(Apologies for the delayed posting — blame it on the lack of satellite coverage in the Pacific!)

August 30th – I woke somewhat late, still being on Atlanta time, but what was really early for Long Beach time – 7 a.m. Paul, of course, slept on and on and on.

Somehow we managed to laze the morning away until it was finally time to head for the ship. Giddy doesn’t begin to describe our feelings. We have been looking forward to this cruise for so long, until you reach a point that you’re constantly looking over your shoulder and wondering when whatever’s going to happen finally does … and the plans fall part. Thank you, Lord Jesus, not this time!

We arrived at the Carnival terminal to find throngs of people already queued up. Imagine our snobbish reaction when we realized our superior VIP status gained us nothing more than a somewhat shorter line. We waited once more with everyone else. Now we could have groused and grumbled for the next hour plus as we inched forward—and I do mean inched. But everyone around us had arrived with the same euphoric anticipation for our cruise of a lifetime. We met several nice people and Paul, as always, was touting my book. The man is Tahiti - Carnival Legendsurely a gift. He talked it up to 3 ladies on the plane coming in and watched them each download copies from Amazon as they taxied to the terminal! He’s already given out ordering information to several more people, handed out my business cards and rack information cards, too. He has such an easy-going style, loves talking to everyone, and finds a way to seamlessly work in a plug every time. I can’t do this. At all. I am so blessed to walk by his side.

Anyway, we finally made it to the front of the line. Long Beach sends out only two ships a week, so their operation is nothing like Miami and Fort Lauderdale where multiple ships from multiple cruise lines go out every day of the week. The mega-centers have loading down to a fine art. Not so much in Long Beach. But you know – it didn’t matter one whit! The staff—local residents who do this work as a part-time job—were amazing! Friendly, beyond helpful, courteous, and obviously happy in what they do. I cannot give a finer testimonial than to say how much we, as seasoned travelers, appreciated their kindness and consideration. Kudos again, Long Beach.

We sent a text to our kids saying how it felt like coming home. That’s how much we enjoy cruising with Carnival. A long lazy afternoon getting acquainted with the newly furbished Legend (which looked nothing like we remembered). Even the layout had changed, with the Promenade Deck on Level 2! Dinner was excellent as usual. I still can’t believe they gave us the Crème Bruleè (my very favorite) the very first night out! The Maitre ‘d warned us about the 1-pound per day rule. NO WAY! I AM NOT gaining 23 pounds on this cruise! Looking for the exercise room and walking track next.

To cap off the night, we sailed from a night-lit Long Beach around 8:30 p.m. An hour later I headed off to the Casino (I won $48!) and Paul off to the theater to save me a seat for the 10:00 show. We were both very impressed with the dancers – who were also singers! And wonderfully talented. Back in our cabin, we made a pact to indulge in as many activities as we could and not our typical reclusive behavior. This is one trip we want to savor and remember—our trip of a lifetime. Maybe if I stay away from the lunch buffet, I’ll miss out on those extra pounds. Maybe. If.

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