Sunday, November 19, 2023

October 22, 2023 – Embarkation Day – Beautiful Day – Mid 70s – Partly Cloudy

After breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and drove to the Fox Rental Car Office at LAX.  We had gotten gas earlier at a price of $5.15 (a huge bargain).  It was a pretty scary gas station - somewhere is South LA - as we had taken the streets to LAX but the price was right and the car had to filled up prior to return.  The route took us through neighborhoods we had never seen before and while on route I had no idea how this would get to LAX. It’s a good thing I didn’t know the route or I might have reconsidered the streets vs the highway. 

Fox has a very quick return process – staff with pads check the mileage and the gas tank and you’re done. Receipts are emailed/

We went into the Fox building and called for an Uber and one was in the neighborhood. The ride to San Pedro World Cruise Terminal ran $33.31 including tip.  We were in a very cool Tesla with some wild tech.  It was a considerable drive and the cost was actually less than a cab ride to ORD from our condo. 

The Uber driver dropped us off in the wrong place and we had quite a walk to the check in area.  We dropped our bags with the porter and checked in with the Pier Coordinator.  No one asked us about COVID vaccines and we did not have to show any cards or documentation.  I had checked in on line so the cruise line had all of our info including picture so we finished quickly and were on the ship in no time.  Our Sea Pass cards were at our cabin – C3519 – second cabin behind the door port side.  This is where the entertainers stay and I am technically a Guest Entertainer (it says so on my Sea Pass card).

COVID Note.  There are no COVID protocols on this ship but we are taking precautions.  We are sitting away from people in the Dining Room and in the Theater (much harder to do) and I am wearing my mask in the elevator (makes sense). 

The keys, as is usually the case, did not open the door even with some help from crew in the area.  After a protracted process involving the very helpful Karen (from Colombia) in Guest Relations, we did get Sea Passes that did work.  The room was pretty clean – even though we did find some stuff in the drawers that belonged to the previous resident. 

We met Nancy, our Room Attendant, and told her we only needed her once in the late morning but we would like some chocolates if possible.  We also asked for Room Service menus but we probably won’t get Room Service because the menu is Spartan and we would have to call because no one will pick up the cards behind the door. 

The Cruise Director on this voyage is Nate Hinojosa, whom I’ve never sailed with and whom I saw only on the last day of cruise 2.

I did have an envelope from Activities Manager, Charlotte (no last name that I could find anywhere on her communications). I also never sailed with her and I saw very little of her through the voyages.  She communicated almost exclusively via email. 

We had lunch up in the Oceanview Café, which was filled wall to wall with people (Charlotte told us later that the ship was essentially fully booked).  

We sat where we could and I had a salad and tuna salad and egg salad, which were good.  The Ranch and Thousand Island Dressings were really good.  There was no iced tea in the Cafe and that was confirmed by one of the waiters.  

Note About Food on Ship.  Generally, lunches and dinners (especially in the Dining Room) won’t be described unless they are special.  Breakfast is pretty much the same every day as I get to the Oceanview Café at or just before opening time (me – waffles or pancakes with cottage cheese, sour cream, and jams plus scrambled eggs.  Sometimes, I get oatmeal plus brown sugar and raisins and sometimes just corn flakes, Special K, and milk.  That is accompanied by four cups of regular Lavazza Coffee.  I bring Ellen her food each morning from the buffet – lox, cream cheese, cucumbers, a slice of bread, fruit and when I can, hot tea in a to-go cup).  We had breakfast one time in the Dining Room on these voyages but the service is a bit slow for us, getting coffee refills was nearly impossible, and the food (especially the pancakes) became hard (under the lights too long, maybe).  Not a good option.

I met with Charlotte in Celebrity Central around 5:30 PM to go over the lectures.  Turns out she had a totally different list of lectures and the first one was tomorrow morning in the theater and it was not even on my list.  Apparently, the ship did not get the list Miranda sent over.  I emailed Charlotte the real list but found out later that they were staying with the original version. There was also a second lecture tomorrow afternoon in Celebrity Central that was also not on my submission and the first time that I was doing two talks on the same day.  This was going to be an interesting cruise. 

I filmed a video promo in from of the Celebrity Central Sign for my talks with videographer Brenda (from Mexico) in front of Celebrity Central. No interview just me talking.  It went pretty well. 

We did not do a tech check.  I’ll come early for tomorrow’s talk and we will work things out then.  I don’t expect any issues. 

We went up the Oceanview Café for dinner.  They do have a pasta station and I had the chef make me spaghetti with marinara sauce.  It was pretty good and will probably be my go to meal up here.

There are several salad bar stations but they only have foo-foo lettuce – to get Romaine, you have to pick it up at the Cesar Salad station (the Cesar Salads are good here, as well). Ellen spoke to one of the chefs and managed to get some freshly grilled Tilapia and a baked potato for dinner.

Although the Cafe is still haunted by the "Screaming Lady" background music, it is still a better dinner option than the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room.  Upstairs, you can get a window seat away from other people and eat at your own pace.  Also, while I was expecting the Cafe to downsize and eliminate some food options, it seemed that Eclipse did not do so.  Also, iced tea did appear at dinner but not in the machines but in a large glass vessels with a spigot.  

We finished dinner quickly enough to get decent seats at Celebrity Showtime. We got good seats in the Eclipse Theater.

Cruise Director Nate introduced his Entertainment Staff and then the headliner, Kristin Key.

She is a funny comedian in an odd sort of way.  Sings and plays guitar and also does shtick.  We had never seen her before so it was all new.  She spoke very fast and not all of her jokes were intelligible and some did not hit the target.  She was entertaining, though.

The rest of the ship is still pretty loud with most of the noise coming from the Foyer, where several groups perform – tonight Sea Surfers 

were playing and while their songs were recognizable, the volume, especially the rat-tat-tat of the snare drum was annoyingly loud. The drum is the only noise you hear as you go higher into the atrium – even on the 11th deck – the Library – you can hear the rap of the drum and nothing else.  It is very annoying. They are from Argentina as is another group, Vesselets (an acoustic duo). Vesselets is an interesting groups as they have a distinctive Black Sound. 

We stopped at Café Baccio for a snack to go and headed to the room for peace and quiet.  We were greeted with a mound of little chocolates, that should keep us for a while.  Thank you, Nancy.  We do have a neighbor as we saw an envelope on their door.  We could hear some singing and found out later that it occupied by a singer that will appear later in the cruise.

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