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GETTING TO THE SHIP

Introduction. We had already made a couple of trans-Atlantic repositioning cruises and enjoyed them very much. They had also been very reasonable in price. But we were already familiar with most of the stops they made on the Florida-Europe route and were looking for something a little different this time. Searching the Internet, I finally stumbled across a 16-day North Atlantic cruise by Princess, a line we'd never tried. There were seven stops en route and eight days at sea. Sailing from Copenhagen to New York, it had stops scheduled in Norway (2), Scotland, the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland, none of which we'd ever visited. We had some misgivings about bad weather and rough seas along the way but decided to chance it.

It was not as inexpensive as our other repositioning cruises had been, and we had to take a veranda we'd be unlikely to use. But it was something different, and that's what we were looking for. Also, the higher cost was largely offset by the savings on air fare when we were able to use frequent flyer miles for the tickets to Copenhagen, even leaving from our little local airport at no extra cost.

Packing was more difficult than usual because we had to plan for the worst extremes. In the end, it turned out that we took more cold/wet weather gear than we needed, but we look on that as a good thing.

Sunday, 9 September. We left our home in Massanutten at 1:20 and drove the 20 miles to the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport at Weyer's Cave. It was a beautiful sunny day. The 45-minute flight to Washington Dulles was uneventful, and we landed at 3:40. We were supposed to fly out at 5:15, but the SAS flight was late. There had been storms in the D.C. area the day before that caused flights to be diverted, and the planes were still struggling to get back to their regular routes. We weren't concerned about the delay because we still would be arriving well before we could board the ship.

Because of the delay, the airline gave us each a $15 meal voucher, and we had a light snack while we waited. We finally boarded just before 8:00, and the plane left the gate at 8:45. A typically bad airplane meal was served at 10:30. (Jane thinks it was the cause of her stomach problems for the next couple days.) Then we tried to rest, but the plane was uncomfortably warm.
  
The Emerald Princess
Monday, 10 September. Breakfast was served at 8:00 a.m. Denmark time (2:00 a.m. EDT), and we landed at 9:20. Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport was a madhouse. After sitting and reading for a while to kill time, we found out that people taking the Princess' bus transfers to the ship were already being processed in (even though Princess had emphasized that no one would be processed before 1:00 p.m.). We caught the bus at 10:45. It took us through the heart of Copenhagen, but we'd been there too many times before to get very excited about it. We arrived at the Emerald Princess and processed through with only a slight wait. We were in our room onboard by 12:15.

Our room was on Deck 15 (the Lido deck), the highest deck with passenger rooms, and quite far forward on the port side. There were facilities out on the Lido deck to get ice cream, pizza, and many kinds of sandwiches, including hamburgers, knockwurst, bratwurst, hot dogs, etc. With the veranda of little use in September at this latitude, our room seemed rather small. The bathroom was especially small and had no tub, just a tiny shower.

Although most cruise passengers seem to want to get onboard early primarily to get the big buffet lunch, we weren't at all hungry. We simply walked down the hall from our room, went out on deck, and had an ice cream. Then we rested while we waited for our luggage. It finally came at 2:30, and we started to unpack. The lifeboat drill was at 5:00.

We had fixed seating in the dining room at 6:00, as we had requested. There we met the two couples who would be sharing the table with us for the next 16 days. They were very pleasant company and we got along well. The ship sailed just as we sat down at the table. Jane wasn't feeling well (possibly from the spicy curried rice on the plane). We also had jet lag, so we skipped the 8:30 show in the Princess Theater and went to bed before 10:00.

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