Monday, March 23, 2020

December 1, 2019 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – mostly cloudy – 78F

Embarkation Day

Another quiet night.

I wanted to get a picture of the view from our hotel room before we left.

Another 7 AM breakfast for me – a major disappointment this morning as they did not have any premade omelets.  The breakfast sandwiches all had meat so breakfast today consisted of waffles and oatmeal.  That was OK but some inventory planning was required.  This was my only complaint on our stay here.  On the plus side, the front desk did give us bottled water on request.  We managed to get several bottles during our stay, which proved to be important.

Ellen repacked everything and we went down to the lobby around 10:45 AM for our 11:15 AM shuttle to the cruise port.  We went down early because only one elevator was functioning and the elevators were very slow and always filled.  We got lucky because we were the last two people to get on the van headed for the Edge.  Other Edge passengers would have to get on the next van.  The ride to the Port took about 15 minutes and we dropped people at the Carnival Magic and the HAL Statendam.  We were next and we got our bags.  We found our room on the manifest and handed over our one bag to the porter and headed inside the terminal.

Security was fast and we went to the Pier Coordinator to check in – after straightening out a glitch in room assignments, we boarded the ship.  

We went to the Oceanview Café for lunch - the buffet is similar to other ships - salad bar, pizza, and everything in between.  We had our quick lunch - pizza, tuna salad, salad bar, and iced tea.  The food was pretty much Celebrity grade and good.  The windows in the buffet are large in keeping with providing maximum viewing.

After lunch, we went looking for our stateroom.

We are in Room 3199 – an outside passenger cabin aft/Midships (the last cabin in the hallway).  We were told that our keys would be hanging in an envelope outside the room.  They weren’t but our room steward let us in.  The room is fantastic – standard outside passenger room – biggest room we have every been in – huge bathroom (double sized sink) with huge enclosed shower – king size bed and large closets.  The flat screen looks to be 50 inches or so.  All sorts of plugs and tech.  The ship is new and it looks it.

We went to Deck 3 and Guest Services to get our keys – there is no Guest Service Desk – instead there are separate kiosks each run by an agent.  We got our keys then went to another kiosk and made dinner reservations for the entire cruise.  The staff we have met so far are friendly and knowledgeable.  We will be eating in a different themed restaurant each evening.  The Guest Services area also had the ship's Holiday displays, some huge tree ornaments and a much smaller Menorah.

Ellen also checked with Shorex about escorting tours – there are no escorts on this cruise. 

We explored the ship, which was totally different that the other Celebrity Ships we have sailed on. We started off in the Solarium, the temperature controlled pool area.  While this Solarium had the same name, the design of the space was quite different.  The lounges were arranged in a radial pattern and the windows were floor to ceiling, as they are throughout most of the ship.

We next checked out the "Magic Carpet", the orange frame elevator that runs up and down the side of the ship.  

It's not quite an elevator (not on demand) but rather stops at various locations (a bar or a restaurant) on a published schedule.  You have to go to the floor it's on to use it.  We sat in there for a while but it is quite windy in there so we didn't stay long.  

The walkway that runs along the pool deck is quite dramatic with arches but it is also a wind tunnel - it is difficult to walk against the wind to get from one end of the ship to the other.  There are couches out there to sit on and read (if you don't mind a little breeze) and there are "cabanas" - a group of couches and a low wall (for privacy), that you can rent out.  

We also checked out the Grand Plaza, the central point in the ship.  The plaza has a massive bar at one end and a stage at the other.  Various groups perform at this venue.

The lifeboat drill was held at 2:45 PM – we are sailing at 3:30 PM because it is a long way to our first stop, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Yes, we were treated once again to Agent Blair and her spy tradecraft. 

We watched the sail away from the open deck.

I met Sarah Hibbert, the Activities Manager, in her office at 4:00 PM to go over the presentations.  I will be giving all four of the talks including one on the morning before we arrive in San Juan.  The first talk will be tomorrow at 12:30 PM.  As I was leaving her office, I ran into Cruise Director, Eddy Jenkins, who, to my surprise, recognized me by name and welcomed me aboard. 

We changed for dinner – tonight we are eating in the Normandy Dining Room – this restaurant has the standard Celebrity items but also items reflecting the French theme.  We had the mushroom soup (great), Cesar Salad (very good), Brie En Croute (Ellen really liked it) – we had two kinds of salmon (lavender broiled and seared) but I think the standard salmon with hollandaise would have been a better choice.  We shared an apple pie a la mode along with tea and decaf.  A very good dinner.

We went to the theater to see “Kaleidoscope” at 7:30 PM but our seats were really close to the speakers so we couldn’t stay.  I counted 16 boys and girls in singer/dancer troupe.

Back in the room now reading and writing this log.

Seas are smooth and room is quiet.

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