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Embarkation Day Blues (Part 2)

We finally got into our cabin at 1:45 and were pleased with our selection. It’s an interior cabin, but squarer than the usual rectangular room, and the layout gives us far more room to move around the room than on other cruises.

On every cruise Becky insists we take a nap after our embarkation lunch. Of course, she insists on naps after lunch when we are at home too.

Normally I’m not too excited about beginning our vacation with a nap, but today was different.

I had gone to sleep the night before about midnight and woke up at 4 AM that morning. When I saw the clock, I intended to go back to sleep, but I was wide awake. By the time we got to our room, I was running on the fumes of my four hours of sleep and desperately in need of nap.

We were ready to lay down by 2:00 but this ship was having an early muster drill, so I figured we could sleep for 45 minutes and have 15 or 20 minutes to recharge with coffee before we had to head to the muster station.

It was a good and workable plan, but sleep evaded us thanks to people banging the walls and yelling in the hallway outside our door.

Just when I was on the verge of sleep someone barking in the hall would startle me back to full consciousness. After my anti-nap I got up feeling worse than when I laid down.

Luggage delivery to the rooms starts early in the afternoon, but on most of our past cruises it has been late afternoon or even early evening before our bags were delivered. Today, all our bags were outside our door when we first arrived at the room. I looked up and down the hall and we were the only ones who had luggage at that hour.

Leaving our room for coffee–blessed coffee–we went to the bank of 6 elevators near our room. They all had a big X on the floor display above the doors which meant they were all out of service to passengers. On embarkations days some elevators are reserved for the crew who have the unenviable chore of delivering luggage to 3600+ passengers.

Disappointed, but not surprised, we walked down a long corridor to a bigger set of elevators. Of the 10 elevators here, only 4 were available to passengers. With so few elevators in service, cars arriving were often filled.

As almost everyone wanted to go up, so we took a down elevator and rode back up. Sometimes, that is the quickest way to get places on embarkation days.

As we were finishing our coffee, they alarm sounded for all passengers to report to their assigned muster station. Each passenger is assigned a muster station where they would report with their life jacket if there were emergency that necessitated an “abandon ship” order.

As we are told on every cruise, these safety drills are required by international maritime law and it makes no difference the number of cruises a passenger has sailed. Everyone must go, and people who don’t show up or drag down to the assembly station late make this important annoyance longer which delays the start of the fun of cruising.

In order to coax passengers to the muster drills, all food and drink service is suspended until after the assembly. You know they’re serious when they stop selling $9 beers.

We learned on one of our first cruises that being early results in being put at the back of the assembly station. As other passengers show up, they are placed in front of those who arrived before them.

When the muster drills are outside in hot weather being at the back of is a very steamy and miserable experience. Even when the drill is conducted inside, as was the case today, being at the back is not a pleasant experience. Thus, we never leave for our muster station on the first call.

After the second call, we start moving in the right direction. As we got to the exit of the spacious lido restaurant, the third call was to report to the safety drill was made and for the first time there was urgency in the cruise director’s voice.

As we moved toward the elevators to our station, we noticed a line of 10 people waiting to get ice cream out of the soft serve machines which someone had neglected to turn off.

The cruise director’s urgent call had no impact on the soft serve queue. Nobody in line turned away. It was as if he’d said time was running out to sign up for square dancing lessons.

Sadly, most of the people waiting for the chance to fill a cone with a non-dairy frozen concoction were adults.

As usual, the safety drill included instructions from the captain who was very Italian. With his thick accent, I was only able to pick up a word here and there. I’m confident he was talking about safety, but it could have been a warning against putting too much oregano in your marinara.

Having been denied a nap on a busy, hectic day, we returned to our cabin after dinner and collapsed content to watch TV.  About 10:00 we tried to go to sleep but some of our neighbors were in the hall having a series of loud conversations.

After 15 minutes of that noise I opened the door to give them my best exasperated look. By that time, the conversation was over and one of the perpetrators was just walking by my door. When he saw me, he flashed one of those “what are you looking at” expressions.

My last conscious thought before drifting into the arms of Morpheus was how that look was a fitting end to embarkation day.

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