Norwegian EPIC, 11/27/10 boarding day

I took the Spirit Air red-eye, LAX to FLL. Got into Fort Lauderdale at 7:30. Upon arrival at Fort Lauderdale I used the Go Shuttle to get down to Miami. Rather than the usual van, they put me in a limo with a couple from San Francisco, and another young man. Turns out the couple are frequent NCL cruisers headed for their first trip on the EPIC, and the young man is a dancer for the Jean Ann Ryan company (that used to do all of NCL's stage productions), and a veteran of several NCL ships, who was headed to South Beach for vacation. So, some nice conversation about all things NCL.

We got to the Port of Miami about 9 am. Wandered around the port awhile, as they were nowhere near being ready to let us on the ship. Considered walking down to the Celebrity Eclipse to greet my cruisemate Alyona, but it was docked completely at the other end of the pier, at least a mile away. Settled for getting some Ginger beer from a catering truck and watching the chaos of people coming and going. Alyona called about 9:30 that she was getting ready to debark the Eclipse. She asked me if I thought she should grab a cab to the EPIC or just walk. I told her I would recommend the cab. She walked. And showed up about 10:30, looking like she had walked a couple miles dragging 200 pounds of luggage. Probably because she had.

So, we went thru the amazingly smooth boarding process in about 10 minutes. The EPIC is so large, they actually use 2 different terminals to board, which makes it much more efficicent. We sat around the lobby for a few minutes, and right at 11:30 we got onboard. Our stateroom was not ready. But another new (to me at least) thing they are doing is setting aside a lounge so people can check their carry-ons until the staterooms are ready, instead of having to lug everything around the ship for a couple of hours. Nice.

We did some basic exploring, checking out the ship. I have already had the opportunity,during the Inaugural in July, to see the whole ship, so I played tour guide. Checked out the rock climbing/rapelling wall, and signed the "if you die, we're not responsible" waiver, so we can do all sorts of stupidly dangerous things for the rest of the week.

So, the theme of the day has to be the VIP treatment I am getting from the staff here. I have to tell you, I am not really used to this sort of thing, and I am not sure why the people here have decided to be so darned nice, but it is kinda fun!

As I was walking around I was accosted by Dennis Prguda, the Hotel Director. I have never met him, but he recognized me, as Klaus had told him to be on the lookout, apparently. Anyway,he let me know everything was set up for the little travel agent Sailaway Party I had set up. And extended greeting from Klaus, who won't be getting on the ship til we get to Roatan.

Finally, the lack of sleep on my part and the hike with luggage on the Siberian princess' part, was catching up to us, so we went to see if our cabin was ready, despite the fact they had not announced anything yet. Sure enough, our Stateroom was ready, so we took a little siesta, before heading down for our carryons to begin unpacking. By the time we got back up, my big suitcase was already there, so I used the Muster Drill time to finish unpacking. Now, you know I would never advocate anyone violating Coast Guard regulations or anything, BUT....Oh,and in the room waiting for us was a nice bottle of Tres Pasos (I think) Malbec wine from Argentina. I know nothing of wines, being a teetotaler, but The Cruise Girl assures me it's good stuff. The first little perk.

At the end of the Drill, we headed up to Spice H20 to get redy for the Sailaway party. I was met there by Tracy and Cat from Group Events. They had set aside some tables for us, and even helped wtih blowing up balloons. They really were helpful and fun. About a dozen or so fellow agents showed up for the party. Excellent bar service from Arvind. And two bottles of champagne, again comped. Again, I didn't partake, but every one else seemed to enjoy.

So, we sailed off right on time, and with South Beach in the rearview mirror, we left the party to do a little more exploring. Alyona ran into a couple she had met the previous week on Eclipse. Amazing how things like that happen. Nice couple, hardcore dancers apparently, who seem to make an impression everywhere they sail. We talked a bit, then had to go down to reception to get our keycards fixed.

Finally, after a day of walking around, We decided it was dinner time. I had managed to spend nearly a whole day on a cruise ship without eating, in striking contrast to my last trip on the EPIC when I managed to eat 11 meals in two days. We went to the Manhattan Room. Shared a table with a nice couple from Louisiana, compared travel sotries and had a pretty good Chicken Piccata and a Grilled Swordfish that was excellent. Started with a French Onion soup that was, frankly, just sad. So, stick with the Swordfish! Also the Tempura mushroom starter was very well done. After dinner we headed back to the room, were greeted by a tray of canapes, again a little gifr from Dennis.

We fully intended to head back down to the Manhattan room at 9:30 for dessert and Legends Unplugged. They were doing the Motown Revue that I enjoyed so much on the Inaugural. Bat, caught up in conversation, we talked right past it. Now, you all know I am just a travel agent dabbling in this whole internet/blogging thing in case it turns out to NOT be a passing fad. But my friend Alyona is an actual internet maven, with a half dozen websites (including www.norwegian-epic.com if you want to get her take on the EPIC) and stuff. She attempted to school me in all this stuff. What I actually understood was fascinating. Anyway, we finally decided to run up to the buffet for a midnight snack before setting up the video camera. On top of my usual blog/facebook/twitter posts this week, I have set up a YouTube channel, and will be adding video to my repertoire. Be shre to check that out!

So, after the film session, it was shower and bed. This whole "stay up all day/take the RedEye/Party on board the next day" thing is not as much fun as it used to be!~

Anyway, Sunday is a Day at Sea, and I will let you know all about it tomorrow!

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