November 7 2021.  Up and at ‘em for a breakfast meeting put on by the Tampa Bay tourist people.  It wasn’t much but it got me going and I now own yet another USB drive, this one in the shape of a shark.  I went back to the room, packed, cleared email, and spent a half hour with Miranda Esmonde-White, my new exercise guru on the Internet.  Then I checked out, which amounted to leaving the key at the front desk, and got on the bus, bound for the ship. 

All I needed to check in was my passport and my phone.  Celebrity’s express pass was there, from my check-in last week, so was my Quebec vaccine passport and yesterday’s negative COVID test.  I showed it all at both ends of the line and I was on.  They kept us masked in line, but they didn’t give us contact tracing bracelets and we are all roaming the ship unmasked now.  I sure hope this means we are all vaccinated.  There are only 600 passengers, of which our Distinctive Voyage group is 100.  There are 1100 crew.  We are well served. 

My roommate, Chris Zimmer, who drove up from Punta Gorda, a hundred miles south of Tampa, was already in the room when I got there.  Her luggage wasn’t though, so I unpacked my few clothes, pharmacy, toiletries and office, while we got to know each other.  At the designated time, we went to the conference room and checked in with the DV people, Pam, Christina and Jose.  Then we went up to the iCafé to try to get on the Internet for free as we had been promised.  Or, as we thought we had been promised.  We got told it wasn’t included in our package of amenities.  So I went back to the DV conference room to check and Chris went to stand in line at the front desk.  The DV folk sent me back to the cabin to get a copy of our invoice to take to the front desk with me. She was still waiting in line, of course.

You’d think a couple of smart Travel Advisors could read a cruise confirmation, but those amenities are all coded and we couldn’t tell what we had and didn’t have.  It turned out that, because Chris had signed up so early, that we didn’t have the Internet, but we did have all gratuities paid, a beverage package and $300 in ship board credit.  We had spent over $300 on two shore excursions each, though, so this would come out of real money, after all.  We went back to Jose in the DV room to beg and he said he’d see what he could do. 

All that nonsense kept us busy right up to sail away at 5:00PM.  It was a gorgeous day and our group was meeting at the Sunset Bar aft of the buffet.  Most of the other passengers were meeting there, too.  Jim and Mary Marks kindly took us in though and here we are:

That’s Chris on the left, with the purple streak in her hair.  You can probably tell I was loving her already.  It might have been the raised glass.  You can tell by my coat that it was cold and windy as we sailed away.  We hit the coldest weather Tampa has had all year.  Never mind.  We were so happy to be sailing again, as we left the dock.

When it got too cold out there, Chris went back to the cabin to unpack and I went to the show, which was a Canadian comedian named Travis Scott.  He was good, but not great.  I was tickled by the fun he made of our Canada geese, though.  Did you know that they fly in that V-formation to avoid the effluent from the goose in front of them?  Neither did I. 

We ate in the main dining room, late seating.  Our dinner companions were Christina and her husband, Dan.  She’s the one who hired me into this program in 2009.  They actually had roast beef the very first night and I had it.  It was good.  There were complaints all through the cruise about the quality of the steaks, but the prime rib was just fine.

Monday, November 8

The ship is playing silly billies with the clock and isn’t very good at letting us know what time it is.  So, we got up an hour early and had an hour to kill before class.  I used it to go to the gym.  It was the first and last chance I got.  We spent the whole day in class:

Worse, we were divided into teams and left class with an assignment to market our DV sailing.  My little group got together and it soon became apparent that I was the one with both the skills and equipment to put together a PowerPoint presentation.  Since a lot of us had shore excursions the next day, we decided to meet at 8:00 am.  I immediately started stressing because we had shore excursions both days, Mayan ruins in Belize on Tuesday and swimming with the dolphins in Cozumel on Wednesday. 

When I got back to the cabin, Chris had read all about the excursions and that the dolphin swim was strenuous.  She was wondering if we were up to it.  That was probably an issue but it was moot.  I was happy to bag Wednesday’s shore trip to get some quiet time to work on the presentation.  We took our tickets down to Deck 3 and turned them in.  It was formal might and this is how we looked at dinner: