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Anchors Aweigh!

November 11, 2010

Today we begin our voyage. We left our hotel around noon. Embarkation was scheduled for 2:30pm, but we had ‘priority’ status and were allowed to board early. Mike and I had never been on a cruise and didn’t know what to expect. Luckily Dave and Darlene are seasoned ‘cruisers’ and guided us through the process. We arrived at the pier and checked our baggage, which would be brought to our stateroom later in the day.

Our ship was the Celebrity Summit a 965-foot behemoth that had room for 1,950 passengers and 1,000 crewmembers. She’s smaller than some of the other ships in Celebrity’s fleet, and a bit older as well. Her inauguration date was October 1, 2001. We had a stateroom in the “concierge class” and also a balcony. We couldn’t wait to see what our stateroom looked like.

After our bags were checked, our pictures were taken and we were issued a Sea Pass that we were to carry at all times. The Sea Pass allowed you to purchase items aboard ship and acted as your official I.D. when you went ashore. From the first deck, we were ushered to the elevators and deck 10 where the Waterfall Café was located. Deck 10 would become one of our favorite decks—it was the one with food, entertainment, swimming pools, thalassotherapy pool and Aqua Spa. As we left the elevator, we were greeted by some crewmembers with champagne, welcoming us aboard. We were then invited to have lunch in the Waterfall Café, a buffet line that offered almost any kind of food—salad bar, pasta bar, cheeses, fruits, soft drinks, pizza, etc.

After a quick lunch, we went to our staterooms—they were beautiful and roomy. They balcony was a nice addition and Mike and I knew we would be spending a great deal of time sitting on it, watching the stars and the sea go by. The four of us met at the library to explore the ship and all its amenities.

We started the tour on deck 4—the Cosmopolitan Restaurant (lower level), Fortunes Casino, the Celebrity Theater (hosting live entertainment), the Rendez-Vous Lounge and Grand Foyer were all located on this deck. We didn’t think that we would be spending much time here because none of us are gamblers and the restaurant and theater have 2 levels—both accessible from the 5th deck, where our assigned dining table was located.

Deck 5 was similar to deck 4 but instead of a casino, there was an emporium that opened only when we were at sea and was similar to a small shopping mall.

Deck 11 had the jogging track—there was a woman dressed in black speed walking that I fully expected to burst into flames in the hot San Juan sun. There was also a basketball court, a flower shop, shuffleboard and, of course multiple deck chairs.

We wandered around the ship trying to memorize fore from aft, port from starboard. If you knew one direction, the others automatically fell into place. At 5:15, we had a mandatory emergency lifeboat drill. Each cabin was assigned a ‘muster station’ and if the alarm ever sounded, you were to go to your muster station. However, we were new to cruising and this ship and even though we attended the drill, 5 minutes after it was over, we could not remember where we had been. Oh well, let’s pray for a safe voyage.

Dinnertime was at 6 pm. Our luggage had not yet arrived at our stateroom, so the required ‘evening attire’ for us was the same shorts that we wore when we embarked. We met our dining table members—two couples from Dallas, one older couple, one younger couple, who like Dave, Darlene, Mike and myself, were friends. They were an interesting group and most enjoyable.

At 8:30 pm the moment we had been waiting for finally arrived. With a blow of the ships horn, the anchor lifted and the ship backed away from the pier. There was champagne flowing and shouts coming from all decks. We had gone to Deck 10’s fantail to watch our departure and were amazed at how long the ship took to back up. The Summit had to back up for what seemed like several miles until it came to the place in the harbor where it could turn around and head out to sea. When she was pointing in the right direction, we returned to our stateroom and were gently rocked to sleep by the ship’s calming motion.

Tomorrow: Landfall—St. Croix


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