(Continued from Pre-Cruise) ….. On embarkation day, we woke early to watch the ship cruise into port, right past the front of our hotel. It was a good way to get our first glimpse of the ship on which we would be spending the next 3 days en route to Vancouver. The ship sailed quietly past us, and that was our signal that it was time to start getting ourselves ready for the day. We let the teenagers sleep in, as we started to gather our things to take to the ship. Embarkation time was scheduled at 11:30, so our plan was to be there around 10 to hopefully avoid the lines and crowds.
After loading up the rental car with luggage and our teenagers, we set off for the cruise terminal, where I dropped the wife, teenagers, and all the baggage at the terminal, while I returned the car to the rental agency which is just over one mile away. Once the car was dropped, I walked to the nearby bus stop and caught the next bus to the terminal. There are two bus routes that stop at the bus stop near the car rental agency in San Diego, and both take you to the cruise terminal. One of the buses stops on Ash, and the other stops on Harbor, so check the route information once you board, so you know where to stop. Both locations require a very short 3-minute walk to get to the terminal. The cost for the bus was $2.25.
The cruise terminal is very near the USS Midway ship and museum, so you can “cruise” over there to spend some time while staying in San Diego. Also, just down the road a short way is Seaport Village, a nice little shopping area set along the waterfront. It’s a nice place to spend the day and grab some lunch or dinner. I have always been a fan of the Pier Café, and their fish n’ chips.
After meeting up with the family, I stopped to take a few quick snapshots of the ship docked at the pier, and we proceeded into the terminal building. This is where things started to be different than our previous experiences. The building was nice, but looked very industrial, albeit with a nice coat of paint, especially in the entry area (it improved in the seating area). We hopped in a line to proceed through the security checkpoint and get our bags x-rayed and walk through the metal detectors. This went quite quickly, and the lines were short, as expected.
The next step was the health form that needed filled out for the entire family, asking the standard, yet dreaded Ebola and Norovirus questions. After filling this out, we went into another queue to complete check-in. The check-in line moved quickly, and we ended up at the window where we got our photos taken and room keys and a boarding group number. While we were in this line, the queue behind us was growing quickly. Our arrival was timed well, it turned out. Sometime around this point is when we noticed that we had not been given a chance to check our luggage. We had only one large bag to check, so it was not a huge deal, but we found it odd that there were no porters to take our baggage… at least none that were obvious (we may have missed them somehow). So, with our bag in tow, we were directed to the airport-style seating to await the actual embarkation.
At almost exactly 11:30 (the scheduled embarkation time) they began calling groups to board. We were in an early group, so we proceeded to board the ship. We skipped the embarkation photo, since we were quite unlikely to purchase it anyway, and followed the groups that were re-boarding after their Panama Canal journey. Since we had the large bag, we chose the elevator option, rather than the stairs (the only two options) and boarded the ship. (Continue to Embarkation Day Pt. 2)