Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

All Aboard

We all agreed at dinner tonight that starting a cruise without actually cruising is the most relaxing way to do it. Normally, the first day on board is frenetic with lots of running around trying to find out everything, but there was no rush today knowing that we could always go ashore tomorrow if we forgot something.

We left the hotel around 11 this morning and traveled almost without incident to the Tilbury Passenger Terminal. Without incident because our departure was a bit delayed due to the fact that today’s driver could not figure out how to load all of our collective luggage into his minivan. The bellman/doorman at the hotel saw his dilemma and took over, rearranging everything so we had more space than we did when we drove in from Heathrow.

Check-in at the pier was smooth and there was only a little wait as passengers boarded the Prinsendam. As soon as the six of us were on the ship, we stowed our carry-on pieces in the Stuyvesant Room [which is right across the hall from our cabin] and went to the dining room for an alumni lunch. The peasants [i.e., new HAL cruisers] were relegated to the Lido buffet. While we ate, the beverage services staff came to the table hawking wine packages and drink card. As 4-star Mariners [alumni], we thought we were eligible for a 50% discount on these, so we paid for Marvin’s wine which will save him almost $25. By the time we were finished lunch, the cabins were ready. When we went to ours, three out of four bags were already in the room. Maybe there something to this alumni thing.

We went wandering the ship for a bit. MA booked a nail appointment but was disheartened/angry that the nail tech on board does not do gels [whatever they are]. D had called HAL’s office in Seattle specifically to ask about gels before the last nail appointment in West Palm. The Ships’ Services staffer even put him on hold to double check before asserting that gels were available. Not so, and we will let HAL know of our displeasure before the cruise is done.

We also took the time to sign up for internet time and noticed that the maximum time package has gotten smaller but the per-minute cost has gone up. Then it was time to return to the room and unpack. For better or worse, the fourth bag had arrived, so there was no excuse not to unpack.

By 4:00, the clothes and other things were stowed away and MA took a nap while D played with electronics before he, too, lay down to rest. We were up at 6:15 to shower and dress for dinner. A bit past 7, we went to the Ocean Bar, our regular hangout last year, for a pre-dinner drink [mojito and ice water]. Marvin and Barbara joined us in time to walk into the MDR together where we found Roxanne and Ed already at our table for 6.

The MDR on the Prinsendam is on one level unlike the double-deck dining rooms on the other ships. Those of us who prefer to eat at the same time and table every night have what is called “fixed” dining. We are eating in the smaller, outer area. Those who want the flexibility to eat when and with whom they want can opt for “As You Wish” dining, what Norwegian calls “freestyle.” We prefer the fixed because we will have the same wait staff every night; the steward and his assistant will quickly learn our likes and dislikes and hope to be rewarded accordingly. The waiters in the AYW section don’t have the same motivation to provide excellent service.

We laughed and talked all through dinner [Mediterranean salad for her; halibut for him] and were the last ones to leave to MDR at 10:00 p.m. We agreed to meet tomorrow at 10 a.m. to take the free shuttle into Tilbury in hopes of finding the local version of Walmart since we all need something. Back in the room, MA hung up some c lothes which had been on the shelves and then read before going to sleep [Thanks, again, kids for the Kindles!]. D went upstairs to complete the journal in an area with better wi-fi, then he, too, turned in for the night.

Tomorrow- Retail therapy in Tilbury.


  1. Glad the dining table worked out. One never knows about these things. Sorry about the drivers and their lack of packing a car skill. Do you want me to mention this to Cheryl? We can write it off as this was a very busy weekend for them.

  2. Gotta love those Kindles ... have a great cruise

  3. Glad you are all settled in. I can understand MA's dismay about the gels! Looking forward to more about your trip.