Pre-Cruise, The First Leg

Since we live 130 miles and a 2 hr. & 30 minute drive from our first destination: the Larkspur Landing motel in Renton, WA, we have decided to leave around mid-morning and take our time getting there. Traveling on the I-5 corridor at midday should not be too stressful, so we consider our next adventure to begin when we leave home. Upon our arrival, we expect to see/meet some friendly faces, as we have been communicating via email and Cruise Critic with several of the TWA (Travel With Alan) group.

Our mid-morning departure from Port Angeles turned  out to be around 9:15 instead of 10, so we had a leisurely rather traffic free drive to the Larkspur Landing motel.  When we arrived we were told that the motel had been “overbooked and that although we could leave our car in their parking lot, they had been able to book us in to the Hampton Inn near the airport, and their shuttle will take us there in a few minutes.  Humm… is this a bad omen or what?

As it turned out the Larkspur had suffered some water damage due to busted water pipes and they were in the process of repairing the damage.  Upon arrival at the Hampton Inn, it became apparent that we had  been “upgraded” – good omen?  Since I had planned to leave my “to the motel’’ traveling clothes in our car, once I had changed in to my “flying to Ft Lauderdale” clothes, I had to take the shuttle back to the Larkspur as did one of our new traveling companions – Leo and Carol, from Bellingham.  They were also in our TWA group.  Quite a number of TWA folks had to go through the same scenario. Two of our dear friends from Cruise Critic; Connie and Cathy Palmer (no relation) also met us at the Hampton. Surprised smile  It was a joy to finally meet face-to-face.  Can’t wait to spend more time with these two fine ladies.

Once we were settled we called Larry & Anita Lee, as they had emailed us earlier and wanted to get together. Larry and Anita had “suffered” our friendship last year on the Prinsendam, and I guess they were ready for some more. After a short visit with them in the hotel lounge, we got in their car and drove for about two hours to this special eatery, ( Shake-Go) somewhere out in the valley, which valley I had no clue. when I heard the name, I was a bit skeptical as to what they were  up to, but it turned out great, and we did enjoy our food.  We do enjoy their company and wished we could sail with them again.  Since our flight was to leave SeaTac at 6 am, which meant an early wake for us, all too soon we had to bid them adieu.

We were told by the desk manager to be in the lobby ready to go at 4 am, which meant getting up Barbara  up at 3 !!   Even for me that is a bad hour.  When I saw the size of their shuttle, I thought “Man they are never going to get all of us there in time to suffer through check-in and security”.  Fears allayed – this was probably the easiest transition ever, except for Barbara – because she  has these hairpins holding her “do” together, so she was pulled aside and got the dreaded “pat-down”.Smile with tongue out  Once we put ourselves back together, we were at the gate  over an hour early.  Who should be waiting for us but Tor and Judy who had been our table mates on the Prinsendam.  Great friends and even greater to be traveling with them again. We will be dining with them again this cruise.

As we waited for our flight to depart we had fun looking for familiar faces from past “Travels With Alan” adventures.

DSC05940True to his word everything Alan had planned and promised, turned out great.  (My, my  Alan, you have lost a great deal of weight – you look great)

Here is part of the gathered herd (the first batch of over 350 loyal “Alan” cruisers).at the Ft Lauderdale Airport awaiting  transportation to our hotel. The towering Norwegian in the center is Tor.

So here we sit, in our very nice room at the Hilton, getting ready to get a great night’s rest and look forward to tomorrow and our boarding of the ms Noordam.DSC05943

Barbara always loves to have our meals documented, so here we are at the Hilton dining room enjoying our “first Gourmet meal”.  She relished hers – I tolerated mine.

Next: Boarding and our first day at sea

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