Tales of the High Seas: Norwegian Prima Embarkation Day
Part 2: Embarkation Day
I had a good night’s rest with my nice, quiet room. In my daily life I have been practicing intermittent fasting, so not eating in the morning was no big deal for me. Time to pack up all my things and go.
In order to understand what comes next, you need some back story. This is a solo journey for me. To make the Norwegian cruise more enjoyable, I organized an onboard group. First, I used a site that I have used in the past, “Cruise Critic”. Cruise Critic has what are called Roll Calls where people find others that are going on the same sailing and can create events for themselves to make the trip more enjoyable. In addition, I created a Roll Call of my own on Facebook. Unfortunately, at least 6 other people had the same idea around the same time. That was just nonsense. So, I reached out to the others and asked if they wanted to join forces. Only one person responded. She and I became Facebook group administrators of this one group for this one particular sailing. I invited her into my Cruise Critic group, and we had one big family of sorts. Over time, we organized group planned events that were optional if you wanted to participate. After all, people had plunked down good money, and this was their vacation. When all was said and done there were about 300 people following our group. In reality, about 50 people participated in events. If I were to do it again, I would not create a Roll Call in Cruise Critic. Cruise Critic is an excellent source of information, and I would learn things there. But there is no longer a way to communicate privately with any individual in any matter. I would be put into a temporary “jail” should I try to provide an email address of any sort. The messaging service has been deactivated. Also, you could not reference any other outside source or very few urls. That could send you into “jail”. You could absolutely not mention any social media platform. Facebook, on the other hand, did not have these issues, but issues of their own. People wanted to glean information from what the group had to offer while offering nothing in return and had no interest in participating in any group events. As one of the group events we scheduled was an unofficial Sailaway Party on Deck 8 Aft outside the Soleil Bar. All attendees were encouraged to wear blue tops/dresses/shirts with Mardi Gras beads to identify themselves.
Back to our story. The co-administrator of the Facebook group is named Dee Gee. As I was underway hoping to grab a cup of tea at a local coffeeshop, she texted me and said she was waiting nearby her hotel, the Harbor House, which is adjacent to where the ship was docked. Harbor House was also a quick walk from Domum de Vence. Ok, I decided to skip my tea and meet her with my bags. I was easy to spot, we found each other and made our way to the terminal. We were sailing out of Terminal #2. Once there, we were nicely greeted by some porters who checked our luggage to be taken onto the ship. A couple of dollars for one bag of mine was a small price to pay to not have to lug that thing around. I still had two carry-on bags with me. One of the bags contained all those spreadables I purchased at CVS. We both had a 9:30 am appointment for check-in at the terminal. It was now 9:00 am ish. Already a line was forming to gain entrance into the terminal. Waiting was made light work, since if there is one person who can talk more than me, that would be Dee Gee. We spent the morning chit chatting away. Once 9:30 am struck, the line started to move and into security we went. The line through security was a breeze and we passed into Norwegian check-in. I had already pre-checked at home and done as much as I possibly could via the NCL website. They asked me and Deb a health questionnaire at the desk. They recorded our responses, checked our passports, took a picture of our faces, and then they handed us our sail cards. A sail card is linked to a credit/debit card of your choice and is used to make payments for anything on board the ship. It is also used to track your coming/going on and off the ship and reservations to entertainment. The sail card also acts as a key to gain entrance into your room. It is similar in size to a credit card. I was already wearing a lanyard. In popped my sail card. I probably would have lost my sail card a number of times, if I didn’t have it attached to me via the lanyard. There were roughly 25-30 agents at the desk, checking people in at the same time. We were directed to move through the terminal to a seating area. There were quite exact about where we were to sit. They arranged us in the order that we arrived. Our information when we checked in online said boarding time starts at noon. However, after having been seated for about an hour, a gentleman came around to announce that they would allow folx to board the ship starting at 11 am. Dee Gee and I had an unofficial bet going to see when they would allow boarding. I won! They were adamant about the order of when you could board. Thank goodness it didn’t turn into a cattle call. The Haven guests were given an earlier time and boarded first. In the past, Platinum and above loyalty tier could get a priority boarding time but not on this sailing. Dee Gee and I were in the first 100 people boarding the ship out of about 2,400 people who would be on this sailing, according to hearsay. The ship has a guest capacity of 3,215 at double capacity. This means our ship would be about 75% full.
My first impression of the ship was that it was glorious. We were led into the Atrium area and it is beautiful. It is asymmetrical in design which is appealing to my eye. However, in practicality, it makes for some awkward deadends. I absolutely loved this ship as soon as I was onboard. I equate it as a boutique hotel at sea. Think of a Kimpton Hotel on the ocean and that is what Prima is like. It doesn’t surprise me since Frank Del Rio and his team were approving things regarding this ship. Mr. Del Rio comes from the Oceania and Regent Seven Seas brands so my impression was he was trying to push Norwegian a bit further into a more upscale market.
As soon as Dee Gee and I got on the ship, we went to the area where entertainment reservations could be made. Dee Gee had definite ideas about times. Me, less so. I followed her lead, and we booked the same times. We were each given a little slip with the entertainment choices, days, and times. We checked off our selections, included our room number and handed the slip to a Norwegian staff member who recorded all of our choices onto a laptop. Since we were among the first onboard, we got all of our choices, no problem. PRO TIP: Make your entertainment reservations on board as soon as possible. Since venue space is limited, we could have gotten locked out. Prior to the sailing, I had already made my specialty dining reservations. I booked so early my “Free at Sea” promotion included FOUR specialty dining opportunities. It has since changed, and I believe that it now would be one since I was sailing in a studio.
Next, we both had viewed our safety/health/muster drill video, already. I had viewed it on three separate occasions because NCL kept bugging me about it. All that was left was to check in to our respective muster stations. We both had similar places right next to each other.
Lunch! Avoid the crowds at the buffet. Prima has the smallest buffet in the fleet. We chose to dine in the Local which is open almost 24 hours. All Dee Gee could do was rave about their chicken salad sandwich. I had the chicken wings among other things. They were baked, not fried, so wasn’t as crispy as one would hope. But they were quite tasty!
From the Local we wandered the ship, exploring the layout together. PRO TIP: I highly encourage you to do the same on your journey. I still was getting perpetually lost throughout my voyage, but at least I knew what options were out there. Prima, also has carpeting to help the directionally challenged. They incorporate triangles that point to the forward part of the ship.
Now Dee Gee and I separate and go to our respective rooms. Dee Gee on deck 13, me on deck 12. Pretty soon my bag arrived after I had organized what I brough with me. There is so much storage that there was enough for two. I LOVE this room. It is ideal for a solo traveler.
Before you know it, 3:40 pm has approached and I could be found at the Soleil Bar to meet my fellow Cruise Critic/Facebook passengers. I was prepared with envelopes to take people’s cash for a few activities. I got swamped by people and it was quite a bit to take in. I got to know a few people. The piece de resistance was the view of the wake of the ship as we pulled away from Galveston and into the sea. It was a great vantage point to enjoy Sailaway. That part of the ship was pumping music, I had a fun cocktail, the sun was shining. By the way, the weather that day in Galveston was perfect. It was sunny and low 80’s. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
NEXT: The night of October 31, 2022
Prima carpeting pointing the way