Thursday, February 7, 2008

Off on our Cruise & 1st Day at Sea - Part III

October 13th: Time to head to Civitavecchia for my 2-week cruise. I ate breakfast and then headed out to get more euros. However, I couldn’t get any euros because I had gotten some the day before and I guess I was under the 24-hour period. No big deal, as I could get more in one of the ports. Since it was early, I took a walk to the Campidoglio, and then through the Roman forum to the colossuem. Not many people were out, so I enjoyed my morning walk taking lots of pictures. I headed back via Trajan’s forum where I noticed a few gypsies eyeing me. No, I didn’t have any money with me and I gave them a firm look as if to say, “Don’t mess with me.”
I arranged the transportation for 37 of us cruisers, which the bus was to pick us up at my hotel at 10:30am. The driver showed up an hour early at the reception desk just as I was paying my bill. He had to park the bus down the street at the roundabout, as there was no room on my street to park a large 50-seater bus. Fellow cruisers started to show up from various areas of Rome and we all had to lug our luggage to the bus. Deb took charge of collecting the driver’s tip up front due to the dinner/payment problems the other night. The drive to the port went by quickly and when we arrived, several porters took care of the luggage in the bus. Five of us were standing around while the rest of the group went into the terminal to check in. The head guy in charge of the luggage round up asked me, “Now, who’s going to pay the tips to the porters?” There I was standing in total surprise while he was expecting me to pay it. No one thought about the tips and the porters were there one minute and gone within minutes with our luggage. I know to tip porters and was expecting to do so, but they disappeared so quickly. So I said to those standing with me, “I’ll pay the tips and I’ll get the monies from the rest of the group.” My friend Larry stopped me by stating I couldn’t be responsible for the entire group. So the five of us paid our own tips and we went into the terminal to check in. I wondered if everyone’s luggage would make it on board the ship.

Check in was fast and smooth and we were on the ship within 10 minutes. We were greeted with a glass of champagne on board and were sent to the 11th deck (Resort deck) for lunch, as our rooms would not be ready until 1pm.

After lunch, I checked out Deb and Robert’s room and then headed to my room (#4062), which is located on the Continental deck, about mid ship, starboard side. I met Rudy, my room attendant. I had to go to the dining room to change my table because it was different from Deb and Robert’s. The rest of the afternoon was spent unpacking, checking out the ship and meeting a bunch of the cruise group for “sail away” drinks at the sky bar at 4pm. It was lots of fun. Everyone went through the ships lifeboat drill at 5:15pm. It’s funny that my “station” always seems to be at the casino.

I enjoyed the martini tasting event with Karen and Charlie, who paid for my drinks. Celebrity always does this the first day of the cruise where one can try a sampling of martinis. I love the flirtini and pomegranate martini.

Most of my friends and I chose the late dining – 8:30pm. 6:00pm was too early for most of us since we didn’t want to rush from the port to the dining room. When I had changed tables, asking for an 8-seater, I was told it would be a table for ten. I dined with six others (Deb, Robert, Gail, Abe, and Beryl and John) and after our first night of not being able to converse because of the noise in the dining room and sitting at a large table, we asked the Maitre'de to change our table top to a smaller one accommodate the seven of us. Our first evening was casual wear and dinner was good: Veal picatta and crème brulee for dessert. I also had the guava sherbet, which was very good.

October 14th, Day at Sea. Today was a relaxing day. I wrote a little in my journal, sat out on the pool deck and talked to friends and met new friends. I also went to an enrichment lecture on Greek myths and art (Justin Newell), which was very interesting. This evening was our first formal night and everyone was dressed up. There are always comments about people wearing jeans into the dining room, but I didn’t see any at all. Dinner was excellent: Filet mignon – cooked to perfection! I usually have to re-order my steaks and they always come out overcooked for me. I like it rare! The evening entertainment was “The Voice of Broadway” with Michael Bell, who was with the 5th Dimension. He was very good!

Everyone had to change his or her clocks an hour forward this night.

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