Our ship was called the Norwegian Jade and would be setting sail from Venice, Italy. Little did I know during my last trip with Hot Blonde Cousin that I would be back in Venice just a few months later, enjoying the canals and coffee that I indulged in the first time around. Of the 4 of us gals participating, two (Dancer friend and I) are currently European based, and the other two reside in the Northeastern United States. Due to flight times and availability, Dancer Friend and I met in Italy the day before the cruise set off. We found a cute little hotel in Venice proper and awaited our two other friends who would arrive the next morn. I was actually the first of the four to make it to Italy, so I checked into the hotel, had time to primp for the evening, then met Dancer Friend where her water bus dropped her off. The weather all around Europe has been nothing but hot and steamy of late, so it was a breath of fresh air to enjoy a nice shower upon arrival. Once we were all ready to go, and Dancer Friend told me of her epic adventures trying to make her flight transfer en route, we settled into a nice Italian dinner and drinks. She also had another friend of a friend from Ireland in Venice who she was going to stay with for a couple of days post-cruise, so we met her for a drink as well before stumbling back to the hotel and crashing for the evening. But before sleep could be had, we found it imperative to utilize the Venetian masks we found in the hotel "lobby" (for lack of a better word) and proceeded to reenact moments from a rather sinister-feeling carnival.
Despite or perhaps because of our evening shenanigans, we woke up the next morning ready to grab some coffee and meet our dear friends traveling from afar. After many hi's, hugs and how are you's, we began our short bit of sight-seeing. Luckily, we had several hours to wander the famous city before getting onto the boat, so we took a gondola ride through the canals, had some well-needed prosecco, and basked in the glory of each other's company. The only unfortunate circumstance was that after Dancer Friend's Irish acquaintance so graciously guided us around the city and introduced us to her gondolier friend, we were a bit later than expected to make it to the ship. As we traveled to the port, we noticed that the suggested boarding time of 2 hours prior to setting sail was in fact the latest hour we could board. Needless to say, we began freaking out a little when we realized that we were 20 minutes past the deadline and still several minutes away. With our suitcases and backpacks in tow, we hoofed it to the dock where we finally met a member of the crew who told us that all was well. In fact, being late made it so that there was no line for checkin, security or baggage check, nor did we have to wait on board before our rooms were ready. We sped through all of the paperwork rigmarole, made it to our room, and had all had a moment to catch our breaths before attending the mandatory safety meeting. Perhaps being late is not the most ideal or stress-free way to start a trip, but it certainly got us energized and excited to begin our adventures.