After waving goobye to 6 bags worth of clothes, toiletries, and electronic gadgets (which incidentally are still not unpacked) we endured a lengthy check in process, which mostly consisted of shuffling our bags along by a few feet every 10 seconds, and awkwardly seeing the same people every few minutes as we doubled back on ourselves in the queue. It's fair to say that the last few weeks before coming away have been a bit stressful, but now we were finally walking the last 100 meters to board and neither of us could really believe it was actually happening. What had started off as a bit off a crazy pipe dream 2 years ago, was becoming reality, and walking into our cabin for the first time was like stepping into a picture; one that we had studied in minute detail for the last 6 months in the brochure.
As it turns out the cabin (don't call it a room) is very nice. We have a bigger bed than the one at home, plenty of storage, and a balcony big enough to practise our dance steps that we're going to learn tomorrow! The champagne and chocolates waiting for us on arrival was a lovely touch :)
After exploring the cabin, we remembered we'd only eaten a yogurt so far that day, and with it now being 3pm, decided to find some food. Food on cruise ships is not something in short supply, and we set out to find it. It didn't take long. Despite the fact that we'd only boarded 20 minutes previously, "afternoon tea" was already being served, and we helped ourselves, sat by the window on Deck 9, and watched as they loaded 2000 peoples luggage, way down below us.
After a comprehensive tour of the gym and spa facilities, I was sold on the fact that I definitely needed a Thai Table massage to cure my stiff neck and shoulders, but it would have to wait another day because we had to take part in the safety drill first. That involved us grabbing our life jackets from the cabin and heading to our muster station (Muster station C, if you're interested) and learning how to be safe. We are now both officially safe.
You might be thinking at this point that we were already on our way past the Isle of Wight, but despite several hours passing we were in fact still firmly attached to the dock side in Southampton. It wasn't for another hour or so before we would Sail Away.
I may have been sounding a bit cynical until this point, it's in my nature unfortunately, and not a character trait I like, but The Sail Away "party" (there I go again) was really a moment of awakening for me. As it turns out, there were 6 cruise ships all leaving Southampton this evening, the Queen Victoria being one of them, and because of this they (whoever "they" were) had laid on some fireworks for us as we pushed back from our berth and started moving slowly down the river towards the Solent. The champagne was being sipped and the music was being played by our new friend DJ Rob (no relation to Rob DJ from Chris Moyles I'm reliably informed) and on the key side, fireworks were exploding into the clouds. It really dawned on us at that point, that our adventure was beginning, and that the ship we were standing on now, outside in the drizzle of Southampton, would take us all the way to Australia.
As first time cruisers, we have no idea what to expect from a cruise "holiday". Of course, lots of people offer their own knowledge from their own experiences, yet we could never be sure what our ship, our cabin or our table mates might be like. So far, (i think) It turns out, after the first full afternoon and evening, that it doesn't really matter, because it's what you make it, and going in with an open attitude and a determination to have a good time will (usually) result in success!