ow, what a sight! We knew Carnival Splendor was a large shop but we really did not appreciate the "floating city" size until we saw her at the dock.
We arrived at the terminal at about ten to one in the afternoon. Following instructions from Carnival and our
travel agent, we went to the front of the line and inquired as to which line we should join for the VIP boarding. The only line in evidence looked to be about five city blocks long and we were thankful that we would be getting priority boarding. Things were very chaotic with the long line, hundreds of folks milling about, vehicles of every description arriving and port personnel moving people and tons (and I mean tons) of luggage all about. Everybody seemed a tad agitated: doubtless due to the huge number of folks waiting to be processed for boarding. The Carnival shore representative that I inquired of informed me in no uncertain terms that there was only one line and that we were to go to the very back of this line. Being good little Canadians we did just that. We were not overly upset at the prospect of a long wait because we had friends in line to chat with.
Just over two hours later we hit the front of the line as it entered the building (more long lines inside).
There we met another Carnival shore representative and again asked about this "VIP" service. This kind lady informed us that we should have identified ourselves when we first arrived and we would have been whisked right off to the VIP Lounge (my guess is that the left hand was not talking to the right hand). Oh well, all sorted out now and off we went to the VIP boarding area. We cleared through the security area and went upstairs to join the short que for the VIP boarding desk.
We stepped up to the counter and at that moment everything came to a sudden halt as we were all ordered to leave the terminal: no reason given just "clear out immediately". And so the insanity began: something very serious was afoot but nobody seemed to be in-charge of we humbled masses and nobody seemed to have a clear understanding of what had to be done in this kind of situation. Local and State police were everywhere, along with local building security personnel, FBI agents, Homeland Security folks and even a few with Coast Guard identification. Sniffer dogs, remotely controlled robot: the whole meal deal! Happily, in the end, our worst fears were not realized and we were allowed to return to complete our boarding process (finally arriving on-board after an 8.5 hour delay. And the really good news is our time in "lockup" provided opportunities for us to meet fellow cruisers and make new friendships that would continue throughout the cruise. There is lots more to tell but I fear the "boys in blue" might clap me in irons if I say more.
The good news is that we are finally on our way. It was very late when we finally boarded the ship (we had the signal honour of being the second to last couple to board .... so much for VIP Boarding. As it was now quite late, the main dining room had been long closed and one buffet line was kept open on the Lido Deck for a snack before bed. We wandered around for a bit to get the lay of the land and then headed to our new home for a quick unpack before hitting the hay.
The first order of business, after boarding the ship is usually the mandatory (and always fun .... no, really, our crew even make this practical exercise part of the fun of cruising) life boat drill. This was delayed until after breakfast on our second day of the cruise.
The remainder of this, our first full day at sea, was spent exploring the ship and meeting many of our Salsa 49er
friends at our first official meet-and-greet at the aft bar on the Lido Deck. Wonderful to finally put faces to so many of the familiar Cruise Critic nicknames. This is going to be one fantastic, fun, cruise!
The sun will soon be setting on our second day at sea as we approach the island of Dominica. We have a formal dining night tonight so I had best be signing off for the moment.
Unhappily our short stay at Walt Disney World came to an and and we drove down to Fort Lauderdale early this morning to embark on our cruise. An uneventfull trip in a rental car because Jim "some navigator!" Eakins remembered to bring along his GPS so as not to get lost en-route. We dropped the car off at the Fort Lauderdale airport and the car rental folks kindly gave us a lift over to the cruise terminal.