Approaching the Port of Citvitavecchia was nothing short of awesome: so many enormous ships and all their port glory. Our driver brought us as close to the bus as he was allowed, we toted our own luggage to the bus parking lot, where we were expected to toss our own luggage under the bus. Crazy Italian hospitality. We boarded the bus and walked past all the filled seats to the back, I noted there weren’t any other children on the bus (besides those in our family.)
Again, we remove our own luggage from the under-bus storage. The hangar is more like a tent and we are directed to where we need to go. Check passports, tickets, luggage, obligatory photo with the fake ship backdrop, and we start our embankment. The size of the ship is just amazing, this close. I snap a pic of the littlest family member, for perspective. She strikes a sassy dance pose. LOL.
We are given our Princess cruise cards, which function as keys, identification, and credit cards. We are also given ship maps,which fold down to the size of the key card.
We marvel at the grandness of everything, until we reach our stateroom.
If you have never been on a cruise, as I had never been before, and even if you have read websites, blogs and pins about the cruise ship experience, as I had, you will never be prepared for the stateroom. This is just how it is. They want you to enjoy the other parts of the grand ship. The room is ridiculously teeny tiny small, for two people, and then you pull down two bunks out of the ceiling for the children, and there is seriously not enough room for my husband to walk around. I’d seen a diagram of our exact room on the website, and it sure didn’t look this small. We actually try to get a better room, but none are available. The AC on full does hardly anything (Two days later they do increase the airflow somehow.) All of us keep bumping our heads on the lowered upper bunks. Continuously. Ba-dum-dum, Ching! Seriously.
We explore a little, before the mandatory safety drill. Our safety coordinator is a comedian. For all of you blowing your life vest whistles, you are not the first ones to wear these vests. Right.
We decide to dine in the formal dining room at our assigned time: early seating is at 5:45pm. Our family of nine includes four children, so we are assigned a table in the far back corner. This is to our advantage, really, we enjoy the panoramic aft view. Our waiter is fantastic, he hails from Thailand, and he dotes on us all, he makes such funny comments and sounds, for the children’s benefit. When my young daughter orders a hot dog, he beams, saying “Excellent choice.” The Maitre D’ is a charming Italian older gentleman who sports a white tuxedo. Our second waiter is more subtle, he does show us a trick: pretending to spill coffee but catching an empty cup with a spoon. This is fine dining, but our comedic attendants make it more enjoyable for us normal folk. There’s a young Asian dude strolling the Botticelli Dining Room with a guitar, getting the dining tables to sing La Bamba. Our waiter tells us the singer is his roommate. When he leads the singing of Happy Birthday, he changes the last syllable of the person’s name to a high note and adds the Italian bravado of a fermata, a note that he belts and holds like he thinks he’s Luciano Pavarotti: Happy Birthday Dear Sha-NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! It is apparently the Italian way. I kinda like it. I’d consider doing it at home, but I know people will think it’s excessive and flamboyant (although that is kind of the point). After the dinner (they have to shoo us out at almost eight o’clock due to the second seating beginning in the same room at 8:15pm), my daughter says she’ll sing at Family Karaoke with me, she chooses Footloose, then she totally bails and no one else in the family will join me. I am not singing Footloose solo on family karaoke night, so I punt. (And pout.)
Soon I have to get the kids ready for bed. Managing the bedtime routine is a bit of a challenge. I’d read that a good way to increase counter space was to use a cheap over-the-door shoe rack as a toiletries sorter. Indispensable, this is. The bathroom is ridiculous teeny tiny and my husband can not bend down in the shower. He goes out to explore the ship and I stay in with the kids. They sleep ok initially, but dear daughter awakes at one thirty and won’t go back to sleep for FIVE HOURS, during which she climbs down from her bunk, and lays down with me in my corner twin. So now I’m in a poorly air-conditioned room with a hot body atop. Who keeps asking me how she can get to sleep. We have to whisper so as not to wake up dear husband and dear son. How they stay asleep in these army barracks I do not know. I give her my ten best ways and she exclaims that they don’t work. I tell her to try them all again. Finally, at 5:30am I say to her “You just have to stop talking to Mommy.” She sighs, “Fine. I’ll just go back to my bunk!” FINALLY! UGH!
Somehow we sleep. I hear something from the depths of my dreams, and I think to myself, “God those people next door are so rude, blaring their TV!” It doesn’t even occur to me that the people next door are my in-law’s who would never do such a thing. It’s the port announcement, and we will oversleep, missing our first ship excursion!
What will we do? Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of My Mediterranean Journey.