve, but one of the employees from behind the counter serves the hot foods, so that feels safe to me. 

Our stateroom seems to be a nice size and maybe a little bit larger than others we have had.  In particular, there is a space of about two feet between the foot of the bed and the wall.  So often, that walkway space is only a foot to fifteen inches wide.  The extra space makes moving around much easier.  We have a full size bathtub, too—quite a luxury on a cruise ship.  The storage space is more than we need, even with all the stuff we brought.  During the last few international trips we have taken, we have only carried on one bag each without checking any luggage.  Since the MSC cruise ships still observe formal, informal, and casual attire nights, we needed more variety in our wardrobes and thus more luggage.

One of the nice surprises on this ship is the laundry service.  They have a package deal for laundry and dry cleaning: thirty pieces of either during the cruise for twenty-five Euros.   Sounds like a good deal.  I will still have to do a lot of hand washing, but much less than I expected.  I had heard that some cruise lines offer a laundry package, but I did not expect it on this trip.  Before we left home, I searched their website for just this sort of deal, but did not find it.  It is a good selling point, which they should be promoting.
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