DR. Romance writes: Richard and I had the great good fortune to travel on the Amazon River to the heart of Brazil. I' m going to post about it periodically to share the journey with you.
Friday, March 27.
We got up in time for hotel breakfast, finished our packing, and waited for Henry to come get our bags. His cheerful face showed up right on time, and we went down to stand in the mob scene in the lobby, with people from three different cruises waiting for busses to the ship. It was the usual cattle call, but we were able to talk to several other people headed for the Pacific Princess. Our bus came and took us to the ship. We were early, so check-in was a breeze. Princess kept our passports,visas and Yellow Fever innoculation affadavits and gave us a receipt. Then we had our precious little black "cruise card" which is the key to the stateroom, an ID card for getting on and off the ship, and a credit card for buying things on the ship.
We found our cabin easily. The ship is small, less than 700 passengers, and very elegant. It was part of the Renaissance fleet before Princess acquired it, and it' s noticeably more elegant than most Princess ships, which are always quite beautiful. Our cabin is a spacious 216 sq.feet, with a queen-sized bed and a little sofa and a desk, as well as a small balcony. We ate lunch in the elegant buffet upstairs, and had a quick nap in the room before being mustered for the lifeboat drill. Princess is by far the most civilized in these drills, and we got to sit comfortably in the showroom, practice putting on our life jackets, and holding our noses while we pretend to "walk, don' t jump" overboard. Most ships make you stand very uncomfortably outside for the whole necessary but dreary business.
After the drill, we eagerly got back to our cabin to watch the sailaway from our balcony. There were four ships, the other three much larger (2,000 to 3,000 passengers) than ours, and we were third in line to leave. We watched the Celebrity sail out first, pulling around into the estuary, and giving three loud blasts on its horn as it left the bay and entered the Atlantic. Then, the huge barge-like Holland America Maasdaam backed out of the slip next to ours, made an amazing three-quarter turn, and sailed in the wake of the first ship, giving three very long blasts on its horn as it entered the Atlantic. When it was our turn, we were escorted by a Broward County Sheriff' s speedboat, which honked loudly at some yachts in our way, and scattered them. We were also followed by a tugboat, which followed closely and probably was in radio contact with the Florida pilot who came on board to guide us out of the channel and into the great Atlantic. Now, we' re sailing in choppy seas, rocking a bit side to side, and heading out for parts unknown (to me, anyway). We are off on our big adventure, and I' m very relieved to be here, luggage intact, beginning our exciting journey to Brazil. We have traveled many times to the Carribbean, but other than Ft. Lauderdale, every port on this trip will be new to me, and I' m very excited and looking forward to new adventures. Got to go now -- Richard and I are going to go ballroom dancing and to dinner.
Dancing was pretty good -- a serviceable band, if not a grooving one. We danced for half an hour, stopped by the Internet cafe to sign up, and went down to dinner. There were three couples at our table for eight, and we really liked Ronit and Jacob, who are from Israel. She' s an elementary school music teacher, and very animated, with excellent English. His English is not as good as hers, but he' s friendly, and we got along well. The four of us decided to ask for a different table -- ours is too close to the engine, and it' s difficult to talk over the engine noise. After dinner, we were too tired to do anything else, so we watched the news on CNN and drifted off to a sound sleep, rocked by the ship on the waves.