CRUISING MADE EASY...Living or visiting in Palm Beach is what dreams are made of .. but sometimes we all like to have a change of scenery. For those of us who have a little wanderlust, we venture down to Miami or the Keys or up to Orlando and the surrounding areas. Sometimes we even take off for the Caribbean and farther shores.
All the years we have been traveling, we have been able to hop a plane from Palm Beach International Airport and be at our destination in a jiffy. Friends had taken cruises, but we said NEVER! We believed the ships are too large, they carry too many people, there have to be crowds all the time for everything you want to do. We would not want to travel that way.
Well, recently we were convinced to try one cruise and see for ourselves what it was really like to be on one of those floating hotels. We selected the Sun Princess, also known as "The Love Boat", a huge ship carrying over 2,000 passengers. We were not looking forward to this excursion but we had to try it once. There must be some reason that so many new ships are being built and so many people book passage each week.
Our first encounter with the "doings of a cruise" came in the mail when we received our stateroom number, some information about the cruise and luggage tags for our cases. Of course, for us, they did not send enough luggage tags but we made up some of our own so all the cases could be identified with our stateroom number. We drove from our home in Palm Beach to the Ft. Lauderdale dock. We expected long lines of cars waiting to discharge their luggage but were pleasantly surprised to find no line and several helpful men eager and anxious to take our luggage .. and we take a lot of luggage.
With all our equipment and clothes, we had 10 big, heavy cases. The men did not even flinch when they had to pick up those heavy bags. They took the cases, marked them with our stateroom number and we were finished. No receipts to us. At first we fussed about leaving the bags without a receipt. With so many passengers about to board, how could they ever get the right bags to the right room and how would we check if we did not get them? The head of the baggage department convinced us there would be no problem. Hearing that we worried even more. "No problem" to us always meant there would definitely be a problem. We parked our car in the special parking area and then were directed to the building where they take your tickets, check your passport and give you your ship ID card. With 2,000 people checking in we expected long lines and a long wait. Another surprise. The assembly area was large, with clearly marked signs indicating the stateroom numbers. There were no long lines and we walked right up to the clerk, were cleared and checked in no time at all.
So far so good. We boarded the ship and went directly to our stateroom. Though the ship is huge, there were lots of friendly, smiling crew members everywhere we turned and they easily led us in the right direction. Another surprise. Our bags were already there .. all of them! Our stateroom was beautiful, comfortable and had lots of places for us to store all our belongings.
© 1997 Alese & Morton Pechter
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