I must say I was apprehensive about this cruise. I knew we would be out in the big ocean more than when sailing to Alaska. And I don't like the thought of being sea-sick. I've heard horror stories from friends who have spent most of their Mexican cruise hugging the "porcelain God." But I had my Dramamine and my bottle of Gatorade to get my system back in whack if it got out of whack. So on a sunny Monday, we gathered our Passports, our luggage and piled into Hope's car and headed for the Los Angeles Cruise Ship Center at San Pedro, CA. It took about 40 minutes to get there and once she pulled up to the curb, there were people there to take our bags (other than those we were carrying on ourselves). We hugged her good bye and went into the terminal to finish the check in procedure. (I highly recommend you do the on-line check in before you actually get to the cruise line check in. It really speeds up the whole process) Within 20-30 minutes we were checked in and heading up the ramp to get our pictures taken for our Sea Pass cards (which is the key to your cabin and the only thing you need to purchase items on board your ship). Then we were suddenly inside Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Sea. We were anxious to see our cabin, as Royal Caribbean had given us a free upgrade. The cabin was slightly bigger than the ones on the Alaska cruises and it had a small refrigerator (which came in very handy for me later in the week).
Our luggage arrived just a few moments later and after we got clothes in drawers and hung in the closet we went out to explore. There was a Welcome Aboard buffet on one of the upper decks, so we went up there and had a little bite to eat. Hope had stopped at Burger King on the way, so we weren't really all that hungry.
We pulled away from the dock shortly after 5:30pm, as the sun was beginning to set. The lights from the Port of San Pedro were so pretty, we hung over the rail, watching the pilot boat follow us out to sea and then pull close to our ship so the pilot could jump off our ship. There are always a lot of festivities during the "Sail Away" and they continued for some time. Of course everybody is excited and in a festive mood during this time.
At 4:40pm we had to report to our muster stations for the mandatory life boat drill. Vests on and buckled up, standing in line at our assigned muster station, until released by the Captain of the ship. It takes about 30 minutes. We all said the same thing "we pray this is the only time we have to do this in the next week"
Bob and I headed down to the Excursion desk and scheduled our excursions for each port. I wanted to do that before we left on our road trip but couldn't get him to agree on anything. You have to do that at least 10 days before your cruise departs, after that you must wait until you're on board.
My other apprehension was dinner. Sounds stupid I know but on the two cruises to Alaska, I knew we were going to be eating with people I knew. And perhaps there would be strangers sharing our table but at least 2 people would be familiar. Will let me tell you when 8pm rolled around and we wandered over to table # 377, we knew by the smiles on their faces we were in for an enjoyable evening. The first night we ate with Ned and Vicky from Orange County, California. Just the four of us at a large round table for 8. Then the second night, Ken & Jeannie joined us. They had been assigned to a table the first night with 6 non-English speaking people. So they asked to be moved. They introduced themselves as "Red Necks from Tennessee." They were a delightful couple. Every evening, we had such a wonderful time, laughing, talking and sharing our daily experiences with our four dinner partners.
Of course the first night you also meet your dining room staff. Our waiter Alvin is from the Philippines, Sheldon the assistant waiter is from Fiji and Christopher the head waiter is from India. It always amazes me that after the these people (other than the head waiter) learn your name and your likes & dislikes...they don't forget. Sheldon remembered my water with no ice, milk with my dinner and decaf coffee after dinner. (He got a big tip at the end of the cruise).
Instead of going to see the after dinner entertainment, we went to the "shopping level" of the ship and looked around at all the stuff for sale (duty & tax free). The we retired to our cabin...it was after 11pm and we had an early excursion the following morning. We had to be off the ship and at the dock to catch our bus to the San Diego Zoo by 8:30am. I know that doesn't sound early for the guys but for us gals that means getting up, getting a shower & hair washed, dried, makeup on, deciding what outfit to wear, getting some breakfast, etc. It can be a long process for us gals. I actually put my order for room service breakfast out on the door handle so I could eat breakfast while getting ready. (I'm one of those that has to eat within about 30 minutes after I get up or I get a headache.) LOL
Next episode ~ the zoo