After a ridiculous 3 hours sleep, I got up on the 2nd December to finish packing for my first cruise from Fort Lauderdale. At T5, it was very quiet. No idea if that was because it was normal or early. Unfortunately there were no aisle seats left when I checked in (I prefer people to machines), only 7 middles so she gave me 31J. Gate B35 opened at 12.20pm and was a hop on the train to the stop.
A woman from Texas sat beside me as we waited and she had 7 cases – eek! She was also next to me on the plane (the aisle!) while Jane from Paisley was at the window. This was her first cruise but unfortunately all her documents had been stolen during a break in the night before so all she had were luggage labels. Her TA did her ETSA but failed to fill in her accommodation details. After take off, the customs form was handed out. The flight flew due to the chatting, even though I was zonked. We landed in Miami at 6.08pm, so about 20 mins early. Immigration took only about half an hour then it was baggage reclaim. I hate people who have theirs and just stop and chat. I tried to get past and saw my case go by on the carousel so had to go to the other end to pick it up. The Celebrity/Royal Caribbean reps were very prominent. After a short while, we moved to another location as we waited for the others to arrive. One family went to the Miami airport hotel, so must have been on Eclipse of Millennium. Jane got her transport to the Marriott. Mine to the Hilton FLL Marina was called first and Jane was already on it, being dropped off afterwards apparently. The drive to the hotel took about 40 minutes along the I95. I saw my case so was first off the bus and into the hotel, where I was met by Ken Maclean from Facebook. He said he’d gone to the airport first even though I’d already told him to meet me at the hotel about 9pm. I got my room 2131 but no port view – damn! I think they put us altogether but not sure.
The aircon was weird. If it was on 80F, it was hot but 70F blew freezing air. I tried to phone my dad but it wouldn’t connect even though text and internet worked fine. It was annoying, especially since he’d waited up! Ken took me to the Marriott for dinner and it rained. Grrr! Afterwards he took me on a quick drive around town before going to see what sort of room they’d given him at his hotel.
He’d booked the Lago Mar for the morning ships, even though he lived an hour’s drive away. I suppose it made sense really since it was such an early start. He’d been given a room with a balcony overlooking the beach. It reminded me of my partially-obstructed view with buildings and trees! The hotel was beautifully decorated. He then took me back to my hotel where I went to bed after midnight so turned into a sleepy pumpkin!
I set the alarm for 3am and 15 mins later, Ken knocked on my door, calling rather loudly. Shhhh! People are asleep! Now I had no idea whether the arrival times on the port movements were dock like us or pilot so really were we too early! Constellation was listed for 4am, but that turned out to be pilot. As we waited I saw Carnival Freedom in the distance heading our way while Norwegian Epic was Miami bound.
Well Connie was first, emerging from behind the trees, having arrived from her repositioning for the first Caribbean cruise of the season. She would be undergoing mandatory US Coastguard inspection so we’d already been warned we wouldn’t be boarding until at least 1.30pm. Next was Carnival Freedom followed by Oasis of the Seas, Grand Princess, Eurodam, Crown Princess and finally, in daylight, Celebrity Infinity fresh from being Solsticized in Freeport.
Every ship bar Infinity and Carnival Freedom had been in the Solent so it was a mini-reunion. Mind you, I had missed Eurodam’s visit in 2008 because I was on the QE2. I was pleased to finally had the Millennium class set – yay!!!! Just need Infinity to call at Southampton then she too can have the grain silos behind like her sisters. 😀 After a quick stop at Walgreens for toothpaste since I’d changed body wash and shampoo but forgot that, we went to locations to et pics of the ships. Such a shame Connie was hidden!
Then Ken dropped me back at my hotel where I got a couple of hours sleep.