Friday, 18 September 2015
18.09.2015 - 18.09.2015
Grey overcast sky covered the city when we approached Seattle. We are booked on a tour of the Boeing Aircraft facility but first we need to clear US Customs and Immigration. After a light breakfast we assemble in the Wheelhouse Bar where we're allocated a tour sticker and directed to the Theatre to await the call forward to Immigration. In due course we are escorted to the terminal building from which point we're in the hands of the US Officials.
Slowly we are subjected to the full biometric recording, Right hand, Left hand and photograph. We then spot Paul, a friend we'd arranged to meet. He's working at the terminal and we arrange to meet him on our return from the excursion. We exit the terminal and are confronted by multiple buses, drivers and other 'official' looking people who are not singing from the same song sheet. One says "Wait here" another says 'Go over there". Eventually we find the bus and we sit and wait. Our neatly assembled party has been through the US Immigration whirlpool and we are three people short. Two eventually arrive and some time later it is decreed that the last lost individual is a 'no show'.
The drive out to the Boeing plant is uneventful and the driver's commentary uninspiring. On arrival we are reminded that no personal items are to be taken on the tour. That message is reinforced a number of times over and we had left our items on the seat on the bus. We've not been given clear instructions as to where and when to meet for the tour. Some questioning of the Boeing Tour staff determines we have a 10:30 Tour but the "Tour Leader" has to collect and distribute the tickets. We don't have a "Tour Leader" and the bus driver is blissfully ignorant of what has to be done. Eventually that is sorted out and we proceed on the tour.
The tour is well managed and very informative. The facility is so huge it destroys ones perspective. To look out over a sea of partly built aircraft and slowly come to the realisation that they are 747s and they look like model aeroplanes messes with your mind. After about 90 minutes we are returned to the 'Gift Shop' where we're invited to spend some time at the invitation of the tour guides. We were left a little uncertain as to what time we were due back at the bus. No clear instruction from the bus driver and no "Tour Leader" to turn to. We figured that as we were due back at the ship at 13:30 and there is at least a 45 minute drive we should leave not much later than 12:30. We were one of the first back on the bus and our tour party eventually trickles back. At 12:30 there are still six people missing. It takes another 20 minutes for them to turn up.
Back at the Cruise Terminal. Paul is waiting to meet up with us. We met Paul during our first Princess Cruise early in 2012 and have kept in email touch since then. Paul used to work part-time for Princess shore staff and is a wealth of inside information. He leads us to a local bar where we spend a most pleasant two hours catching up on all those little pieces of information that doesn't make it to email. Paul has been aboard the ship and has had his lunch, we decide to order a light dish and a drink. In addition to honouring me by considering my images and blogs worth reading he further embarrasses me by insisting he'd pay. All too soon we have to join the queue for a security check prior to boarding the ship.
Up to the Horizon Court for some drinks and fruit and then spend some time on the open deck during the ship's departure. The scheduled "All Aboard" time is 15:30 but it is considerably later before we push off. The day has been a mixed bag, the wonder of Boeing, the pleasure of meeting Paul and the frustration of the worst organised Shore Excursion we've experienced.
Couldn't be bothered getting dressed up for the Formal Night so will visit the Horizon Court. Not that we're particularly hungry but need to vacate the cabin so that Rhoderic can do his stuff. I went to the Theatre after a light meal to listen to the talent of Comedian Steven Scott. He was very clever but a lot of his material required a considerable knowledge of the American culture. Passed the time and was good for a chuckle occasionally.
Earlier today Paul commented that my selection of images had changed - no sunrises. No surprise, there haven't been any. Today was not a good day for photography but I managed to catch a shot of the 'Dreamlifter'. One of only four such aircraft in the world. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony