After the required number of cruises/days sailed we are finally in the top classification - elite. This is supposed to mean that there are special lines for embarking that are shorter than ones for the riff raff who has not cruised with Princess as often. However, a lengthy cruise like this that has relatively few port stops tends to attract other cruise aficionados like us. Ironically, the elite lines were longer than the regular ones and the elite embarkation lounge was full by the time we got there. However, we ended up standing right by the ship’s entrance which opened right after we got there and we started feeling that elite feeling from then on...
It had seemed that embarkation has been delayed a bit for everyone and we heard later than the coast guard has inspected some areas twice. That could have been a rumor, but after recent events at the Boston marathon, extra caution seems to be the new normal. There were huge pallets of food waiting to be loaded - we need to take on 16 days of calories after all - and we watched a security dog sniff each one before it came on board. And it always boggles the mind how those ginormous piles of luggage get sorted out and into your cabin so quickly.
The safety drill took place before we left the port so we would know what to do if the captain hit an island on the way out. Sail away is always festive and people line up on the railings waiting for the ship’s blast so loud it lifts your feet off the deck and our last views of land for a week passed by. The band out on deck played geezer music, tunes from the 60’s and 70’s that set our toes and the toes of the other gray haired folk around us tapping. Our first impression is that we will fit right in with our fellow passengers who also knew all the words to all the songs.
While we haven’t been on the Emerald, the floor plan is similar to her sister ships and it didn’t take much wandering around to feel like we were back home.