Sovereign of the Seas 1999 - Departure! (Royal Caribbean Fan)

Every cruise has several moments you never forget.  Departure is among those moments.  Starting at about 5 p.m., the assembled cruise ships cast-off, and each begins a run down “Government Cut.”  Government Cut is the channel leading to open water.  Nearest to the Miami Heat's stadium, is the turning basin.  Since there isn't enough room for ships to turn-around, they do so in the basin.  Often, Royal Caribbean ships will turn around before docking the night before.  

By long tradition, passengers gather and are encouraged to visit the upper decks.  Although they no longer throw confetti as you might see on Love Boat reruns or in the movies, it is still a festive time.  The cameras are always out in force, a ship's band rounds out the Caribbean themed music, drinks are being sold at every corner of the ship, and the excitement on board builds.

The ships make their way, under the control of a harbor pilot, towards open water.  At the Port of Miami, you get to view some of the most expensive real estate in the country to the north, but you'll notice as ships leave port, there is a lot of fresh paint on the docks. The crews that paint the hull while vessels are in port tend to leave their calling-cards along the normally unseen space along the water.

Early dining often causes people to leave the deck party above.  Some ships will wisely delay the first seating to allow people to fully enjoy departure.  Were it not such a thing to not be missed, I personally would love to simply stay on deck sometime.  

Some of the more interesting sights are noted in the illustration below.

Sovereign of the Seas 1999 - Boat Drill (Royal Caribbean Fan)

Before any passenger ship can leave a US port, it must conduct a boat drill. This is a direct result of the Titanic disaster. I was assigned to Muster Station number 9, which was located inside the Finian's Rainbow Lounge. Some folks checked in as they walked into the muster station, which thankfully saved time. The crew would call off each  cabin, and a person from that cabin would reply in the number of people in that berth. Following the drill, the passengers scrambled back to their cabins to either get ready for dinner, or to drop their life jackets off before going up on deck.  When you take a cruise, know that you can't skip the boat drill, and don't try.  You truly don't want to be the last person walking to the muster station with flocks of people staring daggers at you.

Boat Drill!

And yes, people talk about Titanic the entire time the drill is happening.

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