Monday, November 26, 2012

London to Grand Princess – November 3, 2012

London to Ship – November 3, 2012

After breakfast, pack up and get ready to take off.  Check-out at 10:30, and head for the taxi.  The hotel was not far from the Victoria Coach Station, and when I arrived, the ladies I had met at the pub were just getting out of their taxi, so I got a porter to take all of our bags to the Princess station.  The porter knew the way, and he took our bags to a truck where all the Princess baggage was being loaded.  The place was a mob scene, and it turned out that I so many people had arrived early for the bus to the ship that I my ticket was for the last bus.  I didn’t mind, the bus was only half full; however, the wait for the bus was more than an hour.  The bus route went through Belgravia, past Harrods, and then out of London.  By the time the bus had made it to the highway to Southampton, I had dozed off.  When I woke up, the driver was announcing that the bus would be at the port in 20 minutes. 

Check-in at the ship was a madhouse.  It turned out that security was the bottle-neck, and there was a very long line of people waiting to pass through security, so long that check-in had to be stopped until the line cleared a bit.  After I passed through check-in and got my black, Elite cruise card, I went to get into the long line at security; however, a woman was at the line checking cards.  When she saw my black card, she said, “this way”, and ushered me into a separate lane – a completely empty lane – past all the waiting line to the front, and I passed through security with no delay. 

Although I had cruised on this ship twice before, it seemed completely foreign to me.  It is a truly magnificent ship and very large.  It is completely different from the small ships, so much larger and more complex.

As soon as my luggage arrived in my room, I unpacked.  I wanted to feel settled as soon as possible.  By the time I had finished unpacking, the announcement came for the safety drill, mandatory on all ships before they sail.  This drill is like a madhouse; everyone on the ship must go to their muster station, so 3,500 passengers fill the halls and stairways, carrying their life vests.  At the muster stations, the cruise cards of all of the passengers were scanned – a massive bottleneck.  After everyone was checked in at their muster stations, a long wait then ensued before finally, the safety lecture, and then passengers returned to their cabins, just in time for dinner – eight new people I did not know.  The dining room seemed very noisy, and the service was not as good as on the previous ships; the food was the same as on all Princess ships as they all have the same menu each day.

Following dinner, I wanted to go to the show, but I was completely exhausted.  I was asleep by 8:30.

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