Monday, December 29, 2008

Cruise 2008

Walking into the airport, I start to feel my tummy tighten. Patti and I are pulling our suitcases through Terminal One at Pearson, in Toronto. It's freezing outside, yet I can already feel the warm tropical sun burning my skin. I've never been on an airplane... never mind a ship.. and here I am about to do both... in one day. We check our tickets at the self terminal... get in a short line to get tags and the bags weighed... and walk through to another section of the terminal. Security! I start to sweat. We don't have anything we shouldn't, yet it feels wrong somehow. 15 minutes later, after a quick 'hello' with customs and we are through. Whew! Boy was I wrong... next station we are instructed to empty our pockets, remove belts, jewelry and SHOES... place everything into the blue dog dish, and walk through the metal detectors. Getting dressed, we place out bags 'wheels side up please' into a rotating conveyor, and climb aboard the escalator into 'Duty-Free Ville'.

Taking a quick trip into the duty free store, I grab a 40 oz bottle of Skky, and Patti a 40 of Mount Gay Rum... tossing the bottles into our carry on, we sit outside the gate and await flight AC902... direct to Tampa.

Now, like I previously said... I have never been on a plane and it's not what I expected at all. We are only ever exposed to HUGE 29 aisle wide planes in the movies, with First class behind the curtain up front and wings as big as a semi. We board the Air Canada AirBus 320, right behind the cockpit. No separate first class section.... not that we are flying first class, we are in row 30. Yup... the VERY LAST ROW. Going through the standard (I assume) safety info, we are taxied out and the engines start to roar. Sticking into the back of my seat (which has to remain in the upright position) we start to speed down (or up) the runway. Within seconds we are in the air. Climbing at what feels like a 45-55 degree climb, I can see Toronto slowly get smaller below us. I'm still not sure what I envisioned, but I think in my mind I created this huge ordeal that was terrifying me... but now that the worse (I hope) was over... I'm slightly disappointed. I wanted to be scared out of my mind...
Flying through the clouds was neat, but again.. not what I expected. Then we start to climb again! We were only above the first layer, and sandwiched between them. Nothing but white outside, and then.... white fluffy pillows. It was beautiful... this was the worth the price of admission as they say.
Now once again, I'm comparing all the sights and sounds to movies we have seen. I'm thinking this huge big screen comes down and they start the in flight movie. But then I notice the 11" flat screen built into the seat in front of me. Plugging in my iPod headset, I start to navigate the menus of movies, and TV shows available.... this is a huge improvement I'm sure!! I start Batman, sit back and forget I'm 20,000' in the air. Fast forward 2 hours 50 minutes and we are descending into Tampa. It's 21c and not a cloud in the sky. I just can't believe it's December 14th... unreal.
Within 10 minutes Patti and I are walking off the plane, down the stairs where the bag claim is. Within 100' are PALM trees! Grabbing our bags, we wander over to the Carnival rep standing waiting to give us directions to our transportation to the pier. BUT before we get to the bus we have to get the duty free bottles into our luggage. Another 10 minutes and we are sitting on the air conditioned bus surrounded by palm trees waiting for the 10 minute ride to our home for the next week. I am so excited I feel like I'm going to scream... but I play it so cool so Patti doesn't notice. I just want to reveille in her excitement..... she is smiling like the Chestershire Cat. A few minutes more... and the bus driver boards and we pull out. A couple lefts.. a right... and we pull into, what looks like the same spot we just left. IT WAS! We had left somebody behind!!! Thank G*d that never happened to us! Another minute and we are off again... into the highway, through some light Sunday traffic, past the aquarium and into the port.

Now from a distance the Carnival Legend looks big. But as you get closer... it's a big as a skyscraper on it's side, and half as high. Now for anybody that knows me KNOWS I've read alot of reviews, and a mountain of specs on this ship, but NOTHING can prepare you for the real thing. I follow Pat into the terminal and we approach a gentile looking man in a red vest and a huge smile. I fish out the info Carnival sent us, our passports and my MasterCard, the happy little man takes our picture and hands us our Sail'n'Sign cards. Another short walk and we are on the PLANK. I have goosebumps!!
Now were at a spot we will get very familiar with over the next week on every port day... security. A very serious looking man takes our cards, punches them into a machine that pops up our picture and all or relevant info. He smiles says "Welcome aboard" and we walk into the most gorgeous lobby I have ever seen.

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