Our alarm went off at 3:50 a.m. Ugh! The husband got up, took a shower and began to get things ready to head to the airport. I finally crawled out of bed begrudgingly 40 minutes later. I hate early flights. I hate that the husband stands firm about arriving two hours before the flight.
We went through our checklist, which has been fine-tuned after years of forgetting to pack important items and forgetting to turn on/off household functions. With all tasks completed, we grabbed our breakfast sandwiches and headed out the door.
I cannot stress how important it is to take the time to eat when traveling. Think about it and plan BEFORE hunger pangs begin. We knew our flight was scheduled to depart PDX at 8 a.m. and scheduled to arrive at LAX at 10:25 a.m. A-1 Express would pick us up shortly after we arrived and take us directly to the cruise ship terminal in San Pedro. However, we weren’t sure when we’d be allowed to board the ship, or what food might be available. As always, we packed snacks.
We got a break going through airport security. Apparently, they are randomly allowing travelers to go through the “Precheck” security line, and we were lucky enough to be selected to go through the expedited line. No shoe or coat removal or showing your liquids – just a walk through the body scanner. We breezed through the line and made our way to Starbucks to grab our white chocolate mochas, then onto our gate to wait for our Alaska Airline flight.
We left PDX on time and were thrilled to learn we’d be arriving at LAX about 40 minutes early due to a favorable tailwind. Seemed like we were having extremely good luck! Why is it every time you think things are going extremely well, something happens to turn your smile upside down?
We did arrive at LAX 40 minutes early, but that meant no gate was open for us to get off the plane. There is no benefit to arriving early if you have to sit on the tarmac. In fact, it would have been better to be in the air. In the air you are allowed to leave your seat and use the restroom. You are not allowed to leave your seat for any reason while the plane is on the tarmac. I was becoming very aware of my white chocolate mocha, and the coffee, water and orange juice I’d consumed on the plane. I hadn’t used the restroom on the plane thinking I’d wait until I was in the airport terminal. I won’t repeat that mistake again. Finally a gate opened and we were able to get inside the airport and make a beeline for the restrooms!
We immediately began receiving calls from A-1 Express, the shuttle service we’d hired to provide transportation between the airport and the cruise terminal. They’d noticed our flight arrived early and wondered why they hadn’t heard from us. These folks were on top of things! Our driver Eric showed up promptly in an immaculate conversion van, loaded our luggage, and we were on our way to the cruise terminal.
When we arrived at Pier 93 at World Cruise Center at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, we weren’t sure what to expect. Princess Cruises employees began approaching us with instructions. After showing our passports and cruise reservation, we were told to move inside the building. Directions were still unclear, but we just kept moving until we saw more cruise line employees. We were told to go stand in a line and then told to go to a counter to be processed. It was somewhat similar to checking into a hotel, only the “lobby” was huge!
We assumed we would board the ship next, but instead we were directed to another large area to wait until our group number was called to embark. Water was available, but no food, so I was really glad we packed snacks! I’m not sure how long we waited with thousands of other travelers, but once the embarkation process began, things moved swiftly.
Even though we watched video and had a map of the Sapphire Princess, you don’t really get a sense of how massive the ship is until you’re on board and trying to find your way around. We found our cabin and were surprised to find it much more spacious than we’d thought. We unpacked and then headed to the buffet.
Being first time cruisers and unfamiliar with the ship, we followed the crowd. I think the staff could have provided a little more direction, which would have been helpful, but we managed to grab some lunch and find a place to sit without too much difficulty.
After lunch we explored the ship as best we could. I would have loved to take a guided tour, but since that wasn’t an option, we started at the top and worked our way down. We got a pretty good overview of the ship before we needed to be back to the cabin to grab our life jackets for the mandatory muster drill. (The cruise lines take these mandatory safety drills very seriously. Show up or you may not be shipping out!)
We were back in our cabin in time to watch the ship leave the terminal and head out to sea. The husband used to work on ships (sometimes while they were at sea), so he was very familiar with everything that was happening. It was pretty cool watching it from our balcony. We took some gorgeous shots of the sunset before getting ready for dinner.
We enjoyed dinner in the Savoy dining room. The food did not live up to the hype, but it was good, and it was fun to try different appetizers, soups and salads I wouldn’t ordinarily order in a restaurant. I figured I’d already paid for them, so why not enjoy them!
After dinner, exhaustion began to settle in. It had been a long day of perpetual hurrying and waiting, and the time had come to be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking and rolling of the ship. Ahhhh…
(Next: Arriving in San Diego for playtime with granddaughter #1)