After breakfast, we drove the 54 miles down to Galveston. With the help of GPS, we had no problem locating the Park n’ Cruise near the terminal. Their staff were excellent in checking for my reservation and helping me to back in to an indoor secure spot between two posts. I was a little skeptical but he really knew what he was doing. As we scrambled out of my truck, a golf cart showed up to take us and our luggage down to the corner to cross to the terminal. We handed off our checked luggage to a very nice baggage handler then took off to see a bit of the area and do some geocaching. We scored 5 geocaches including a webcam cache (a first for us). We tried to do the second webcam cache but, unfortunately, the camera was pointed to a location we were unable to access. For a webcam geocache, you have to be caught on an internet linked camera to claim it. We’ll try that one again when we get back. Another cache we only got because Bernie was tall enough. Us short people are out of luck with that one without some tall help.
Wore out and feet hurting, we went back to the truck to get my carryon bag and walk back to the terminal to check in. It was 11:30AM and the lines going in were very long. Thankfully, I spent quite a bit of time online waiting for a chance to grab a “Faster To The Fun” spot and got one for $49. With FTTF, we were able to breeze past the long lines as VIP travelers. We walked right past all the serpentine lines on the bottom level and began to get the feeling that we had done something right. Going through security was fairly fast again in our own FTTF line. When we arrived upstairs to get our Sail and Sign cards to board, again we bypassed the long lines snaking back and forth. Yay! The only wait we had was for them to print our cards. We were both smiling like Cheshire cats by that time and highly recommend the FTTF program where you get many of the benefits of Diamond and Platinum cruisers who have sailed many times with the company. It’s worth every penny to us. You also get a special shorter line onboard at the guest services desk, a special phone number to them, priority boarding on tenders at ports of call that use tenders, and priority disembarkation when you return home.
Getting on board the ship was an adventure in itself. Once we had our boarding cards, we went up a ramp that then turned and took us back the other way. As we neared the end of that one, it turned again and took us back the other way. Sheesh! I think it had us running back and forth 3-4 times before we actually got on board. Our feet were hurting so bad and our bags got heavier by the minute but we were laughing all the way. When we finally arrived, we went straight to our room, 2351, an outside cabin with a window view. It was already ready for us thanks to our FTTF priority. We dropped off our carry-ons and headed to the Lido deck for lunch at the buffet. I wouldn’t call it the best I have ever had but I did enjoy it. Couple things to note:
1. If you want milk or chocolate milk, ask for it. They don’t put it out in the beverage area. They may have cartons in the buffet line.
2. If you leave your seat, when you get back, your dishes may be gone as they are very good about keeping the tables cleaned up. I still had some chocolate milk left and was smart enough to take it with me when I got up to look for dessert.
Next we explored the ship. We had fun using the glass view elevators aft to explore each floor. The elevators at the center of the ship were unavailable because they were being used to bring all the luggage to the cabins (They set the luggage outside the doors in the hallway btw). We found our muster station to prepare for the safety drill later. We checked out the stores that were still closed. We found all 3 pools and the hot tubs, the waterslide, miniature golf, basketball court,the picture gallery, the theater, the jogging track, the library, our dining room assignment, and other areas.
Just before the ship sailed, we attended the muster drill to learn what lifeboat to go to in case of an accident and how to put on our life preservers. The talk wasn’t long but it took a bit of time to get everyone out there. When the drill finished and we were dismissed, the party began as the ship pulled away from the dock. Up on the Lido deck, a DJ was blaring some excellent tunes as folks danced by the pool, stretched out on lounges, or hit the hot tubs. Everyone was ready to party hearty! Many were dressed in matching specially designed T-shirts for their group which made the party and people watching more fun. We stayed out there enjoying it until the sun started to set and the wind chilled things down.
We browsed one of the stores and the Rome theater on the way back to our cabin to get coats. With a quick stop in the Capitol atrium for some soda, we then headed to the Rome theater for our first show. It was a little dampened by an announcement that the ship had stopped and was turning around to go back to Galveston due to a passenger who suddenly became very ill and had to get off the ship. We didn’t know if that would cause us to have to miss our first stop in Progresso and our planned excursion there. The show went on anyway and it was wonderful! There was a live band, singers, and dancers. It was an all out performance. Then our Cruise director, Jen, came out to have some fun with us and play some games. Two of the passengers have already won a “Ship on a Stick”.
After the show, we went to a late dinner in the London dining room. We had the shrimp cocktail starter and southern fried chicken dinners. They were tasty and hit the spot. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and very good. For dessert, we tried the chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream previous cruisers rave about. It was good but not something I want every night.
Despite all the other entertainment going on all night, it was time for us to head for bed. In our cabin, we found our beds turned down, chocolates, a towel animal on one bed, and tomorrow’s schedule of events. After a little relaxing it was lights out. Until tomorrow…