Have to confess, this first day is a lot of writing and not as much picture taking. Sort of weird when you think about it because we had a lot of time to take pictures as we were waiting in multiple lines. We waited a LOT this day.
UP and at Em!
When we selected our hotel we had a few things we were looking for other than price. The other was a room that holds five people. This is harder to come by than you may think. Many hotels only hold four people and would require you to rent another room. Sure we COULD say there is only four of us and hope they don’t notice the extra 8-year old child tagging along. I’m not saying we have done that in the past. I don’t think it’s illegal, it’s just frowned upon like counting cards at blackjack, or mast….you know what, nevermind, just go watch The Hangover for the other thing that’s frowned upon….”thanks alot Bin Laden.”
The other thing we were looking for was a place that would give us transportation to the port. This was the main reason we couldn’t say there was four of us. Kind of hard to explain that there are four people sleeping in the room but actually 5 people riding the bus. Thankfully Hilton Homewood Suites provided us with everything we were looking for plus a free breakfast. That was on Linda’s list of hotel’s must have. The breakfast was great! I even had to tweet about it!
Here was the area we ate breakfast.
It was also during this time that Sophie lost her iPod. She brought it down with her to breakfast for some reason and then went to the bathroom while we were waiting for others to arrive. That’s about as close to a boy as I can ask….her bringing something to do while she’s unloading. Unfortunately after a little while she realized she had lost it. She looked in the bathroom and came out crying. We didn’t know what was going on at first and eventually she confessed to losing it. After searching the area as well as back in the room we finally asked the front desk and thankfully someone did indeed turn it in. Thank goodness for nice people. I guess I don’t know why someone would want an iPod that was in the bathroom anyway so maybe it’s not that big of a surprise.
The kids relaxed and fooled around while we repacked and got ourselves ready to leave.
We opted to be picked up at 11am. Our options were 9am or 11am at this particular hotel and we chose the latter so we and the kids could sleep in a little later. This would prove to be the wrong choice as you will read about in a bit. Not to mention, the kids were still up plenty early.
We got ourselves packed and waited down in the lobby. You have to check in with a person at a podium beside the hotel desk and she gave us a neon sticker that said “Miami”. I asked Linda if they printed off their luggage tags and she said, “I didn’t print off anything.” Note the verbiage here. I missed it but it would become important later. I then started to talk to a lady who was going on Carnival out of Miami as well. A bit of time had passed and it was almost 11 and I noticed her party had left and was loading up on a shuttle. I asked the lady at the podium if that was the shuttle we needed, she ran out to check and came back in and said yes, that is the shuttle we were waiting for. Good thing I asked. I wonder if we would have missed our ride had I not asked. We made two more stops and the shuttle was full. I didn’t take any photographs but I did take video at this point so when I have that ready I will make sure to post it again here.
The whole ride probably took about 45-50 minutes. We arrived and I couldn’t find the damn luggage tags for whatever reason but I did have our travel documents with so they were quickly able to determine what tags we needed and they stapled them on. As for Augers….remember the verbiage I missed earlier? Yeah, they didn’t print ANYTHING off, including their boarding documents. They were able to determine what tags to put on and they got in line which turned out to be the line before security line…there were lots of lines this day. Linda tried to find any sort of reservation number she could online. Trying to get into your NCL account via a mobile device is a pain in the ass. Nowhere could she find her reservation number on her phone. I tried to find mine on my phone because I had an Android and she has an iPhone thinking maybe it’ll be different. I couldn’t find mine either. We had plenty of time to look to as the line to get into the building was quite long at this point. Mind you it was now around noon.
Note the line in the pictures below. It wrapped to the side of the building and towards the ship and then back again towards the doors. By the time we got back to the doors the end of the line was now way back towards where you dropped off the luggage. We were at terminal B if that matters.
Ella’s picture she took and sent to her basketball team back home.
So we finally get back around towards the steps leading to the doors and a NCL employee doing crowd control is standing there. A group of people who have a long way to go until they reach our point told a luggage guy they are staying in the Haven and that they have their own check-in inside. The crowd control employee didn’t agree right away to letting them cut the line but after a little discussion he begrudgingly let the Haven guests through by opening up the ropes for them. Suddenly about 15-20 people were Haven guests and cut through. I wanted to trip them and punch them in the face but I held back because that’s the kind of guy I am. The crossing guard closed it back up and you could quickly see he was frustrated because he knew it was not a good idea to open it up. He should have held to his guns. If they let all Haven guests go, the rest of the people would never make it through that line and suddenly we’d be having our own protest right outside of NCL.
“WE WANT IN!”
“Non-Haven Guests Matter!”
“Save a Cow, Eat a Chicken!”
We made it in the building without protesting into security but because Augers didn’t have their documents, they first had to get into ANOTHER line. Curious thing, the counter they had to get to wasn’t very long but once they got there, they gave them their name and the person checked through a printed manifest. A PRINTED manifest?! With over 4000 passengers! What friggin year are we in?! They found their name and thankfully ‘Auger’ is near the top of the list and they began to weave through the security line by the time we made it through security. Good thing their name wasn’t Smith.
Unfortunately we had to weave through yet another line to get our boarding cards. I’ve only been on one other cruise and the lines were no where near this nuts. I was surprised at how long this took us. The whole thing from first standing in line until we finally got our cards was about an hour and a half to maybe two hours AND the lines had gotten longer after we got there so some had to wait even longer. But FINALLY…….
You get your cards and go behind the counters and take the escalators up.
Now as I said I am trying not to compare to Disney but here is where NCl could take a lesson when it comes to children. Children don’t want to wait. They hate it in fact and the longer you make them wait the angrier it will make a parent. You can have the most patient man in the world but after 2 hours of hearing “Dad, why this? Dad, when are we going to get there? Dad, I’m hot. Dad, she’s pushing me” this guy will be nuttier than squirrel turds. With Disney you pre-register your children into the clubs online before you even arrive at your port. Then, when you are getting registered at the front desk, they give the kids bracelets and boom! You and your kids are set to have a good time. NCL however, you have to go register your kids at the club after you register yourself to get on the ship. So we did that first.
Unfortunately the kids also have to be with.
This probably took ANOTHER 45 minutes for both families. After this we were able to check out our rooms so we quickly did that. We are excited. The room is bigger than we envisioned and we are starting to loosen up when….. muster drill. What little hair I have is starting to thin and this day that was supposed to be stress free was becoming more stressful than I planned. I normally am very relaxed and take things as they come but by this time the kids were getting anxious to start their vacation. I was anxious to start our vacation. Our friends were anxious to start our vacation. But it didn’t seem as though we had started our vacation. 3:30, time for the Muster Drill at the Atrium.
It was getting warm and we were scrunching in with everyone. Many of us started to doze off. Some of us while standing up. After about 30 minutes it was over and we climbed up about 13 flights of stairs to the lido deck and finally check it out. Some of the kids swam for a bit because the ropes course wasn’t open yet and I finally had my first drink.
Now many of the kids couldn’t wait any longer to do the ropes course. BUT WAIT! You have to have closed toe shoes!!! I swear to everything holy I had mentioned this many times by now but we still had to go back and change what the kids were wearing. Unfortunately for Kate Auger, her bag with her shoes had not arrived. Heather starts putting stuff away and we notice the ship is on the move so we have to ditch putting things away and get up on the top deck. The kids didn’t care about the sail away party, they wanted to get on that ropes course post haste. In hindsight, I wish I would have told them there will be another time to do the ropes course, there is only one sail away party. BUT, they got their wish cause dad is an idiot.
Sophie did not want to do the course at all so she shot hoops.
and played mini-golf. There was not enough balls our putter so I did not play.
Meanwhile at the pool, there is a party going on that I’m missing.
So I watched sail away from below the ropes course…I don’t quite remember where the other adults were at this time or what they were doing.
Meanwhile…still on the ropes course…
and in the back, in Spice H2o, the Atlanta chokers….I mean Falcons were playing.
END OF THE DAY
We had to learn the hard way on this day that the times on the dailies didn’t always mean what they wrote. Just because it said lunch from 11am to 2:30 and dinner at 5:30 didn’t mean the Garden Cafe wasn’t open. But that’s what it said so we didn’t eat until closer to 5:30. Actually I think it was about 5:15 and we noticed people were walking out with food. Mind you at this point, all we had was breakfast so we were starving and couldn’t wait any longer.
The daily also said the kids club opened at 8pm. I thought this couldn’t be right so I took the kids down early. Nope, here is where it was correct so I took the middles and youngers around to explore parts of the ship. Mainly outside on decks 7 and 8 where the Waterfront was and the shuffleboards were. The shuffle boards had no pucks on either side of the ship so we couldn’t play. This would be the case throughout the entire trip so I was upset about that. We went towards the back of the ship on the Waterfront and from there you can see people eating in the Manhattan Room restaurant. The kids were making weird faces and waving to people in the restaurant below so I had to get them to stop before one of them dropped their pants and decided to moon everybody. We quickly left the area. By about 7:45 we went back down to the club and a line had already started to form so we got in line. Thankfully we did because the line only got longer at that point but at least they started checking children in early. By this time, the other adults had met me there. The kids went to their clubs, the adults explored the ship a bit until 10:30 when it was time to pick the kids back up or else we had to pay extra. The 1’s stayed out until midnight of course and were quickly making new friends.
UP NEXT……DAY 2 – SEA DAY
- Get to the port as soon as you can. You will only pay in the form of long lines and frustrated children. Don’t worry about letting children sleep in…they won’t.
- Don’t forget to print out your boarding documents. Luggage tags are not such a big deal as long as you have your boarding document.
- If you do get on late, it may be best to wait to check your children into the clubs. However, there may be a line of people waiting to get them to the club that first night when it opens at 8. Get there for that early.
- Take part in the sail away….there will be other times to do the ropes course (although admittedly, not as much as I thought there would be). There is only one true sail away.
- Just because it says the buffet’s dinner starts at 5:30, doesn’t mean they are not open. The only time they are not open is during the muster drill. We are still rookie cruisers.