Explorer of the Seas
Dedicated to the late Linda Lane, our long time cruise agent
On September 16, 2016, twenty-two Mature Friends set sail from Pier 91 at the foot of Magnolia Hill. Sailing on the Royal Caribbeans Explorer of the Seas, we headed out toward Astoria, Oregon, our first stop.
Pulling up to the pier, we saw a scene of madness and disorganization. Suitcases everywhere being checked in and piled high on four-wheel carts similar to those you find in hotel lobbies. Soon we made sense of the chaos and got our bags checked. Then we headed inside to check in. Fortunately, we each did most of the work online before sailing, so check in turned into a mere formality to make sure we matched our SeaPass, passport, and face. Once the clerk identified us, she issued our room cards and off we strolled to the gangway.
Although we could check in and board any time between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., many of us got to the ship early so that we could grab lunch on board. A group met at a big table in the front of the Windjammer buffet area on Deck 11 and headed to the food bar to stock up. Since our rooms would not be available until after 1:00 p.m., we had plenty of time to sample all the offerings on the buffet. However, sitting around and relaxing after lunch turned out to be denied us. An announcement blared out to give up our tables when we've finished. Welcome aboard, folks!
After lunch, we broke up and milled around, exploring our new surroundings. Some of us headed up to Deck 7 and into the library to do the daily Sudoku puzzle, sit and read, or just relax. Soon, someone wandered through and announced that the rooms were now ready. We all scrambled to the door that led into the staterooms, which were located on either side of the ship. Although we were alerted that some luggage may not be delivered until as late as 8:30 p.m., the hallways were choked with luggage, and most of us found our suitcases easily, dragging them to our cabins. On past cruises, someone always delivered the luggage to the room. But not on Royal Caribbean!
Having barely time to unpack, we had to make our way to Deck 4, where the mandatory assembly drill, to acquaint us to where we would board our lifeboat in case of an emergency. We got packed in like sardines. Soon our combined body heat became stifling. Then the sirens blasted several times, which almost caused us to go deaf. Finally, it was over and we could return to our staterooms and get ready for 5:00 cocktails with Linda Lane, our cruise organizer.
Sail Away Party
At 4:00, the ship left port and a big party by the pool started up, with the resident DJ Armanny blaring out tunes while some of the passengers danced. Wandering around the deck and even the upper gangways, we got some good views of the city as we sailed out of Elliot Bay. Now we could relax while the ship cracked on at fifteen knots toward Astoria, Oregon, our first port of call.