When I was making our travel plans for this trip, almost a year ago, I was undecided as to whether we should fly in the day before. If this was a winter trip I would not have hesitated but what was the chance of a hurricane in August? Caution won out and we arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day early. There are so many inexpensive, hotels available in the area that are convenient to both the airport and Port Everglades. The one we stayed at included complimentary shuttle from the airport to hotel, hotel to ship and even breakfast in the morning. Best of all, the bathroom was immaculate! All for under $100 for the night! I would definitely recommend going in the night before as the small additional expense was worth not having to stress about flight delays and not having to wake up and begin traveling at some ungodly hour!
We were at the pier by 11am but couldn’t board until 12:00. First on the “to do” list was rent the specially programmed iPhones for onboard use. Wow, this phone is incredible! I can’t believe that every cruise line out there hasn’t copied this idea! Not only does $17 per phone per week buy peace of mind in being able to track and contact friends and family, but it’s priceless when traveling with teenagers! The front screen menu has options to “make a call”, “chat” (text) “guest finder” (tracks the location of the contacts you have in your phone) and “cruise compass” (the ship’s activity list). As I sit in the quiet of the Solarium typing this, I occasionally take a peek to see where the “kids” are roaming or send a quick message to touch base. This gadget makes the 2-way radios we used to travel with seem like dinosaurs! You’ve got to try it.
We had lunch at the Park Café on Central Park. It’s the first time in 14 Royal Caribbean cruises that we haven’t had a Windjammer lunch! I was dying to try the hot roast beef sandwich (with a bit of horseradish, please) and I’m so glad I did! My husband loved the salad bar where you select the fixings and it’s tossed for you fresh. The Panini list was better than the deli at home…turkey & avocado, vegetarian multigrain, tuna melt with muenster and Parma ham, brie & arugula! They had flavored water; sort of like those crystal lite drinks, or the old stand bys of lemonade and iced tea. Desserts too. I hear the café serves a good breakfast so I’ll check that out later in the week.
Off to dinner and a show. Don’t wait up. There’s lots going on here and I don’t want to miss a thing. See you tomorrow!"