Let me start off by saying that getting on a cruise ship is a big pain in the ass compared to airplanes.

You’d think that boarding about 2000 people over the course of four hours isn’t that bad, but it is. By some unheard or unseen signal, it appeared almost everybody arrived at Canada Place around 1pm.

This is where I got in my first line-up. I waited approximately 20 minutes to clear security. It was your usual metal detector for the bags and the arch for your person type of security checkpoint.

Everyone walked about 50 feet down this wide hallway, where we were faced with several different line-ups. This was for checking-in with Princess Cruises. They had an array of wickets set up based on what deck you were staying on. Our ship had like eight decks or so, so there were eight different line-ups. We were on the Dolphin deck. It is in this line-up that you get your cruise card.

Now you think with eight different line-ups, it wouldn’t be that crowded. Nope. They had placed the wickets so close together that the line-ups were smushed against each other. Imagine everyone with their pieces of luggages. It was crowded. The real kicker was this: once you made your way to the front of the line and checked-in with the cruise agent, you had to fight your way to the back of the line, because that’s were the customs and immigration line-up was.

So behind the check-in line-up was another line-up for clearing immigration. It was very poorly laid out. So after we checked in, we stood in line again to wait to get cleared by American immigration folks. This was another 20 minutes.

All told, it took over an hour to get onto our ship. Once I was on the gangway though, I was quite eager to see this mammoth beast of a ship. As you board the ship, someone takes your cruise card from you and swipes it. Then a quick digital photo is taken of you.

At this point, there’s cruise personnel at every step of the way to lead you to your stateroom. Someone directs you to the elevators, someone is in the elevator, someone is there when you get off the elevator. It took us less than a minute to get to our stateroom.

Inside, I was quite impressed. We were in a mini-suite and it had a small living room area and a private balcony. We even had two TVs! Our bathroom was cozy but there was a full-sized tub. The balcony was large enough to have two deck chairs and a small plastic table with two matching chairs.

After unpacking a bit of stuff, all of us were really hungry, so my mother herded all of us to the 14th deck 24-hour buffet. It was there that I got my first taste of cruise cuisine. The selection was quite nice and it reminded me of some of the buffets in Vegas. If you wanted beef, chicken, rice, soups, salads, fruits, desserts, and other sweets, it was all there.

The dining area of the buffet was not too shabby as well. It was tastefully appointed. The prime seating areas were the tables next to the large bay windows. These seats offered an unobstructed view of the seemingly endless blue ocean.

After we had finished our first meal on the ship, we headed back down to our stateroom because there was a safety exercise at 4:30pm.

With my hunger out of the way, I had more time to explore our stateroom. One interesting piece of material I saw on our desk was the shipboard publication called the “Princess Patter”, a daily ship newsletter if you may. It listed the daily events that would be happening on the ship for that day and beyond. To my surprise, I saw on Friday that there would be…


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