Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cruise report

My original intent was to provide one review of the trip, but I seem to be too verbose and it would end up being pages (or screens) long, so in the interest of time, I've decided to break it in to segments. Here's the first installment.

Travel Day
We arrived in San Diego, where we had reservations at the Residence Inn. I picked the hotel because 1) it was "inexpensive" (It's all relative…), 2) they offered a free shuttle from the airport (except we had to wait about 40 minutes) and 3) on the map, it looked within walking distance of the pier. Technically it is, but the map doesn't show the traffic on Harbor Blvd. Nice room, friendly staff. The only issue was proximity to the train tracks (with trains) and a room in the back.

We walked to Horton Plaza. It's just like any other mall in the US, with the exception of the layout which is so confusing that we couldn't even read the directory – not someplace we'll flock back to. On the way back we stopped at Caparell's Itallia and brought back a pizza for dinner (and breakfast because we ordered a medium and they gave us a large instead). Along the way, we wandered into Little Italy, which looked interesting, but we were just too tired to explore. Maybe next visit.

I started the tank for the Helen Hamann twinset – at least three times. There was the obligatory, twisting the stitches; then I knit up six inches even and wondered when the shaping began; and then counted incorrectly. But I finally did make some progress. Since I wasn't clever enough to document my progress, here's where I am right now.

Cruise Day 0
It was quite a traffic fiasco getting to the pier, but the hotel shuttle driver maneuvered it well and we headed in. There were a lot of people sitting around (waiting for the late arriving Carnival Spirit), but we were ushered through without a hitch. Apparently our affinity to arriving early paid off because the check-in process went remarkably well. Everyone we talked to who arrived later had different stories.

When I finally retrieved the camera from the baggage I'd "checked" we took a few pictures.

The sought after dining is early seating, and we were among over 100 other people who were waitlisted. But we lucked out and were assigned the second-early-seating. And we found out the reason was that two of a group of eight travelers had to cancel at the last minute. Here again we lucked out because our tablemates were three couples from Lake Oswego, who turned out to be a lot of fun – Jim and Dianne Sather, Russ and Jean Pearce, and Warren and Sharon Howard.

As it turned out, the dining room, though good, wasn't quite up to expectations. There were some good flavors, but nothing exceptional and the dining staff were solicitous, but very hurried and not entirely attentive.

The first show of the cruise was a revue with performances by all the ship's entertainers. With the exception of the Harmony Strings, a violin, bass and piano trio from the Ukraine, none stood out.

We booked a verandah suite, which turned out to be a very nice cabin with a large deck on the port side of the ship. When we arrived back in our room Hariyanto, our cabin steward extraordinaire, had turned down the sheets and left chocolates on a towel frog.

Thus we ended day "zero" of the cruise.