The first day of our first cruise, we found, was quite a daunting experience. There were thousands of passengers and friends in the area when we arrived to board. It appeared to be organised chaos. We wondered what we had let ourselves into. But let me tell you how we got to be on our first cruise, first before explaining our “questionable” start to our first cruise.
I had always wanted to try a cruise. Our first cruise came about by default. Six months before my 70th birthday my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said a new set of golf clubs. Her reply was “not until you improve your golf.” My golf at the time was uninspiring. Then I suggested that I would like to see the Wanaka War Birds shows in New Zealand only to find out that the show had been on the previous week. It only occurred every two years. So then I suggested the cruise. My wife had resisted the idea in the past. But now I had the opportunity to get to do one.
So the planning began. With the help of friendly travel agent, we selected Princess Cruises who specialised in cruise for our age group. The cruise went into the Pacific from Brisbane in November. Now that you know about how the cruise took place let me tell you about our first day on the boat.
Let me begin by noting some words my wife said to me as the boat sailed down the Brisbane River and we sat in the Princess Theatre with hundreds of others with a life jacket on our laps. “I don’t want to be here”. How did this come about?
We had no concept of what 2000 people trying to board the boat at the same time would be. As first time cruisers, we read our instructions that told us that people having state rooms on our deck should arrive between 1pm and 1.30 pm to board the boat. We did this to find “organised chaos”. We put our bags in at the loading point and proceeded into the boarding hall to find a tangled mess of people going hither and thither. Officials told us to go to Portside shopping area and have a coffee and come back in 30 minutes.
We did this, coming back to find the chaos had abated a little. So we joined a zigzag line to go to the sign-in point. 30 minutes later we had our boarding card and a boarding number. We were then required to sit and wait for a call to board. In the meantime, hunger began to flourish. We didn’t have lunch before because we believed we would have time to do that on the boat. We got the call to board, went through all the checkpoint and arrived at the boat where our cards were checked and a photograph of each of us was taken. With some guidance we found our state room, began unpacking after a quick but unfulfilling lunch when the call for all passengers to report to their muster station came over the ship’s P. A. system. We were “bushed” and struggled to get down with hundreds of others to our muster station for the safety training that was mandated by Australian law.
Now this brings me back to the words of my wife-“I don’t want to be here”. Once the safety briefing was over and we were back in our state rooms slowly unpacking and relaxing, things began to work out. By the time we showered, dressed for dinner, found our table in the restaurant, meet our dinner companions and our waiter five hours of chaos were over, finally. Now we were ready to enjoy our first cruise. That we did.
We are embarking on our fourth cruise soon. We learnt much from our first cruise. We now arrive at the cruise terminal when the embarking is about to begin. This reduces the mad rush and there are less people around and the boarding process is over quickly. Some more experienced cruisers say that they come to board late in the boarding period as they find their boarding is less a hassle.
Once the boarding process is over, then the real fun of the cruise begins. If it was a fun experience, we would not be about to have our next cruise.