Barbados Tropical Waters

Barbados Tropical Waters
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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Cruising on the open seas…Is this what you thought it was?

Stepping onto The NCL Norwegian Star on a misty morning in Dover was the first time I had been back on a ship since childhood. I remember climbing aboard when I was only 7 years old to see my dad off to Jamaica in 1975. I can vividly remember racing up and down those beautiful spiral stairs made of wooden slats with a beautifully polished handrail in the central part of the ship. Yes it was the way to travel back then especially when you had lots of luggage. There were others adults aboard with similar plans I imagine, though I cannot recollect any other children being on board.
The memories came flooding back (excuse the pun) as I stepped aboard the Norwegian Star anchored in Dover a few days ago. My purpose was to learn more about cruises in this modern age and I thought I ought to share it with you.  As I said, I had never been on a cruise and so in my mind, and perhaps the same for many of you, there is some mystery of being on a floating hotel! 
The first thing to mention was the high level of security measures in place for getting on and off board. I advised the cruise company of my name and was informed that I needed my passport to get aboard the ship. I was welcomed at the port office and my passport was shown and checked against a passenger list or in this case a visitor list and then I was given a visitors pass. I then went to the meeting point and met others from the industry who had the same aim….to learn more about cruises and this particular ship The Norwegian Star.  Coffee and cakes were available whilst the ship security staff took my passport and gave me another pass withholding my passport, with instructions that my passport would be returned on disembarkation. Fair enough I thought, as there is always the risk of stowaways!
As I waited to board the ship I watched a steady trickle of passengers disembark clearing immigration in an un-rushed and relaxed manner. I noticed that each person had a partner or group that they were with so that made me think if you do go aboard solo then you will need to make friends fast.
I identified many of the passengers as Americans and so in stereotypical manner confirmed upon speaking to a few, their ambitions were to visit London or Canterbury before the ship was ready to sail again at 6:30 that evening. I did wonder whether that was a realistic achievement.  Me being a Londoner and knowing what may await them on the M25, yes London’s biggest car park. Anyway that said I watched them expectantly climb aboard several coaches awaiting them and off they went. 
Now it was time to step aboard and as I made my way onto the ship, I overheard some of the visitors talking about the recent launch of the Norwegians newest ship the, The Breakaway, describing its glamour and size. This ship the Norwegian Star was huge and I struggled to imagine how much bigger that was in comparison.  As far as I could see this was the equivalent of a small town of 4000.  Yes that is the capacity of this ship and I am duly informed it is comfortable being in close proximity to that many people. I did wonder if there is a measure of space allowed for each person aboard the ship.
Actually stepping aboard was a very windy affair and the staff there advised me that the wind, especially in Dover and I imagine many of the UK ports is quite windy.  Many lose scarves, hats and sun glasses and anything not firmly clutched, pinned or firmly grasped will be away with the elements. So you can’t say you haven’t been warned as the excitement of starting your cruise may cause you to forget the necessary boarding precautions especially in windy Dover, England!
In my next blog I will reveal some interesting facts about cruises and why you should consider taking your first cruise. Annette of Global Getaway Holidays.