Settling In

This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series Cruising with Teens

I opened my eyes and turned to see Kris marching down the hall lined with images of Japanese ladies to open the door.

PICT0130Standing outside was Paul, the butler. Behind him were Wells and Dan, and the three appeared to be acquainted already. They all marched in to the room, chatting away.

Paul formally introduced himself, and I admitted ownership of the boys.

“You’ll probably be seeing a lot of these two,” I told him.

“Certainly sir. They are most welcome.”

Paul gave us a quick tour of the room and its features. He was pointing out the cupboard full of crystal glassware when Wells chimed in.

“Are we going to get some food?”

Paul looked at this watch. “Oh, I’m sorry. You must hurry. Muster is coming soon.”

We cut the tour short and headed upstairs to the buffet. We only had 10 minutes to grab some food and wolf it down. Once again, Kris went for the fancy drink in the souvenir glass. I wanted to be completely sober for the drill, not willing to risk collision with any of the sliding glass doors. I resisted the temptation.

Still chewing the last bits of dessert, we ran back down stairs to the sound of the muster drill alert.

“Go get the life jackets out of your room and look at the sign on the back of your door to see where you are supposed to go,” I said to the boys.

“Where are the life jackets?”

“Look in the closet.”

“Where’s that?”

I guess that’s a better question than “what’s that?”, which I wouldn’t have been terribly surprised to hear. “You’ll figure it out.”

Back inside 8106, I was still looking for our lifejackets when the doorbell rang again. The boys entered, carrying their jackets. They probably found them by accident while looking for the bathroom.

“You have to put them on.”

Meanwhile, Kris located our muster formalwear in a cabinet in the dining area. We suited up.

“You also have to buckle them up,” I said to the boys as I tripped on their dragging straps on the way out the door. I’m sure that having to wear their pants up around the waist was humiliating enough, and the lifejacket just completed an image that was very difficult for them to endure.

We were all supposed to go to the casino, and we got seats at a craps table while people filtered in at a leisurely pace. The boys tension eased as they saw many people who looked even more ridiculous than they did.

Wells asked, “How long does this take?”

“A few minutes. You’ll make it.”

The boys absorbed their surroundings.

“This place is really fancy,” they agreed. It was quite opulent.

I was struck by how tight the Millennium’s casino felt. There was very little space to move about – the machines and tables were tightly packed. The gilding and statuary pressed in from all sides.

Kris attempted to explain the game of craps to the boys while we waited quite a long time for the room to fill. At length, a crewmember climbed up on to the craps table in front of us, and went through the motions of donning the life jacket in time with the narration from the PA system. Finally, we filed out to the deck for the final phase of the exercise.

“They didn’t make us do this on the Galaxy,” said Kris.

“Sure they did. Go back and read the story,” I replied.

When the drill was over, we all went back to 8106 for a minute. The luggage had arrived, including Wells’s suitcase, which had been adorned with one of our luggage tags.

“We’re supposed to meet up with the people from CruiseCritic at the bar on the stern at 4:30. I expect you guys to make an appearance for at least a few minutes, and then you can go explore. Change if you want to.” Hopefully, Danny’s bag would be in their room.

We went back up to deck 10 and out to the bar. I was quite surprised to see that the ship was already underway. There seemed to be a mass exodus of ships, with several either underway or getting ready to depart. Out on deck, I looked for the one person I knew I’d recognize – Bev (Nanatravel) was the organizer of this sail away party, and we had met a few weeks earlier in Massachusetts. It turns out that we’d been working on the same street for the last 14 years. Small world.

As I scanned the crowd, a couple waved us over to a table. Jerry and Vicky (JVFIRBY – I hope I’m right) must have recognized us from pictures. We joined them at a table. Colin from Vancouver was also there, and we both ordered drinks. The waiter brought the drinks and a single charge slip – I pledged to repay Colin.

PICT0001

Wells and Dan

Wells and Dan appeared, having changed into shorts. They sat down and ordered beer. Quick learners. Their beers were gone in just a few minutes, and the boys excused themselves to go exploring.

“Come to our room at 7:45 dressed for dinner,” I told them.

“Do we have to wear the tuxes tonight?”

“No — just something decent. You should try the tuxes on though, to make sure they fit.” I don’t think they even heard the last part as they disappeared into the ship.

“They probably need food,” I said to Kris. “It’s been almost an hour.”

I eventually spotted Bev, who introduced me to her daughter and several others. I am terrible with names and faces, so if we met and you are reading this, please chime in and help me tie it all together.

Sailaway sunset

Sailaway sunset

We sailed out to sea, leading a convoy of ships away from Ft. Lauderdale as the sun set behind us. Perfect…

Eventually we went back to the cabin to unpack. The room(s) swallowed our belongings easily, leaving at least 2/3 of the provided drawers and cabinets completely empty. I was just about ready to settle in when I spotted our dining room reservation card on the table and remembered a little detail I’d failed to take care of.

“Oh, no — I forgot to get the boys’ seating changed.”

According to the cruise documents, they had been assigned first seating. I meant to get that changed immediately after boarding to get them seated with us at the late dinner.

“Can you still get it changed?”

“I’m sure it’s too late now.” Early seating was already underway.

I set out to find the boys and to check their dining card. Out the door, I turned right and walked 30 feet down the corridor to find their room. Where memory said it should be, there was only a blank wall. A very long blank wall. I kept walking forward, but there were no inside rooms at all, so I backtracked and cut over to the opposite side of the ship where I found the room. I knocked and the door opened.

The boys must have been working hard to make their room feel just like home. Clothes were strewn about, horizontal surfaces were cluttered with wrappers, coins, CDs, magazines, a cell phone and an Ipod, headphones – an incredible array of clutter.

The tuxes were out of their bags and heaped on the love seat.

“Do the tuxes fit all right?”

“Yeah, mine’s prefect,” said Dan. Wells made a sound that I took to be affirmative.

“This is a little smaller than our room.” I don’t ordinarily bother to state the obvious, but the room was strikingly tight. It was considerably smaller than the Cat 2 I shared with Ryan on the Mercury.

“It’s perfect for us,” offered Dan.

“Yeah, I like it,” agreed Wells.

“Where is your dining room card?” The blank stares I received answered that question. I eventually found it. Table 406, late seating – same as ours. Excellent.

Kris happened along and began putting clothes in the closet while I ran for the camera. I took a few shots and suggested to Kris that we leave well enough alone. I felt for the cabin steward and hoped he’d be able to get to the beds to make them. I had my doubts.

We returned to 8106 and relaxed. The boys showed up as requested at 7:45, and they were suitably dressed. We ordered espresso, which Paul cheerfully delivered.

PICT0005

Dressed for dinner

It was time for dinner. Kris and I had repeatedly fretted over the dining arrangements. The main worry was that we’d be seated with someone who really hated kids. Almost as worrisome was the possibility that we’d be seated at a table for four, and would miss out on the fun of getting to know some perfect strangers.

We found table 406 on the lower level along the rear wall, one away from the Captain’s table. It was set for eight, and empty.

“Well, here we go,” said Kris as two couples approached the table. “I just know they’re going to ask to change tables.”

“I hope we don’t ruin their cruise.”

Within a minute of our tablemates’ arrival, I knew what we were in for…

Next: Into the Night

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