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Old December 30th, 2006, 10:55 PM
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DECEMBER 30

Embarkation Day at last!! I had arranged to return our Hertz rental car to the location in the lobby at the Biscayne Bay Marriott this morning. We of course began to get antsy to board earlier than planned, so set out to gas up the rental and return it about 10 A.M. Even with a stop at a Walgreens we were at the pier by about 10:45 A.M. I assumed this was going to be much too early, but we weren’t even the first CruiseMates to arrive. And catching up with others who’d arrived and more as they arrived passed the waiting time very quickly. The embarkation process began, and with my Xpress Pass in hand (since we’d filled in all the immigration online at the Celebrity web site), the entire check in process was a matter of minutes, and we were on our way through X-ray and security.

This too would have been very quick if Gaile (Tweety) had of remembered her recent knee replacement was what was setting of the metal detector. I watched carefully as she emptied everything from her pockets and the pockets of everyone else around her, before I suggested it might her “new knee? causing the problem. (Though it had to be a great job on the knee for her to forget it. ).

Even with the “knee-d to know? delay, we were being welcomed onboard by smiling staff by 11:40, though cabins weren’t going to be ready for guests until 1 P.M.

At Noon the buffet opened for embarkation lunch, and the CruiseMates weren’t wasting any time attacking. Lunch was very good, and a hopefully a good indicator of things to come.

Most of the afternoon was spent by the Sunset Bar, aft of the Islands Café, awaiting the arrival of more CruiseMates, and meeting and greeting. The plan was to hand out goody bags, etc during the afternoon, but of course in the excitement no one had thought the luggage wouldn’t arrive until later… and all the “handouts? with them. It was still great to see more and more of the group arrive, and welcome each other.

As you saw above, some of goodies were waiting for CruiseMates later in the evening when they got back to their cabins.

The stern of the Century, both above and below the Sunset Bar is chock full of CruiseMates. All of the new Sunset Verandah cabins on Deck 12 are occupied with people in our group, as are all the stern cabins on Deck 10, below the Sunset Bar.

The balconies on the Sunset Verandah cabins are totally open to view from Deck 13, above. The Category NS stern balconies, are partially open to view from the Sunset Bar, but have a covered area as well.
Jill, Steve, Mike and Betty on Sunset Veradahs.
Mrs. Kuki and I have main (early) seating dinner, at 6 P.M., and our section of the dining room is pretty much surrounded with CruiseMates. Though I believe the group is split fairly evenly between early and late diners. Between meeting the wait staff, a delightful meal, and socializing table to table the dining time disappeared quickly.

After dinner, the early diners dispersed; some heading back to their cabins to unpack, some to the Welcome Aboard Show, with a wonderful A Cappella group, The Cat’s Pajamas (who I had heard previously when I sailed the 2 day preview of the ship in Nov.)

I went to spend a bit of time in the casino myself, but with the luck I was having, it only took a little time, so I moved to the showroom to catch some of the Cat’s Pajamas act.
They’ll be appearing throughout the ship during the remainder of the cruise.

Late seating dinner was still taking place, and as I wandered the ship, things seemed pretty much like a first night of most any cruise; quite quiet, with many people retiring early, to recover from their travel woes.
With a port day in Key West, and New Year’s Eve coming up tomorrow it’s not all that surprising that everyone is going to want to be rested.

As I type, I am being serenaded from the deck of the Sunset Bar above, by a guitar player, and there seems to be a few “happy folks? up there singing along. Some of the “stern people? may be stern in the morning because of the close location of the party… which is scheduled to go on until Midnight. Me, I think I’m going to head up there to see what’s up.

Internet is very slow at the moment, so having trouble loading some pictures.. check the photo galleries later and I'll try again.
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