I was so excited because we were finally off on our second trans-Atlantic cruise over to Europe. Last year we took a trans-Atlantic cruise on the Oasis-of-the-Seas stopping at ports in Spain, Italy, and England. While the ship was in dry dock we continued our exploration of Europe on a wonderful bus tour visiting Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and England.
At that time we were traveling with a large group of people that we did not know. This cruise we will be traveling with members of our community, many of whom we know, on a cruise sponsored by the community’s Travel Club and put together by Klaus and Dorit Dignass of the German Travel Services of Ocala.
This trip is actually a back-to-back cruise. The first leg of our journey will take us to Virginia, Ireland, France, Belgium and England. The second leg of our trip will take us to Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden and back to England where we will take a flight out of Heathrow Airport back home.
As we started down the driveway I looked back at the house and thought about the times over the last several months that we almost canceled the trip. In the end, we decided that what caused us to question going would still be waiting for us when we returned, so, off we go.
Everyone met up by the bocce courts and boarded the bus for our ride down to Tampa to board Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. Randy kicked back just enjoying the ride. Me, I read the whole way down.
Checking in at the terminal was relatively easy although we got a start when the clerk asked us for our passports.
“What?” we asked the clerk.
She told us that an email had been sent to everyone explaining that the cruise line was to collect everyone’s passport before boarding and would keep them in a safe place until we arrived in Europe.
When we said that we had not received the email she said, “Many others did not either”.
She took our passports, made a copy of each, and gave us the copies and a receipt for our passports. Now, I don’t know about you, but I was not very happy about giving up my passport. But, oh well, what must be, must be.
We made our way up to the Windjammer for a quick lunch and then headed down to the cabin to put our things away and then off to explore the ship. On our way to the cabin we stopped and looked over the railing that looks down to the Centrum and noticed that directly across the way was a couple from our community that was not a part of our group.
They were sitting in chairs just enjoying the view when I started to yell out their names. They obviously did not hear me and started to leave. “Erlich’s,” I yelled louder. They finally heard me and made their way to where we were standing. How fun it was to see them. Steve and Luann had booked this cruise a year before and were traveling alone. We chatted for a few minutes and agreed that we would have to get together sometime during the cruise.
We set off to find our cabin. Oh, my, when we entered the cabin I just started to laugh. Our last few cruises have been on bigger ships and when we walked into the cabin I stopped in my tracks and said, “Oh good heavens, it is so small”. When our luggage arrived I did not know what to do. We packed for a voyage of 26 days and there was barely enough room for half of that not to mention the size of the drawers and shelves. It was all too funny.
The last time we were on the Brilliance was in February 2007 traveling then with several friends from the neighborhood. Walking around the ship brought back nice memories of that earlier cruise.
Before we knew it, it was time to head to the Diamond Lounge for cocktails. While there we watched as the ship made its way from port passing under the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Bridge. We met a lovely couple from Long Island, Linda and Bill. The four of us chatted until it was time to head to the dining room for dinner.
Our table mates for this voyage were Sal and Anna, Don and Rae, and Dan and DeAnn. We spent the dinner getting to know one another and enjoying our first meal together.
We opted not to attend the welcome show and instead headed back to the cabin to unpack and settle in for the night.