Cruise ship boarding officially began at 12:30 and lasted until 4:00 because that is how long it takes to load four thousand people as well as necessary supplies such as food, water, discount art prints and 40% off jewelry. We lounged around the main deck where the buffet was, checked out our cabin, and just generally hung out waiting for the adventure to begin.
Which it did with the muster station drill. Like airplanes, ships are required to show passengers that the vessel is equipped for nightmare scenarios like fires or ship wrecks so that we will all understand that we all might die.
So before the ship set sail, we were all advised to go to specific assigned places, but in the event of a real disaster we should go to our staterooms first to get our life jackets. Jerry and I proceeded as advised down stairs, not elevators (which I suspect were filled with luggage that hadn't been sorted out and delivered yet) until we saw the cruise employees standing by large informational signs directing everyone to make the correct choice.
It just occurred to me that they probably don't take attendance during emergencies so perhaps, when necessary, people could get on any lifeboat that was handy. I intended to remember our assigned life boat numbers, but they were long forgotten before the ship left the dock.
Not that it mattered.
At the bottom of the stairs, instead of being directed to our muster station, people in charge of such things noticed Jerry's cane and waved us into a cavernous, dimly lit room. It was some kind of a lounge with oversized, cartoonish furniture and the ambiance of Stephen King's Overlook Hotel. We sat down on the orange vinyl couches and waited for instructions.
As the room filled with wheel chairs and various scooter-like vehicles, I decided this convenient muster station was set aside for people who would have trouble getting into a life boat. I was feeling pretty comfortable so I don't know why scenes from The Poseidon Adventure came to mind.
You can learn a lot from movies, and one thing I learned about sinking ships is that there aren't clear, level floors necessary for wheel chairs and scooters. One can expect on a sinking ship any number of inconveniences such as debris, flames, water, and generally lurching that goes with being on the ocean. This puts wheel chairs at a distinct disadvantage.
As my thoughts flitted from one disaster movie to another, it occurred to me that the people directed to the orange cartoon lounge were doomed. I hoped that we were just there for Jerry's comfort when another thought occurred to me. It had taken almost four hours to get everyone aboard ship, and we really wanted to be there, so how long would it take to get us off?
One way or the other, if something bad happened, we were doomed. Jerry said that it took hours for a ship to sink, and I refrained from pointing out the flaws in that construct.
I suppose the muster drill was meant to reassure us that precautions had been taken. Or perhaps it was meant to keep us busy so the crew would have a chance to deliver luggage to our cabins.
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