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Author Topic: Alex Cruise - Part 3 – Sailing away to an Alex reunion  (Read 2981 times)
Ohhh.. I'm so hot, Brrr
Posts: 136

Tack för en underbar kväll, Alex.

« on: September 03, 2012, 10:19:18 PM »

Schipol airport had seemed rather intimidating when I arrived Saturday morning so I wanted to allow plenty of time for my departure to Barcelona.  I had planned on getting up at 5am to give me time to pack and get to the airport by 6am for my 7:55 flight.  But since I was already awake at 4, I spent the extra time starting my day 2 travelog and getting caught up online.  I knew that my time online would be extremely limited while at sea so I figured I'd take advantage of the opportunity.  In the lobby by 5:30, I was preparing to walk to the terminal when the hotel shuttle showed up; perfect timing, a good omen perchance?  I got though security quickly and was at my gate before 6:30; better to be very early than even a little late.  We were off the ground about 15 minutes late due to air traffic but it didn't matter at this point; my scheduled arrival was 10:05 and the ship didn't leave until 6pm.

As we circled south of Barcelona to land northwesterly, I got my first glimpse of the Norwegian Epic in port.  Even from the air it looked very impressive and I managed to get a few decent pictures as we descended.  From the outside the airport looked rather old but the inside was very modern.  All the signage was bilingual and I had no difficulty finding my way to baggage claim.  After a surprisingly short wait, my bag arrived and it was off to the taxi stand.  All of the taxis were identical small compact cars in two-tone yellow and black and they looked very much like a swarm of bumblebees.  At any given time there were about 30 cabs lined up in two parallel rows with someone directing people to the next available one.  My driver was very nice, knew exactly where I was going, and got me there in short order.

I checked my bags and proceeded to the registration area.  There was a security check but all I needed to put in the tray was my phone and camera and after a quick walk though a metal detector I was inside.  It was not even 11am yet and the lines were relatively short so I was checked in within 10 minutes.  I was in boarding group number 4 and was told it would only be about a 30 minute wait.  Free refreshments were provided so I relaxed for a while; it was nice to finally not be rushing somewhere.  After about 20 minutes Dwight showed up and we said a quick hello as he got in line.  By now, though, the lines were significantly longer and I could see his wait time would be much longer than mine so when they called my group I proceeded on board.

My cabin wasn't ready yet so I went walkabout and took pictures of the various area of the ship while it was relatively empty.  Total occupancy is over 4,000 passengers and 1,700 crew so it would be difficult to get people-free pictures later.  Finally, a little after noon, I was able to get into my cabin.  One thing that is unique to Norwegian Cruise Lines is their Studio cabin which is designed for the solo traveler.  It is very economical compared to paying the “single occupancy penalty” for a full-size cabin and since I wasn't planning on using it for much more than sleeping anyway the absence of windows didn't matter.  In fact, when you think of it as a 7-night hotel stay with all meals included it is actually quite a bargain.  My luggage hadn't arrived yet so I didn't linger and went to O'Sheehans where Dwight and I had planned to meet.  After lunch I looked out on the dock and saw the forklifts still loading luggage carts on board so I figured mine wasn't in my room yet and continued to explore.

Peter Corry's first event of the cruise was a cocktail party from 5:00 to 6:45, so around 4:00 I checked my cabin again and my bags had finally arrived.  Considering the luggage volume and the tight quarters I was actually quite impressed.  I unpacked the essentials and freshened up a bit before meeting Dwight and the rest of our “Showtime at Sea” group at the Bliss Lounge, which would be home to most of the planned shows.  On our way in we were issued a badge on a lanyard which would be our admission pass to all of the events.  As people continued to arrive I began to think the group was much larger than the organizer/travel agent Chris Colter had led me to believe but it turned out that at least half of them were the various performers.  Peter made his way around the room introducing himself to those he didn't know and getting reacquainted with those he did.  Dwight was in the former category and I was in the latter, having met Peter in Helsingborg last year.  I asked him where Alex was and he assured us she was indeed on board but was still waiting for her bags to be delivered as were Peter and several others.

After about 45 minutes I spied a lovely brunette in a black gown.  She spotted me too and made a beeline for our table.  Every time I see Alex I am reminded just how stunningly beautiful she is and tonight was no exception.  She remembered both of us, of course, and we quickly began reminiscing about previous meetings.  She told us she was traveling with her son and her mom on this trip and she laughed when I asked her if Peter had treated her to one of the premier cabins.  She said no, she was paying her own way.  Shortly after her arrival Peter began introducing everyone who would be performing.  In addition to himself and Alex, there was the Festival Brass band, about 25 members strong from Northern Ireland, and the Ulster Operatic Company.  He also mentioned that our group included people from the Netherlands, America, Spain, Canada, and of course Ireland.

Alex chatted with us for almost 30 minutes but then excused herself to check on her family before the 7:00 group dinner.  Since it was getting close to 7, Dwight and I headed to the Taste restaurant, wearing our lanyards since Peter had reserved a section of the place just for our group.  At the restaurant, when I was asked how many in my party I said two and got a quizzical look.  She replied 85 and I insisted it was 2.  Then she gestured behind me and there was the rest of group all lined up.  I didn't realize we had been followed!

We had about 6 tables each seating 12-14 people and Dwight and I ended up surrounded by 9 people from Ireland and one from Canada.  The Irish turned out to all be members and spouses from the Festival Brass; truly a dinner with the artists.  Carol, the person sitting next to me, was from London, Ontario, and another big Alex fan.  In fact, she was at Powerscourt both nights for the taping and is on the DVD.  Small world, indeed.

Dinner was delightful and I learned a few more things about the Irish that I didn't know.  Afterward, though, my 4am wake-up was catching up with me so I decided to call it a night.  I finished unpacking and organizing things in the various drawers and cabinets.  It would be nice to not live out of a suitcase for a change since I rarely unpack for a single night hotel stay.  I thought I'd start writing this before going to sleep but I nodded off more than once before even getting started so I gave up.  One thing I had been worried about was the motion of the ship but there was so little that I could barely feel it and slept soundly all night.  So far each day has been getting better; bring on day 4!

My plane from Amsterdam to Barcelona, before sunrise.

My ship, as viewed during the approach to the Barcelona airport.

Stairway to heaven, well to Alex anyway.

A few interior views of the ship.

The hallway to my cabin.

My cabin, snug but adequate for my needs.


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