Holidays are stressful. That's why we like to go on cruises. You reach the terminal, the bags vanish, the car vanishes, and you walk through the glass maze onto the ship. And relax. No need to find where you're staying each night. No need to find somewhere to eat each night. No rushing around, you go at the speed of a ship not at the speed of a plane.
(You don't avoid all stresses true: the stress of the Satnav taking you down what looks like a side street in the wrong direction, or worrying if you got all the documents needed, or worrying that all the cases will appear outside the cabin, etc. There's always something to worry about.)
We drove down the day before, having dropped the cats off with Auntie Phyllis of Grange Boarding Cattery. Less worry about getting there on time the day itself. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Southampton M27, and as we had taken my car sat out the morning at the hotel (along with other passengers) rather than try to see somewhere local to pass the time (bags had to sit on the back seat of my voiture). Virginia voted for lunch at KFC, then the Satnav got us to the right terminal despite my distrust.
The bags and car vanished thanks to Cruise Parking Services. After sitting a while at the terminal green letter L was paraded, and we got our boarding cards at the desk. Through security, and a simple glass maze then onto the massive Azura! Similar but much pleasanter than the analogue at an airport. We were too early to go straight to our cabin so had the first of an expensive series of drinks at an alfresco bar before 2pm came, and we could do the next ritual. Waiting in the cabin for the bags to appear.
We're old hands for the next ritual (the muster with life-jacket drill) for which you get there early. The Azura has more room so few if any stood. Found ourselves on table 2 in the Oriental Restaurant first sitting, very pleasant table companions. Having to slow down as one does on a ship makes most people more genial. The first of the special surprises on this cruise took place while we were eating - the captain announced Code Alpha in Meridian restaurant.