Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 1: Departing Barcelona

After lunch in the Windjammer Cafe, we headed to our cabin (#8504). It's an oceanview stateroom on Deck 8 toward the very front of the ship. The cabin is unusual for us in two ways.

First, it isn't the cabin we booked. It was an upgrade. Since we thought we might do two “big” vacations this year, we opted to “keep some of our powder dry” (sorry, I always start talking in semi-nautical metaphors at sea) and went with the inside (no window / no balcony stateroom) cabin. The price was right at the time we booked: about $1000/pp. for the 11-night journey. However, we were surprised by this upgrade a couple of weeks before sailing. It has a retail value (at the time of the upgrade) of nearly $2,000/pp. That makes this immediately a pretty good deal.

Second, the cabin is HUGE (as standard ship's cabins go anyway). It's basically the same size as a balcony cabin, if the balcony were air conditioned and inside the stateroom. So, while we lack the veranda, we have nearly 3-4 extra feet of length in the cabin. This makes for a lot of extra floor space, as such we're able to move around without having to dance around each other (if you've been on a cruise ship, you know exactly the “hey I'm getting dressed, while you're headed to the bathroom” jig I'm talking about).

Having basked in the luxury of our commodious accommodation, we proceeded to embark on our “time to check-out the ship ritual.” It has all of the usual amenities that one expects aboard a Royal Caribbean ship (e.g., multi-deck Centrum, Windjammer Cafe, rock climbing wall, spa/fitness center, specialty restaurants, vista-filled Viking Crown lounge, and the nautical Schooner Bar). Some items unique to this class of ship include self-leveling billiard tables, a bank of glass-enclosed and ocean-facing elevators, a really nice (if not politically-correct named) “Colony Club” lounge, and a pretty spectacular solarium (complete with glass-canopied pool and whirlpools). All in all, this is a very attractive ship.
That said, I haven't made up my mind up yet as to whether or not I prefer it to its larger siblings in the fleet, such as Navigator of the Seas. Before boarding, I assumed I'd prefer the small, less “populated” ship. At the moment, I'm not certain. More on this topic later.
We had dinner in the two-story main dining room tonight, named the Minstrel. Libby started with the prosciutto-wrapped melon and a spinach salad with thousand island dressing. I began with the onion tart and Caesar salad. Libby's main entrĂ©e was a shrimp ravioli in a vaguely southeast-Asian sauce (with coconut milk and lemon grass). I opted for the prime rib (ordered medium, but cooked well beyond) and a baked potato. Libby ended with chocolate ice cream; I finished with a “low-fat blueberry and peach cobbler” at our waiter's recommendation. Overall, the food was good. And, our waiters were very friendly and efficient.

Tonight we also attended the “Welcome Aboard” show. It consisted mostly of some introductory remarks by the Cruise Director, Gordon Whatman (who seemed promising), and the “comedy acrobatics” (yeah, that's what they called it) of a duo called Flash and Fever. It was amusing.

Libby's now off at the gym... likely getting in touch with her “inner hamster” on the treadmill. And, I'm here: typing and “resting my leg” (an effective excuse to avoid the aforementioned gym).

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