Bob and I and Tad and Tonya flew out of O'Hare on Friday morning, April 4 and Bob's sister Chris and her husband Ray, along with our friends Jeff and Gena flew out of St. Louis that same morning. We landed within ten minutes of each other in Orlando - couldn't have worked out better. My brother (Frank) and his friend (Jesse) picked up the eight of us and ALL of our luggage and transported us to Frank's home in Melbourne (1/2 hour from Port Canaveral). Thankfully, we had no rental car and no hotel to have to worry about.
We relaxed for a few hours and ran to Walmart for a liquor stop - to pack some in our suitcases. At 6:00 we attended a Bon Voyage party where we were given the opportunity to meet all of our fellow cruisers. Then it was back to my brother's home for a good night's sleep before our adventure began.
Here I am with my "baby brother Frank" - all smiles and ready to head off for embarkation.
The sign at the Excursion Desk stated that it opened at noon, so we decided to wait 20 minutes and be the first in line to grab our excursions. At noon, someone arrived and told us that they would not open until 1:00. No problem!!! We headed off to the Red Sail Buffet for lunch. After we stuffed ourselves, some of us ran back to the excursion desk, booked our excursions and then met up with everyone for a little sun on the Lido Deck. Here's a shot of "Rock Star". The only thing missing here was his ever present bottle of Miller Lite. (He did a LOT of relaxing last week).
By 1:30, we were able to go to our rooms. We were scattered all over the ship, but the majority of us were on the Empress Deck (Deck 7) - and four of us had connecting balcony rooms. We were in room 7376. We met our room steward - John from India. We asked him about removing the dividers and he said we would have to call down to the Purser's Desk to request. One of our guys called, and by the time we returned from the Muster Drill, we had our four dividers opened.
Our luggage arrive very quickly. I was completely unpacked and had my luggage stowed prior to the Muster Drill. The weather (when we boarded the ship) was sunny and beautiful. By the time the Muster Drill ended and we went to the Lido Deck to watch the sail away, we could see a storm quicky approaching. The sooner we got out to sea the better. People were lined up along the jetty waving goodbye to us.
Because of the wind and approaching storm, that first evening at sea was a little "rocky", but by Sunday morning, we'd left it all behind and the clouds gave way to a beautiful sunrise. We enjoyed lots of sun and smooth sailing the rest of the week.
Next installment - Fun Day at Sea, the Hairy Chest Contest, Captain's Cocktail Party and 1st Formal Night.