Noon position: San Pedro Harbor, Pier 91
For most of our guests, the drive to Pier 91 – where the Prince Albert II was awaiting – was already somewhat like an expedition, as the extension of the Long Beach and San Pedro harbors was extraordinary. Containers after containers were being moved and/or stored, and, after having passed several bridges coming out of Long Beach, finally the cruise terminal came into view. Designed for large cruise-ships carrying thousands of passengers, the terminal almost dwarfed the Prince Albert II, their home for the next twelve days, for some even for a couple of weeks.
Having passed the different checkpoints in the terminal, the boarding took some courage, as the gangway had a very unusual design: instead of steps that would move with the inclination of the gangway, the steps were rounded – making it somewhat difficult, especially for our female guests with high heels…
To check in, guests had only to walk a couple of meters from the security officer to the Panorama Lounge, where formalities were handled swiftly – and where drinks and canapés were being served to while away the time. Passports had to be handed over to Robin, our Staff Assistant, and in exchange I handed over the suite keys, and Claudia, Juan Jose (better known as “JJ”), and Chris, all naturalists, botanists, and ornithologists, took guest photos for security services.
At 6:30 p.m. The mandatory lifeboat drill had to be postponed until all guests were onboard, and Ignacio Rojas, our Expedition Leader, made the guests aware of the different situations that might pose a danger and how to react to them. There was very little space in The Theater once everyone had donned their life jackets, but in the case of emergency all 132 guests (should the Prince Albert II be carrying a full load) would fit into the room.
At a later stage, all staff members were introduced, including department heads and boutique, spa and beauty salon personnel.
There are number of travel-industry guests aboard as Silversea is rewarding its top travel agents at their annual Awards Gala during this voyage. A similar introduction of staff members was given at a slightly later stage for these guests, with the Captain present, before it was time for the first of many excellent dinners.
A Tahitian group (musicians, one male dancer, and two female dancers) gave a little hint through their music and dance at what awaited Silversea Expedition guests during the inaugural French Polynesia season beginning in 2009.
When it was time for us to depart, DJ Marcelino played music on the open decks. And although the sun had long set, the temperature was still very agreeable. Drinks and sweets (chocolate cake, lemon tart, coconut cookies, crème brulee, and other temptations) had been set up, and when the lines were cast shortly after 10 p.m. the Prince Albert II was on the way to explore Baja California and the Sea of Cortez.