Seriously, I don’t do this. I’m a planner. I like to start working on a trip months in advance, searching out deals, researching what I want to do, and frankly, day dreaming the heck out of that sucker. But not this time. This time I booked the trip on Tuesday, and flew out on Saturday. Crazy!
A coworker had just booked her first cruise, and was so excited about it. I asked her all the details so that I could look up her trip and boat and learn all about it. While I was on the Norwegian Cruise Line website, I decided to check out solo cruiser deals, you know… just for fun. And that is when I happened upon a deal for a ship sailing in only five days. A balcony cabin for $400. FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS! That was for five nights. You can’t hardly get a hotel at the beach for $80 a night, and this included all the food.
Because I was booking so close to the sailing date, only really had one day to decide if I was going to do it or not. Sure, the price of the trip was great, but what about the flights? And would I need to get a hotel overnight in Miami before and after the trip? I called the cruise line because sometimes they can help with flights. It was too close to the actual date for them to book it, but he was able to help me search out a pretty reasonable priced flight, $433. I cleared it at work, and more than that, was encouraged to take the trip. So, I booked it!
Then I chose excursions. I arranged airport rides, cleaned the house, stopped my mail, emptied the fridge, and got a pedicure. Then on Saturday I took the red-eye from Portland to Ft. Lauderdale.
I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 5:45 in the morning, and had to waste time until 9:30 when I would catch ground transportation to the docks. I freshened up, got some breakfast, and found and outlet to charge my phone while I slept in a hallway. Less you think I’m weird, let me just say there were at least four people sleeping in this hall at any given time.
I took ground transport to the docks and joined the many lines. First was the line to have your ticket and ID checked. Next was the line for security, so put your papers and anything in your pockets into the bag. After that was the line to check in, which means you have to get all your papers and passport back out. From there you’re put in a large holding room until your boarding group is called.
Then you wait in line to board the ship. And then you’re finally on the boat!
There is still about an hour and a half before the staterooms are opened. I decided to get lunch. I knew that the buffet would be open, but I also knew there would be about 2,000 people trying to eat up there, so I went to one of the formal dining rooms. I didn’t have to wait for a seat and I was treated to my first (of many) three course meals while looking at the water. You can also tour the ship, check out the spa and fitness center, and just grab a drink and hang out.
At 1:30 the staterooms are open.
It can take up to five more hours for your bags to arrive, so I packed a change of clothes in the backpack I kept with me. I was able to take a shower and grab a nap where I got to lay down instead of sitting in a chair. As we pulled out of Miami we got some great views of giant yachts and the infamous Miami Beach.
After unpacking and grabbing dinner I was back in my stateroom to enjoy the warm night air and views of the open sea.
The next day was a full day at sea, I still hadn’t adjusted to Miami time yet, so I woke up in time to catch the sunrise. I spent most of my morning soaking up the sun on my balcony while reading a book.
Late in the morning I attended a seminar about where to shop in the ports we would be visiting. Mainly they talk about where to buy high end jewelry, but they also give you a map of the ports, along with coupons and certificates for free stuff from stores. They also have a raffle drawing for prizes. Its only takes about 45 minutes, and since it’s a day at sea anyway, why not waste a little time and get some free stuff?
I stopped by the ship board casino, and wasted $20 on one of those coin push games. Then vowed not to go back to the casino for the rest of the trip. Nothing like losing money to make you not want to gamble!
After lunch I was going to go to a “Deal or No Deal” game, that you had to buy in for at $25 a card. I was next in line to buy my card when the machine broke, so I didn’t get to go win $2,000 or a free cruise. Instead I went to another seminar. The guy giving the shopping seminar was offering another meeting to talk about how to buy quality jewelry and how to get it for less. For instance, if you go down two points in clarity of diamond you can save $800. Also, diamonds are based on quarter karat weight, so if you buy a stone that is .98 karats, you’ll pay the same price as you would for one that is only .75 karats. Good info! Plus, more raffles. And I totally won a gold leopard bangle bracelet.
After another three-course meal at one of the main dining halls, Aqua, I caught the first main theater show. This was a rock-and-roll showcase, with music from Motown to Country. It was entertaining enough, but some of the costuming had me confused. I didn’t realize that Elton John fell under the punk rock, kilt wearing scene. Still a fun way to spend an hour.
After that I returned to my stateroom and went out on the balcony. Only to accidentally set off the smoke detector in the room when the warm night air hit the air-conditioned air and steamed up the whole place. Nothing like having security knocking on your door to end the evening!
The next day would be our first shore day, and I was excited to see some Mayan ruins!