Time to Get Onboard

Fort Lauderdale Travel Blog

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Traffic Jam Heading to the Ship

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.

Getting Your Sea Pass
  Crew from the ship met us as we got off the bus and once our luggage was identified, they wisked it off with our hope it would reach our cabin before we sailed. 

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.

The Gangway
  welcome aboard consisted of a picture and crew welcoming you to the ship.  Our first look inside the Independence found us wondering at the beautiful Centrum area.  One deck up we found the Royal Promenade - the center entertainment/shopping area of the ship.  The artwork and size is beyond belief!  Several announcements were made about lunch at the Windjammer buffet restaurant on Deck 11, and staterooms ready around 1:00 pm.  With fifteen minutes until we could get into our cabin, we decided to explore the ship. 

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.

Important supplies for the week!
  The Dog and Badger Pub featured live entertainment nightly.  Something new for this ship was A Clean Shave barber shop and Get Out There sports equipement/clothing shop.  Other shops familiar to us were the Logo Souvenier shop/Vintages wine bar, and the General Store.  There were also shops to purchase clothing, jewelry, perfume, cosmetics, and future cruise vacations.  This area, according to the Daily Compass, would be the center for parades and other activities throughout the cruise. 

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.

First You Muster!
  Wow - three levels and beautifully decorated.  This was definitely a pampering area! 

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.

The Blimp Has Come to See Us Off
 

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!

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Traffic Jam Heading to the Ship
Traffic Jam Heading to the Ship
Getting Your Sea Pass
Getting Your Sea Pass
The Gangway
The Gangway
Important supplies for the week!
Important supplies for the week!
First You Muster!
First You Muster!
The Blimp Has Come to See Us Off
The Blimp Has Come to See Us Off
The Westerdam - from the movie Ou…
The Westerdam - from the movie "O…
More Ships in Dock
More Ships in Dock
Goodbye Soltice
Goodbye Soltice
Our Escort
Our Escort
Our Skyline View
Our Skyline View
More Escorts
More Escorts
The Westerdam follows us
The Westerdam follows us
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Saying Goodbye to the Mainland
Saying Goodbye to the Mainland
Coastline
Coastline
More Coast
More Coast
Everyone is off on an adventure
Everyone is off on an adventure
Leaving it all behind
Leaving it all behind
Getting ready for the welcoming pa…
Getting ready for the welcoming p…
How about those rooms?
How about those rooms?
Here comes the parade
Here comes the parade
Hi!
Hi!
Beautiful costumes
Beautiful costumes
More costumes
More costumes
Entertaining the crowd
Entertaining the crowd
Olympus Rocks!
Olympus Rocks!
Float
Float
Ship shots
Ship shots
You cant forget the day of the we…
You can't forget the day of the w…
Our cabin - 7640.  Bill is plannin…
Our cabin - 7640. Bill is planni…
The balcony is beyond the curtains
The balcony is beyond the curtains
Ah - our private balcony view!
Ah - our private balcony view!
Looking out to sea
Looking out to sea
Were Off!
We're Off!