The day begins with something much more typical of English weather…cooler temperature and rain. It’s not a major inconvenience though, as we are simply going back to the airport to catch a train (wait…catch WHAT at the airport??). Gatwick has made a great use of space combining a major train station as part of their very large airport. And let’s not forget all the busses that stop there as well. Makes getting from one place to another a piece of cake.
Our hotel offers breakfast, for a not-so-reasonable price, so we made use of their free WiFi and checked out a few spots at the airport. After we arrived we made our way to Giraffe World Kitchen. Ok…the name is a bit unusual, however a very filling and very tasty breakfast was enjoyed for roughly half of what was offered earlier. If you’re ever there, accept our recommondation.
On to the train and sit back for the next two hours as we make our way through both countryside and numerous towns (with stops to match as this is Not a non-stop trip). So many of the homes seen along the way, while not really identical, are strikingly similar. Taller (three stories in some cases) structures that are joined together (almost like condos). All appear made of the exact same red (or light brown) brick from top to bottom, with thier age, in most cases, more than a little obvious. All have requisite television attenae on their rooftops. Many of the backyards that are visible from the train are filled with overgrown weeds that try to hide the accumulation of dilapidated…junk. It’s not fair to generalize but this glimpse from a rapidly passing window leaves one feeling somewhat depressed.
Now we’re off the train in Southampton and find a taxi that takes us almost to the front door of the embarkation building. I say almost as we have to give our baggage away to the ships porter and then walk all of fifty steps to the actual door. By now the clouds have broken, blue is visible, the air is much warmer…I can’t help but wonder when the other shoe will drop. The day, so far, has been going surprisingly well.
Entering the building with only our carry-ons, the escalator takes us upstairs to where we are directed to a priority embarkation line. Walking through the (for now) empty corral, we end up immediately in front of a (VERY) young man who takes our information and less than ten minutes later we are making our way through security, cabin cards firmly in hand. As long as the line is, in security, we’re through in another five minutes. On to the gangway, on to the ship, get our picture taken for ship records and we’re done. I know the whole process, from getting out of the taxi to getting on the elevator to our room, didn’t take more than twenty minutes. Tops. Where’s the other shoe???
Our luggage is not in our room yet, which is of no consequence, as the only things we need now (meds and cameras) are with us. Now, revisiting the ship is in order.
Five years ago we had very much enjoyed the pleasures of this ship on her maiden voyage. Not much has really changed, although there are some relocations that catch us a little off guard. The addition of the Club Class of mini-suites, the new paint job on the hull and some upgraded amenities reinforce the corporate desire to keep the line current. Not everything is well received given some of the monetary changes that have also come about, but times keep changing and a cruise vacation is no different.
Muster drill is one thing that has a very welcome change, at least aboard Princess Cruise Lines. Pasengers no longer have to go to their cabins to get their life jacket and then make their way back to their assigned muster station. When the time arrives, we need only go directly to the muster station and listen to the drill. The litany is the same, it’s just the pre-hassle has gone…and no-one minds that at all.
Muster done it seems time has arrived for dinner. Breakfast was quite some time ago and we have Club Class dining calling our name. Off to the dining lounge, where once again, we simply walk in. The maitre’d takes us to our window table for two and we meet our wait staff, Jomel and Hanistya. I won’t bore you with the details (although there are pictures on Our Ship page), but suffice it to say, nothing went back, the plates were all but licked clean and they almost had to roll us out. Yes…it was Great!!! Jomel and Hanistya will be seeing us likely every night (except for three which I will expound on at a later date. 😉 )
Movies Under The Stars is just beginning and they’re showing a film that I had just started to watch while we were still in flight. So off we go to relax with a blanket, popcorn (after all, we didn’t have dessert) and a movie.
It’s now after eleven and here I sit, trying to share our day with you. To really experience this you have to be here, but maybe this jambalaya of sentences will give a little taste.
Tomorrow we’re eight miles off the coast of France, on Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands. Our tender takes us into St. Peter Port. And yet another perk of the day…we have priority embarkation on the tender. I REALLY like not having to wait in line.