Our check in time on our boarding pass was 1:30pm to 2pm. I am extra paranoid when it comes to being on time for important train trips, bus trips, boat trips etc. so we decided to catch an early train into the Quay. This turned out to be a good idea as the ship was docked and we were able to take some photos to kill time. My Dad was also able to come down and say “bon voyage” before we entered the terminal. We dropped off our bags and preceded to the door, we were about 10 minutes early by this point in time but the nice guard at the door let us in anyway. We had already filled in our health surveys and green slip things (I think they were customs forms?) so we went straight to the line to go upstairs and start boarding. We stood in this line for at least 30 mins. Apparently they were having some troubles with their computer systems so there was a massive back log of people to get checked in. This is where we met our first friends on board, a family of four who had gone on numerous cruises before. We were able to grill them and ask about drink packages, entertainment, shore excursions, general ship facilities. They were super nice and super helpful and surprisingly keen to hit the bar as soon as they got on the ship.
Once checked in we were able to get straight on the ship, no more waiting in lines!! We went straight to guest services to make sure we received our $350 credit and once we were assured this was the case proceeded to our balcony stateroom. It is beautiful! Very spacious with a king bed and private balcony. There is lots of storage space and lots of room. I am glad we splashed out a bit and went for the more luxurious offer. It really made this holiday special. The bathroom is quite nice too, there is enough room to move around, lots of bench space and shelves and the shower isn’t too squishy. It really is great to come back to the room and have some time to yourself and makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable. Our bags were delivered to our door, normally I live out of the suitcase when I go on holidays but I decided to unpack his time.
After putting everything away Dave and I checked out the “Fun Times” newsletter which has all of the ships activities for the day printed on it as well as information about the various restaurants opening hours and entertainment for the evening. We found a tour of the ship which was to begin shortly and decided it would be a great way of getting to know our way around. We went to the meeting place, called the “fountain café” which has a coffee shop, fountain, lots of seating and a piano. We found out that this was the place to be if we wanted to test our knowledge on a bit of trivia during the cruise. Here we met two entertainment hosts Ramon and MJ who took us around the ship and showed us everywhere we needed to know.
We started with “Pharaohs Palace” which is the main theatre where they hold their stage shows, it’s very nicely decorated and has lots of seats. We then moved down stairs to the “Versailles Lounge” which is a smaller theatre where they host movie nights and stand up comedy. It’s again nicely decorated, but is a bit smaller and only one level where as the bigger theatre has two or three. Moving from there we were shown the Library, Chapel and Piano bar called “Shanghai” decorated like a swanky Chinese restaurant. It only sells cocktails though, no Chinese food which is a little sad. From there we were shown the atrium bar, behind the bar is a giant mural which spans the entire height of the ship! There are also four glass elevators in the atrium as well as guest services and the shore excursion desks. We walked towards the back of the ship and Ramon showed us the “Empire” dining room. This is the main restaurant on the ship which has two levels! It is very elegant in there, with chandeliers hanging from a painted sealing and lots of huge porthole style windows. From here we headed up to level 9. Here we found the buffet called “La Palya Grill”. This is where we found “Pizza Pirate” ad “Swirls” which are open 24/7!! We were shown the “Serenity” deck and 18+ section of the ship with a bar, Sun chairs and deck chairs, pool and spa. We found out that if we walked toward the front of the ship on level 9 there were two other swimming pools and spas for families with younger kids. Taking the steps up to level 10 we were shown the slides “Green Thunder” and some other one which was a little tamer. More deck chairs and sun chairs were laid out on this upper deck as we moved toward the front of the ship again. At the front of the ship on level 10 are the “SPA” where you can get massages and facials and all the other things of that nature, the Salon to go get your hair and makeup did before an elegant evening on the ship and the Gym, which has another spa and sauna as well as all the equipment you could ever need. They also run classes like Yoga, Zumba, Stretch and Conditioning. Finally outside above all this we were shown the mini golf course.
After the tour finished we took some more photos up on deck and walked around the ship a bit more. We found the cassino and the shops which weren’t going to open until we reached international waters later that evening. After relaxing for a bit we decided to head to dinner at Empire. We had some very delicious food and the desert was amazing! I had warm chocolate melting cake! It was truly scrumptious! I was told before we came on the trip that the staff were very accommodating and would bring us whatever we requested, or if we couldn’t make up our mind about two things they would bring both out! Amazing! I would give it a go on another occasion.
By this point in time the boat was moving. We went up on deck to Serenity where it was very windy and a little cold. We waved good bye to Sydney and said hello to our holiday. We did a bit more lounging around, listening to various artists on board, doing a little bit of shopping, walking around and around. We attempted to watch game of origin but the signal kept cutting out and so we gave up on it. It was a pretty shocking game so I was told from others who had bothered to stick around and suffer through it. It was quite late and this point and I noticed that a comedian was on in Versailles lounge. We went down to watch but the boat was rocking so much! I didn’t think I would get sick but I wasn’t too happy. I went up to the room to rest while David stayed and watched the show.
I took some travel calm medication and got ready for bed. Safety bucket next to me just in case. David came up about 45 mins later. The travel calm had kicked in at this point which was great as it made me sleepy. I closed my eyes and let the boat rock me gently to sleep.