Time to Get Onboard
Fort Lauderdale Travel Blog› entry 3 of 9 › view all entries
Day of Embarkation - finally! All I can say is "Thank goodness for free shuttles!" Driving - chaotic - especially if one of the ships in port is the largest in cruise ship history. Our first impression of this massive ship was WOW! The Holland America ship MS Westerdam docked alongside the Independence looked like a drawf compared to our home for the next 6 days. There were taxis, buses, limos, private vehicles, and other modes of transportation everywhere! I'm glad I wasn't driving!
The whole embarkation process was whirlwind of activity. Our first order of business was to get the luggage check in. Porters were readily available to help with getting you directed to the right location. Since we were being dropped off by a shuttle bus, the process was very quick and easy.
Next, a clue to what would be the norm over the next few days came in the form of waiting in line! When you are putting over 3500 passengers onboard, there are bound to be lines! Because we are a member of the Crown and Anchor loyalty program with RCCL, the line for us wasn't nearly as long. We breezed through immigration and registration process. Helpful hint - have the proper paperwork printed off ahead of time. Pre-registration of the Set Sail pass greatly accelerated the process! Next, it was on to the ship!
For those of you who haven't cruised, be prepared to have your picture taken each time you get on or off the ship during your vacation.
Walking through the Royal Promenade, we found several familiar shops and bars that other RCCL ships have in common. There were a couple places to grab and go with food - sandwiches, cookies, desserts, pizza, etc.
Our Sea Pass is the card for everything you do - identification and credit card. On the card was our table number and dining room assignment for the evening meal, if we chose to eat there. We felt it was important to locate the deck, room, and table before the evening meal.
Time to find our cabin on Deck Seven. During the booking process, we chose a balcony room located just off the elevator area. When looking at the outside of the ship, our cabin was located in an area that extended a little beyond the side. This gave us a unique full view of the starboard side of the ship. Looking forward, we saw the Solarium whirlpool and the bridge jutting out from the side. The view was great! the cabin was small, but adequate. On the Independence, a Samsung flat screen TV, new style mattress and bedding, and a little less storage room were differences we discovered. From the TV, we accessed our onboard account, booked port excursions, and followed the ship's progress heading to the destinations.
First the mandatory muster, a set sail party on the top deck, dinner, a welcoming parade, and the production show (a pretty funny comedian) rounded out the evening. More discoveries would await us tomorrow on our first of two "at sea" days. Some may ask - why a muster drill? well, the muster is a requirement for maritime sailing. This drill acquaints you with important safety features and procedures should an emergency happen. Some pasengers try to avoid this drill which makes it last much longer. The warm temperature, sunshine, and the fact you have to wear the life vest made for a hot drill! We decided it was going to be a wonderful week vacation!