a gringo's take on fatherhood and other stuff

the clueless american


Day 1 – Embarkation

Posted on March 09, 2013 by TJ

After snoozing another few hours with DS5, we woke up. The first thing I did was check the static Erato St Terminal webcam, which wasn’t working :-( Some CC searching found me the streaming one from Zydecocruiser’s posts/website: http://wcerato.portno.com/view/viewer_index.shtml. For a mobile device, you can choose “Motion JPEG” from the streaming profile.

Everyone gathered around me in the bed to look at pictures of our ship. We could easily make out the Captain’s Suites since they stick out on the right and left sides.

I went back and forth over when to get to the terminal, fighting the urge to sit there at 7 am and wait for them to open the gates :-) My wife came up with a practical idea that made us slow down a bit: I don’t want to get on board and not be able to eat right away :-) I wasn’t sure precisely when the food would open, so we started looking for breakfast.

My wife wanted beignets, and I started looking for Cafe du Monde locations. There seemed to be one right near the terminal, but I knew 1) the traffic would be a bit crazy for we country dwellers and 2) I couldn’t be that close to the Conquest and not board.

So, we decided on a Metairie location that turned out to be in a mall. Approaching the mall it didn’t look good. At 9 on a Sunday there were hardly any cars. I know malls usually open late on Sundays, but this is New Orleans. I’m sure you could find drunk midgets having an animal orgy at this time of day in New Orleans, so why not a beignet? The mall was open for walking but the shops were all closed. A helpful gentleman suggested we should try the “original” beignet place, Morning Call Coffee Stand. It was right next to the mall and was in fact open 24/7.

We ordered 5 orders of beignets for the 4 of us, and in the end everyone walked out covered in powdered sugar. Just about everything on the menu is $1.85, apparently rounded up to $2 because of tax or something. Rather than a ticket, the server counted 2,4,6 etc for beignets and drinks, arriving at $18 for our meal of 5 orders and 4 drinks.

After brushing off, we hopped in the truck and made the final drive to the terminal with just a few detours. Google maps wanted to send us in the other end of the terminal that would have passed the Norwegian Star before getting to the Conquest. I didn’t think the road would be completely open, so we made our way down past the Morial convention center and entered the terminal per their directions. The traffic flow was well controlled by law enforcement and port employees. We entered the line for the parking garage, paid our $112, and wound our way up to level 3. There were porters waiting to stop us side-by-side. I was barely out of the truck before he had our two big suitcases out of the back and on a cart. FYI, we weren’t traveling by air and weren’t super careful on the weight. I’m pretty sure one or both bags were over 50 lbs, but Tony the porter made no complaints. I tipped him and proceeded to the car.

Another quick clarification: I’m sure I read either on CC or the Port website that the family unloads with the bags while the driver parks. They had us park together and enter the terminal together, which worked out great.

Although I wanted to run for the ship, we spent some time admiring it from the garage. We could see the front windows of the CS and couldn’t help remarking how excited we’d be to look the other direction in a few minutes.

We entered the elevator with other cruisers and headed down. FYI, there was a sign in the elevators when we returned I don’t remember seeing the day we departed. It told arriving cruisers to get off at 1R instead of 1. We didn’t see that sign, and when the doors opened on 1 the security guard was very perturbed as she told us we were doing it wrong and then pressed the 1R button.

We walked up into the security area where an employee tried to stop me from entering the VIP line. I showed him my Priority tag again and he let us go through; I think he must not have seen it the first time I showed it. The security wait was short, but the screener got very annoyed with me because I didn’t take the iPads out to be scanned individually. “Don’t you know I can’t see through them?” she sneered at me. Actually, I didn’t because I am not an X-ray technician and don’t remember seeing a sign. It’s *like* airport security, but not quite as stringent so I wasn’t going into full airline mode.

After getting through security, we walked right up to the VIP boarding area. The woman there didn’t have our name on the VIP list, but saw the priority boarding pass and CS. She said I should have been on the list but wasn’t for some reason. No worries, just wait in the lounge. The lounge looked exactly like Zydecocruiser’s photos, complete with drinks and small snacks. We had time for a quick glass of water before the VIP employee came back with whatever documents she needed. We waited maybe 2 more minutes before a friendly gentleman called us to his desk for check in.

After check in we took the obligatory embarkation picture and were gawking at the ship through the terminal windows. A helpful security guard advised us to get moving before the next large crowd from regular check-in got released to board. There wasn’t a huge crowd in the terminal, but having VIP check-in saved us some waiting in line. I wouldn’t book a suite again just for that small perk, but it’s probably worth the FTTF charge if it’s available for your cruise.

After winding our way up the gangplank, we took our security photos and entered the ship in the Lobby. There was a waiter standing there with a DotD, but our hands were full with kids and carry-ons. We made our way up to the Lido deck and found a spot to park while we waited for the cabins to open. We boarded at about 11:45 and they were ready by 12:30.

Once we got settled we got right on the Drink of the Day. I didn’t realize it was called the “Funship Special” and is the standard Carnival 1st day drink. We both liked it a lot and had more during the week when I found out the name. When I finally remembered to order it later, the waitress chuckled and said I could have just asked for the red drink from day 1 because that’s what we all do apparently Anyway, while enjoying our drinks we bought ourselves 3 Bottomless Bubbles stickers. We didn’t get little DS5 one because he doesn’t appreciate it yet or usually ask for it. Of course, during the cruise he asked for “bubble water” so I think he’s starting to get it.

Next post, Day 1 pics and a bit about the cabin.

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