DAY ONE- We were on Delta out of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport flying into Ft Lauderdale. There were Delta reps at Cinci airport that directed us through the boarding process. On arrival in Ft Lauderdale we were met by several reps holding Royal Caribbean signs at the baggage claim area. They directed us to a waiting area and after about 10 minutes we were given transfer passes and we boarded a bus for the trip to Miami. It is about a 35 mile trip and on the day we arrived it took about 20 minutes. We were told that on some days it could take up to an hour or more with traffic. We arrived at the port and a porter took our checked luggage at the pier. We were directed to the terminal where we checked in and received our SeaPass in a matter of minutes. You have to present the card you will be charging the SeaPass to, your passport or Birth Certificate, a picture ID and your Bahamas immigration card, which comes with your documents. From Pier to ship was about 15 minutes including walking time. We entered the ship and, as this was our first cruise, were of course in awe. The Centrum area is huge and impressive. As you enter the ship you insert your SeaPass into a reader and your picture is taken. From then on, any time you leave the ship, you insert your card into this reader and your picture appears to security so they can verify your identity. This makes getting off and on the ship pretty quick and easy.
We got to our room and opened the door using the SeaPass. We were pleasantly surprised by the size. Now remember this was a Superior Oceanview and, as such, is bigger than a normal room. I would compare this room size to a typical Motel 6, Days Inn, Red Roof Inn room. There is the bed, a small, comfortable corner seat and a small end table. There are drawers in two beside stands, 6 shelves in under counter unit, three drawers, several shelves behind the mirrors for toiletries, etc, as well as a closet with plenty hangers and three rods which provide quite a bit of hanging area. There is a small TV (about 13" diagonal) and, to our surprise, a very small refrigerator as well as a small safe. The announcement was made several times that there is to be no smoking in the staterooms yet on top of the mirrored cabinets, there were three ashtrays. I will not tell you if my wife chose to smoke in our room or not, but make your own decision. They definitely send mixed messages by having ashtrays in a non-smoking area. In general it IS okay to smoke on one side of the ship and in many lounges. If you are unsure where, ask any of the staff. The beds (which in our case were pushed together to make one) look like cots. We were not thrilled about this until we lay down and discovered that, despite their appearance, they are pretty comfortable. There are extra pillows in the under counter cabinets which were much needed. The bathroom is small. There's no denying that. However, it is functional. You can check out the pictures of all this at the link below.
I had ordered chocolate covered strawberries and a Happy Birthday package for my wife. The strawberries were waiting in the room and were nicely chilled. The decorations, including a large centerpiece in the window, several streamers and balloons were very nice. Nicer than I had expected from the pictures I had seen. Also, to my surprise, a very good moist birthday cake was delivered later in the day. When I ordered the birthday package there was no mention of a cake being included so that was a nice extra.
We went up to the deck and explored the ship then went to the Windjammer cafe for lunch. The food on board is decent. Is it gourmet? No. If you are used to four and five star restaurants, you will be disappointed in the food. If you are realistic and realize they are serving 2,500 people at a time, the food is good. There are a lot of choices and I can't imagine anyone not finding something they like. Here are two tips on the Windjammer. One, there are two main lines on the "outdoor" part. If you go into the "indoor" part of the Windjammer, there are two more identical lines so you can avoid some of the waiting. This will make sense once you are on the ship. Also, once you get through the lines, there is another area where they are carving roast beef, turkey, have hamburgers to order, etc. Also at breakfast they are cooking omelets to order in this area. So save room on your plate for that. Water, Lemonade and Iced Tea are free. We actually thought the lemonade was pretty good (Comparable to Country Time).
We then stopped by the bar upstairs at Windjammer and got two "Drink of the Day" Blue Mondays. These are Rum, Blue Curacao, Pineapple juice and maybe some other ingredients. Let me just say here that on this cruise every bartender mixed the drinks STRONG! I'm talking literally at least one third alcohol. They are good but will knock you on your butt. We got the "souvenir glass", which is actually plastic" at $8.00 a piece the first time. After that you trade it in each time you buy a drink and they only charge you the normal $3.95 for the drink of the day + the 15% gratuity.
We didn't get our checked luggage until almost 5:00pm so we changed into some clothes in our carryon and went to the muster drill. As stated on this board numerous times, there were several people who thought it unimportant to come to the mandatory muster and they were called by name while everyone else had to wait until they showed up. Please go to the muster drill. It's for your protection.
After muster it was up on deck for dancing. My wife was dancing while I was taking pictures. I felt a little dizzy for a second and couldn't figure out why. Then it hit me...we were moving. There was no sensation of movement at all other than the buildings moving by. On the subject of motion. Unless you are VERY prone to motion sickness I cannot imagine anyone being made sick by the ship. Other than the water going by you really cannot tell you are moving 99% of the time. Every once in awhile you'll feel a light shaking. This is about equivalent to light turbulence on an airplane or what it feels like if you are in a building and a large truck goes by shaking the walls. Honestly there was a lot less motion sensation than you feel in a car. We were in 1-4 foot seas so it was rather calm but, honestly, you'd forget you were moving a lot of the time.
I'll not go on with the rest of the day's activities, as they are rather boring to read. Just wanted to cover some of the highlights that may apply to everyone.
We woke up at about 8:00am and I looked out the window. To my surprise I was looking at the side of a large ship which turned out to be Carnival's Fantasy. We were docked next to her at Nassau. We again went to Windjammer for breakfast then went down to deck one to see Nassau. We had booked a tour on Seaworld Explorer, which I would recommend to anyone who would like to see the underwater world without getting wet. My wife is not a fan of the water, as she can't swim so this was an opportunity for us to see things we wouldn't have been able to see normally. As you exit the ship your tour guides holding signs naming the tour you signed up for meet you. Nassau is pretty, but to be honest, to us it seemed rather dirty and seedy. Now, understand that we are from USA and are used to most "touristy" places being clean and nice. Nassau doesn't have the money to recover from the hurricanes as readily as most American cities and it shows. The buildings at the pier were in need of repair. There was a lot of debris floating in the water. There were light poles knocked down still lying on the pier. Having said that, the water is beautiful green and conditions are better in other areas than at the pier.
We followed our guide to the boat that takes you to the Seaworld Explorer. As we walked the pier to the shuttle boat, we saw several small blowfish right at the surface of the water. We boarded the boat and pulled out into the harbor headed for the Explorer. The man driving the boat was extremely entertaining explaining what all we were seeing in a humorous way. We passed several HUGE mansions as he told us of their owners: Tiger Woods, Chuck Norris, Michael Jordan, the owner of the Atlantis resort, etc. We then approached two houses that appear to be about 30 room mansions being built side by side. He explained that these are both being built by Oprah Winfrey. One for her and one for guests. Amazing. We saw several sunken ships along the way with masts sticking out of the water. These were those people who failed to heed the hurricane warnings we were told. We arrived at the Explorer and transferred over to that boat which appears totally normal from above. Once on board we were led downstairs into a long narrow hull below water level. Both sides were lined with windows. We were then taken around the reef passing many fish, starfish, coral, a shipwreck and even a shark. After this we were taken back to the pier and we spent a few hours shopping. We took a carriage ride which, if you have never been to the Bahamas, is more terrifying than relaxing. It appears that there are no traffic laws, or if there are, they are not enforced. There was a one lane road with cars going both directions at 45 MPH. Honking horns are used in place of turn signals. All I can say is BE CAREFUL walking.
After the carriage ride at a full trot we went back on the ship for lunch, again in the Windjammer. After lunch we decided to go over to see the Atlantis Resort. There is really no describing this place and I see now why everyone says to go there. We didn't pay to use their beaches, we just went in to look around. The taxi ride to the Atlantis was equally as terrifying, going 75 in 25 MPH zone with horn blazing. The sheer size of everything at Atlantis from the 25 foot tall six inch thick steel doors to the horse sculpture to the atrium to the aquarium is overwhelming. Most people have seen a restaurant with an aquarium in it but this is different. This aquarium lines one entire side of the restaurant wrapping around to the other wall. Outside the architecture is equally awe inspiring. Of course, you also have to get a look at the $25,000 a night suite that forms a bridge between the towers. After taking a ton of pictures, we headed back to the ship.
This was formal night and we went to the main dining room, "The Mayfair" for dinner. It was okay but not our cup of tea. The service is excellent; however, the headwaiter told a few off color jokes that appeared to lightly offend some of the older people at our table. We had roasted vegetables as an appetizer. They were okay but were served cold which was a bit of a surprise. Some of the other choices were chilled Jasmine soup or escargot. I got the beef Tenderloin with green peppercorn gravy and onion mashed potatoes. I ordered it medium well. It arrived well done and room temperature at best. The portion was also rather small, although the waiter did offer to bring us seconds. The food was adequate but not much more than that. We stuck with the Windjammer the rest of the cruise and were quite satisfied. Another couple sitting with us said they had tried the dining room for breakfast and were disappointed also. Another annoyance that seemed to bother everyone at our table was that a photographer came around during dinner and took pictures of each couple then the wife alone. He was leaning over people while they were trying to eat and was very annoying. We just said "no" to the 200 other times they tried to get us to get our pictures taken but butting in on dinner was really tacky.
After dinner we went to The Chorus Line Lounge for the "Love and Marriage" game show. I HIGHLY recommend this. It is based on the old Newlywed Game where three couples are separated and the host asks the husbands and wives questions then they have to answer what they thought their partner said. They chose a couple that had been married less than three days a couple that had been married the longest (60 years in this case) and a couple that and been married 9 years. The host, Duane the cruise director, is hilarious. If you've ever seen the old Newlywed Game with Bob Eubanks egging on the contestants and making snide comments, this is very much like Duane. He asked questions such as: "Ladies.... What is the first thing your husband touches when he wakes up in the morning?" The newlywed lady said after a long embarrassed pause, "His razor." Duane said, "You've been married three days and the first thing he touches is his razor?!" To which she replied with an embarrassed smile, "Probably not.... But that's what I'm gonna say." The 9 year marriage lady said "Himself because he always goes to the bathroom in the morning." When they brought the men back out her husband answered, "The first thing I touch in the morning is my shower slippers." Duane replied, "Well.... That's not what the young kids call it these days David." Another question was "Guys...you have to go the lingerie store and buy your wife a bra. .... But she didn't tell you what size. What size are you bringing home?" The 60 years married husband answered, after holding up his hands as if cupping certain things, "Orange size." Duane about wet himself laughing. It is a very fun and entertaining show and I think it is a must see if you enjoy the old Newlywed game.
After that we went to the pool party/midnight buffet. They call this "Dancing under the Stars" which sounds like romantic slow dancing. It is NOT. It is Hip Hop, "Who Let the Dogs Out", etc. There's nothing wrong with this. Just don't expect to spend romantic time slow dancing under the stars They were grilling out hamburgers poolside with tacos, salads, pasta, etc. This is also when they displayed the ice sculptures, watermelon carvings, windmills made of bread, vases of flowers made of fruits and vegetables, etc. it's quite a sight to see. After this it was off to bed where we found our first towel animal, an elephant wearing my sunglasses. I'm a guy and even I couldn't help but think it was cute.
Let me take a second here to comment on Apollo and Fernando, our room stewards. They are GREAT! I cannot say enough good about them. ANYTHING we asked for, we got. Apollo introduced himself the first day and knew my name every time after that even though he was taking care of what appeared to be the entire half of the 9th deck. They worked hard and did excellent and I thanked them by prepaying tips plus leaving them $20.00 more in the tip envelope at the end of the cruise. Another word on the staff in general. Never at any time whether on duty or off duty did we see or hear ANY crewmember, kitchen staff member, bartender, waiter, busboy, etc complain about ANYTHING. After living in America (something I am very proud of) it makes you see how spoiled we really are as we complain and whine about everything. The staff of the Majesty genuinely seemed happy to serve people.
Through day two we were uncertain as to what would transpire on day three. We were scheduled to visit Coco Cay, RCI's private island, but due to damage sustained in the recent hurricanes, Coco Cay had been closed for several weeks. There was no mention form the crew as to whether we would or would not be visiting Coco Cay. As we left the ship in Nassau, they had a small wooden plaque near the gangway saying next port : Coco Cay so we were hopeful. As it turns out, we woke up on Wednesday morning to find the Majesty anchored off Coco Cay and the tenders to the island running. The water around Coco Cay is too shallow for the Majesty to dock there, however, smaller boats called tenders take you to the island from the big ship. We ate breakfast in the Windjammer then headed back to the room to get ready for Coco Cay. They sell water bottles that you can take to Coco Cay but we had brought along an insulated bottle by Blue Ice. I would HIGHLY recommend one of these. This is a basic water jug wrapped in an insulated outer layer. The bottom unzips and there is a removable ice pack inside. We had forgotten to take the ice pack out of the freezer before leaving home so did not have that to keep the water cold. I found our room steward, Apollo, cleaning another room and asked if there was somewhere I could get ice for the bottle. He immediately stopped what he was doing and took the bottle to the maintenance room to fill it with ice. Apollo is GREAT. I then filled that with water and we walked down to the 1st deck to get on a tender.
I have to mention here that the Majesty's elevators take quite a while to arrive at the correct floor. The biggest problem seems to be that there are 6 forward elevators. If one is full and you are waiting on the next, but you push ANY of the buttons to call an elevator up or down, it holds that full elevator until you stop pushing the buttons. It took everyone a while to figure this out so you'd get on an elevator, the doors would start to close, then someone would push the button to call the next elevator. Instead, the doors would open again, and you'd have to wait for them to close again. Then, if someone pushed the button again, the process would repeat. It got to the point that after a few days walking up or down a few decks seemed the preferred method of getting around.
Anyway, we walked down to deck one and hit a huge crowd on deck two stairs waiting for the tenders. This was one of only two times that there was any kind of crowd, despite the fact that there were over 2,500 people on board. As we waited the cruise staff yelled out for everyone to have their SeaPass out and that, being as the tenders hold 350 people each, everyone standing in line would be on the next tender. This relieved the waiting, as well as making it a situation where there was no pushing or line jumping since everyone knew they would be on the next boat. We tendered over to Coco Cay through clear blue-green water. As you step off the tenders you are greeted with many small shops selling basic "souvenir" shop items. Bring cash for these shops, as they don't take the SeaPass. Bars on the island DO take SeaPass. There are still signs of hurricane damage on the front of the island. There are a lot of rocks exposed. There is also a wall as well construction netting keeping you away from this area. There was a palm tree down on the front of the island also, however, this does not take away from the beauty of Coco Cay.
We walked around the island to the right to the area where the wave runners are docked. We had neither the money nor inclination to do the wave runners, so we chose one of the MANY lounge chairs and lay in the sun for awhile. It was very hot (89F) and the sun was shining hot. However, there was also a cool breeze blowing, so we knew we shouldn't lay there long or we would be fried. After we stayed there for a while I walked on around the beach taking pictures. There was one area I passed that smelled STRONGLY of sewer. This was coming from the interior of the island, not the ocean. I assume they have a cesspool for the toilets on the island hidden behind the trees. This smell lasted only a few minutes though and I came up on the part of the island where the kayaks are stored. There are many hammocks and chairs as well as a HUGE shallow area at this point on the island. This is also where I ran across the first of the Coco Cay chickens. There are several chickens running loose around the island. I couldn't think of a reason for this at first, but then thought about the fact that chickens eat maggots and that would keep the fly population down. Whether or not this is the real reason, I do not know. Key West also had an in ordinate amount of free roaming chickens, so there is obviously some good reason. I went back and got my wife and we drug our floating mats around to the section of the island I just described. If you don't like crowds, I would suggest going straight to this part of the island. There are a lot of chairs, a lot of hammocks and you can even pick up your floating mats here as they are a pain in the butt to drag around the island. It is a good walk from the tenders however.
We spent the remainder of our time at Coco Cay floating in the shallow water on our mats. The water is knee deep to a child out to about 100 yards or more from shore. We saw Sea Cucumbers, many fish, a crab, a LARGE starfish, conchs, etc in the shallow water. We had been on Coco Cay for about 4 hours at this point in 89F bright sun. We pulled the Blue Ice container out from under the chair where we had kept it and even without the ice pack in the bottom it was still pleasantly cold. Very impressive performance from this jug. After spending a few hours there we went back to the front of the island for lunch. They have a BBQ lunch on the island that I thought was very good. I've heard people complain on cruise boards about the fact that there are flies on the food, etc. Well, it is outdoors and there isn't a lot they can do about that. They have the food in covered shacks in steamtables and keep it as sanitary as possible for being outside. I worked in food service for 13 years and everything was as sanitary as it can be. They had corn on the cob, good BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken (no I don't think that's why they have chickens on the island) cheeseburgers, cole slaw, potato salad, etc. All were quite good. There are covered eating areas also. I had tried a Coco Loco drink on board and wasn't impressed. Here, however, we ordered two Coco Locos and they were GREAT! Again they are STRONG. Hint: Stir them when you get them or you are drinking pretty much straight spiced rum. Once stirred, they are excellent.
After two....or three.... Coco Locos, it was time to go back to the ship. As we waited to get on the tenders, I started noticing, just how in control RCI really is. They seem to have thought of everything. There is a fenced in children's play area at the front of the island where they will entertain the little ones while you relax on the beach. They were having water balloon tosses, etc. There is also a corral where they have wheelchairs with large balloon wheels so that disabled cruisers can also enjoy the island.
We tendered back to the Majesty and again were through the reboarding process rather quickly. There is an x-ray machine as you enter, so have any bags, cameras, etc out and ready to go through and it makes this much quicker. After dinner in Windjammer, we were worn out from the sun and water. We stayed on deck for a beautiful sunset over the sea then went to bed early this night and got some much needed sleep.
By this time, depression has started to set in as you realize that you are nearing the end of your trip. The crew begins to talk about debarking and packing. However, nothing will shake the "vacation's over" blues like opening your curtains and seeing that you are anchored at Key West. Key West was my personal favorite port. For one thing we were back in USA and, to us, that's more familiar territory. Beyond that though, Key West is just beautiful. Before getting off the Majesty at Key West, everyone on board MUST go through a quick US Customs inspection. This consists of filling out form in your stateroom then going to the requested place (in our case On Your Toes Lounge) with your SeaPass, passport or birth certificate and Photo ID. They call non US residents to a separate area and I cannot speak to what the process is there since we are US citizens. For us we stood in a very fast moving line that files past a customs official. You show them your documents and you are cleared. Then comes the big wait. NO ONE can leave the ship until EVERYONE has cleared customs. And, as always, there are those who feel that they don't have to follow rules and don't bother coming to the customs inspection. So, EVERYONE waits while they page those who have not shown up as well as send crewmembers through asking everyone if they have been through customs. We were through customs about 9:00am and the majority were through by 9:20. However, because of stragglers who don't think rules apply to them, we weren't cleared to get off the ship until almost 10:20. This was the second crowded time as everyone wanted off the ship at once. However, even then we were off in less than 5 minutes after arriving at the 1st deck gangway.
We walked straight after clearing the pier while the majority of cruisers turned left toward Mallory Square. By doing this we passed through several beautiful streets overhung with palm trees and ended up at Duval and Greene streets way before the crowds filtered through the shops at Mallory Square. Since we were on vacation, our first stop was Captain Tony's Saloon. We went in feeling kind of funny about drinking before noon. There were a few locals already at the bar and an extremely friendly bartender greeted us. Captain Tony's is Jimmy Buffett's old stomping grounds and Captain Tony himself is featured in Jimmy's song "Last Mango in Paris" as well as influencing many other Buffett songs. The bar is the old Sloppy Joe's Saloon and has been around for many years. There are pictures of sailors at the bar (when it was Sloppy Joe's) in 1949. I'd tell you what the walls look like but you can't see them. They are covered by layer upon layer of business cards, pictures, cup koozies, posters, album covers, business licenses, police arm patches, badges, bras, panties and about anything else you can think of, all left by former patrons over the years. It's an interesting an inviting place. We had a Rum Runner and a Pirate punch, both of which were excellent. Also the stools at Capt. Tony's feature the names of famous people who have sat there before you. John Prine, John Candy, Jerry Seinfeld, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, etc.
After we left Captain Tony's we headed down Duval Street and did some shopping. Key West is a party town and one block on Duval Street had 9 bars. But, it did not seem to be a "rough" town. Everyone seemed happy and seemed to get along fine. This was, however, during the daytime. At night, with lots of drunken people and clothing optional bars, who knows? After our drinks we went to Greene Street and visited the Mel Fisher Historatorium and sunken ship museum. Mel Fisher is the man who found the Atocha, a sunken treasure ship that yielded millions of dollars worth of treasure. He also salvaged several other ships including a slave ship. Inside this museum, you will find REAL treasure from the days when sailing ships carried vast treasures across the ocean. These include, pieces of eight, bars of real silver and gold, jewelry,weapons, etc from those days. It is very interesting and includes the actual pieces as well as pictures of them salvaging the items and stories of how it was done or any interesting things that happened. For example there is a solid gold chain in one display. It tells how the divers picked it up thinking it was a brass chain that one of the other divers had dropped. They planned to bring it up and throw it away since they didn't want it to harm any marine life. After surfacing they realized what they had found and that they had almost discarded this chain worth $120,000 US Dollars. Another one they almost threw away was what appeared to be a tin from the galley. It clinked and they opened it. Inside was a huge gold cross and chain. The cross is inlaid with emeralds . There was also an emerald ring inside. This is worth over $200,000. They have many more items on display that show not only the riches they found, but the artifacts that show what life was like aboard these ships. Upstairs they have the things they raised from the slave ship. It's pretty sickening the way these people were treated. If you don't want to be depressed on vacation, don't go up here. It is quite poignant.
After leaving the museum, we headed back down toward Mallory Square. By now the crowds had cleared. Mallory Square is beautiful, as is most of Key West. Lush palms and tropical flowers line the streets. We walked along the pier at Mallory Square and saw quite a bit of marine life right next to the boats. There were all sorts of fish in the clear water. One was green with purple, blue and red scales. There was a large jellyfish cruising along as well as two tarpon that were at least five feet long. And that's no fish story. These things were huge and just cruising right along the dock, We looked through more shops at Mallory Square and, as we were getting hungry, started were heading back to the ship. We passed a patio bar/restaurant called Two Friends. They had a sign up advertising locally caught shrimp, which my wife loves, so we stopped there to eat instead of eating on the ship. I'm glad we did. I got the fried grouper sandwich and my wife got the shrimp. We also both got Bahama Mamas. All were excellent as was the conversation we had with the waitress. The dining room is open walled with a roof only. People passing by on the street were stopping to talk to us. It was just a friendly atmosphere everywhere in Key West.
We did the requisite stops at the Hard Rock Cafe (boring even though I am a guitarist and HUGE rock fan) , Margaritaville, Sloppy Joe's etc. Margaritaville was okay. It's a must if you are a Buffett fan however. Sloppy Joe's was also just okay. Bear in mind that it was still the middle of the day at this point. I'm sure things change at night. They served rather small drinks at the same price as Captain Tony's. They did have a guy playing guitar and singing. He was pretty good. I had a half Pina Colada/ Half Strawberry Daquiri. That was good but weak on alcohol. While sitting there we saw a couple pass by wearing what appeared to be clothes inspired by the Jetsons. They were walking a white poodle which they had dyed blue. To each his own I guess. After that we walked back to Duval and hit the shops that extend for block upon block. It was getting close to departure time of 5:30 so we headed back towards the ship. As luck would have it we just happened to pass by Captain Tony's again and had to stop in for another Pirate's Punch. I got a Margarita which I didn't care for also. Everything else was great there.
We then staggered...I mean walked back to the ship. We went on deck as we left Key West and were treated to an absolutely gorgeous sunset. We also saw a shark or dolphin (couldn't tell which from the height of the deck ) and a stingray passing by as the ship pulled out of port. We had to pack this night so we went back to the cabin. They had delivered a departure package that includes a US Customs form, colored tags for the debarking process and instructions on exactly what to do the next day. You must have your checked luggage outside your door between 8:00PM and 1:00am. You attach the colored tags to the suitcases and sit them outside your door to be picked up by the porters. We ate pizza for dinner (which is available next to the bar upstairs in the Windjammer) then went to a show called the Liar's club. It was a take off on the old To Tell The Truth show. It was ok but was nowhere near as fun as Love and Marriage. After that we stayed in our room as we were tired and knew we had to be up early the next day. You have to be out of your room by 8:00am on Friday.
We ordered room service later that night. It came quickly and was decent motel type food. I had a turkey and swiss sandwich and my wife had a salad and nachos. Nothing special but not bad. We also got cheesecake which was very good.
We set our clock for 6:45am so we could be up, packed and out by 8:00am. Just as we woke up and looked out the window, we were approaching the terminal in Miami. It was a nasty rainy day with lightning flashing in the sky. It matched the mood we were feeling knowing it was almost over. We showered and gathered everything together and they started calling colors to get off the ship. We went to breakfast in the Windjammer while we waited. I don't know if was just winding down or if they were running out of things but there was no milk, no eggs, etc. This was a little disappointing but not a big deal. We then went to the A Chorus Line Lounge as instructed to wait for our color (grey) to be called. They show sitcoms while you wait. They had Jim Belushi's show as well as Damon Wayan's show. Not exactly five star entertainment but better then having nothing to do.
After about 45 minutes waiting there, they called grey and we went to the Centrum area to debark. This process was very quick and we basically just walked off the ship without a wait. Inside the Miami terminal there is a baggage claim just like in the airports. We picked up our luggage and headed out to the buses. There are signs above the buses saying where they are going. We got on a Ft Lauderdale bound bus and were off to the airport. The 35 mile drive from Ft Lauderdale to Miami had taken about 20 minutes. The drive back took almost an hour. But our flight wasn't due until 5:05pm and it was only 10:30am so we were in no hurry. We arrived at Ft Lauderdale and decided to check ALL of our bags instead of dragging around carryons. Yes, it would have been awful if they had lost them but we thought it worth the risk. We looked at the shops in the Delta terminal then asked where we could get food. The lady at the shop told us to go to terminal 3 and there is a Chili's inside there. They have a limited menu, but it's much better than anything else available.
After that we went through the shops then waited and waited and waited. Security went relatively quickly. One woman wearing a very fancy dress and lots of jewelry refused to take off her shoes to put them through the xray. The TSA agents told her she did not have to but she would be subject to secondary search. I'm betting she wishes she had taken off the shoes. They pulled her aside and ran the metal detectors all over her body. The female TSA agent frisked her from head to toe (and I mean from head to toe.) The woman was very condescending saying "This is ridiculous". The TSA agent just kept saying "Hush. Hush" They ran explosive sniffing wands through her purse and bags. They took out all the contents of her purse and bags and looked through them. Finally she was cleared. So, the moral is, follow the program and take off your shoes. The TSA is serious about aircraft safety and we should all be glad that they are.
Our plane FINALLY arrived 20 minutes late and we had an uneventful flight home. It was a shock to leave 89F and get off the plane in Kentucky at 43F.
That pretty much covers our cruise. If there is anything I didn't answer, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My wife and I took this cruise knowing that it was probably a once in a lifetime experience. Now we are planning our next cruise. Cruising is truly addictive and it holds true that once you cruise, you'll never want to vacation any other way again. There's no feeling like going to sleep in your hotel room and waking up the next day somewhere else. Maybe we'll see some of you on our next cruise.