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Radiance of the Seas - San Diego, California

Our cruise experience begins in San Diego, California. It's Monday morning, the time is close to 12:00 NOON and we see Radiance of the Seas slowly but surely emerging from the morning fog. Our ship has arrived empty from Ensenada, and after we have dropped off our luggage, we are told check-in will not commence until 2:00 PM. When we return to the San Diego Cruise Terminal at 1:30 PM we find a long line of passengers waiting to enter the building.

With security stepped up after the Sept. 11th tragedy, travel documents of all passengers are checked at the door. Once inside, RCI has thoughtfully provided a small snack buffet for waiting passengers. And WAITING is the operative word here! We soon realize that check-in is a complete mess. Long, long lines stretch all across the terminal building, and with only a dozen or so check-in station manned, it takes a good 3 hours standing in line before we can check in. A somewhat hysterical lady hands us our blue cruise cards, and after another hours' wait the announcement is finally given that we can board the ship. All in all check-in has taken an astonishing 4 hours, and by the time we get on board around 6:00 PM we are dead beat - as are most other passengers. The festive "Bon Voyage" mood that should prevail on sailing day is hard to find anywhere.

Our luggage, handed in at the dock at 11:00 am, is still delivered by 8:30 PM, and we enter the Cascades Dining Room for our first shipboard dinner somewhat underdressed. We are welcomed by our Hungarian waitress and Indonesian assistant waiter and find that we have a table by ourselves in a prime location - very good! Dinner is really nice, although ordering wine is something of an adventure. It seems most wines are simply not available! While the Captain announces that our departure from San Diego has been pushed back from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM. At the awkward time of 10:30 PM, the emergency signal blasts over San Diego and we report to the Aurora Theater wearing the suggested evening dress, consisting of highly unflattering orange floating devices. At least it is good to see everyone in the Theater adhered to the dress code! The drill is a somewhat skimpy affair, and we are glad to be dismissed early. We're even happier to discover that our luggage has finally been delivered to our cabins. At that time, our ship remains docked in San Diego, and while a lone line dancer is participating in a rather sad "Sailaway Spectacular" on the Pool Deck we start unpacking in our cabin. By the time the ship finally sails (five hours late, at 1:00 AM) I am already fast asleep, trying to forget one of the most chaotic sailing days I have ever experienced.

San Diego, California

Radiance of the Seas arriving at San Diego

Radiance of the Seas arriving at San Diego
Rousing (NOT...) Bon Voyage Pool Party

 

Photos and text: 2001-2006 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

Originally published on February 23, 2002. This enhanced version published on April 9, 2006

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