The Maiden Inaugural Cruise - December 2010 travel blog

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The last and only time we took an inaugural cruise was in 1985 - American Hawaii Cruises was starting service in Tahiti on the SS Liberté. Although the ship was not brand new, it was nice enough, but the remote location seemed to throw everyone for a loop. Dinners regularly took three hours with interminable waits between courses as the waiters struggled to get on top of their job. They couldn't find the salt and pepper shakers; they couldn't find the toasters. The crew just couldn't get it together. And after we would dock the shore excursions were equally problematic. We would gather in the appointed spot and no one would show up to give the tour. I remember a bike tour in particular. The guide was there, but the shipment of bikes had not yet arrived on the island. Passengers moaned and groaned. But heh - it was Tahiti, a gorgeous spot and it was snowing back home. How bad could it be? On the charter flight home, it felt like we were the only passengers on board who weren't litigators. Tray tables were blanketed with yellow legal pads; the angry lawyers were scribbling energetically. Remember things were medieval in 1985 - no one traveled with a cell phone or a lap top. But within a week of our return home, a letter from American Hawaii Cruises arrived, apologizing profusely and offering us a free cruise anywhere their ships went. There's nothing like a fleet of lawyers working gratis on your behalf. Since we weren't all that upset in the first place, a free Hawaiian cruise was icing on the cake.

But we haven't taken an inaugural cruise since and when we booked this one the Allure of the Seas was little more than a blue print. But we have no reason to expect a repeat of our last experience, because Royal Caribbean has been posting daily videos online and we have been following the construction of the ship in Finlandi and its sailing last week to its home port in Ft. Lauderdale. During this sail the crew has been practicing all the shows and trying out the restaurant specials. Watching all those videos has gotten us excited and in the mood for a great experience without appeal to the legal system.

Whenever we go on a trip that involves a flight, we wrestle with the weight and luggage restrictions that the airlines impose these days. On the last few such trips, I brought a small Windows laptop that weighed considerably less than the Macbook I normally use and allowed me to bring a change of clothes in my carry on. But after the plane landed that computer drove me crazy. I would make movies for this blog on it that wouldn't upload or if they did, they wouldn't play. Editing photos was also frustrating because it's small size limited what I could see. It would crash regularly and wouldn't connect properly with the wifi at many internet cafes we patronized. Finally Apple came up with the answer to my prayers - the MacBook Air. It weighs just two pounds and has much more horsepower and a bigger screen than the Windows machine. It runs all the programs I normally use and is well designed as Apple products always are. I've read that the battery life is extraordinary. We went to our local Apple store to buy one and it was crazy busy. After standing around waiting for a while we found out you had to put your name on a list to wait to buy something. That didn't sit well so we went home and ordered one online on Monday. It was built to our specifications in Shanghai and by Friday was nestled in my grateful hands. Now that's service. Merry Christmas to me!!!

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