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Old January 7th, 2006, 04:31 PM
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Default JAN 7... It's Begun

Island Princess – pre cruise and Day 1

As is always our habit, if possible, we fly into our embarkation port a day early, avoiding the travel delays which inevitably occur, with the added benefit of starting our vacation a day early.

This trip we booked our pre-cruise stay at what at the moment is called the LA Harbor Hotel in San Pedro, California. This hotel is making a transition to the Crowne Plaza brand in the next month or so. It is located within a few blocks of the pier, and offers complimentary shuttle service to the pier.

The service at this property was outstanding, and warm, friendly, and helpful staff. We asked a bellman for a restaurant recommendation for dinner, and he recommended a restaurant a few minutes away called the 22 St. Landing., and offered to use the hotel shuttle bus to drive us over, and instructed us to call him when we were ready for pickup.

The restaurant located right at a Marina was a great choice, with a varied menu, at most reasonable prices, in a lovely relaxed ambiance. Dinner for 4, with tip was $110.

We returned to the hotel in the evening to meet up with other cruisemates at 8:30 in Romeo’s bar. It happened to be Kareoke night, and who knew we had at least a couple of singers in the crowd.

I had been considering heading to the ship about 1 PM, but after checking out the area around the hotel by foot a bit in the morning, we became bored and antsy, and decided we may just as well shuttle over to the pier to do our waiting. And WAIT we did.

The ship had been delayed coming into port this morning, then delayed further my immigration and customs clearing of the ship. When we arrived at the pier just prior to 11 A.M. there were still a considerable number or passengers still debarking from the previous cruise.

The set up for waiting here is not the best organized, and the line of passengers waiting, many in the hot sun, grew continuously until the doors were opened. The handicapped, and those in wheel chairs were boarded first, then the boarding for others waiting in line began at about 12:30. Once at the check in desk the process was simple and quick, and we were onboard shortly after 1 PM. From 1P.M. to 2:30 PM the waiting and embarkation time turn into a scene of mayhem, with disgruntled passengers and crew!

A note on many people use wheelchair assistance to board early. No question some people have serious mobility problems, and need assistance. However I was amazed (and perplexed ) when minutes later I saw many people, who had boarded as wheel chair passengers, racing across the lido deck under their own power to get to the Horizon Court buffet before it ran of food. At least you’d think that was their reasoning.

It was a day of mayhem for the Island Princess staff; pier side and onboard, and the difficulties seemed to mushroom. Luggage was still being delivered to cabins at well into the evening. One would think the ship goes through these procedures on a regular bases, so would be good at reacting, and getting through the experience. This was not the case, and most everyone who boarded had negative feelings to begin their cruise experience. Nerves were definitely frayed on both the passengers and the staff.

The ship is an astonishing visual encounter, exuding rich feels in furnishing and a pleasant onboard staff eager to respond to your needs.

After think we were going to have “Any Time Dining?, we found ourselves assigned for 8 PM dinner in the “traditional dining room?. We then decided to try it for this evening, and then decide if we had a consensus within the group being happy with the dining staff, then we’d stick with it.

I enjoyed our first meal onboard tremendously! Both the variety of the food,, and the obvious freshness of the ingredients, combined with service staff who were professional, efficient, and friendly made the decision to stay with our assigned dining times and service staff an easy decision.

This morning we had our first CM group get together, on Lido Deck. Sunny but chilly on deck and we still had an excellent turn out. GREAT group of folks, and everyone is settling in. It's the start of a WONDERFUL CM group cruise. ALOHA!
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