We awoke to a beautiful, sunny day. It had been foggy for the past few days and so it was nice to see blue skies and sunshine. We were up bright and early, as usual, so after breakfast killed some time in the lounge. We chatted with one of the hotel managers; he told us that there were quite a few guests taking the cruise we were. He also asked if we had our Chinese visas (of course we did!); apparently, many of the guests he had spoken with had not. I cannot imagine signing up for a cruise without verifying whether or not a visa was necessary! Those people will not be let off the ship in any of the Chinese ports.
After checking out, we hailed a cab and were off to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Actually, we had the hotel hail a cab for us; most of the cab drivers in Hong Kong do not speak English and we wanted to be sure we ended up at the correct terminal (as opposed to the Star Ferry Terminal or Macau Ferry Terminal). For some reason the meter on the taxi was stuck at $24 (the drop charge); we were a bit concerned that we were stuck in another situation where we would be overcharged. It was about a half-hour ride to the terminal (plenty of traffic). Partway through the ride, the meter magically started. So, when we arrived, we were actually undercharged by about $60 ($7-$8 USD). We gave the cabbie a large tip which he greatly appreciated.
We found the navigated the long walk through the building to the correct check-in area for the NCL Jewel. We showed our cruise documents and were told that since we were Platinum Plus (frequent NCL cruisers) that we would have a separate check-in area and lounge. We were put with the suite people and their concierge. We were the first to arrive so the room was empty. I re-read our cruise documents and saw that they would not check anyone in until 11 am (an hour from when we arrived). Gradually, a few other guests started to arrive. Food and beverages were brought in so we wouldn’t starve before reaching the ship.
At 11 am sharp check-in started. Because we were not actually suite guests after we checked in we were walked over to the main check-in area to get our cruise cards, and then were escorted back to the vip lounge. Boarding started at noon. The suite guests were given vip stickers and escorted on to the ship by the concierge. As soon as they cleared the room, we were escorted by a different staff member onto the ship. After we boarded, general boarding began.
We never eat at the buffet on the first day; it is always hectic and crowded. We decided to eat at O’Sheehans which is a pub that is on most of the NCL ships. By the time we finished eating, the announcement was made that rooms were ready so we headed to our cabin. We had booked a mini-suite; it was about twice the size of our room in Hong Kong! The balcony was overlooking Hong Kong harbor (port side) so we had a great view. The ship itself has the same layout as most of the NCL ships we have been on. We have not cruised on any of their megaships; we prefer the mid-sized ones.
The lifeboat drill was an indoor one; so much nicer than being lined up on the promenade deck! We were seated with a couple of spry 78-year old women from South Dakota. One of them was a retired math teacher so we had a lot to talk about. They were doing a back-to-back cruise so had embarked in Singapore. It turns out we were “next door neighbors” on the cruise.
We spent the rest of the day doing our usual “ship stuff” – relaxing, listening to music, etc. The seas were calm and we were off to a great start. Here are a few pictures leaving Hong Kong: