Saturday, July 25, 2009

Voyage of the Vikings, Day 01 – Embarkation Day


As some of you may know, some time ago we booked a cruise as this summer's travel activity. Called the voyage of the Vikings, it is a 35 day round trip from Boston to Rotterdam, and return. Today was embarkation day.

There is no other way to put it; embarkation day is stressful. Very satisfying, after the process is over, but the process itself is filled with angst.

After a week (or three) of worrying and sorting, and worrying and packing, and worrying and repacking, and... well, you get the idea; the big day finally arrived. Kathy's daughter Jennifer, and her young son 'Turo arrived early, at 9:45 am, which made us both feel very happy. The ride to the pier with Jen & 'Turo was delightful, and we only made one wrong turn in Boston.

The angst commenced when we arrived at rhe pier, and the police & the stevedores started telling Keith what to do with the luggage. As you all know all too well, Keith doesn't take direction gracefully, which frustrates retired school teachers dreadfully.

All went smoothly with the bags, after Keith finally agreed to do it their way, which facilitates baggage x-ray. They would have you believe that they are concerned about terrorism, but the real reason for the x-ray is to prevent passengers from bringing aboard their own booze; the cruise company wants you to buy their booze, and they want you to buy it by the drink, not the bottle.


X-Raying Luggage for Bombs and Contraband Booz

At the security exit the traveler is issued a numbered card, then told to go sit in a folding chair to await check-in. Our wait was about 45 minutes. Not exactly Disney, but better than the Holland America procedure in Seattle, where we stood for 45 minutes.


Awaiting Embarkation


View from the Pier

Next stop after check-in is the mandatory boarding photo, where one is offered the opportunity to purchace one's own picture. Kathy implored Keith not to make rude gestures, in case she wants to actually buy the photo.

Next stop was lunch in the Lido Cafeteria. The new wrinkle this trip is no trays! When Keith complained to the Manager, he was told that forcing people to juggle appetizer, salad, entre, and drinks in two hands and two elbows actually expedites the feeding process. Keith disagreed vehemently, while Kathy pretended she didn't know him.


Aboard, at Last!


Kathy Poses in Front of the Boston Skyline


Saturday Sightseers


Lunch by the Pool

After lunch we found our cabin and unpacked. All checked luggage is supposed to be delivered to the passenger's stateroom. Howsomever, the stewards weren’t quick enough for Keith, so he went and dug his stuff out of the pile in the companionway (that’s a hallway for you landlubbers). Once again, Kathy was embarrassed that Keith preempted the steward's responsibility. But then she relented, and sent Keith back for her bags.


Our Home for 35 Days

Next up, at 4:15, was mandatory lifeboat drill (attendance was taken). Keith found it very tedious because it hurts his back to stand for extended periods (defined as more than 30 seconds), but, having read "Burning Cold" (a book about the 1983 sinking of the Holland America cruise vessel Prinzendam in the Gulf of Alaska ), we took it very very seriously.

What follows is an embarrassing but amusing anecdote. Keith always travels with a hank of parachute cord, in case his suitcase falls apart, or some other such disaster. Well, during the course of the lifeboat drill it was discovered that the generously sized straps on Keith's life preserver weren’t generous enough to go all the way around Keith. So, after the drill was finished, it was back to the room to dig out the cord and lengthen the straps. As we said, we take this lifeboat thing very seriously!

On our last (and first) cruise we were stuck with late (8:30) dining. This trip, we reserved long enough in advance to get an early dinner seating (5:30). Howsomever, we skipped our first night so we could sit in the Crow's Nest (a delightful observation lounge on the upper deck) and observe the departure from Boston.


Boston Harbor


Watching our Departure from the Crow’s Nest

Being Saturday afternoon, and excellent weather, we were treated to a view of scads of pleasure craft, along with the Boston skyline. As we passed the last buoy going out of the channel, it was interesting to watch the pilot jump aboard the pilot boat, with both vessels making 20 knots. All in a day's work.


We Pass Logan Airport


Late Afternoon Sailors Dot Boston Harbor

Our evening meal was taken in the Lido cafeteria, as we watched Cape Ann and the downeast coastline glide by. Seas were light, so glide really was the operative word.


Supper in the Lido Café


We Say Good-by to Boston

Being exhausted from our embarkation experience, we opted for early retirement. Tomorrow is a sea day (no stops in port), so we are looking forward to a full day of total relaxation, with a modicum of glutony thrown in for good measure.

Stay tuned!

No comments: